This is a picture of me after a 20 hour bus ride across Peru. I was quite exhausted.
You can reach me via email: avi at umd.edu
Like: Microsoft Surface
The Surface in use at a bar using the wine glass for context.
As a form of NUI (Natural User Interface), the Microsoft Surface is highly intuitive to work with. It has a multi-touch surface, and it also understands the idea of different objects placed on it in context. This bridges a huge gap in people across the world who may not understand how computers work, and in fact the makers claim their ultimate goal is for everyone to be able to perform computing (monkeys, babies, everyone). With the Surface, different activities are very natural to perform where in traditional computing they would have required at least somewhat of an understanding of how computers work. For example, to buy a snowboard you simply go to the snowboard store, take a tag off of the snowboard, and place it on the surface. Then you can customize the board with the touch interface, rotating it and applying logos/decals/colors. Finally you can place your credit card on the table to pay for the board.
Dislike: Apple iTunes
Image of Apple's iTunes software in action.
iTunes is a great concept in theory. It provides a means to manage all of your music, and work seamlessly with a multitude of devices. Unfortunately, if your device is not an iPod you are out of luck. iTunes suffers from being incredibly slow and bloated and in many cases unintuitive. For example, if I go to my friend's computer and connect my iPod, my entire music library will be prompted to be erased because it will automatically try to sync with my friend's library. Similarly, if I try to drag and drop my files between playlists that does not work, either. Finally, there is no "check all" menu item to check every item in a playlist which makes doing large operations on all files very difficult to perform. That is not to say these functionalities do not exist for iTunes, but they are certainly not as straightforward or simple as they should be.
Influential Technology: Cloud Platform
The idea of cloud computing has drastically changed the model for how software can be deployed and supported. Users do not need any concept of how things work in the cloud, because all of the backend work can be supported by the makers of the cloud. A cloud platform enables applications to be deployed to users in the cloud without needing to support hardware or software, reducing the cost of ownership for customers.
There are multiple examples of cloud platforms including the Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure. In Google's App Engine, users can create web applications to be hosted in the cloud (Google's datacenters), which means users anywhere with an internet-connected computer should have the same capability of working on their applications without needing to install many frameworks or other software to their local machine. It also means that sharing applications with the community is very straightforward. Azure is a cloud operating system that takes advantage of Hyper-V, a virtualization system created by Microsoft to run multiple operating systems on a machine at the same time. Since Azure lives in the cloud (Microsoft's datacenters), users anywhere in the world connected to the internet can access a multitude of services allowing the creation, maintenance, and hosting of managed applications off-premises.