Farm Industry News Blog

8 tech news and video items to check out

The tech tools you'll be linking all that farm data to are changing. Here are some hot topics related to general tech you'll want to check out.

High-tech items are just part of our lives now. The farms I visit are tablet-friendly and the farmers are smartphone users. Just where is the market going and what should you consider for the future? In this tech roundup we look at a few items to help you out, consider the challenge of net neutrality and look at a new 'food' that's high-tech as well.

All this information we need is now available on so many platforms - laptops, smartphones, tablets - that it's creating a new opportunity. Walt Mossberg, former Wall Street Journal  tech columnist now with Re/Code looked at the issue of the PC and smartphone merging and offers some interesting insights.

"Over the last seven years, since the introduction of the iPhone, the PC has gradually been dethroned by the smartphone (and to a lesser extent, by the tablet) as the key digital device. PC sales have fallen significantly in recent years, racking up their worst annual sales ever, while smartphone and tablet sales have soared…"

He notes that PC makers are working on tools that link the two more closely, including an innovation from Apple called Handoff that will be in the next operating system upgrade for laptops. It allows to start something on your smart phone and finish it on your PC.

Speaking of smartphones, I remember writing blogs and stories about buying the right laptop for school in the past. Turns out there's something else on the student's mind for fall. Cnet.com is reporting on the best smartphones for school. We've come a long way I guess.

In other news, Apple and IBM are teaming up. That's news because for years Apple did nothing but bash IBM. But now they'll be partners working to develop more than 100 business focused apps that will be sold through IBM. It's apparently a great fit, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Mossberg offers a look at the deal.

One buzz phrase you may have heard a lot about is net neutrality. The idea is that the Internet should perform the same way for anyone who uses it or provides information through it. However, the Federal Communications Commission has a proposal on net neutrality that may offer companies the ability to buy faster speeds over others. The aim would be to provide Web providers a new income stream, but might leave small companies standing on the sidelines moving slowly. There is some debate on the issue and you can learn more at the FCC's web site. As of Tuesday the agency had received 677,000 comments, but that number is rising. The final deadline for commenting is Friday, July 25. Check out the docket for more information , and to comment on the issue.

Apple is launching  a new iPhone in late September. At least that's the consensus of most of the Apple watchers in the tech community. Look for a larger screen and other features where Apple may be playing catchup with Android. And they're excited about what they're launching, at least according to a report from the Wall Street Journal which was quoted on tech site The Verge. They have a lot of confidence in that new phone.

Another computer battle. Microsoft entered the tablet market last year with the Surface and Surface Pro. It got a fair market response. Now comes the Surface Pro 3, which offers laptop-quality performance in a 1.7-pound package that's priced about the same as a Macbook Air. Full disclosure, I was seeking a lighter laptop or computer for travel and decided to buy a Surface Pro 3 for use and I like it. I get full Intel power with Windows functionality in a compact case. It doesn't even have to come out of my briefcase at airport security because it is a tablet!

For farmers this fully-functional Windows PC may be just right for having full spreadsheets and other tools on hand. I loaded Microsoft Office on the machine (which I got in a bundle with the external keyboard) and some other software I count on for photo and video editing and it handles them just fine. I even like the touch interface, which I find to be pretty smooth to use (but does fingerprint the screen pretty badly).

I did find an online video comparing the Surface Pro 3 and the Apple Macbook Air. I won't give away the winner of that trial, but keep in mind that if you're a Windows fan changing to a Mac can have a solid learning curve. Check out the "boxing match" video online to learn more.

Beyond food? There's a product out there called Soylent, which an engineer has developed for optimum nutrition. He's the say guy who says farming is inefficient and that we don't need so many farmers if we were to have food like Soylent - which is by the way named after the moving Soylent Green and remember what Charlton Heston yells at the end of that picture: "Soylent Green is people!" In this case Soylent isn't people, but being food it does have farm-raised contents, which begs the question if we don't need so many farmers how would we make Soylent?

Our colleague at Southeast Farm Press offered his insights on Soylent where he asks some interesting questions and notes the product's maker is no friend of farmers.

Then there's The Verge writer who spent a month consuming only Soylent as his core nutrition - three "meals" a day. He lost weight, but found out some other interesting issues too. It's worth a look to see what he found. There's this dichotomy out there between the folks that want to make things super efficient and those that want to go back to nature. Soylent is not going to be on the menu at your 'local foods' dining establishment anytime soon.

And a bonus. For those among you who like Star Wars - and there are a few at least (or those movies would never have made all that money) there's an interesting little video online that shows off one of the new ships for the upcoming new movie and promotes an interesting cause. As they say on Facebook - watch the video to the end.

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Jodie Wehrspann, Kathy Huting, Lynn Grooms, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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