The Inverter: Episode 58 – Nappy Hue Year

It’s a new year, and that means a new Bad Voltage.

Let’s hope the Intro is not an indication of things to come. Worst … intro … ever. Seriously, just jump to the 3 minute mark. You’ll be glad you did.

Okay, brand new year and that means predictions, where I predict that Jeremy will once again win. Yes, his entries aren’t all that strong, but he always wins.

The way the game works is that each member of the BV team must make two predictions, with bonus predictions available as well.

Jeremy’s Predictions:

  • This is the year that some sort of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Virtual Reality (VR) device goes mainstream. I’m not sure if Mycroft or Echo counts as an AI device, but after playing with the Samsung Gear VR I made the prediction that VR would really take off this year. He specifically stated that the device in question would not be the Oculus Rift.
  • Apple will have a down year, meaning that gross revenues will be lower this year than in 2015. Hrm, I’ve been thinking this might happen but I’m not sure this is the year. In the show they brought up the prospect of Apple making a television, and if that happens I would expect enough fans to rush out and buy it that Apple’s revenues would increase considerably. But without a new product line, I think there is a good chance this could happen.
  • Bonus: a device with a bendable display will become popular. There are devices out there with bendable displays, but nothing much outside of CES. We’ll see.

Bryan’s Predictions:

  • Canonical pulls out of the phone/tablet business. While the Ubuntu phone hasn’t been a huge success, it is the vehicle for exploring the idea of turning a handset-sized device into the only computer you use (i.e. you connect it up to a keyboard and screen to make a “desktop”). I can’t really see Shuttleworth giving this up, but in a mobile market that is pretty much owned by Apple and Android, this probably makes good business sense.
  • In a repeat from last year, Bryan predicts that ChromeOS will run Android apps natively, i.e. any app you can get from the Google Play store will run on Chrome without any special tricks. Is the second time the charm?
  • Bonus: Wayland will not ship as the default replacement for X on any major distro. Probably a safe bet.

Jono’s Predictions:

  • The VR Project Morpheus on Playstation will be more popular than Oculus Rift. Another VR prediction, and it is hard to argue with his logic. Sony already has a large user base with its Playstation 4 console, and if this product can actually make it to market with a decent price point, you can expect a lot of adoption. Contrast that to the Oculus Rift, whose user base is still unknown, plus an estimated price tag of US$600 and the need for a high end graphics computer, and Morpheus has a strong chance to own the market. Making it to market and the overall user experience will still determine if this is a winner or a dud.
  • Part of Canonical will be sold off. Considering that Canonical has a number of branches, from its mobile division, the desktop and the cloud, the company might be stretched a little thin to focus on all of them. Plus, Shuttleworth has been bank-rolling this endeavor for awhile now and he may want to cash some of it out. Moving the cloud part of the company to separate entity makes the most sense, but I’m not feeling that this will happen this year.
  • Bonus: a crowdfunding campaign will pass US$200MM. The current record crowdfunding campaign is for the video game Star Citizen, which has passed US$100MM, so Jono is betting that something will come along that is twice as successful. As I’ve started to sour on crowdfunding, as have others I know, it would have to be something pretty spectacular.

Stuart’s Predictions:

  • People will stop carrying cash. Well, duh. It is rare that I have more than a couple of dollars on me at any time. Now, this is different when I travel, but around town I pay for everything with a credit card. I get the one bill every month and I can track my purchases. Heck, even my favorite BBQ joint takes cards now (despite what Google says). Not sure how they will score this one.
  • Microsoft will open source the Microsoft Edge browser. Hrm – Microsoft has been embracing open source more and more lately, so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. If I were a betting man I’d bet against it, but it could happen.
  • Bonus: he was going to originally bet that Canonical would get out of the phone business, but since Bryan beat him to it he went with smaller phones would outsell larger phones in 2016. It’s going to be hard to measure, but he gets this right if phones 5 inches and smaller move more units than phones bigger than that. I don’t know – I love my Nexus 6 and I think once you get used to a larger phone it is hard to go back, but we’ll see.

The gang seemed pretty much in agreement this year. No one joined me in the prediction that a large “cloud” vendor would have a significant security issue, but both Jono and Jeremy mentioned VR.

The next segment was on a product called the “Coin“. This is a device that is supposed to replace all of the credit cards in your wallet. Intriguing, but it has one serious flaw – it doesn’t work everywhere. If you can’t be sure it will work, then you end up having to carry some spare cards, and that defeats the whole purpose. Coin’s website “” seems to imply that Coin is the only thing you need, but even they admit there are problems.

It also doesn’t seem to support some of the newer technologies, such as “Chip and PIN” (which isn’t exactly new). This means that Coin is probably dead on arrival. Jeremy brought up a competitor called Plastc, but that product isn’t out yet, so the fact that Coin is shipping gives it an advantage.

I don’t carry that many cards to begin with, so I have little interest in this. I’d rather see NFC pay technologies take off since I usually have my phone with me. I need more help with my “rewards” cards such as for grocery stores, and there are already apps for that, like Stocard. I don’t see either of these things taking off, but I give the edge to Plastc over Coin.

Note: Stocard is pretty awesome. It is dead easy to add cards and they have an Android Wear integration so I don’t even need to take the phone out of my pocket.

The last segment was an interview with Jorge Castro (the guy from Canonical’s Juju project and not the actor from Lost). Juju is an “orchestration” application, and while focused on the Cloud I can’t help but group it with Chef, Puppet and Ansible (a friend of mine who used to work on Juju just moved to Ansible). Chef has “recipes” and Juju has “charms”.

I don’t do this level of system administration (we are leaning toward using Ansible at OpenNMS just ’cause I love Red Hat) thus much of the discussion was lost on me (lost, get it?). I couldn’t help but think of my favorite naming scheme, however, which comes from the now defunct Sorcerer Linux distribution. In it, software packages were called “spells” and you would install applications using the command “cast”. The repository of all the software packages was called the “grimoire”.


The show closed with a reminder that the next BV would be Live Voltage at the SCaLE conference. I’ve seen these guys get wound up in front of 50 people, so I can’t imagine what will happen in front of nearly 1000 people. They have lots of prizes to give away as well, so be there. I can’t make it but I hope there is a live stream and a Twitter feed like the last Live Voltage show so I can at least follow along. I can’t promise it will be good, but I can promise it will be memorable.

So, overall not a great show but not bad. I don’t like the title, and if you listen to the Outro you might agree with me that “Huge Bag Full of Nickels” would have been a better one.