I first met Benjamin Ingber on Facebook when I became a member of “CNY Bloggers” – a group of local online writers who share ideas, posts and meet up info for get-togethers outside of the cyber-sphere. Ingber created UrbanGeekCNY.com about a year and a half ago as a way to talk about something he has a real passion for in the public forum – technology.
I finally caught up with Ingber in person over coffee in Clay. After the second round of drinks, I knew I had to bug him for an interview. He’s a local tech guy who definitely knows his stuff.
Joe Cunningham (JC): How did you originally get interested in technology?
Ben Ingber (BI): I’ve always been interested in technology. After college, I ended up getting a job in the Apple Store which changed my fleeting interest into basically an obsession.
JC: What is your approach to technology: very hands-on, lots of reading, or both?
BI: It’s both. I like to read about products, but I definitely have to have that hands-on with it before I’m able to say whether a product is good or not because everything looks good on paper.
JC: What are favorite products out there right or so far?
BI: So far, definitely the iPhone 6. Despite what I’ve said before, I’m definitely a big fan. That being said, as far as tablets go, Android tablets are definitely the best tablets on the market right now. The Android tablets are more versatile: you are able to expand the storage via USB, and it offers more opportunity for use than the iPad does.
JC: What are you looking forward to in terms of products that are soon coming out?
BI: Definitely looking forward to the Apple Watch and Mac OSX Yosemite.
JC: What can you say about the tech industry as a whole: where are we going in the next few decades and what do you envision as our future in technology for better or worse?
BI: Tech is at a weird tipping point right now. The market feels saturated with the same product from every company. Everybody has a big phone, everybody has a tablet. The next evolution is going to be in wearables. It’s hard to say where that is going because no one has gotten it right yet?
I think everyone thought it was going there quickly with Google Glass, but I think that is the worst product design and conception of any product I have ever seen. It’s not user friendly (the UI), and the cost is prohibitive. I have read extensive reviews on it and watch product demos. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one mostly because they are about $4-$5k when all is said and done.
I think the next big movements in tech on the consumer side, is going to be manufacturing and the medical field. Both are advancing with robotics. Right here in Syracuse, Crouse Hospital is using “The De Vinci Robot” for operations which can be tuned with military precision and is always steadier than human hands.
JC: People think of technology as far away, developing outside of our smaller city, area, etc. How do you think technology is changing our lives here and now?
BI: One example is here at SU: Professor Anthony Rotolo encourages students who otherwise would be too shy to talk in front of a large group to be able to have their voice by using Twitter maybe for the first time.
You have two SU graduates who just created the app Plowz [ordering your driveway plowed from your smartphone or computer] – it’s probably one of the greatest things I’ve seen.
JC: What is the goal of your blog – UrbanGeekCNY.com?
BI: To get information to people that otherwise would not receive it. You know, news sites will often buy into the “hoopla” without really analyzing what’s out there. For instance, there are other products out there that can do what Apple products can do but don’t get the same screen time because they are simply “not Apple.”
Samsung can do a lot of what the iPhone can and might possibly be better in a lot of ways.
JC: What are trends you are noticing in tech, social media, and the whole tech world?
BI: People are very quick to put down a new product claiming that a new product copied something that another product did. That, to me, is like discrediting a new car because another company came out with a car with four tires as well.
To me, so what if it’s similar? It’s going to be. People like certain features across various brands. Maybe they will play with that feature and price point. Every car is the same with different features, yet no one will say that Toyota copied Nissan or vice versa. That may be my favorite analogy in talking about tech comparisons.
The 2015 Sonata looks a lot like the Mercedes S-Class. Yet one’s a $50,000 car and another is $15,000.
People are very dedicated to their brands and will not be open to other ideas or brands out there. Instead of being a disservice, I think it keeps the brands honest. Samsung can’t come out with an identical product to Apple because people call them out on it. And it’s not long the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal: it’s not just tech bloggers but it’s everybody via Facebook, Twitter talking about it from the user perspective – everyone has a public voice.
When Apple released the iPhone 6 Plus, people were saying, “It already does everything my Galaxy Note 3 does – so where’s the difference.” It’s this kind of public forum that keeps huge tech companies on their toes.
JC: What’s it like being a tech blogger in the tech world?
BI: As a tech blogger, I think we have a unique voice – those who don’t sell out to becoming advertisers and end up only endorsing products they get paid to speak highly about. I’m just honest: I like tech and I see it as it is and then speak about it to whoever wants to listen.
JC: You’re a big sci-fi/comic book guy. How do you see the fictional world driving the tech one?
BI: I think it drives it in a lot of ways. Look at the computer in Minority Report or Tony Stark’s in Ironman. While that seems so futuristic, Microsoft is working on that as a reality. Comic books, fiction, and reality seem disconnected but they’re not. Tech people ask, “Can it work, and how?” The iPad, for instance, was conceived in Star Trek.
JC: What is your favorite fictional character? TV series and movie? What are you looking forward to?
BI: My favorite fictional character has go to be Batman. While I am not looking forward to Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman, I am looking forward to the DC comic movies that were announced. Being a big fan of the DC comic universe, recurring shows I watch are Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham.
JC: When you are not on some sort of tech, what are you doing?
BI: Watching TV or doing continuing education for my day job as a pharmacy tech. So I guess I could say, I’m always on some form of technology, unless I’m sleeping. I think we all are these days.
JC: What advice would you give to people interested in getting more into technology or more vocal about it?
BI: Just do it! Whatever your opinion is, it’s not wrong, it’s your opinion. People will disagree with you but just stand by your opinion and be able to back it up. If you have an opinion about tech, you have a voice about tech.