Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Personal Information Security and Genius Bar

Today I'm more ranting than telling anything worth while. Well I guess it could be worth while to some. I'll be speaking of two of my favorite topics, one is email consolidation and the Genius Bar at Apple stores.

Facebook Messaging

As I'm sure many of you have heard, Facebook is putting in place a system that consolidates all your email, Instant Message and status updates in one place. I currently do this on my own, well it's in two places, my Email client (which is the default Apple mail) and Adium messaging. Those two can handle everything for me (to be honest I also use a Twitter client, Echofon, and Facebook on the web).

The problems I have with this consolidation are two fold. One is that Facebook will be able to see into your emails, they'll leverage this information for the purposes of selling adds (just as Google does), hmmm I wonder if this will hurt Google's net worth, not that Facebook is replacing Google, but that Facebook will be getting similar analytical and profile information for their advertising platform. The other problem I have is what happens when EVERYONE tries to hit Facebook (or any other consolidating system) at the same time, they'll either crash it or bring it to a crawl (we've ALL seen this before). It's happened to Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Google, etc.... I'm not sure if it's happened recently to Microsoft, but to be honest having a hotmail or MSN email address is just about as sexy as having an AOL email address (that's a bit of sarcasm for you that aren't sarcastic). My suggestion is to keep things segregated on different platforms, when one crashes, you'll have others to fall back on.

Genius Bar

The Apple Genius Bar almost has me converting back to Microsoft Products. As much as people dislike Microsoft at least they don't have a store stocked with "Genius'" who are rude to you and talk down to you. I felt this just might be my local Apple store, but it's not, most of the Apple stores I've been to have had very condescending employees who don't understand technology that well (at least outside of Apple's domain) and lie when presented with questions. One example is when I asked a Genius about my iPad's wifi issues. He explained to me that he hadn't heard about that (the issue was 2 weeks old at the time), I looked at him with amazement at the brazen lie he just told me, I'm assuming he's lying because he is a "Genius" after all and a "Genius" you'd think would keep track of the platforms they are supporting. The latest issue was in taking an iPhone that was losing power back. They told me the phone was fine and that losing power was to be expected, the phone was going flat in 6 hours, this is expected? Again is the Genius lying or actually an idiot.

I feel this term "Genius" is a bad one. I've debated on my future trips to the Apple Store that I sign in as Wiley Coyote, since we all know he was a "Super Genius" (even though that damn Road Runner was clever). For those Apple readers out there that hate this term, I dare you to sign in to the Apple Store as "Wiley Coyote".

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buy Now or Wait...?

I'm always getting asked by people what phone or device they should buy, my response to them is always, the newest with the latest operating system on it. Especially in the world of phones, you'll be stuck with that device for 2 years, so why purchase a phone that's already a year old with an operating system that could be even older. I would say this is is the case with most adopted systems. Funny as it is, as I was typing this, someone asked me which Android phone they should purchase...

Web TV

Where I would caution people that they could be throwing away their money is in the purchasing of a WebTV (Such as GoogleTV or AppleTV or any other CompanyTV). While these companies are doing well to provide content, they just aren't there yet. I have a GoogleTV (The Sony Blu Ray player). Currently my Google TV is only able to browse the web (it's not great at that) and load pay per view videos (this isn't what I wanted it for), it's blocked from using any of the prime networks. I also don't seem to be able to browse my home network for videos (I have two stand-alone network drives, I don't like the idea of keeping a computer on that's doing nothing). As I mentioned, the search on the device is odd, and since it doesn't attempt to integrate with my DVR, it's not searching anything on my TV. I've tried to use it, but now I've relegated it to being used only when I'm too lazy to go grab my iPhone to search on (yeah I know that statement in itself is sad ;-)). From looking at the AppleTV device, it seems to lack a keyboard, I need a keyboard for these items. The Apple device also won't search my network, but it will use videos streamed from a computer I need to have on (Don't these companies understand the term "Green"? Why do I want to have a computer on at all times?).

Tablet Devices

If I had to buy a tablet device right now... I'd try to wait. The iPad is still in it's infancy and the Android based devices are going to be getting better every month. I like the idea of the BlackBerry Playbook, but if any company has shown me that they can mess up a sure thing, well it's BlackBerry. They have such great potential, but seem to be lacking the knowledge or desire to work with people outside their group. Mentioning that, this brings me to Microsoft... Have they learned their lesson? Is Microsoft now the group that is on the outside looking in? Microsoft has their new Mobile OS, I hear it's great, but they've done so much damage to their mobile brand, that it'll be tough. The biggest potential winner in all this is Microsoft, the biggest potential loser is Apple (it's sort of funny how they tides have turned).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Social Media in Small "Business"

I'm seeing the use of Social Media being used in a "backwards" fashion. Normally it's small business who's willing to leverage newer tools to their advantage, but with Social Media it seems to be just the opposite. I was noticing the company I used to work with, this is a small software development and web hosting shop, has nothing online outside their local network. None of their principals have a blog, no way of knowing anything about them without going to their website. Now websites are OK, but they tend to be stagnant and they require an active user to find them. I was explaining to one of the principals for this company, as a user if I'm looking for a software development company, I'm going to go with the one that has an ACTIVE web presence, the one that shows that they are leaders, as opposed to those that just have websites. I think a small business that doesn't have an active presence, is doing themselves harm.

Active vs. Passive

I was thinking about Active vs. Passive while on a tour for a local plantation where I live. This plantation is cared for by the local museum and they are begging for people to come out to their events, they have postings on their website, they print out fliers and use word of mouth. This is good for people who are actively looking for something to do, this isn't good for people who may just be sitting around wondering what they could do today. A very simple Twitter or Facebook posting is a great way to push out information to these passive searchers, now passive isn't a negative, it could be that the person is just too lazy to search for something, but it could be that the person is so active that they don't have time to look for things to do, or they might be planning the next week, month, etc... when they see the posting. I feel this museum is in the end hurting their goal by not posting on Twitter/Facebook, it isn't that difficult, it takes maybe an hour to set up both Twitter/Facebook and then have Facebook accept the feed from Twitter. The museum would then just need to post to Twitter and have it propagate to Facebook. You can then configure Twitter/Facebook to email you if there's any need for attention.

This same issue goes for my local municipality, I'm renting here now, but I'm looking to purchase soon. I make a very good income, but I would refuse to live here, they have no social policy, they alert their citizens to events by placing a gasoline run sign board on the main road in town, sigh talk about a waste in money. I've spoken to both the Museum and the City about using social media, but they don't see the reason why. I explain to them, but they then admit that they have passed a resolution AGAINST using social media, again this is backwards. Why would you pass a resolution against something that could only make you money?


How you get people to change is beyond me. There seems to be a wall set up by many older users. I was at a conference in Miami recently and one of the people lecturing says that he's using social media, but doesn't see that it's any good. This is upsetting to me. Social media isn't going to solve all your problems, but it needs to be seen as another tool to use in the arsenal of marketing and networking. Get to know people who do have followers, become a leader (don't just post marketing material, people will see you as a spammer), show that you're a person and share with people.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Android Webkit Attack

I kept looking at the way Android is released and thinking that if for some reason they needed to upgrade everyone quickly, there might be an issue. Well it looks like the issue is coming. A researcher (sounds better than hacker) has discovered several holes in the Webkit that Android uses, this is the same Webkit that several other mobile and non-mobile browsers use (including the iPhone and BlackBerry), the researcher has discovered an issue that has been fixed in Android 2.2 (the latest and greatest version of Android), but it hasn't been fixed in previous versions.

The solution to this is obvious, upgrade everyone to Android OS 2.2... Well it's not that easy, see the Android OS is modified by each manufacturer and service provider for their specific phones and functionality, meaning that when Google updates Android, it's up to Motorola to update all their phones across all their carriers, this isn't always that easy technically and for business it could be that while Verizon allows upgrades for their new Droid models, they might not want to update the OS for older models (why would Verizon want to give people new functionality that wouldn't require the user to buy a new phone or extend their contract?).

When going to the AT&T website right now, I see the Motorola BackFlip is the phone listed on their website as the one to get. It's running Android 1.5 (though they don't specify that in the phone's specs), they claim to be updating it in November to 2.1, but I don't see how it's acceptable to sell an out of date OS and then to upgrade it to another out of date OS. This isn't technically Android's issue, but it's a sign of what's happening on the platform.

Again this is the one good thing about the strangle hold Apple has put on their technology, they know what's out there, Apple supports the phone and Apple releases the updates. It is up to the user though to manually update their phone (I wish Apple would push this to the phone like Android does).

Android's problem is even bigger with the release of Google TV, my Google TV (A Sony Blue-Ray player) is running Android 2.1, which means that my Blue-Ray player and everything that goes through the browser on it, is susceptible to attack. While I'm bringing it up, if you're going to get Google TV because you think it's fantastic, uh don't, it's not that great, well at least for me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Verizon iPhone

The latest rumor on the Verizon iPhone is possibly January 2011, I think this is more and more likely to happen, since Apple wants to be on Verizon, but it's a rumor that's as old as the iPhone is (I also think if it were going to ship before Christmas, we would have heard about it already). The other rumor is that the much anticipated "white" iphone is being held up because whoever is making it, can't get the color white quite right. The stumbling blocks for the Verizon iPhone have been mostly due to Verizon wanting to control and brand everything and Apple wanting to only support their branding (and also wanting to control everything). Verizon wants their logo on the phone (this is enough to make Steve Jobs sick), plus they want their VZ Navigator on the phone (which is in direct competition with the App Store), someone will need to give first (this is why I feel that Verizon lost the initial iPhone). Now given the extra competition from Android, this is pushing Apple to consider a concession of some items (Verizon is also getting pressure from people who want the iPhone and ONLY the iPhone and are moving to AT&T to get it). So while I feel this will be the time the iPhone comes to market, you can't tell until either Verizon or Apple officially announce it.

What's pushing the current rumors is that Apple is allowing Verizon to sell the wifi version of the iPad and have it bundled with a 3G wifi, also it seems that Apple may have purchased a large supply of CDMA chips (which is what Verizon uses, the only other places that use CDMA are a few small countries in Europe and Africa). There are also a few rumored pictures of iPhone 4/CDMA versions in the wild (usually overseas, probably not real though). The fervor over all things iPhone is similar to that of a guy's latest drinking escapade, lots of rumors, possible some truth and huge exaggerations. My suggestion... If you hear a rumor, don't get excited about it until you can see an actual device.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

iPhone 4.1 Lock Screen ByPass

I love the simple bugs in life, you know, the ones that don't require any creativity, the ones that require someone to only notice something odd is going on... Well this is what the latest iOS 4.1 bug is. I've tried it on my phone, and while it doesn't allow someone in to my apps, it does allow someone into my dialer and my contact list (a strict no no). Anyway what you do is this:

1) Turn on the passcode for your iPhone (if it isn't already on)
2) At the passcode screen press the button to make an "Emergency call"
3) Press "***" and then as soon as you press dial, press the lock button on the top of your iPhone.

The result should be your contact list or phone dialer. Yikes.... Here's a good video that I pulled off of YouTube that shows just how it's done....

I'm sort of impressed with how often iOS is hacked, the only real scary hack I've seen is the one in 4.0 exploiting a security hole with a PDF, this allowed essentially any website to hack your phone. Apple came out with a fix for that, but the group with the current 4.1 jailbreak of the phone refused to issue their latest jailbreak for the fix, knowing that Apple was going to issue 4.1 in a few weeks. Their logic was that they didn't see why they should be beta testing for Apple, when iOS 4.1 came out, the jailbreak came out the same day.

I've switched terms I see, to "jailbreak" an iPhone is to release it from the bonds of Apple, phones with a jailbreak installed can install apps from anywhere. This is good and bad. Basically if Apple gave up control of the appstore, there would be no need to jailbreak, but while they have this control, the jailbreakers will continue unlocking phones. To counter this move Apple could "brick" the phones, meaning issuing a command that any phone that isn't carrying a valid copy of iOS be turned into what is probably less useful than a brick, though I would imagine that if they did this, the first person needing to make an emergency call would sue Apple.

Anyway iOS 4.2 is rumored to be out in November, along with it will be an iPad update also.

Monday, October 25, 2010

MacBook Air

MacBook Air

As a user of mostly Mac products (I used to use mostly Windows products in the past and if the business need is there, I'll use Windows products again), I was interested in the shipment of Macbook Air. While this device looks fantastic, it's ultralight, ultraslim, I also think it's ultra-underpowered (at least from looking at it's specs) to be a real laptop replacement (well at least for me, if you're doing simple Word Processing, it could be the device for you).

It's short-comings are:
  1. A small drive, yes it's solid state, but since when does solid state give me the extra 250GB that I need? I've got 500GB on my MacBook Pro and I'm running out of space, especially since it's the center of all my iTunes activity, so any movies, music, pictures, etc... are on my laptop.
  2. 2GB RAM, give me a break, my MBP was running well with 4GB, but it didn't start running great until I installed 8GB (which I had to do by removing and not using my existing 4GB, if you need 4GB of MBP RAM, let me know, I've got it laying around).
  3. 2 USB ports. This would be good until you realize that it doesn't have an ethernet port. So for offices like mine that don't support wifi, you're down to one USB port. For me this would mean that I'd need to get a USB hub to work (mainly because of the fact I'm continually swapping drives, and phones in and out of my computer, part of the joy of being in Mobile development).
  4. No Ethernet port, sigh... See above.
  5. No build in 3G. Since it's not a laptop, at least in my mind, you'd have thought they would have worked out an arrangement with AT&T and shove 3G into this device. Then it could be useful.
It's strengths are:
  1. It's not an iPad, meaning you can do work on it, load a real Word Processor, real browser, Flash, etc...
  2. It's quite, though to be honest the drive in my MBP isn't that noisy. So I'm not sure how much to give it credit here.
  3. It's thin and light - All my computers have been smaller (15" - 5-6lbs), but these get heavy after a while. A nice thin laptop could be the way to go for someone who needs something light.
In the end if you're looking for a device that's more computer than iPad, well it's the device for you. If you're looking for something that's a full fledged laptop, then get an MacBook Pro, I'd hesitate at suggesting which Windows machine is the best since the hardware all seems to be very bad now. My last decent PC was a ThinkPad (it was a warrior).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Going Mobile...

I'm a 45 year old man, who enjoys gadgets (not just new technology, but gadgets in general). I do enjoy some old-school items, such as my watch, it's analog (I don't like digital watches), my mother explained to me one day that the nice thing about an analog watch is that you can easily see into the past and into the future, by just glancing at your wrist, it sort of stuck. My watch has gadget qualities, first it's made of titanium, so it's very light, it also has the ability for me to swap between time-zones with the push of a button (so no adjusting the analog watch and never getting the accuracy back).

But this isn't about what I think is my cool watch, it's about going mobile. I've taken the challenge (despite the fact that I like paper) to go mobile and paperless. This means loading word files, pdfs, etc... that I need to for work on my iPad, I'm using "Docs to Go" and Dropbox (a very cool and free tool) to share documents. What's great about Dropbox is that if I'm on my iPhone, Android Phone, BlackBerry or iPad I can access it (most of those devices are for development purposes only). What's a shame about Dropbox is that it seems that Apples tools don't support it (or at least they don't claim to), which is why I'm using Docs to Go (sorry Apple, you need to learn how to play better with others). I'm also playing games that I normally wouldn't play, again to see how they interact with the player, how they encourage you to play, to purchase, to build. I'm doing this so I can understand the mobile space better (you can't learn if you don't do). I also get my news and magazines via apps or Zinio (I like Zinio, I just wish they allowed you to email pages to yourself, there's no way to bookmark or print either, it's not the full magazine experience yet).

I've been asked to give a presentation at a trade show in Miami on mobile, mainly Kindle, iPhone, and Android. 15 years ago my boss went to a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington DC and was told that in order to understand the web better, meaning micro payments, subscription models, video, articles, images, etc... Go to a porn site. Well things have changed some, but not entirely, now if you want to understand micro payments, subscription models, video, articles, images, social networking, etc... you need to play games. Like the porn sites of old, don't go for the content, but go for the experience, analyze what's forcing you to come back to the game, what's making you upgrade or play, what's making you want to go social. Understanding these items will help you understand mobile apps and will keep people coming back to your apps.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Passion of the Mac

One of my coworkers came in to my office yesterday to discuss their experience at the Apple Store, it was a good experience, but they noticed that the store itself was crowded, while the Sony Style store next door was empty. That the Apple Store was open and bright and white, while the Sony Style store was dark and closed up. He was surprised at the number of people there. I explained to him that Apple has a religious following and that the Apple Stores are the churches for the faithful. There are a few Cathedrals, Paris, New York, California where people flock to, and there's Mecca (AKA 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA).

I'm surprised at how passionate Mac fans are, if you looked at my desktop you'd think I was a Mac fan also, I have a Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad, Time Capsule, several iPods, etc... Now while I like my Apple products, I feel that there's a lot of improvement that can be made to then, they aren't as perfect as everyone thinks they are and to work in a seamless fashion, it helps to have everything in your local swimming hole being an Apple product also. For instance, using my network drives (running NTFS) to back up my Mac to, can't be done (this should just work). I've heard the religious faithful bash other products saying that they weren't as modern as OSX (well OSX is based on Unix, which is VERY old itself). The passion of the Mac keeps people from questioning the products, people just accept that the design flaws in the iPhone 4 are OK and that they need to use their phones differently. That when they hear Steve Jobs tear into Google, that Google somehow deserves it (Personally I'm no Google fan, but since they offer free products, it's hard to pass up, which is why I'm using Blogger, a Google product). They need to question Jobs, push him some, force him to deliver quality products and let him know when he doesn't (Apple will be in trouble if ANYTHING happens to Jobs).

If I had to choose between a Windows 7 or OSX laptop, which would I pick? I'd say it depends on my job function. Right now I'm in the mobile space, since Apple requires you to have a Mac to build iPhone apps, I'm sporting a Mac. If I got back into pure web development, I might go back to Windows (mainly for the added support I'd get at work, not that I need it, I've been taking computers apart for over 20 years now, so I'm pretty adept at supporting myself). Computers are put here for us, the companies deliver to us, it's up to us not to become zealots for these companies, but push them and move to other applications based on quality, not name.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Device Fragmentation

As someone who's been developing products for 20+ years now, I've grown accustomed to supporting multiple platforms. First it was the different variations of DOS, then Windows/Mac, then all the flavors of MSIE and Netscape (luckily Netscape died), then comes Firefox, the annoyance of MSIE 6.0 sticking around, etc... Well all of that was fairly easy when compared to what's going on in the mobile space. Let's limit ourselves to the big three right now (which means I'm not including Microsoft's latest device, which looks promising, but I haven't seen Microsoft develop a decent mobile OS yet), so we have RIM, Apple, and Google.

Let's start with Apple because it's the easiest to describe. With Apple we need to look at only 3G and above, in the area of hardware we have iPhone 3G, 3Gs, 4 and iPad (iPod Touch also if you want), in the realm of OS we have 3.1.3, 3.2, 4.0+ (these are all very similar, for what I'm doing I can develop for 4.0 and still support older OS levels). The development on the iPhone has been fairly simple, because the devices are all fairly similar in size. The biggest issue I see here is that in order to code, well you'll need a Mac.

Next lets look at the next platform, Android. Google has allowed Android to be installed everywhere, this is good and bad. It's good because it's placed a very good operating system on many devices, it's bad because it's put a very good operating system on MANY devices. I see a big issue with device fragmentation with Android. There isn't ONE big company stating the law (such as Apple), instead Android is getting installed on just about every device possible. In the Android beta for TweetDeck, the app was installed on 35,000 devices (this is huge) and TweetDeck recorded 244 different variances of Android (this is scary). As a developer you need to figure out what exactly do you support.... Add on to this that Google wants to push Chrome instead of Android for Tablet devices and the newly released Google TV (I have one of the devices, not sure about it yet, I know it doesn't turn off all my devices when I shut it off).

Finally let's look at BlackBerry, this is the scariest platform of all. Not only is the hardware and OS fragmented, but the backend BES is fragmented. If you are building a "SuperApp", then you may need to ensure both handset hardware/software and BES are properly supported. In the development of my first "SuperApp", I'm also finding that some of the neat tricks I'm seeing on other apps, were done using non-public RIM API calls (these are the ones that RIM holds for themselves). This is a bit unfair and is going to make it difficult to continue RIM development. Add to this the new PlayBook (which won't be available for months) and we're talking about a very difficult platform to develop for.

If I could control my development, I'd focus on iPhone and then Android, unfortunately I need to include BlackBerry also (due to my user base). Until BlackBerry grows up some, I'd avoid development on their platform.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The world vs Microsoft...

I think it's a bit funny how it's still the world against Microsoft. While I'm not a big Microsoft fan, I'm impressed how they took an opportunity and made it into a billion dollar empire. They haven't always been clean about it and they've played silly little games (such as investing in a company in Utah who then claimed rights to Linux), but they have dominated their space. Just what is their space, well it's business and operating systems, for some reason they seem to flounder when it comes to home use. People use Microsoft products at home, but that's because it's what they're used to for work. I've said it a million times (OK not quite that often, but I've said it a few times), if you take a close look at companies like Apple, Oracle and Google (three big competitors of Microsoft), you'll see that they are just as full as lies, tricks and even scarier data collection than Microsoft is. Google (who hosts this blog) is getting scarier by the day, they own the rights to most of your searches (they track everything), their business model is analytics, I'm sure if you looked at your record at Google, you'd find that they know more about you than you do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As the Computer Turns...

If any of you follow software and hardware trends you'll realize that this is as much of a Soap Opera as "As the World Turns" (Not that I've actually seen an actual Soap Opera in it's entirety). Rumors build, ideas are stolen, people have died and then come back to life, and there's the unwanted advances that get people in trouble (Sorry Mark Hurd, but I'm sure you won't be reading this, if anyone does actually).

I've been following with interest different technologies and I have to say there's all sorts of intrigue and spying going on. In the past year Apple has been just months away from Releasing the iPhone 4 on Verizon, the latest and possibly best rumor so far has it that Apple has purchased millions of CDMA chips, CDMA is the network type that Verizon uses. Apple is also said to be close to releasing several new iPad models (which wouldn't be a bad idea, but hopefully the new models will have front facing cameras on them). There is also the rumor that the iPhone 4 in white was pulled from market in order to fix the antenna problem (boy did Apple really mess things up with that, remember kids, honesty is always the best policy... then again I'm sure dishonesty is what got people beach houses and fast cars).

Other items that I'm following is BlackBerry 6, BlackBerry is playing a huge catch-up game, they are also having an identity issue, are they an app platform or a secure messaging platform, they need to be both, but which is more important? I feel they're hoping that BlackBerry 6 will resolve this for them, though it may take a few years for older BlackBerry devices to leave the market. Most who know me realize that I'm not a big BlackBerry fan. BlackBerry Tablet? The rumor mill is churning on this one.

Android seems to be possibly the biggest winner here, mainly because they have stopped producing hardware, they only build out the OS now, the problem with this is that they have lost control of the hardware. They too are rumored to have a tablet, in theory one was released, but it was on hardware that wasn't licensed for Android and had to be pulled.

Microsoft? Yeah our favorite bad guys are still in the game, but why I don't know. Both Microsoft and Palm have blown a huge opportunity to dominate the market. I don't think either are players right now. Possibly Microsoft in the tablet market, but I feel Palm is dead.

Non-Smart Phones? Who knows... I'm not your average phone user, because I don't like phones, I like to use the browser, email, texting, apps, etc..., but I'm rarely on the Phone (unless I'm talking with my daughter or ex). I think there are many who don't like having all the bells and whistles on phones. In a way I envy them since they can disconnect easily.

OK, I've rambled, but that's what I do, what can I say, I'm a tangential kind of guy (math geek humor).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Developer Accounts...

Here I am this morning sitting in my chair, drinking my coffee and watching Warehouse 13 all the while pondering app stores... OK I know you're jealous over my exciting life, tonight, I'll figure out why the new cable box that I just got isn't working right, I might actually have to read a manual (which is a failure for those who created the box).

Any app stores, in playing with the app stores for Android (which I haven't done that much of), Apple (which I've done much more of) and BlackBerry (which scares the daylights out of me). The first two require a small purchase that can be done via any credit card, you can upload all kinds of apps, no limits, they also have decent methods for collecting money and paying it back to the user. They are also very well documented. The BlackBerry really surprised me though, it required a purchase that could only be done through a PayPal account. PayPal? Let's get real! They managed everything via DigitalRiver (which is OK, I just wish they found a better way to do it). From looking at BlackBerrys app development process, it's clearly a poorly thought out hodgepodge of technologies and processes. They are fighting to be in the app space, but their systems don't support it. As for their API much of what you want to do, can't be done before OS version 4.7.

In developing apps, I'd suggest you look at what will be around in the next 6 months and don't be afraid to tell users that they need to upgrade older equipment in order to use your app (especially if the equipment is over 2 years old).

Note that the Apple app store process is also confusing, but it's better documented both by Apple and other developers, the BlackBerry process is hidden by RIM and since there aren't many developers, it isn't well documented by the BlackBerry developers. Though don't count BlackBerry out, especially if you are developing for government or business, due to it's keyboard, messaging security, manageability, etc... it's a great business device, just because it's not a great app device doesn't mean it's not valuable.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

iPhone vs BlackBerry - Security...

I wanted my first blog to be something mushy, something that says "hey I'm a nice guy, you should follow my blog", but I guess not, I'll start with something real...

I find it interesting in a time when Apple is taking on BlackBerry that what is really holding people to their BlackBerrys is, well security. Not security as in "I know where all the buttons are and how to use it", well I'm sure some would argue that, but security as in "I know all my information is safe and secure". This latter bit is important, the Android has had several security issues and is now rumored to be looking into how to make it more secure (the problem is allowing you to bypass the Google App Store, not that the use of App Stores is flawless, but it helps).

The latest iPhone issue comes on the heels of an issue with the BlackBerry. The iPhone it seems can be Jailbroken via a website (the term "Jailbreak" a phone is to allow the phone to be freed up from the constraints that Apple puts on it, this could also lead to another term called "Bricking" in which Apple turns the phone into what is essentially a glass and plastic brick, no longer good for use as a phone). Running a Jailbreak on a phone is a tradition amongst hackers and non-hackers alike, but they usually require you to connect your phone to your PC and jailbreak it there (somewhat of a trusted environment, where you run the jailbreak because you want to). The latest exploit could jailbreak your phone, without your knowledge and this could be for nefarious purposes. Hopefully Apple will come out with a fix for this soon.

On the other end of the spectrum is the BlackBerry, now while the BlackBerry may look like a brick and sometimes act like a brick, it's a very secure brick (which is why it's so popular amongst those in the Government, Law firms and other Corporations). It's so secure that Saudi Arabia is going to block the messaging application unless they are allowed to snoop, I'm guessing that BlackBerry already allows the CIA/FBI to listen in. My belief is that instead of calling this an issue, BlackBerry should wave the flag to show how good their system is, it's so secure that Governments are outlawing them, based only on this security.

Perhaps BlackBerry shouldn't go the path of the Smart Phone market, but should stay as a messaging phone. What I've seen so far of the BlackBerry app store is that it's difficult for a developer to use and register to upload their apps. It's almost impossible for a corporation to do it (there's too much red tape in a corporation to go about getting PayPal accounts, which is what is required to post in the BlackBerry app store). I could go on and on with this, but perhaps that's for another post.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I'm typing this from my iPad this morning, the day after I received it via UPS. I wasn't sure it would make it to me, I was watching the shipment via the web, it got to me from China in less than 24 hours, when it got to my local facility, it appeared stuck in a warehouse, then at noon, just when I was about to give up, it showed up (according to the driver there was a miscommunication between apple and ups and the packages were all upgraded from Monday delivery to Saturday delivery at the last moment, requiring ups to bring on many extra drivers.).

So far I'm impressed with the device, some issues I'm not happy with, but it could be that I'm not familiar with the device. The first is email, the email client seems to always need to have an email open in it, I don't like this, I like to have my email open to a blank page or an email listing, but I guess I don't read email like Steve does, so I must be wrong. The other is the calendar, I have my calendar on Google, while my calendar connects to Google, it only seems to be downloading my default calendar, not all of my calendars on Google, not sure why, it works great on my iPhone.

iPhone apps work well on the iPad, but they work in a zoomed window, when you make the app larger, it appears a bit ugly (due to non-vectored images).

iPad apps are nice, the one from USA Today seems great, my mind goes wild after seeing this app. The NPR app is also very good. I've seen usability issues and crashes with all the apps I played with, I'm not sure if people really know how to exploit this type of a device given how they see people using it. Typing on the device has been tough, my fingernails are cut close! But the keep on tapping on the screen, some keys are odd, the shift key is in the wrong place and the comma must require a shift on a normal keyboard because I keep wanting to hit the shift key before hitting the comma. Netflix and ABC make this another good reason for the app, though both require wi-fi to work. I keep seeing apps crash, though after rebooting the iPad the crashes go away, I'm guessing there's a memory leak somewhere, I'm also guessing we'll see an OS update soon to fix this crashing.

Note Safari still doesn't handle web forms well on this device, sigh, this makes the iPad less of a cool tool for people who would like to blog online (to do my final editing of this blog I had to come back to my MacBook Pro).

There are VPN and RDP apps available, this could be useful for anyone in IT or anyone who has a computer controlled entertainment system, yeah that's right, the iPad could become a very cool remote control.

Should you get it? If you commute, I'd say yes, though you might want the 3G model. For business use I see a ton of applications, it could revolutionize business, especially research oriented applications, which is where I specialize. I'm dying to design and build out an app for it, hopefully I'll have that opportunity soon.