Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Connecting More: People and things

We're at a cusp of a new phase of the Internet, where an extremely large set of non-computers are going to be nodes in this vast network. Those new entities will be people having their own real estate (i.e. domains), and devices that have just enough electronics to communicate in there.
I've got a post with Justin Hayward on the Telnic Blog talking about this "Internet of Things", and how the first step is necessarily discoverability: how a newly arrived node says "hello, I'm here and that's what I can give you."
I can't wait for my garden sensors to tell me that this area of the lawn is too wet and the water isn't filtering down, before the lawn turns yellow and exceedingly ugly (true story).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And another step towards iOS on Macs

Apple just released a multitouch trackpad for your macs.
This is yet another step towards replacing OS X with iOS, as I was describing in my June post entitled "The never-ending Apple Revolution".
I for one am looking forward to that new generation of operating systems being ubiquitous.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

iPhone 4 light apps

There are at least 50 iPhone 4 light apps now, which have one or more of the following features: turn on/off the torchlight on the back of the phone, and strobe the torchlight.
That's it. Half of those apps cost $0.99, and probably most of the rest have ads enabled.

I thought it was pretty stupid, and I was also told the apps are slow to start up. One of them takes 5 seconds just to load up. So I felt the need to write in 2 hours a light app with strobing, including separate controls for light/dark timings of the strobe. Kind of fun. The app loads in less than 2 seconds and is well under 100kB.

If you want the source code, just let me know.
Update: I've just submitted the app to the AppStore, called "☼ Flashlight ☼"
Update 2: It's available on the app store.
Please leave a comment here in this post if you have issues or suggestions with the app. Thanks.
The "light" app in all its glory

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The never-ending Apple Revolution

Steve Jobs just announced the iPhone 4, with a slew of new features and his usual hyperbole. But let's stay clear of discussing the hyperbole, which Apple fans and foes alike love to argue upon. Just the facts ma'am, and here are some hard ones.

Fact: iPhone 4 is extremely powerful, using the A4 system-on-a-chip that's also in the iPad, even though we don't know if it'll run at the same speed. Nonetheless, it's so powerful that it has literally clearly transformed the smartphone into a multipurpose handheld computer replacement: 720p hi-dev video camera, book reader on a screen with the quality of printed paper, music and video player, games machine, etc...

Fact: iPhone 4 has a front-facing camera. That's nothing new hardware-wise, but this time it comes with software that makes video-calling straightforward. Watch the operators scramble once again to increase their bandwidths.

Fact: iPhoneOS is now officially iOS (not to be confused with Cisco's IOS). It has grown up from its toddler years into adolescence: solid APIs, proven UI paradigms, runs on multiple devices, supports heavy-duty gaming and all manners of application types.

If you now ask why I consider iOS to be an adolescent, and when I'll see it grow to adulthood, my answer is simply the day you'll see Apple computers ship with iOS. It is my firm belief that Apple's iOS is its next-generation operating system across all devices, from laptops to servers and AppleTV. Think about MacBooks with dual screens, the keyboard area being replaced by a second haptic screen. The "laptop" can then be turned sideways into a "book" with two pages when you're running an ebook reader. And of course the MacBook can be sold as-is in every country in the world, no keyboard layout issues. Think about the cost savings.

Incidentally, I only keep my MacBook Pro because I can't yet run XCode to program iOS apps on the iPad. The day XCode runs on the iPad (or the iPhone+screen+bluetooth keyboard), I will never again need my trusty battered OS X 10.6 MacBook Pro.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the NeXT Step. Soon.
In the meantime, enjoy the music, book, video, mobile phone and gaming revolutions that the wizard Mr. Jobs has thrust upon us in the past decade.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Enough with DRM already!

Ars Technica (a great publication, in case you didn't know of it) has an article about the problems plaguing eBooks: No universal format, fight over DRM, etc...

If you read the comments section, there are only two universally acclaimed places from which to buy books online: Baen (webscriptions.net) and O'Reilly. And guess what they have in common? Absolutely ZERO DRM and therefore the ability to provide the books in a multitude of formats, including the ubiquitous PDF.

Personally I've been buying and reading books from Baen on my iPhone and computers for 2 years now, and it and O'Reilly are the absolute only two places I buy books from. It's easy, prices are good, and I never have to worry about which device I'm reading the book on.

DRM must go. Check out the author Eric Flint's introduction to the newly-created Baen Free Library in the year 2000, and then his followup rant on DRM in 2006. Publishers and authors have been getting this kind of market research continuously for 10 years now, and they still don't get it. Looks like books are going the way of music, movies and video games (Ubisoft, I'm looking at you): how to best shoot oneself in the foot by screwing the customer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

On the need for basic statistics training

These days anyone will do anything for a bit of exposure, for search engine positioning or otherwise. And sometimes it borders on the idiotic (well, in some cases it truly is Jackass-level idiotic, but that would be on purpose).

Here's the latest beautiful example that I was just given, courtesy of Business Insider: CHART OF THE DAY: Here's Why The Mobile Ad Market Is Still Small

This report on a survey, and accompanying chart, attempts to convince us that the mobile ad market is small and very few people research or purchase products on their cell phones. Sure, the basic idea that weekly only 8% of people research products on their cell phones may be correct. I don't dispute that.

But if I were to say that 32% of all smartphone owners research products weekly on their smartphones, which by the way, are geared to receiving high-quality mobile ads, wouldn't you rethink the conclusion?
Furthermore, while only an assumed 25% of all mobile phone owners today have smartphones, the smartphone share is exploding and therefore so will the mobile ad market.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Monday, May 03, 2010

Why I too 'deleted' my Facebook account

Some weeks ago I pulled the plug on my Facebook account, that I'd had since the days when Facebook required a ".edu" email address. Yes, that was a very long time ago in Internet Years, and no I wasn't in school at the time but thanks to my UPenn lifetime email I was able to get in and see what this new social network was about.

Today I just cannot justify being on Facebook. All my working life I've fought against complexity and interdependence, and many of those at the receiving end of my emails know that I fancy an Alan Perlis quote that goes:
Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
And today, Facebook has become such a tangled mess of relationships that:

  • it's impossible to understand how why you're shown something
  • it's impossible to control the flow of your information
  • it's impossible to handle your privacy with any confidence
  • it's impossible to know where Facebook will stop this cancerous growth
No thanks, goodbye Facebook. Back to basics, to simple and controlled interconnections. Anything else yields an abyss of unending wasted time and resources, and dangerous consequences. It's just not worth it

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm still here

Just in case you were wondering, yes I'm still here.
My.tel 2.0 is out on the iPhone app store. We're busy rolling out a new version of the TelProxy, and I need to update both My.tel and Superbook again. So many new features, so little time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Okay it's been a while, I'm now emerging back from a stretch of intense work.
My.tel 2.0, the iPhone app for managing your .tel domains, is in beta and almost done. Also TelPages is being tested, especially for its algorithms, and I'm quite happy with the first iteration.
All in all, work is progressing well.