Thursday, September 27, 2007

iTunes (and my friend John) reports that v1.1.1 of the iPhone software is available. Since I have third party apps installed, I am hesitant to install it just yet. My phone has not been unlocked carrier-wise, but app-tap is on there.

I think I will wait a little while and see what people have to say. No point being the guinea pig on this one. :)

UPDATE: I was able to update my app-tap-modified iPhone to v1.1.1 without a restore required, no problems. Of course, I no longer have any third-party apps on the device, so I will be looking for updates there in the next few days.

Where to look in early moments to see what works and doesn't? Well, Engadget is such a great place...

mcg @ Sep 27th 2007 2:14PM
What the hell, I'm trying it now. I haven't unlocked my SIM but I have AppTapp installed and a number of applications, including SummerBoard. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Ben Kreeger @ Sep 27th 2007 2:16PM
Yes, please let me know what happens; I've got AppTapp installed.

mcg @ Sep 27th 2007 2:19PM
Oops, it's probably best that I reply to my original post. I got the dreaded "unknown error" when attempting to install the software right off the bat. Maybe undoing jailbreak would have averted that problem, but what's done is done. Now I am having to use the iTunes Restore Phone feature. Looks like I'll be losing my apps and my data. No big deal to me, really, but beware. I'll post again when I'm up and running with 1.1.1.

mcg @ Sep 27th 2007 2:25PM
Now I'm back in action. Lost apps and data. Had to reenter my voicemail password.

Interestingly, I have a new icon next to the standard BlueTooth blue icon---it's in the shape of my bluetooth headset. Looks to be a batter meter. Nice.

mcg @ Sep 27th 2007 2:27PM
Now I'm syncing my photos, music, calendar, etc. It's going to take awhile, so I'll wrap it up here. Bottom line, if you've done a jailbreak, be prepared to start from scratch. It would be nice if someone could un-jailbreak the phone and see if that prevents us from having to reinstall everything.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Mobile | Tech
Thursday, September 27, 2007 10:09:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Arjan Zuidhof, a .NET software engineer in the Netherlands comments briefly on his linkblog regarding our recent podcast show and interview about being a DBA:

"When was the last time *you* listened to a podcast? Honestly? One of the things I know I should do more, but, ahh, the lack of time is standing in the way. Still, learning how to be a better DBA is definitely a healthy career path if you don't know where to go..."

That got me thinking. Arjan's point seems to be consistent with those of many others, and truthfully I have to include myself in that list of people who have found podcast consumption to be too hard from time to time. I have found myself wondering aloud and to myself how in the world anyone can possibly  get the technology to work seamlessly, find and organize podcasts, have them in a place where they can be consumed, and still find the time to actually listen to them.

And then there's the whole (somewhat true) problem I refer to as the "most-podcasts-suck" phenomenon. It can be painful and a bit of work to find a good show, let alone stick with it.

But some of the best learning I have done over the past year or two has been from podcasts, so I can tell you there is a tangible benefit. I listen to a total of maybe 6 or 7 podcasts, and I listen whenever I find I have the time. I don't listen to every episode in its entirety, either - it has to keep my interest. I also don't plan it all out or have a podcast listening schedule. And I have found that's important for me if I am going to be part of the podcast "listernership."

The first thing I had to do was to have a set of tools that make it possible to listen without having to think about it. Here are the tools that I have found actually make it possible, in my real world:

  1. iTunes - Love it or hate it, the fact of the matter is, iTunes makes subscribing to and consuming podcasts freakin' easy. And on top of that, you get show ratings, the podcast directory on the iTunes store, and a lot more. Plus, when you consider that the producers of a podcast have to work to get their show into iTunes, it's raises the bar slightly and as a result the signal to noise ratio is a little lower.
  2. The Mac Mini on my kitchen counter - With some compact speakers and the iTunes client running on it, I just load the Added recently playlist and listen. Obviously, this could be a Windows machine or whatever. The point is, in the space where you spend your time, it's good to have the ability to let stuff play in the background, and your primary iTunes subscription point show be there.
  3. iPod (or iPhone in my case) - The thing that matters the most here is that you need to have it with you all the time. Truth be told, my iPod saw so little use day-to-day that I seriously consider that particular purchase to be a waste of money. I have a friend who has actually used it much more than me. But the iPhone, on the other hand, goes everywhere with me. As a result, the iPod content on the phone actually gets listened to. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this point: Listening needs to be something you just do. The planning part should be limited to the discovery of and subscription to content. After that, the whole idea is to focus energy on the shows, not the delivery mechanism. Else you'll find yourself frustrates and giving up. And that's, well, pointless.

I'm a Windows and Wintel guy primarily, so you might be surprised to see the glaring consistency in manufacturer above. Get over it, I did. And it works. That's what matters. 

My point here is this: The time it takes to actually listen to podcasts is often confused and munged with the time it takes to be able to listen to podcasts. I'm not saying that Arjan's situation is specifically that, but rather his comments caused me to think through some common frustrations based on my own experience and the experiences of others.

I've heard many people say they just can't find the time for it. I know I certainly get frustrated with shows that ramble on and on and present nothing useful. That's why - for example - Scott Hanselman's excellent Hanselminutes podcast is intentionally compact and focused on a specific audience, and it's why we work hard to keep RunAs Radio around 30 minutes per show and focused on topics for IT professionals.

What I've found is that if you can work out the technology part of things, and then be willing to spend a little bit of time here and there glancing at recommendations made by others and which fill your own interests, you can learn and consume a lot of good stuff in the "between" time (and still have time left over for other stuff).

For those who roll their eyes and doubt, here's my "preachy" thought for the moment - for what it's worth: If your schedule won't allow you to listen to a podcast every week or two (and this statement is coming from a true workaholic, people) you might want/need to take a hard look at your schedule and figure out what's wrong with it. Missing out on good information, whether it be written or recorded or what have you, is an unfortunate and damning side effect of too-much-ness. We all got to where we are today by learning, and stopping now really isn't an option - unless our goals are to slide backward and relegate ourselves to being second-best. There should be time for family and friends, time for yourself, and then time for work.

Anyhow, a special thanks to Arjan for making me think. :)

Do you listen to podcasts? Or do you find you can't? Why or why not? What is the one thing podcast producers could do today that would make a real difference to you, the kind of difference that would make it really worthwhile for you to spend some time with them?

Ready? Discuss!



Add/Read: Comments [8]
AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:04:35 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We had an opportunity recently to speak with Trey Johnson, Chief Business Intelligence Architect at Cizer, about the current state of BI in the industry and some of the new technologies available on the Microsoft side of things. We also touched on what business intelligence means these days and some of the things IT professionals need to be thinking about when contemplating a BI project.

RunAs Radio Show #25 - 9/26/2007 (31 minutes)
Trey Johnson Helps Us Get Business Intelligence

Richard and Greg talk to Trey Johnson from Cizer about Microsoft's Business Intelligence offerings. The product line up from Microsoft is expanding beyond SQL Server, Analysis Services and Excel to include Microsoft Office Sharepoint Services, the new PerformancePoint Server and ProClarity Analysis Tools.

One thing's for sure: If you don't have your ducks truly in a row before you start, a poorly-planned BI project can be a money pit of enormous size. But it's not all that complicated to do it well. It just takes a careful approach, the proper people and a set of well-defined and complete requirements. Trey helps us get a handle on the current state of affairs.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
RunAs Radio | Tech
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:25:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Over time I've had the opportunity to write a pretty significant number of blog entries. Some of those are technical in nature and try to describe how to do something specific on your computer. But truth be told, there have been many times when I wanted to do a weblog post but didn't because quite frankly it would have been too much work (for both of us) to explain how to do whatever it was in text form.

I've often considered doing screencasts in those cases, and I've even jumped in and done a couple here and there, but until recently it has not been something I have really tackled in most cases. I've used them at work (with substantial success), but not on the blog.

allc_bigbox Just last week I wrote a post about the Windows Internet Time servers that Microsoft uses for its defaults being inoperable. I considered making a video screencast showing how to change your Internet time settings, but since I was not set up with the proper software and I have not been very happy with much of the software I have used for that purpose in the past, I just typed it up. Shortly after that post, I saw and entered a little online contest to win a copy of some screen capturing software called ALLCapture. Turns out I was one of the winners of the contest. So, this morning I downloaded the software and decided to put it to a real-world test.

I've updated the original post about the Windows time server settings to include the Flash version of the screencast, which I think turned out technically pretty well. My narration and organization left a bit to be desired, but hey what the heck. I left in the uhhh, verbal umm... bumps and didn't edit the video, and I also didn't use the full drawing and annotating capabilities of the software for this one. So, it's truly a quick and basic example of how you can capture and narrate a screencast. Note that you can edit after recording as well. That includes adding and removing audio, adding labels and pointers to help highlight items on the screen, etc. The included help file is useful in understanding how to do some of the more advanced work.

You can check out the simple video I made here. Also, here is a link to a basic Windows Media version for comparison. The Windows Media file is quite a bit smaller than the Flash version. Both use out of the box, default settings. I recorded the audio with my USB studio mic.

I also tried creating a screencast to accompany my post today about DreamScene and it turned out nicely, but the file size was pretty huge so I haven't posted it. The reason for the huge size is obvious if you've seen Windows DreamScene in action - it's a full screen capture of fully animated desktops, so everything is constantly changing in the scene. Needless to say, I need to figure out how to trim things down for screencasts like that one, so you can reasonably download them.

All in all, it's cool software and I think it will be quite useful.

Full disclosure: I won my copy of the ALLCapture software in a friendly online contest. I've tried it and found it to be pretty darn useful - enough so to write about it here - but be aware that I didn't purchase the software with my own cash. That said, it's good stuff and I think it's worth checking out.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Tech
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 6:37:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I woke up a little early this morning to the smell of coffee (good way to wake up, eh?) and looked outside and decided to grab a camera and snap a couple hand-held shots from the front porch.

After shooting the pictures, and knowing the image would probably need to be cropped and that the long exposure (I had to do controlled breathing and steady the camera big time) would result in some shift in color and contrast, I figured this might be an interesting scene to look at in terms of in-camera composition, exposure and cropping. I used to do photography professionally and have been thinking a lot about getting back into it (non-professionally). This is a way of pushing myself in that direction.

I've included a few questions at the end, and I hope you'll use the comments to answer them with your thoughts. From time to time I'll do the same thing with other images.

(Note: You can click each image to view the larger size)

For illustrative purposes, here's the view the way the digital camera saw it and the way it wanted to expose the frame in "Program" mode (I've resized the image but it's otherwise unaltered). Note this is a great example of where automatic camera modes can result in substandard images. Program mode is not just easy, it's lazy. My opinion, anyhow...

    DSC_0054-crop0

Here's the same scene using a manual exposure, where the exposure is made primarily for the highlights. I bracketed a bit and this one had the best level of detail in the wide range of tonal values present in the scene. It's far from perfect, and the image was made in JPEG mode, not RAW, so it should be noted that right away we start the lossy process:

    DSC_0072-edit0

Here's how I remember the scene looking to my eye, or at least this is close (the image is an altered version of the above frame):

    DSC_0072-edit1a

I then made this crop to clean things up a bit and focus on what my mind was framing. Of the crops on this page it probably comes closest to obeying the "rule of thirds" as far as subject placement goes:

    DSC_0072-edit3

And this one is cropped even closer to show what my eye was truly drawn to. It still comes close to obeying the rule of thirds, but it not as strictly compliant:

    DSC_0072-edit5

So, what do you think works best and why? Do you have a preference? Why or why not? Would you crop it differently? How?



Add/Read: Comments [4]
Photography | Random Stuff
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 5:25:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Microsoft today officially released Dream Scene to all Windows Vista Ultimate customers (such as myself). Nice to see some Ultimate content coming out, and as noted further down below it appears we'll get to see more in the near future.

I was already using the DreamScene preview release and enjoying it (although it was not always stable). Today my Windows Update let me know there's a new "Ultimate Extras" update available:

DreamSceneAvaliable

Needless to say, I updated. There's also a nearly-60MB package of "DreamScene content pack favorites" that showed up later in the day on Windows Update, which contains a set of videos that work with DreamScene.

From the Windows Vista Ultimate blog, here is a portion of the announcement made by Ultimate Director (cool title) Barry Goffe:

"As most of you already know, Windows DreamScene transforms your desktop from a static wallpaper image into a full-motion video. In conjunction with Stardock, we’re pleased to also offer a number of cool, new animated DreamScene desktops, including “Aurora”. Additionally, you can use your own videos as DreamScene desktops or visit Stardock’s Dream.WinCustomize.com website to download Stardock’s DeskScapes (an add-on to DreamScene) as well as a collection of fabulous content created by Stardock and members of the Ultimate community."

It's worth calling out the reference to the Stardock web site, dream.wincustomize.com, which you'll want to visit in order to download dreams for your new Ultimate capability. Also, Stardock's blog entry provides some additional detail.

Also in today's announcement is word that more Ultimate Extras are coming (something many of us have really wondered about for some time, to be honest):

"In addition to the remaining Language Packs, we plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers. We will shed more light on these plans once the Language Packs are finally dislodged from our delivery pipeline!"

Great news, and something to look forward to for sure.



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Tech
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:51:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Master_Chief_Assembled_by_billybob884 Wow. Like as in that-must-have-taken-forever-wow.

Mike McDermott, who also goes by BillyBob884 at the deviantART web site, has created and built a folded Origami paper (plus a little white glue) model of the Master Chief from Halo.

The final model comes out to be 13" (33 cm) tall, has roughly 2100 faces (+ ~800 for the gun), and is made up of 42 pieces (+ 10 for the gun).

How accurate is it? McDermott says:

"Well, it was an exact rip of the Halo 1 Master Chief model, but I had to take a few liberties in changing little details to make it build-able. But I'd say its like 90-95% accurate. The gun is another story though. It's probably somewhere around the magnitude of 60-75% accurate..."

On the site you can download a copy of the instructions, a PDF file of all the pieces (which you can print out and use to create your very own Master Chief), and the PePaKuRa model file for reference (which you should probably use to determine which tabs go where, as it looks fairly complex - a model viewer is available here).

Oh, and if you actually build it, send me a picture and be sure to let the creator know on his deviantART web site.

Mike has also created a number of other paper models you can try, such as the Halo Ringworld and more. Enjoy. :)



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Geek Out | Random Stuff
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:03:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

It's always difficult to know exactly what it takes to become a better (insert technical role here). So it goes with being a great DBA. Similarly, I can remember way back in my "webmaster" days when I was trying to figure out how to grow in that role, and discovering that the term "webmaster" always seemed to mean something different to each company or organization I spoke with.

That seems to be a perennial problem. Someone defines a general title without having a real solid idea of what the role is. Or, as in the case of the DBA, the job becomes more complex and critical over time, and so needs change and the role becomes more complex. Certainly that happened with the "webmaster role" of the past. Today we have UI experts, back-end programmers, middle-tier developers, content administrators, etc. Times change.

Brad McGehee is a great person to ask about the DBA market: How do you become a DBA? Where do you start? What's the future look like? What exactly is a DBA, anyhow? Well, we interviewed Brad recently for an episode of RunAs Radio and his insights into this world were quite useful.

RunAs Radio - Show #24 | 9/19/2007 (41 minutes)
Brad McGehee On Being a Better DBA

Brad McGehee discusses the career path of a professional database administrator. Often the DBA role is thrust upon an IT professional or developer without much in the way of specific training. Growing into the role is largely a self-motivated exercise. Brad talks about the habits that successful DBAs have, focused on on-going education and working to protect their organizations data.

Side Note: We've recorded more than 25 shows now since we started the RunAs Radio show in April. You can subscribe in iTunes at this link. It's seen more downloads and attention than I could have possibly imagined, and we have much, much more to come. We'll also be at TechEd Europe in Barcelona, Spain this fall and involved in a variety of other upcoming events.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
RunAs Radio | Tech
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:47:49 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, September 24, 2007

I know several people who are heading out this evening to sit, stand, lie and probably roll multi-sided dice in line at stores selling Halo 3 when it releases at midnight. Mine's arriving at my from Amazon, so I won't be in line. Last time I did that (Halo 2), the early-morning drive home ended up with a game of chicken involving a semi truck in my lane. I lost. So tonight I will stray home and relax, knowing my Amazon Prime membership is taking good care of me.

So - are you going to camp out tonight, or not?

 
Highly-anticipated is such an understatement for this one. You can read the GamePro review here.
 
I'd like to see the diorama they built for the Believe video series. Where is that thing - and does any part of it actually exist in real life? You can go on a personal tour of it here - very cool.


Add/Read: Comments [0]
Geek Out | Random Stuff
Monday, September 24, 2007 9:54:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

iphoneheadsetadapter One of the things that disappointed me when I got my iPhone home and unboxed it was the fact that all the headphones I already have won't fit in the headphone jack. The iPhone headphone socket is recessed, so the plug slides inside. Most common headphones with a standard 3.5mm plug won't fit. While the earbuds that come with the iPhone are pretty good, Apple's earbuds have never fir my ears all that well. So, well you get the idea.

But this morning on the JKOnTheRun site, Kevin Tofel points us to an inexpensive and useful adapter that fits into the iPhone's recessed jack and lets you plug your "standard" plugs in without worry. Headsets with microphones built in work, as well.

Best of all, for now it's only $3.95 and the company that is selling it - Helium Digital - is also providing free shipping. I've ordered mine. What a bargain.



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Mobile | Tech
Monday, September 24, 2007 8:47:15 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, September 22, 2007

Today was a very good day to wake up and shop for concert tickets.

At 9am I got my James Taylor tickets lined up. I've been to his shows three times in the past and it's by far the best concert I've been to overall. James Taylor's music is my long-time favorite, and even though he'll be six hours away in Spokane when he plays, it will be great and well worth the trip. Heck, I drove there to see Korn and Rob Zombie once several years ago, so I think I can easily make the trip for this one, heh.

And - just as good and exciting - at 10am I was lucky enough to get floor seats for Van Halen's upcoming concert at the Rose Garden here in Portland on December 1st. It's going to be a fun concert tour for all us 40-year-olds. The last time David Lee Roth performed with Van Halen was when I was a senior in high school (wow, I am getting to be freakin' old):

In what promises to be the most exciting live tour this year, Van Halen is embarking on a national concert tour throughout the U.S. and Canada with its original lead singer David Lee Roth for the first time in 22 years.  Considered by fans and media alike as one of the most highly anticipated tours in rock and roll history, Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen will perform with Eddie’s son, Wolfgang who joins the line-up as the band’s bass player.  Van Halen and Roth have not performed or recorded together since 1984’s classic multi-platinum album “1984” and subsequent tour, making this tour truly a historic event.

Anyhow -- That's a couple events I am really looking forward to. Now if Paul Simon would just drop by for a concert, I'd be completely set and could die a complete musical person, heh.



Add/Read: Comments [3]
Random Stuff
Saturday, September 22, 2007 9:56:48 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, September 21, 2007

Lots of iPhone posts recently, I am aware. I promise I will get other topics up here. But I need to tell you about my service experience with Apple this week, as it exemplifies why great service is so valuable - not just to the customer, but to the company as well.

As I described recently, I had a mishap with my iPhone where a new holster that was way too tight resulted in a flying iPhone that bounced off my hand, off my knee, to the floor and a subsequent small dent that prevented the power/lock button from working at all. In a nutshell, the phone got damaged after I dropped it (although I maintain it should be a bit more resilient and the holster I bought sucks design-wise).

So, as I said I would the other day, I took the phone and a small dose of hope with me to the Apple store here in the Portland area to show it to them and see what it would take to get it fixed (meaning how many dollars). As I also said that day, my expectations were low in terms of service coverage. Boy, was I ever surprised.

I took the phone to the store, signed up to speak with one of their experts on the in-store concierge system, walked around the mall for about 30 minutes, and then went back to the store. The techs looked at the iPhone, saw the problem, listened to me for about 15 seconds as I described what had happened, and immediately proceeded to arrange to have the situation rectified.

Wow. As I listened to the service tech telling me they didn't have a replacement phone available right then and there (they were out of stock) and that he expected more in the store the next day, I actually got a little confused. "So how will this work?" I asked. "Will I use the loaner and bring it back here when my phone is fixed?"

"Nope," he said. "We stopped the loaner program. We're just going to give you anew phone. I'm sorry I don't have any in stock right now, but we'll call you as soon as we get one in, probably tomorrow. Since your phone is basically working except for this button why don't you take it with you and you can bring it back when the new one comes in, and then we'll just swap out the SIM and everything right here when you come back."

I think I looked shocked. At least based on the look on his face. He smiled.

"Wow," I said. "Thanks!"

"Not a problem, not at all. You need a working iPhone." said the tech.

And less than 24 hours later I received the call, went to the store, and got the replacement in short order, no waiting. They even let me exchange the decidedly crappy holster case that was so problematic for a much better model, which you can see here.

Kudos to Apple for its quick, unflinching, natural and truly customer-centric reflexes. It felt 100% authentic and the focus was on whether I was happy as a customer and if the product was meeting my needs and working properly. I can tell you this: I have already started looking at other Apple products in the store and have visited the online store a few times since this experience, as well. I am much, much more likely to buy Apple sometime in the future as a result - and that means in my personal decisions as well as professional business ones.

There's something to be learned here, for sure.



Add/Read: Comments [14]
Mobile | Random Stuff | Tech
Friday, September 21, 2007 10:36:55 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's been quite a while since I have posted one of my reasons why it's nice to live in the sticks and to have to drive an hour each way to get to the city, but here's another reason why... I got to watch these at the bottom of the hill on my property off and on for a couple hours this evening. You can click the image to see the larger version.

Deer1



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Photography | Random Stuff
Thursday, September 20, 2007 5:26:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

imageOver at http://ipxsync.com/ there's information about a new service, listed as currently in beta, that will allow you to get your Exchange information on your iPhone. Appropriately dubbed iPXSync, it's offered SaaS style and they say will be simple to set up and get running.

UPDATED: Someone from iPXSync sends along this link to a FAQ page (nice that they're watching the discussion and participating!), and Kevin over at JKOnTheRun also posted about this, and has posted a follow-up that helps to answer some of the same questions I have.

All security concerns aside (the iPhone has quite literally no IT controls available for it in case you lose it or something), it's an interesting possibility and it'll be fun to see how they deliver this. I'm hoping it's what people are assuming - wireless connectivity to the information on Exchange in the actual installed apps on the iPhone, although without proxying and (therefore) potentially storing highly sensitive information on the service's hosts, that might be really hard to do (and a big red flag for any corporate user with half a brain). So, I hope they have something really smart and secure dreamed up. We shall see. I am also wondering how they'll deal with tasks from Exchange. And that makes me wonder if this will all be browser-based, or if they'll be app-tapping their way in, or what (in which case iPhone OS upgrades become a concern).

Ahh, questions abound. :)

From the web site:

iPXSync provides iPhone users with real-time m

obile access to all of their critical Microsoft Exchange Server information including email, message folders, calenders and tasks.

iPXSync is a zero-installation solution that requires no special software, hardware or configuration changes on the Exchange Server.

iPXSync is offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), which means it is immediately available with no expensive upfront fees, and you can be up and running in just minutes.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Add/Read: Comments [3]
Mobile | Tech
Thursday, September 20, 2007 1:39:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Navizon is a cool company that has some great technology that takes data from your mobile device - such as cataloged WiFi access points and cell towers your phone can "see" - and then uses that data to triangulate and plot you on a map.

There's a new third-party app for the iPhone that runs Navizon and connects to their service to use the data from the iPhone, and which then feeds your location to the Google Maps app and pinpoints you. Nice. Requires the AppTap installer, of course.

Not nearly as good as something like TeleNav, but very cool and useful nonetheless. It gets you fairly close, especially where WiFi access points are used for reference. I have installed the app on my iPhone and am trying it out today. It was able to find me accurately within a city block earlier, and other times it reported there was no known data points visible to the service. At least so far all it has used is WiFi access points to get a fix, not cell towers, so there might be something I need to change or set up, not sure.

Expect their service to be a little bit overwhelmed with excited iPhone users today and in the near future, in the event you experience problems signing up for a Navizon account.

Reference: iPhone Atlas



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 2:53:53 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I was chatting with my friend John Batdorf the other day ...

[EDIT: Actually it was several days ago, because I lost this post twice and didn't realize it was not already on the blog, so it's being posted again late - But I've made some edits below to include more info from him]

... about home Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions. I have a 750GB Seagate drive that I use via USB2 to store all kinds of stuff on, but you have to plug it in, unplug it, take it to the next machine, etc. And I use a laptop a lot, so it's extra clunky to have to plug in a big external device and corral it up if I want to move, and I move a lot. A network-based mass-storage device would be great for me. And it turns out John is was also looking for something similar.

We discussed some of the requirements. For me it needs to have some redundancy and fail-safe capabilities built in. I have been burned too many times by single-point-of-failure drive crashes. I've almost always been able to do some heavy-lifting and time-consuming recovery (I've learned a few pretty crazy hardware tricks for recovering data over the years), but I really have been quite fortunate not to permanently lose any important data. It's a miracle, really - a lot like dodging bullets. Anyhow, I need RAID and all the good sleep and awesomeness that goes with it.

We both really wanted a true NAS solution providing direct network attachment from anywhere on the LAN, and preferably the flexibility to connect from a variety of common platforms: Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux, Vic20, whatever. Okay not that last one, but the others for sure.

I asked John to send me a summary of his requirements, and here is what he came up with:

Network Attached Storage Requirements on my 10/100 wired network

The primary goal of this purchase is to get all the iTunes media off of my laptop and desktop home systems. It would be a good place to store all my photos (gigs) too. The last ‘goal’ is to be able to backup said laptop and desktop (data files) somehow. It would be cool if the Xbox could access it too, but I think you have to run the connector software to do that.

Necessities:

  • iTunes Library shared between multiple computers
    • Should be fast enough to support music transfer with no problems.
    • Would be great if it could do video too.
  • Store photos
  • The device must be able to be mapped as a drive in windows with no software installation
  • 500GB storage
  • Price point under $300 for WAF.

Nice to Have:

  • Backup software/solution
  • Xbox Connectivity
  • USB port to add other drives

Not a bad list. Starting with John's list, here is what I would add/change for my needs:

Greg's NAS Requirements List for a 10/100/1000 wired and Wireless-N/G Network

Everything on John's list, with these changes:

  • RAID disk subsystem controller
  • 1TB+ total storage, which will be divided for RAID purposes (if I can afford it I'd like to get 1TB usable space, but we'll see)
  • Hot-swappable drives are a big plus
  • Web-based connectivity from the Internet is nice to have, but it must be properly secured
  • Skip the WAF since I am not beholden to that, but I want to keep it as low as possible - best bang for the buck

So, it turns out John ordered and just set up a 500GB LaCie Ethernet Disk mini NAS system for under $200, and he likes it a lot so far. It's does everything he needs it to do, it's fast, and it took him literally just a couple minutes to set up and start using it. That's a good sign. Read about his day-one impressions on his blog.

But, for my purposes I still have some researching to accomplishate before gearing my brain-organ into the decisionation phase. So, Dear Reader (I always wanted to say that), what do you think is the best way to go about this and stay within the requirements? What requirements have I missed?

Here's a run-down of the couple things I have under consideration so far, but don't let my little list limit you, and feel free to comment on these as well as provide your own ideas:

I am sure people who read this will have plenty of other ideas to suggest, as well.

Ready?

Discuss!



Add/Read: Comments [6]
Tech
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 10:33:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Something appears to have changed today with Google reader. I was looking at the screen and something felt, well, different. But I couldn't place it. Then I realized - the "Labs" label seems to be gone. Wow, that was quiet. And there I thought it has already moved up and out.

    image 

And it looks like the Google Reader blog explains it. Well, kind of explains it. No more "Labs." Nice job.

http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2007/09/breaking-up-isnt-hard-to-do.html

I use Google reader almost exclusively now. To be honest, it took more than a year to grow on me, and only when I got to a point where I wanted to be able to access it from anywhere did it really get interesting.



Add/Read: Comments [6]
RSS Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 12:18:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, September 17, 2007

As I mentioned the other day, my iPhone dropped in a partially-broken fall (bobbled with one hand but not caught) from about the height of my knees or slightly above down to the ground, and dented the case so the button that switches off the display and power and provides reboot capabilities, etc. no longer works. The plastic is jammed and prevented from moving by the tiny piece of bent metal case.

I'll be taking it to the Apple Store this afternoon to see what - if anything - they are willing to do for me. Their service coverage specifically says they won't cover damage due to accident or neglect, so I will cross my fingers (it was such a short drop), but not hold my breath. The non-warranty repair costs they quote are high enough to make me consider just buying a replacement phone. Of course we would have to see what AT&T has to say about that, as well. We'll see.

UPDATE: After dropping the Apple Store and setting up an appointment, I waited for my time to come up and then spent a total of about five minutes with one of the service employees there. I briefly explained what had happened, he showed it to the service manager, and they immediately arranged for a replacement. Wow. I'm floored. So much so I started looking at more products in the store and seriously considering them.

At any rate, on the Boy Genius Report site I just saw this gray anodized replacement cover for about $47.00. Hmm. It's interesting to me when I think about taking the thing apart and fixing it myself, since the one thing that worries me the most about doing that is the lack of a suitable replacement metal case part.

iphone back1 iphone back2

In the pictures it's apparent that there's no metal supporting pieces in there, it's just the metal case skin, and from this article (great detail and pictures there) it looks like there's a lot of glue to dissolve in the process of moving parts, but it's entirely possible. Plus a black case would be, well, cool. Heh.

Hmm, a decent disassembly tutorial video too. Heh. Use at your own risk. I like the lowered and faster-paced voice for the disclaimer at the beginning. Classic.

I won't undertake a tear-down-and-rebuild yet. Apple Store gets got the first shot, and won hands-down. But it's interesting to see what the community is doing and what the self-service, warranty-breaking, hardware-hacking options are.

black housing black housing2 black replacement case for iphone



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Monday, September 17, 2007 9:52:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, September 16, 2007

I was trying to figure out why my clock was not getting properly synchronized with the default Network Time Protocol (NTP) server this evening because I noticed my home router (which also has NTP sync enabled) was a couple minutes ahead of my laptop.

UPDATE: I've made a very quick-and-dirty screencast (typing errors, 'umms' and all) showing how to change the Time Server settings in Windows, which you can view in your browser by clicking here. I incorporated a couple readers' thoughts from the comments into the video, as well.

Since I am running Vista, I went to the Change Date and Time settings dialog for the clock, then I clicked on the Internet Time tab, and noted that "time.windows.com" was selected as the NTP host to sync with. The only problem is, it looks like that host is not working. In fact, if I tried to select that host and do an update the system dialog would hang until it timed out:

image

So, I changed the NTP host to "ntp1.dlink.com" (same one my DLink router uses) and saved it, and instantly the time was updated on the Windows machine.

image

I went with the DLink time server after messing with a few of the other NTP host options (the NIST ones) available in the configuration list, some of which worked at the time and some of which didn't work too well or at all.

Anyone else having problems successfully connecting via NTP at time.windows.com? It will be interesting to see if this problem still exists tomorrow or not. At least one other person I just checked with has the exact same issues as of the time of this writing. Bummer that the default Windows Vista time service is not highly available (or at least appears not to be, so let me know if I am wrong here). Seems like it should be. Time sync issues across an ASP.net web farm for example can wreak havoc with an app, and try getting a domain controller's time out of sync with member servers. It can be a whole lot of not-fun. Of course, perhaps relying on time.windows.com is not the best way to ensure stability when you really should be running your own enterprise time services keyed to GPS or atomic clock, but you get the point.

For what it's worth, here is how to synchronize Windows Vista with an Internet time server, as cannibalized from Windows Help:

    You can synchronize your computer clock with an Internet time server. This means that the clock on your computer is updated to match the clock on the time server, which can help ensure that the clock on your computer is accurate. Your clock is typically updated once a week and needs to be connected to the Internet for the synchronization to occur.

    1. Open the Date and Time dialog.

    2. Click the Internet Time tab, and then click Change settings. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    3. Click Automatically synchronize with an Internet time server, select a listed time server or enter the name of the one you want to use, and then click OK. Test the connection using the button provided.



Add/Read: Comments [28]
Tech
Sunday, September 16, 2007 10:31:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Now, I'm really not sure how this contextual ad ended up in my Google Mail interface, but I thought it was pretty funny:

funny-gmail-ad
(click the image to view full size if you like)

I'm trying to figure out exactly which one of my friends has the hot mom. Hmmm. Anyone know? Heh. Hey, everyone needs to find an unhappily married woman, eh? Makes me wonder just how many clicks that one gets.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Humor | Random Stuff
Sunday, September 16, 2007 7:50:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, September 14, 2007

This is pretty funny. Note: Some rough language and typical juvenile video game sexual stuff (NSFW). About the same stuff you experience any time you play on Live really, but hey the warning is there in case. Enjoy.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Humor | Random Stuff
Friday, September 14, 2007 1:22:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I was interviewed yesterday for a Business Week article that appears today, discussing the value of mobile-phone-based GPS services and why they're becoming so popular. The article is well-written and covers the bases in a couple quick pages. It's kind of funny to be interviewed as a consumer - Most of my interview experience has been as a security expert, so this was fun.

I'm a power mobile user in a very practical sense. I travel a lot, and very frequently to places I have never been before. As a result, I am always having to find my way to new locations in unfamiliar lands. So, over the past couple years, GPS-enabled technology  has become my friend.

I started my GPS navigation experience a few years back with a laptop and a serial USB add-on that you stuck on your dash, powered separately via lighter socket, etc. eventually I updated to a USB GPS device that worked similarly. The software I used (Delorme's Street Atlas USA, a couple different versions) was very cool and you could actually speak to it and it would take your commands and talk back to you. I could say, "Computer, where am I?" and it would reply with something like, "You are heading north on US Highway 30 at 61 miles per hour. You are in Columbia County, Or-ee-gohn." It never really pronounced Oregon correctly, but hey that's the text-to-speech technology of a few years ago. The hardware and software has all been substantially upgraded since then and works even better. But I can't lug a laptop around in the car to do simple navigation (although I did just that on a trip all over southern California once), plus there's a whole class of information I use today that you just don't have access to on the laptop in the car.

I also got my 4-wheeler ATV with GPS capability onboard. I pretty much never use it, but on occasion it's been useful to mark waypoints at intersections on logging roads I'm cruising (oh wait, I never do that) so I can know which turns to take on the way back. There's no map capability, but an arrow points at your next waypoint and the display tells you how far away it is. Pretty useful.

Eventually I decided I needed something more usable, which at the time meant picking up a stand-alone in-car GPS device - the Magellan Roadmate 760. It was a great unit. I'd decided prior to that not to get an in-dash unit (and I am glad I did, since I never travel distances in my own car, see further down). It served me well, but as I traveled more and more I found it to be too large and clunky to stuff in a backpack and run through airports and in rental cars. So I gave it to a friend of mine who used it until it crapped out.

My next device was smaller Magellan unit, on sale at Costco, and included real-time traffic information over the air and the ability to suggest alternate routes, which is very cool. It's a great device (and my friend who had the 760 is using it now), but again it's one more thing to carry around. I found myself printing out paper driving directions or copy/pasting/emailing the Google Maps directions to myself before I left for a trip, instead of packing and carrying the GPS unit. Again, I have enough junk to carry around, and even the compact model meant too much stuff.

When I got my Blackberry 8800 with GPS built into the unit and the TeleNav service, I had found the perfect navigation device for my needs. Some people argue that paying ten bucks a month for the service is not something they'd be willing to do, and that Google Maps on the Blackberry is awesome, but I disagree (strongly). Google Maps is cool, but it's far from a useful and safe navigation system. You have to type, keyboard navigate, and read tiny print. Plus, it doesn't have anywhere near the information provided through the TeleNav service.

I wrote about my experiences with the Blackberry and TeleNav in the past. You might want to read those entries for some early perspective:

In those entries I explained a few of the real differentiators of the service. Here's a summary of what I get from the TeleNav service that makes it so perfect:

  • Maps are always up-to-date with the latest available data and can be downloaded as needed. With a standalone device you have to download map updates, which you must pay for, and in the real world the GPS device makers rarely make updates available.
  • The annual cost (since I already have the Blackberry and its cost is already easily justified for its various other uses) is about $120.00, which means after about three years you'll spend as much as you would on a mid-tier stand-alone GPS device - One that doesn't have live traffic updates and where the maps are only as accurate as the day the manufacturer loaded them on the device (meaning always out of date).
  • I always have my phone with me, and in turn I always have my GPS device with me.
  • No extra cords or brackets or suction cups or anything to haul around.
  • Small, tiny, compact, and works great.
  • Because it's on a data-enabled phone, the service provides all sorts of useful real-time capabilities in its directories and interfaces.
    • I can enter an address, search for a class of business, or type in a name of a business or place, and it will find the closest matches to my location, let me call them and route me to them. Better than Google Maps does, by far.
    • Advanced directory services like search for the closest gas station, or search for the lowest gas prices near me. Let me tell you, when you're in a hurry to get to an airport and don't want to pay the $8 a gallon the rental company charges to fill the stupid car for you, that $9.95 a month starts to sounds really inexpensive. And it is, after all, about the savings of time and money, not just the direct cost of the service.
    • I get real-time traffic and re-routing, which has proven useful a few times, as well as turn by turn directions spoken out loud with a clear visual view of the immediate situation, so I can glance and see what's next. Google Maps does only a rudimentary version of this, which requires finding the right keys to click, reading a lot of information on the screen rather than looking at the road, and a map scrolling feature that frequently fails. Simple fact: It's a lot safer and usability is better with the TeleNav interface and capabilities. Google maps is cool if you want to know where you are and maybe your passenger is telling you where to turn next. Otherwise it's just not up to par with the services and software available out there today.

I like the TeleNav so much I actually pulled the SIM card out of my iPhone the other day while I was up in Seattle and put it into the Blackberry 8800 so I could use the TeleNav GPS service to find my way around (and interestingly it worked swapping the card). I brought the Blackberry with me just in case I needed it for specifically that. Yeah, I know - back to carrying two devices. Well, at least they're small ones.

Now, if TeleNav could be installed and work on the iPhone, we'd be screaming! We can only hope.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Mobile | Tech
Friday, September 14, 2007 12:52:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

serial_step4_20070913 I was just looking at the Apple iPhone Store Credit site (after chatting with a friend who just took advantage of his $100 credit) and noticed the one of the documentation graphic photos of the iPhone (see right) shows software v1.1.1 (3B13) as the version running on the device. Click the Get Started link on the starting page and then scroll all the way down to see the graphic on the site. Since the latest release version (the one I have) is v1.0.2, there must be a new release coming very soon - and just as you'd expect with the addition on new features like the WiFi Store, it gets a second-decimal upgrade. Interesting that it's not v1.1.0 though. Hmm.

So I did a quick look-see in my RSS reader and lo-and-behold, iPhone Atlas is all over the case. That's a great site, by the way,  if you want to stay on top of iPhone information, for sure.

Below is what iPhone Atlas says we should expect. It will be interesting to see how well this list matches up.

Backing speculation spurred by an image on Apple’s iPhone store credit page that shows software version 1.1.1 (3B13) — the latest current release is 1.0.2 (1C28) — we’ve received word from reliable sources that an iPhone software/firmware update is imminent. Here’s what’s expected:

iTunes WiFi store Already available on the iPod touch, Apple promised delivery of the iTunes WiFi store for iPhones some time in the month of September. The functionality is expected to be added to the iPhone with this firmware update, or independently pushed to the iPhone via EDGE/WiFi.

Playback controls while sleeping/locked The iPod Touch sports a function that allows the home button to be pressed twice in order to bring up various media playback controls (volume, skip forward/backward) without fully unlocking the device. This feature is expected to be added to the iPhone in this release.

International/multiple keyboard support As previously reported the iPod Touch sports keyboard functionality that is far more robust than the iPhone’s, currently. It provides keyboards in 14 different languages, and supports alternative keyboard formats including QWERTZ and AZERTY. It can also make two or more keyboards available simultaneously, and has a feature that allows you to quickly type a period by double-tapping the spacebar. These features are expected to be added to the iPhone’s keyboard function in this software/firmware update.

Bug fixes/stability enhancements A slew of bug fixes and stability enhancements, including improvements for WiFI/EDGE networking are expected to be incorporated in the forthcoming release.

Hack/unlock concerns There is a significant likelihood that this update will undo unlocks (allowing the iPhone to be used on networks other than AT&T) that make use of a buffer overflow, including the iPhoneSIMFree method, and the freely available iUnlock method.

It is also likely that the iPhone will need to be re-hacked after the update to accept third-party binary applications (see our guide for instructions on doing so). Note that after changes were made to the iPhone’s software with iTunes 7.4.x, some iPhones entered an endless rebooting cycle when re-hacked, fixed via this method.

Check out iPhone Atlas for more, and subscribe to their feed for lots of great future info.



Add/Read: Comments [3]
Mobile | Tech
Friday, September 14, 2007 12:14:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, September 13, 2007

Updated: If you're wondering how this was resolve by Apple in my particular case, you can read about it here.

Ugh, this just had to happen.

I went to an Apple Store up in Bellevue, Washington yesterday before the nerd dinner and picked up a couple things, namely a Jawbone Bluetooth headset (which is awesome, more on that later), a touch-screen glass protector and a leather holster for my iPhone.

Don't buy the leather holster. Long story short, it's too tight, there's no way you can keep a good grip on the phone when you try to pry it out of the holster on your waist, and when it does come out you'll be lucky if it doesn't have some real velocity and inertia behind it. Like I said, you'll be lucky if.

I wasn't that lucky.

As I left the hotel today a text message chimed in and I went to pull the phone from the holster. It was hard to pull on, and when it finally gave way it came out fast, bounced off the palm of my hand, down my leg and to the floor. Actually, it didn't really hit that hard. Nowhere near as hard as every other phone I have ever had.

But the metal case that encloses the iPhone is apparently pretty soft. As in, it bends easily. The "power" button (that one on the upper right top edge) is now stuck and won't operate because even though the fall was broken and slowed, the soft-ish metal bent just enough to tweak the opening where the plastic button sticks though. So, now it's effectively jammed. Argh.

I was near the Apple Store (same one) when this happened and so I went there to see what I will have to do to get it fixed, but the wait for one of their "experts" was like three hours, and I had to dive into Seattle traffic to make the trip back home to Portland. So, I'll cal Apple or take it to the local store in the next day or so.

I'd recommend a couple things based on this experience. Again, don't use the leather holster, it's just a poor design, and one that a friend of mine has has loosened up over the month he has had it, but to the point where it no longer properly holds the phone (it went from tight to too loose, go figure). Also, if you're prone to dropping phones, go straight out and get one of the rubber armored slip-on cases. I sure wish I had chosen that instead of the holster. Hopefully this will help someone avoid a problem and the expense I am sure to be faced with when I get this thing fixed.



Add/Read: Comments [19]
Mobile | Tech | Things that Suck
Thursday, September 13, 2007 7:11:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Wow.

Google's ponied up $20 million to the team that can reach the moon first with an unmanned craft, rove around a bit after a soft landing, and transmit some video back to Earth. This is way cool.

xprize_horizTo win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must successfully land a privately funded craft on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a “Mooncast,” back to Earth.

If you have the will, funds and desire, you can sign up a team yourself. Let me know if I can help. :)

Excerpted from the Lunar X PRIZE web site:

The Mooncast consists of digital data that must be collected and transmitted to the Earth composed of the following:

  • High resolution 360º panoramic photographs taken on the surface of the Moon;
  • Self portraits of the rover taken on the surface of the Moon;
  • Near-real time videos showing the craft’s journey along the lunar surface;
  • High Definition (HD) video;
  • Transmission of a cached set of data, loaded on the craft before launch (e.g. first email from the Moon).

Teams will be required to send a Mooncast detailing their arrival on the lunar surface, and a second Mooncast that provides imagery and video of their journey roaming the lunar surface. All told, the Mooncasts will represent approximately a Gigabyte of stunning content returned to the Earth.

The total purse of the Google Lunar X PRIZE is $30 million (USD).

  • GRAND PRIZE: A $20 million Grand Prize will be awarded to the team that can soft land a craft on the Moon that roams for at least 500 meters and transmits a Mooncast back to Earth. The Grand Prize is $20M until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15M until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation
  • SECOND PRIZE: A $5 million Second Prize will be offered as well, providing an extra incentive for teams to continue to compete, and increasing the possibility that multiple teams will succeed. Second place will be available until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation
  • BONUSES: An additional $5 million in bonus prizes can be won by successfully completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 meters), imaging man made artifacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days). The competing lunar spacecraft will be equipped with high-definition video and still cameras, and will send images and data to Earth, which the public will be able to view on the Google Lunar X PRIZE website.


Add/Read: Comments [1]
Geek Out | Random Stuff
Thursday, September 13, 2007 6:54:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'll be driving up to the Bellevue area Wednesday to meet up with my friend Scott at a geek dinner they're holding at the food court of the Crossroads Bellevue Mall from 6:30-9:00 p.m. Hope to see you there! Here's an iCal item to add it to your Outlook calendar.

Scott started work this week at Microsoft (congrats!) and this will be a fun opportunity to meet a few people and get out of Portland for a day or two. I'll also be dropping by to see a few other friends. Looking forward to the quick trip.

Oh, and if you're going (or even if you're not), please be sure to take the Nerd Test and bring your results along with you (or post in the comments or on your own blog or wherever). Here's mine, for reference. :)

NerdTests.com says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Geek Out | Random Stuff
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:15:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

apple_iphone Gearlog's got a post online where Apple's head marketing guy, Greg Joswiak, lets the world know that while they won't support it, Apple also won't try to stop or break the iPhone app community's progress on getting new apps built and onto the iPhone. Then apparently they clarified a couple times and now say future updates probably will break native iPhone apps:

iPhone native application developers, take heart: Apple doesn't hate you. And now you have a whole new device to play with.

Updated 3:15 PM: Apple says "software updates will most likely break" native apps as they go forwards.

Updated 1:15 PM: I just got a call from Joswiak who wanted to make clear: "not hate" doesn't mean "like" or "support." I think I made that clear further down, but they said that some people may not be reading all the way down this piece. So to summarize: Apple will neither forbid nor support native code on the iPhone/Touch. They will not design software updates specifically to break native apps, but if the updates happen to break native apps or your native apps turn your iPhone into a rutabaga, don't go crying to Apple, 'cause it ain't their problem. Capiche?

Nice. I am off to install a few apps myself later today or tomorrow. First on deck is a RSS reader. And maybe a cool lightsaber application heh.

Coming soon: A list of cool iPhone resources I have been collecting as I investigate and search for stuff and chat with people I know.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:30:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

UPDATED: After initial signup issues earlier in the day I was able to get signed up and online, and this is some really cool stuff. I encourage you to check out ajaxWindows.

Granted, it's probably not set up in the data center for massive use yet, but when I read today about ajaxWindows and get interested enough to where I wanted to check it out, I was a bit disappointed to see this:

   ajax-windows-busy

I'm glad it's getting a lot of attention, that's cool. And I will check back in an hour. Or so. When I have  a chance, really.

UPDATE: An hour later, they're back online with the sign-on page - but still unable to sign me up:

image

So I just kept trying and a couple minutes later I was in. All I can say is wow - very cool. Glad they got it back online. Click the image below to see the full-screenshot of the AJAX interface:

ajaxWindowsDesktop

Very cool stuff in there, and well worth checking out. If you think about the amount of work that went into this, it's pretty mind-blowing.

This does - however - bring to back mind a thought that crosses my little brain now and then. From a pure scalability standpoint, we have seen a large number of web apps initially released in a manner that doesn't scale to the need. Luckily, in many cases the app creators are able to add hardware (scale out, as they say) and handle increased load. Those are the smart designers. And yes, it costs money to build a large infrastructure before you need it, but if apps do the web-version of a crash as a first impression, you have to know the result can't be good.

So, we'll check it out when it's back up. Here is some of what BetaNews has to say about it:

Ajax13's concept is apparently creating a lot of buzz: a message Tuesday morning on its Web site read "We are currently experiencing massive amounts of user registrations and traffic. Please check back with us in an hour."

Storage for the OS is done through GMail, Music files are stored on MP3Tunes, and any information can be synced with the user's own desktop through an included application.

The OS also supports widgets which allow the user to add small applications such as RSS feeds and games to the desktop. However, at this time, only ajaxWindows' own widgets are supported and not those of other platforms.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Tech
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:49:46 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, September 10, 2007

I won't be unlocking my own iPhone from the AT&T network simply because for me there is no benefit to doing so (although I probably will be messing with it from the standpoint of hacking in some third party apps). But, if you have  aneed or desire and you want to run down and grab an iPhone (be sure to pay for it after you grab it) and set it up on TMobile in the US or on any GSM service provider(carriers with SIM cards) elsewhere, you can get the software now via iPhoneSIMFree resellers. Be sure to read the fine print about no guarantees it will work if Apple updates the iPhone software with a block, etc.

Here's a link to the video from Engadget showing it actually working.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Mobile | Tech
Monday, September 10, 2007 11:30:23 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Microsoft seems to have unleashed (but as of the time of this post has not yet announced) Windows Live Translator in beta. It's pretty slick. As you'd expect, you can translate either entered text or a web page for which you provide a URL. Here's an example, one of my recent blog entries translated into Spanish.

livetranslator

(via LiveSide.net)



Add/Read: Comments [4]
Tech
Monday, September 10, 2007 10:12:29 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, September 08, 2007

I have started to form a couple lists of things to do or learn while I am on my self-induced break time. My typical methodology is to keep lists in my head, which worked well when I was a little younger and could remember things. Not so much the case these days. Ah, oldness. Gotta love it.

So I am organizing a couple lists. One if stuff I want to get done. The other is things I want to learn. Oh and and another one is things to do, which is a sort of people to see and places to go list.

Suggestions are always welcome. What do you think I should do during this unique time?

Stuff I need (or want) to get done

  • Get some real rest (making great progress on this one)
  • Finish the bonus room floor and trim at home (floor's done!)
  • Finish the shed at home
  • Add a deck to the side of the house
  • Travel somewhere in a 18-wheeler with my friend Broc
  • Dust off the cameras and get back into the photography swing
  • Sell my street motorcycle (2004 CBR600RR - email me, heh)
  • Finish reading this darned Koontz novel that I started 9 months ago, heh (done - it was Intensity and it was a fun read)
  • Read another book or two (one for enjoyment, one for furthering myself)

Things I need (or want) to learn

  • Learn a programming language, at least at a starter level - I an thinking C# - any ideas?
  • I need to study up for a couple certification exams that the whole we-got-bought-busyness process pushed off my schedule, and then reschedule the exams

Things/places I need (or want) to do/go

  • Visit family in Colorado
  • Visit family in California
  • Visit New Mexico (where I used to live)
  • Visit a few friends and colleagues in Seattle (I'm about half-way on this one)

I'll add to this list over time. I'm not nearly as concerned about accomplishing all of these things as I am about listing them out where I can see them and whittling away at them over the next little while.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, September 08, 2007 4:41:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm quickly learning the pain of running a 64-bit OS on my new laptop. Of course, that's the version of Windows Vista Ultimate it came with, what with all the processors being sold these days are 64-bit and all.

I went to install iTunes (which installed with a message explaining it would not be able to copy CDs) and activate the new iPhone, and what do you think I see?

   image

Crap. You have got to be kidding me.

Apparently this is a well-known issue. Except that I didn't know and on the box it says, "Windows Vista" is supported, without any mention of version or 32-bit vs 64-bit. reading the fine print details of the release notes one finds a buried mention of no support for 64-bit Windows. Hmph.

Now I have to decide what to do - return the phone out of pure spite, or sync it to a different computer... Sorry, but "lame" is the only word that comes to mind here. Fanboys will undoubtedly spew vitriol at that statement, but it's still lame.

Ideas anyone? Will a 32-bit OS running in a virtual machine work for me maybe?



Add/Read: Comments [6]
Mobile | Tech | Things that Suck
Thursday, September 06, 2007 10:51:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

iphone-cut-priceI guess $200 off was enough incentive for me. Plus the way cool interface and the fact that month to month it costs slightly less than the Blackberry plan I've been looking at. Now that I am buying my own service, it's time to make the change.

So, I'm officially an iPhone guy. That was quick.

Heh. I think pigs just flew. :)



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 11:18:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Change happens, and I'm living that fact right now. The company I work for was recently acquired and after a long stretch of doing my part to make sure everything went well with the integration process, I spent my last day on the job Friday of last week. I worked at Corillian for the past eight years, to the month. It was a great experience and I am grateful to all the good people I had the opportunity to work with and learn from. I truly appreciate the people I have worked with as well as the ones I have met over the past year during the transition process. Thanks for everything you've taught me and for some great times.

So the short version of this story is that I chose to move on find the next thing, and that by my own choice I'm on sort of an extended vacation from work right now. To be honest, a break will be good for me. Some amazing work opportunities have been presented to me recently and there are a number of people who are probably surprised I am not starting a new job immediately, but overall fit is important to me in a job and as such I will be carefully pursuing options in the near future. At this point I have to think about a variety of aspects of my life as well as work.

I plan to take a few weeks to relax and do some non-work things, followed by getting back on the work track. That means taking some time to get things done around the house, visit with some people I care about in person, do some writing and generally decompress from a year or two of extra-hard work. I'm looking forward to it.

And then, I'll be back on the trail.



Add/Read: Comments [4]
Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:42:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

image I saw the announcement that the Windows Live team has released Beta 2 of the Windows Live Suite of apps, and went to download and install the package on my new laptop that I bought yesterday, but found out (unfortunately) that I can't install it.

Ugh. So much for checking out the latest versions of the Live apps that I have come to know and love (well, at least like a lot). I also tried installing a couple of the individual apps, and got the same error message. I'm glad I got the previous beta version of Live Writer downloaded last night, since it works on x64 just fine...

Apparently, according to the release notes, 64-bit Vista is not supported at all for installation in this beta release:

64-bit is not supported for Beta 2
Beta 2 does not support a 64-bit installation; however the final version of Windows Live will support 64-bit (with the exception of Family Safety). You have the choice of either continuing to run the Beta 1 versions of Windows Live or you can uninstall all Windows Live applications and reinstall the released versions. For more information see KB Article 938275.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find the referenced KB938275 anywhere on microsoft.com yet.The final version will support 64-bit, though. Is it just me, or does that sound backwards? I understand the need to make things work in a limited beta environment, but almost every new machine out there is 64-bit. Just doesn't make sense to me. Looks like Robert McLaws agrees.

Oh well. I'll wait. I really wanted that Live Writer update. <sigh>



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Tech
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 4:37:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

iphone-cut-price Glad I didn't buy one yesterday. I thought about it. Considered it. Decided it was too much money at $600. Now it's $399. It can't feel good to me the proud owner of an 8GB iPhone that was purchased before today though. Ouch.

UPDATE: Om Malik points out that if you bought one in the past 14 days at the old price, you should be eligible for a refund of the difference. He quotes the Apple return policy:

Should Apple reduce its price on any Apple-branded product within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of purchase, you may request a refund of the difference between the price paid and the current selling price. An original purchase receipt is required, and you must request your refund within fourteen (14) calendar days of the price reduction.

Now that it's in my range I can reconsider, but then again there probably won't be any in stock to grab. Heh.

Read about it pretty much everywhere, including here.

Decisions, decisions...



Add/Read: Comments [3]
Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 11:58:37 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#