Archive for the 'tech' Category

08
Apr
10

It’s not the device, it’s you…

“Can’t”, “doesn’t”, and “won’t” are things I’ve heard a lot, especially lately regarding the iPad. You are the people who both provide job security for me, thank you.

This is where I solve all the “iPad can’t” complaints regarding software limitations. Granted, it does assume network access, so those of you on flights that don’t have WiFi are SOL. There is this neat thing Microsoft has been pushing for ages called RDP. There is at least one app available. It also does VNC, which means, if you are like me and prefer OS X to Windows, you can have it all, too. Yes, you, the one with the penguin tattoo and the funny hair, VNC will work for you, too. On a side note, you might want to look into getting a cover up for that tattoo, maybe a blowfish?

Oh, wait, what’s that you’re saying? You want something local, but for some reason the Apple App Store cannot be used to distribute your app? What are you trying to do? Could a web application fill that void? Google has done some pretty spectacular things in that arena. With HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript all being supported, there are very few applications that can’t be designed to work on this platform. The added benefit is that if your Android, Blackberry, or even desktop browser supports those web standards, aside from possibly some tweaking for various screen sizes and maybe UI touches to match the platform, your app can work anywhere. You can give it away, you can charge for it, anything you like without Apple interfering at all.

The iPad is not perfect, but then nothing is. Where any tool is concerned, look at your needs, look at what the available tools are, and then look at what can be modified to most closely fit your needs.

So, if I hear “can’t”, it immediately becomes “you can’t”, because, quite frankly, I can, and probably will.

BTW – We are available to perform miracles and minor exorcisms.

17
Jun
09

#IranElection

I was thinking about Twitter and Iran and identity yesterday while watching activity on Twitter. First, for the benefit of those living in a cave, Iran had an election, and it appears the results are at odds with public perception. Being effectively a Muslim orthodox theocracy, the population is not given a lot of opportunity to voice displeasure with the government. That being the case, Iranians have been flooding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with news, videos, protest information, police activity, etc. The Iranian government is doing their best to lock down access to these web services, but it is difficult. Twitter, especially, has a very open API and a number of ways to receive posts.

Question number 1: How do you sort out the good posts from the bad? Apparently Iranian security forces have created Twitter accounts and are posting false information. I have noticed an increase in the number of spammers using the #IranElection hash as well. In addition to that, requests have been made to all Twitter users to change their profile information to show they are in Tehran and their timezone is +3:30GMT. This is supposed to create additional noise so it is more difficult to determine who is actually in Iran.

Question number 2: Where is the SSL in the 3rd party apps? Twitter and Facebook offer the option for SSL login. I haven’t looked into the API, but I’m not sure if Twitter allows 3rd parties to connect via SSL. Even if they do, how often is the feature used? One of the ways people are filtering noise vs data in the Twitter feed is by looking at when the account was created. If Iran owns the backbone leaving the country, what’s to stop them from sniffing the traffic and hijacking known, trusted accounts? I have some concerns posting this, but, honestly, we don’t get a lot of traffic here. Also, if the Iranian security folks haven’t figured this out yet, then they have way bigger problems on their hands.

Question number 3: Why are major news sources publishing account names when quoting Twitter? I can understand wanting to document where the information came from, and perhaps even keeping records of all the details, but do you need to publish names?

19
May
08

Only one thing missing

Just wanted to quickly followup on this post and mention that using the new version of reader specifically designed for safari on the iphone is freaking awesome. It really does feel like I’m using a via the browser on the laptop.

The feature they do need to add is the ability to sort on posts from oldest to new. This is key when trying to follow certain feeds and is probably the reason I will continue to actively choose to use the desktop for now.

13
May
08

Is Twitter really that important?

So this post caught my eye the other day and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. For all of it’s expounding and it’s diatribe, it seems to me to essentially boils down to the idea that twitter needs to be fixed as a tool for communication. Not that it needs to be enhanced or decentralized but that it just needs to address the essential problem of availability. Which I think is difficult, given the use cases that are discussed across the world wide blog.

My perception of Twitter is based upon very little experience. This perception included the idea that it was primarily a tool for connecting groups of folks via SMS. I’ve played with it bit, but for the majority of the folks I know they had no interest in using it as a communication tool. Which means I have no personal use for it. The idea of their third party API has caught my attention from time to time for use in various projects, but that still hadn’t peaked my interest for long term use. So the fascination with it that folks have baffles me.

Turns out that people are using it to pass all kinds of data, which goes well beyond what my original expectations for use of the service. There are apps like Thwirl that help you aggregate your information to the various services that are based off twitter. And there are a number of different clone offering their own variety of functionality to beat twitter at it’s own game.

So after all of that, I came to a simple question: Is Twitter really that important? I can understand how from a user’s perspective, they could come to depend on a service that allows you to instantly broadcast your thoughts (some call it micro blogging). Twitter gives you the opportunity to do it on a greater scale and benefits from the ability to allow you to connect to individuals at the same time. But didn’t IRC already solve some of this? Or AIM to some degree? Hell, blogging could qualify for the solutions category. There are so many ways to solve all or some subset of these problems using existing tools. So I asked again, is twitter really that important?

Then it occurred to me. Twitter solved the access medium problem. When they launched, they provided you with the ability to communicate between the cellphone and the computer. If your on the phone, you can stay connected via SMS. On the desktop, you had the web interface. Don’t want to be bothered refreshing or logging into a page, use your instant message client. But you’ll still get the messages from the folks in the field. With their published API, sky’s the limit.

So the answer is clear: yes, twitter as an approach to communication as a medium is important. But is that the same as Twitter the service being important? From all the reports in the wild, Twitter the service keeps failing in the face its growing usage. Steve Gilmour’s post discusses in detail one example of how the service has become depended upon for up to the second data during an event. In the same week, we get a different scenario that again proves the usefulness of having this medium. And recently, there was the story of the journalism student’s arrest in Egypt who was able to get a message out and receive help because of it. So Twitter the service has become useful because it’s the primary venue for this new medium they’ve created.

So yes, I think twitter as the service is important. The service wouldn’t be so significant if it weren’t for the fact that it is so popular. With it’s competitors waiting to capitalize on their failures and some of the third party apps supporting multiple services, it’s Twitter’s game to lose at this point. What does that then mean for the future of the service and the future of this medium? No idea, but having had a look at the service and how people are using it has peaked my interest enough to give a try again.

You can now find me here playing with it. With the question of importance answered, there are a couple of others I’m interested to address. But I’ll follow up to this post after I’ve had the opportunity to play with it as a service more.

13
May
08

The video says it all…

Found via engadget.

12
May
08

Objects may be closer than they appear…

While it hasn’t been made obvious yet, we’re gamers around here. And for me, one of the great things about gaming is the immersive experience I can have. Helps me forget about the realities of the world for just a little while.

So when this link came across a list I’m on, I thought I’d comment with my first impressions. I’ll embed the demo video so you can take a look at what I’m talking about:

First off, standing up and gaming is the classic arcade experience we’ve all had. And it’s also cumbersome when you’re gaming for a couple of hours at a time. Our bodies were meant to move, not stand in a single position for too terribly long. With this design, it doesn’t offer you any kind of alternative positioning, limiting how you can set it up. It’d be nice to be able to sit in front of some form of this display and enjoy the game in a relaxing position.

Secondly, while I can appreciate the design and the relatively low cost of the dome canopy it still requires you have a projector behind the scenes. Which adds to the expense of setting up this experience. It also hoses up the entire room, thus making it less usable in situations where your main box (and in this case your projector display) are in a common location. Anyone else in the room will have difficulty doing anything else. You can’t just pop on some headphones and go.

Overall, I think it’s a great idea but I’m not ready to humor it until it’s a little more flexible in the way that it can be used. And for the price of projectors to come down.

06
May
08

How Trent Reznor won and didn’t even realize it…

Ran across this a couple days ago and really needed to comment on it.

Trent Reznor produced and distributed an album for Saul Williams last year and was complaining about the numbers. From 11/1/2007 to 1/2/2008, the album was downloaded 154,449 times. 28,322 people paid $5 for it. That works out to roughly 18%. Now, most advertising campaigns hope to get 1% sales. On top of that, the prior album sold 33,897 copies in about 39 months. Let’s say the old album cost $12.99 (current new price on Amazon).

Last Album Current Album
Sales 33,897 28,322
Price $12.99 $5
Gross Sales Total $440,322.03 $141,610.00
Gross Sales Monthly $11,290.31 $70,805.00
Duration Sold in Months 39 2

From a strict financial analysis standpoint, those numbers are pretty good. Granted, Trent mentioned there were a lot of one time expenses that ended up being pretty big, and some recurring expenses like bandwidth were more than expected. Those issues have been solved in the past. Cost of Goods Sold analysis, operational efficiency, budgeting, etc. $140k in two months of sales with no marketing seems pretty good to someone from outside the music industry. Can anyone out there provide some estimates on what studio time and A list artists cost?

I, for one, want to welcome our new industrial music distribution overlord!