Entries Tagged as 'Apple'

Ping? No Thanks

Ping Screen shot 2010-09-01 at 9.32.17 PM
Image by swanksalot via Flickr

Amusing. TechCrunch released an article about how Ping isn’t as social as Apple made it out to be. What’s even more funny is that I don’t see this going anywhere just like Genius didn’t go anywhere.

First, let me throw it out there. When I find new music, I don’t know the name of the song, or what it is. I just hear something while browsing a website, Youtube, or even listening to the radio. You know what Apple needs to do? Buy Shazam. Take that technology and load it in instead of relying on my friends. Truthfully, what my friends like in music could have absolutely no relevance in what I like. I like opera, but I can guarantee you that my wife doesn’t really care for it. But would we be in the same circle of friends? Sure. That’s a failure in itself for recommendations.

Second, I decided to give Ping a shot, even though during the Apple announcement, I was already arguing with people about how Apple could make things nice, but they don’t exactly understand the Internet trends. Let me put it into perspective. Myspace is probably one of the ugliest social networks ever. I said it back when it started, and it still is to date. But yet, the young kids that made it popular is what attracted bands and other musicians to it. That’s also why MySpace still lives… due to those relationships. If Apple wants to attack that head-on, they need to allow every single band lay claim to their pages and have followers able to already follow the band without the claim.

For example, I was testing out Ping, thinking, hey… this might not be half bad. Let me add one of my all-time favorite bands: My Chemical Romance. Now I’ve purchased their albums from iTunes before, so I know they exist on there (unlike some of the jrock/jpop/crock/cpop artists), but lo-and-behold, I can’t follow them. No MCR follow means that Ping fails in my book. I mean, the recommendations based on my genres that I selected gave me Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Coldplay. All artists that are tied to Apple. What about Daft Punk? What about Gorillaz? If you’re building social, you have to think social.

Personally, I think that Ping is a great idea, but the execution was absolutely sloppy on Apple’s part. If you’re going to build a social network for musicians, figure out what the strengths of social networks are and build around that. Don’t tie it directly to your iTunes store. The difference between customers and users might be a credit card number, but the difference between a social network and a store is a world apart.

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Couple Days with the Droid

OREM, UT -  NOVEMBER 5: A manager holds an App...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I have to say that with my first couple days with the Droid, I’ve noticed some things that no one else has really bothered to mention. First, if anyone think that this is a contender for the iPhone, I would say that Apple really has some competition. This is definitely the first phone that I’ve touched that overall has a better feel and the apps actually are close enough to really give Jobs some heartburn.

Very smooth. If you have it linked to your wifi at home, when the signal disappears, it actually switches off to 3G immediately. No fuss, no muss. The interface moves very well. It does lag sometimes if you don’t have the right apps to shut down the apps that you quit from (why you can’t quit from an app is another annoyance that Google has to fix).

I love the notifications. I mean, that’s one thing that iPhone doesn’t do well, and notifications here are out of the way and are there when you want to look at them.

Maps integration and voice dial? Awesome. The entire Car Mobile feature is sweet and I think Garmin itself might have a contender on its hands. I’ll have to test it out more to find out.

The multimedia station sync is great. Immediately, my phone also became my alarm clock. Will have to note to self not to chuck alarm clock across the room…. not that I do that anyways, but still.

Vibrate function is super powerful. Now this might be somewhat annoying and I sorta wish people would make it so that you could control the level of vibrate sometimes, but a powerful vibrate always helps when you’re in a loud place and your phone goes off. There’s nothing more annoying than waiting for a call and missing it because you didn’t feel the vibrate feature. Entirely useless then, isn’t it?

OpenGL support. Android is basically a flavor of linux (don’t believe me? kernel is 2.6.9….), so we shouldn’t be surprised here but that makes 3D gaming and animation completely possible and with the smaller resolutions, you can guarantee some interesting gaming coming your way.

I’m not fond of keyboards, but the hardware keyboard is actually a nice one and compared to my Nokia n810 Wimax, it feels pretty good. The on-screen one could use a little work when it’s trying to detect what you’re trying to type so it corrects it after learning what letters you hit off in portrait mode.

Android Market is awesome. It might be a little more simple compared to the iTunes store, but when people complain about how there’s just not enough apps? From one geek to another, I’m going to say that there’s plenty out there. Plenty. Sometimes I wish open source apps were this easy to find.

Forget the in-the-box browser. Get Dolphin. Know how iPhone users are all talking about how they can zoom and such? Dolphin can do that. Now if only Google put it in all of their apps like Google Maps and such.

I don’t like the fact that BT headsets don’t have voice dialing. This is a problem of Google’s Android OS, and not the phone itself. Very annoying considering it’s a phone built by Motorola, and every past Motorola phone actually had BT voice dialing. This should have been brought up during testing by product development on Motorola’s side since it’s a feature they’ve had since… well, forever.

Don’t like the fact that you can’t quit from an app. Some apps might need to be persistent but out of the box, there are many that don’t have to run in the background. Very annoying out of the box. Fortunately, I went and grabbed Task Manager, and life is good again.

I also don’t like the fact that you can’t group contacts together from different sources. While an auto-merge might be a little crazy, the fact that you can sync your Facebook contact information with your Google accounts means that you’ll get a lot of duplication. Merging the two in a pseudo-group format would make life a lot easier and provide profile shots for those that you didn’t have profile pictures. Personally, I think the Android is missing out here but then again, somehow I doubt the iPhone can do it too (can anyone tell me one way or another? ).

Camera auto-focus. What? Seriously, the time it takes to auto-focus for certain apps, I’d rather do a manual focus feature. Oh wait, you can’t. But seriously now, this sounds like a fix that can be done via firmware.

In portrait mode, the on-screen keyboard is pretty blech. If you have big hands, it’s hard to type with it on there. Fortunately for landscape mode, eh?

It’s really a blanket bomb of my thoughts, but I really don’t see any reasoning why you can’t send text messages and surf and such while on a call like the iPhone commercial. Having worked in the telecommunications industry for over a decade on the infrastructure side, there’s not really any reason that it couldn’t happen unless the phone itself occupies resources that otherwise can’t be used for a call when on data, or vice versa. Of course, if people wanted to do it, it could still be done by using the same techniques as PTT on CDMA. Think about it.

I still haven’t seen any driving or flying games that require the accelerometer for turning that I’ve seen on the iPhone. But based on the sensitivity of Google Sky, I would say that the Droid can totally pick up the same type of gaming.

Battery life seems a bit lacking, but nothing out of the ordinary with a smartphone. Most of your battery goes to the radio and the LCD in a smartphone anyways. Some power-save features might be nice.

If you get down to the Verizon over AT&T for service? I’d agree completely on voice and data. There’s just no question when you compare the two networks. Part of the reason why I haven’t bothered with an iPhone.

With Google’s coffers, I think the Droid and Android phones in general have a really good shot at taking on the number one smartphone maker. There are a few things that I would start pushing and remind Google that when you’re gunning for the number one spot in mobile devices, your product can’t be in beta. Some of the dislikes that I mentioned above are staples of the mobile industry and need to be patched for all current and future phones. If you just let it be, people won’t want to use your product. Just as RF is finicky, domestic mobile users are finicky. And you just can’t rely on that type of situation when so many vendors are looking to your OS to end the slaughtering.

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Macrumorslive.com gets hacked (NSFW)

macrumor_hack.png It seems that one of the largest rumor sites has been hacked during the keynote. At 9:24AMPST, the site gets hit with a “STEVE JOBS HAS DIED.” Then a string of profanity and spam links and other such nonsense for a good fifteen or twenty minutes before the site was taken down.
The screenshot was provided by John Brown, whom was watching it happen in real-time and happened to get a snap before the site went down.

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Apple Updates corrupted my Finder preferences

apple_logo.jpg Had a weird bug error today. After applying what was just a normal update that required a restart (for Safari no less), I lose my clock in my menu bar.
It was pure annoyance without a clock when you would go to System Preferences, set the clock to show and it wouldn’t show. Finally found out that apparently my preferences were corrupted for the Finder. Somehow or another, the updates upon restart had corrupted the Finder preferences and had basically thrown them into a tiffy.
To fix this extremely annoying problem, you need to hold Command+S on boot:

fsck -fy
mount -uw /
cd /Users/[user’s short name]/Library/Preferences
rm com.apple.finder.plist

Good to know that there are people that have run across this. Something that I hope to rarely witness since it’s one of the many reasons I switched from a Windows PC to a Mac. But I’m happy it was a simple fix.

Three letters for why I won’t buy an iPhone

170px-IPhoneSeattle.jpg GSM.
Yes, you got it. The infrastructure technology keeps me from ever adopting this phone regardless of how absolutely wonderful it is. And there’s a good reason for it.
Having worked in the cellular industry for almost ten years, there is a tendency to understand how each technology is developed and how it performs under all sorts of environments. Alongside this, call quality and drop call rates are among the type of performance statistics that I have to see on a daily basis. And call me crazy when I say that if I buy a phone, call quality seems rather important to me outside of the gadgets arena.
GSM while adopted in more places in the world due to a more mature technology, is also older and has its issues being that it does time division multiplexing. While drop calls are determined by a number of issues, there have been many times that I have called friends with domestic GSM service (only two major carriers in the United States currently). These calls often can fail one way eg. where one person can hear but not speak or will have a lot of interference but no one can actually figure out what’s wrong since the call remains up but it drops to a one-sided conversation.
I really like the iPhone, and would probably get one of the iPhone 3Gs in a heartbeat if they (Apple) ever decide to start selling CDMA versions and look outside of the AT&T exclusive agreement. But with their current selection of a GSM carrier just drives me absolutely batty when it comes to voice calls. And let’s face it. You buy a phone to talk on it, not to surf the web and write emails or update your FriendFeed. Well, maybe you do, but the rest of us don’t.
Photo Credit: (elisfanclub)

Why I’d stay away from iPhones for now

Yeah, I know. In all technicality, it’s more like all GSM phones and networks that I’d stay away from. But seeing how much I want an iPhone but I’ve been waiting… and waiting… for a CDMA version? Eh. This just nails the coffin shut.
Why? With a $700 open source device called a Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), and a rainbow table that would basically take somewhere around 2.2TBs of space, the GSM frames can be decrypted. Yes, this means that calls will essentially be non-private.
Oh yeah. No more talking about those dirty little secrets over that iPhone of yours. What’s more interesting is that if a web service does evolve from the research presented at this year’s Blackhat DC? You won’t even need the two+ terabytes of space to build your fun GSM scanner.
You have to believe that executives at AT&T and T-Mobile are tearing out their hair right now if they even pay one inkling of attention to what potential havoc this could cause on their networks. Insecure phone calls? Not exactly a consumer confidence builder if you ask me. The most amusing part of this, is… somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice is telling me that NSA has already been listening in on these for a while. They have the resources, and you bet they have the actual storage for rainbow tables to do the decryption.
Photo Credit: (jasonEscapist)

Chasing the digital music generation

Apple iTunes Funny how the ages seem to change. Once there was records. Yes, those 45 rpms.
Then 8-tracks.
Then tapes.
Then CDs.
We won’t even go into the slight tangents of mediums such as MDs (that I own a few of by the way along with two portable players and a sound system attachment). With each generation of music, there were different types of mediums that dictated how the younger generations would grow and evolve. In this current decade, digital downloads are slowly but surely giving CDs a run for its money. Don’t believe me? No problem. Let’s take a look at the facts.

  1. Apple iTunes is the number two seller of music behind Walmart based on volume sold in 2007.

  2. 48% of teenagers didn’t buy a CD in 2007, up from 38% in 2006.

Is there truth in this fact? Sure thing.
The reason for the actual move towards the digital medium is the same reason why my generation could program a VCR better than the generation before. The technology adoption factor. In this age where young people have more of a knack to have their fingers fly across a cellular keypad than us “old folks”, is also the showing of the end of a old era and the beginning of a new.
iPods, and other portable media players flooded the markets as GenX and GenY have grown up and started their own families and … well, the truth of the matter: got jobs. With that, the youth that are growing up as children of these generations are also inundated with the technology adoption. Younger kids with mobiles and music players is a signal for another changing of the guard.
Myself? Have always been a technology adopter and will continue to always be one. The only music I bought this year was off of iTunes unless they didn’t carry the imports. Lately, they have actually been introducing a lot of Asian music which is another sign that things are changing for the better. Why bother with physical media anymore? In this age, it’s about the size of your storage, not the size of your collectibles.

Apple releases new pink nano for Valentine’s Day

Apple Online Store
Look at that. Being one of the most requested colors, Apple has decided to release the pink nano for Valentine’s Day. Yes, the pink nano! This isn’t the hot pink one either….
At $199.00USD a pop, it’s no different than the rest of the pastel colored ones, with 8GB space, and a 2 inch screen that does 320×240 px. For up to 2,000 songs or 8 hours of video storage, it’s really just a handy dandy little portable multimedia device.
And it’s pink! You really can’t go wrong there with any gal.

How to tell your senior management doesn’t care about your job

It’s interesting that I’ve never read this before ever, but yet anyone that has worked for a technology company can tell you… the senior management couldn’t care less about your job. Why? Have you ever noticed that when the going is good, they add hundreds of jobs, but when the going gets tough, they lay off hundreds or thousands? Why is this? Job cutting and restructuring is not a method for “saving money”. I can tell you from first hand experience that a company that restructures every two years is very inefficient.
So why is this? It’s because the senior management is trying to give analysts something to show for their lack of incompetency. Job cuts are the quickest way to effect your expenses, but also hurts you in the short and long term due to bad workforce moral, and shows that you take the easy way out.
But no one hold senior management accountable for the job loss. No one says, “hey… these guys didn’t use this as a last resort, they’re just cutting people’s lifelines to make the stock price look good for the next six months.” No one gives these guys a bad reputation or name. They just move on in five years to another senior management position in a totally different industry because we all know that managing companies is the same all around, right?
Wrong. These people should be held accountable. Take a look at what is arguably the top three technology firms today: Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Their job growth is pretty subdued because they control the intake of talent. Notice that Microsoft has for years, been using contractors as the temporary workforce in case things got tough. If they could handle more permanent jobs, they would eventually draw in those contractors. Everywhere else, it’s the same… a controlled method of job intake. It’s amazing how this little indicator can show you the difference between a great senior management team and the rest of the corporate management buffoons.
Strange isn’t it. Layoffs are a terrible thing. But it’s even worse when you read about CEOs getting millions in bonuses for cutting thousands of jobs and “saving” the company. How is that fair? So be forewarned: if your senior management has in the past cut jobs before… look out. It could happen to you.

Apple Promotion: College Students buy Mac get Nano Ends 9/16

apple-student-promo.jpg Apple has a special promotion that has been running a while but now it’s about to end. So if you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, do so! Currently, if you buy a Mac from the provided link, you could be getting a nano for free if you act before 9/16/2007.
It’s in a rebate form as far as the “free” part, and you have to have a valid college id but it definitely gives students a chance to not only have a wondrous Mac, but also get a nano for free.
No word on if they get the new revision of the nano though. Still, myself being biased and all, I’ll have to say that the Mac is a way higher quality machine and interface to do work on than any PC I’ve laid hands on.