11/11/11 And Our Binary Future


HorseColoredJust had to post today, such a special day in history of the World. I entertained a plan to a day off, but ended up working harder than ever.

And now – it’s 11.11 pm and I am racing against the Clock to publish my First Game into the Android Marketplace on this Special Day!

Yes, the game is coming! So this post will have to wait, and WILL get updated.

UPDATE: Game is Live on Android Market!

Now, the next morning – reflecting on the freedom of the weekend. I am at the crossroad for my next project – we (as a family) have been brainstorming making another Game. Yet, I got so annoyed when my main 1tb drive crashed few weeks back, that I think I’ll make a diversion from that plan. You see, I am pretty sure that Most (albeit not alll and sometimes not latest) files were mirrored on most of my other PC hard-drives or External hard-drives. But it is such a nightmare to know what was and what wasn’t, and where it is!? I am trying Windows Live Mesh again to see if it can help me manage and mirror files around our home, but Alas, it is dead slow with big number of large files, such as video collection.

It seems that often in life we get paralyzed by inaction. As Steve Jobs would say - The Penalty for Failure is Virtually Non-Existent! So with these inspiring words I think I’ll embark on creating my own version of file management solution, but done right and taking Modern Digital Life into account!

Opinions welcome and if you do manage to point me to a solution which already works, I will probably just use it and return to our original “Next Game” plan.

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My Sandbox! (aka: Liability Fiasco)

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Mac App Store IconIt is that time again – time to decide how much credit we should allot to our users, versus how much we should “protect the user from him/her self”. Ah, the eternal dilemma – but wait, Apple to the rescue? Didn’t they pioneer the “we know what you want better than you do” model?

Actually, today’s post is a bit more technical than that simple discussion, but stick around and join the discussion, you’re sure to learn something (and contribute!)

The latest news from our (recently) beloved Apple is that (amazing) Sandbox technology is on the horizon, which will run App Store apps inside their own Sandboxes. Here are few words about sandboxing – it is basically a mechanism for computer to protect itself (and the user) from (potentially) malicious or misbehaving application that user wants to use. As security experts will tell you, there are plenty of supposedly useful applications which are just a (shameless) wrapper around virus delivery mechanism or an even simpler system that quietly looks at what you browsing to and captures user/pass you put into your (financial) website and silently sends it via the Internet to the perpetrator. After reading some interesting discussion on the subject, I decided to weigh in here.

Granted – I am as paranoid as the next guy, and you should ALWAYS know the source of Any Application you download and (even try to) run. And the issue is complex, as so far all I have seen is that users become mostly victims of increased security – how often did you call your bank because you forgot your password?! In fact, I once left a financial institution because their login procedure became 5 screens long, with pictures, symbols, pins, sentences, etc…

The punch line: if Apple Approves an App and grants it Sandbox Permissions, but later we discover that App still had Malicious Password stealer hidden deep inside? I say – We Sue Them! They performed a Paid service — developers Pay to get into App store and share cut of profit. Given that the aforementioned paid service had Primary purpose of Vetting an app for our (naive) users’ consumption, I see door wide open for Class Action. Seriously, given the size of Fiasco (millions of accounts stolen?), no 100 page License agreements we all carelessly click through will protect them.

So, Apple – for your own good – let the users free! Or better yet – Respect that they (sometimes) know what they’re doing!

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Turning Point – Steve Jobs Book Purchase


Steve Jobs Book CoverShort post – more of a call to arms, to discuss burning point for many people today. That is, What Platform to choose to purchase this iconic Steve Jobs biography eBook. I am completely at a loss – what could have been price war between heavyweights in this category, turned into a paralyzing situation for consumers (like me) preventing our purchase completely. My interpretation is that Publisher insisted on same pricing across all platforms! What Gives?

Anyhow, let’s recap the contenders

  • Kindle – Interestingly, I don’t own any – and yet I have Tons of options for reading Kindle books (iPhone, Tablet, PC, Mac, etc) and already own many books on the platform. This is truly an achievement, which I applaud Amazon for!
  • Nook – I really have nothing against them, but I have virtually no prior books on the platform and no dedicated eInk reader. Still, their readers looking better all the time and they caught up to Amazon with Nook software reader being available on most platforms. Good job, B&N!
  • Kobo – Once partner of failed Borders, is an independent maker of eInk devices and the software platform. They are also present on many platforms and ironically I do own that eInk reader I picked up at Borders closeout. We use it once in a while, but who knows about long term prospects?

Not in the running:

  • iBooks – Apple insists on closed platform ways – show me Android iBooks reader? Or how about PC reader? And not even corporate discount Winking smile Nope, no go…
  • Google Books – Serious contender and I am glad to see they have the book available. Brand is strong with this one, but I just don’t know if this is another “Google experiment” with books, or are they in it for the long haul? Plus, no native clients on laptops detracts from reading experience a bit – although Web reader is mighty enticing. In fact, I almost forgot about this option…
  • Microsoft eReader – Um, anyone remembers this one exists? Exactly…
  • Adobe Digital Editions – I don’t even know if any store uses this… In fact, Adobe themselves didn’t post this free eReader on their Download page – seriously?!?!

So, chime in – help me decide. Weigh in your Pros and Cons and tell me where you got this book, and why! And yea, I am so crippled with this decision that I walked into retail store to buy Real hardcover. But then I got sticker-shock – where B&N employee politely explained to me that their pricing is completely different from their own Web pricing and That’s that.

Seriously – we have industry behemoths trying to set platform trends for ages to come, where should we vote with our cash – and WHY ON EARTH would publisher insist on fixed pricing!!?! I am certain everyone would be selling this one At A Loss at this ciritcal platforms’ junction, given a chance.

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Annual eBay Bashing – or Mini How-To for Large Software Base

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eBay LogoI fondly call my wife lately Commodity Investor, as she loves to scout out best deals on eBay. In fact, I would easily bet that we are in their top 10% of customers list, and let’s just leave it at that. So why is it that they allow themselves to continuously upset us?

Granted, some of the occurrences are not their fault – try as they might, bad sellers are still abound there. I understand that it is really hard to figure out who is lying, the buyer with years of track records of purchases, or seller who joined few weeks ago and got no solid feedbacks yet.

But this post is not about that, it is instead all about things that are Completely within eBay Inc’s control, or at least they ought to be. Here are just two of more Fun bugs for this week, that are live on their Production site:

  • My eBay – Whoever asked them to do Ajax on the items list, the developers must have looked back and said Huh, is that like “Food” item? They are completely clueless how to implement it properly, paging is just awful, printing completely broken, going to see item and coming back is broken.
  • eBay Search – This is funny, because clearly this is a different team and implemented “list” technology completely differently. They have complete reverse of the above bug – if you do navigate to second page, but then switch category, your new category list starts with Second page!!!

Seriously, we aren’t even trying to discuss how far the website look & feel is from anything resembling modern web. Instead, we are talking basic functionality here, leading to people being unable to view properly the Items people paying Money to display and sell. The sad part? I am sure they employ a small army of developers and testers.

In fact, I am here to say that the bigger the team gets – the harder it is to maintain consistency or quality. So what can we learn here? Here are some constructive tips for our brethren at eBay IT :

  • Hire a Small group of HIGH Quality developers (yea, expensive ones) to develop and design core Infrastructure for the site, Including UI Components and their “glue platform”.
  • Once that core platform is ready, unleash the rest of your developers to customize, reuse, enhance and repurpose it across all eBay Inc properties. Yes, that does mean that My eBay and eBay Stores and other eBay Lists will share the same components – that’s a Good Thing!
  • Create a LOT of automated tests, including ones that Render page and look at it to reflect that it functions as expected. There are plenty of frameworks for this. Still, after these automated tests, there is No Substitute for High Quality live testers, the ones who notice things with usability also, beyond plain “ugly” bugs (like my wife, who finds these things weekly).

Okay, end of annual eBay Rant – you can return to your regularly scheduled mediocrity. Oh yea, and feel free to shop on Amazon more, their site is still behind times, but still light-years ahead of eBay, and they also offer slightly used items on their marketplace Smile

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The (prison) state of social

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Sitting in Starbucks, where I seldom go, and reflecting on my nearly ended "night on the town". With many activities going on today, I ended up in Downtown Atlanta all alone with 3 hours to burn. First stop – Foursquare – where I did find people congregating on few fun activities. Alas, numbers were ridiculously small – versus what seemed a Car-and-Human apocalypse happening around me. We are probably under 1 in 100,000 checking-in on Foursquare. Are they checking-in on Facebook? Perhaps Google+, which has rather refreshing public posts with location feature. Nope, seems like not even via Yelp.
Two conclusions – we need a better way of sharing "hotspot" information. While we all value our privacy – I think there is a way to keep that and yet share major "outings".
But here is even bigger kicker – information segregation is a killer right now. Sure Foodspotting will tell you they have API, and they managed to hook up with ScoutMob even now. Heck, but it is yet another App and hence Silo in a way, locking in my photo of wonderful Frappe there. This will only continue to grow, as barrier to entry becomes smaller and smaller.
Facebook is leading the pack with the most users right now – yet their Check-in features are rather pathetic. Worse yet, most users don’t know about them at all.
I think we need to scrap our check-in approach and instead replace with:

  • No action required to check-in. Yes, I hear all the privacy screams – there are solutions. Pre-approvals, coupled with anonymity until specific friend requests to see ‘more info’.
  • Data must not be in a silo – that makes it useless! I would prefer if it could auto-flow into single place or at least be public.

I realize these sound like ramblings of a mad man – but that is because it is! Time to take our social to next level, ya’ll, before society decides that whole Facebook and Foursquare fad is a gonner the way of MySpace.
I’ll be awaiting your comments on Friendster ;-)

Update: I definitely should have checked Twitter – See the problem yet?

Update2: Live from Apple iPhone event – Introducing Family and Friends app, now you can tell where your family and friends are. Apple Heard Our pleas!?

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