Links Technology Thoughts

Week in Links: Apps, Ideas and Reality

Top 10 Twitter AppsApple’s “there’s an app for that” marketing has been causing companies to go app crazy and forget that a websites are still the primary point of interaction for users.  A few weeks back the folks at Twitter reminded people that despite the fact that the heavy users all use 3rd party apps (desktop or mobile) the majority of users (78%) use This week the folks at Twitter launched a new version of that features a number of elements that were previously only available in the app world.  They added a dynamic side panel to showcase user profiles and conversation view all while not disturbing the core of what was.  They’ve brought the sophistication of the external apps to the masses and with this they may have inadvertently signaled the return to web apps. For those that haven’t gotten the (rolling) invite to the new site check out TechCrunch’s overview “Best subtle things about new Twitter“.

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A week doesn’t go by without Google making an announcement about something or other. This week they get their Google Voice app back on the iPhone. MacRumors gives a detailed run through of the app. Looks like Google has cleaned up their UI a bit with this version and offers just about everything the phone could do with the addition feature of translating your voice-mails into text. The one thing it can’t do at the moment is MMS, otherwise for $2.99 you can double the number of phones in your pocket without the bulk.

Also Google related is the steady growth of their Android platform, which is now 17% of the smartphone market. To put that in perspective the iPhone is at 24% and RIM’s BlackBerry commands 39%. Also note that the overall smartphone market has grown and these numbers are percentages of that growing market (data from Wired).

Part of Android’s success is it promotion from Verizon not having the iPhone to promote and instead needing to compete with it. Now Verizon wants a bigger cut of the action and has opened their own app marketplace. They say it’s for improved customer choice, but I’ll go with control and money.

While Android is growing into the third largest smartphone platform Nokia held it’s Nokia World 2010 event. They boasted that Nokia has a larger market penetration then Apple and Android combined, the threat is clear (as in they’re threatened). They followed their showcase of facts with info on their latest models, the N8 being the darling of the bunch. They flaunted “they perform day in and day out no matter how you hold them,” an obvious dig on the iPhone4. Then went into talking about the latest advances in Symbian and coding for it. Sadly, for US customers as nice as Nokia’s equipment is, if no carrier picks them up they don’t exist.

Final reference to Google (for this week) is their recent site/blog conveniently called Google New where they are posting all their latest products/projects. And by the looks of it they’ve been busy.

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FCC is looking at opening up some radio frequencies, one of the selling points for opening these frequencies is the potential for Super WiFi. The are suggesting that this new Super WiFi would be able to travel farther and through buildings due to the longer wavelengths.

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“Flash is dead, long live HTML5/CSS3.” Ever since Steve Job’s BS’ed his reasons why he didn’t want Flash on the iPhone this mantra of many front-end developers had some indisputable logic in regards to the mobile market. Now Android 2.1 supports Flash inside a browser as well as HTML5 true comparisons can finally be made. Based on the finding of Christopher Black’s tests (the video below) and a number of others Steve’s claims are no longer valid, if they ever truly were. So once again, developers have a choice as to what the right tool for the job.

Based on how the two technologies work it’s of little surprise, to me, that Flash (a platform based around animation) out performs HTML (which is designed around static structured layouts. Don’t get me wrong HTML/JavaScript have come a long way and in many ways fulfills the need that once only Flash could fill.

I’m impressed with how far HTML and JavaScript have come but structurally it’s not meant to do the animations etc. that Flash is specifically designed for. For me it’s about picking the right tool for the job and there are many factors that go into that choice, but jumping on a bandwagon shouldn’t be one of them…but I digress.

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Pencil Vs Camera - 24It’s so easy in the world of technology and tight time frames to skip some seemingly tangential steps in order get the product or design out in time. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we need to get back to the basics. I know that one thing that often gets skipped are the rough little sketches, Spyrestudios has done a nice write up to remind us of the benefits of sketching (and wireframes) in fleshing out ideas and saving time. It’s also a great way to look back and see the progress of ideas and inspire new ones.

A different way to look back and see how things progressed is BookTwo‘s 12 book collection displaying the changes to the “facts” of the Iraq War over the course of 5 years. The concept is simple enough, collect all the changes to the Wikipedia page on the Iraq War in one place. What it reveals is anything but simple, more of antithesis of the Orwellian nightmare 1984, where news/history was rewritten with no trace of what was.  Then again, out side of BookTwo’s project how many people are looking into trail of changes that make today’s truth.

Returning to the temporal life where now is everything, context-aware computers will be a welcomed addition to the ever growing overflow of information. For years this has been an “up and coming” technology, now (read: once again) the researchers at IBM (and many others) are hoping the power of smartphones will provide the always on, GPS info and increased processing needed to make context-aware computers a reality. What’s interesting about all this technology and it’s promise still echoes some of the thoughts of Marshall McLuhan and Norman Mailer from the late 60’s. Beyond theory and technical abilities data sensitivity will also have to be addressed before the masses should be adopting little brother to guide them through life.

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The value of ideas is one that seems to fluctuate depending on personal circumstance. If you’re the creator of the idea, then the idea is everything. If you’re the producer of ideas (production) then it’s the implementation of the idea that matters most. So which is it? As someone that straddles both sides it’s not any simpler to define. Like most things in life the truth lies in the gray area between the extremes. Recently, my buddy Arpit delivered his take on this topic and I think he’s on to something…iteration. A back and forth between pure concept and implementation. Love the connection to dogfighting as a example of idea->action proving iteration is the actual key to success (courtesy of Jeff Atwood’s own post on the subject).


Big Day for America (and the World)

Gathering to watch history

Today was the Presidential Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama.  I doubt that was news to anyone, but what did surprise me was the number of people that were full of excitement and anticipation for the day’s event.  In fact, most of the people I know were watching the event if they had the opportunity and others were disappointed that they couldn’t.  Personally, I initially going to try watching history unfold using CNN/Facebook, but it put me in a digital waiting room due to the volume of users.  So instead I joined some friends, co-workers and hundreds of others that filled the lobby of the Comcast Center.

It was almost noon by the time I got down there, but it was obvious many of them were there for some time.  Granted this was nothing compared to the thousands of people that filled the National Mall to be a part of the event as I doubt they could see much of the day’s event.  I wasn’t alive for Kennedy so until now stuff like this was just something that happened in history books.  There were people clapping, cheering, a few even had tears (of joy) in their eyes as Obama gave his speech.  Overall he inspires a great feeling of hope within people, both here and abroad, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Few more photos of the crowd at the Comcast Center


Nearly 10 years in the making…sorry Mike

It’s been a long time.  Nine years and then some.  In Internet years that’s nearly forever.  Before the Dark Ages when the bubble burst. What am I speaking of…this site, of course.  What did you think I meant, Chinese Democracy? - Old home page - Old home page

Designed in the time when 800×600 was considered high-res, and 1024×768 was for the special people.  DSL and Cable connections a rarity, and 56K modems were the norm.  It’s an Internet that many never experienced and the ones that did try to forget.  Since then the Internet has expanded into every facet of modern living.  The most obvious are entertainment, communications and hell, dating.  Who would have though that dating online would something one no longer denies doing.  Now one can even watch their favorite TV shows the next day online as something bigger then a postage stamp (ie Fancast).  Even the mobile web experience is richer then anything available back in 1999.

What was available was this site, as it looks today (well not today as I’ve finally replaced it) with only the barest of changes.  It stood as a testament to what once was.  There were attempts to replace it with bigger better fast more.  These replacements never made it through all the production needed to give it life.  They got close, never all the way and then forgotten.

So what happened?
Well back in 1999, I started working at an Internet start up out in Wayne, PA.  There we attempted to connect entertainment and commerce.  Allowing fans to purchase the very items that the stars were wearing in the photo.  We did this for some big names too of the time (Everclear, Korn, Blair Witch Project, Stewart Little, and Radiohead to name a few). This was the start of the band microsites featuring viral opportunities (“send to a friend” and “add this to my site”) and dynamic content.  The big money said forget entertainment and provide all this dynamic content and tracking to the Fortune 100.  And so we did, till the whole bubble bursting thing happened.

I took this opportunity to go solo and provide my skillz to the highest bidder.  Except I realized I’m not such a good pimp.  Slowly I gravitated back to the 9:30-5:30 world.  Finally re-joined the full time workforce at an interactive agency here in town called iFrontier…then AvenueA|Razorfish, now just Razorfish (a Microsoft Company).  Regardless of the name they created websites, web campaigns and all sorts of web based analytics and media buys.  I was there for the creative side of their business, designing and building Flash based thing-a-majigs. This led me to CIM, where I am today, doing more of these Flash thing-a-majigs as part of their internal creative department. Work with a good crew, bringing this Web two thing to

As the Interweb is changing I thought it was about time change as well.  This time there will be changes to the content, as the backlog has grown deep and I keep moving forward.  Welcome back world.