The Invisible Spider-Web

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What is the one thing we apparently can’t live without? Is not our taste in expensive clothing, is not being able to dine in fancy restaurants, and is dame sure not our jobs… ok so maybe we can’t live without a job but we sure would love to.  The one thing we simply can’t live without now a days is our cell phones.

Modern society as we now have come to know it; is an invisible spider-web constructed by an infinite number of satellites crunching numbers all day long.  And we are trap in this web while our carriers eat way at us every month like a predatory back-widow but we love every minute of it… unless you don’t have an unlimited plan then you hate every minute you have gone over.  But the overages are not a deterrent as we are in love with our phones.

Marriage use to be the old ball and chain but now it is our cell phones.  Everyone is just a number away at any given time of the day… The days of seclusions have been over for more than two and a half decades that’s longer than most of you reading this have been alive.  The option to detach is no longer there, or better yet we don’t allow ourselves that option because a day without our phones seems like a preposterous proposition.  Like most marriages that come to an abrupt end  so does the life span of our cell phones every two to four years we trade up or marry something which in our minds seems better; be it more sexy or for more intelligent features we take the leap. Not to generalize marriages but by the end of the cycle we are bitter with our decision and want to take the leap again.

The invisible spider-web seems to encompass everything life oriented as most people are addicted to their cell phones.  Some examples of our addictions include the fact that we spend more money on accessories than the price of our phones.  It began with a simple car charger, then a spare battery, then a screen protector, then a stereo Bluetooth adapter, now you are up to a different case for each day of the week.  We have more than 30 apps install that we don’t use or simply don’t need; I don’t need an app to help me find my car every morning, or calculated a tip at a restaurant.  We have an alarm setup to tell us when to do everything in our day. We cut back on things we need in order to afford a 100 plus dollars phone bill.  We read about our phone on our phone.  If we drop it on the floor we feel like we drop a child. When we feel our pockets and don’t feel our phones our hearts skip a beat in terror at the thought that we just lose it.  An the last place on the planet where you were save and totally alone is no longer available because yes you use your phone in the toilet as well.

For something that is not physical the invisible spider-web has the strongest grip, brutal if you will.  We are the architects of our lives and we have traveled into popular cultural bliss without thinking twice.  And for those of you who have not gotten there yet I’m sure the GPS on your phone will lend you a hand.

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The MAC OSX and Freedom of Choice

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I read an article this past weekend which refers to Steve Jobs as some kind of dictator. The author out of all things is trying to or actually intends to switch to Ubuntu/Linux. The author of this article is basing his decision on not having freedom of choice. I believe that if you run a business and you use your computer(s) to keep that business running then you should always have the freedom and choice to move to a different platform. However in this case I believe that the author of the article may not be doing it for the right reasons.

He claims that Apple is putting restrictions on his operating system and that Steve Jobs most likely will not continue to develop the MAC OSX any further or that at some point it will become stagnant. He also credits Microsoft for having a great OS in Windows 7 but also says that this OS is also too restrictive; And that all of Apple’s development will most likely go into the iPad/iPhone.

I feel that most users don’t care about freedom when it comes to a computer or software; to them they see it as a dishwasher or a refrigerator. If your not a geeky techie type then you really would not care about this and actually pay as much as you can for a piece of hardware/software regardless of what freedoms it may or may not offer you. Well if you are a business owner you should really pay more attention to this kind of freedom and stop looking at your computer as some piece of appliance equipment because it actually holds valuable information and it is an extension of you, yes an extension. Most PC user keep tons of personal information in it such as pictures, music, movies, documents etc… So what happens if and when you do decide to switch to a different operating system such as Windows or Ubuntu/Linux? Well on the MAC I think is fairly easy to move as it does not seem to have too many restrictions like on a Windows platform. Although anything like movies you’ve downloaded or anything that you have not created yourself maybe a bit hard to transfer over due to DRM (Digital Rights Management – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management / http://www.defectivebydesign.org/what_is_drm) restrictions.

The MAC OSX is actually a great operating system. The only issue is that is extremely expensive although some might argue that you are actually paying for quality which I tend to agree to a point. As far as freedom goes you have the freedom to do what you like with your own personal stuff that resides in that computer but like Microsoft you don’t really own the OS, you are merely renting it since you can’t make any modifications or anything like that and that is fine because most users don’t care(although they should).

So I wonder why is this particular author complaining about the MAC OSX since he knew from the start that the OS had its terms of agreement and he agreed to it when he purchased his MAC book pro.

Steve Jobs will not make the OS stagnant specially since the MAC is gaining so much market share and most Windows users seem to be switching over. I will also point out that they are not just moving to the MAC OS but also towards Linux(mainly Ubuntu). If you have no issues with renting an OS and not being able to tweak it as much as you like then the MAC OSX gives you freedom enough to the point were you can move your personal stuff in and out of it as long as you play within Apple’s rules and the same goes for Windows (DRM anyone).

The one thing the author was 100% correct was that at some point you will eventually be totally locked in on either platform(MAC OSX or Windows) and also claims this is the reason why he is moving to Linux, I will closely follow his progress and see how it goes.

But again if you don’t care about your OS freedom the MAC OSX is a damn good system.

Article: http://www.salon.com/technology/dan_gillmor/2010/06/20/from_mac_to_linux/index.html

iPad Security Issues! Say what…

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Another day and yet another iPad commercial of how great it is, well tell that to the 114,000 email owners who’s emails where hijacked by a brute force attack on ATT’s network. Apparently a poorly written script was the culprit. I know your saying well what’s this got to do with the iPad. Ah hello it only happened to iPad 3G owners which means because the iPad 3G has essentially a sim card to connect to the 3G network they were able to hijack customers personal information.ipad

So far the reports are only saying that they were emails but who knows what else they got from these iPads. The worst part about it is that consumers think that these devices are secure when they are not. Yet they make you enter your personal information right from the device instead of having you go to a secure web site to do so or better yet doing it right from an ATT / Apple Store, who cares if consumers are lazy these companies should make them. Convenience over security these criminals love every minute of it.

This is only one of the issues with this device. There are other security issues such as Safari XPS attacks (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4196) which not only affects the iPad but also the iPhone, iPod Touch, MAC OSX and yes you guessed it Safari running on Windows as though Windows does not have its own security issues to deal with.

Sure the device is great to show your friends and for you to say “hey look at this cool device, is a big version of my iPod touch, I can’t get enough of these things” – pathetic. People please get it together identity theft is very real and can bring you some serious headaches. For you small business owners stay away from it sure is great for presentations and such but there are other more secure devices coming which will run the Android OS; have more bang for the buck and will be more secure such as the Notion Ink’s Adam Tablet (http://www.notionink.in/adamoverview.php) and the current WePad (http://tinyurl.com/y9x7joj).

Consumers need to start thinking before going out there and spending their hard earned money. They need to look at all aspects of the devices they are looking to purchase. Specially if such a device deals with making digital Internet connections over wireless networks.

For more on this story continue reading:

Safari 5! Oh yes is a web browser…

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Safari 5So what is the big deal about this new browser? We honestly don’t see anything new that other browsers don’t already have. Extensions have been around for quite some time. Firefox has had this feature for a while now which is why it leads in this category. Google Chrome also has this feature as well.

Our question to you folks is why opt for a web browser that is closed source and besides the extensions has very little to offer. The browser runs like garbage on a Windows PC and is not available for Ubuntu/Linux at all; Yes it does run well in its native environment (Mac OSX) but most users don’t own a MAC. Although the use of extensions is very good for developers to add much needed functionality to this new browser it really offers very little compared to what is currently out there.

Safari has a ton of HTML 5 capabilities but so do the other browser such as Chrome and Firefox. Just a couple of days ago Apple showcased a bunch of HTML 5 (http://www.apple.com/html5/) functions which could only be seen if you installed Safari. We know Apple wants to push its products to the point where it wants to shove them down our throats but come on HTML 5 is an open standard/markup language . We think this is totally ridiculous that in order to see it you had to either fool the web site by making it think you had a Safari browser or to actually download Safari.

Safari 5 ReaderSafari 5 may have some good features such as a good Javascript engine and the use of WebKit which is open source but besides this we really don’t see anything else other than the fact that its a tad faster and it has a built in reader. It also has created a partnership with Microsoft to bring BING as the default search engine (Why would you dump Google and go with Bing?) and that it supposedly uses hardware acceleration. Take a look at all the new features here (http://www.apple.com/safari/whats-new.html).

In terms of security Apple has decreed that in order to create any extensions for its browsers developers must attain a digital signed certificate which to us seems reasonable and is free to obtain one, but you do see where we are going with this. Just like with the Apple store it will reject any extensions it does not like. So sure developers can go ahead and go crazy with extensions development . In the end however if Apple does not want to allow your extensions it simply will not issue a security certificate and your extension wont be published.

Apple has made it easier for the developers to built extensions and it will not use the same XUL language as Firefox to built the extensions as it will use a build in package called Extensions Builder which will allow the developers a much easier way to built and deploy their extensions.

As with the current stable version of Safari it will render pages very well with the exception to Web fonts which it currently blows out of proportion depending on the font. For example if you try to incorporate the Google font API into your existing web sites some of these fonts will not render correctly, Internet Explorer 7 has this same issue by the way.

Until Apple makes this browser available for all operating systems we don’t see why anyone would want to use it or even create extensions for it as it has very little market share and lacks functionalities that the other browsers currently have. What Apple should do is follow Opera’s lead and make it available to everyone. Apple sure loves to use Open Source code in their products but wont even make a crack in their closed closet door.

Google Sites a good way to start a small business web site

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Here at SBN we are always looking for ways to get small business owners on to the web be it a one man show or a small business with 5-10 people. We have been exploring some services from Google which can provide a small business some way to get their business presence on to the web. Google Sites is such a tool; It is basically FREE for those of you whom are on a budget and need site up and running fairly quickly.

Google Sites

Benefits

Google Sites offers a variety of templates to easily build your site and get it on-line. This service also allows you to make it public or private and it can integrate with Google Docs(http://docs.google.com) to share information across your entire business(meaning you can allow documents to be shared or edited by other people). You can also access all the information from home since the service is cloud based; which means you wont have to worry about your home PC or office PC crashing as all your documents will be stored on-line. It also gives you statistical data on the site’s recent activity.

The site service also allows you to access the Google Web masters tools(http://www.google.com/webmasters/) which gives you access to on-line marketing tools such as Google Ad words and Ad Sense. This can be beneficial for small businesses since it gives them a way to quickly advertise a product or a service.

Site Templates

The service offers tons of customized templates for you to use such as:

These are only a few of the templates which you can use. Google also offers a premier version on the service which allows you access to customize the sites even further. However if you don’t mind using the templates then the free service is just fine until you can get your business off the ground. We think that this service can benefit any starting business as it cuts the cost of having to get web hosting, hired a web designer or buy an office suite. Speaking of office suite this service has an excellent editor tool which behaves very much like your typical word processor and can allow you to quickly add different pages/sections to your site all without having to write any complex code, but if you do require to edit HTML code you can.

You can also use an existing domain for your google sites, which means that you wont have to just use sites.google.com/your company name but you can actually use http://www.yourcompanyname.com

You can take a look at a quick video introduction here: http://www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/overview.html

Here are some screenshots of what the administration tools look like.

Now by no means are we saying that you should not use a good web design agency or web designer/developer not at all. But what we are saying is that when on a tight budget and the need to quickly put your business on the web arises then this is surely the way to go without too much of a hassle. The one thing you will have to do is create a Google account. But by creating one you will also get access to tons of tools that can and will benefit your business.

The book of Jobs (post two of the thumb drive chronicles)

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Moses came down from the mountain with tablets in hand to give to the masses the commandments of the Lord.  As these commandments where chiseled in stone so too is the faith chiseled in the minds of those who believe in their lord and savior.  But if your faith is more on a technological level, than a spiritual one and you are looking for that savior that is going to alleviate your woes of system crashes and deadly viruses and you are also looking to trade in your travel bible for a digital do it all.  To thee I say don’t panic because there is an APP for that.

In an auditorium full of anxious Faithfull’s and gleaming lights resembling Sunday mass at an Evangelical temple; Steve Jobs appear onto the crow with tablet in hand to give unto the world the IPAD.  And Jobs spoke selling the iPad as the messiah of technological innovation.  But like every other messiah before it, it has fallen short on deliverance and heavy on gimmicks.  Like every other new religion that springs up out of nowhere, with its ideas and underlining structures rooted on century old believes and sprinkle with a modern twist of propaganda so is the iPad rooted on four years old technology simply implemented in a bigger shinier package.

And Jobs said on to thee…

I am Steve Jobs, who brought you out of the land of Microsoft and free you from windows.

You shall surf the web anywhere.

You shall read eBooks.

You shall play games.

You shall watch videos and movies but you shall not purchase them anywhere else but iTunes.

For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but on the seventh day you shall enter the apple store and spend all of your money.

I shall take 30 to 40% of everything sold in the house of Apple.

Shall you make fun of me your app will be rejected from the app store.

You shall not use flash or even think about future support.

The lack of flash support in a device being sold as the ultimate web experience is like a born again Christian without the Holy Ghost.  75% of online videos are made in flash, 70% of games online are made in flash including those on face-book.  The IPad lacks support for Java, adobe Air, and lacks any USB connections.  Closing the devices to an apple mandated doctrine will only hurt the device in the long hull.  Forcing developers to use apple tools to produce their applications; only stagnates advancement and hurts the consumers in the long run. The lack of a camera has certainly crushed the hopes that many had for Skype conversations or for face to face meetings on the go.

But in the end no other company can compete with Apple in terms of product desirability or mass appeal.  Therefore I don’t see the Church of Steve Jobs fading anytime soon even under the worst recession we have seen in the last 60 years.  But less not forget that when it comes to aesthetics there is no other religion like the Catholic Church, where the Catholic Church fails is in being open minded and progressive and Steve Jobs seems to be pulling his doctrine out of the same page.

Microsoft Tags, what could this be?

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Finally Microsoft has done something which could put them on the map to catch up to Google in terms of bringing relevant information to users all over the world.

Microsoft Tags (http://tinyurl.com/3x3ts9g) is a service which the company has recently released and get this “it is a free service” to use. It works by placing tags in the real world such as a billboard or any landmark then people with mobile devices can access this information. This means that if for example you are in the realty business and you place these tags on some of the properties you are selling you could access more detailed information about such properties on your mobile devices.

This reminds me of the Minority Report (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/) which would scan people’s eye retinas to serve them personalized ads (I see this coming very soon to the U.S). I believe that such a technology already exists in Japan and it could make its way on to the U.S.

However this being great and all that Microsoft has finally done something innovative. I wonder if this service/technology will only be available to Windows 7 mobile phones. I really doubt folks with Android phones will be able to use it. I somehow don’t see Microsoft sharing or allowing other mobile devices accessing this information. So lets not put our hopes up on this one folks.

It would be great if they did make it available to everyone just think of the possibilities in terms of how much information people would be able to access on the spot. Think of it in terms of students conducting research studies or if your at a museum or at a historical landmark and being able to get all the information about a particular piece of art or place.

This is the kind of innovative technologies Microsoft should be focusing on instead of trying to keep its tight lock on the world with its Windows/Office products.

I would be great if they would make it open source with a GPL license.

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