cloud-computing (2)Dear Reader,

I remember when the internet was on college machines, text-based only, and you could go get a cup of coffee while your conversations scroll up the screen at 1200 symbols per second (baud).  At the University of Rhode Island, if Brown U was down so was URI.   Human nature then was what it still is today.   Remove all the flash and dazzle of parallax scrolling, quad core computing and terabytes of information, and you still have people at the heart of the machines.

So it came as no surprise to me that people tried to hack each other’s accounts, tried to phish for information, blackmailed others, took down servers, or otherwise tried to commit mayhem on a digital scale.  Technology was advancing, not human nature.  The thing with technology crimes is that generally they require more intelligence than a hit-and-run robbery making the criminals more difficult to catch.

For quite aimagesCAMYXG9Nwhile,  I believed the cloud culture to be more fluff than fact – inherently prone to data break-in and server crashes resulting in data loss and unreliable services.   Something for large companies to take risks with for business needs and  Cloud Computing News has extensive articles examining ideas crucial to businesses in the cloud.   Then I got a smart phone.   Between the phone and my home computer, the value of the cloud became apparent.  For a techy, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the cloud.   However, coordinating across devices IS a problem without the cloud.   Some have USB ports, some don’t.  Some are not compatible with others or your friends’ or colleagues’ machines.   He has an Apple … you have a PC ..  they have a Galaxy …   You have an Android tablet … and so it goes….

Apple has iCloud to coordinate, but it doesn’t play well with others – if at all.   To be honest, as I’m becoming more than passing acquaintances with my iPad I’m wondering how Apple gained the popularity it did.  (Anyone feel free to comment here on their behalf)  You can barely multitask, there are bugs just as with any other piece of equipment, and the security is a poor step-child to PC security.

PCs have a variety of cloud applications to coordinate – DropBox, EverNote, and software to create and run your own personal cloud Tonido.

As time has gone by since I’ve been active on the internet, I have realized that the amount I’ve been hacked has been extremely scarce.   One of my accounts was hacked and spamming friends.   I changed the password and solved the problem.   That was it.   Any viruses I caught was from downloading torrents.   I grew tired of repeatedly fighting off viruses especially after I caught a rootkit.  However, its under my control.   Run a good KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAvirus protector, create complex passwords, don’t put identifying information on the internet such as social security numbers, birthdates, and the like and you will most likely be fine.

So the old girl has learned new tricks.   I’m a fan of the Cloud after all.  I may even work to set up my own Cloud for fun.

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mobile256Dear Reader,

Its mind-boggling. Operating systems, devices, apps… all vying for our attention and all declaring their superiority over the competition. So which one is the best? Yes.

I came at this backwards. I never saw the point in apps on my phone and my first-ever app device was my new pc. The touch capability was revolutionary for me more than any perceived advantage to apps.  I purchases a smart phone just to remain current with technology  and I was quickly won over.  The advantages became really apparent. newspapers, email, twitter, LinkedIn, freelance work while commuting for work.  It totally depends on your particular needs / wants for technology.  Competition and customer preference have created a fairly level playing field.  Hopefully this post will give you a starting point.

If you know what your uses and price point are can really help. Do you live more mobile or stationary? Heavy keyboard user or total touch? Cell phones are an awesome device because you have your phone and a lot of interactive capability. However, as large as the Samsung Galaxy gets, you are still looking at a total screen size of approximately 5″ x 2.5″. Text can still become fairly microscopic on a device like a phone — not to mention the restriction of typing.

Next up is a tablet. The downside? No phone calls. The upside, much bigger screen and some have optional keyboards you can buy. They are great for productivity and possibly game play, but they are not a full-fledged laptop. Tablets and some cell phones can cost as much as laptops. Is the lack of functioning worth the portability?

Another factor to consider is the aggravating pre-installed apps that you would prefer to remove from your Android or Apple device and you can’t. You can on a Microsoft device. Also, Windows Phone won Endgadget Reader’s Choice of the Year.

Ease of use? iPad has it, but so does Windows.

As offensive as it is to Apple who innovated the touch interface and apps, currently Windows can do more. I now own an iPad and an Asus tablet. The iPad apps are better developed than Windows. Additionally, the iPad seems to handle open apps and retain state better than Windows 8 or RT. Since its better for the machine to close apps this is a minor inconvenience to me. However, for productivity, I still prefer Windows. I can close any Windows app by the swipe of a finger. On my MAC I have to click buttons and the screen for quite some time. 800px-Cuddling_with_multiple_devices (2)On my Windows tablet I can go to previous internet pages by the swipe of a finger. MAC still relies on back browser buttons. I have both a delete and a backspace key on my PC. Not so on the MAC — and since I am an intensive typist this is not such a minor inconvenience. On my MAC I lack convenient “end” keys to jump around quickly.  And Windows still multitasks better than a MAC. I’m writing this blog post on my iPad in the WordPress app. I am previewing the post and trying to test the links to see if the work. My device is not opening a web browser for me when I tell it to. Not really useful.  I wound up completing this post on my PC.

Regardless of the device, if you are a multi-device user, coordinating over the cloud becomes a factor. Which app to use? Total personal preference. The same apps are available on all devices including DropBox, EverNote, SkyDrive and Google.   I already had a DropBox account from a volunteer event so it was natural to use that for my own needs.

Whether you are a Mac or PC fan, hopefully this will give you enough information to make an informed decision — or point you in the right direction for your personal needs.

 


bill-shockDear Reader,

I wound up switching from an unrestricted Internet Provider to a restricted plan because I needed a better connection.   For the first time I encountered datashock.   Once I called up my provider and increased my data for the month, I had to figure out which device was the guilty party and how to manage my errant devices.  For those of you who don’t know data-saving tactics, here is a brief run-down:

  1. Close all your apps. If they are left running in the background they will use data while you are not watching.
  2. For a machine running Windows 8, you can set your metered data settings. Tutorial available here.
  3. Windows 8 also has a built-in function to show estimated data use.  Pull up your networks in the charm bar, right click your network and show data use :Screenshot (19)
  4. For Mac users, its a bit more elusive.  Groovin’ on apps wrote a great post here.
  5. There are a couple free apps in the Apple store Mac users can download to monitor data usage including Onavo:

Screenshot (20)

  1. Make sure apps are not updating automatically if possible.
  2. Video streaming of any kind is your worst enemy.
  3. Make good use of public networks if possible.  Now is the time for a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi.   The price of the meal is less than your data plan.

Happy surfing!


Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” 1

For those of you familiar with Linux – the other operating system – the Ubuntu distribution (version) encapsulates this concept. For those of you who only know Windows or Mac OS, Ubuntu runs on PCs and Apples.  Linux is open source – not commercially owned and free for all and supported by the development community.

BNj2NmdCYAAU5zUI bought my first ever Apple to expand my development skills.  In addition to trying to make me a Mac convert with the fevered enthusiasm of cultists, the Apple store showed me the app that would allow me to utilize my new iPad to remotely connecCAM00019_editedt to my Windows 8 Lenovo Yoga. It was surreal. Apple and PC in harmony through TeamViewer. I took control of my PC and posted to Facebook and rebooted my PC … utilizing my iPad as a remote control. I decided to try this from my Asus Tablet. TeamViewer installed no problem, but I ran into a totally unexpected issue. Due to the fact that Windows 8 and Windows RT (Windows 8 for a tablet) are both touch-controlled and both operate the same way, I could only get into my tablet functions.   The tablet intercepted the touch commands and none of it made it through to my PC.  I eventually outsmarted the tablet to control my pc, but it was awkward at best.  The iPad worked much better because the touch functions on the iPad work differently than the PC. The differences actually made the functioning possible — not the similarities.

Generally any software / hardware compatibility issues are non existant or very low if you stick with one one manufacturer — hence the secret behind Apple’s stable platforms. Also, that is why all Microsoft software is as easy as Mac software to install and use when its all new and staying within Microsoft. In this case, I happened upon an emergent property. Ubuntu. I am what I am because of who we are. Totally unexpected capabilities based on the combination of separate components. I wonder if this is the start of something new or a one-time fluke? Time will tell.

References:

1. From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.


imageDear Reader,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
―     Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs was a visionary.  He resurrected Apple from the dead, he successfully competed against Microsoft, and he innovated culture.  The naysayers could not tarnish Apple’s reputation.   I remember the line outside the retail store on a Friday night waiting for the latest iPhone.   Apple managed to build up a fan following similar to a popular band — that line was reminiscent of people lining up to get tickets to a sold-out show.

2010’s headlines included:

What of Apple today?   Two years into “The Year of Jobs?”

2013’s headlines include:

Additionally, Apple’s stock is not remaining strong and its new product launch at this year’s WWDC met with lukewarm reviews.  I’m left wondering, WWSD (What Would Steve Do)?   We don’t know.   Is this turn of events the beginning of a downward trend for Apple?  Apple users are a tremendously loyal bunch — almost to the point of a cult-like following to an iconic brand.   A good bit of that has to do with the exceptional customer service and support at the retail stores.

However; if Jamie Dihiansan, a self-admitted life-long Apple Guru found reason to switch to PCs, what of less involved individuals?  Apple products have become average among the competitors they inspired.  What is tragic is that Apple would attempt to damage Samsung in a lawsuit rather than raise itself to new excellence on its own merits.  Cruel irony would be that Apple crumbles as Steve Jobs commented on in 2004.

“And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example. Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t. Look at Microsoft — who’s running Microsoft? (interviewer: Steve Ballmer.) Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that’s what happened at Apple, as well.” – Steve Jobs, Business Week.


Dear Reader,

In spite of the drop in Apple’s stocks after Jobs took medical leave, this quarter’s profitss were up 95%.  All the gory details can be found at MercuryNews.

Notes:

Originally found on a Tweet by @bengregg referencing this article: http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_17892866?nclick_check=1


Dear Reader,

Did Orwell get it right, but is his vision limited?   Instead of a totalitarian regime in one country will we finally be held in the iron fist of an autocratic reign through the vehicle of the WWW?

Recently, it came out that iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 were logging user’s location and dates without their knowledge or permission.   A CNet article addressed the issue: “Should we care?”

In examining this issue, the first comment that comes to mind comes from Karl Bode from Dslreports.com who said, “One thing these uproars do tend to highlight is the fact there’s still a lot of people who mistakenly believe they have any privacy whatsoever when using wireless devices or going online.”[2]  That sentiment was expressed further by Sam Diaz on ZDNet “When it comes to online privacy, here’s something to remember: If you’re going to be all up-in-arms about any violations of it, then quit sharing all of your personal information across social networks and get just as mad when someone other than Google – even if it’s the mighty Apple – does something that seems to intrude on your personal privacy.”[7]

I asked Ben Gregg, Lead Staffing Consultant at Devonshire IT and a great Apple aficionado (@bengregg to follow his technical posts on Twitter),  his opinion on the matter.    Ben likes the tough standards by which Apple screens apps written by outside developers.   He feels that it creates a safe zone for letting children use technology providing an inherent security feature from some would-be technology predators.   With regards to this recent threat, Mr. Gregg admitted to an Apple-favored bias.   He said that he didn’t view Apple as “evil”.   He felt if it was included in the OS then there was a reason for it.   He reflects the cultural image of Apple and faith in the company.  He said that if this came from Microsoft or Google, he would feel threatened also reflecting the cultural image of the subversive nature and wasn’t quite certain what that meant.   So how did Apple become sacrosanct?

In part it could be the language we use.   An Apple is an Apple and anything else is a PC.   Like Apples are somehow inherently superior to PCs — the results of successsful marketing combined with Microsoft’s  early market domination not necessarily from having built an inherently superior machine.   But what is a PC?   A personal computer.  Isn’t an Apple another brand of a personal computer?   Until now, Apples were safe from viruses and other forms of malware due to the fact that they had a different operating system that wasn’t targeted by hackers.   As Apples move more into the mainstream, that may not remain the case.  Apples, after all, are no less a part of the global world wide community than PCs.   And, further, what most folks fail to realize is that their underlying OS is Linux / Unix-based.  Completely open-source unlike Microsoft’s Windows that is properitary and not open to public inspection and unrestricted access.

Mr. Diaz brings a very good point to bear – as we move to a worldwide community brought closer together by the power of the internet and the cloud, we need to restructure our ideas regarding privacy and security.  What does privacy really mean in the world wide web?   How secure are we?

Mr. Bode’s opinion, which was very well reasearched and obviously knoweledgable is that “…these types of issues tend to be overblown and discussion lacks context — given carriers are already tracking your location and using it for a variety of purposes,… “[2] Mr. Gregg echoed this statement by saying that he had nothing to hide and had no problem with his whereabouts being tracked. Neither do I, but do I want that information available to someone without my knowledge or consent?

Messers Allan and Warden don’t seem to think so.   In their FAQ, they write: “The most immediate problem is that this data is stored in an easily-readable form on your machine. Any other program you run or user with access to your machine can look through it.  The more fundamental problem is that Apple are collecting this information at all. Cell-phone providers collect similar data almost inevitably as part of their operations, but it’s kept behind their firewall. It normally requires a court order to gain access to it, whereas this is available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer.”[8]

In examining the data regarding companies who have engaged in these kind of data collection activities, CNet remarked that Google was in trouble for these kinds of data collection practices in the past; however, the Andriod platform does not do this kind of data collection.  “A Microsoft representative told CNET that the company’s Windows Phone platform does not store location history, and that the ‘Find My Phone‘ service only keeps the phone’s most recent location.”[1]   The jury is currently out regarding Research In Motion and Nokia (no word yet).[1]

Apple’s public image as comfortable and safe may leave us somewhat vulnerable to damage from a dystopian society cycle similar to the Nazi rise in Germany or  George Orwell‘s Oceania in 1984 (a good read available at the link to the left).   Hitler rose to unbelievable levels of popularity and power because of his ability to pull Germany out of the great depression of 1930.  He was good for Germany.  The darker side of market domination are never fully known until a company gains a domination.   But is it the privacy and security issues alone that leave us vulnerable?  Perhaps our former desire for anything other than a Microsoft product and their totalitarian grasp that has helped create the current iconic rock-star following for Apple Computer is opening the door.  Will the pendulum swing too far in the other direction?

“Parsons was Winston’s fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms-one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the Party depended.”[3]   

Notes:

1.  http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-20055885-37.html?tag=topStories3

2.  http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Researchers-Your-iPhone-Is-Watching-You-113834

3.  http://classiclit.about.com/od/nineteeneightyfour/a/aa_1984quotes.htm

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

5.  http://www.george-orwell.org/1984

6. http://www.linkedin.com/in/bengregg

7. http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/#7