Twitter Updates for 2008-03-10

  • Just ate at the Gold­en Cor­ral w/ in-laws. Not espe­cial­ly good, but I’m stuffed. #
  • Rip­ping Baby Ein­stein videos for our daugh­ter to watch on a flight this week. Not sure this is real par­ent­ing. #
  • Just rushed like a mad­man to make it to BNA to catch my flight… And the plane isn’t even here yet. Sucks. #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-03-08

  • liv­ing the hype. Angela and I just got a pair of iPhones. #
  • @trey. Thanks. I’ll try to add some­thing mean­ing­ful. We kept our old AT&T plan and just added iPhone data basic. #
  • Watch­ing the snow here in Franklin. About 3″. #
  • Watch­ing Angela play Ray­man Rav­ing Rab­bids on the Wii. Fun­ny stuff. #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-03-07

  • @postpostmodern: I still can’t believe that Cookeville — of all places — has city­wide Wifi. #
  • I won­der how @leolaporte feels about ZDNet fil­ing Chap­ter 11. Also, how he feels being asked about it over and over. ;) #
  • @postpostmodern As opposed to all the high qual­i­ty city­wide WiFi across the coun­try? I think bad wifi > no wifi. #
  • Why can’t I add Ama­zon MP3 down­loads to my Wish Lists? #
  • Golf now has it’s own Michael Vick #
  • Every once in a while you find a site that makes you say “this is why the inter­net exists.” #

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Just Cool It

Ever heard the one about all the sci­en­tists in the sev­en­ties who claimed the plan­et was cool­ing and that’s why we can’t trust sci­en­tists who now claim the plan­et is warm­ing? Yeah, me too. Well, next time you hear it, you can point out it was nev­er true in the first place. The con­sen­sus back then was that the plan­et was warm­ing. We’re just more sure of it now after three decades of research.

Thomas Peter­son of the Nation­al Cli­mat­ic Data Cen­ter sur­veyed dozens of peer-reviewed sci­en­tif­ic arti­cles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only sev­en sup­port­ed glob­al cool­ing, while 44 pre­dict­ed warm­ing. Peter­son says 20 oth­ers were neu­tral in their assess­ments of cli­mate trends. The study reports, “There was no sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus in the 1970s that the Earth was head­ed into an immi­nent ice age. “A review of the lit­er­a­ture sug­gests that, to the con­trary, green­house warm­ing even then dom­i­nat­ed sci­en­tists’ think­ing about the most impor­tant forces shap­ing Earth­’s cli­mate on human time scales.”

The jour­nal arti­cle can be found here [.pdf]. via Real­Cli­mate

The iPhone SDK Announcements

Nat­u­ral­ly, the inter­net is glow­ing white hot with peo­ple talk­ing about Apple’s iPhone SDK (soft­ware devel­op­er kit) meet­ing ear­li­er today. Any­thing Apple relat­ed gets a lot of buzz, and iPhone news pegs the hype-o-meter. How­ev­er, lest I sound bit­ter, I think today’s announce­ments deserve the atten­tion. I want­ed to point out some of what made today’s meet­ing important.


There were three impor­tant items that showed just how seri­ous Apple wants to cor­ner the busi­ness smart­phone mar­ket. I don’t think any­one argued it was­n’t a huge mar­ket, but there have been some rather loud Apple pun­dits cough fan­boys cough who seemed to think that much of this was unim­por­tant to Apple and their mar­ket plans for the iPhone. I think it’s pret­ty obvi­ous that such a huge por­tion of the smart­phone mar­ket with some very par­tic­u­lar demands are either going to get those demands met or they sim­ply aren’t going to use iPhones. Apple is like­ly to com­plete­ly ignore them.

First, and most obvi­ous, is the fact that the iPhone is going to sup­port Microsoft Exchange e‑mail. This is impor­tant for me, per­son­al­ly, if I want to use an iPhone for busi­ness in any prac­ti­cal way (web mail isn’t what you’d call an effi­cient method of check­ing mail on the go). Not only is the iPhone going to sup­port it, they are inte­grat­ing it direct­ly. This is a much bet­ter imple­men­ta­tion than what RIM cur­rent­ly has for their Black­ber­ry phones. For Apple to have tak­en the men­tal­i­ty that because Exchange isn’t in-house (or sim­ply just because it’s Microsoft), they should ignore it, would have been a huge and cost­ly mis­take. Pos­si­bly at the cha­grin of many an Apple fan­boy, Apple is sim­ply licens­ing this pop­u­lar enter­prise tech­nol­o­gy from Microsoft; which is absolute­ly the right move.

Next, I found Apple’s choice of demo appli­ca­tions par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing. While they had the obvi­ous crowd pleasers like AOL’s Instant Mes­sen­ger, EA’s Spore, and Sega’s Mon­key­ball, they also showed off to apps for very spe­cif­ic busi­ness mar­kets: Epocrates and Sales­force. Of course, most of the inter­net just gave a col­lec­tive “uh, okay. And?” because these aren’t sexy or flashy pieces of soft­ware for the mass­es. In fact, that’s exact­ly the point. By choos­ing these apps for the demo, Apple sent a clear mes­sage to users of high-end, spe­cif­ic apps: We got your backs. Epocrates is wide­ly known among med­ical pro­fes­sion­als (just ask my wife1), who adopt­ed the Palm plat­form ear­ly on and have been with it for a very long time. Of course, as Palm slow­ly dies, they’ve got­ten lit­tle love in the Win­dows Mobile world. Now, Apple comes along and shows off some­thing that speaks direct­ly to them. Get­ting Sales­force on stage, I sus­pect, is the same for the sales peo­ple of the busi­ness world. The fact that most of the tech pun­dits have no idea what these pieces of soft­ware are, nor do they care, must feel like sta­tus-quo for the peo­ple in these mar­kets. How­ev­er, here’s Apple say­ing we care, guys. We care.

Last­ly, on the busi­ness side, was Peter Schiller’s response to ArsTech­ni­ca’s ques­tion regard­ing pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions dis­trib­ut­ing appli­ca­tions internally:

We are work­ing on a ver­sion of the App­Store for enter­prise that will allow cor­po­ra­tions to dis­trib­ute apps to their end-users securely.

So, while it is essen­tial­ly true that the only method to get your app on iPhones is via the App­Store, Apple is rec­og­niz­ing busi­ness’ need to dis­trib­ute appli­ca­tions inter­nal­ly only.

So there’s the three things for busi­ness: first-class Exchange sup­port, show­ing off spe­cial­ized busi­ness apps, and open­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty for inter­nal app dis­tri­b­u­tion at the enter­prise lev­el. Sure, most of the tech pun­dits don’t real­ly care about those things, except that they don’t rep­re­sent a huge chunk of Palm and Black­ber­ry users, do they?


Anoth­er very short, yet very impor­tant piece of infor­ma­tion came dur­ing the Q & A. When asked about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of VOIP on the iPhone, Steve Jobs responded:

We’ll lim­it them over the cel­lu­lar net­work but WiFi will be fine.

As well as when asked about deal­ing with the car­ri­ers (empha­sis mine):

We have a great rela­tion­ship with our car­ri­ers. We struck a new kind of rela­tion­ship with our car­ri­ers where Apple is respon­si­ble for the soft­ware on the phone. Real­ly, this is our pro­gram and we’re run­ning it.

So Jobs says VOIP is fine over WiFi and the cel­lu­lar net­works aren’t going to get to decide what apps get on the phone. Well, I’m not sure why you’d use VOIP over the cel­lu­lar net­work. VOIP over WiFi is there to replace voice over cel­lu­lar! Which of course, is why the net­works would­n’t want it there in the first place. Apple will, of course, be selec­tive as to what apps make it. They’ll be no where as bad as the cel­lu­lar net­works would be, though.

But is VOIP on the iPhone prac­ti­cle? I sus­pect there are a num­ber of urban users who could use Skype (etc.) over WiFi and nev­er even acti­vate their phone with AT&T. Of course, that’s a bit hypo­thet­i­cal right now since there are no VOIP apps avail­able right now and we don’t entire­ly know the specifics of how the App­Store is going to work. How­ev­er, I think the cel­lu­lar-less iPhone is not just pos­si­ble, but a real solu­tion for some people.

Small Developers

A siz­able por­tion of the apps on my Mac aren’t even to ver­sion 1.0 yet2 That is to say, they is a lot of great “Beta” soft­ware out there that is avail­able for down­load and, despite not yet being ful­ly baked, can be very use­ful. These are, by and large, from inde­pen­dent devel­op­ers who have big­ger ideas to offer than they have time to devote to. They want some­thing out there for folks to kick around (for any num­ber of rea­son, self-pro­mo­tion and pri­or-art argu­ments not the least of). How­ev­er, with Apple con­trol­ling the gate­way (just as I, and pret­ty much every­one else, pre­dict­ed), we may not see a lot of these poten­tial­ly use­ful lit­tle apps get­ting onto iPhones. I don’t real­ly know just how tight Apple is going gov­ern this. They may not at all, espe­cial­ly for the free apps. How­ev­er, giv­en they’re just now open­ing up the plat­form at all, I sus­pect they’re going to keep a pret­ty short guest list at the par­ty. Giv­en my desire to see long-tail apps on the iPhone, this would a real dis­ap­point­ment to me3.

I was real­ly impressed with the devel­op­er tools. I think Apple has pro­vid­ed a great pack­age. By doing so, and by stress­ing just how easy it is to devel­op apps quick­ly (how many times was “I can’t believe this was done in two weeks!” said?), they’re real­ly hop­ing to entice devel­op­ers quick­ly. Apple is doing a great job of bet­ting cus­tomers and devel­op­ers to come to the plat­form at the same time with this. Often, the devel­op­ers don’t want to code for a plat­form with no cus­tomers and the cus­tomers don’t want to buy into a plat­form that does­n’t have any soft­ware. Apple looks like their strad­dling that prob­lem with near perfection.

Regard­less, over a year after it’s first for­mal announce­ment, I’m ready to just go ahead and buy an iPhone. I may not do it tomor­row, but pret­ty much all my demands have been met. It’s time I just go ahead and drink the Kool-Aid.

So, any­one inter­est­ed in buy­ing a used 80GB iPod Clas­sic or Sony Eric­son W810i?

  1. Angela told me she is going to seek out the peo­ple at Lexi-Comp, Epocrates’ main com­pe­ti­tion, at her con­fer­ence next week. She’s pret­ty much going to tell them that either they get their app on the iPhone plat­form, or they lose her to Epocrates as a cus­tomer — and prob­a­bly many more like her. Then again, since the iPhone already has over 3x the mar­ket share of Palm smarthone users, they’re like­ly to do just that. []
  2. Some good exam­ples of sub‑1.0 soft­ware that I use fair­ly regularly:


  3. Of course, the obvi­ous solu­tion to this is just to call you’re first piece of soft­ware v1.0 — and nev­er have a 0.X “Beta” ver­sion. That’ll work, right, Apple? []

It’s About Time

One thing that has real­ly amazed me about work­ing at Bent­ley is just how spread out my com­pa­ny is. Not just in terms of branch offices, but even the var­i­ous staff mem­bers that make up a sin­gle team are spread in dif­fer­ent cities, even coun­tries and con­ti­nents. Short­ly after my first con­fer­ence call between myself, the West Coast of the U.S. and the East Coast of India; I real­ized that being able to quick­ly know the time in dif­fer­ent time zones was going to be a good idea.

Of course, the first thing I think of is those wall clocks over a 60’s news anchor’s shoul­der labeled: New York, Los Ange­les, Lon­don, etc. I thought: I won­der if there’s a desk-sized ver­sion of such a thing? Well, there is and to make a long sto­ry short: they’re all very expen­sive. So I fig­ured I’d get crafty and make my own time zone wall clock array.

World Clock Wall Board

My wall clock board — made for about $35 (bat­ter­ies not included).

There’s absolute­ly noth­ing fan­cy about this. I found some 8″, white plas­tic wall clocks at Office Depot for about $4 each. I’m pret­ty sure the clerk thought I was crazy when I bought the entire stock of six of them. Any­way, I found a fair­ly nice cork­board at Hob­by Lob­by to put them all on. The cork is too thin on the board, but it’s oth­er­wise a nice one that can eas­i­ly be used for — well, any­thing else a cork­board can be used for — should the time come when I don’t want the clocks anymore.

Wall Clocks Detail

Close up detail of the tags. Time Zone high­light maps are tak­en from the Time & Date pref­er­ence pane from Mac OS X 10.5.

I men­tion not want­i­ng the clocks any­more for a good rea­son. You see, there’s one thing with cheap clocks. It’s not that they don’t keep decent time (they do okay). It’s that they’re noisy. Our office now has a con­stant “ka-chung-da-da-chunk, ka-chunk-da-da-chunk.” that is get­ting more than a lit­tle annoying.

I knew that was going to be an issue all along, so we’ll see how long it takes to make me go mad. In the mean­time, at least I know that I can call Kolkata, India right now with­out wak­ing any­one up.

Gary Gygax Passes Away at Age 69

From Wired:

Gary Gygax, one of the co-cre­ators of the Dun­geons & Drag­ons role-play­ing game, died Tues­day morn­ing at his home in Lake Gene­va, Wis­con­sin, accord­ing to Stephen Chenault, CEO of Troll Lord Games. Gygax designed the orig­i­nal D&D game with Dave Arne­son in 1974, and went on to cre­ate the Dan­ger­ous Jour­neys and Lejendary Adven­ture RPGs, as well as a num­ber of board games.

Gygax’s lega­cy is that he helped to cre­ate much of what we now call gam­ing — be it with dice, on a com­put­er, or on a con­sole. His game was played by pret­ty much every­one my age (well, the males, any­way). He cer­tain­ly won’t be forgotten.

D&D - Remembering Gary Gygax
D&D — Remem­ber­ing Gary Gygax
Oh, I was such a nerdy kid.
…oh, I’m such a nerdy adult.
I saw my box of of D&D stuff in the garage while look­ing for a sock­et set and thought this might be a fit­ting pho­to for this blog post.