Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Google wifi kerfuffle…

As I drove home from work today, as usual I listened to the podcast of The Economist magazine. They read a story about the recent flurry of press activity and governmental proclamations around the press release from Google that Google had inadvertently collected wifi data with the street view vehicles. I have a couple of thoughts about this:

1) Inadvertent? Hah! It was not wise, but I doubt it was unintentional by the developers who loaded the code.

2) However, what’s the big deal? This was unencrypted wifi data from folks who didn’t care about the security of their data! Geez. Get over it, and worry more about changes in Facebook privacy settings, where I do think there should be scrutiny and review.

The end of the beginning

An article in today’s NYTimes magazine has me thinking about the state of the Internet. While I understand the author’s concern about the segmentation of the ‘net experience, I think that this is a natural evolution. I’ve been running web servers since 1993, and have watched things evolve from “gee, isn’t this so cool that it works” to “OMG, how do we keep the bad guys out of our workstations and servers.” Read Fatal System Error to get a picture of who’s behind the malware on your computer. The key for a successful walled garden is to provide an effective tradeoff between protection and restriction. Is Apple’s too restrictive? If so, vote with your wallet and move to Android. I think that Android will provide the measure of healthy competition that will keep Apple innovating and which will keep them from too much lock-in of functionality. The problem is that today’s personal computers (PC and Mac) are too complex and configurable. The industry is maturing, and becoming more appliance-like. The next few years will see more people eschewing traditional home computers for appliances – tablets like the iPad and the cascade of Android tablets that will appear soon, TV’s with network media consumption abilities, smart phones, and more. We’ll have a computer in the home for keyboard-centric activities, but not one per family member, as the appliances will take on “personal” computing roles, and that’s itself a transient condition.

Don’t be wistful about the Internet of yore, as this is not the “beginning of the end”; this is the “end of the beginning” of the personal digital revolution.

Citrix on the iPad

I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical about this, but as I think that “citrix-type” desktop virtualization is one of the best ways forward to maintain reasonable protection of organizational data (it’s just too darn hard to protect dozens, hundreds or thousands of full featured desktops in an organization), I decided to download the free iPad app and take a look. I’m pretty impressed! They let you create a demo account (not sure how long it persists) that gives you access to a Windows environment with Microsoft Office 2010 and some other tools. It took me a few minutes to figure out navigation, popping up the keyboard, “right” clicks, “Ctrl” key sequences, etc. I actually read the help 😉 and it was quite helpful!

Using Word was straightforward, though you do have to switch between scrolling and non-scrolling mode to scroll the display pane rather than move the screen. Pinch and zoom works to make small features easier to click. I went thru a Powerpoint presentation, even “right clicking” to back up slides. I did not try to see if it works with the VGA output.

I think that we’re going to continue to see an avalanche of useful business and productivity apps on the iPad…and with Android tablets right around the corner, Apple’s going to have to keep pushing the iPad platform aggressively, and to do that, they need to court the developer community…a virtuous cycle!

iPad apps

I’ve been loading several apps on my iPad over the past few days as I work on getting things set to support my use of the iPad. I’ve found that many of the apps from the iPod/iPhone world are not needed due to the improved browser capabilities of the iPad. Facebook is a good example, though they could create a cool app that would beat the browser interface.

Of the free apps, the ABC app is cool, but I don’t use it. I really like the NPR app and I do use that one, as well as the Reuters News app. Accuweather is another nice one.

I splurged and bought the iWork apps, and I like them quite a lot. I think that Keynote and Pages will be the ones I use primarily. They are slick and full-featured. VGA output on Keynote is very cool, with good quality 1024×768 output thru the dongle. One of the apps with the best value for the money is Goodreader. This app allows access to WebDAV servers, etc, and makes it simple for me to read and write to iDisk, for example. Also, it has the ability to access zip files (open or create) which is very handy.

Continuing this random list of things I’ve found is Topomaps, which is (for a boy scout like me) a highly cool app. Download any USA topo sheet, and once downloaded you don’t have to have a connection to view the map. Uses the GPS to allow you to locate yourself. Can store waypoints. Doesn’t integrate with the compass yet, but I emailed the developer (who responded in 15 minutes!) and he’s planning to add that feature in a future release.

I’ll post more app thoughts as I have them!

iPad, day three

I got my own iPad on Friday the 30th, so I’ve had it three days now. While I had the opportunity to use Jan’s some over the last month, it’s not the same as having your own. I can safely say that I’m just as pleased as I thought I’d be, and my expectations were high. I’ve synched my old iPod touch apps, but many of the old apps aren’t going to get much use. They are ok, but there is a big difference in an app designed for the iPad. I have bought the iWork apps and they are very elegant and amazingly functional. I’ve loaded my music library, a few movies/TV shows, some podcasts, etc. It’s wonderful for email, outstanding for web browsing, and a pleasure to hold and use. Battery life is phenomenal.

There are a few things in the browser that are awkward or don’t work, but very few. When you consider that this is the first release of the iPad, it’s incredible how well it hits it’s design goals. Version 4.0 of the OS, due in the fall, will be exciting.

My office laptop will stay docked, and I’ll be carrying the iPad. Viva la difference!