Apple Pulls Push Notification From 2.1 Beta 4 SDK

Apple has come up with a solution to not having background applications on the iPhone, the ability for developers to push notifications to the device through Apple’s servers. This feature had been promised to have a September release date but in the latest version of the iPhone SDK (2.1 Beta 4) the feature was pulled.

Many have thought that this meanse we won’t be seeing push notifications until next year but I don’t see that as very likely. I think we will still see push notifications this year but I don’t know if it will be released in September, October is a much more realistic time frame.

Applications like AIM and Twitterrific are dieing for functionality like this since both of them would benefit greatly from being able to send notifications to its users. But, I guess they’ll have to wait at least another month before they’ll be able to put that functionality into their apps.

What I find very odd though is that it push notification was put into the SDK and then pulled out, it would seems much more logical to me for Apple to keep it in their but instead tell developers when they will be able to include it in their applications. This way developers would still be able to build apps around it but Apple would still be able to change it if they needed to. The only reason I can come up with for Apple pulling it is if they need considerable changes to the code, the kinds of changes that would break any developers app if written against the old code. It may be that Apple realized that how they were doing it initially would just eat too much battery life from previous generation phones and would have to be changed to keep those users happy.

I’m really looking forward to push notifications on the iPhone and although I want it as soon as possible I would rather wait an extra month or two and still have decent battery life then to get notifications in September and have terrible battery life.

In Reply to Ars Technica, What Apple Needs To Fix

Yesterday Ars Technica posted this article talking about what is still wrong with the iPhone 3G, I suggest everyone read it first before reading this post. This post is just a reply to it point by point showing why they are wrong on most of them.

Activation: Not that big of an issue, it was only an issue the first week or so and that is to be expected, the only reason we can complain about activation issues though is because last year it was done so radically differently.

Cracks: This is a huge issue, not only in the iPhone 3Gs but also in the MacBooks, it is very possible that this is just a manufacturing issue with the type of plastic used in the white models. I just kind of wish they would go back to the aluminum and plastic back instead.

Software: Software issues are no longer their, and if you think they are you need to read my tips talking about how you can fix these issues.

F*cking NDA: The reason for the NDA is actually because of intellectual property, I truly believe that Apple still thinks there are a lot of patents that could be written up form the SDK, the NDA is keeping it from going public and therefore are still patentable by Apple.

3G or not 3G, that is the question: I think most of the issues mentioned here, switching from 3G to EDGE at odd times may just be an issue with the iPhone software itself. The iPhone is supposed to intellegently switch between the 3G and 2G networks to conserve battery life, it is possible that this feature hasn’t had all the kinks worked out of it yet and it will be fixed in September.

Now What: It’s strange to me that the spotty 3G coverage and the iPhone SDK NDA are the two things that Ars Technica choose to highlight as the worst, which (to me at least) are incredibly minimal compared to the cracks, you see, the NDA is only really relevant to developers (I know we could get into an arguement about how what affects defelopers ultimately affects users but we won’t get into that right now) and the spotty 3G coverage only affects users in certain cities. I don’t know the exact numbers but I would be willing to bet that there are nearly as many users of the iPhone 3G in 2G networks then there are on 3G networks which means that only about half of the users are affected at all by the weird 3G coverage.

It is obvious that the iPhone 3G has faults but the only question that really needs answering is whether or not it is the best smartphone, I personally believe it is and I know of about 9 million other people who think so as well. I would never switch to a Windows Mobile phone or a Nokia phone because I think the iPhone is the best, not because I’m a fanboy but because from my experience the iPhone is the easiest to use with the most functionality.

Why I No Longer Need My iPods

Just like many other geeks I have 3 iPods and now an iPhone but what I’ve realized is that since the App Store released I really no longer need all those iPods.

The reason I’ve been keeping my iPod around is for the games and the ability to output video to a TV with my 5G iPod. I’ve kept my 1G iPod Nano around to listen to music or podcasts as I go to sleep and I’ve kept my iPod Shuffle around to listen to music in the car (through a cassette tape adapter).

But, I don’t really need all of those, I now have all the games I could ever want on my iPhone, which can also output video to a TV (although most of that work is being done by my Apple TV). I can listen to music or podcasts as I go to sleep with my iPhone and with a $7 adapter I’ve been able to connect my iPhone to that same exact cassette tape adapter to listen to music in the car.

I will still probably keep my iPod Nano so that when the battery on my iPhone is a little low I can still listen to stuff without having to purchase a Mophie Juice Pack.

It has reached the point where I the iPhone is practically the only device I need. And, getting rid of some of my old iPods would really help me clean out some of the drawers in my office.

How Yahoo is Way Ahead of the Curve in Location Based Services

Many people think that Yahoo isn’t that good at putting new products infront of users and monetizing it, and they’re right. But, what they don’t realize is that Yahoo is way ahead of the curve in location based services and they don’t have to put it infront of users because other developers will.

The product is called Fire Eagle and what it does is allow developers to hook in and use location data to give information to users.

How it works is a user has an application that periodically updates to the most current location, the data is stored on Fire Eagle. The data can be grabbed by a GPS nav system, a cell phone, or even your laptop triangulating Wifi signals. The data is sent to Yahoo Fire Eagle and is stored.

The magic happens when you start to think about what that data can be used for. A Dashboard widget could use that information to give you weather information for the city you are in. An application on your cell phone could alert you when you are in a store with someone you know. Maybe even your GPS nav system will let you know that you are near a grocery store and give you a list of things that you need to buy.

Many of these application have not been built yet, but they can be with Fire Eagle.

Why Yahoo is doing this right is because it allows users the ability to control what applications are able to see what data. So let’s say I want a weather application to know what city I’m in, but I don’t want it to know my exact coordinates, Fire Eagle allows you to choose how close you want an app to see where you are, from exact coordinates, to zip code, to city, to state, and even country (I’m not sure how useful that last one is but it is still available).

I haven’t seen a single other developer platform out there that is doing this kind of thing, so from what I see Yahoo is way ahead (if anyone knows of any others please let me know). Obviously there are still some kinks that need to be worked out (that’s why it’s in beta), there isn’t anything that Fire Eagle does special when a location gets stale (other then offer a timestamp through their API) so the last time your location was updated could have been 2 weeks ago and it’s possible that you could still be there, but probably not. The other thing that the developers working on Fire Eagle need to think about is what happens with two updating applications get conflicting data at the same time or when a user is at a location that doesn’t have a city name.

So, there’s still a lot to be worked on, but Yahoo is farther then anyone else. The site is in beta so to get access you need to request an invitation code (I requested a few days ago and still haven’t recieved mine yet). But, this is really going places, I’ve read a few articles talking about it but I haven’t really seen any that bubbled to the top and became big news (and I think it should since everyone seems to think that location based services is going to be the next big thing).

Fire Eagle and the iPhone

The last thing I wanted to mention is the idea of Fire Eagle and the iPhone. One of the biggest problems with getting your current location with the iPhone is that it uses a lot of batter life, Apple has done a lot to keep that from becoming too much of a problem (like turing off GPS when it isn’t being used) but Fire Eagle could make this even better. What if every time you used a location based service on the iPhone, the application checked Fire Eagle for your latest location instead of going straight to the GPS? If the timestamp on that data was in the last (let’s just say) 5 minutes, they wouldn’t even need to fire up GPS to get your location. But, if the application did need to turn on GPS, it could push that information to Fire Eagle allowing other applications to use that data without turning on GPS. (Just a thought).

Fire Eagle

Time Warner Cable Testing 40GB Download Cap

Time Warner Cable will beginning testing a broadband service cap of 40GB/month in Beaumont, Texas. The first thing I want to say is that this would end up costing me roughly $40 more per month then what I am paying now.

I would not consider myself to be a heavy user, I probably download roughly 3GB per day though, which, in my opinion, would be considered some one who uses it more than the average joe but not nearly as heavy as the user who has bittorrent running 24/7.

I pay $45 per month and get roughly 4.5Mbps download speeds, they advertise up to 4Mb so I am very happy with the speed compared to what they advertise (I’m not very happy with my speed compared to many of the other people I know throughout the country who are paying just as much as me using Time Warner and routinely getting 8-10Mbps, but that’s another story) but if they brought this pricing to my neck of the woods I would be paying $55 per month for the 40GB and another $20 for the extra downloads (and that’s assuming they aren’t going to charge me for uploads which, if they did, would probably cost me another $20-30).

Many have said that this seems to be an anti-competative move by Time Warner Cable to keep other VOD and VOIP services from being very economical to their users, this would keep almost all of the people who know and use these services on Time Warners side of the fence and away from Skype, Vonage, iTunes, etc. I absolutely agree with that statement, it seems to me that the cable companies, just like the record industry and the movie studios are trying to hold on to a business model that. when you consider what’s possible on the internet, is incapable of doing anything but crashing and burning.

I’m sure many of the people who work for Time Warner Cable are smart but until they start to realize that the best way to fight off competitors isn’t by annoying and hurting customers, they might as well just start throwing their money down the toilet, because that’s where it’s going to end up sooner or later.

Blu-ray Players Outsell DVD Players in Japan Last Month

Although many people believe that Blu-ray is too little too late (I don’t agree with them) Blu-ray players actually outsold DVD players in Japan last month.

I’m not sure what this means to us Americans, Japan usually seems to be ahead in these types of situations and it may take us a little longer to purchase new players but once we do I think it will be another 3-5 years before the real consumers start to take a serious look at downloading content.

I know, I know, for me to say that may seem harsh but trust me I talk to the average consumer, living in up-state New York doesn’t have too many perks but not surrounding myself with early adopters like those in San Francisco is one of them. The average consumer doesn’t even consider the idea of downloading a movie off of the internet. They may know that it can be done, possibly from talking to one of their younger family members, but they wouldn’t even think twice about it, when the average consumer wants a movie they have two options, head to Blockbuster or head to Wal-Mart.


My Idea Of The Perfect Network DVR

I have been thinking a lot about DVRs lately, mostly because I saw the Nueros OSD and thought it was pretty cool, but I started thinking about what would be the perfect networked DVR and here’s what I came up with.

The DVR would have an ATSC tuner and a H.264 encoder, this way the programs recorded onto the DVR would be in H.264 and would be able to record that way on the fly (not saved in MPEG-2 and then exported as H.264 later).

I want the device to have easily removable hard drives so that I can either replace a bad hard drive with a new one or upgrade the hard drive later on. Now the coolest idea I had was the idea of the DVR being completely headless, so the way that you would schedule recordings and change settings would be with an application installed on other computers on the same network as the DVR, or maybe even a browser based configuration tool. The application would list to you all of the TV Shows that are available to you that will be airing in the next week and then present them to you as a list with check boxes next to them, you could then choose which shows you want to record all episodes of, only new episodes of, or don’t record at all.

The DVR would automatically tag the video files with the correct information, episode name, show name, season number, episode number, etc. using information taken from somewhere like TV Guide or even Schedules Direct (a organization that came about to give open source software program guide information). Because of this guide information whoever builds this DVR could charge users a monthly fee of $5 or so (similar to how Tivo works), and with that they may also be able to charge less for the DVR itself.

All recordings would be saved in an iPod friendly format 640×480 H.264, unless the program is in HD in which case it could also have the option of saving it in Apple TV friendly 720p H.264.

Once the programs are recorded they are shared over the network through iTunes (like) sharing so that Apple TV’s could watch the programming or anyone on the network with iTunes could watch the programming (you would also have the option of password protecting the content. With the DVRs configuration program though it would also present to you a list of all of the programs recorded and you could transfer those files to the computer you are at and also manually delete them or change settings on when they are automatically deleted, which could be things like, one week after recording, one week after play count changes, or manually deleted.

As you can see I have thought a lot about this and I really think that someone could make a lot of money selling one of these boxes. To be honest though someone could probably build the software right now and using a Mac Mini, a TV Tuner, and the Turbo.264 (a USB H.264 encoder) make it work right now. And, I guess I probably could get most of this working right now too, but I think I would need to know some programming to get the remote management working and the auto deletion working exactly how I would like it to.

If anyone wants to actually build one of these things be my guest, but I hope that since I gave you the idea for it, if you’re going to be selling them maybe you could send one my way free of charge.

The Microsoft Yahoo Deal Is Tiring.

It’s possible that this Microsoft Yahoo deal might actually happen, the New York Times says that Microsoft has upped the original $44.6 billion bid by “several dollars.” The NYT didn’t say exactly by how much and the quote is from an unnamed source but at least they are talking.

I still personally don’t want this to happen and actually don’t think it will anyway. Steve Balmer has already said that they could build the advertising network that they are trying to get without buying Yahoo, basically saying that they don’t really need Yahoo, and Bill Gates has said many times that they aren’t going to raise the bid. But, as I mentioned earlier they did raise their bid so who knows what will truly happen at this point in the game.

I still subscribe to the idea that John C. Dvorak has said several times, the EU won’t let this happen because of antitrust issues. Microsoft may convince Yahoo to finally concede and become one with Microsoft but because the EU has seemed to have it out for Microsoft for so long and will hit them for antitrust.

This whole Microsoft Yahoo thing is so confusing and Microsoft has never really seemed like they were trying that hard to acquire Yahoo. It is hard to draw any conclusions from this news. To be honest with you, the deal is just tiring, I wish Microsoft would get it through its thick Steve Balmer shaped skull that they DON’T need to be in advertising and if they spent as much time improving their software as they do talking about how they are going to do a hostile take over of Yahoo, their OS and Office would be undoubtedly the best products in the software segment that they sit in.

Microsoft give up, and save us all from the frustrations of trying to figure out how these two companies with such differing corporate cultures would ever assimilate into one another and quit it.

New York Times

Template of Next Generation iPhone Leaks From accessory Makers

The weak spot in Apple’s armor has almost always been the other companies that Apple works with, almost every time their is some sort of leak of a new product it isn’t by an Apple employee but by an employee of a company Apple is working with.

This time it is with the accessory makers, Apple sends information to them letting them know how they should design cases to put iPods or iPhones in and this time it leaked out in the form of a template showing what to expect the next iPhone to look like, design wise.

The next iPhone will have the same size screen but looks to also be available in white and possibly red. The next iPhone will also have some different curves on the sides and bottom but looks to be about the same size as the current iPhone.

Something else that is odd is that the current iPhone has two sensors above the speaker, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor but in this template it seems to show 3 sensors, or maybe the same two sensors and a small camera, which would prove Kevin Rose’s weird rumor of video iChat on the phone a possibility. It would also make me wrong, when Kevin Rose first talked about this I said this:

“I don’t think that there will be a camera on the front of the phone for video chatting, who the heck wants to video chat on their phone? Not me.” –Me

Now to talk about that 2.8″ screen iPhone for a second, I’m not sure whether I really buy it, changing the size of the screen on the iPhone will ruin a lot of what developers have been working on for months, all of these applications for the iPhone are being built with the 3.5″ screen in mind, the same goes for the web developers. But, then again I’m sure it is possible for Apple to purchase 2.8″ displays with the same resolution as the 3.5″ iPhone displays, but don’t forget that when you increase pixel density of a screen things start to get smaller and smaller, especially text and I don’t think Apple would want to sell a product where every user would have to struggle to read anything on the screen.


Adding Tumblr Into This Blogs RSS Feed

So I’ve been playing around with Tumblr a little bit and I AM LOVING IT. Tumblr makes it so easy to post and I’ve been posting for a day or two.

But, I’m trying to figure out how I can integrate Tumblr into this blog and I’m not sure how, what I’ve been thinking about doing is putting a little RSS feed reader in the sidebar to the blog so that you can see what I’ve been posting about but I’ve also been thinking about using something like Yahoo! Pipes to combine this blogs RSS feed and the Tumblr RSS feed into one, this way my RSS feed would be a little bit more like Daring Fireball’s (I’ve always loved that blog) in which you would get the regular posts from this blog but you would also get links to other places around the internet and short comments on other peoples articles.

Tell me what you think of the idea, I know there are quite a few people who read the RSS feed and I wouldn’t want to upset them by rolling this new combined feed into the regular FeedBurner feed, so (especially if you are subscribed to the RSS feed) let me know what you think of the idea by commenting below and I’ll decide what to do from there.

CyberSurge Tumblr

Categorized as Rants

You Can Go Back To Believing Everything You Read On The Internet Now

Yes, that’s right yesterday was April fools day and I stayed as far away from the internet as possible, not because I would believe the April fools day jokes but because I can’t stand them.

I don’t understand why reputable sources of information, journalists, stoop to that level. It’s one thing for Google to make a joke but its another when a website/blog that you go to for good and honest reporting is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

If you’re not reading about Michael Airington suing Facebook then your getting Rick Roll’d by YouTube, I’m just glad that the madness is finally over and we can go back to reading the real news online, like explanations on how the Earth is flat.

Categorized as Rants

Local News Websites Could Destroy “Traditional” Local News Sources

A few days ago I was having a conversation with my girlfriend and we were talking about how weird it is that the internet has the power to basically destroy all types of business, such as magazines, newspapers, television providers (cable and satellite), telephone companies, television stations, the Postal Service, radio, etc.

We were discussing how no other medium in history has been able to do this, television couldn’t kill radio, radio couldn’t kill newspapers, etc. But, the internet could kill all of these.

What’s odd though is that our conversation somehow morphed into the idea of making a news website for the city we live in. We live in a small city of 30,000 people but there are many other smaller towns neighboring us where a few writers and a few podcasters could get a considerable amount of those peoples eyeballs.

Right now there are only three ways of getting news in this city, the newspaper that seems to be printing more and more Associated Press articles lately, the local NBC affiliate which can only be viewed by watching it when it broadcasts, 6:00pm and 11:00pm or recording it to watch later, and the local radio stations which seem to be getting all of their news from one of the other two sources.

But the strange thing is that a single website with podcasts and written news on the website could destroy at least two of these three (when it comes to news at least). The advertising could easily be done by either billboards or even ads on the newspaper/NBC affiliate.

What I think would really get people is incredibly different approach to the news, not only would you be watching the news but you could be engaged in the news by leaving comments on the website, maybe on an audio podcast you could call in and leave a voicemail with differing opinions. Podcasting and blogging could change local news like no one had ever thought.

This idea of taking a small number of people and a few thousand dollars and turning it into a business that could rival the traditional news sources has been a dream of mine for a couple of years now, I think that we will finally see it in the next year or so in many of the cities across the country. Not only because the technology has become easy enough for the average Joe to do it but also because podcasting is becoming much more mainstream.

I can’t wait for it, I’d love to be able to just go to a website (that has a decent design) and be able to easily view/listen/read the news whenever I want, and commenting on the news through voicemail and comment forms would be nice to.

Just as an aside I was going to write a few paragraphs on how easy it would be to monetize but I’m sure you could figure it out, you approach a few local businesses, you tell them that you have X number of people listening/viewing/reading the content on a regular basis and you KNOW that they live in this area could easily monetize the whole business.