I was checking out Google’s updated iPhone interface…


Apple Maps App IconWith all the news organizations (I’m talking about you NBC), bloggers and tech pundits talking about how awful Apple’s new Maps App is, it’s amusing when I find problems with Google’s maps.

I did a search for local post offices and found the one that Apple’s Maps app didn’t find. So I asked Google to give me directions to the post office and here is what it produced for me:

The amusing part is that if you look close at the intersection of 141 and 100, you can see that there is a simple way to get to 100 without having to go further down 100 to the next intersection to turn around. The 141/100 intersection has been this way for well over 10 years now.

This just proves that MAPS ARE HARD! Google is just as susceptible of errors as Apple’s Maps app is.

Local 4G-LTE speeds


Att4glogoOne of the first things I did after activating my new iPhone 5 was to test the network speeds. I’ve heard a lot about how “true” 4G speeds are so fast that some locations are even faster than hardwire Internet speeds.

I used Speedtest.net’s iPhone app to test the speeds and saw pretty much the same speeds over WiFi as I was getting on my iPhone 4. That’s not surprising since I don’t have a fancy newer wireless router. For the iPhone 5 I got 9Mbps down and 4.5Mbps up and for the iPhone 4 I was getting 6Mbps down and 1.6Mbps up.

iPhone 4: 11Mbps down / 4.5Mbps up
iPhone 5: 9Mbps down / 4.5Mbps up

My surprise came with the 4G speeds:

iPhone 4: 6Mbps down / 1.6Mbps up
iPhone 5: 49.25Mbps down / 14.4Mbps up

I was astounded! My cable provider’s Internet speed is 32Mbps down / 4.2Mbps up!

It’s just amazing that my tiny little phone can get faster network speeds than my home.

Internet advertising and Ad-Blockers


Online adsI recently watched a great podcast on Internet advertising and ad-blockers and what ad-blockers were doing to sites like BoingBoing.

The show was This Week in Google on the TWiT network. They talked about how browser extension ad-blockers were ultimately hurting sides like BoingBoing. They used BoingBoing as the example.

To be fair, I see their point. I’m going to change the way my ad-blocker works and only block ads on sites where the ads are just intolerable. You know the kinds of ads I’m talking about. The ones the you feel like they are reaching out of your computer monitor and grabbing you buy the neck.

I will allow ads on sites that load quickly, look clean enough, no flashing obnoxious ads. Any site that takes longer than about 30 seconds to load will get ad-blocker turned on. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to disable ad-blocker on most of the sites I visit.

There are some sites that are just full of flashing nasty ads that make me sick. Sadly, The Joy of Tech is one of those sites. The Joy of Tech has so many ads that have things animating in them that I almost feel sea sick. On the other side of the fence is TWiT. TWiT’s ad images are nice static images that get the information across without looking like crap or making you dizzy. I’ve disabled ad-blocker on their site.

I’ll continue to do this so that sites that depend on advertising to help them stay up and running get the views they need. I want to promote positive advertising campaigns and not ads that make you want to pass-out. :)

One thing that was said on the show that amused me was that web pages have becomes many times bigger than their bitmapped equivalents. Meaning, take a screenshot of a web page and compare that image size to the amount of data downloaded when loading the page normally.

It’s true that web pages have become humungous messes because data speeds are so high these days and computers are so fast at rendering what they get, that most of the time it appears to be instantaneous. This is a trend that isn’t limited to web pages. Applications are also getting fat simply because developers don’t have to eek out every little cpu clock cycle like they did in the past.

A great quote from an article I read on the site Search Engine Land:

It takes about the same amount of computing to answer one Google Search query as all the computing done — in flight and on the ground — for the entire Apollo program!

We are not talking one computer or even an bank of computers, we are talking about every computer used by every Apollo launch. 18 Apollo missions. Just to perform one search query. Developers have become so lazy…

To be fair to developers. Why not. Computers are running so fast that my iPhone could probably do a single Apollo mission. The problem comes when developers move past older systems and don’t test on them anymore. Folks that are stuck with those systems wind up suffering or not even being able to use newer software that they may actually need.

I’ve strayed from my point here. Internet advertising needs to be something that you would put in front of your grand-mother for hours on end without repercussions or being removed from her last will and testament.

Be careful when checking App Store reviews


IOS 5 logo with Apple App Store LogoI felt the need to write this article after reading reviews for an app that is clearly an app designed to scam money out of patrons who are unfamiliar with Apple’s rules for writing iOS apps. (No link, I don’t want to feed the trolls as it were)

The app I am talking about is Fast Tools Pro. AppShopper.com also wrote an article warning people about this app, telling them that it doesn’t do what it advertises.

One thing I do that most people probably don’t is spend a little time with the reviews written by patrons of the app in the App Store. More importantly, I check the authors of 5 star reviews very carefully. Especially early after the release of the app.

ITunes SS001

Case in point: Fast Tools Pro. This app goes for $0.99 and is a Universal app meaning it is designed to work for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad.

Looking at the number of stars the app has from it’s reviews along is very misleading. The App Store is showing it has 3 stars which makes it appear like an average app. Not great, but not awful either.

ITunes SS002

Expanding the star review shows it has twelve 5 star reviews and thirteen 1 star reviews. This early on, those 1 star reviews are very important. First though, I want to talk about the twelve 5 star reviews. I mean surely, if 12 people find the app worthy of 5 stars, it has to be pretty good. WRONG!

If you dig just a little bit into those 5 star reviews, you will find that they are by folks that are possibly paid to place those reviews.

ITunes SS003

Each review has some great words about the app, but take a closer look at each of the reviews other reviews. I’ll list several here (not necessarily from the screenshot):

  • ford47: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste, Autopilot Game, Space Blast+, What The Photo? Free, and Neon Glow FXs.
  • Cordie Mussel: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste, The Fleas, Kids Email, What The Photo? Free, and Marche.
  • David.Cohen: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste.
  • treed35: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste.
  • taylorMim: Fast Tools Pro, Marche.
  • Roman Churin: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste, Neon Glow FXs.
  • haddin: Fast Tools Pro, iBouquiniste, Neon Glow FXs.

All the above apps were given 5 stars in their reviews. Notice a pattern here?

There are companies out there that advertise that they will get you a top 10 spot in your category and even a top 10 spot in the overall list on the App Store. The above 5 star review look like they came from such a marketing strategy.

These reviews are most likely paid reviews and do not reflect the views of actual patrons.

What I do when looking at reviews in the App Store is to look at the “Most Critical” reviews. Now with “Free” apps, this is difficult because everybody and their brothers post reviews since it costs nothing to download the app and post the review.

However, when an app costs anything, even $0.99, reviews tend to be more realistic. At least the ones that were not paid for. Say you see a string of 1 star reviews. Checking other reviews these patrons have reviewed will show a variety of apps/products and a variety of star reviews. Not just 5 star reviews for just apps.

In the case of apps that are scamming apps like Fast Tools Pro is, you will find the 1 star reviews warn other possible patrons that the app being reviewed is either “false advertising” or “Warning” or even “Don’t waste your money”. It’s a safe bet that if there are a bunch of reviews like those, that the app is by a developer out to scam it’s possible patrons, not a legitimate app.

Just look at my previous post about an app called Microsoft Word 2012. When that app was still in the App Store (it was apparently removed by Apple not long after it was released), it was initially sold for $9.99 and reviews pretty much were all 1 star with text like “This is just a tips app!” and “You can’t even write text into a document!”. They later changed the description of the app in the store to give the impression that it was a hints/tips app. Still selling it for $9.99. They later changed the price to Free. Then the app disappeared from the store.

Apple has always said that it has a no refunds policy on App Store purchases. They do make exceptions, but basically the best advice to give a potential patron to the App Store is: “Buyer beware”. This really goes for both the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store, but the Mac App Store doesn’t have as many scammers as the iOS App Store.

Maybe due to the Mac App Store forcing the developers to use things like Sandboxing, this makes writing an app to try to trick someone into buying your app too much of a pain to develop.

Android Measuring Stick: the iOS Stick


Apple iOS LogoNine days ago, I posted some info I found on how Android was fairing over each of it’s versions.

Today, pxldot posted a second article showing graphs of how iOS fairs over time and compares the two.

The graph that fascinated me the most  was one showing Version share by weeks after release. As Android barely gets to 70%, iOS gets to over 90%. More importantly, iOS 5 is at 75% now and Ice Cream Sandwich is nowhere to be seen. In fact, Honeycomb and ICS are both not even shown on the graph.

Version 20Share 20by 20Weeks 20After 20Launch 20with 20Android

In fact, Chris Sauve posts:

Even more astounding is that 15 weeks after launch iOS 4 was at 70% and iOS 5 was at 60% while Ice Cream Sandwich got to just 1% share at the same age.

So ICS is not forgotten in that graph.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview


Win8LogoSo like over a million others, I downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview yesterday. I have since been trying to install it without it doing very strange things to my Mac Pro.

I’ve been using the ISO image and Parallels. It’s really weird. I first installed in such a way that Windows could see my Mac’s applications. After answering a few questions (Parallels), I click a Continue button, the screen slides over like it’s going to start showing the install process, then slides back like it failed. My computer’s CPU’s start getting heavy usage yet nothing from Parallels.

I quit Parallels, it tells me doing so will stop the VM currently running. What VM? I stop it. When I start Parallels back up, I see the Windows 8 VM starting back up followed by the continuation of the installation process.

Anyway, after it finishes, I see the famous Metro start screen. I try to access it and it doesn’t appear responsive. Then I start seeing all kinds of new tiles appearing on Metro’s start screen. It’s adding all the Mac application shortcuts it’s finding on my Mac. I think that the reason it’s not responsive is because it’s adding over 700 shortcuts.

I kill the VM, delete it and try again. This time isolating the two OS’s from each other.

After the install finishes, I see the Metro start screen again, this time no new shortcuts appearing. Yet, I still can’t seem to access the start screen.

Normally, I can access Windows VM’s easily. I tell Parallels to use the USB mouse I have connected to my computer in case my Magic Trackpad’s batteries dies. I can finally access Windows, but I lose access to the Mac. What? I try the usual keys to release Parallels control over the mouse and it won’t release.

Also, after a few minutes, I lose the cursor image in Windows. Not long after that, I can’t even move the mouse around in Windows. So I can’t access my Mac Pro and Windows VM.

I’m now going to try the 32bit version of Windows 8 to see if maybe the 64bit version was causing the problems I was experiencing.

Cut to about an hour later…

I finally have an installation that is working fairly well. The mouse will only work if I make Parallels take full control of it. I still have my Magic Trackpad for the Mac so that’s better.

I’m going to spend some time with it to be fair, but first impressions of the UI is: Why would any enterprise user switch to Windows 8?

Here’s my logic. Windows has been a staple for enterprise because it was millions of “home” users used copies that were installed on their “PC”‘s for years and years.

Cut to 2012 and Windows 8. Pepsi Co. needs new computers for their offices. They have hundreds of applications that they use regularly that ran on Windows 7 or XP. Now, they are faced with a decision. Purchase 1,000 new computers with Windows 8 pre-installed, or maybe ask the company that they are buying these Windows machines from to install Windows 7 on them if that is even possible, or…

Here’s the deal. If you are forced to use Windows 8, do you stick with Windows and train all your employee’s to use Windows 8, or maybe think about using a new OS since you are going to have to train your employee’s anyway.

I’m not saying Mac OS here. Heck, even Apple seems to be on this kick to combine Mac OS and iOS into one new hybrid OS. There are other options that have been around for many years and have become way more stable than they used to be.

I am just wondering if Microsoft is really thinking about what they are doing here with Windows and really want to move to a centralized single OS for Phones, Tablets and Desktop computers.

Android Measuring Stick


Android logo font

pxldot has a great article on how Android is fairing and just how fragmented the OS is as new versions of the OS are distributed.

The problem of Android fragmentation is partially caused by the cell carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint) having control over when new OS’s get distributed. It also has a lot to do with cell manufacturers being allowed to alter the base Android OS putting their own spin on it before it goes onto their devices. The latter being a big factor in slowing down the distribution of new OS’s to users.

The article shows one very interesting graph of the percentage of handsets that have the most recent version of Android:

Preview SS001

It’s interesting to me because the percentage never exceeds 55%! So currently, about 53% of all Android handsets out there are running Gingerbread/Honeycomb (I wonder what the percentage is for each of those OS’s?) and maybe 1% to 2% are on Ice Cream Sandwich. That leaves about 45% for all the other OS’s.

In attempting to find some fragmentation info on iOS, I mostly found article discussing which OS’s app crash more frequently. Really?

I did find one site showing iOS distribution based on web impressions:

4lTUT

I’m disappointed that I couldn’t find more info on iOS fragmentation. I know it exists and I would love to see the number of users per iPhone and OS version.

Let’s face it, there have been 5 iPhones since 2007. iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. 2 versions of the iPhone have been discontinued (Original and 3G). 3 versions of iOS are used by those 5 phones. iOS version 3.1.3 for the original iPhone, 4.2.1 for the 3G and 5.0.1 for the 3GS, 4 and 4S.

If someone reading this has seen some decent stats on iOS distribution, I would love to know where to find it.

Is it really piracy if…


Pirate flag iconMarco Arment had a very interesting post about addressing problems to do with the layout of an office’s bathroom and torrent’ing movie’s/TV shows.

Not all piracy represents lost sales: many pirates would never have paid, and would rather go without whatever they can’t easily pirate. That’s not a market worth worrying too much about, because there’s not much anyone can do to stop it, and any attempts to slow it down usually just limit, inconvenience, frustrate, and anger the paying customers.

But there are a lot of people who will pay to get content legally, even if it’s easy to pirate, when getting it legally is easier. (This is now the case, to a large extent, with music.)

In response to The Oatmeal’s comic, Andy Ihnatko makes a good counterargument:

The single least-attractive attribute of many of the people who download content illegally is their smug sense of entitlement. …

The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it. If it’s not available under 100% your terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not having it.

Andy’s right. But it’s not going to solve the problem.

Relying solely on yelling about what’s right isn’t a pragmatic approach for the media industry to take. And it’s not working. It’s unrealistic and naïve to expect everyone to do the “right” thing when the alternative is so much easier, faster, cheaper, and better for so many of them.

The pragmatic approach is to address the demand.

My question to ponder is: Is it piracy if the person torrent’ing a TV show is only doing so to watch it once, then he throws away the video file?

Sure, I understand Andy’s “counterargument” perfectly. It is my choice not to spend $115 a month for the privilege to watch 10 episodes of Game of Thrones. HBO doesn’t have to bend it’s way of doing business just so I can watch Game of Thrones for a much more reasonable price.

Apparently, I could just wait a period of time and rent the DVD’s when they become available on Netflix. However, even this is difficult. 5 DVD’s for 10 episodes? What in the world is on these DVD’s that only 2 1 hour episodes fit on a standard DVD? Even if there is bonus content, only being able to watch 2 episodes before having to send the Disc back to Netflix and wait for them to send the next DVD in the series, kind of ruins the whole “renting” experience. At least for me.

It would be much better is we could just stream the show, but that probably won’t be available for quite some time. Maybe not until after season two is finished.

I suppose I should just accept the fact that HBO doesn’t give a f**k if their shows are watched or not. So long as they get their precious money from cable companies like Charter, Comcast and the others, they are more than happy with their situation.

News about MLB.com At Bat ’12


Quick look at todays free amazon app mlbcom at bat mzbo 0

UPDATE 2/27/12: I just found some new info about MLB.com At Bat ’12 that you should check out. It’s in this new blog post: Update to MLB.com At Bat ’12 info.

UPDATE 2/28/12: Macworld just put up a post about the app: MLB.com At Bat warms up for 2012 season.

UPDATE 2/29/12: The MLB.com At Bat ’12 app is finally out! Take a look!

I was just informed by a friend that MLB in their infinite wisdom has drastically changed the MLB.com At Bat app for 2012. After doing a little digging, I found an article that pretty much says it all.

This year, we’ve just confirmed that MLB At Bat 12 will be free  with your subscription, which remains at $119.99 for existing subscribers. New subscriptions will be priced at $124.99. This enables you to receive 150 Spring Training games and all 2430 regular season games (some games are subject to blackout), with no added cost for either the iPhone or iPad apps.

Every article I found about this change made it sound wonderful! This would be true if you were writing to all the folks that paid the $125 subscription last season.

First off, you do not get 2,430 games! There is no way that anyone will be able to stream every game! There are games that start at similar times, the AppleTV and iOS devices can only play one stream at a time. Sure, your computer can do more than one, but how many people are going to sit in front of their “computer” and watch several games at a time. I guess, if that computer were hooked up to an HDTV, they might, but that’s about it.

Secondly, last season, people were able to pay $15 for the Game Day Audio streams. Being forced to pay almost 10x that for the ability to listen to Game Day Audio again is ludicrous!
I’m having a hard time understanding why all the reviews I have read so far about this news is positive! I would much rather pay $30 or even $50 for MLB.com At Bat ’12!

In this household. We paid the $15 for MLB.com At Bat ’11 and $15 for the Game Day Audio. We were fine with that. In fact, I paid $30 for the apps because I bought both the iPhone and iPad versions!

To be fair, it’s not all that clear if the Game Day Audio can be purchased separately and used with the app, or the only subscription that will work with the app is the full $125 one.

The $125 subscription really caters best to people who root for a team that doesn’t play in the city they live in. My wife who is a huge Indians fan living in St. Louis would benefit the most from a $125 subscription, but as a Cardinals fan, there is no big advantage.

Ah well, time to look for a new app to track baseball!