The Age of the Smartphone

27 03 2010

A post by my friend Jim made me think about how much smartphones have changed my personal day to day tasks and interractions. This, coupld with another convo I had with one of my cohousing neighbors before a pingpong match (“Hey, you have an iPhone, right? So, what do you do with it?”) gave grist for this posting…
So, it’s a phone, right? What do you do with it?
I…
* Have my entire contact list, email, phone, picture, address, AIM etc information with me all the time. It’s backed up, organized, and constantly updated.
* Am available to my family and friends whenever they wish to reach me, or I wish to reach them. If I don’t want that, I can mute the the phone.
* Am constantly charmed at getting and sending txt messages to my 11yr old son.
* Always have 20-30 books with me that I’m very comfortable reading, even on the smaller screen. (this has been one of the BIGGEST benefits to going with a modern smartphone)
* Have easy access to my email (both work and home) without requiring magic steps of connecting and signing in to the data network
* Have a hundred or so hours of music that is also synced and backed up.
* Very easy access to the 15 or so calendars that I need to be able to see for my duties as a parent, a business owner, an employee, and a community member.
* Able to respond to meeting invites, requests, or suggestions instantly (I get notified as soon as I’m invited to a meeting at work)
* Have a vast array of games to play – some simplistic, some maddeningly addictive.
* Able to keep track of a variety of ‘life’ programs such as calorie / weight tracking, habit trends, etc.
* Be able to look at, audit, and interract with all my bank accounts, including making payments or sending money to folks.
* Easy access to Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, anytime, anywhere.
* Have a relatively functional camera with me at all times, and the ability to immediately upload / share / post the pictures where people can see them.
This all in a device roughly the size of a pack of playing cards.
The future is here, folks. And it’s pretty damned cool.

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Palm’s Deathspiral Continues

19 03 2010

According to [this article on money.cnn.com](http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/19/technology/palm_target_price_zero/index.htm?hpt=T2) :
> Morgan Joseph & Co. analyst Ilya Grozovsky, one of the two analysts to cut its price target on Palm shares to $0, said “Palm is essentially an accelerating death spiral.”
It’s not hard to see where Palm lost out. The [Palm Pre](http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/pre/) is an excellent device. It has wonderful potential, a great form factor, runs Linux. On the feature list, it looks quite good.
It simply appeared two years too late.
Palm’s failures regarding the timeliness of it’s products [has been commented on by me before](http://planet-geek.com/archives/2008/08/iphone-over-pal.html) so I won’t go into them again. But it’s quite obvious by the time they got the Pre out the door, Apple, Rim, Google, and heck even Microsoft had filled up the smartphone market. The market is shaking platforms out and narrowing down the focus – not expanding onto new platforms.
We’ll see if the Pre, and by extension, Palm survives – they’ve weathered bad storms before, but unless the Pre sales level off and hold their own – something I don’t see them doing – I don’t see Palm around in two years.





Addicting iPhone apps : Medieval and Warfare, Inc.

18 03 2010

If you’re looking to preserve some of that spare time you have gobs of, perhaps it would be best to skip this post. Because I’m going to talk about two of the most addicting games I’ve come across for the iPhone. The first is just fun, the other is… well, you’ll see.
**Medieval**
This game from Brisk Mobile follows a well know simple ‘castle’ game, as implemented by a thousand flash games on the net. What makes it interesting is the variety of weapons available, the smooth animation, and the delightful artwork. I’ve been playing it pretty much dead on steady for the last 2 months, and have gotten up to level 143 – and it’s *still* challenging. Not sure how they’ve managed it, but they do.
**Warfare Incorporated**
This one has done me in. It’s hard to describe it without using the obvious connection, but… it’s Starcraft for the iPhone.
The game is a recreation of the normal ‘real time strategy’ genre, scaled down and modified to run on the iPhone. You have group unit selects, goals, manufacturing, buildings, and vehicle types. You have upgrades to units and to buildings. But unlike some of the other (rather lame) attempts on the iPhone, Warfare Incorporated has managed to make a decent plotline that, while not particularly riveting, at least keeps the game flow going. With 3 levels of difficulty and about 30 levels for the full game, the single player scenarios are quite engrossing.
To add to the wonder, [Warfare Incorporated](http://www.warfareincorporated.com) allows a form of downloadable content – you can play maps that other players have generated, as well as play against other players in realtime over the net. I personally haven’t explored those options yet, but I look forward to doing my own ZERG RUSH! against other players.
Both Warfare Incorporated and Medieval are available in the iPhone app store.





Paypal is driving me nuts.

17 03 2010

Why is Paypal so disorganized?
If you’re a developer, there are something like 6 different sites that are for use by developers. x.com, paypal-community.com, something called custhelp.com (which I was referred to, and sure as hell looks like a phishing site. Or something written by a 12 yr old).
All I want is an answer to why I’m having a problem posting an invoice to their ExpressCheckout, and I’m getting attitude and BS back.
Unbefrigginlievable.





Texas Board of Education – Rewriting History in favor of Political Ideology

16 03 2010

The folks over at the Texas freedom Network decided to attend the Texas Board of Education as it debated revisions to the school curriculum regarding political history. What they saw was a board dominated by extreme right wing politics. TFN comments:
> These board members clearly haven’t got a clue how to craft a curriculum document that’s streamlined, coherent and focused. They are far more interested in seeding the standards with whatever ideological pet causes they have. Pity the students and teachers of Texas for the foolishness they must endure.
Some choice bits noted from the meeting:
> The board’s far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America’s exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America’s Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.
During a debate regarding capitalism and free enterprise, several of the board members object to the term ‘Capitalism’ because it is considered a negative term. One member states, regarding using the word, “I do think words mean things. . . . I see no reason, frankly, to compromise with liberal professors from academia.” When it is pointed out that the person who recommended the terms ‘capitalism’ and ‘free enterprise’ be used is actually a republican professor at Texas A&M, the information is ignored, and the board passes the measure:
> The Texas State Board of Education has stricken from the standards references to “capitalism” and “free market” because the board’s right-wingers think “capitalism” is a negative term. The only permitted term for such an economic system will be “free enterprise.” We wouldn’t believe this if we hadn’t just watched it happen. This is so stupid it makes our head hurt.
It’s this sort of subtle manipulation of curriculum, particularly in public schools, that has the greatest effect on the political positions of children and young adults. If ideology is allowed to triumph over fact (and in many points in this discussion, fact is trumped in favor of personal stance), how can people trust their public schools, and by inference their local governments? I ask that folks pay close attention to their local school boards, and when they see absurdity like this, raise the roof and call it out – that is the only way this sort of ideological undermining of education can be stopped.





Whose Line Is It Anyway Outtakes

11 03 2010

Having a rough day? Skim through these outtakes from Whose Line Is It Anyway. I almost hurt myself laughing… warning, these are outtakes for a reason – a lot aren’t even remotely suitable for mixed audiences…

Outtakes 1
Outtakes 2
Outtakes 3
Outtakes 4
Outtakes 5
Outtakes 6