Category Archives: tech

My Thoughts of Glass Almost a Year In

Recently Google published an article on how not to be a “glasshole.” In the article they listed a few do’s and don’ts regarding proper etiquette. The fact that Google published this concerns me. Reading this insults my intelligence; no really, it does. Why does Google, for its highly beta program need to tell people how to be socially acceptable?

New Glass explorers are becoming very loud in their belief that Glass should be everywhere, and get outraged when someone has a problem.  Maybe I’m just jaded, or was in that camp and forgot, but I’m trying to be respectful of new technology.  I don’t think Glass is a right.   If we get an update, then hooray, but we paid to be in an extreme beta.  If Google thinks that Glass is a failure, then they will stop the program.  Unfortunately, you paid the money, and they delivered a device.  That is it.  There was no expectation of updates or new revisions.

I’m not a developer, but I do want to call myself an advocate. My whole purpose was to see how glass, or any wearable technology can make my life easier. Glass hasn’t done it for me yet, but I can see potential. I go around answering any questions from people. Mainly I want to make people comfortable. I want them to see the positives, rather than the recording aspects that make people so nervous.

Now that I have had  Glass for just under a year, I forgot how I was when it first launched. Maybe I’m exactly guilty of what I’m trying to rail against, but the recent crop of explorers seem more vocal in their insistence of wearing glass to places they shouldn’t.

I don’t take off Glass in the bathroom. I don’t see a need. People talking on cell phones are more intrusive than me using the bathroom. I guess that is my one personal issue. At work, I was approached and asked to remove glass. I felt attacked. I felt that people didn’t trust me. I am the computer science teacher. My job is to get students excited about technology. My students are excited. I have the highest enrollment the school has ever had. I am also a professional; it says so on my union card. I am not allowed to photograph students, with career ending consequences if I do. Knowing that, why would I do something I shouldn’t? Not only that, people that were complaining ,did not ask about the capabilities. People listen to the news, and there aren’t any positive articles regarding glass.

I would never wear Glass to a movie theater. There is no reason to. You should not be doing anything else other than watching a movie. Likewise, I don’t wear glass to the doctor’s office. I have in the past, but was really careful to make sure I didn’t offend someone. Privacy is important, therefore, I do not want to make it look like I’m doing something I shouldn’t.  The goal is to use personal responsibility when debating of whether Glass is appropriate.  When people have asked me to take it off, I ask to talk to them about it.  Usually I will ask if I can show them how it works.  If they still feel uncomfortable, then I will take it off, and respect their wishes.

Glass is supposed to help us get information fast, and easy. The goal is to not try and force a use for it. If it is easier to get the job done on your phone, then do it. The new explorers in my mind are forcing actions that it is not. If you cannot talk in the space you are in, then pull out your phone and send that text message. Don’t annoy others because you HAVE to use Glass.

Glass is a beta product. It isn’t for everyone. Yeah it is the new hotness, but I try to explain to people who want to know that this is either an expensive toy, or a completely new development platform. It isn’t a finished product, and you shouldn’t expect it to be ready for commercial release. Send your constructive criticism to the Glass team.

Glass Explorers are supposed to be advocates. If you want Glass to succeed, positive news must be shared. Being creepy in public does not set a great example. Remember, our goal is to show that this is a useful product. Be smart about it. We are supposed to take the negativity and show people the future of wearables.

The customer service with glass is phenomenal. Once you have Glass, they treat you very well. They listen to the complaints, they fix issues that you caused, and they are overall pleasant. Their communication to current Glass owners is very good. They care about all the explorers.

Recently, they’ve decided to stop the monthly updates. Back in December or January they said that February will be the next update. Well February came and gone, but they did tell us they were sorry, and we wouldn’t be disappointed. This got people upset. They have shown that they care about providing support, so a delay shouldn’t be the end of the world.

I want Glass to succeed.  I want to be a part of a community that wants to try new things and advocates for them.  I want to be a part of the future.  I do not want to be lumped into a category of people who feel like they have the right to violate peoples’ privacy.

 

Comments:

The Sad State of Passwords Part 3: A Letter to Webmasters About Authentication

passwordmanager

I’ve said over and over, the best password is one that you don’t know, and is so incredibly long and complicated that you need to write it down. That is what security people have always recommended, yet for whatever reason people are still using insecure passwords. Mainly because websites impose so many restrictions to what a password can be. These same restrictions the hackers understand, and will use against you, or the site.

The problem is two-fold. First, entering data into a smartphone or any small keyboard is time-consuming. Having to go back and forth to where the password is stored, writing a character or two at a time (due to its complexity), will cause anyone to give up. You can not have secure and convenient. Using a password manager is inconvenient, but much more tolerable if the process was made easier. Second, websites in order to be more secure, are banning password managers from filling in the fields, or not allowing copy and paste. While, preventing these two actions make it more secure in a perfect scenario, where the average person understands this, the reality is people want access to their stuff NOW! By lifting these restrictions, and pushing password managers, you will increase security.

The new recommendation is to use a password manager. Let the password manager create, store, and fill in the password. Set it to create the longest nonsense it can. So difficult, you won’t remember, nor write it down. All of this is in addition to using a second form of authentication, however, the password is the most important part.

I spent a lot of time explaining managers here: http://chaimtime.com/2012/07/25/the-sad-state-of-passwords-part-1-use-a-password-manager/

I’ve drafted a letter that I want people to email to any website that refuses to allow a password manager from doing their job. I’ll leave it editable, so that people who are much better writers than I am can add to it.  Hopefully, this will be a catalyst for everyone to email the webmaster and forcing a policy change.

To Whom It May Concern:

I appreciate the security imposed by the site to keep my information safe and secure, but may I offer a few suggestions.  My suggestions are based on technical support inquiries I’ve been getting from less tech savvy and security conscious people.  I understand that as a business you have to weigh security versus convenience, but I don’t think the security you implement is acceptable enough to warrant the inconvenience

I’ve been a proponent of password managers to fill in credentials.  Your website will not allow the auto complete of username and passwords.  Password managers allows people to create passwords to your current website password restricts easily, and fills it in automatically.  They also make it easily to remember the change when needing to change passwords.  Allowing the automatic filling or copy and pasting means people can create more secure passwords with less inconvenience.  Allowing copy and pasting makes entering credentials on a smart phone much easier.  If you want people to use your app, you need to make it easy to log in, and keep user data secure.

Thank you for listening to my suggestion.  I am open to discussing this with you, or your security team.  I believe that this is a simple change that will allow a better experience on your website.

Your Customer,

 

As always, please comment on the Google+ Post below:

 


Moto X – The Next Day [Updated]

 

motoxpinwheelWe all had the night to digest, and I think we looked at it the wrong way.  In fact my co-host, Paul Shapiro, gave me a different way to look at it.  Look at the product as a whole, just like any Apple product. (Here is our discussion of it)

The spec war, is like a way to say, my phone is faster than yours.  Honestly, the only thing that I care about is can the phone be responsive to my needs.  I’m a pretty heavy power user.  What scares me the most about a new phone is month 20 -24 where I’m waiting for an upgrade.  Will the phone be usable then?  Most people are shocked that I do keep my phone the duration of the contract.  The power users that I talk to, upgrade, usually between 9 months and a year.  A $650 phone should last longer than a year.

The Moto X seems to have an new strategy.  Let’s build the software around the hardware (or is that hardware around the software).  The Moto X is not a high end phone, but it isn’t a slouch.  If you ignore the spec war,  and look at it from a trusting point of view, you have a really good phone, one that I’m going to recommend to people.

You have Motorola and Google working together to create a very usable skin of Android.  This may be the first skin that people may give praises to.  It isn’t just a skin, but something that is integrated with the hardware.  Having specific cores doing certain things, is a refreshing way to look at it.  Combine that with 4.3 with project butter 2.0, and you have something interesting.  When idle, it will listen to your commands on one core, do background tasks on others, but combine the full power when you are doing an active task.  I think Motorola executed the Samsung features of touchwiz in a much better way.

The big question are the updates.  4.3 is already out, and this phone when shipped later this month will be running 4.2.2.  Motorola has been really quick with their updates, but this scares me.  Just like how the Google Edition S4 and the HTC One are getting their updates from the manufacturers.

The customization features hopefully turn into something more than a gimmick.  Remember, the first phone accessory you buy is a case for your phone.  Covering all the customizations up with a case, is not what people want to do.  It looks durable.  I commend Motorola and Google, for creating a way to customize a phone, quickly into consumer’s hands.  On a feel good note, we are creating US manufacturing jobs.

I can’t be all sparkles and sprinkles on the device.  The carriers have destroyed my hopes and dreams of picking up this phone.  AT&T has exclusivity to the customization features, the phone doesn’t come with an unlockable bootloader (the announcement didn’t say it was explicitly unlocked).  We don’t know the ‘developer edition’ price yet. Each carrier has their own rules and release dates.  Remember the HTC is still not out on Verizon, months after the release, and months after the Google Edition is up for everyone.

UPDATE:
Punit Soni originally shared:
Perhaps this got missed in the launch hullabaloo …
Moto X on the Sprint, US Cellular, Rogers and T-Mobile networks will have an unlockable bootloader, and in addition, we will be offering a Verizon Wireless Developer Edition and a general North American Developer Edition. 

For most people a two year contract is not a big deal.  You have to be on a carrier, so let them take the hit.  Most people don’t upgrade their phones more frequently than every two years. However, for some people, (me) I rather buy the phone outright for an acceptable price, and be in control of the upgrades.

As a consumer facing phone, Motorola and Google did a good job.  I’ll be recommending this to people who want it.  As a power user, I’m going to pass, and wait on the new Nexus device.

 Please Comment on the Google+ page found here:

 

Credit to Motorola for Their New DROIDS

droidmini

I’ve got to give some credit to Motorola, the non Google Motorola.  They have picked a marketing campaign, and stuck to it.  They have released a set of three phones every August, for almost three years.

Started with the RAZR, than the RAZR MAXX in November/January of 2011/2012

Then the RAZR M (Mid-range), RAZR HD (Higher end), and the RAZR MAXX HD (High End) September 2012

Now they have released the RAZR Mini (Mid Range), RAZR MAXX (higher end), and RAZR ULTRA (High end) slated for end of August.

All three years, they have come up with three phones, and have updated them quickly.  Motorola has also focused on problems such as battery life.  Also, they realized people want stock, and have moved towards stock as much as possible.

I’ve always had luck with Motorola phones.  I may be the only one, but my Droid X was always updated timely when it was relevant. Anyone with the above phones have always been happy.

The only negative is the root ability.  I’m hoping that these newest phones come with an unlockable bootloader.

The odd out phones have been neglected, and not recommended.  Droid 3 and 4 were both ignored.  The Droid Photon 4g I never heard from again.  These phones were released off cycle, and only appealed to a handful of people.

As I’ve been doing, please comment on the G+ page here:
https://plus.google.com/107779029598075532555/posts/ffpkmTiquqD

Privacy Concerns With Google Glass

source: Nobel Ackerson

source: Nobel Ackerson

If you know me personally, you know that I’m a very public person. I am also a very private person when it comes to certain things. Having the right to privacy, whether you choose so or not, is something I want to always have regardless if I choose to or not. If I choose to be engaged in social media, it is my choice, but I have to make sure that I only invoke my right (or lack) of privacy, and not anyone else’s.

When I take photos, I NEVER tag people in the shared album. I always ask the people, even if I can share the album. While, I assume, I’m in my right to tag someone, out of respect I don’t. What I assume is safe to post, may not be for everyone.

There is a very legitimate privacy concern over glass, when it comes to being in a place where cameras and recording devices are prohibited. In these places recording devices are banned. you don’t need to make another law specifically for glass. it is assumed that any recording device will be prohibited. The goal of Glass is to push the limits of technology. It is not a new way to spy on people. if Google didn’t put a camera, people would complain that it didn’t have a recording element.I believe that Google Glass is a huge milestone in technology. I believe that is a net positive gain for convenience. Remember Google’s mission statement / company policy is “do not evil.”

I will say that people are not paying the all this money to show us the very worst part of Google Glass. They have a vested interest in making a positive impact. I bet all the Glass toting population are very nice people who want to see this technology become mainstream. If the rumored iWatch has Siri that must mean it could also be a recording device. Are we banning watches?

The violation of one person’s privacy rights (implicit or implied) is a huge concern. The underlying issue is that the technology has already been given a stigma of being something that it is not. I am not going to walk around recording everyone. Just because I have a recording device doesn’t mean I’m going to use it for nefarious purposes. Those same devices have existed for years, but somehow we trust the user. We trust the user because we have the same technology, and understand how it works.

When you talk to someone who doesn’t understand what Facebook is, we hear the same privacy invading rhetoric. “I don’t like ‘the Facebook’ because it [Facebook] steals our information.” It very well could be true, but the evidence used, is not based on fact, but on rumor that someone told them. This argument also comes from the same people who won’t give you their address or phone number out of privacy concerns, but will friend you on Facebook ten minutes later.

People are already trying to pigeonhole Glass into a category of spying and video recording mainly because that is all they know.  We don’t ban pencils because someone can stab someone with it.  The fear of the unknown, has been led to the forefront. Just like any new technology, without real analysis, the cynics are going to complain about everything. How about we focus on real privacy concerns rather than potential recording in public places. I don’t hear complaints that your ISP just hands over browser history with only a governmental request. What about the data leakage that occurs when your friends play FarmVille?  You do know, Zynga, by virtue of your friends playing the games, has access to your Facebook account?

Let’s address the problem when it comes up.  Until then, let us all marvel in the new technology.  We have much bigger problems than some people looking funny who may want to take your picture in public without your consent.

Please Use Anything Else Other Than SMS

fbmessenger

Whether you like Facebook or not, you have got to give it to Facebook for making an amazing purchase with Beluga, a group messaging service that competed with GroupMe at SXSWi in 2010.

The key to a group messaging app is market share. SMS always wins out because it is ubiquitous to all platforms. The problem is that SMS costs money (and a lot of it), and only works on phones. iMessage was supposed to take over SMS, and got close, but it only works with iOS devices.

I’m hoping that Google Babble (or whatever they will call it) meets the cross platform, reliable, feature rich, and ease of use requirements that I want and Facebook messenger has.

Facebook messenger is everything it needs to be. 1 billion people use facebook. They can see the message on their phone or their computer. They can choose to receive the messages as SMS, or use data. You have have large groups. You can have read receipts. You can send photos, You can send links. You can send videos.

The only downfall is that you have to use Facebook, and I only say that liberally. You have to have an account. TechCrunch reports that you don’t need an account, and can sign up with SMS only. http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/04/messenger-no-facebook-account/ In reality it is simpler to make an account, with nothing in it.

Just make a simple Facebook account.

Everyone then tells me, that what is the purpose, just use SMS, GroupMe, WhatsApp, or any other messaging program. The simple answer is that other people won’t use them. I’ve learned that people will only do what is convenient for them. I’ve long extolled how great Google+ is, but I still get bullied that it is a ghost town.

Even if you don’t use facebook, just have the account. Don’t use it for anything except messenger. Facebook can’t steal or use your data for nefarious purposes if there is no data there.

I also love facebook for oAuth. It allows one click login instead of typing some crazy long password on a mobile phone.

1) Edit your profile to just your name and photo. I like putting my email and Google Voice number there so people have them quickly accessible. I keep slightly more information there. I figure it is all so public at this point that who cares if my birthday gets leaked (I actually changed it by one day to see who really knew my birthday).

2) Go to preferences and disable your wall. Remember you aren’t there to socially network, but rather to use Facebook messenger. Your wall is no longer relevant.

3) Delete your wall posts.  Obviously, you don’t want old posts of you lingering around.  They will never go away, but it will be much harder to dig up.

4) Delete the people you will probably never really speak to. (I‘ve complained about this before). I thought that having friends, even remote ones, will be beneficial later on when I need a favor, but people can’t even wish you a happy birthday when told to.

5) Delete all pictures that you don’t want public, including tagged photos. While you are at it, turn on the setting that forces you to approve it).

6) Delete all the apps that you don’t use. The ones you do use, check their extra permissions so that they don’t post on your behalf.  http://mypermissions.org is great for this.

Google+ comment page:

https://plus.google.com/107779029598075532555/posts/7Ui4LEQuxHQ

 

The Hard Truth About Google Reader And What I Want As A Replacement

RIPgooglereader

Obviously last week was a terrible week to be a Google fan boy  You probably didn’t get into I/O, but more importantly, you heard of the demise of Google reader.

People are saying this is good because it will breed innovation, something that Google destroyed when it released its product 8 years ago. The problem is that I don’t want some gorgeous app. I want to quickly read the headlines of my feed with or without a blurb, and to move on. I also want it synced to all my devices.

Why Google killed reader has conspiracy nuts going.  It probably came down to 1) not being able to monetize the product, and 2) Resources they need are going to the wrong place.  The Reader team was basically on borrowed time.  Now what Google does with Reader is a different story.  My hope is that it gets merged with Google+ in a way that makes everyone happy (or at least appeases them).

The stated reason was that nobody uses RSS.  My mother doesn’t use RSS.  Most people can’t spell or elaborate on RSS.  RSS is used in the back rooms giving people things to read.  Someone chose today’s story of the day, and it went viral.  The problem is we are giving power to a select few to curate content for us. The social sharing is not what I want.  I don’t want other people telling me what to read.  On some level I want that granularity.  For a long time, and still am, a Fark.com follower.  Their idea was get editor approved content, or pay $5/month and see EVERYTHING.  Everything was so much with too little time, I ended up trusted the editors.  Trusting the editors was after years of making sure they chose articles relevant to my interest.  90% of the time they were spot on.

As the Internet gets more ingrained in our lives, and our attention span becomes shorter, people want the best news of the day.  Well, I don’t… I want to be known for knowing as much as I can on technology.  I want people to ask me.

I do like Flipboard, Pulse, Current, Zite, and others.  I do like that they give you a magazine layout.  The issue is that I parse articles, I don’t read them.  When I do read them, I do want something like those mentioned above.

Here is Flipboard, my current favorite, catch up on The Economist, magazine reader:

flipboard_350b

For that style app, it is one of the best.  I highly recommend it.  As an aggregator  however, it is terrible.

As a contrast, here is my Google Reader:

 

readerNotice how many articles I have to go through.  At the time of this writing it is 760 articles.  Of those articles maybe I’ll look at 100.  250 of these articles are cat pictures.

I have on my list, The Verge, Gizmodo, and Engadget.  Most of the time those sites duplicate articles.  The Verge alone posts 75 articles a day, most of them have little interest for more than a headline.  I really don’t want to flip through a gorgeous UI for that.  I want in, get the information, than leave.

So what exactly do I want?

If we are starting from scratch, then here are my choices for a good application that I would pay money for.

Must Haves (Deal-breakers)

Quick access to feeds.  This is the most important thing.  I must be able to quickly access feeds, mark as read, and navigate.  Like I said, my workflow is such that I need to quickly read articles.  I need quick access to those that interest me, and a quick way to skip over those who don’t.

Provide a web interface AND access to an app, or allow an API so others can access it.  Most of the current iOS/Android apps hook into Google Reader API.  I need to have access on any device I use.  It doesn’t have to be a standalone app, but it should allow others to integrate it (paid if need be).

The ability to sync across devices.  I use many devices during the day.  I need access to news where ever I am.  I need to also keep my spot in line.  I may be a power user, but I need to know that I’m not reading duplicate entries all throughout the day.

Good to have:

Different Views:  Allow me to set headlines only, blurb form, or full article form.  Actually have it laid out based on screen size.

oAuth:  I do not want separate account information unless needed.  Find a way that I can log in with the social networks, mainly Google+.

Social Sharing: Be able to at least email a post to someone.  It would be good if the major sharing sites (including Google+) is there

Read it Later:  Same as social sharing.  Allow access to the read it later sites like Instapaper.  If you could “send to Kindle” I would pay for that.

Local Storage/Offline Access: Most of the aggregators already do this.  Harness HTML5 for data storage.

Paid (Ad Free Service):  I have no problem paying server costs.  Allow ads, or allow people to pay for the service and make it advertising free.

Algorithmically generated stories:  If I subscribe to blogs, try to suggest others that I may like. Even better, have a local section based on location that will populate a folder called “local news.”

Subscribe to Bundles:  Since data mining should be done, find out the most popular news feeds, and allow people to subscribe to them in themes.

Extensions for media:  If the RSS feed is a podcast, I want the ability to hit play.

—–

As you can see, your favorite application for reading RSS probably has this built in.  Hopefully Google gave them long enough to figure out a back end to allow hosting.

I’m disabling comments.  If you would like to comment, follow the Google+ link.  https://plus.google.com/107779029598075532555/posts/1wVjCMWJqWs

Why Simplicity Wins (Most of the Time)

 

anykeyNever in history has one facet of life changed so much day to day that people are actively engaged in it, or are completed disgusted and refuse to learn.  People who refuse to learn technology is growing (contrary to opinion), and require more assistance.  As devices get more technical, the knowledge base to educate them grows and grows.  It is overwhelming to sit someone down and explain to them how to use Windows or OS X when they have never used it before.

Growing up as an Internet denizen, I progressed through all the technological advances that came (and gone) through the years.  My friends comically laugh that I have used every single operating system (desktop and mobile).  People often ask me for advice on what to get, to which I do share it.

When giving tech advice to people, what you are saying is that you are knowledgeable enough to help them, any time they need.  The keyword is ANYTIME and THEY, not YOUR TIME, and YOUR AVAILABILITY.

What you think is better may not necessarily  be better.  The first question I reply with when asked on which smartphone to get is will you have 45 minutes to sit there and learn it.   If they are willing, and can navigate YouTube, I will generally recommend Android.  If they hesitate, I immediately gravitate to iOS.  That isn’t saying that iOS is better or worse, that is saying that iOS has a store with “knowledgeable” people, a place to actually go to, and a lot of other people that because of standard feature set are able to help. Also iOS is more simple as a whole. If they seem interested in learning their product to its full use, I generally recommend Android.  The thought process in using Android has some foibles, but usually it is pretty robust and standardized in the newest versions.

If you want a true discussion between iOS and Android on the extreme power user side, listen to the latest podcast on inThirty here. http://30.inthirty.net/YQI32C

All of this has a point.  If you are the technological person for many people, be ready to help.  This story, made up, I’m sure exists on many levels.

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Ingress: The Best Game You Have Never Played

 

IngressI want to preface this with, I don’t play games.  My attention span is so short that the loading screen loses my interest, yet, Ingress has one of the longest loading intro screens I have come across.  Ingress requires you to actually go outside, and walk around.  It requires you to talk to others and coordinate to strategize.  There are no in app purchases.  The app is a huge battery hog, and has a pretty lousy UI/UX (the graphics are awesome though).  With all these negatives, I am addicted to it.

Why haven’t you heard of it?

Currently this is beta, invite only, and only on Android.  Once you play, you can see why you need to really beta test this out slowly.  I can tell you that you can’t avoid Ingress if you are on Google Plus.  Everyone is clamoring for invites.  If you go on Twitter or Facebook, this is all non existent.

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A Rant About Sharing Circles

I love Google+, but I’m sure you know that already.  However it does have its issues, just like any other social network.  In trying to find people to communicate with the issue of sharing circles has really bothered me.  The only other idea like sharing circles that I can think of is #FollowFriday and Retweeting or Share.  But if you want to find a group of people, Google created a share circle feature.  The technical implementation is very good, but the problem is the human element.

So in trying to be more friendly, I’ve accepted circles on topics I am interested in, such as Android people, Nexus people, and fitness people but each time I am disappointed.

It seems like people are just aggregating people to put in their list.  Does that 500 person circle really have 500 people who are passionate about Android?

Here are the people I see:
30 – 50 active people who I’m thankful for finding.
30 – 50 people who don’t post EVER in my language
20 – 30 Pages (not people)
250 people who have posted once.
100 people who posted once about said topic, and then have never posted about said topic ever again.

What I end up doing is putting them in a “test folder” then moving them away into proper circles.  Generally, I look at someone’s profile after they have circled me back, and make my decision.  Unpopular as it is, but I want people with my interests.  I also want people who have spent the time to follow me back.

Since I’ve accepted circles, most of them I have just deleted because they are filled with too much dead weight.  I want the people who comment, engage, and are a positive asset to the community.  I sure hope that I am setting the engagement example.

All I ask is that if you post a circle, please curate it so all of us get the best people to follow.

</rant>