Mobility

Watching For Answers

The Apple Watch finally goes on sale this month. In the days leading up to availability, we’ve seen criticisms and negative reactions fall along two tracks:

  1. What is the point of a smartwatch?
  2. And why would anyone spend $10,000 to $17,000 on a gold version of what can be had for $379?

Say what you want about the Apple wearable, but those are not the right questions to ask.

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Qardio: Drinking The Social/Cloud Kool-Aid

A blood pressure gauge — a sphygmomanometer — has been pretty well understood since the late 1800s. It consists of a cuff to squeeze the arm, sensors to read the pulses, and a dial/read-out to display the results.

This Christmas, I got my Mom a “QardioArm” — a BP gauge updated for the modern smartphone era. It has all the requisite parts, with the main distinction that the display is now an app on the tablet/phone. And one other critical requirement that apparently medical professionals have been desperately lacking for centuries: the “cloud”. (continue reading…)


Dropbox Issues With MiniKeePass

From comments to my earlier MiniKeePass articles[1,2], it was clear that there were a couple unanticipated behaviors that some users experienced in the program’s interaction with Dropbox. And while I am certainly no official support channel for either, I thought it would be worthwhile to document & clarify those issues here. It is natural to categorize these behaviors as ‘bugs’, though this is debatable. But just knowing what to expect goes a long way to forgiving.

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Dogg Taggs

My dog Roxy went missing 2 weeks ago. There have been no clues, and I must say the not knowing is the worst. I’ve done as much as I can with flyers and mailings, and am now feeling helpless. I feel as though I have let her down. She is microchipped, but that only works if an animal shelter scans her. I wish I could take a fully active role in her recovery rather than just waiting for someone to call. I may now have a solution, though not in time to help dear Roxy.

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Using MiniKeePass with Dropbox

This post is going to be of interest to only a very specific demographic, but based on my web site stats, it seems necessary. Since writing my “story” – it barely qualifies as a “review” – of MiniKeePass, it has (surprisingly) become the most popular item on my blog. And tracking the Google search referrals, by far the biggest impetus for coming to my site has been in a quest for the answer to “how to use MiniKeePass with Dropbox”.

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The Next Revolution

The original iPhone was revolutionary because it was the first product to combine a phone, music player, Internet browser, mail client, camera, gaming system, and – let’s face it – an anything-to-anyone customizable application platform.

Likewise, the iPad was equally revolutionary in it’s positioning as a re-imagined PC alternative and Internet/media consumption device.

These were paradigm shifts. Nothing since then – whether from competitors or Apple’s own evolutionary releases – carry the gravitas that would allow anyone to call them similarly “revolutionary”.

Yet “not revolutionary” has been the charge levied – unfairly, in my opinion – against releases such as iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, and iPhone 4S. To my way of thinking, “revolutionary” is a difficult goal to achieve for any well-entrenched product line. And it got me to thinking: what would make for a “revolutionary” jump in mobile devices?

  • A capacitive multitouch display that also had solar charging capabilities? (Not just a solar cell on the back, but one integrated into the touchscreen?)
  • A pico projector and integrated laser-projection keyboard?

 

What do you think? Take a moment to participate in this thought experiment. Beyond simply “bigger, faster”, what next technology iteration would make a mobile device be worthy of the label “revolutionary”? Please comment!


What’s In A Name?

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

For months leading up to the 2011 iPhone release, speculation was running rampant. One oft-repeated rumor centered around the idea that Apple would introduce a low-cost less functional smartphone that targeted the feature-phone crowd (to be called an “iPhone 4S”), and the next rev of the product evolution aiming for the power users (to be called “iPhone 5″).

At the end of the big reveal, Apple did just that. Sort of. (continue reading…)


Digital Wallet, “BookBook” Style

Like the bulbous monstrosity that Seinfeld’s George Costanza carried in his back pocket, I used to walk around with a very obese wallet. (Sadly, not fattened by an excess of cash.) But eventually I pared down all the receipts and other unnecessary detritus, even resorting to a separate money clip in anticipation of the day when our computer overlords banish such legal tender in favor of NFC and a cashless society.

So now I have a wallet with ID, credit cards, and high-use “rewards cards” in one pocket, and a bumpered iPhone in the other. Cash/coins and sometimes even keys are optional, but I never leave the house without both the phone and the wallet. So why not combine them? This was the premise behind 12 South’s BookBook.

Based on the success of their MacBook and iPad covers, they came out with a “pocket Bible” sized antiqued leather case – but this one can also act as a wallet. Bibliophiles would be smitten by the bookish resemblance, but honestly I could have cared less. I just liked the consolidation idea. There are other wallet-ish iPhone cases, but for me a driver’s license window was mandatory, as well as the ability to hold more than just one or two cards. I intend this to be my everyday wallet, not a stripped-down “night on the town” pinch-hitter.

BookBook is extremely well made. Very sturdy leather construction; I don’t see it falling apart any time soon. It holds the iPhone with speakers & ports accessible (though you have to slide the phone up to clear the lens from the case for photos).

On the wallet side, there is room for my driver’s license, auto club card, multiple debit/credit cards, a couple rewards cards, and even a thick HID building access card. Oh wait, what’s that you say? There’s an app for that? Why yes, yes there is. CardStar allowed me to electronically store all my rewards cards, and even my AAA card. So what’s the toteboard say now? “Driver’s license, multiple debit/credit cards, and even a thick HID building access card.” And the fit is no problem for the BookBook.

So how is it working out? Well, I must admit that I have to retrain myself a bit. There are times – such as working in the server room – where I have set “the phone” down. I must remember that I also just set my wallet down, and there is nothing in my back pocket anymore. A couple times now I’ve locked myself out because my HID card key is still sitting next to the console right where I left “the phone”. But I’ll get over that. I learn, eventually.

No, the bigger issue is answering the phone when in a hurry. When not pressed for time, it is easy to double over the book jacket and hold the sheathed phone to my ear. But when scrambling to answer, I feel quite foolish holding an open book against the side of my head.


Secure Password Management with KeePass and MiniKeePass

I always advise users to create hard-to-guess passwords, never re-use them across sites, and change them semi-regularly. The push-back I get is that this can be a daunting task to try and remember a myriad of constantly-changing credentials, no matter how good the mnemonic techniques may be. But one look at the growing list of high-visibility break-ins and security compromises is all you need as incentive. Why make it easy for crackers to jump from one service to another just because you were a victim of limited brain cells devoted to passwords?

Call it “do as I say, not as I do”, the Cobbler’s Children syndrome, or just simple laziness, but despite the best of intentions I was not following my own advice.

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Apple Patents Real-Time Copy Protection? Ho Hum.

It started last week, when a patent watchdog came across a 2009 proposed filing from Apple to use infraRed signals to jam the video recording capability of an iPhone. The use-case for this technology was copy protection for live events such as concerts, with jamming transmitters positioned on stage and aimed at the crowd.

It must have been a slow news day… for the entire week! I have now seen that story dozens of times, propagated in blogs and mainstream media, all with the how-dare-they calls to action and claims of Big Brother. And more significantly, all acting like it was a foregone conclusion for the anti-piracy feature to be in the next iPhone release.

So let me say this: I will bet my left nut that this IR copy-protection will never see the light of iPhone flash.

There are more than 150,000 patents filed every year, many of which never take form beyond the paper upon which they are printed. This is one of them.

  • The ability to block recording, if even possible, would be exploited by others. Do you think moral upstanding concert promoters would be the only ones to deploy such a jamming technology?
  • Dollars to donuts some hacker would figure out how to subvert, jailbroken or otherwise.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, the whole world does not yet use iDevices. Determined bootleggers would simply switch to another device.

Unless Big Brother really exerts itself to force all devices to implement this scheme (and it won’t), there is no way that Apple alone will introduce a crippling feature to their phones when others will not have it. It’s one thing for an industry to mandate – such as AACS on Blu-ray – but its another thing entirely for a manufacturer to attempt on its own. Besides, Apple has already tried DRM once before, and failed miserably. :)


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