I’m Not Boycotting Apple, But They Have Made Me Angry

If you haven’t heard, Apple managed to get an injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Google’s current Nexus phone.

This makes angry. Sure, I can’t do nothing about it and I’m mostly over the initial anger from reading that this happened. But I think that’s it’s a pretty bad move by Apple and here’s why.

First off, if you read the linked stories, you’ll see that the main reason the judge gave Apple the injunction it was seeking was because of a search related patent. Specifically it’s a patent for unified search. Type in your search in one place and it will search through several various databases for results. A more specific example is if I type in a name on my phone, it might bring me back a contact card, a few search results, a facebook link, maybe even songs stored on my device that contain those names, and so on.

The problem with this patent is that if you read it, it’s exceptionally vague, and it could describe just about any kind of unified search. In other words, it’s not specific enough to Apple’s unified search found in iOS. Also, unified search has been around long before the patent was granted to Apple (filed in 2000, granted in 2011), so there’s plenty of prior art and thus this patent shouldn’t have even been granted. Heck, there was similar searches on desktop computers for years by that point. So this issue is specifically with the patent system, and not Apple itself.

Why I’m having issues with Apple over this is because they continually claim or at least allude to Android (and thus Android devices) being an inferior product to it’s own mobile OS, iOS. So Apple, got a judge to grant an injunction that prevents the sale of the Galaxy Nexus (a product Apple feels is inferior), and thus while it’s off the market it no longer has to compete with that device. Here’s where the problem comes in. If Apple truly believes that Android is an inferior product, then it should have no issues competing with it in the consumer market, correct? Yet, it’s gone and gotten the device removed, thus removing that bit of competition.

Thing is most people buying a Galaxy Nexus either aren’t interested in buying an iPhone, or they’re gadget nerds and they already have an iPhone, so either way, Apple’s not really losing a sale here.

Posted in Commentary, Technology | 7 Comments

Stop Being Lukewarm

This past weekend, the pastor at my church introduced the new series they’ll be doing over the next few weeks. The crux of the sermon was the part in the Bible where God tells people “because you were neither hot nor cold, because you were lukewarm, I will spit your from My mouth” meaning that God doesn’t like people who ride the middle, you’re either for Him or against Him.

It got me to thinking and it hit me later that this shouldn’t just apply to your relationship with God (though that is important), but it can and should apply in all aspects of your life. Stop riding the middle, stop making excuses, and do something about it.

Wanna lose weight? Stop complaining about being overweight and start running. Wanna launch a business? Stop thinking about all the things it will do and start making it do one of them. Just one. That’s all you need to start with. Wanna write book? Wanna make movie? Wanna write a song? Stop thinking about it. Stop making excuses. Stop starting sentences with “when I…” and begin starting them with “I am going to…” because anything else is just daydreaming.

The message my pastor was trying to express to his congregation was “start going all in for God.” And it’s an important message. What I want you to do is, start going a little in* on whatever it is you want to do. Because a little in, leads to a little more in, and then a little more, and so on.

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take the first one. The thing about taking things one step at a time is that if you take the wrong one, you didn’t go too far down the wrong road.

* You can’t go “all in for God” and then go “all in for yourself” as that conflicts a bit. Point is: Stop making excuses, and get it done.

Posted in Commentary

It's About Digital Ecosystems

So by now, all three of the biggest companies in technology have had some form of announcements done in the last month or so. Apple and Google had their developer conferences where they announced new products and software updates, and Microsoft has announced both new tablets and mobile platform updates. I watched (or read live blogs) of all these events, and as I watched it become just that much more clear that all of these companies are working to tie people to their ecosystems.

Some of you reading this just said “well duh” to yourselves and you’re probably wondering why I didn’t see this before now. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I saw it before now, I’m just saying that it’s become more obvious as these companies announced products recently.

We’re getting ever closer to a digital life where you have no choice but to “pick your poison” to garner the benefits of these particular eco systems. And I’ll admit that mostly I’ve picked the Google poison, but I have mixed feelings about that. While Google goes to great lengths to ensure that my data stays mine, having so much of it in the control of a single company scares me a bit. Sure, the integration I get is really nice, but obviously it comes at a price. What is that greater price? We don’t know yet. Some of these ecosystems are going to be more locked than others, but still, giving into a single ecosystem is a kind of lockin in and of itself.

Right now I don’t have an obvious solution to this problem. I use an Android phone, an iPad for tablet, a Macbook Pro for work, and a Linux desktop for my home computing and this has helped me notice how much the use of these different ecosystems can effect the ease of use of any specific one.

Has anyone else noticed this? Especially those that use a plethora of devices and operating systems, have you noticed how the differences in ecosystems makes it harder to enjoy the benefits of any particular one?

Posted in Commentary

It’s About Digital Ecosystems

So by now, all three of the biggest companies in technology have had some form of announcements done in the last month or so. Apple and Google had their developer conferences where they announced new products and software updates, and Microsoft has announced both new tablets and mobile platform updates. I watched (or read live blogs) of all these events, and as I watched it become just that much more clear that all of these companies are working to tie people to their ecosystems.

Some of you reading this just said “well duh” to yourselves and you’re probably wondering why I didn’t see this before now. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I saw it before now, I’m just saying that it’s become more obvious as these companies announced products recently.

We’re getting ever closer to a digital life where you have no choice but to “pick your poison” to garner the benefits of these particular eco systems. And I’ll admit that mostly I’ve picked the Google poison, but I have mixed feelings about that. While Google goes to great lengths to ensure that my data stays mine, having so much of it in the control of a single company scares me a bit. Sure, the integration I get is really nice, but obviously it comes at a price. What is that greater price? We don’t know yet. Some of these ecosystems are going to be more locked than others, but still, giving into a single ecosystem is a kind of lockin in and of itself.

Right now I don’t have an obvious solution to this problem. I use an Android phone, an iPad for tablet, a Macbook Pro for work, and a Linux desktop for my home computing and this has helped me notice how much the use of these different ecosystems can effect the ease of use of any specific one.

Has anyone else noticed this? Especially those that use a plethora of devices and operating systems, have you noticed how the differences in ecosystems makes it harder to enjoy the benefits of any particular one?

Posted in Commentary

What Have You Shipped Today?

When you’re wanting to get something done, Be it an application coded, more visitors to your site, or even writing a book, you have to work at it. Whatever it is you want to release isn’t going to build itself.

I used to sit around, think up cool ideas, then do nothing on them and wonder why it didn’t happen. About two years ago that changed. Now I’ve released three things personally, and I’m helping a close friend release a fourth. So what made me go from dreamer to do-er?

The answer is a simple question: “What have you shipped today?”

That’s the question I try to ask myself everyday. No, you’re not going to actually ship something everyday. That’s not how I look at the question. I look at it more as “what have you done towards shipping today?” meaning what did I do to move me closer to the goal of shipping whatever is I’m building.

Large things like applications, books, screencasts, home repairs, don’t happen in one big sweeping gesture, they are the accumulation of of a bunch of smaller actions. When writing a book, you might set a goal of 1,000 words a day. If you can “ship” that daily, then one day you can ship the entire book. Put it out on Amazon, get it printed, and so on. You want to ship a book, but shipping a book means spending many days shipping just a small amount of words. So when you are asked “What did you ship today?” you can say “I wrote 1,000 words in my novel.”

Most of what I ship is application code. Recently it’s been screencasts for CodeCasts.tv. But everyday I try and ask myself “What did I ship today?” or “What will I ship today?” And this question gets me motivated to do something. It makes me want to get something done.

So, what have you shipped today? This week? This month? This year?

Posted in General | Tagged , ,

Release Early, Release Often

That’s a phrase you’ve probably heard before. But usually people will say this, and then when they’re in a situation where they need to follow this advice they balk and don’t follow through. They’ll say things like “Yea, no one really does that” but they’d be lying both to themselves and in general.

If you want to see an example of a company that not only does this frequently but seems to have it in their company’s life blood, look no further than Google. Specifically look at Android, Maps, Gmail, and even Google+. If you go back and look at the earliest iterations of these products, you can tell they were released before they were done being cooked.

Google+ is probably the best example of this, but not in the way you might think. It took Google a few tries to get social networking right. First there was Wave, which was awesome from a technology standpoint, but failed on every other level. Then Google tried Google Buzz, which had elements of Wave in it, and was heavily tied to Gmail. Then there was the privacy issues around Buzz. This product also largely failed. But the third time was a charm and Google+ came out to rave reviews and deep integration into Google’s ecosystem of apps (Android, Docs, YouTube, Search, etc). Some people have written Google+ off as a failure because it doesn’t have Facebook’s numbers. But Google isn’t looking for G+ to be a Facebook clone. Instead they’re looking to make it a deeply integrated core product that ties in well to the rest of their ecosystem.

Android is another example of Google releasing early and often. The first version of Android available on a device wasn’t really baked to completion. In fact Andy Rubin, the Googler in charge of Android has said that their 1.0 was really more like a .75 version. But each release of Android (sometime with multiple releases per year) things slowly improved. Culminating with rave reviews and awards for Android 4.0’s Ice Cream Sandwich release, even from the Apple faithful.

When Gmail was first released, it didn’t even have a delete button. You had to “trash” items, and then the trash folder was deleted at regular intervals, users didn’t even have a way to empty the trash at the time. In fact, it took a year or two for Google to add a delete button in Gmail, allowing users to bypass the trash altogether.

I’ve even done this on my own personal projects. When I first released The Noows app, it didn’t do any javascript, when you clicked the “Noows” button it was a post back to the server, and the page had to be reloaded. I didn’t add the AJAX-y features until much later. On CodeCasts.tv, I released a very simple website with very little in the way of video play tracking. I added that after a few videos had been released. I didn’t even have pagination on the front page because I only had a single video.

The point here is this: It’s possible to release early and often. So stop making excuses and do it.

As a developer, it’s our goal to get things done so that we can get things released. If you’re not shipping software, you’re failing as a developer. If you’ve worked on a project for 6 years and it wasn’t released, you didn’t do anything. Sounds harsh, but not shipping means you’re not finishing. Even after you’ve shipped, you’re not finished.

Posted in Commentary, programming