Asshat of the Month… Stan Beer

Asshat of the month award for July goes to Stan Beer of ITWire in Australia for being nothing more than a Dvorak channel.

Reading the essay titled Exploiting the iPhone on the website of security firm Independent Security Evaluators, two things are crystal clear. First, the iPhone is actually a computer. Second, Apple is about to get a taste of the security nightmares that have plagued Microsoft for the past 13 years since the Internet went mainstream.

Okay Stan, let’s see what you’re saying. By this logic, the Mac, which is also a computer, but one which is open source AND has for the last 7 years shipped with Terminal and Developer tools should have given Apple a taste of the security nightmares Microsoft has brought upon themselves. Apple have been shipping around 600 000 of these Mac computers a quarter until recently when that figure went up to a million which means there’s probably 10 million+ Mac OS X machines out there which are ripe for these exploits you fear so much?
But that hasn’t really happened. Has it. Come on, be honest.

Why is this such a big deal for Apple?

Did you make a big scary woo-woo when Palm bought the Treo? What about when the Psion devices moved their Symbian OS onto phones? Ah, the iPhone is going to be a game changer? It’s going to revolutionise the phone market? It’s also going to revolutionise the Spam and Malware market?

No, Stan, there’s always going to be asshats running underprotected versions of Windows and that low hanging fruit is far too tempting.

It’s the ecosystem I’m anticipating

Critics of the iPhone have been screaming about the lack of MAPI support (as if that really mattered) whereas the biggest noise I’ve heard from developers regarding the iPhone is the lack of an official SDK.

Of course, the most obvious reason for no SDK is simply that It ain’t ready yet. iPhone obviously runs a subset of the Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” operating system due to it’s use of CoreAnimation and there’s currently no iteration of that operating system which could be considered “release-worthy”. so it’ll be a while before we get a release SDK and therefore a longer while before we can develop proper applications. Another minor thing to consider is that Apple wants to make sure there’s enough of a user base to support application development. That’s something not to be sniffed at and I’m 100% sure they’re working on some of the bugs that people have raised.
But then it’s not just the software ecosystem which is important, there’s also an important hardware ecosystem to consider.

Walk into any electronics store and you’ll be inundated with products for your iPod. Chargers for the car. Transmitters for FM radio. Microphones.

Back in the late 90s I used a Newton. I had the keyboard, I had modems and memory expansion cards for it. I had an ethernet card and much later a wireless card. Web browsing was possible but hardly a pleasure (heck, the machine has 4 MB of DRAM). Terminal usage was only enjoyable with the keyboard plugged in. The handwriting recognition wasn’t a heap of fun to be honest. I would place the Newt before me, in landscape mode and the keyboard behind it, using the display edges of the Newt as wrist rests. It meant for some very comfortable working while on planes and the Newton as it was developing quickly made my DELL Latitude completely redundant (and even my Powerbook began to get lonely).
The hardware ecosystem I can see for the iPhone will include hardware keyboards. It will include both a portable version and a docking version. Sure – you can’t hook up a phone like a flash drive and edit files on it (damn shame!) but that might change in the future.

There’s a few months before it’s released here in the UK and let it be said, I’ll be ditching my current carrier, Orange, in preference for whomever carries the iPhone – no qualms or romance about it. I’ve been with Orange for more than 7 years….and BOOM, like a rat out of an aquaduct.

“Greed is bad, mmkay” – Sony

Every see those courtroom dramas where there’s a beautiful woman’s life on the line and her lawyer (who’s secretly in love with her) is fighting to keep her out of the electric chair? And there’s usually a state prosecutor who has slick back hair and a weasel’s countenance? You know to look at the guy that he’s not going to play fair and, true to his typecasting, he makes a statement which demeans the beautiful defendant and raises “Objection” from the lawyer and horrified mutters from the jury and audience. The facts may be true, but the way they’re presented is sleazy and underhand. We know not to trust him. It’s not fair play. He’s playing dirty. He’s a bad man. He just wants the pretty girl in jail, he’s not interested in justice or fair play. It’s all about the numbers.

Last Thursday, some technology powerhouses were on a panel at a media pow-wow and Sony Head Sir Howard Stringer claimed that Steve Jobs wants a world where only he makes money and further Jobs is a hypocrite for claiming record companies are the greedy ones.

These facts are probably true.

But consider the source.

Stringer’s issue comes not from Jobs’ hypocrisy or for his desires for wealth and power but from his own thwarted dreams. Sony, now famous for deliberately installing a rootkit in their customers computers (though they’re now suing the company they hired to create it) has all but decided that competing in the MP3 player marketspace is simpyly too hard and have come out with an iPod-compatible speaker dock. They’ll still continue to push their proprietary formats through their own fugly designs but it must represent a certain amount of crow-eating to now start to compete with Logitech and  Altec -Lansing in this space.

When challenged on his statement, the Sony head made a beep-beep noise as he quickly backed away from his statement.

Sony calling Apple ‘greedy’ is the absolute definition of hypocrisy, simply put the pot calling the kettle black.

Now it’s possible that Sony’s Stringer was involved in some sort of internal struggle where he was identifying Sony’s own avarice as conditional on the market, on competition, on software and music pirates and the price of pork-bellies while decrying Apple’s Jobs because the latter obviously has a “greedy” quality which makes him a bad person, mmmkay?

So, in essence, if Sony were selling the #1 music player of all time, they’d be less greedy.

Does anyone remember the Walkman?

iPhone browser detection: it’s wrong so stop it.

TUAW has a rant about web sites made specifically for iPhones and how it’s wrong!

Nothing irks me more than browsing to a site only to be greeted with a page that, based on the user agent my browser supplies, keeps me out. Try going to some of these new iPhone webapps in Safari 3 on a Mac or PC and that’s just what you’ll encounter. Why? These apps will run just fine on my desktop, and yet I am left out of the fun.

It’s a fair point. Just to choose a very very nice-looking example, FlickIM, which provides AIM/iChat services in a slick AJAX interface. It uses browser detection to lock those of us not on iPhones out.  That kinda sucks.

This is precisely what subdomains were invented for. And directories.

I don’t want to be snippy here but I’d rather be directed to http://iphone.somedomain.com or http://www.somedomain.com/iphone if I’m going to see iPhone-optimised content. Don’t direct me – the version of Safari in the iPhone is meant to be the real Web after all.

A storm about the iPod

A recent article syndicated by the Associated Press describes how mixing iPods and storms is a bad thing.

Listen to an iPod during a storm, and you may get more than electrifying tunes.

A Canadian jogger suffered wishbone-shaped chest and neck burns, ruptured eardrums and a broken jaw when lightning traveled through his music player’s wires.

Okay, during the article they mention how it can be any music player or even a pager, walkman or laptop which can cause additional injury. The fact remains however that there’s mileage in targetting the iPod simply because it gets headlines. And it’s not just limited to electronic devices – anything metallic – coins, jewelry – on your person is going to conduct the electricity.
Being struck by lightning and surviving is frankly amazing. Blaming a few burns on your iPod seems trite.

Is the iPhone an acceptable phone?

So how good is the iPhone at being a phone?

 I guess I’m going to have to wait and see because I’ve seen reports claiming that battery life is both excellent and yet cripplingly shorter than advertised. I think a lot of people might expect the battery life to be shorter due to the amount of use you’ll put into this device with watching videos and listening to music in addition to making telephone calls. I know my K800i managed to last about 16 hours before needing recharged and battery life drops off dramatically should I spend 10 minutes playing the Golf game or, ye gods, making a phone call. That battery life is shorter than advertised? I think it’s one of those things – every manufacturer advertises battery life far in excess of what is actually achieveable with a functioning device. Apple in my experience tends to be a little more honest than most.

 I’ve also seen reports that the audio quality is both better than and worse than another brand name phone or three. My take on this is that I’ve never really blamed the phone for poor audio quality. I can blame trees, geography, tunnels, the crap placement of cell towers, the position of mountains, the weather and the general piss-poor network that Orange seems to be vending these days, but I’ve never noticed much difference between handsets.

And how many taps to make a call?

MacNN’s second impressions post describes it like this:

From standby mode, you first need to hit the home button to turn the screen on. Once the screen is lit up, you need to scroll your finger across a slider to get to the menu. From there, choose the phone icon and click Contacts. Next, scroll your way through the Contacts listing and choose the person you want to call. Once you are in their menu, choose their number and the iPhone will call.

My K800i compares:

Two button presses on the chiclet keyboard to unlock. Tap the joystick down to open Contacts. Then either scroll (patiently) or just to skip through to the first letter of a name by tapping again. Could be up to six or seven taps just to get the name. Then if the number selected is the right one, you can click to call. If not, then there’s a joystick tap sideways to select the right one first. To call my kids requires 9 key presses or different keys and some with different timing. To call my Dad’s mobile, 12 key presses.

The iPhone seems like a lot less work. And probably looks better too.

eWeek again. This time: Microsoft saves the iPhone…

Microsoft got some great positive press from eWeek as the saviours of the iPhone when they fixed a bug with Exchange Server 2007 which might have prevented iPhone from getting email using IMAP4. It’s lucky for the rest of us that Microsoft stepped in like this or where would the world have been?

 Of course, it’s bogus.

 

Exchange 2007 has had some difficulties with the IMAP4 protocol implementation, which are at least partially expected to be addressed with Exchange 2007 Rollup 3.

iPhone and Mac OS X’s Mail application are not the only IMAP4 clients out there. In fact virtually every mail client, including the crappy one built into my Sony-Ericsson K800i can use IMAP4. The problem here was Microsoft’s usual attitude to standards and making internet standards second-class citizens on their servers. When IMAP didn’t work as expected, Windows SysAdmins could point the finger at the “non-standard” (read: Not Outlook) mail client and blame that or the end user for installing it.

But here we are. Getting some nice positive spin for Microsoft actually managing to ship a product with bugs which later have to be fixed just to get them working. And they call Mac users blinkered!

The article continues with the opine that Apple should have licensed ActiveSync to enable the iPhone to connect to Exchange Servers using their own proprietary protocol, MAPI. This would have the effect of promoting the use of Exchange servers which, on the face of it, is a bad idea anyway.

The article then finishes with an infomercial about Azaleos’ MobileXchange product. No wonder they want to promote the use of Exchange out there and thank Microsoft for saving the iPhone…