Find My iPhone

I don't know when this feature was added - I just noticed it last night when I was setting up my new iPhone 6 Plus. 

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You can have your iPhone send its last location to Apple when the battery is almost out of juice. 

I've heard a ton of stories of people who left their phone somewhere but couldn't use Find My iPhone because the battery had died. This is a great (new?) feature.  

Who the (redacted) is Casey Liss?

I have an internet hero - podcaster, Twitter personality, and programmer, Casey Liss. I first discovered Casey when he joined two much more popular personalities, Marco Arment and John Siracusa, in a couple of new podcasts. I listened because I knew of Marco, but Casey quickly became my favorite of the three. John is a genius and savant, Marco is shrewd and brilliant, but I'm not a coder, so I don't always "get" them. Casey, while equally talented and brilliant, always struck me as more human. He's funny, affable, and has an "aw shucks" type of attitude that just makes him fun to listen to. Casey is the perpetual nice guy, always seems like he's in a good mood, and seems to rise above the trolls and stay positive. I follow him around when he does other podcasts, always listening to his guest spots, because he's just so much fun. 

One thing I love about Casey is that, while he has over 10,000 followers on Twitter, he does a great job of engaging with his audience. When I reply to other "famous" Twitter personalities, I don't count on getting a response (although Gruber has responded to a couple of my emails). But with Casey, as often as not, he tweets back to me. The podcasting world is a little weird, because I feel like I know Casey, but I know that I'm a total stranger to him. But when he answers my tweets, or laughs at a stupid joke, it means a lot to me. And it makes me a bigger fan. 

So why am I posting this weird, vaguely creepy tribute to another man on the internet? Well, a few months ago, Casey posted on his blog that, after many years and a couple of white BMWs worth of money, he and his wife, Erin, were finally pregnant. He's talked about it a couple times on his podcasts, and hearing his excitement was terrific. Today, Casey posted again - Erin had their baby, dubbed "Sprout" through the pregnancy. Congratulations to Casey and Erin, and welcome, Declan James, to the world. Your dad is a pretty cool guy, and he's going to be an amazing father. 

To find Casey online, you can visit him at:

Daring Fireball: Retailers Are Disabling NFC to Block Apple Pay

John Gruber:

Think about what they’re doing. They’re turning off NFC payment systems — the whole thing — only because people were actually using them with Apple Pay. Apple Pay works so well that it even works with non-partner systems. These things have been installed for years and so few people used them, apparently, that these retailers would rather block everyone than allow Apple Pay to continue working. I can’t imagine a better validation of Apple Pay’s appeal.

And the reason they don’t want to allow Apple Pay is because Apple Pay doesn’t give them any personal information about the customer. It’s not about security — Apple Pay is far more secure than any credit/debit card system in the U.S. It’s not about money — Apple’s tiny slice of the transaction comes from the banks, not the merchants. It’s about data.

They’re doing this so they can pursue a system that is less secure (third-party apps don’t have access to the secure element where Apple Pay stores your credit card data, for one thing), less convenient (QR codes?), and not private.

Cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

 

 

 

What If We Could Weaponize Empathy?

"I expect you to act like a group of friends who care about each other, no matter how dumb some of us might be, no matter what political opinions some of us hold, no matter what games some of us like or dislike."

This is a principle I hope to espouse in all discussions, be it online or IRL. I haven't always done this well, but I want to. 

Google News Publisher Not Happy With New "In The News" Box

I think what amuses me is that people think Fox News, CNN, and the New York Times are "reliable."

Have you watched CNN coverage lately? They spend more time talking about pop culture than world news. It's a joke. Better reporting of real events (Ferguson, MO comes to mind) is coming from Twitter than the major news sources. 

Redefining Freedom

From Marketing Technology Blog: 

The Senate has passed a media shield law that defined journalism and where the only protected class of journalist are those involved in legitimate news-gathering activities.
From a 10,000 foot view, the bill seems like a great idea. The LA Times even calls it a “Bill to protect journalists”. The problem is the underlying language that allows the government to define what a journalist is, who a journalist is, or what legitimate news-gathering is.

This is troubling. Historically, there was a very low - virtually nonexistent - threshold of what constituted journalism.  

Back when the Constitution was written, any average person on the street who could borrow or afford a printing press was a journalist. If you go back and review some of the single page papers that were printed back then, they were atrocious. Politicians were smeared with absolute lies to misrepresent them to the public in order to bury their political aspirations. Being a journalist didn’t require a degree… you didn’t even have to spell or use proper grammar! And news organizations didn’t appear until decades later as newspapers began to buy up the smaller circulations. This led to the news media moguls we have today.
The first journalists were very much just citizens getting the word out. There was zero legitimacy to who they targeted, how they acquired the information, or where they published it. And yet… our leaders of our country… who were often the target of these attacks… chose to protect the rights of free speech and journalism. They chose, intentionally, not to define what the press was, how news was gathered, or by whom.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats really care about freedom - they just want power. There's not much distinction between the parties now. 

Nobody Likes a Waiting Period

People want to watch their favorite shows, and DVR isn't always the best option. TV networks need to pay attention to the fact that fans WANT their content, and find a way to make sure that it's available. Making it more difficult won't stymie the fans, but it will cost the networks money.

When Fox erected its paywall, downloads of both Hells Kitchen and MasterChef surged on BitTorrent, according to TorrentFreak, a blog that monitors file sharing online. "During the first 5 days [of the paywall], the number of downloads from the U.S. for the latest episode of Hells Kitchen increased by 114% compared to the previous 3 episodes. For MasterChef the upturn was even higher with 189% more downloads from the U.S."

via With Fox Off Hulu, Would-Be Viewers Turn to Illegal Downloads - Nicholas Jackson - Technology - The Atlantic.

Book Review: "Imaginary Jesus" by Matt Mikalatos

imaginary, jesus, matt, mikalatos, cs lewis, gk chesterton, smart, fantasy, imagination, christian, christianity, fiction, novel, portland, allegory, humor, If you know me, you know I like free books. I also like gadgets. So when Matt Mikalatos (Twitter link) tweeted that he was giving away digital copies of his book Imaginary Jesus, I thought, "What the heck? I'll check it out." I read the first chapter (Chapter Zero, for those of you keeping count), and I was hooked. In this fun combination of personal memoir, allegory, and fantasy fiction, Matt is at a yuppie vegan cafe in Portland with flesh-and-blood Jesus when a guy named Pete approaches and punches him in the face. Read the scene:

"That--" Pete pointed out the window at the racing back of my Lord--"that was an imaginary Jesus, my friend. And now that we're on to him, he's going to run."

I crossed my arms and frowned. "I've known Jesus for a long time. What makes you think that you know him better than I do?"

"Because," Pete said, heading for the door, "I'm the Apostle Peter."

I won't lie - this is a strange story. But it's brilliant. Matt's writing is in the same vein as C.S. Lewis in A Pilgrim's Regress, but not on the same level (sorry Matt - you're good, but not that good). But the story in terrific. With the help of the Apostle Peter, a former prostitute, a talking donkey, and Mary, Matt takes on his Imaginary Jesus, and battles it out with other Imaginary Jesuses in the process, to find the true Jesus of Nazareth and begin to really understand Christianity.

Other Jesuses we meet are King James Jesus (quite the strict one - "It was centuries before he even allowed New King James Jesus to exist."), Liberal Social Services Jesus ("He thinks the best way to tell people about God is through service, because he never talks about God. He's great to have around because he keeps the place spotless."), Conservative Truth-Telling Jesus ("He has no arms. He thinks the only way to tell people about God is through hard truth, and he never raises a hand to help people with their physical needs."), Magic 8-ball Jesus (who has twenty replies: ten positive, five negative, and five neutral), Perpetually Angry Jesus (apparently, he's the Calvinist Jesus that Mark Driscoll worships), Testosterone Jesus (a popular men's retreat speaker), and Harley Jesus. There are more, but you need to read the book.

And, great news. The book is free through the month of February, so check out Matt's blog and download a copy. I promise, you'll enjoy it.

Invention Idea: Interactive TV

tv, cable, interactive, television, interactive tv, interactive television, broadcast, broadcasting, comcast, cable, high speed, high definition, HDTV, remote, control, live, tv, at&t u-verse, uverse, at&t, attMaybe it already exists. I have AT&T U-verse, and it doesn't. When I'm watching TV, an advertisement comes on for another show that looks interesting - something I'd like to see. It could be expanded to cover a lot of different things - a movie promo, a concert, an event, a company, anything like that - but I want to limit this idea to additional TV programming because I think it would be really easy to implement.

When an ad comes on to promote another TV show that is coming up, I'd like to be able to press a menu button on my remote and pause the current programming. Open up the DVR programming and schedule and let me see when the show is on, add it to my DVR queue, or receive an alert when it is on.

You could expand this idea, too. If an ad comes on for a movie, let me press the same menu button and see current showtimes. A product? Go to the website or Amazon.com to order. Concert or event? Ticketmaster.com. This isn't a big stretch - nearly all of the cable providers are also internet providers. The TV box can have an internet browser built in that enables this.

I think this is would be a terrific idea for U-Verse or Comcast to implement into their service. If either company wants to hire me as a consultant, let me know!

The Race to the Bottom (or, Show Me the Money)

mac, app, store, price, money, free, apps, race to the bottom, apple, steve, jobs, cheap, softwareThere's a terrific article posted at Wild Chocolate titled "13 Reasons Why Software Isn't Free" - a great read. It summarizes my biggest concern with the Mac App Store - the race for the bottom. I've summarized some of these concerns in the past With the iOS app store, a large number of apps are free (or, at least offer a "lite" version that has fewer features or truncated game play). Having such a large number of free apps has lowered the cost of the other apps; the average cost of an iOS app is only a couple of bucks (I don't know the exact number). For iPhones and iPod Touches - leisure devices - this is fine. Some of the "HD" apps for the iPad are a bit more expensive, but I only see them ringing in at around 5-7 dollars, usually.

Calling the software you buy on the Mac App Store an "app", however, is a little misleading. An "app" sounds like it is easy to make, and anyone can do it, and should therefore be free. This stuff isn't. Just because it's easy to get and download doesn't mean that it isn't a complex program that required a lot of work and careful execution to create. The creator does deserve to get paid for his creation.

A lot of people have been speculating that the advent of the Mac App Store would result in a race to the bottom. While I'm all for lowering costs for the end user, I have some concerns - the lack of quality software. If the Mac App Store marketplace artificially deflates the price, developers may decide not to submit their programs. I fear that the Mac App Store will be overrun with bloated ad-ware and mindless games.

Consequently, it's having good, paying apps that makes the iOS and Mac App Stores far superior to the Android app store or the Blackberry App Store. You're not getting crappy freeware, but solid, reviewed programs that meet certain minimum functionality criteria in order to make it in. Say what you like about "openness", but I prefer an outstanding App Store.

Net Neutrality - Why You Should Care

Net, Neutrality, obama, FCC, open, internet, steve, wozniak, woz, free, press, freedom, first, amendment, netflix, comcast, att, at&t, cable, modem, DSL, t1, t3, high, speed, data, wireless, wired, sprint, t-mobile, verizon, google, apple, android, iphone, ios, smartphone, os, ipad, searchImagine the following scenario: General Motors - the car company - owns several construction companies in the Midwest, and finances the building of roads and highways across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. They receive tax incentives to build, maintain, and improve these roadways, are granted exclusive rights to the roadways (so no one else can build a competing roadway), and they charge anyone who wishes to use these roads an access fee.

In an effort to bolster car sales, GM proposes the following rules: anyone who drives a GM car or truck (Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, or Saturn) is allowed to use the roadway for free. People who drive cars made by Ford or Dodge pay the same nominal fee, and anyone who drives a foreign car pays an additional "domestic roadway compatibility tax" that is a percentage of the value of the car being driven.

Because Toyota has been such an frustrating competitor to GM, all cars manufactured by Toyota are prohibited from being driven on the GM roadways. Anyone who owns a Toyota vehicle must instead purchase a "GM Roadway Authorized Vehicle."

Ridiculous, right? I'm sure most people would agree that this sort of scenario would be completely unacceptable. Even though GM did build the roadways, they did so while collecting kickbacks from the government (also known as your tax dollars), and then they turned around and charged you an access fee to be able to use the roads. There is no reason why GM should be allowed to limit what brand of automobile can be driven on the roadways. However, this is the same thing that is happening with Net Neutrality rules.

On Tuesday, the FCC announced new Net Neutrality rules that are so toothless, so vague, and so full of loopholes that the Internet Service Providers shouted with glee. Now, Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs can dictate what you do on the internet, where you can go, and how quickly you can do it. What does this mean now?

It means that sites such as Netflix and Hulu - sites that ISPs hate because they use bandwidth - could be severely limited or even banned by an ISP. Or, they could instead promote their own video subscription site to the exclusion of other sites.

Another aspect of the failed Net Neutrality rules is that it doesn't offer consumer protection for wireless Internet access. What this means is that AT&T could prevent iPhone owners from browsing sales on Verizon's website, or that Sprint could prevent users from visiting ESPN.com, requiring them to use Sprint's services to check sports scores and news. You think that's far-fetched? How eager do you suppose AT&T is for iPhone users to watch Netflix over their 3g network?

Finally, changing these rules gives improved access to rich, established companies who can afford to pay higher access fees, leaving other sites to battle through a bottleneck to reach the end user. This means the next Internet start up, won't.

For more information about Net Neutrality, including commentary from industry experts, see the links below:

The only people who are happy with these rules (or who want to do away with them altogether) are the Republicans and the Industry. That's a sure sign that the consumer is getting hosed.

Net Neutrality is just the start of it. What's to stop a company from limiting access to anything critical of a bill that they like, or a politician that they endorse? The internet is about the free exchange of ideas, no matter how wacky or ridiculous. Letting business dictate what we can do online is dangerous, unAmerican, and just plain wrong.

Keynote Remote App - No WiFi

iphone, ipod touch, ipod, touch, ipad, keynote, remote, keynote app, keynote on ipod touch, keynote on ipad, keynote on iphone, mac, macbook, macbook pro, OS X, sync, wireless, wifi, pair, pairing, no wifi, pairing without wifi, ad hoc network, ad hoc, networkI know this is online on some other blogs that are sure to demand more traffic than mine, but I thought I'd share the tips, nonetheless. I taught a Bible Study at a Youth Service in Lafayette the other day, and I made a Keynote presentation for the lesson. Apple has released a Keynote Remote app (for $0.99 in the app store - seems high) for the iPhone/iPod Touch that connects with the Mac/MacBook over WiFi. It works amazingly well, showing the slide, presenter notes, and the time all in the app. One problem, though - the room I was speaking in doesn't have WiFi (Why Apple didn't include Bluetooth support, I'll never know).

Some quick searching on the web showed me how to make an Ad-Hoc network. Basically, you use your Mac to create a WiFi network that your iPhone (or any WiFi device) can connect to. I don't know all of the functionality for this, but for me, it was perfect.

To set up an AdHoc network, click on the WiFi icon at the top of the screen and select 'Create Network'. A new window pops up, and you can name the network whatever you like; the default is the computer name. If you want, it even allows you to set a password for the network. On your iPhone (or iPod Touch), turn on the WiFi and select the network. Enter the password (if necessary) and you are linked! You can now launch the Keynote app and control the presentation.

It worked great for me, and I plan on using this option many times in the future.