Droid X Pokes iPhone 4

Here’s the poke by Droid X:

Introducing the DROID X by MOTOROLA, the ultimate smart phone. Its screen is gigantic. Its capacity is huge. Every experience from messaging to movies is larger than life. It can even connect with your HD TV so you can share little things with large audiences. And most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls. You have a voice. And you deserve to be heard.

Apple, your turn.

LaCie IamaKey, CooKey, WhisKey Win 2010 IDEA Gold Award

LaCie’s IamaKey, CooKey and WhisKey. Great names and greater designs, by 5.5 designers. The best designs have little design. These USB flash drives are almost always carried on a key chain, but before the 5.5 designers-designed LaCie USB keys it didn’t click. Now it does and it’s brilliant!

The folks making decisions for the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Fast Company magazine, think likewise and gave the Gold Award. Only 38 receive the Gold, out of 405 finalists. Check out fastcodesign.com for more cool designs from 2010 IDEA.

LaCie’s USB keys are not just pretty on the outside; they are made of aluminum, is water resistant and scratch resistant. Kind of like a real key. They are quite affordable starting at US$19.99 for 4GB at LaCie.com (US).

Uninstalling Safari Adobe Flash Player 10.1 Plugin

The Adobe Flash Player 10.1 plugin for Safari kept crashing so I have uninstalled it. Let me tell you my story.

Unlike most people my default and only browser is Safari 5.0. I like my MBP system to be simple and clutter free. Safari allows me to get rid of almost everything and just have three icons, an address bar and the search bar. That’s it. Clean and simple. The rest of the functions I toggle with keystrokes; it only took about ten minutes to figure out most of them. Safari is generally quite fast and renders DisplayBlog very well, just the way I like it. Yes, I should test how my blog looks on different browsers and I do, just not on my MBP.

For quite some time Safari has been rock-solid but like almost all software there are times when it has problems. The main symptom is that the beach ball starts to spin and doesn’t stop for a while. And when it stops, almost always there’s a nice little dialog box telling me: “Flash Player (Safari Internet plug-in) quit unexpectedly.” Unfortunately, these dialog boxes aren’t completely unexpected. After upgrading to Flash Player 10.1 I expected better performance, but more importantly less plugin crashes. Here’s what Adobe promises:

Adobe Flash Player 10.1 is the first runtime release of the Open Screen Project that enables uncompromised Web browsing of expressive applications, content and video across devices. With support for a broad range of mobile devices, including smartphones, netbooks, smartbooks and other Internet-connected devices, Flash Player 10.1 allows your content to reach your customers wherever they are.

When it works. And recently I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated each time the Flash player plugin crashes. I use Flash for one main purpose: Google Analytics. I don’t watch Hulu. I sign on YouTube’s HTML5 version so no problems there. I’ve stopped playing all of Facebook’s time-sucking Flash games. I do see a lot of sites using Flash though. Just as a side note: the most silly ones are small Flash snippets that are used instead of text. And I have to click it just to see what it says. Ridiculous.

I don’t think Steve Jobs was exaggerating in his Thoughts on Flash article:

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now.

I still need Google Analytics. But I’m willing to give up a lot of Analystics functionality just so I don’t have to deal with this Flash player plugin crashing BS. So here’s how you get rid of the Flash Player plugin. You can be Flash-free too. It’s very simple. Get rid of anything that says Flash of Shockwave or swf in these two directories on your Mac:

/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

The tilde (~) in the directory path name is just a shortcut for your user account name. For instance, if your name is John the directory would be:

/Users/John/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

As of now I am Flash-free and free of Flash Player plugin crashes. I feel good like I’m free from some parasite or disease. And I expect to continue feeling good. I’m not a software expert and I can’t tell you if these crashes are caused by OS 10.6, Safari 5, lots of opened tabs, faulty Flash implementations on websites, the Flash Player 10.1 plugin, or some combination. But, I can tell you this: my MBP hardly crashes at all. I have not experienced consistent software crashes like this before* and I don’t expect to as long as the Flash player plugin stays off of my MBP. So Google can you build an HMTL 5 version of Google Analytics? I would really appreciate that.

* There is one exception: the crappy and unstable WiBRO Mac connection utility that I am using in Korea.

Not Getting An iPhone 4, Yet

I remember walking into the Apple Store at the Westfield shopping center in San Jose on June 29, 2007. It was around 7pm. On my way back to work I decided I had to get the iPhone. I called ahead to see if there were any available and how long the line was. The iPhone was in stock and the line was moving quickly. Fifteen minutes later I had my very own iPhone. It was the most I’ve ever spent on a phone but that sting quickly dissipated as soon as I touched the multitouch glass. When the iPhone 3G came out I upgraded and gave the original iPhone to my sister. I skipped over the 3GS and waited for the next one. And now the iPhone 4 is here.

There is so much to like. Being a display geek the best part about the iPhone 4 is the Retina Display (read Retina Display, Apple iPhone 4 Retina Display vs. Samsung Galaxy S Super AMOLED). It might be because my years at LG Display, but I consider IPS TFT LCD technology to be superior to any other LCD technology out there. I think Apple’s display engineers will agree. A three and a half inch IPS display with a pixel format of 960×640 in landscape mode. A display resolution of 326 PPI. Apple even fixed the under-the-cover glass dust issue that plagued earlier iPhone models. Because there is an air gap between the cover glass and the LCD over time dust would gather. To this day I am not aware of any methods to get rid of the dust that get trapped there. Apple used a method called optical lamination (read iPhone 4) to eliminate that air gap. Benefits include better clarity because light refraction is eliminated but I was more relieved that I wouldn’t have to deal with stuck dust particles anymore. Optically, I am very sensitive. Just ask my wife who just happens to be an optometrist. The Retina Display on the iPhone 4 is simply fantastic. There is nothing like it anywhere else.

Then there is the multitouch experience only Apple has been able to offer so far. Touch any iPhone and it responds, immediately, without a hint of hesitation. This isn’t the result of insanely powerful hardware. Instead it is the result of artful tuning of all the components: semiconductors, the operating system, glass hardware and the user interface. There were delayed responses but those usually happened because of the unreliable data connection. Overall the multitouch experience on the iPhone is unrivaled so far. Google’s Android 2.2 is permeating through Android smartphones as I type and will most likely and soon give Apple some serious competition in this area.

The five megapixel camera is superb thanks to the backlight illuminated CMOS image sensor with photo diodes that are the same size as the previous 3.2 megapixel version in the 3G and 3GS. It is probably the best camera on a smartphone today (read MacWorld: iPhone 4 Sports Best Smartphone Camera, Derek Powazek: Awesome Photos Shot With iPhone 4, Apple iPhone 4 versus Canon S90). The iPhone 4 doesn’t just sport a decent camera, it also has a very good camcorder (read Video Quality Comparison: iPhone 4 vs. Flip Ultra HD). Again, there is so much going for the iPhone 4. Add to all of this the sexy design, hundreds of thousands of apps, all the great improvements in iOS 4, etc., etc., etc.

Even the iPhone’s Achille’s heel seems to be serious about upgrading its cellular connectivity capabilities (read AT&T Upgrades New York 850MHz 3G, Voice Quality Improves 47 Percent). But it may be this very reason, the weak data connections and dropped calls in strategic locations such as San Francisco and New York City, that had put immense pressure on Apple to find an out-of-the-box antenna design that could improve voice and data connectivity. And that brings us to our problems.

Uncomfortably, there are one too many. The yellowish spots (read Yellow Discoloration on iPhone 4 LCD), bars and bright dots, if I had experienced it, would have irritated me to no end especially since Apple would not have been able to provide a replacement unit. They simply don’t exist at the moment. Being particularly sensitive to display quality I would have been quite disappointed. I’m relieved to hear those yellow dots and bars eventually go away (read iPhone 4 Yellowship Discoloration Goes Away With Time?), but still the fact that they were there would have bugged me intensely. There is another related issue that is disconcerting. Dow Corning Z-6011 Silane, the chemical used to bond the layers of glass used in the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, needs to dry and if it isn’t given enough time to dry a yellow discoloration can occur. That’s not troubling; this is: if this chemical is exposed to moisture ethanol, a possible carcinogen, is generated.

There’s more. The antenna problem. Apple has not come forth with a definite answer to the question of why some users are experiencing signal attenuation when holding the iPhone 4 a certain way. Whatever the real reason may be behind this problem the simple fact of the matter is that there is a problem. I’ve written extensively about this reception issue. Even Steve Jobs is denying the very existence of this issue (read Steve Jobs On iPhone 4: “There Is No Reception Issue. Stay Tuned.”). There have been many postulations as to the cause of this problem by different experts, many more articles documenting the signal attenuation, and just as many videos showing the problem for all to see. There is a problem.

I came upon an interesting article titled More on the iPhone 4 signal issue written by Richard Gaywood who holds “a Ph.D in wireless network planning techniques from Cardiff University” and has “worked for Keima, a company writing commercial software that helps cellular operators design their networks for optimum performance.” In the article Dr. Gaywood concludes that it is unlikely that this might not be a problem at all, that 3G data transfer rates will slow down even in strong signal areas and there is no assurance that you’ll never be in a weak signal area, and finally he doesn’t feel it’s a software problem:

I think there’s some deeper problem here, and I await Apple’s formal response to the issue with interest.

The hyper-sensitive proximity sensor is yet another irritating problem. It causes accidentally face-touching of buttons while you’re on the phone. Great, huh? At least this problem looks like it could be fixed via a firmware update modulating the sensitivity.

Some people are trying to minimize the impact of these abnormalities by guessing the number of iPhone 4’s exhibiting these aforementioned problems to be very small. Although no one has the numbers to prove or disprove how widespread these problems are, I believe the iPhone 4 required at least more real life testing and fine-tuning of the firmware. I have a feeling the green light for volume production was rushed. I’m not going to get an iPhone 4 just yet. I’ll get one when Apple admits these problems and fixes them.

Human LCD

Human LCD it is. Here is a YouTube video of some incredible cheering by some of South Korea’s high schools, not by holding up cards but by using their clothes with near-perfect coordination. The video fast-forwarded in some parts but still… ridiculously amazing.

John Dvorak: Stop The Apple iPad Fanboy Articles

I found an interesting post titled Street Myths: John C. Dvorak on Wired dated February 1994. And in it Paulina Borsook takes a look at the real Dvorak. On the myth that Dvorak is a professional maverick… true:

Trades on being the computer-journalist equivalent of the kid who makes snarky remarks in class, but because he makes the teacher laugh too, isn’t sent to the principal’s office. MacUser Editor in Chief Maggie Cannon, who first hired John C. Dvorak at Infoworld in 1981, says he “pioneered three-dot computer journalism and has the Rush Limbaugh/Howard Stern image people love to hate.” Still, PR specialist Andy Cunningham says that Dvorak is “a lot more reasonable than his image, and if he’s caustic, it adds to his career.” His irreverence and bad attitude don’t subvert the dominant paradigm enough to cost him the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year he pulls in through his Ziff-Davis-based publishing sinecure. Dvorak considers Infoworld’s Robert X. Cringely his only true computer-columnist competitor, meaning Cringely also takes a stand of critical distance on the computer industry. Some sources maintain the two writers share other traits, such as journalistic sloppiness, mendacity, and nastiness.

More than 16 years later, Dvorak on Wired’s 10 Stellar iPad Apps That Will Blow You Away:

“Blow you away” indicates an explosive force that will move everything out of the way and leave you stunned. … Having a new Craiglist re-engineered for touch screens is not going to blow anyone away.

This list of “stellar apps” could have just as easily been titled “10 Banal Apps to Clog Up Your iPad.” Seriously. Let’s run down the list: another reader app, a GoToMyPC clone, a musical app that plays notes on a virtual piano, a comic book reader, a program that turns the iPad into a PC display, some social networking add-on, a Safari plug-in, a Craigslist interface, a note taker, and a program that shows a photo from The Guardian once a day.

Classic Dvorak, isn’t it? The terms “blow away” and “stellar apps” might have been a bit over-reaching by Wired’s Brian X. Chen, I’ll agree. But let’s not categorically dismiss these apps as well as Chen without a critical look. I actually bookmarked the article from Wired yesterday so I could come back later and take a closer look; I think it’s that time. I’m not going through the entire list, but let’s take a closer look at Reeder, “another reader app”.

Reeder, just another reader app it is not. Its a simple and elegantly designed RSS reader. Your RSS feeds are spread out like the Photos app on the iPad. And like Photos you can un-pinch to spread out all the articles in that feed; pinch it and the articles zoom back into the RSS feed tile icon. I think there there has been a lot of folks waiting for a RSS reader that’s more than good-enough. What makes Reeder unique is that it lets anyone who has a lot of RSS feeds to easily navigate through, pick out a feed and read the articles in a visually simple yet elegant way. There is possibly an Achille’s heel in using Reeder: you will need a Google Reader account. The US$5 iPad app is created by Silvio Rizzi, who also wrote Reeder 2 for the iPhone. If you use both apps the Google Reader link becomes quite useful as it allows syncing between the iPhone and the iPad. The website is reederapp.com/ipad. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reviews for Reeder on the iPad that I thought was thorough:

Reeder for iPad Review by Chris Kirby at 148Apps:

In the end, Reeder’s speed, unique interface and overall simplicity make it hard not to recommend for anyone looking for a feed reader on the iPad. It is a bold step ahead for this genre of app.

Reeder Redefines Google Reader on the iPad. Reviewed. by Federico Viticci at MacStories:

It may sound cheesy, but Reeder for iPad really is the best Google Reader client you can have on this device right now. Well, not exactly right now, as the app is still currently awaiting for approval in the App Store and should be available soon. Once it is, go ahead and purchase it. This is the start of the second wave of great iPad apps.

iPad App Reviews РReeder, The New York Times by R̩my Numa at MacTalk:

As a widely anticipated release for the iPad, Reeder’s abnormally long approval waiting time was worrying for fans of the app, possibly due to the extensive use of the pinch-to-zoom feature that Apple boasts in the iPad’s Photos app. Whether this should be allowed for third-party apps or not doesn’t matter, because these sorts of enhancements are part of what make Reeder such an excellent RSS reader for the iPad. In a hotly contested market on the App Store (Pulse and NewsRack spring to mind with more clients on their way in the coming months), Reeder tops the rest again.

Reeder for iPad: The Last RSS Reader You’ll Ever Need by Jonas Wisser at AppStorm:

Reeder makes reading your feeds fun. I’ve been testing it for a week now, and the enjoyment I take in physically manipulating my feeds rather than simply tapping them has not grown one iota less. I’ve actually found myself giving up Google Reader on my Mac entirely in favour of using Reeder for iPad.

Again, this list of reviews is not exhaustive but I looked through several dozen and curated just the ones that I thought did a thorough job of looking critically at the Reeder app. It seems it really isn’t just another RSS reader as Dvorak is suggesting. If I had an iPad I would definitely try out Reeder and bets are I would like the experience and make it my main RSS reader. So in my opinion, Chen got it right, for Reeder, and Dvorak didn’t.

But that doesn’t let Brian Chen off the hook. For instance there are two things that bug me about the article. First, I do agree with Dvorak that the title is a bit hysterical. Stellar? Blow away? But I don’t completely fault Chen. Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software, Scott Forstall’s favorite phrase is “blow away” and anyone who likes Apple products has seen him a number of times in product launch videos saying that phrase, often, to say the least.

We all have our favorite words or phrases. The word ‘boom’ used to be Steve Job’s favorite word during his keynotes. Check out a silly YouTube video titled “Boom!“.

The second thing I didn’t like much: Chen does a mediocre job convincing the reader that these apps deserve to be on their iPads. Each app gets at most three short paragraphs, which isn’t enough writing to get deep enough into the analysis. But what do I know? Maybe Chen knows something Dvorak doesn’t: the Wired post got retweeted 492 times and Facebook-liked 158 times as of this writing.

David Kassan: iPad Finger Painting At Its Absolute Best

I am not an art critic and I don’t know anything about the art of finger painting; this is just an opinion by a guy who has a decent eye for something that looks good. And David Jon Kassan’s finger painting using the iPad as his canvas is absolutely brilliant. Check out the iPad finger paint video on YouTube. I viewed it at 720p and it looked amazing.

The live iPad finger painting took about three hours and was streamed live worldwide from Brooklyn, New York on Monday, June 21, 2010. The model was Henry William Oelkers. Music was “Monoliths” in the album Passages by Maserati. iTunes has Monoliths as a free download.

I hopped on over to davidkassan.com and here’s a quote from “Statement”:

Time is the most valuable thing that we all have, the one aspect of daily life that we can not get back once its gone. I want to use time while trying to understand the world around me. Painting is my notebook, my sounding board.

He has a blog at blog.davidkassan.com, is on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kassan), tweets (twitter.com/davidkassan) and produced a DVD titled “Drawing Closer to Life” (dvd.davidkassan.com).

Nokia: How To Hold Your Phone, Reception Problem

Nokia is taking a jab at the iPhone 4’s reception issue, something Steve Jobs is denying (read Steve Jobs On iPhone 4: “There Is No Reception Issue. Stay Tuned.”). Nokia postulates in How do you hold your Nokia? four ways you can hold your Nokia phone:

  • Thumb and finger
  • The cup
  • The balance
  • The four edge grip

And here’s what Nokia states:

We’ve found any of the four grips mentioned above to be both comfortable and as you can see, offer no signal degradation whatsoever. This isn’t a feature you’ll only find on high-end Nokia devices either. It’s something that’s been a part of pretty much every Nokia device ever made (perhaps with the exception of that teardrop 3G one, which was a bit ridiculous).

The key function on any Nokia device is its ability to make phone calls. After all, that’s why we know them universally as mobile phones (or smart phones, feature phones or mobile computers – though the same grip styles work for those, too). One of the main things we’ve found about the 1 billion plus Nokia devices that are in use today is that when making a phone call, people generally tend to hold their phone like a…. well, like a phone. Providing a wide range of methods and grips for people to hold their phones, without interfering with the antennae, has been an essential feature of every device Nokia has built.

Of course, feel free to ignore all of the above because realistically, you’re free to hold your Nokia device any way you like. And you won’t suffer any signal loss. Cool, huh?

Well, no. User SmackMule has some reception problems with his Nokia E71, recorded and posted up on YouTube for everyone to see: Nokia E71 Reception Problems. He even has an AT&T Femtocell installation at home that brings the connection up to five bars from a maximum of three bars before. When he holds the E71 the five bars drop down to… zero. When he puts it back down on the table the five bars reappear. In the comments he mentions that he is cupping the E71. I guess “the cup” is not a viable method on the E71. There is the off chance that his E71 could be a lemon, but this might be a more industry-wide problem. Are you a Nokia user? Have you had any reception problems like this?

Google Nexus One Users: Android 2.2 Froyo FRF85 Now Available

Google Nexus One owners on AT&T should have received an OTA update for Android 2.2 Froyo FRF85, the bulletproofed build, starting June 28th. Those on T-Mobile should be getting Froyo OTA updates too. Can’t wait for the OTA update and want to do it yourself? Here’s the direct link from Google. FYI, Froyo gives you mobile hotspot capabilities and support for Adobe Flash in the browser. More information on the official notice from Google.