Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The solution to my iMessage problem

It turned out that the solution to my iMessage problem was relatively straightforward. That said, it only worked because I still had my old phone (it hadn’t been stolen; I hadn’t traded it in; etc.). It also worked when doing things like going to Apple’s site and deauthorizing my devices didn’t (which I still don’t understand). So the problem I pointed out really is a serious bug.

But for me, I had the phone and the solution (as a few people suggested in the comments to my post) was as simple as disabling iMessage on my device. Apparently this triggered a reset on the Apple server such that messages sent to me were no longer being routed through iMessage, thus fixing my problem. Problem solved.

Now if I could only stop incoming texts from coming in double (apparently a bug with the latest Handcent SMS build)…

March 7th, 2012     Categories: Technology    

Apple’s secret iPhone lock-in feature

If you’ve been following my twitter feed you’ll know that about a month ago I finally made the switch from AT&T to Verizon (brief conclusion: what took me so long? from my experience this month, the VZ network is vastly superior). At the same time I decided that I’d give Android a real try (I’d played around with it in the past, but never adopted it as my primary device). Enter the Galaxy Nexus. The slightly over-sized, slightly too much of a battery hog, but generally pretty well executed device from Samsung which at the moment is the only Android device running Ice Cream Sandwich (for those of you wondering why I didn’t just get another iPhone, the quick answer is that having paid $450 to “upgrade” to the 4S, I just couldn’t bring myself to take my total wasted spending on that device to almost a grand). I’ll drop a full post on my iPhone to Android experience in the near future.

My transition was going reasonably well until I started hearing from people that I was no longer responding to their text messages. And with my iPhone still sitting in its stand plugged in at my desk, I noticed a few texts showing up on my old device. Strange. I had ported my number and couldn’t figure out why there were texts still showing up on my old phone (or from a network perspective how they could have even gotten there). I took the SIM card out of my iPhone. I noticed that I could send a text from my Galaxy and the response would come back to my iPhone. I borrowed my wife’s phone and manually typed in my phone number to text myself a test message and it would show up on my iPhone and not my Nexus. None of this made any sense, but it was seriously annoying.

Finally Ross, our director of IT, figured out what was going on. Users with iPhones were having their texts directed through iMessage. And the kicker is, that short of people actually turning off iMessage completely on their phones, there was no way to prevent this from happening when they were sending a “text” to me. TechCrunch wrote a story about this in early January and suggested a work-around where I could deauthorize my phones through Apple. But unfortunately this didn’t work either (at least it didn’t for me). It’s an incredible bug and hard to believe that Apple hasn’t already figured out a fix to (clearly the problem is on their side – they intercept the messages on the sender’s device and decide to route them through iMessage; in my case that means anyone who has iMessage enabled on their iPhone is sending their messages into the ether). So now I’m stuck trying to decide how badly I want to stay on Android, whether it’s worth traveling with my iPhone so I can pick up stray iMessages (although only when my iPhone is attached to a wifi network since I have no other connectivity on that device) or whether I should give up and buy a Verizon version of the iPhone. I had planned to at least consider switching back with the iPhone 5 but Apple is really forcing my hand here.

I’m curious if anyone else has encountered this problem and if so what they’ve done about it.

March 4th, 2012     Categories: Technology     Tags: , , ,

My Big Mac

image So after much teasing by friends and in a vain attempt to solidify my geek creds, I finally took the plunge and ordered a MacBook Pro. I’m dumping my Microsoft infrastructure and am going to switch over cold turkey once I get the thing set up. I’m anticipating a difficult few weeks transitioning.

And here’s where I need your help. For readers that have made the switch, what advice do you have to make it go smoothly? For all Mac users, what programs, add-ons, short-cuts, Mac resources (particularly a directory of short-cut codes) do I need? Also, very specifically, I’m looking for something that will let me sync a network share locally so that all files are available off-line. This needs to then sync up the changes when I’m connected back up to the network. And the catch is that this needs to happen against a Windows server.

Thoughts welcome and encouraged in comments and by email.

[late breaking update – as I was writing this my new Mac showed up in the office!]

September 8th, 2010     Categories: Technology    

News Corp is spoiling Google’s fun (not to mention ours)


So it’s really come down to this? News Corp is thinking about inking a deal with Microsoft/Bing whereby not only will Bing get access to News Corp data (WSJ, Fox, etc.) but they’ll also prevent Google from indexing their sites. This sounds like a lose/lose/lose/lose proposition.

News Corp loses – fewer page views, less revenue for their online content, and to the 90% of Internet users who use Google for search their properties will effectively stop existing.

Google loses (sort of) to the extent people miss the data (not sure what will happen when you force a search on Google to a News Corp domain – will they simply return no results?).

The rest of us lose because universal search will cease to be universal (and if MSFT is willing to pay for an exclusive with News Corp others will follow).

And Microsoft likely loses as well by paying for content that they likely can’t monetize and pissing a bunch of people off in the process.

I’ve been playing around with Bing a bunch lately and actually really like it. But proprietary search arrangements isn’t the way to gain market share – better search is!

November 25th, 2009     Categories: Technology     Tags: ,

Please sir….may I have more targeted advertising

A few days ago I received a note from Plaxo in my inbox that said in part:

As you probably know, Plaxo was acquired last year by Comcast and is now a business unit of Comcast Interactive Media (CIM). Not surprisingly, given the above focus, we’ve been working on enabling interoperability between Plaxo and other CIM Websites. In advance of rolling out this common identity system, we’ve developed a unified Terms of Service and Privacy Policy that will apply to Plaxo and the other participating Comcast Websites, providing consistent protection and eliminating the complexity and potential confusion of having different terms and policies for each Website.

Among the things that were updated in the policy was the section pertaining to what information Plaxo could use. Specifically they are now able to make use of “Demographic portions of your data (such as zip code, gender, or industry) and usage patterns may be shared with our trusted partners who deliver advertising to you on our behalf.”

I may be in the minority here, but I’m actually happy to have non-personally identifiable information used by third party ad networks in an effort to serve me better ads. And, in fact, I’m shocked at how little information it seems these networks actually know about me. For example, despite all the time I spend searching on Google, on Google docs, Google groups, and other Google sites, I was shocked at how little they actually know about me (see my post on exposing Google cookie information here). I’m involved in a handful of advertising related businesses and I understand a lot about how the advertising ecosystem comes together to try to figure out what ad to show what user. We talk about things like “behavioral targeting” a lot in the industry but it’s surprisingly limited in its overall use and effectiveness (there are a handful of very specific categories that advertisers and networks are looking for – most of the rest of us don’t make the cut). State of the art is to categorize based on location and possibly a cut at your gender (either indirectly based on the demographics of the site you are visiting or slightly more directly based on the usage patters that have been observed). While there are a handful of companies out there that are trying to take this to the next level their reach is so far pretty limited.

So rather than be upset at Plaxo for taking the information it knows about m to build a better business and a smarter advertising ecosystem I say the more the better. I’d like to see more ads about cycling and home building and fewer urging me to attend the University of Phoenix.

September 4th, 2009     Categories: Technology     Tags: ,

How much does Google really know about you?

In case you were wondering what goods Google has on you check out from the browser you typically use for web browsing and search. If you scroll down you’ll see what interests Google has you pegged for and get to see the data they have collected on you in your cookie.

For me the most interesting part wasn’t the data they had on me, but looking through the Google interests taxonomy at the bottom of the page.  There are specific tags for individual car brands, for your love of Bollywood movies, pest control, screensavers, etc. It’s an interesting glimpse into how Google thinks about the world (and more importantly into what categories Google thinks it can make money by trafficking).

August 14th, 2009     Categories: Technology    

There’s "something called the Internet"

There’s a clip that’s been making the rounds in the last week of a Tom Brokaw spot from the mid-90’s on "the Internet". I love the quick clip with Eric Schmidt (then of Sun) and the casual walk around with Bill Gates.  I also really like the pitch for the IBM notebook that’s "4 pounds".

The amazing thing to consider is not how quaint some of the technology appears in this video, but how far we’ve come so quickly. This video is only 15 years old. After the video ended I sat back in my office for a bit and considered how pretty much all of the things that are state of the art right now will seem as quaint as the technology in the video (and if they’ll seem as outdated as the technology in the video). Mind blowing.

June 16th, 2009     Categories: General Business, Technology    

Sonos keeps getting better

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know that Sonos is one of my favorite all time inventions.  For those of you living in a closet, Sonos is a system that allows for wireless streaming of music throughout your home with the ability to separately control dozens of music "zones".  You can easily stream music from various online sources (or your own music library) and their controller makes it easy to create play-lists, cue up music and play different tunes in different parts of your house.  If you have ears, you should own one of these.

Last week Sonos announced a bunch of new features – free integration with Pandora (I was already paying for this – it my be the single best feature of the entire system), more internet radio options, integration with and … the ability to turn your iPhone into a Sonos controller (seriously cool).


November 2nd, 2008     Categories: Product, Technology    

A different take on Twitter

As you know, I’m a big fan of Twitter.  I’ve even gone so far as to call it the new IM.

My wife Greeley has watched on with some amusement as I’ve twittered my life away over the last year or so.  She finally sat down this weekend and read a few months of my tweets.  What follows is a note she sent to me – an "if I’d been twittering too" list of tweets (to be read with heavy sarcasm; I was laughing out loud, but maybe it’s just me…).


Woke up in a shitty mood, PMS?
Contact lenses dry and itchy, off to buy SALINE!
Sale at Safeway on seedless grapes. Nectarines look good, too.
Made peanut butter sandwiches for girls.
Using my new Kenmore vacuum. I’m way more into the canister than the upright.
Defrosting ground turkey for dinner. Meatloaf or burgers? TBD.
I’m concerned that twitter is affecting my ability to blog regularly. Anyone else concerned?
New episode of Mad Men tonight. Weekly struggle with watching on release night or waiting for HD format…
I know I did something today that will interest and impress my followers. Just thinking.

August 12th, 2008     Categories: Technology    

Life without email?

For most technology professionals (really most professionals of any kind) email is so integrated into our work that we can hardly imagine life without it.  Sure, it can be a distraction at times and – especially if you carry a wireless device – hard to escape from.  But it also greatly enhances productivity, allows us to communicate quickly and effectively and to have asynchronous interactions with a great number of people.  I know in my own work life I send and receive between 200 and 300 emails a day.  And since I’m already tied up on the phone or in meetings for at least 5 or 6 hours in any given day, email allows me to be significantly more productive (and to process more information and communication with a far greater number of people) than without it. 

So it’s with much curiosity that I’m watching my friend Mark Solon – a partner at Highway 12 Ventures in Idaho – experiment with an email free summer.  He describes the heart of his thesis this way: If the people who sent the majority of those e-mails knew that I didn’t have an inbox, they would have either picked up the phone and called me or (and this is the heart of it) probably wouldn’t have bothered because it really wasn’t that important after all.  The link above will take you to the article he wrote about the project. I like Mark, but I’m skeptical that this is going to work.  Even with his secretary printing out important documents (board packages and the like), the limits of old school communication in my mind significantly outweigh the upside from people self filtering their communications with you.  Not to mention, I’d be perpetually worried that I was missing something.

We’ll see what Mark has to say at the end of the summer.  I’m curious in the meantime – could you live without email?

June 10th, 2008     Categories: General Business, Life, Technology