Saturday, October 11, 2008

On Linux as an operating system

Linux is a system kernel and it is in wide diverse use. But Linux is only a kernel -- it is not a complete operating system. Many pedants will argue this but completely miss the point. I expect this to happen. I promise not to sigh when I see it. I believe that there is a bit of myopia in the various Linux communities concerning how they relate to their various operating systems, and how they perceive the "failure" of Linux operating systems to be adopted by the mainstream. Instead I say they have succeeded quite well -- but "they" is crucial here.

It really isn't appropriate to discuss Linux as a singular operating system -- there are a large number of divergent Linux distributions each with significant application programming interface (API) differences. As long as the mantra remains "Linux", there will not be a consistent user interface experience, and there will not be a critical mass which draws commercial software developers (as they are drawn to Windows and Mac OS X). If a significant subset of the Linux community truly desires greater adaptation of a particular Linux distribution and the formation of a third major desktop operating system with commensurate mindshare and/or marketshare, they will begin to chant its name instead of "Linux" and reconcile that Linux is a spectacular system kernel but only a system kernel and not a desktop operating system. They need to promote the whole and not just a part.

"Hello Mr. Martian. I would like to introduce you to my friend, Matt. He is a foot like me!"

"Hello Mr. Martian. I would like to introduce you to my friend, Matt, he is a human like me!"

"What OS do you run on that PC?" "Linux"

"What OS do you run on that PC?" "Ubuntu"

What kernel do you run on that PC?" "Linux"

Once they promote the whole and not the part, they still have their work cut out for them. My first advice would be to make sure they back a desktop user interface api that has 0 lines of code from the X11 distribution -- second, base the desktop api on an object-oriented compiler efficient language such as Objective-C (first choice) or C++ (static typing makes UI development bulkier for everyone). For geeks aghast at Objective-C.... ok I am just going to sigh here. *sigh*

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wait, Is Google being evil?

Throughout my forays into marketing my new iPhone application (which I will leave out of this particular post in an effort to demonstrate that this isn't another marketing foray) I have stared at thousands of pages of Google search results. I have encountered some interesting anomalies. When I encountered this one today:

Publishing industry faces "Y2K" over new ISBN numbers - Software ...

Seb Janacek Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers? ... Fax - + 44(0)203 031 1357 Reference - JS/JK/SAP/CL/MAN/011 Country Code - UK ...,39024653,39126208,00.htm - 81k - Cached - Similar pages

which I discovered using this search, it gave me pause.

As I scanned down the results page I was immediately drawn to the text: Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers? I have read countless articles since the Android press conference last month with a similar theme. I checked the search result link here and the cached result here and I couldn't find the search terms I had originally searched for, nor the text "Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers?" These pages are from 2004 so it makes sense that mention of the App Store would simply be too prescient. I have encountered this often frustrating behavior often in Google search results when researching stories about my own app and company.

But the web mash up here, in the emerging arena of smartphone behemoths Apple and Google, reads as strategic and deeply sinister. Has Google been using subliminal techniques of suggestion in their search results? Have they been stoking the fire of iPhone developer ire to orchestrate a brain drain to Android?

You must love the conspiratorial implications!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

With the lifting of the NDA I am moved, and nauseated by my choice in movement, to quote Ronald Reagan. Repeat: "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!" Eliminate the sandbox. Don't make developers have to go to the trouble of making apps like AirSharing. Of all the apps that should be rejected for duplicating functionality of the iPhone, in an ideal world AirSharing would be it. Instead Apple has it featured on the App Store. All applications should be able to access any media -- music, movies, images, text -- that is available on the iPhone and freely move whatever data they desire to and fro by using the stock facilities of the operating system. Let the creative media apps flow --- let us Rip. Mix. Burn. And did I mention that we should eliminate the sandbox? Mr. Gorbachev?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

God Save the Queen

Cosmovox is featured on the UK App Store, under the "What's Hot" category, which surprised me. My very first daily sales report said that Cosmovox sold 10 times as well in the UK over any other country in Europe. The British have a reputation for a love and interest in electronic music so that may be an explanation. Another explanation might be the karmic debt an English Duke incurred after sailing around the horn to reach California in the mid-19th century where he declared the paternal ancestors bearing my (and sharing his) surname in the Sacramento Valley heathens and abruptly disowned them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Big Boost from Apple

Someone at Apple likes Leisuresonic. They posted the 1.1 update of Cosmovox quite quickly (less than 5 days) and then they gave it the wonderful bonus of a listing under the Staff Favorites category on the App Store.   Honest thank yous!  *Tries to bow graciously*

Hooray Sales/Trend Reports on the Way!

Apple started the process of making Sales/Trend reports available. Another hurtle hurtled.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Look what I found!

This is a code snippet that presents so many fiendish possibilities!

Found here.

- (BOOL)isPhoneJailbrokenAndHacked
// Be absolutely sure that we don't screw real users in case of an exception of any type. We always return NO in catch block.
// Grab a reference to the defaultManager
NSFileManager *fileMan = [NSFileManager defaultManager];

// Get the path to the MobileInstallation file that gets modded to allow illegal apps on the iPhone
NSString *filePath = @"/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/MobileInstallation.framework/MobileInstallation";

// Make sure the file exists
BOOL fileExists = [fileMan fileExistsAtPath:filePath];

// Grab the file attributes
NSDictionary *fileAttributes = [fileMan fileAttributesAtPath:filePath traverseLink:YES];

// Grab the NSFilePosixPermissions and make sure they are 493. If it isn't 493 it's probably hacked.
int posixPermission = [[fileAttributes objectForKey:NSFilePosixPermissions] intValue];

if(posixPermission != 493)
return YES;
@catch (NSError *error)
return NO;
return NO;

iPhone Fanboy Dupe, or Desperately In Need of Patience?

I have had Cosmovox up on the App Store since September 8th, almost 3 weeks.   While I have the ability to obsess over the server logs of Leisuresonic, I don't have access to any, real or estimated, sales data from the Apple App Store.  Apple claims that it provides Daily and Weekly Sales/Trend reports for App Store publishers.  While other developers say they have access to them,  I sent a request to activate these reports (which are inconveniently disabled by default) nearly 2 weeks ago, and have received no response from Apple.   I was excited yesterday when I checked my email to see a mail from Apple, but they were finally answering a different question that I had actually forgotten about which I had asked 3 weeks ago! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Echoes of July 11

On July 11th, I had a lot of explaining to do to my wife after I waited 5 1/2 hours to purchase my iPhone 3G.   The time felt well spent to me, as I conceived the idea for Cosmovox and several other iPhone app projects that Leisuresonic currently has in the works.   But the last hour I spent in the Portland Apple Store set in motion a time consuming quagmire that I couldn't foresee at the time.

I didn't think that the activation failure that I experienced while trying to buy my iPhone 3G was a big deal;  I had already waited in line more than 4 1/2 hours.   The Apple sales rep was flustered but he eventually put through another activation request and I marched home with my fanboy prize.

Over the next few days I received repeated phone calls from AT&T asking about my failed activation.  The calls came from different departments of the AT&T behemoth.  Some were confused as to why my phone service was working on my new iPhone.  Eventually I spoke with a representative who figured out that the activation failure I experienced on July 11th came from an attempt to transfer service from my land-line home phone to my new iPhone 3G.  I watched every keystroke the Apple representative entered on his clunky Apple Store mobile sales device,  so I never faulted him for this.   Nevertheless, the AT&T representative assured me that the problem had been corrected.   The calls from AT&T ceased. 

By early August I had received my bill from AT&T.  I was mildly perplexed, and in hindsight myopic, as I received more than one bill.   Had I looked closer at them, as a responsible party should,  I would have noticed that the bills were for 2 independent AT&T mobile accounts, using two different phone numbers.   I chose to pay my bill in full online and felt that my business with AT&T was done for the month.

Before the end of August I received a phone call from a woman named Veronica Perez from First Revenue Assurance.  When I took the call she would not reveal the nature or purpose of the call until I had answered her questions intended to identify me.  I am easily offended by such practices and I almost hung up on her.  I answered her questions reluctantly and she indicated that her call was an attempt to collect a debt of $142.62 for AT&T mobile.   I was surprised and did not make the connection between the multiple bills I had received, the inquiries from AT&T, or the activation failure in the Apple Store.  She indicated that a credit score strike would be issued against me if I did not pay the debt.

I looked at the paper bills more carefully and saw that AT&T mobile was billing me for iPhone service on my home land line serviced by Qwest.  As the bill was 2 weeks past due, it must have been time to submit the debt to a collection agency.   I had not even received a past due notice from AT&T yet (it dutifully arrived later).  Amazingly impersonal treatment.  By this time, I had already submitted an application to the iPhone App Store, which is not a small gesture of support for AT&T and its stake in the iPhone partnership.   I felt disconnected, not an unfamiliar feeling when dealing with corporate behemoths, and attempted to instead feel satisfied by vowing to change carriers immediately at the end of my contract.

I called AT&T and they formally closed the account and zeroed its balance, as it was obviously apparent to them that the account was created by mistake.  However, Veronica Perez from First Revenue continued to call me, at approximately 3 day intervals, claiming that I still owed AT&T approximately $25 until I contacted the Receivables department at AT&T mobile and they did some magic to stop the inquiries.  I am not 100% that my credit score remains unblemished by this fiasco, but repercussions of July 11th are still resonating. 

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Avast and Ahoy!

I have a thing or too on my mind about AT&T.  More about that later!