April 23, 2010

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April 19, 2010

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April 13, 2010

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April 12, 2010

Please Stand By.

Filed under:
  • General
— 10:57 pm

Well, it looks like I let this site go a year without a real post. Again.

I’m going to bring it back, and in a tradition I’ve carried on since 1998, the first post in a year will be one with no useful content at all. You’re soaking in it.

I’m currently debating what to do with this site. I might write more about what I do in my businesses (running web sites and, lately, iPhone development). Or I might just turn it into a list of links to things I write elsewhere. At any rate, something will happen here soon. I’ll at least update the categories. I just noticed “PalmOS” is still there. How embarrassing.

I’m currently in San Jose for the excellent 360iDev conference. Working on an iPhone app, which will hopefully be published soon. Playing with my new iPad, which is either The Future of Computing or The Death of Creativity as We Know It depending on who you believe. I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with either side.

I will post a full report on 360iDev soon, if nothing else. Stay tuned. In the meantime I’m occasionally on Twitter.

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December 27, 2009

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September 23, 2009

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July 18, 2009

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May 6, 2009

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April 30, 2009

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April 27, 2009

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April 3, 2009

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April 2, 2009

Best of April Fools 2009

Filed under:
  • Humor
— 3:43 am

Every year on April 1st, sites all over the Web take a break from serious business to post believable, yet strange, announcements. Here are a few of my favorites this year:

  • Palm announced that the all-new Pre will run old PalmOS software.
  • Microsoft hinted that they’re making a version of Office for the iPhone.
  • Blackberry opened their own “App store”.
  • The Texas State Senate added a provision to the state’s budget to prevent purchases of Windows Vista.
  • CNET spent four months warning Windows users about a virus that turned out to have no impact at all.
  • The Onion won a Peabody award.
  • Twitter pretended that they waited three years after they launched to add a Search feature to their home page. Calling it “The Discovery Engine” was delightfully droll.

Keep it up, guys! While these were pretty funny, none of them quite beats Google’s big announcement five years ago. Hopefully next year they’ll all come up with some better comedy.

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March 20, 2009

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February 27, 2009

The unrecognizable Internet of 1996?

Filed under:
  • General
— 8:59 pm

In The unrecognizable Internet of 1996, Farhad Manjoo of Slate Magazine gives his impressions of the Web of 1996, although he admittedly wasn’t there. This is amusing in the same way as hearing a modern high-school student talk about the music and fashion of the 1970s, but I thought I should correct some of his misconceptions.

I started thinking about the Web of yesteryear after I got an e-mail from an idly curious Slate colleague: What did people do online back when Slate launched, he wondered? After plunging into the Internet Archive and talking to several people who were watching the Web closely back then, I’ve got an answer: not very much.

David Wertheimer says that’s bullshit, and I agree. In 1996 the web was already so busy that a single person couldn’t keep track of the whole thing, or hope to read everything online. My quotations site was two years old by then, and even in the narrow field of sites about famous quotations it was one of about 200. I couldn’t keep track of all of them. By contrast, when I launched the site in 1994, it was the only one in the category. In early 1995 it was one of three sites in the category, and I regularly talked with the owners of the other two.

Some of Yahoo’s 1996-era front pages have been saved in the Internet Archive. What’s interesting about them is what they lack. First, no e-mail: The first webmail site, Hotmail, launched in July of 1996.

But webmail is not email. People were emailing each other long before Hotmail, using desktop clients like Pegasus and Eudora. They looked pretty much exactly like today’s desktop email clients, except for one thing: there was no spam.

In 1994, a Swarthmore College student named Justin Hall began links.net, one of the very first personal Web sites.

This seems wrong – I set up a personal site in 1994, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t “one of the very first”. I doubt I was one of the first 500.

I’m sure I could find a few other mistakes in this shoddy article, but my point is this: 1996 was when the Web really started to get big. Real media companies like Time Magazine and the New York Times were seeing its potential for the first time, regular people who weren’t computer-obsessed were beginning to outnumber the geeks, and businesses like Amazon.com were just starting to make money online. The dot-com boom had begun, and advertising-powered sites like Slate were starting to make real money. Saying this was “not very much” going on online is like saying that, since there was no TV, no SUVs, and no Wal-mart, there wasn’t much going on during the industrial revolution.

[via Kottke]

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February 3, 2009

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October 21, 2008

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August 3, 2008

My iPhone Thinks I’m in Minnesota

Filed under:
  • Technology
— 3:39 am

 I’ve had an iPhone since last year, and being congenitally without a sense of direction, I’ve found the Google Maps feature particularly useful. After clicking the Maps icon, one click on the “locate me” button would peg the map to my current location. Despite not having a GPS chip, the iPhone would do an admirable job of finding my current location using cellphone towers, WiFi, and some sort of dark magic.

Although this was good, I was really looking forward to using the maps on the new iPhone 3G with true GPS. I brought a new 3G iPhone home last week, gleefully clicked on the Maps and “locate me” buttons, and instantly found myself on a map centered on Wayzata, Minnesota. I’m sure it’s a fine place, but unfortunately, I’m 1300 miles away in Utah.

It seems the “assisted GPS” in the iPhone 3G is getting the wrong kind of assistance. It uses cell towers to locate itself before using GPS, in order to speed up the normally slow GPS satellite lock process. This works for most people, but some of the 3G towers are incorrectly listed. The one near my house, apparently, is listed as just outside of Minneapolis. This “assistance” overrides the GPS chip so I’m completely unable to get an accurate GPS location anywhere near my home.

At first this seemed like an odd defect in my phone, but several other Utah locals, including my wife, have the same problem. In addition to Utah, it looks like there is at least one other glitch in the database: several people in Oregon have iPhones that believe themselves to be in Texas.

As reported elsewhere, turning off 3G solves the problem. If you turn off 3G, then locate yourself on the map, it will correctly lock on. Unfortunately, as soon as I turned 3G back on and opened the map, it did a lightning-fast scroll across the country and brought me back to Wayzata, MN.

Several of our friends say that resetting or restoring their phones solved the problem, but that hasn’t worked for us. I think it occasionally works because the phone reaches a different tower, or a non-3G signal, after resetting.

I’m sure this can easily be fixed with a software update, but in the meantime, I’m not exactly thrilled by the iPhone’s GPS performance. Considering the lack of press, I think it’s a very isolated issue. Is anyone outside of Utah or Oregon having similar troubles?

Update 2008/10/07: As of a few days ago, the problem is fixed. 3G gets me an estimated location quickly everywhere I’ve tried it, and GPS locks in shortly thereafter. This did not coincide with an iPhone update, so I think AT&T fixed something in their network.

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June 27, 2008

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June 26, 2008

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June 20, 2008

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June 19, 2008

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June 18, 2008

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May 9, 2008

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May 6, 2008

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May 4, 2008

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April 7, 2008

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March 28, 2008

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(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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