As the rest of the world starts to wake up to the events in Egypt, I suspect many services will have difficulty handling the load.

The google’s automatic translation that is built into Chrome is really, really slick. However, it seems to be having problems handling the Arabic to English translation duties this morning:

On the evening of January 27, 2011, the government of Egypt stopped the majority of internet traffic going in or out of the country. Eighty million people were suddenly disconnected from the rest of the world. This was in an attempt to prevent the planned protests of the Egyptian people on January 28th to force a change in their government.

This is a visualization of the internet disruption:

Just two days prior to this event, it was reported that the US Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is attempting to pass a bill that would allow the US government to have similar powers to turn off internet access if needed. Essentially, this bill would allow the government to “turn off” the internet without judicial review. The events in Egypt should prevent this bill from passing.

First, the rulers of Egypt have proven that a government will abuse the “internet kill switch” for its own selfish causes. Likewise, arguments can now be made that the ability to stop internet communications is in conflict with the freedoms of speech and of the press as documented in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

More practically, however, just imagine what the financial devastation will be to companies that have all of their online presence located in Egypt. Who would ever place a web site or database on a server in Egypt now? Imagine how it would affect all the server farms and internet access providers if the US government had the ability to turn off the country’s internet access. Why would an international company risk placing servers in a country whose government could instantly disrupt internet access without limits?

The events in Egypt over the last 24 hours should show why a government’s power over an “internet kill switch” is such a horrible idea.


iPhone 4.1 iOS Update Features

September 8th, 2010

Apple has released the latest operating system update for the iPhone today. Here is a run down of all the new features:

AT&T Sad Puppy Coverage

July 18th, 2010

The voice coverage for AT&T is awful. I often have “No Service” around my house. I decided to see what the predicted coverage was on their official coverage map. I’m in their “best” zone. Sigh.

I was inspired to create the following “AT&T Sad Puppy Coverage” image.

ATT sad puppy coverage

Apple’s iPhone 4 has an interesting antenna problem. However, if you hate AT&T, it may be a blessing in disquise.

Multiple people are reporting that when held a certain way the phone loses cell reception. Anandtech’s research establishes that this is a real phenomena.

Apple states that it’s more of a visible perception problem. They believe the current display visually magnifies what is actually only a small effect that is common to all cellular phones. What is true and what is Apple propoganda is not yet obvious. What is interesting is in Apple’s press release about the issue:

As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

Why is this interesting? Bloomberg is now reporting that Verizon will offer the iPhone in January.

So now you early iPhone 4 adopters have a get-out-of-AT&T for free card…

Return your iPhone now. Let your old AT&T contract expire. Buy the new Verizon AT&T in January.

The iPhone may still have an antenna problem, but at least you will not be limited by AT&T’s poor service.

Field Test Mode on iPhone 4

June 25th, 2010

All the prior verisons of the iPhone had a diagnostic mode used for testing the cellular connection and such.

The previous code was the following: *3001#12345#*

When you try to dial this number, nothing happens. The phone doesn’t drop into Field Test Mode or respond.

Where is the Field Test Mode on iPhone 4?

Interesting enough, if you call the number without the asterisk you do get a response.

If you call *3001#12345# you wil get the following message:

USSD Test response. Hi!

iphone 4 test mode

iOS4 will install and run on 3G quite well. However, with the older hardware several new features had to be disabled.

Here are a list of disabled features in iOS4 for 3G:

1. Background/Wallpaper Images – In iOS4 the icons are rendered with shadows to help them standout from the background. This additional processing slows down the 3G hardware. Old jailbreak options for changing the background/wallpaper images do not render this shadow and therefore are more friendly to older hardware. By jailbreaking iOS4 enabling this feature is possible but the device is less snappy.

2. Multitasking – One of the reasons that Apple has waited so long to release multitasking is that it is an obvious resource strain. The 3G hardware is pushed too hard by multitasking and is therefore disabled. Once again this is possible through jailbreak but your device performance and battery life is be highly effected.

3. Bluetooth – The old 3G hardware only supported Bluetooth 2.0. With the 3GS hardware, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR was included. The more efficient pairing mechanisms and power use of 2.1 allowed it to be mobile-friendly enough to be enabled in the 3GS and iPhone 4 hardware.

4. Hardware Encryption – This hardware feature supposedly provides additional data protection to sensitive data such as emails. This hardware was not available in the 3G device and thus is disabled.

png corruption aperture 3

I’m a big fan of the aperture programs, but this is a really nasty bug. Sometimes aperture 3 corrupts PNG files upon importing. If you frequently delete your originals after importing into aperture, you are at high risk of losing your data forever.

My png files that were corrupted were originally created by Photoshop and as the picture shows are accurately viewed in OS X Preview.

This bug has been reported since February.

Here’s an example image that imports incorrectly — original png

Flash has failed.

Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) was introduced to the world in 1996.  This is the multimedia platform that brought browser based gaming and video to their current massive popularity.  It’s hard to imagine that YouTube would have exploded without the ubiquity of Flash.  Curiously, YouTube was also one of the first betrayers.

In 2007 YouTube started converting videos to Apple’s preferred H.264 format and distanced itself away from the Flash encoder.  Ironically, this was made possible by Adobe’s acceptance of h.264 codec in flash.  YouTube started using the new format so that Apple could more efficiently use the videos on its AppleTV and soon to be released iPhone devices. 

The only thing that could have forced Apple to accept flash was video.  Now with YouTube available in an alternative format, Apple could boldly strike the first blow against Flash.  The iPhone could be released without Flash.  Apple’s attack on Adobe was clear.

Today, with the release of the iPad, Apple strikes another mortal blow to the Flash platform.  The iPad is the logical conclusion to the success of the iPhone.  People enjoy the applications and video features of the iPhone so much that Apple has designed a device just for those purposes.  It’s a giant iPhone without the phone, and size is important.

The large format of the iPad allows of easy viewing of video content.  Netflix, ESPN, and ABC will have apps to view their content on the iPad.  Many news web sites such as CNN are adopting non-Flash methods for video delivery such as HTML5. Flash’s dominance in the video market is dying.

Apple has repeated stated that they dislike Flash because it is inefficient and insecure.  Most computer experts would agree with these points.  Since its beginnings, Flash has had this reputation.  Apple’s real concern with Flash, however, is just as obvious.  Flash is a multimedia platform that could distribute powerful applications for mobile devices without using Apple’s application service.  If allowed, users could use Flash applications through the browser instead of purchasing similar applications through the Apple app store.  Web based applications, such as those built by Flash, are the only real competition to the applications available through the app store. 

Apple uses unique, brilliant hardware to capture entire markets.  The iPod captured the music market.  The iPhone/iPad devices will capture the mobile application market.

The next logical step is to take control of Internet based delivery of all video.  Why pay your cable company when you can get all of your audio and video content from Apple?  A redesigned AppleTV could be Apple’s next weapon?

Will Apple attack the cable companies like they have attacked Flash?

Stay tuned.