Technology


Calling Bullshit on Meridith Valiando's 1000 Emails a Day

Meridith Valiando's 1000 Emails a DayI've been watching a lot of playoff hockey lately, and that means I've seen the Meridith Valiando DigiTour Blackberry Bold ad about one million times.

Of course, I haven't seen it a million times. I'm exaggerating. And that must be what Meridith Valiando is doing in the ad. She claims she's replying to 1000 emails a day on her Blackberry.

I'm calling bullshit on that claim. She's not writing 1000 emails a day on her phone. Do the math...

And here's a fun fact about social media ninja Meridith Valiando courtesy of Down Goes Brown. She only has about 400 followers on Twitter. Okay, I just checked... the one million times her Blackberry ad has aired has got her to 621 followers, but it's still incredibly underwhelming considering her claims.

Oh... and that voice saying "Be Bold" at the end? That's definitely Lt. Cedric Daniels from The Wire.

And finally, let me just say my move from Blackberry to the Samsung Galaxy S II running Android has been fantastic. It's as if a light's been turned on and I've been given the gift of true mobility. But then again, I'm not writing 1000 emails a day.

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Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook and Me

Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook and MeToday was an interesting day. It began with the full release of Ubuntu 12.04 which I installed on my desktop. Then, the XPS 13 arrived from Dell.

I didn't pay for the XPS 13. Dell just gave it to me, so I'm going to review it and compare it to my work-issued MacBook. They sure look similar.

If you're still with me, you should probably read Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux, something I wrote last month. You'll see there that I spend the bulk of my day working on the Ubuntu desktop. When I need to be mobile, or when I need Photoshop, I'm on the MacBook. I have a bulky old Windows laptop for when I absolutely need Windows and when my kids want to play Windows-only games. Otherwise, I avoid that Acer like the plague.

But here I am with a shiny new XPS 13. It's super thin.

Here's the XPS 13 unboxed. It's really thin. #XPS13

Because it looks an awful lot like my MacBook, the first thing I did was compare the thickness, weight and size. The Mac is a little bigger, a little heavier and a little thicker. Oh, and more expensive.

2012-04-26 15.06.08.jpg

2012-04-26 15.41.29.jpg

So far I've simply pugged her in, set up my Windows profile and downloaded Chrome. It's fast, and super thin and light (did I mention how thin it is?), but I'll need some time with it to see how it compares to the other machines lying around.

This will be fun... Is anyone else using the XPS 13 yet?

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Something Microsoft Hasn't Screwed Up Yet

skypeI always naturally gravitate away from Microsoft applications. I'm writing this entry on a desktop running Ubuntu, I edit .docx files in LibreOffice and I haven't used IE in about a decade. But there is one Microsoft software application I do use daily, and I think it's great.

Admittedly, I was late to the Skype party. I've only been using it for about six months, but it's a key part of my working day. Skype works great in Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, as well as my Android phone. I just got off a Skype call with a gentleman in Germany and it was as clear as a bell, and absolutely free of charge. I love Skype, and Skype is owned by Microsoft.

skyp

Skype was only acquired by Microsoft in 2011, so there's plenty of time for them to mess with a good thing, but so far they haven't. But when I can make a clear and reliable Skype call to my buddy Frank in California without paying a dime, and Rogers wants 40¢ a minute to make the call from my phone, the choice isn't really a choice at all.

Skype wins. Do you use it?

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Did You Own R.O.B. for the NES?

nesWe had the old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System growing up. We didn't have R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), however.

As you'll see from this NES ad, initial marketing efforts put a lot of focus on R.O.B., the robot you play with.

Despite loving my NES, I barely remember R.O.B. It seems Nintendo only ever released two games that you could play with R.O.B.: Gyromite and Stack-Up.

474px-NES-ROB

Did anyone actually own R.O.B.?

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Has Google+ Ruined Google?

googleFormer Google engineer James Whittaker as written an interesting blog entry about why he left Google to return to Microsoft.

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Under Eric Schmidt ads were always in the background. Google was run like an innovation factory, empowering employees to be entrepreneurial through founder’s awards, peer bonuses and 20% time. Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create. Forums like App Engine, Google Labs and open source served as staging grounds for our inventions. The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us. Maybe the engineers who actually worked on ads felt it, but the rest of us were convinced that Google was a technology company first and foremost; a company that hired smart people and placed a big bet on their ability to innovate.

Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.

Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed. Google Labs was shut down. App Engine fees were raised. APIs that had been free for years were deprecated or provided for a fee. As the trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled, derisive talk of the “old Google” and its feeble attempts at competing with Facebook surfaced to justify a “new Google” that promised “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

So there you have it. According to James Whittaker, Google+ has ruined Google.

And yes, I still visit Google+ every day, but none of you are there. I enjoy the updates of exactly 4 people. It's a shame Google had to lose its way for such little traction.

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iPhone vs. Android vs. Blackberry

phoneOn the heels of our great discussion about computer operating systems, I want to know what OS is running on your smart phone. I have a Samsung Galaxy S II running Android. I've had it for about six months after years of using a Blackberry.

I love my Android, but I know people who literally make out with their iPhones. I've never made out with my Android.

android-vs-apple-vs-blackberry

Which smart phone do you own? You can let me know in the comments if it was forced on you by work or whether you chose it voluntarily. I'm very interested to know if anyone is using a Windows phone voluntarily... I've yet to see one in the wild.

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Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux

mouseI have a work-issued MacBook Pro running OS X, a laptop running Windows 7 and a desktop running Ubuntu 11.10. That makes me lucky enough to have the big three operating systems at my fingertips.

platforms

I work from home, and the bulk of my work is done on the Ubuntu Linux desktop. Here's a breakdown as to how I use these three machines.

Ubuntu 11.10

  • Primary computer for work and play
  • Where I listen to music, podcasts, update this blog and make a living
  • My preferred OS

Mac OS X

  • When I'm not at my desk, I go mobile with the MacBook Pro
  • When I need Photoshop or to attend a GoToMeeting session, I return to the Mac
  • It feels solid, looks great and is pretty fast, but I haven't yet fallen in love with this OS

Windows 7

  • My son loves this laptop, because he can play his Windows-only games on it
  • Otherwise, Windows bugs me...

I'm very curious as to which OS you use at home and work, and which is your preference. Windows, Mac or Linux?

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How Google Stole My Daughter's Gmail Account

googleMy kids have had their own Gmail addresses since they were about five years old. I set them up with accounts, added family and close friends to their contact list, and showed them how to communicate with Grandma, their uncles, etc. There's nothing cooler than getting an email from your five year old chock full of heart and rainbow icons.

My son has had his account for five years now, and it's full of history. I'll share YouTube clips with them, pictures, messages. It's a great digital archive of his early years, and he can keep that address forever.

Things haven't gone as smoothly for my daughter. At some point, Google prompted her to enter her birth date. She was born in 2004, and disclosed that to Google. Immediately, Google locked her out of her account. Apparently, you can't have a Gmail account unless you're at least 13 years old.

What irks me is that the account was suspended immediately. There was no opportunity to back-up emails. It was an instant "you're too young - sorry" and all was lost.

Michelle has a new Gmail account, and I've instructed her and James to never disclose their age to Google. They love having their own email account and using Google Chat and it's easy for me to monitor everything to ensure they're using it appropriately.

Google themselves seem to promote the idea of Gmail as a means of capturing a child's history, but in reality, they'll terminate such an account without warning.

Mamas, don't let your babies disclose their birth year to Google.

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Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11 (SOPA With a Canadian Eh)

canadaWe might have won the battle against SOPA, but we in Canada have another fight on our hands. It's called the Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11 and it's an awful lot like SOPA and the DMCA. Bill C-11 is currently under review in Canada’s House of Commons.

Why should we be concerned about Bill C-11? Just ask Michael Geist.

Citing a document that appears to be a set of proposed amendments to the legislation from a music-industry representative, Geist makes the case that the same lobbying groups that backed SOPA are laying the groundwork for SOPA-like rules in Bill C-11.

“While SOPA may be dead (for now) in the U.S.,” Geist writes, “Lobby groups are likely to intensify their efforts to export SOPA-like rules to other countries. With Bill C-11 back on the legislative agenda at the end of the month, Canada will be a prime target for SOPA style rules.”

In particular, Geist says the idea of blocking sites from the Internet — or at least the Internet in Canada — is on the list of proposals. The note, dated March 1, 2011, suggests that the bill should “permit a court to make an order blocking a pirate site such as The Pirate Bay to protect the Canadian marketplace from foreign pirate sites.”

Besides that, the proposals would incentivize Internet service providers to terminate users who infringe copyrights more than once. Geist points out that there’s no mention of due process or what sort of proof would be required. Also under consideration is an “enabler” provision, which would target sites that aren’t necessarily pirate havens, but are primarily used for piracy.

If you like the idea of the internet as a police state, then don't complain to your MP. If you embrace the internet as the last truly free market, send a letter to Ottawa to stop Bill C-11.

Seriously. Do it now. Click that link and send a letter in less than 2 minutes.

I believe it is in the best interest of Canadian consumers and creators alike to amend Bill C-11 to clearly link the act of circumvention to infringement, remove the all-encompassing ban on circumvention tools and to establish a new TPM labelling provision.

Sincerely,

Mike

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Leaving My Blackberry Behind (Or How I learnt to Leave BBM and Love the Web)

phoneMcNulty is a regular commenter on this blog, and I think he's been participating for at least five years now. McNulty once lent me his DVD collection of The Wire, earning him a special place in my heart for all eternity.

On McNulty's blog, he wrote an entry on why he stopped using his Blackberry.

Then the internet was on the phones. I realised that surfing the internet on my Blackberry was slow and pathetic. I grew tired of it pretty quick and I didn’t even bother. It was weak and sad. I saw a friend with an iPhone viewing YouTube videos and surfing the internet and my Blackberry seemed like that old Nokia flip phone that I gave to the boys to smash in the street. As time went on and I learned about apps and other benefits of the iPhone, I began to hate my Blackberry.

Like McNulty, I loved my Blackberry four years ago, but in 2011 it seemed more than a step behind. iPhone and Android phone users were doing all this cool stuff like watching YouTube videos, and using cool apps and surfing the web without delay or issue. Those smart phones seemed a great deal smarter than my Blackberry.

Three months ago, I switched to a Samsung Galaxy S II. I missed BBM for about six hours, then moved on to enjoy a phone that never needed its battery removed to reboot it, accessed the web like a speedy tablet, and had great mission-critical apps like Skype that truly made it a smart phone. I understand iPhone users feel the same way.

I'll leave the last word to McNulty.

I will make one final comparison. If you liked a local restaurant and served great food and the service was great, you would keep going back to that restaurant. However, if the food became a little dull, the service was weak you make question returning. And then a new place opened up that was a little further but the food was better, they gave you more for your money and the service was fantastic. Where would you eat? Keep going to the place that gave sub-par food and service or the new place that wanted your business and made great food?

I've left Blackberry behind and don't miss it in the least. Are there any other former Blackberry users out there with a story to tell? Any regrets?

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