THIS is specifics – Listen up Apple! – Original Post November 13, 2009

Rogue Amoeba (great products BTW) really puts forth the specifics. And gets closer to what is going on in the review process at the app store. Read their pain over here.

All these complaints (they aren’t the only ones that have seen horrid inconsistencies and nonsense) are the sorts of things that happen when scaling breaks, and breaks hard. You hire a bucket of people to get the glut moving on approvals, but many of them really aren’t sure as to the purpose or strategy of it, so they stick to the letter of the law regardless of the sensibility so they don’t lose their jobs, and hammer out procedure blindly.

The idea that it is a public API that they are using to get these images is the crux of it. Even with a knowledgeable employee going to bat, the procedure over-ruled the spirit of the policy, and the denial flew out of Apple’s walls. It should be painfully obvious to anyone with a quarter clue about Apple software development that Rogue Amoeba are doing the exactly right thing, for the right reasons, and giving the best experience with the tools openly provided by Apple.

This should have been approved. If you’re an app dev, retweet this. Blog about it. Make it obvious. Apple has been listening and changing policy and procedure, as well as reversing a number of blatant rejection mistakes when it gets loud enough. This item shows a flaw in the process that is pretty core to the experience, and Apple has actually degraded user experience with this errantly-enforced policy. Anybody that deals with Apple products knows this isn’t the outcome or user experience they want. It’s obvious Rogue Amoeba is doing it right, and the approval process is seriously broken with a very specific case to illustrate it. This can be fixed. All the facts and details are in the article.

C’mon Apple. Fix this nonsense. To the app devs that are feeling these pains, make it this specific. Make it clear the principles at stake and what you did to try to explain it to the reviewers. Then publish it and get people talking about it. We can get them to fix this mess. They want to, at some level, and getting the information put together clearly for them is the first step. Getting a lot of the other devs to crank the volume by engaging the discussion is the next step.

Losing this caliber of developer on the platform hurts the platform Apple. These are the guys that are leads on the Mac, and should be listened to on the iPhone long before the rest of us.

Apple store review… no details? – Original Post November 11, 2009

This seems to be getting a lot of play today: Facebook iPhone app developer hands it off and goes on to other projects: At TechCrunch

The thing that seems to be completely missing is what he finds so objectionable. There’s a quick jab that he’s opposed to the very existence of the review process. So it’s political/philosophical? I suppose his work at Facebook and how it reflects on that company isn’t reviewed by anyone and he’s totally free and unfettered to produce the good, the bad and the ugly as he sees fit?

There’s a lot of things wrong with Apple’s review process, but compared to my experience with Palm and Blackberry, there’s a whole lot less crap coming out on the platform in comparison. I can’t prove that’s credit to the app store, but I suspect there’s a chunk of credit due there. There’s a lot of issues with it as well in rejections from Apple on overlapping or confusing interface and conflict with built-in applications. I think the difference is that Apple is trying, and succeeding to varying degrees, to provide a more consistent level of experience with the platform. That’s bringing a lot of pros and cons to what we can and can’t do as developers on the platform, and there is a big obfuscated review system inbetween the devs and the customers. It’s different, and it’s far from perfect, but I think there’s benefits there worth pursuing and working to improve with Apple.

Now, if you could put together competing app stores, that would be quite interesting as well. I wouldn’t mind some competition on that side. On the opposing view, the worm that’s trashing up iPhones in Australia is on jailbroken iPhones running applications put out by devs that are very competent, but they aren’t reviewed and they aren’t within the confines of Apple’s restrictions and systems. I think that’s an indicator that there is some end-user benefit to the way Apple is doing this. And keep in mind, as developers, that’s who we are here for. The Users. Not ourselves and our own political agendas.

I really like the Facebook iPhone app. Would have shelled a few bucks out for it was it a paid-for app. I’m sorry to see a talented programmer bail on the platform over Apple’s policies, but he has every right to do so and make his opinion heard. I just wish it had a bit more meat on it than being opposed to “the very existence of the review process”.

I’m sure that more platforms will put in review processes actually based on the success of Apple, but others will not. The users will decide with their wallets which one contributes to a more desirable product and platform. I’m pretty sure we’ll have both models for a long time to come.

Let’s Kill the OS Upgrade Disc – Sure, but with a SUBSCRIPTION? – Original Post November 11, 2009

Let’s Kill the OS Upgrade Disc – CBS News: “

Not having an upgrade disc is what the Mac OS X series has had from the start. Even Snow Leopard is that way despite the fact you are supposed to be on Leopard to pay the upgrade reduced price rather than full box set price. Snow Leopard is a bit of an outlier at any rate.

But this guy is saying just put in a subscription. Apparently he didn’t hear the corporations that paid just such a subscription to Microsoft and got nothing for it screaming for blood a few years back. And again was not listening too closely when that fee gave them Vista and broke rather sizeable chunks of their software and IT processes.

No way. If Mac offered a subscription for OS upgrades, even then I would say only maybe because sometimes old software you need breaks and you can’t upgrade until it’s ready to go. And until it’s ready, I’ll keep my money. With Windows, it seems you pay to break the majority of your software for home users, being games and fun bits that aren’t always written so well or on enduring APIs.

Applications, on the other hand, I’m all for his approach. In-app upgrades, fully downloadable. Of course, most of the solid apps do that already. At least on the Mac. Sorry, but I’m still amused at the catch-up. People seem to think the Mac is fan boy base and not capability. I got onto this platform after running Windows, Unix and Linux as my primaries for many years. I went to it because it works, and it’s higher quality. Losing some software options was outweighed by having this sort of capability and maturity already there for the past half decade. And it keeps getting better. I’m not turning the clock back. It’s just good to see another platform, especially the dominant one, trying to at least start to move forward at last.

Now about that WinFS thing…….. 😉

How do you upgrade and lose your compatibility? Windows 7 Home premium. – original post November 10, 2009

I’m at a loss on this one. I run XP (fully licensed) on my Parallels machine on my Mac. Usually to test the worlds worst browser family of IE, but occasionally to run a few dev environments for microcontrollers (ColdFire) that don’t like mac, and are a pain to install on Linux.

So, I’d like to get and stay familiar with Windows once in a while, and I figured, let’s look at 7 as it sounds like it’s not the complete loss Vista was. There’s even some decent reviews lurking about on it.

To upgrade my XP to Windows 7, I can’t just upgrade to “Home Premium” from XP, or I lose the XP productivity compatibility mode…. which I think is XP compatibility but it’s not like Microsoft bothered to write up a “what is this” page on that little line item feature. I need to upgrade to professional or ultimate. Just for being able to work with an OS that I’m upgrading from. Huh?

Then I look at the prices, and to get the stuff that the Mac OS X has come with for a couple of versions now (you choose the language to work in or multiple languages, file, directory and disk encryption built-in, automatic backup, create local networks easily and quickly, work with the previous version of OS ( or in Macs case anything since about 10.2 usually still works, althouth the powerPC binaries are starting to fall away), I wind up paying about $300 for the priviledge. I think I’ve usually paid $119 for a single Mac OS X copy, or $179 for a family pack (5 computers in a household).

Sorry, but the value as a primary OS simply isn’t there in comparison, and as an occasional OS for keeping my toe in Windows, it most CERTAINLY isn’t there.

It’s cheaper to buy a fricking PC with a license on it and then sell the PC without an OS on it, but that’s probably against some obscure terms and conditions of the license agreement.

They keep bragging about how Windows 7 is trouncing the Vista early adopter numbers. It’s not hard to beat single digits, especially when you’re killed support on the last decent OS you put out 7 years ago.

Easier to buy a PC, clone it into a VM with Parallels and wipe the drive clean and install Linux on the POS. What a ridiculous licensing gong show. You know it costs a small fraction to get it on a new PC, but try to just buy the OS and you’re going to pay dearly for not landfilling another computer.

Windows. Microsoft. Still feels like 1995 to me when I deal with them.

WordPress hole – number of big blogs hit – original post September 6, 2009

Well, it looks like anything with less than a 2.8.4 version of WordPress got itself busted up if it was a searched target. That’s not overly huge news. The latest version that has been out for a while (August 12, 2009 according to the WP blog over here.

Not news until one of the “big names” on the blogger lists decides to blame WordPress for him being quite careless about his blog. Honestly I think at this point you’ve got to take Robert Scoble’s musings with a larger grain of salt. Perhaps it’s “Do as I say, not as I do.” I don’t read the guy regularly as he gained notoriety as a blogger from within Microsoft, and since he’s left, he seems more like a CNet blowhard, more inflammatory adjectives than substance. Probably why his post is getting so much attention. Yes, even from me. I’m making a bigger point than him needing to blame software for his poor system administration practices.

Scoble is a writer. First and foremost. The guys’ knowledge and experience probably lend him to a lot of advisory and strategic roles at Rackspace, but basically, his core value since he was an evangelist in the Redmond juggernaut is writing. Blogging. It’s his bread and butter.

Not keeping his software even remotely up to date (2.7.x) and having no backup says he really doesn’t value his work or his paycheque. That’s up there with a software developer not backing up his code, and not having version control, or any other historic copy or archive of many thousands of hours of work.

Robert Scoble is building an online social community or some such thing at Rackspace. This is now an evangelist for the cloud, and for online web properties and public participation (Web 2.0 if you still tolerate that moniker) systems. The example he sets is that it’s not important to protect the data. It’s all good. Software is perfect. Happy days and butterflys flitting through the pastures. And now he’s probably done a nice bit of damage to his own properties and to online computing. At least he’s serving as an example.

There’s no shortage of WP advice on securing, backing up and protecting your blog. JCS Hosting (yes, I’m less masochistic than Scoble on this. I’ve done sysadmin many times before, and I know to do it right, you better be adding value. Managing a single or few WordPress blogs is *not* adding value. Leave it to the experts) has it all set up nicely, and you can add WordPress plugins very easily. The system at JCS notifies me via email as soon as any of the software is out of date, letting me know I should update it ASAP.

I was getting the emails on 2.8.4 for a few weeks before I bothered clicking a single link (after backing the content up) to update the software. It’s hard to get easier than that unless you have a sysadmin doing it for you. Seems Robert Scoble had neither, as he’s his own sysadmin, and he wasn’t doing his job.

Software has bugs. Even with the excellent internal practices and courses Microsoft has in their campus classrooms, and even with all the research and people digging in looking for flaws, there’s always a few more it seems. Thinking WordPress was secure was pure naivety on Scoble’s part, and he most definitely should know better.

These blogs of mine are not core properties. But I do care about my time, and if I ever get enough readers to start leaving comments, I will value those all the more (those that Akismet doesn’t kill off first of course 😉 ). Each post, mine or others, equates to time. One of our most precious resources. They are worth of protection, and respect. The more people involved in your blog, the more value is being contributed and accrued, to say nothing of the content’s value to others.

There’s a plugin for WordPress that will email you a backup of either the content (postings and comments) or the whole database regularly from the site. Automatic staged backups. Add in a personal backup for your laptop or desktop (and with all the automated solutions, there’s no excuse not to have one of those either, at least onsite, if not offsite automated) and you have solidly protected your property and the value it represents. You are caring about the readers and posters’ time committed to your site.

Robert Scoble, and many, many others are probably doing a much better job now (RS notes he’s doing backups and locked it down), but the point is you need to consider the value of what you create as you’re creating it, not after somebody takes and puts graffiti all over it. Balance the risk. More value should equal bigger protection. Try and come up with the post you would write explaining how you lost all the posts your users contributed to your site due to negligence on your part and you should have a very clear idea of just how valuable it is and how much protection it requires.

Windows 7 upgrade path – Are you kidding me? Really? – original post August 8, 2009

‘Dumb’ Windows 7 upgrade chart sparks spat

This looks like it will push a few more into Apple’s arms. I mean, who came up with that? Rather than prettying up the desktop and making cooler startup sounds and graphic effects, maybe some care should have been taken around the upgrade and migration process?

One item of note, the “new PC” argument. There’s a big difference there too. Apple has a migration assistant. You put your old machine on the network, plug in the new Mac, and tell it during your setup to migrate over your apps, data, users, etc. Then you head out to a movie for a few hours and let it work.

Last time I did a Windows upgrade (which was thankfully a LONG while ago) there was no such feature. There’s a few enterprise tools in the Microsoft regime, but that’s for those wacky system administrators to deal with. There’s even (as usual) a third-party tool or two to help you for an added fee.

I just don’t get why the team at Redmond continues to treat their users with utter contempt, thinking that a computer user in the 21st century is going to putter around and fiddling with things like they did in the 80s and 90s. People who use computers now are not technology enthusiasts. They are not tinkerers from the dawn of personal computing. They are not a developer or computer professional. It’s our job as developers to help them out, not create a “clean install” full-day attended experience followed by reinstalling all the software onto the computer from original installation files rather than copying them across and (maybe) re-entering the license key.

I’ll chalk it up to (another) part of the Windows Experience I don’t miss in the least. I’ve got a lot of other things to do with a day of time. Fortunately, when Snow Leopard ships this fall, the computer will do the bulk of the work and let me go do those things with my kids.

Sorry, what was that 2B for again???? – original post August 2, 2009

So, in the realm of value and buyer beware, it seems that eBay might have had some lawyers that didn’t remember to put their reading glasses on. This story over at tweaktown.com would imply that 2B was the value (well, 1.7B now after a write-down) of a network minus a central piece of the technology.

Sorry, but if you’re paying that much, you get a perpetual license to it at a reasonable rate adjusted for inflation or valuation or the like. You don’t put that much money on the table and have that sort of escape clause.

Now regardles of what the gents at joltid may or may not have the rights to do, swinging that sort of deal on that much cash, which being possibly legally legit, is a very crooked, fly-by-night way of doing business. Pulling such a license from eBay after taking the money on the deal would put these guys in one of the least trustworthy tiers of businessmen on the planet in my books. That is, essentially, ripping their customer (eBay in this case) off.

I really hope there’s a misunderstanding in here and that this is a rumour or hiccup in the business relationship that got heard and blown out of whack. I hope that both sides are being honourable and honest in the dealings, and fair.

But that lawyer still needs their prescription checked.

Gruber: Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline — and more – original post July 31, 2009

John Gruber has an interesting commentary on the recent Microsoft results and on a few comments floating around their execs these days. Have a read at ? Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline

In my books, there’s another aspect to this. Microsoft is about cost and profitability. Every company is, but Microsoft is making that associated with their brand. Cost. Race to the bottom. Not usually a game for the faint of heart, and never for an innovator. What happened? I’ve never been a Microsoft fan, but I have had a deep grudging respect for the engineers at Redmond. They have a number of talented, driven, capable developers down there. They do put together good systems, and in the rare cases when the product design is great, you get a great product. It has been happening less often, but that’s just the sliding maturity of the Redmond Juggernaut.

Now you’re getting a rebranding to “cheaper”. Not a great connotation. “Cheaper” is not the answer to their somewhat vague “Where do you want to go today?”. It is definitely not a good connotation to the enterprise campaign of “People Powered” enterprise computing. Cheaper is, as Gruber notes and is in the consciousness of most North American consumers, Wal*Mart.

Apple has gone for “better”. More capable, secure, easier, and other adjectives, but the brand has been associated to “better” in their strategy. It’s had more expensive bolted to it, but they have queited that enough to be given a thought, and with the iPhone and iPod being copied left right and centre for features and ideas, the consumers easily find the conclusion “better” beside Apple’s name. Everybody is copying them and talking about them.

Microsoft used to be “full featured” or “powerful” or “fully integrated”. Piles of things that let you know this was serious stuff that did anything you needed. Sure, a bit of complexity, but really, you needed that complexity to do the jobs you needed done. And generally, they were right. It fit. Now, competitors, and not just Apple, have chewed into that with simpler, easier solutions that solved most of the things a lot of people needed, and did some parts better or more elegantly. But Microsoft has always been the juggernaut. It WILL be able to do it.

Now it’s just bending to “cheaper”. I’m not a fan of them, but I expect better from them. I expect some vision. I expect capability, prowess, some arrogance. John Gruber is right. They lost the geeks. They lost the consumers in a lot of cases, at least the ones that care as he points out. They aren’t messaging the users anymore. They’re messaging to CIOs, and to people that done do that much with the computer. It’s like an extra TV in the spare room now. Oh yeah, the computer for email and facebook. Yeah, I think it runs Firefox. Windows? Oh I guess so. It must be windows. Is that Firefox? I use Internet Explorer. Is that Windows?

That’s the customer they are targetting. Ouch. I’ll pay the money for the quality and keep the Mac thanks. Maybe they are missing Bill Gates a lot more than Steve Ballmer would like to admit…

(Original thread from Daring Fireball.)

Static IP on Fedora Core 10 – original post July 27, 2009

I’d like to know when in my Linux server hiatus somebody decided to make the Fedora system so “end-user-friendly” that it became a serious pain to configure a server.

I won’t repeat the Network Manager rant here, but if you want to set up a server with a static IP address, start by incanting it out of existence:

chkconfig NetworkManager off

which will at least get you one metric tonne less pain in fighting it.

 

Then, set yourself up manually on the static ip address. The config files still seem to get written correctly with:

system-config-network

and go through that setting your interfaces for the static IP and gateway and netmask as you require. Getting the DNS together while there is also a good idea. 😉 Save and exit

 

Now, from what I’ve seen, that doesn’t do too much. You then need to add a link to the network daemon. If, like any good sysadmin you’re running without a gui, then you add it to the rc3.d directory. If you run a gui on the server, it will be in the rc5.d. Heck, add it in both. For runlevel 3, the symbolic link to create:

ln -s /etc/rc.d/init.d/network /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/S07network

and that will get it to start up and pull in the network configuration you set up. That should get you up and running with a nice static IP on Fedora Core 10. And give you more time to curse the myopia that screwed the system up so much in making it friendly. If you’re going to add automation, you still allow the manual config and automate the manual config. Seems like the network configuration and manager had a serious case of either Not Invented Here or I Don’t Need That So Nobody Else Does Either going on. Extremely aggravating. Even with DHCP the interfaces wouldn’t come up automatically from a stock in stall on Core 9. By the time NetworkManager gets fixed people will be so used to turning if off it will never get the respect or use it may deserve at that point. Very unfortunate.

 

Bottom-up Outsourcing – original post July 27, 2009

I happened upon this little tidbit on my blog backlog. The unconventional James Governor taking a whack at outsourcing as done from the trenches: James Governor’s Monkchips’ Give Every Developer a $5k Outsourcing Budget

Some of my past compatriots may recall the idea I had worked up that didn’t go quite this grass roots, but was a variation on a theme that might appeal to the slightly more conservative innovators.

The suggestion was that the projects be done to understand an explore outsourcing for the company, and learn to manage and use it down in the people that would be the internal leads. The developers would examine the train of tasks coming through, and the projects they had assigned or that were of value to them (which may be their own projects). They would then propose how to outsource, under their direction and management, a project or component. The collection of these proposals would be collected periodically (or continuously) and assessed for value, risk, and other criteria the company and team may see fit. At that point, the selection would whittle it down to a few and distribute the budget accordingly in the proposals (with possibly a round of refinement if the numbers don’t all add up) and the developers would have both skin in the game, and would stand to gain both valuable management and communication skills and experience, but also would show some of the soft-skill capabilities to the company.

Unfortunately, the corporate and technical leadership at the time figured that big projects and minimal oversight was the way to go, so not only did the staff gain near-zero experience in this global toolset, but the outsourcing also had a number of large failures, little learning, and didn’t bring value to the company in any reasonable time frame. Lessons have been learned since, but I still stand by this approach if you want your team to think of outsourcing as a partnering and supplier-style tool, they need to be involved and committed.

If you’re faced with the opportunity or need, consider a variety of approaches, and also consider strategically how you expect outsourcing to work in your company on a continuing basis, what you need to make that happen as far as your staff skills, and finally what it will take to make that transition start. Delegating into the team the responsibility and control serves a number of needs and strategic goals if you’re serious about adding outsourcing to your tool aresenal.

Currently playing in iTunes: Comfort by Jillian Ann