Goodbye Steve

Thank you for a hell of a ride. The World won’t be the same without you.

 

 

Apple releases iPhone 4S, World cries in pain!



I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror… I feared something terrible has happened. I launched my browser to find out that it were just Apple fan boys crying hysterically about the new iPhone 4S. The bitching started yesterday and is yet to end…

So Apple released the new iPhone 5 iPhones 4S and it doesn’t make popcorn, but hey, you can still be a happy camper and send a postcard to your granny! Or you can talk to it on those lonely nights!

Now, now, enough of this poison, let’s get constructive. Apple releases a new smartphone, a great smartphone but since it doesn’t live up to the ridiculous rumor mill the Internet has been feeding, most of the fan boys go on a tantrum… most of them, because others go the opposite way and start saying that the new iPhone 4S is the pinnacle of innovation and this is where I stop them with a shovel to the face!

The iPhone 4S is an awesome piece of engineering, it builds on the last model, upgrading it to what might be considered the standards, the problem is, that those standards this time were not set by Apple, but by other companies like Google and Samsung. Yes whining fan boy, the Android folk stole your spotlight. There’s not a single piece of innovation on this model, nothing you can’t find on actual Android phones. Wanna bet?

  • Siri – Android has voice commands for a butt load of years, Google voice app comes in every Android phone and it’s even available for iOS. My Samsung Galaxy S II even comes with an extra layer, powered by Vlingo, which, by the way, has an app for most smartphones available including your old iPhone 4 🙂 Is it good? I don’t know, I don’t speak to my phone… and I bet you won’t either.
  • Dual Core CPU – Check…
  • 1080p video / 8Mpx Cam – Check and Check… Oh and a 2Mpx front cam 😀
  • Notification system – Really? Are you going there? Android has a notification system like, since… always. Copied by Apple byw.
  • Reminders – Yippeee! A Todo app included in the OS! Thanks Apple for screwing the life of the 100000 developers who have todo apps in the App Store! Oh, yeah, Android has them too. A dime a dozen!
  • FindMyFriend – Oh come on! This one is plain dirty! Gowalla and Foursquare are two of the most popular apps in the iOS ecosystem, developed for iOS from day one. And Apple does what? Stabs them in the back and include a location app in the OS! Great move Apple, competing with the devs that made your OS popular! And yes… Android has them too… and Google Latitude.
  • Twitter integration – That one is cool! Let me know when all the apps on your phone integrate with the OS…
  • iTunes in the cloud – Google Music
  • Photo Stream – Picassa Web Albums
  • Documents in the Cloud – Google Docs
Want me to go on? Sorry, I don’t have the time. My advice to the fan boys? Stop bitching and bite the bullet! iPhone 4S is a great phone, the best Apple did so far, but be real about it and stop saying that it’s the best smartphone on the market, because it isn’t.
Apple is now up to the market standards, maybe innovation comes with the iPhone 5, but for now, enjoy the upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Bye bye iOS, Hello Android

Yes, I’ve gone Android.

For those who know me that might come as a shock. I’m a big Apple fan, I have a Mac since 2007 and never thought of going back to Linux or Windows (until recently with Lion’s release, but those are another 2 cents).

I got an iPhone 3G when they were released in Portugal. The first year using it was awesome, the second was normal, after that Apple turned my phone into a zombie. The last iOS 4 update, 4.2, left my phone crippled, unusable, with most of the new features left out. Still I used it for what I could… email, Twitter, music and a few apps.

Everything else was a bloated and dreadful experience, even the mere act of typing something in the keyboard was a torture, it literally froze the keys for a few seconds. My 3G became a pale shadow of the awesome phone it once was.

I needed a new device, it didn’t have to be a phone, I could perfectly live my daily digital life with a tablet, email, Facebook, Twitter, a good browser, WordPress support and I was set… but there was a problem: I was sick of iOS.

For me, as an iOS user, I got almost no new features for my 3G with iOS 4. So sticking with the same OS for 3 years in a row, can get you pretty tired of it.

I’m up to date on iOS info and rumors. I know what’s new for iOS 5 and I’ve played with a few iPhones 4… and even with all the new bells n’ whistles, I wasn’t buying it. Plus, with a new iPhone 4S or 5 or whatever Apple is going to release in October, it was more of the same.

So, as an Apple fan, I considered buying an iPad, same eco-system but with a few differences here and there, enough to give me something usable and new to explore. I’ve played with a few iPads from friends and co-workers. Hell of a machine. It was on my buy list, until Android crept in…

 

Continue reading “Bye bye iOS, Hello Android”

Security Woes

Crackers are always on the lookout for new chances to access your accounts, either if you’re a private / regular internet user, or a multinational corporation like Sony who recently fell victim to several attacks affecting their flagship console, the PS3, and their Playstation Network.

It began when their PS3 private keys, that sign all data transactions and operations, got public. I won’t digress here, you can find a lot of info on Google, just look for GeoHot / Sony. The latest attack to the PSN has managed a downtime of a week by the time I’m writing this, and only today Sony has come forth with a press release on this issue, as well as a FAQ, saying that all their entire PSN user base got their data compromised, including Credit Card data.

I’m yet to believe that Sony hasn’t released the full extent of the information about the attack, so for now there are three crucial steps that PSN users should follow:

 

  • If you’re using the PSN password in any other service / account, change it. Change it everywhere. You are probably using the same email address you used on the compromised PSN account.
  • Change the password of the email address you used on your PSN account.
  • Change your credit card number, or cancel the card and get a new one. If you can’t do this, be on the lookout for strange credit card transactions and never, ever, release the confirmation code to anyone. Sony states that the cc confirmation code wasn’t stored on their database.

Read the FAQ, they have more info there, but follow these three steps and when the PSN is up again, change your password for something unique, not used on any other account / service and remove your credit card number from the account.

 

Still on Security

With the advent of social networking and connected services, we’ve witnessed a lot of centralized authentication methods. It’s now usual for us to access services that use other site’s accounts to authenticate, like “Login with Facebook” or “Authorize on Twitter”.

This can be very useful because you don’t have to memorize a ton of different passwords but, if you see your Facebook, Twitter or Google account compromised, all those services using “third-party” authentication will be compromised as well… so what to do?

 

  • Use strong passwords. Having a password like your birthday date is not secure. Having your pet name, girlfriend, mom, dad, favorite actor is not secure. Any dictionary word is not secure. Use random stuff with numbers, signs, uppercase and lower case, like “1M4ecur3!?”
  • Use a password manager like 1Password for Mac or Keepass Password Safe for PC. Not only you’ll have an encrypted and organized password safe, but these apps can also generate random passwords.
  • Use HTTPS always when possible. This will encrypt your traffic to these sites. Twitter, Google, Facebook, all of them have HTTPS options, you just have to go to your account settings and turn it on. Facebook can even warn you by email and SMS when other devices accesses your account. Google has a 2 Step Authorization process for your account, using verification codes and an app for your mobile device that works like a token, giving you real-time generated verification codes.
  • Don’t use free Wi-Fi. Sure, it’s cool to use a free hotspot, but you never know who’s listening. People using free Wi-Fi are exposed to virus and password sniffing. This can happen in your neighbors unprotected Wi-Fi or even your school’s network.
  • The usual crap: use a secure OS. Mac OS X and Linux are secure by nature. If you must use Windows, turn on the system’s firewall and get another one, as well as an AntiVirus. Be sure that they’re always updated.
  • Don’t trust your passwords to anyone.

Remember, even with all these precautions you’re never totally safe.

 

My Mac Died…

… but it’s now back from the grave.

I have a Macbook Pro built in 2008. It was the last “Discrete” model made before the “Unibody” model. Although it’s a great machine, the graphics card was the cursed Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT. Basically, I hade a time bomb inside my Mac, and by Murphy’s law, it should detonate on the worse day possible. Well, it did blow up. On the morning of last monday (27/12) may Mac screen was all garbled up, full of artifacts and no image on my second monitor. Reboot, battery off, resets, nothing worked. Powered up my netbook and surfed the web to find out that the behavior was consistent with the nvidia problem.

A few friends recommended me to take the Mac to Tou Aqui Tou Aí, an Apple Certified Assistance Center in Lisbon, but since I work on the other side of the Tejo, I decided to ask for a pickup at my place. 15 minutes after I pressed the submit button on the form, I received a call from them, scheduling the pickup for the same day. The next day I had the diagnostic confirmed and the hope that I might still be getting my Mac back this year, depending on when they would get a new logic board from Holland.

Yesterday I had the confirmation, by phone, that my Mac was ready and on my way. Today I got my mac, at 10:00, looking like sparkling new (yes, they cleaned it 😀 ) and at zero cost. Even the pickup and delivery was free of charge.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is SERVICE. It’s how every company should work and treat it’s clients.

Obrigado Tou Aqui Tou Aí

LAN IPs on Mail.app Email Headers

Dear Apple,

please explain why is my computer (added to not be mistaken with the router’s IP) LAN IP address showing on the email headers of the mails I send with Mail.app.

Thanks!

Bellow, in red, my computer’s private LAN IP Address. In green my Router’s Public/WAN IP address which is “normal” to be included on most email headers.

Return-Path: <rsaramago@gmail.com>
Received: from ?XX.XX.XX.XX? (pa6-XX-XX-XXX-XXX.netvisao.pt [XX.XX.XXX.XXX])
 by mx.google.com with ESMTPS id 7sm502355eyb.8.2009.11.13.01.07.07
 (version=TLSv1/SSLv3 cipher=RC4-MD5);
 Fri, 13 Nov 2009 01:07:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Teste
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v1077)
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=Apple-Mail-1-623152288
From: Ricardo Saramago <rsaramago@gmail.com>
To: Testy McTest <test@test.pt>
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1077)

Update: I’ve clarified some descriptions above after some user comments, I realized that It wasn’t clear what IPs I was referring to.

It seems that this is common on most email clients, except for Outlook. This “issue” triggered my attention when I was looking into the mail headers from a mail I sent from Mail.app in response to a mail from Outlook and they were indeed different in this aspect.

The client’s computer Local IP address and the Router’s / Firewall / Modem / whatever public IP address are added by the SMTP Server to the Envelop’s “Received” line, which it probably gets from the EHLO.

Still, this isn’t secure as it allows malicious attackers to map a victims network very easy.

Life Saver – Upload iPhone Carrier Settings

If you want to upload modified or standard operator carrier settings to your iPhone, just type this in your terminal:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes carrier-testing -bool TRUE

This way you can upload the settings via iTunes without having to install the previous beta versions that allowed this by default.

Sync iCal and iPhone with Google Calendar

Google launched today Google Sync, a serive that allows you to sync the contacts and calendar in your Google account with your computers and mobile devices.

I wanted to sync my iPhone with my Google Calendar and Contacts, so I adventured myself with Google Sync. It’s not difficult to do it, just follow the instructions here very carefully.

After that, all went well but I wanted two other things working for full bliss: sync all my Google Calendars with my iPhone and my Mac’s iCal. Confused? Well, when I used Google Sync with my iPhone, it only synced my default Google Calendar, I had to access http://m.google.com/sync with my iPhone and specify which callendars I wanted to sync. Easy.

Syncing my Google Calendars with iCal was a little bit more trickyer, but found this article in Google help, that actually did all the work for me. This allows iCal to use CalDAV to access all your Google Calendars. You can configure the settings manually in iCal’s preferences or use Calaboration to automate it.

So, now I have all my Google Mail, Contacts and Calendar synced with my iPhone and Mac 🙂 All this for free. It’s getting hard for Apple to justify a paid MobileMe

Hope this helps!

EventBox – Dreams Come True

I confess that I’m a little addicted to social networking. I often try new social networks and apps but sometimes I wish that there was only one or only one way to use them all. The ones I use the most are Twitter, Flickr, Jaiku, Digg and the usual gazillion RSS feeds if you can count them as social networking tools.

One of the blogs I follow about Mac applications is UsingMac and in today’s “daily fix” of posts I came across EventBox.

EventBox is like a dream come true for me. It gathers 7 of the most used social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, Pownce, Reddit and last but not least RSS aggregation all in one application.

The interface is bliss and pure integration with Leopard. Still in Beta, EventBox features high quality features for each social network service you use, like public and private replying in Twitter, section filtering on Digg, multiple file uploading on Flickr and everything gets to use Growl for notifications.

While very good, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in EventBox. A wide preview pane for RSS to better use widescreen space would be welcome as well as adding more social networks to the list like Jaiku. Adding search, groups and user profile information options in Twitter like Tweetdeck has would be very useful as well. EventBox is not free though, it costs $20 which is not much, specially when you can optimize your usage of social networks, getting rid of 5 or 6 different apps or browser tabs.

Recommended!