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Oh, No, Papa Smurf!

You hear stories like this every week:  Kids Foaming At The Mouth For An iPad This Christmas -- The iPhone Is So Awesome, Infants Become Geniuses By Holding One.  What these articles never dive into is the question, are iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, and the like actually good for children?

The children's mobile technology space is an area that I have worked in and followed for over two years, as part of my duties at Kiddix.  Personally I find mobile devices can be an engaging experience for children, and we will continue to see a market explosion for such devices for years to come.  Putting technology into children's hands is a Good Thing, and most of these devices have countless apps and content geared for kids.

The problem with devices like the iPad is the same problem with the PC.  They aren't designed for children, which can lead to usage issues.  I'm not suggesting that children can't use an iPad or have fun with it -- they can, and they will -- but parents need to be aware that they are putting into their children's hands a portal of unmonitored and unfiltered content, housed in an expensive device that won't survive a drop down the stairs.

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Posted: Dec 17, 2010

Keyword tags: iPadiPhoneandroidkidsUXparental controlstablets

Microsoft's User Inexperience Team Strikes Again

Breaking news!  Windows Mobile 7 is here, and it features a User Experience (UX) that is laughable!  Don't ask me, ask my wife, who thought I was joking when I showed her a few pictures of the mobile OS.

Beyond the interface, it appears that the the Windows Phone 7 OS is bloated, but you would never tell reading articles like this one, which praise the triumphs of Windows Phone 7 models for requiring a minimum of a 1GHz, processor.  Sorry buddy, don't trip on your bag of Microsoft PR money on your way out.

Don't get me wrong, my new Android phone (I finally upgraded from my iPhone 2G) has a 1 GHz processor and it's a great experience -- but Android is flexible enough to run on lower end phones, increasing the usability of the OS.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic.  Let's hone in on a few areas where the UX is lacking:

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Posted: Oct 15, 2010

Keyword tags: microsoftwindows mobilewindows phone 7UX

An Open Marketplace Does Not Mean Open Source

I took a journey over to my local AT&T store last week to purchase a new phone for my wife (a Palm Pixi).  While I was there I chatted with the salesman about some of AT&T's new Android offerings -- in particular the Samsung Captivate (a.k.a. Galaxy S).  I have been considering upgrading from my iPhone 2G to the Captivate, as I can't sync an iPhone 4 with any of my computers.

The salesman was very enthusiastic about the Captivate, and we discussed some of the pros and cons of the Android and iOS platforms.  One thing he mentioned was (to paraphrase) "If you are concerned about security you should chose the iPhone 4, since Android is Open Source and less secure".  I didn't say anything at the time, but I hope my weird look registered with him.  I largely ignored this event until yesterday when I watched an online review of the Captivate, where the reviewer incorrectly said that the Android app store was Open Source.

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Posted: Oct 06, 2010

Keyword tags: androidsecurityopen source softwareapp store

What the Lag YouTube?

Am I the only person in the world who is unsatisfied with the major lag while playing YouTube video's this past week?

I started experiencing this problem on September 9th, the same day as the Google Instant launch.  I first assumed the problem was on my end, but found that the problem persisted on different internet connections and across multiple devices.  I shrugged the lag off as a minor issue that would be resolved in a day or two, but over a week later and YouTube still has considerable lag (e.g. video re-buffering every few seconds).  Is this fallout from the additional bandwidth/server stress from Google Instant? -- fallout from YouTube live streaming? -- who knows...

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Posted: Sep 10, 2010

Keyword tags: youtubenet neutralitylag

The Rockmite: A 40 meters CW QRP Rig (in an Altoids Tin)

Computers dominate most of my time.  My job keeps me tapping on the keyboard most days, and my love of learning about new technologies (and administering my many Gentoo Linux machines) keeps me tapping away most nights.  Sometimes I need another outlet, which is why over the last few years I have become more active with my amateur radio hobby -- a.k.a. ham radio.

Although wireless communications are now commonplace, there is a certain mystique in pulling signals out of the air that most people don't even know are there.  The shortwave (HF), VHF, and UHF radio bands are full of interesting programs, conversation, and mysterious bloops.  In my quest to contribute as many bloops on the air as possible, I recently purchased a nice radio kit called The Rockmite.

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Posted: Sep 15, 2010

Keyword tags: ham radioshortwave radioamateur radiorockmitetransceiverCWaltoidselectronics

Forget Rendering Engines, Browsers Need To Focus on Features and Usability!

Another 6 months have passed, and we are seeing another round of the the same old stories -- e.g. "Our Browser Renders Web Pages With a .0001ms Increase and it is the Best Browser!".  Some examples are last week's announcement from the Konqueror team that discussed how the webkit rendering engine (the same engine used by Chrome and Safari) will give it a speed boost past Firefox, and Mozilla's announcement this week about how Firefox 4 will be one generation ahead of other browsers, in terms of Javascript rendering speed.

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Posted: Aug 18, 2010

Keyword tags: browserschromefirefoxmozillawebkitgeckorendering engines

Android, iPhone, and Open Source Code Review

Summer is the season for security conferences, and one hot topic making news is the (in)security of smartphones.  In recent weeks it has been revealed that many applications in the Android Market are in reality trojans that are used to steal personal data off your phone.  Some examples of this are several wallpaper applications stealing data from Android phones and sending it to servers in China, Kaspersky Lab's recent outing of an Android app that silently sends txt's to premium numbers, and the BBC showing how easy it is to create and distribute rogue smartphone apps (I'm not sure why the BBC is doing security research).

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Posted: Aug 11, 2010

Keyword tags: androidiPhonesecurityopen source softwaretrojanssmartphone

Welcome To My Updated Homepage!

I finally found some time to redesign my personal homepage, which has been in desperate need of an update.  My homepage has been online in various forms and various URL's since around 1995.

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Posted: Aug 06, 2010

Keyword tags: mike gualtierihomepage