I Like My Walled Garden

So Scoble, ye olde bastion of bleeding edge technology enthusiasts, is switching to Android.

Um, who cares?

Unfortunately, rather a lot of people do. Why. Because of that bleeding edge thing again…. Already Matthew Ingram and Guy Kawasaki are other high profiler switchers. Leo Laporte in fact, uses both iOS and Android.

But I Like My Walled Garden. It works for me.  The collary to that is, of course,  what works for me will not necessarily work for others.

If it works for Matthew, Guy and Robert, Great!But what works for them will not necessarily work for me. Or you, or your dog.  So lets just calm ourselves down a bit.

(tho i doubt we’ll get the tech press/blogs to stop salivating over this story)

I’m not writing this to address complains… People with far more time that me can do that. But there is something I want to say.

It struck me in writing this post that 90% of the time, we really do live in a world of software walled gardens. Microsoft for the OS and Office (and in my case, dev tools), Adobe for Creative Suite, and Apple for iTunes, iPhone, iPad etc.

Each of these walled gardens Just Works (Windows 8 is making this reality in the MS world). And I like that.

I’d like to argue the following proposition: Being inside a walled garden is preferable to being outside it.

Who wants to argue the other aside of proposition. Any takers?

Holiday Reading List 2012

As is becoming something of a tradition here, I’m posting my reading list.

In a change from past years, I’m going completely electronic this year, taking along only my iPad Mini. No dead tree books his year.

As always tho, there is the usual problem of kindle vs iBooks. There is a non zero number of books that are on one platform but not the other. And, annoyingly, there is also a non zero number that are not on either of them.

(Perhaps I shouldn’t complain – digitising the collected literary output of humanity is a rather large endeavour).

Non Fiction

  1. The Rise and Decline of Nations – Mancur Olson – Kindle
  2. Enigma – Hugh Sebag-Montifiore – iBooks
  3. Secrets of the Conquorer – Stuart Prebble – iBooks
  4. The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver – iBooks
  5. In Gods Name – David Yallop – iBooks


  1. Threat Vector – Tom Clancy – IBooks
  2. The Hunt For Red October – Tom Clancy – iBooks

Worth a mention

  1. The Great North Road – Peter F Hamilton – iBooks
  2. Starks War – Jack Campbell – iBooks

Now that I carry a substantial library of ebooks around with me in the palm of my hand, a set reading list is mostly out dated. Being able to read almost any book at a whim. And to do so comfortably using my iPad Mini makes such a difference 🙂

The Mini is a dream to use, BTW. Its light, and an excellent size for reading. And just small enough to type on without too many spelling errors. It is an excellent alternative to the kindle as a reading device.

(Ps watch the Instagram category on the blog for some holiday snaps)

iPad 3 Prediction

Ok its a little out there, I admit.

I predict that ThunderBolt will make its debut on the iPad. Maybe through the oft rumoured new connector??

It makes sense, right?

Being able to move things on and off the iPad 3 quickly – such as Photos or Video would be one use. A use which I’d love and buy any accessory required immediately.

I don’t know what else the accessory manufactures would dream up, but it sure gives them a range of possibilities.

It makes good business sense  for Apple as well – It really does get Thunderbolt out to the masses and give the manufacturers good reason to start churning out Thunderbolt devices. More Thunderbolt devices mean even more sales of ThunderBolt enabled Macs and iPads.

Anything would be better than USB 2.0

The iPhone 4S: A Rose by any Other Name (a Response to Dan Gillour)

Dan Gilmour thinks Apple made a bit of a blunder by calling it the iPhone 4S rather than the iPhone 5 .

Sorry Dan, But I disagree completely.

On Google Plus I put the following argument forward:

I want to mention that Apple always thinks long term. They called it the 4S because:

  • Its convention – the minor versions (yes, this is minor, or we would have got a form factor change) always have a S appended to the name of the last major release.
  • Apple have something big on the horizon. They have big plans for the next major release of the iPhone. They want to reserve the "iPhone 5" name for that release.

The iPhone, the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4 have all been major releases and have all sported form factor redesigns.

The iPhone 4S specs may seem to be major (in a parallel universe where all phone manufacturers but Apple went bankrupt in 2007), but they merely bring Apple to PARITY with Android.

The iPhone 5 is going to be the release that makes Android play some serious catchup.

Another important thing to note is that Apple would never every call it the iPhone 5 just because people want it to be the iPhone 5. I’m sure it was Steve Jobs himself who said something along the lines of “People don’t know what they want, they just think they do”, or words to that effect. People have no idea what they want out of an iPhone 5. People don’t know what they want until Apple shows it off to them and they go, “Yeah, I want that”.

Everyone is acting like Steve Jobs’ influence has gone. Nonsense. I think even Leo Laporte said yesterday that he got the impression that the reality distortion field was no longer there. What other company spends 53 minutes repeating what it announced at it’s last press conference and then spend half an hour on a new iPhone and Siri? Oh yeah, then announce as an after thought, “Yeah, we’re on Sprint”. That’s a Steve Jobs keynote if there ever was one,only without Steve. The only thing that changed was that we noticed it.

My bet is that’s it’s the same reason why Steve jobs wasn’t there: not major enough.

When there’s a One More Thing to announce, he’ll be there.


PS – Pardon the Shakespeare reference.

Holiday Reading iList

While I don’t usually do this before going on holiday, this time I’m not taking any dead tree books with me at all.

Rather, I’m taking my trusty iPad with IBooks and Kindle for iPad installed. Since we’re flying Ryanair, with their stickiness for baggage weights and sizes, he weight saved has been substantial. Usually I take a couple of paperbacks and a hardcover or two, so my bags a lot lighter this time around.

So, that reading list again, split up between iBooks and Kindle.


1. The Void Trilogy – Peter F Hamilton
2. Pandora’s Star – Peter F Hamilton
3. Judas Unchained – Peter F Hamilton
4. Servants of the People – Andrew Rawnsley
5. Life and Death of the Party – Andrew Rawnsley
6. Red November – W. Craig Reed
7. The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien
8. Paypal API’s Up and Running – Micheal Balderas


1. The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman
2. Dreaming in Code – Scott Rosenburg

I think that’ll keep me busy for a week 🙂

As you can see the above list is heavily biased towards iBooks. The ability to buy a book off iBooks without even thinking about it is the probable reason. Amazon Kindle gives you too much pause for thought.

About the Paypal API book. Yes, I’m sad. I do have the tendency to program while on holiday. If you’ll recall, I did some major re-architecting of my Client Server Chat project while is was in Spain in December. So goodness know what I might do this time around.

I hear the Design of Everyday Things is a seminal work and every designer should read it. Jeff Atwood of the Coding Horror blog (and Stackoverflow, StackExchange etc) highly recommends it.

Dreaming in Code is the most readable book about programmers and programming I’ve ever read. Though I must say reading it elicits the same reaction as watching Dennis Nedry screw Jurassic Park’s computer systems up: A Long Loud Cry of NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Sightly changing the subject away from books, I got the Camera Connection Kit for my iPad. It’s works like a swiss car. If I could get Visual Studio on my IPad, I’d leave the laptop at home.

I’ll see you all in a week (and a bit, one always needs a holiday from holiday when you get back)

Pre Sunday Sunday Times iPad App Review

Now before we get much further into this review, you need to understand that I am very much an information junkie. Reading the Sunday times over of cup of tea on Sunday morning is very much a part of life. Of course, being a Sunday morning, it involves actually getting out of bed and driving to the shop to get it. I’m not Tory enough to get it delivered. In fact, I’m not Tory At all. I’m kidding.

The fact is that I very much prefer the Sunday papers, their articles and opinion pieces having been digested for an entire week before writers put pen to paper. Even a Murdoch paper ends up sounding reasonable after a week of through thought.

But I digress Now, on to the app itself.

I must say that at least visually, the app is very well designed. For a paper the size of the Sunday Times, the navigation is actually quite simple. Each issue of the times is split up into a number of sections. Each section has a front page and a table of contents for each story in that section.

The majority of your time is going to be spent in the Section part of the application. Her you have the sections laid out for you. Then, you can filter these sections by the issue they come from. So unless you filter, this area is going to be come rather crowded.

This is also where you download the individual sections from the issue you have bought. This is of prime importance for me. Basically because I’m not going to be reading every single section of the paper. So I get to pick and choose what I want to download and I content have to wait for the whole paper to download before I can start reading.

Now, you also get a page view, where you can scrobble along to find the exact page you’d like to read. This is rather useful, specially given the sheer number of pages you’re going to end up with in the larger sections of the paper.

Finally, the store is quite simply laid out, with the option buy the latest issue front and centre. You can swipe to the right to but older issues if you want, though frankly why would you want to? Anyhow, i can see why it could come in useful for some.

Finally, it should be noted that the multimedia content is only visible in landscape mode, or so it appears anyway. You have the option of reading a story in portrait if you went as well, but I fee that this app really is made to be viewed in landscape. It is after all a Sunday paper, made for reading slowly and thoughtfully on the couch, and not a daily paper made for busy people with less time on their hands.

The fact of the matt is that at £1.79 an issue, this is a steal. And in the process, as if its not a bargain already, I get to stay warm in bed and read it on Sunday morning. It doesn’t get much better an that.

Heres the obligatory screenshot gallery. Note: I used one of the sample issues here and downloaded the Magazine section of the paper.

photo 1photo 2photo 3photo 1photo 2photo 3photo 5photo 4

Flipboard Review

One of the first apps I installed on my 64Gb wifi ipad was the Flipboard app. Now, after all the hoopla I heard from Robert Scoble and others, I was eager to use the app myself.

Now, the fact of the matter is that the app is beautifully designed. Really it is. A work of art. The page flips are beautifully animated. The app start up is brilliant, making me wonder each and every time i start it up what picture I’m going to get. The popout article pages are beautifully presented. Even the twitter client aspect of the app is very nicely done.

However, there are times when I go through my settle very leisurely and rather randomly, and Flipboard is sheer gold dust when it comes to this. Other times I’m more structured about my reading. I read the Tech folder first, then the Space folder, and finally the General folder. Only then, if i have time, do I randomly go through my other folders. This second way of reading my feeds is rather difficult on Flipboard. Moving between folders isn’t a smooth process and it requires too much work.

I actually prefer Feedly on my iPhone for reading my feeds when I’m going through Feedly quickly.

Feedly for iPad is coming soon, and we’ll see what difference it makes in this area.

There is one thing I’ve noticed: read/unread items do not always translate back to Feedly on the desktop. So, in fact, I end up reading some items twice. Since I’ve no idea of how Flipboard works under the hood, I’m not sure where the lag is coming in, whether it’s a Flipboard, Google Reader, or Feedly issue. But it sure would be nice to have some sync going on.

However, that having been said, Flipboard is very much of my routine. I rather enjoy reading it in the mornings over a cup of tea. It’s the first app I open. I really do think that it’s a most marvellous application and will definitely be using it very often.

Apple’s Sony Reader Problem.

As you no doubt have heard already about the fact that Apple has rejected the Sony Reader app for iOS devices. This is apparently based on the fact that all purchases must go though the official apple sanctioned method of using in app purchases and not any third party method of doing things.

This no doubt is causing some executives at Amazon to consider the very real possibility that their highly acclaimed Kindle app for iOS might be pulled as well.

Now let’s stop the hysteria right the heck there. Apple is not stupid. Put your hand up who ought an iPad thinking “The Sony Reader app is going to be awesome on the iPad”?? Anyone, anyone?? Bueller, Bueller??

Now, who bought an iPad thinking “there is both iBooks and the Kindle app on the iPad- I’ll be able to get any book I want”??? I’m betting that a whole lot more people, including me, thought of that.

The fact of the matter is that Apple is not going to get a whole lot of grief from die hard Sony Reader fans for this. Just imagine the uproar if Amazon was forced to withdraw their kindle app for iPad. The horror. I can imagine seeing legions of angry people marching up Infinite Loop with fire torches and pitchforks.

In other words, the Kindle is actually a net benefit for the iOS platform. It actually helps Apple sell iPads and iPhones and iTouches. I doubt they’d be in a hurry to kill what is a net benefit for them.

So provided that Amazon and to a lesser extent, Barnes and Noble, play their cards right, I don’t see the problem.

The is of course the separate issue of Apple wanting all purchases to go through their inapplicable purchases mechanism. On the face of it, it’s possible to see this as simple profiteering. I doubt it’s quite that simple.

However, what apple needs to realise that, almost by accident, they’ve turned the app store into a vital piece of infrastructure, the Windows of the app store world. I’m not sure they’re quite prepared to undertake this role.

Google on the other hand set out to turn themselves into vital piece of the webs infrastructure. Whatever they may do wrong, they do have that goal very clear in mind. Apple not so much. They come across as being quite heavy handed when things like this happen. If anyone should understand the power of perception, it should be Steve Jobs and Apple.

So, ultimately the I believe that Apple will do the pragmatic thing and lay off the heavy handed moves in this space, but in the short term the perception of things may very well work against them.

VLC, GPL and the Apple App Store

Update:I wrote this post using the WordPress iPhone app. So just got home and corrected some formatting

Today I read (see here) that the successful VLC iPhone app might be pulled from the App store.

The reasoning behind this, apparently is that the App Store Terms Of Service breach the GPL in that all apps are sold with DRM.

First of all, this is lunacy. After 3 years trying to get it in the store, pulling it would cause an uproar. After Apples’ successful weathering of the no flash controversy, that uproar is not going to get apple to remove DRM.

Second, VLC is open source. So, open source the app, or release a DRM free version on the jailbreak app stores. Problems solved.

So my advice to the VLC team is to grin it and bear it. Nobody said the world was perfect.

Sticking to the letter of the GPL may be wonderful for the open source diehards, but the rest of us seriously couldn’t care less.