October 2007 Archives

Apple Trifecta

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Zoomshare On Your iPhone?
Apple has been quite busy since June's release of the iPhone. The latest news being that yes Virginia, there indeed is a software developer kit (SDK) to write iPhone specific applications with and it will be released to the public for third party developers in February.

Why the delay? Well Apple originally stated that no SDK would be released for AT&T's fears of network abuse from malicious software writers targeting the iPhone platform for their trojans, viruses, and worms. A legitimate concern, but a few developers didn't buy it, noting that AT&T already allows other smartphones, such as those running Palm and Windows Mobile, on its network, each of which, with their own SDKs, opens the AT&T network to possible attack.

Did Apple have a change of heart? Doubtful, from the original Apple II to the iPhone, Apple has a long enough history to know that third party software developers are important to the success of any computing platform. The delay of course was simply about priorities. Now that the iPhone is out the door, the iPod line has been updated and the latest version of Mac OS X (more on Leopard in a bit) is shipping Apple has the manpower to polish off the SDK focusing, you guessed it, on protecting "iPhone users from viruses, malware [and] privacy attacks."

What, you might be thinking, does this really have to do with Zoomshare? Well given the iPhone's "rich Internet capabilities" anyone with an iPhone can already access and/or manage a Zoomshare site on the go. Moreover, in theory, some of the more modular features, such as Zoomshare Widgets, can be used sans website.

However, even via iPhone's Safari web browser some features won't translate well, if at all. Zoomshare wasn't designed with mobile computing in mind, let alone around the iPhone's unique Multitouch abilities. With an SDK, the possibilities open up a bit more. We've already batted around a few interesting ideas here in our office.

Does this mean Zoomshare is coming soon to an iPhone near you? I really can't say. After all the SDK is still a few months off and while Apple has sold 1.4 million iPhones already the iPhone market is still in its infancy. Apple has a stated goal of selling 10 million by the end of 2008, which may or may not happen. It took Apple five and a half years to sell as many iPods. On the plus side any iPhone developed application will also work on the new iPod touch.

Only time will tell.



We Are From France
Speaking of the iPhone, it seems my guesstimate of a European sold iPhone working with an American number from an American cell phone provider other than AT&T was off by one country. If you recall I speculated that the iPhone about to go on sale in the German market via Deutsch Telekom's cell phone subsidiary might work just fine in the USA given a SIM from T-Mobile. Why? Because Deutsch Telekom's cell phone division is in fact, T-Mobile.

While it might not be that easy it seems it might not matter. See the original rumor of the European iPhone release included three cell phone providers for three specific European markets, T-Mobile in Germany, O2 in the UK and Orange in France. Yet when official word came from Apple and its European partners Orange was suspiciously missing. Only later did Apple and Orange make the partnership official, announcing iPhones in France by the end of November a few weeks after the German and UK release date.

The delay? Rumors have the profit sharing agreement between the two companies holding up the official announcement and release, but a few observers have pointed out that French law requires cell phones to be unlockable. Now, I don't know French law, let alone the specific law(s) in question. For all I know to comply with it Orange simply needs to sell one and only one unlocked iPhone to Joe Six-Pack (in France would that be Jean-Pierre Bordeaux?) and be in compliance. But it does open up the possibility of unlocked iPhones from France making their way Stateside.

But as I noted previously that iPhone, given Euro-to-Dollar conversion, oversea shipping costs and whatnot, would be a bit expense. More than even the overpriced eBay market currently prices "unlocked" iPhones at. Guess only time will tell.



Last, But Not Least, OS X
Finally, the original impetuous for today's post, the latest, greatest version of OS X goes on sale today.

While I'm not lining up at an Apple Store today, alas payday isn't until the end of the month, I will be picking up a copy for my home and work Macs in the coming week. The features I can't wait to put to use? Time Machine and Spaces.

Time Machine, while practical, just looks slick. To visually go back to a previous saved computing state and recover a lost or damaged file in a heartbeat is a must have in my book. Sure, I'm a slouch when it comes to keeping files around and given how cheap disk space is these days, it's quite easy to keep stuff around, just in case. But really backing up important files only gets my attention when I run out of local disk space and need to offload recently unused files to a secondary location. Every now and then I'll run into trouble, now I don't have to worry as much.

Of course, Time Machine still needs a secondary disk to save previous versions on, but I already have that, its just the actually doing that can be a bit more infrequent than it should be. But what I'm really hoping for is the ability to use Time Machine with an iPod in disk mode or a remote fileshare. While, I'd still want a copy that can't get lost or stolen, like one stored on my home build half-a-terabyte RAID server, I do like the idea of being able to have a mobile backup with me as I go. Hopefully both options are possible.

Initial reviews note that yes, you can backup to a remote system, but that remote system must also be running 10.5 - Leopard and the file share must be via AFP

I've blogged else where about virtual desktop setups and some of the issues with third-party options for them on OS X. Even with those problems I love virtual desktops and can't work with out them. Sure OS X has Expose among other features for dealing with desktop clutter, but for organizing application windows based on function or task, nothing in my mind beats virtual desktops. Given how common they are in other Unix-centric windowing environments, I remember impressing a friend of mine with fancy desktop transitions on a Linux workstation when I worked at Red Hat a few years ago, I'm kind of surprise its taken this long for builtin support to appear in the Mac world.

Does this mean we know of at least two new features for the next release of Windows; support for automatic backups and virtual desktops? I suppose only time will tell.

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Zoomshare QuickPost

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Starting a new Zoomshare Photo Album? Got tons of photos to be upload? Tired of uploading images one by one? Try Quickpost! Quickpost is a Zoomshare feature that, at its core, allows images to be added to a photo album by email. Since more than one photo can be attached to an email, more than one photo can be uploaded at a time. Moreover, since many camera phones have the ability to send photos, you can upload photos taken on your camera phone via Quickpost too!

Setup
First one needs to configure Quickpost, which can be found under Photo Album in console. Click on the 'Edit QuickPost Settings' button. Then select a default album in which the photos sent via email will post to.

Zoomshare QuickPost Settings Screen
QuickPost Settings

Next you will need to create a white list of email address. A white list is a method of security in which all access is denied to a service, except for those listed as allowed to gain access. In this case all emails sent to a designated email address for your zoomshare album will be denied access, with the limited exception of those allowed. Type the email address(es) you wish to allow access one at a time by entering in the whole email address and then clicking on the 'Add' button. You can remove or edit any listed address by selecting it from the list on the right and choosing either the 'Remove' or 'Edit' buttons.

If you wish to add another layer of protection, you can also choose to 'Require Password' in which your zoomshare password must be present in the subject line of the email from your listed email address. Be careful, your email will be sent in plain, readable text over the Internet, which means your password could be read my someone with malicious intent. Thus a tradeoff, by requiring your password to further secure QuickPost, you maybe making the overall security of your Zoomshare site less secure. Its your choice.

Make note of the email address to send your photos to. In most cases its photo-username@zoomshare.com. Now save your QuickPost settings by clicking on the 'Save Settings' button.

By Email on a Computer
Now your ready to roll out photos to the album you selected via email. Simply compose your email in any email application, making sure that you are sending from an allowed email address. Enter the send to email address and if you selected 'Require Password' add your password to the Subject. Now attach your images to the email using your email software. When all is ready, click 'Send'.

With any luck your photos will be uploaded and visible in no time. However, since email is relayed between servers over the Internet there can be a delay, so do keep that it mind. No matter what your photos should be on your site within 24 hours.

If your photos don't make it, you will get an email message denoting the problem. In some cases email servers won't relay emails larger than a specific limit, usually 2MB or more. If you find this to be the case, you'll need to cut back on your photos. Also if you have password protection enabled, but forgot or mistyped your password you may get an email notification reminding you.

By Email/MMS on a Cell Phone
Ready to try your camera photo? First add your phone's email address to your QuickPost white list. If you don't know the email address assigned to you by your mobile provider, don't worry, simply add just your cell phone number (area code first) minus any additional syntax. In other words, if your phone number is (212) 555-1234 then simply type in 2125551234 and then check the 'Add' button.

Now, locate the camera option on your mobile device and select it. Using the camera function take a photo or select a photo from your mobile device's photo album

Once you have selected the photo you wish to post, select the 'Compose' option from your mobile device's menu. Enter the send to email address with your zoomshare password as the subject line if required. Select 'Send'. To save time, in the future you can save this address in your mobile device's address book.

MMS Screen
Example Cell Phone Screen

Your photo should be online within 15 to 30 minutes. Of course, as previously mentioned, network traffic can vary significantly, so it can take up to 24 hours for your photos to post. If you receive an error message in your email box, note the error message and choose from options follwoing to learn how to correct the specific issue.


Errors
Address Not Allowed
The device or email address you sent your photo from is not authorized to post to your zoomshare account. Please verify that the phone number of your mobile device or email address is authorized to post photos.

Bad Password
The password you provided is incorrect. Try again with your zoomshare password in the Subject line of the e-mail or uncheck "Require Password" in your Quickpost settings.

No Photos Posted
No photos or images found for posting. Please verify the photo or image you wish to post is selected and attached to the message you sent.

Too Many Photos Posted
Some service providers add their own formatting and images to the email your phone sends. zoomshare does not differentiate images and simply posts all images within the email. You can remove any unwanted images using the zoomshare tools site at any time.

Enjoy!
As one can see, QuickPost is quite a powerful little tool. It allows you to post images to your album without the needing to first login to your Zoomshare site and with it a way to post multiple images at once as well as an image from a camera phone.

Enjoy!

Birth of the Information Age

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Forward
It would be easy for me to dismiss the 50th anniversary of Sputnik's launch as unimportant in today's world of terror attacks and social networks. After all the Cold War belongs to a bygone era along with everything else pre-9/11. Moreover, one of its most important battles, The Space Race, ended at the same time I was born, July of '75, when three American astronauts and two Soviet cosmonauts shook hands in Earth orbit. By then both the American and Soviet space programs had moved on, in the US to the Space Shuttle, in the USSR to Salyut. How could any of that still affect my daily life?

Yet it does and I can guarantee as you read this now it affects your daily life as well.

Red Star Rising?
The genesis story of the space age usual goes something like this, 50 years ago today, October 4th 1957; the Soviet Union 'shocked' the world by launching the world's first artificial satellite. Why did the Soviets even wish to launch an artificial satellite in October of 1957 and why was the assumption that the Americans would be first?

The International Geophysical Year was an international scientific effort that started in July of 1957 to enhanced the study of eleven Earth sciences: aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, gravity, ionospheric physics, precision mapping, meteorology, oceanography, seismology and solar activity. How else could one enhance the knowledge of these sciences but by the no-longer just theoretical idea of launching an artificial satellite into Earth orbit? Since such an international effort included the Unites States, one of the two superpowers and the assumed scientific leader; it was the US that first developed and used the Atomic Bomb, the US that refined jet engines, rocket power and broke the sound barrier, thus the United States would lead the world into Earth orbit and Outer Space.

Even Chief Designer Sergei Korolev feared the Americans would beat him and his comrades. Using a military designed missile and rocket engine the Soviets saw their moment; the meeting of the IGY committee was scheduled for the beginning of October, at which time the American scientists intended to tell of their plans for space exploration. With the official go ahead from Soviet Party Leader Nikita Khrushchev Korolev and his team of engineers launched Sputnik from Kazakhstan, to the great surprise of the West.

Sputnik 1
Model, Sputnik 1

What does this all have to do with today's every day life, other then the obvious GPS and satellite television? The Space Race of course escalated and by 1961 American had officially dedicated itself to landing a man on the moon in 10 years time. The moon became the target of the US space program because it was determined that neither the Soviets nor the Americans could roll out a rocket the next day with enough thrust to send a man or men to the moon and back.

This 'edge' in rocket development the Soviets had resulted from the larger atomic devices the Soviets had developed, compared to the Americans, requiring greater rocket power. In order to beat the Soviets at something required finding a goal that would nullify the Soviet's booster advantage, hence the moon.

Weight, even from the very beginning, became the main issue for the American space program, even as Redstone rockets gave way to Atlas, which gave way to Titan, which were eclipsed by the Saturn rocket.

As the American military and civilian programs found themselves in need to reduce weight while enabling greater control a promising new technological development entered the scene, the integrated circuit

.

microchips
microchips

The integrated circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit consisting mainly of transistors, themselves a recent technological development at that time, which is manufactured on the surface of an electively conductive material, usually silicon. Just as the Redstone rocket gave way to the Saturn rocket, the vacuum tube, begat the transistor, which gave us the integrated circuit, which, by the time 8 of 12 men landed on the moon and left, gave way to the microprocessor.

Meanwhile, as the need to shuffle information between locations grew, so did the need for the development of a reliable and standard communication network. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA, another government organization born in reaction to the launching of Sputnik, started a program designed to connect the growing collection of computers into a redundant, highly robust and survivable - of a nuclear attack - information swapping computer network known as ARPANET. Over the course of time other networks connected with the ARPANET, adopting the ARPANET's TCP/IP packet switching protocols, which, in major part, gave way to today's interconnection network of computers or Internet.

In other words, your computer, your computer's network connection, this computer and this computer's network connection all are by products of The Space Race, born 50 years ago today, with the launching of Sputnik.

Afterward
Thanks to my father I spent this evening listening to Dr. Sergei N. Khrushchev, son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Roger Launius, PhD historian for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. discussing the history and impact of Sputnik.

Dr. Sergei N. Khrushchev made an interesting comment about the Soviet booster, that, if I understood him correctly (obviously English is not his native language) the Soviet nuclear device was not significantly heavier than the US, but that Korolov (or an engineer of his) miscalculated the weight by a factor of 3, thus the R-7 rocket was 3 times more powerful than it needed to be, leading to the Soviet's early lead in rocket thrust.

Second, Dr. Roger Launius made an insightful comment about the shock and awe of the West, its was not Sputnik 1 alone that shook at the assumed scientific leadership of the US, as I noted both the Soviets and Americans had plans for an artificial satellite for the The International Geophysical Year, but the launch of Sputnik 1 and 2 just a few months apart and the public failure of the 'American response' with the explosion of a Vanguard satellite seconds after booster ignition feed a public fear of lost leadership. As Dr. Launius put it, in the direct American phrase, "three strikes and your out!"

Further Reading:
High-tech culture of Silicon Valley originally formed around radio by Tom Abate, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

We Shocked the World by Sergei Khrushchev

The Real Sputnik Story by By Sharon Begley, Newsweek

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About the Author

Paul is a technologist and all around nice guy for technology oriented organizations and parties. Besides maintaining this blog and website you can follow Paul's particular pontifications on the Life Universe and Everything on Twitter.

   
   


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