Musings from the Peanut Gallery

My thoughts on Software Development, RVing, New Space and anything else I feel like commenting on.

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The End

May 21st, 2011 · No Comments

If you are following this link, or my site, you may have noticed some changes recently.

I’m making changes due to reasons that shall become apparent soon, but which I can’t say yet, but the result is, my professional blog will now be here. This blog will become even more dead, and will get shut down soon, as I have imported all my posts to the new blog.

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MacBook Pro and Apple Service

February 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I had an opportunity to experience the famous Apple http://www.apple.com/support/ this week. Fortunately, I have AppleCare. It’s worth it.

On Tuesday evening, my MacBook Pro started acting up, in that I could not get it restart. It hung for a long time with a spinning gear, then would come up with the universal deny symbol (the circle with the line through it).

When it still didn’t work Wednesday morning, I called Apple Tech support, and after spending about an hour troubleshooting options to identify the issue, he concluded that it was a hardware problem, and we’d have to send it in for repair. The nearest Apple Store to Yuma is in Palm Desert CA, about 161 miles away.


View Larger Map

The support person told me to expect a week to turn the computer around.

But here’s where it gets good.

  • I’d called Wednesday morning.
  • The box arrived via FedEx Thursday morning.
  • We boxed up the computer and sent it back Thursday afternoon.
  • Friday morning, the Apple repair center received the computer.
  • Friday evening they had completed the repairs and shipped it back.
  • Saturday, mid-day, the repaired computer arrived back at our place.

So overall, it was less than four days, from my calling support to having my computer back, working, and all at no cost to me.

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Open vs. Closed

May 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Mobile Venture Beat has a piece where a group of VCs discuss open vs. closed, specifically related to mobile, where I’m currently employed.

I’ve also seen a number of discussions on Eric Raymond‘s blog, Armed and Dangerous, about his feelings on the Android vs. iPhone. Being the chief apologist for Open Source, Eric feels that ultimately, Android, built on an open source stack, will win over iPhone, with Apple’s tight control. His latest is here.

Be sure and read, at least scan, the comments in these posts, as sometimes they are more entertaining, and occasionally more insightful than the original article.

I spent a number of years using Linux as my primary desktop. I found it to be stable and reliable. But any time I had to add a new application or upgrade an application, I found myself in no man’s land. Sometimes it worked like clockwork. Other times, I found myself on an upgrade hell, trying to find all the packages necessary to make the new or upgraded application work. I got tired of spending the time making the machine work, instead of using it. For some people, that’s the fun, for me, it wasn’t.

By that time, Mac OS X had established itself as a viable contender, so I switched back, and haven’t looked back since. I do believe that Linux is usually the right answer on the server, however. On the desktop, I need something that I can count on.

So where am I going with all this? Well, I think that neither all open, nor all closed are the right answer. A business has to do what’s necessary to be profitable.

Turns out that at least by some measures, Apple is more open than Google. In fact, Google Chrome is based on WebKit, an Apple open source project.

And Google is more closed than people realize. Nobody knows what Google’s algorithm for pagerank is, let alone seen the code for it. Google’s two sources of income are search and advertising, which they hold very close to the vest.

Apple and Google both give away things that help drive business to their primary revenue sources. In Apple’s case, it’s their hardware. In Google’s case, it’s their search and advertising.

In the long run, there will continue to be both open and closed technologies. And that’s the way it should be.

Update: John Gruber has this post today on Daring Fireball. He discusses the Android vs. iPhone, and the all-out war that has broken out between Apple and Google. Both companies emphasize what they do best and what the other does poorly.

The other interesting thing here is the other actors in the smart phone market. Specifically, Microsoft, who seems to have lost completely in the mobile space.

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Are we Arrogant?

May 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Seth Godin wrote today about arrogance.

Better, I think, to make a difference and run the risk of failing sometimes, of being made fun of, and yes, appearing arrogant. It’s far better than the alternative.

If we are to make a difference, we have to take risks, including the risk of sounding arrogant at times.

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Carrying Capacity

April 28th, 2010 · No Comments

Seth Godin has an excellent post discussing the natural limits of a business, and how we need to think about those limits as we work to grow it.

One side comment in that post relates to the carrying capacity of the planet, along with a comment on population limits.

The earth has a carrying capacity, certainly. It might change as a result of technology (we know how to grow food more efficiently than we did a century ago) but in any moment of time, there’s a limit beyond which degradation kicks in. I don’t think many would say that we currently have a people shortage. (Impossible to pull off, but worth considering: what if we skipped a growth cycle in the population and everyone in a generation had just two kids? Or even one…)

China has been trying the one child per family for some time now, even using draconian measures to enforce it, and now they’re faced with the problem of not enough young people to support their aging population.

I’ve also been told that every man, woman and child on the planet could have an eighth of an acre in the state of Texas, and leave the rest of the world blank. Not suggesting that that is something to do, or that an eighth of an acre is enough to live on, but it does illustrate the real size of the population. We don’t really suffer from too many people, just too many people in some crowded areas.

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First iPhone Application Released!

November 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The first iPhone application that I’ve been involved in creating is now available on the iTunes AppStore. This is an exciting moment for me and for Point Inside, as we bring the company out of stealth mode and go public with our product.

Point Inside maps indoor spaces. At launch, we have nearly 400 malls around the United States and Canada mapped. Not only do the sites have maps, helping you to find the nearest restroom, ATM, or the store that you’re looking for, but it includes promotions from our partner retailers.

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Square One is Underrated

September 5th, 2009 · No Comments

Seth Godin has a new post up, Square One is Underrated. In it, he points out that when you discover that you are on the wrong path, speeding up is not the solution. The solution is to go back to the last point that you had the chance to find the correct path to the destination, even if that’s all the way back to square one.

This is an important point for NASA as well. They started down the path with Constellation, to build huge rockets to go to the Moon in an unsustainable way, much like we did in the 60′s. Apollo on steroids they called it. But costs escalated, making it even more unsustainable, and schedules slipped, yet they insisted on continuing down that path. Even though, if they’d followed Congressional mandates, they had a more sustainable and reliable choice in buying launches to orbit from the commercial sector.

Why is it more reliable? To start with, following the NASA approach of having only one rocket to get to orbit, when (not if) an accident happens with that rocket, you ground the fleet and lose access to space for about two years (Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia all created about a two year stand-down, give or take a bit). With the commercial fleet, there would be up to four different rides into space, on four different launchers. So while one stands down to fix it’s problems, you’ve still got other options.

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Executable Requirements == Acceptance Tests

May 25th, 2009 · No Comments

I’ve been building a test framework for acceptance testing the Point Inside client API. I based the concept on Fit and Fitnesse, an open source framework for just this type of testing. Since this is for the iPhone, I used the UITableView in a NavigationController to provide a hierarchical layering. I use colored text to show status.

Gray text means the test hasn’t run.

Gray text in top level nav page

Yellow text means the lower level tests had mixed results.

Yellow text in second level view

Red text means the test failed, and green text means the test passed.

Red and green text on bottom level

The actual tests need to have a lower level view that shows specific data about the test. Pressing any test cell causes the test to execute. If you select the cell in the first or second image above, the tests below that get executed.

There’s a color issue with going back up the chain. The first image is gray because I pressed the cell in the second image. Going back to the first view, the color isn’t updating.

So there is more work, but I’m going to proceed with this. In the future, when I have some time, I’m going to work on making this an open source package for others to be able to create acceptance testing of iPhone applications.

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HIkeSuperstitionMountain with a trail laid out

May 11th, 2009 · No Comments

I now have HikeSuperstition displaying trails. The problem is, the maps don’t have any data in the areas where we are putting trails, so the map looks pretty blank.

Here is an example:

Hieroglyphic Trail on iPhone map

I could use Google maps, but Google is all about downloading from the web, not caching on the device. Since there is no connection to the internet in much of the areas we are mapping, dynamic downloading won’t work. The trail will need to be downloaded first.

on edit: This may be the last update here for a while, as my PointInside project is starting to move, so I’ll be focusing my development time there now.

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HikeSuperstitionMountain With Trailheads

April 20th, 2009 · No Comments

At long last, after far too much effort, I’ve gotten HikeSuperstitionMountain iPhone app to display trailheads on the map. It also rotates.

Part of this effort involved creating a sample application (SimpleSampleMap) for the route-me project. This application acted as a base to develop HikeSuperstitionMountain from. Now working on adding the ability to select the trailhead markers and open a UIWebView that displays information about the trailhead, and the trail(s) that start from that location.

HikeSuperstitionMountain application with trailheads marked..

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