Posted by Dan Delaney | 19th Nov 2012 | Leave a comment

Multiple users on the Android 4.2 release were the brand new Android feature that I looked forward to most.  That multiple users are not supported on mobile phones is a sensible move and Google should be given credit for accepting that tablets are seen more and more as a shared, or family, device rather than personal.   After going through the process of installing the updated release on the Nexus 7, multiple user support was the first thing I wanted to try out.

I was looking forward to multiple accounts not least because my wife could finally add her own Facebook and ebay accounts to our Nexus 7 instead of using mine, and would be able to install her own games seperately from my account.   Whilst this seems like a great idea, in practice it is incredibly frustrating.  The process of logging in is great.  Choose the correct icon for the account you want to use, and unlock the device.

Unfortunately, that's where the ease of use finished. 

Firstly, there is no way to transfer app data between accounts.  My wife has used my account regularly over the last few months to play a game (Jewels Star).  On presenting her with a new account on the Nexus 7, it starts up with new data and therefore she's lost her save state.   Whilst there may be 3rd party tools to solve this, it would be helpful if the device owner were able to share their apps to the other users.  After all, those apps are installed already.  Better yet, the ability to choose which apps are installed (and choose whether you want to copy app data) to a newly created account would be a welcome addition.

Secondly, there is a noticeable performance hit.  Since Android accounts are 'live' whether you're logged in or not, my wife started complaining that the tablet was running slow.  A quick look at my account on the device showed that Google Play was updating several (large) apps but there was no way for my wife to know this was happening without switching accounts and checking the notifications.   Whilst that's fine for us, this could be incredibly confusing for someone who doesn't really understand how their tablet works.  Unfortunately, without any visual clues to confirm why the tablet is running slow, it didn't take long before our patience was stretched too far.

Thirdly, adding users is clunky!   When you create a new user, it is shown as 'New User'.  And that's that.  Even as the device owner, you are not able to add either a user picture or even the nickname.  Whilst this is perhaps nitpicking, I expected to see a more polished approach from Google.

Fortunately, the process for removing additional users is pain free.  We've gone back to a single user Nexus 7 until Google iron out the problems, particularly the performance issues.

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Posted by Dan Delaney | 11th Nov 2012 | Leave a comment

October marked the first year anniversary since the passing of Steve Jobs.  In the past year, Apple continued to grow and produce some excellent products.  For me, the Retina Macbook Pro is a big step in the right direction for Apple, and rumours of a smaller iPad were confirmed which in my opinion - though expensive - will prove to be a huge success.

However, the recent release of the iOS 6 has been plagued with complaints. Apple Maps replacing Google Maps has highlighted data mistakes and overall functionality has been lost. I do not believe iOS 6 would have been allowed to get released under Steve Jobs until Apple Maps was significantly more powerful than the Google alternative.  Similarly, the App Store pushing out corrupt binaries in July was a high profile mistake that Apple simply wouldn't have made when Jobs was still at the helm of the company.  Of course there were mistakes when he was around, but these were simple quality control problems.  It may seem strange to be highlighting the failures of Apple, considering their stock is at an all time high and they are reporting record profits, but how much of this is the legacy that Steve left behind?

They've gone 'thermonuclear' on Android with their patent wars, had some successes and some defeats in the courts around the world. I believe this is indicative of the way that Tim Cook's Apple are prepared to stamp out competition rather than spending that money on quality control.  Not that it hasn't been successful, the $1bn win against Samsung gave credence to their arguments about patent infringement but threw up far more issues about the patent system.  Some of the arguments were pretty desperate, and some of the things they've been able to patent beggar belief.  In my opinion, companies should not be able to patent an idea, just a specific implementation of that idea. Apple seem to have lost a little focus on consumers and more on continuing their company growth.  I don't have an iPhone, but if I did I'd want it to be pushed to innovate by credible competition from Android and Windows Phone devices.  If Apple continue to force companies into the courts whenever they release a phone, there will be far less competition capable of putting up a fight in the way that Samsung have been able to.  Whilst that may help Apple in the short term, looking further along the line how can Apple continue to innovate on their mobile devices when no-one else is prepared or able to provide a credible alternative?

I don't want to see Apple stagnate in a similar way to Microsoft in the late '90s, but I fear that will happen with Tim Cook in charge.  Whilst they'll continue to release innovative products at the moment, there will come a time fairly soon where they'll release products that have had no footprint in the Steve Jobs era. Perhaps the long rumoured entry into physical TVs will be the next big thing from Apple, but I don't think that Tim Cook will push through on delivering what would have been revolutionary under Steve Jobs.

My 5 year old MacBook is a truly fantastic Apple product - but in the last few months it has finally been deemed out of date.  Mountain Lion will not support the GMA950 in this device - not that there's any reason for it apart from Apple being unprepared to support it.  It has been shown to work, and work pretty well, by hacking the correct drivers into the system.  Conversely, Windows 8 is supported and runs fantastically well considering that this laptop was a low end device (in PC terms) when Windows 7 was released.

The recent firing of Scott Forstall may be a step towards Apple taking a look at itself and assessing which direction the executive team will take the company.  Their cross licensing agreement with HTC announced this week could be an indicator that they're prepared to call a cease fire on their patent war where it's not financially beneficial.

Only time will tell if that's enough to keep Apple at the top of the pile.

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Posted by Dan Delaney | 30th Oct 2011 | Leave a comment

After upgrading to OSX Lion 10.7.2, I found that the hosts file no longer worked as expected. I have several entries in my hosts file for local development domains of my sites, i.e; I use 'itnonsense.lcl' as an alias for this site.

After updating Lion, I was getting DNS resolution errors which meant that without workarounds I couldn't get my local domains to work correctly - until now. Fortunately, it is quite an easy fix.

Using a text editor such as TextWrangler, open the hosts file using 'sudo', for example:

sudo /Applications/TextWrangler.app/Contents/MacOS/TextWrangler /etc/hosts

The fix is to ensure that the new lines are set to Line Feed format, rather than any other format (e.g. carriage return). In in TextWrangler this is Unix LF.

In addition, ensure all your custom entries are before the 'fe80::%1%lo0 localhost' line and save the file.

Example (working) file:

##
# Host Database
#
# localhost is used to configure the loopback interface
# when the system is booting.  Do not change this entry.
##
127.0.0.1 localhost
255.255.255.255 broadcasthost
# Custom Entries
127.0.0.1 itnonsense.lcl
127.0.0.1 google.com
127.0.0.1 apple.com
# Standard Entries
::1 localhost
fe80::%1%lo0 localhost


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Posted by Dan Delaney | 6th Oct 2011 | Leave a comment

Entrepreneur. Businessman. Inspiration. Optimist. Designer. Leader.

Without doubt, the world has lost a true personal computing visionary today.

For the years of innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to achieve within the industry, Steve Jobs will always be revered as a pioneer.   The success of the iPhone and subsequent rise of Apple to the biggest company in the world may have drawn its critics along the way, but few people would have the ability to lead and direct a company in the way that Steve did so effectively at 1 Infinite Loop.  The focus on customer experience above all else set Steve Jobs apart from his peers to the point that he and his company designed products which challenged the perception of computing influence on our lives.  Whether you use an Apple product or one of its competitors you can be sure that fundamental parts of its design have been influenced directly by Steve Jobs.

He will be sorely missed by colleagues, journalists and tech-minded individuals all over the world.  Tributes have been pouring in from all corners and it is a fitting tribute to the man that his fiercest competitors are compelled to share their experiences and thoughts.

Steve Jobs, Rest In Peace.

 

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Posted by Dan Delaney | 7th Jun 2011 | Leave a comment

2 weeks ago, the Skype service went offline which meant that users had to apply a fix in order to get back online.  Unfortunately the fix doesn't seem to be helping today's problem.

A tweet from @Skype was issued after the problems were first reported:

A small number of you may have problems signing in to Skype. We’re investigating the cause, and hope to have more details to share soon.

However, people all over the globe are experiencing problems so I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a small number of users.  Of course, there are those that are blaming Microsoft for the outage, despite the fact that the deal hasn't even gone through yet.

Hopefully things will get going again soon, but in the meantime I'll see if our local shop has any phone cards just in case this becomes a regular occurance!

UPDATE FROM SKYPE 12:15 GMT

We've identified the cause of the problem, and have begun to address it. If you've been affected, you should start to see improvement in the next hour or so. You shouldn't need to manually sign back in to Skype - it should reconnect automatically when it's able to do so.

FURTHER UPDATE FROM SKYPE

Today's problems have stabilised, and recovery is ongoing. Skype should return to normal soon.

UPDATE 19:00 GMT: I can confirm that Skype will now let me login on my Windows and Android devices.  Signing in taking a bit longer than normal, but no longer than about 30 seconds.  Calls seem to be OK.

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