29 April 2010

2010: Products I Can't Live Without

Here's my list for 2010 of products that I absolutely can't live without (inspired by Mike Arrington's list).

These are all products that I use daily and either make my life easier or more fun (and are not trivial like my fridge and car).

This list is a current snapshot of my favorite products, I think the interesting part about it will be to look at it in the future and see how it changes.

Here we go:

  • Gmail - you know what this is
  • Google Reader - this and twitter are my main source of news (no tv, radio, paper, or news site)
  • Twitter - no explanation needed (I hope at least)
  • Facebook - ditto
  • Zenbe lists - great iPhone App and web application for managing and syncing tasks from the iPhone and web 
  • SplashID - password manager for the iPhone and desktop
  • Flickr - where I store all my photos, including those that I post to Twitter
  • iPhone 3GS - marvelous device
  • Google Docs - where I create and store all my documents. I still use MS Office for Outlook and PowerPoint
  • Dropbox - great free solution for automatically backing up any files I want, syncing them between computers, and accessing them from anywhere in the world
  • Eztv - pretty much my only source for watching TV shows
  • del.icio.us - where I store all the sites I may want to find again in the future
  • Google Maps - use it all the time, especially when abroad
  • Skype - use it mainly for saving on the phone bill, occasionally for IM
  • Foursquare - ok, I could live without this one but I use it all the time
  • Plancast - for letting people know what events I'm attending and to discover what events I should attend
  • Digg - main way of seeing what's hot and finding cool stuff
  • TechMeme - main way of keeping up to date with tech news
  • AppShopper - how I track iPhone apps that lowered their price
  • Blogger - the service I use to host and manage this blog
  • Jango - great way to list to music I like online (used to be Last.fm till they started charging money)
  • bit.ly - URL shortening service with very useful tracking information
Since the iPhone is such a big part of my day to day, here are the iPhone apps that I can't live without:

  • Waze - free turn by turn GPS application
  • Boxcar - how I get Twitter reply and DM push notifications
  • IM+ - how I get gmail push notifications 
  • NoteMaster - app to edit and view Google Docs on the iPhone
  • qStatus - app to easily update Twitter

Feel free to post yours in the comments...

12 April 2010

Why the iPad is Just No Damn Good

Apple has let us down.
Apple, the monolithic underdog of the computer world, has slammed the door on technological advancement with the release of the iPad.
Ok, that’s a bit melodramatic, but let’s face it – when a superpower like Apple creates a locked-down platform, controlling everything from who creates an app all the way to its distribution, pricing, and everything in between, they pretty much staunch the thriving open ecosystem that has led us to where we stand today, technology-wise.

The magic of open platforms allows developers to hack the software and create all kinds of ways to improve it. That’s the natural evolutionary process at work. When the original iPhone came out, it came with nada, zip, zilch – then it got hacked - thank the tech-gods - and SHAZAM, behold the App Store.

So, ok, they’ve kindly provided the dev kids with their SDK - BUT!, and this is a big but, if you want to make an iPad app, you have to go through Apple, play by their rules, and either get to hang with the cool kids, or get turned down and hang with the science club geeks.
And let me help you out here – considering all the criticism flying about Apple’s strict application (rejection) process and their banning third party applications which enable functionality they deem ‘unwanted’ on their sleek & sexy gadgets - the sci-club is where the hackers, the developers, the “Keep Moving Forward” guys would rather be.

When Apple did the same for the iPhone we accepted it because, let's face it, Apple invented the whole concept of applications for mobile phones. We just blindly accepted their rules.
But the iPad is not another run-of-mill cellphone. Oh no, no matter how you look at it, it's the next evolution of the personal computer that has become such a huge part of our lives.

Alright, let’s give credit where it’s due; there’s definitely something to be said for the Apple mystique - the bandwagon excitement of ‘if it’s being released by Apple it’s gonna be cool and I have to have it’. And no doubt the iPad is not only super sexy but also [another] great mechanism for delivering apps.

But is that where we’re heading?
A world where one company controls the content that the masses can consume?
Developers who must abide by the semi-random rules set by the guys at Cupertino, or their software will just disappear?
Kids that grow up being used to the fact that to replace a battery you need to leave it up to the pros... the damn thing doesn't even have screws you can tinker around with.
Do we want kids to just learn to accept the limitations that are imposed on them, without questioning?

Is that good?

Sure, for Apple’s bottom line.
But what about for those on the other side of the fence? What’s the message Apple is sending to the techie community? Not a loving one, that’s for sure.

I’m asking a lot of hypothetical questions, I’m aware. But I’m pissed off by the industry’s so-called good guys pulling a worldwide ‘Amazon Kindle’ move (times a million in size and relevance, but you get my meaning).

So yes, Apple, I’m officially disappointed, as are, judging by heated reactions all over the web, legions of ‘in the know’ people who see what you’re doing and are taking a stand against it by refusing to shell out $ for it.

I’m not gonna buy an iPad either.….I keep telling myself that, anyway.

At least it blends: :)

10 April 2010

I'm Back

I started blogging almost 10 years ago.
Over the years I've gone through different blogging phases: from daily posts about random cool shit I ran across on the web, to posting dumb updates about mundane things I was doing at the time (I may have even had a "just had a great bowl of cereal" post), to occasionally posting tech related stuff, and to not blogging for months (dare I say years?) on end.

I recently became officially appointed as Chief Geek at Conduit (after my previous role as Head Of Product) and decided that's as good a reason as any to dust off the old blog and get back to business. Plus, my shiny new title pretty much gives me carte blanche to rant about anything tech-related.

So after a few weeks of messing around with server and DNS configurations, comparing blogging services, setting up templates/graphics... the blog is pretty much back in running order.
Got a new name (used to be guymal.com), new template, and lot's of new energy.

You can expect to read mostly about tech stuff that gets me excited (or pisses me off), anything from gadgets to web applications on the interwebs and social media that all the cool kids are talking about these days.
Hell, I might even throw in a LOLcat every once in a while...

Stay tuned!