Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bye bye, Instagram

I deleted my Instagram account today due to their new overreaching terms of service that essentially promise to violate my copyright in any photos posted to the service.

The NY Times Bits Technology blog has a good summary of the new terms and their impact on customers, so I won't repeat the detailed analysis here, but it boils down to essentially these huge privacy red-flags:

  1. Instagram can share information about its users with outside affiliates and advertisers
  2. Instagram can use your photos in advertising and promotions without your consent
  3. If you want to opt-out, your only option is to delete your account

Thanks, I went ahead and just did that.

In terms of mobile photo-editing on my smartphone or tablet device I've long preferred using SnapSeed anyway, because it has tons more powerful and customizable features.

For more blog coverage on the new Instagram terms see Techmeme

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Totally redesigned Altova Website Launched Today

We are very excited to announce the launch of our totally redesigned Altova website today. The new site features a modern tile-based user interface and is easier to read, navigate, and use - and, if I may say so, it is stunningly beautiful on desktop computers as well as tablet devices and smartphones:

See also our company blog post today that provides more links and details.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Password Security and Keeping your Data Safe

If you are using a password that is 8 characters in length (or shorter) you just lost the game. And I'm not talking about well-known passwords, such as "password", "monkey", "qwerty", or "12345678". This machine here is part of a cluster of 25 GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) and can crack any 8 character password of any complexity in less than 6 hours:

GPU Cluster

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ingress - an AR-MMOG created by Niantic Labs at Google

I don't often write about games on my blog, but this one deserves an exception, because it is extremely innovative, unique, and a harbinger of things to come. On November 15 Google launched a closed beta of Ingress, a sci-fi themed game currently available only on the Android platform.

Ingress defines a new category of game that could probably be best described as AR-MMOG (Augmented Reality - Massively Multiplayer Online Game). The basic premise is that an alien influence called Shapers are trying to control human thought and are entering the world through portals that are often associated with historically significant locations, statues, or public displays of arts. These portals are associated with Exotic Matter (called XM in the game) that needs to be collected to energize the player as well as the portals.

Players must move through the real world and visit these portals with their GPS-equipped Android smartphones to play the game.

Monday, November 5, 2012

iPad 2 with dead/swollen battery - Apple refuses to fix it and wants to charge $240 for replacement

I will admit that I've been a bit of an "Apple Fanboy" for a long time now. Today I am afraid, this relationship has finally come to an end.

Let me explain: I've been an "early-adopter" Apple customer for about 29 years, starting with my first Apple IIe in 1983, first Mac in 1984, etc. (in the last 18 months alone, I've purchased: 3 iPhone 5, 2 iPhone 4S, 1 15" MBP w/ Retina, 2 new iPad2 March 2012, 1 Apple TV, 1 Time Capsule 3TB, 2 Mac Pro, 1 MBP 15" Aug 2011, 1 27" Thunderbolt display, etc.). As such, I have followed Apple's products and also product recalls over time and know that Apple normally stands by its products to the extent that systematic battery failures, like they occurred in the MacBook Air were met with a well-designed recall program that provided customers with a battery replacement plus a replacement of the top case if that was damaged by the swollen battery.

I was, therefore, very surprised about the turn of events today:

I had purchased a new iPad (3rd generation) in March this year and pre-ordered it on the day it was announced. Since then my iPad 2 has been sitting in a drawer of my desk, and I was recently approached at our Rotary Club by our exchange student from Germany on whether I had a tablet computer to donate to him. Obviously I felt that the iPad 2 would be ideal for such a donation, but when I tried to charge it this morning, it showed the following symptoms:

  • It would not start without the power adapter being plugged in
  • When plugged it, it showed a 100% battery charge
  • However, when removing the plug, it immediately shut down, so the battery is clearly no longer functional
  • I left the iPad plugged in, but noticed that after a while the top glass started lifting up at the right edge - very likely due to an expanding battery
  • The iPad 2 is entirely unusable in this state and it is just 19 months since I had bought it and a little over six months since I last used it
Here is a photo of the iPad 2 atop my barograph where the lifting of the glass can be seen on the right edge just a little bit to the left of the volume buttons:

2012 11 05 13 32 22

I figured that since battery issues such as this one are well-known and documented, it would be an easy appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store Northshore Mall in Peabody today.

You can imagine my surprise, when the genius I was assigned to politely listened to my story and then informed me that my only option was to buy a new replacement iPad 2 for $240 (i.e. at some discount compared to the new price).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Windows 8 double-fail

I was expecting to jump right into the Windows 8 experience today and do some upgrading and testing this weekend as well as play with my new Microsoft Surface tablet, but it appears that this will not be happening as Microsoft managed to fail twice in just one day…



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Altova MissionKit 2013

Just in case you missed these announcements last month, here is a quick recap of some of our blog posts about the new major features in the Altova MissionKit 2013:

But there is so much more included in version 2013 of the various developer tools across the entire MissionKit tools suite in terms of new features that we added in direct response to customer feedback:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Google Data Center StreetView with Storm Trooper and R2-D2

Google has opened up StreetView access into its data center in Nenoir, North Carolina today, giving you the ability to take a virtual walk-through of their facility. In a time where most companies are super-secret about their facilities to prevent vulnerabilities, hackers, or even physical intrusions, this is a remarkable and somewhat surprising publicity stunt. GoogleDataCenterStreetViewR2D2 Maybe they are convinced that their site security team - apparently consisting of a single Imperial Storm Trooper and R2-D2 - is sufficient to prevent any malicious attacks…?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kindle Paperwhite 3G Review: Finally a Worthy Successor to the Kindle 2

I will gladly admit that I've been a fan of ebook readers from the day the very first Kindle was announced. In fact, I've always been a collector of books and while I do prefer real books in hardcover or paperback form in my library at home, there just isn't anything that could possibly beat an ebook reader for the convenience of bringing several books with me on a trip or for the ability to read a book in bed under low-light conditions, or reading a couple of books on the beach on a sunny summer day, or buying a new book instantly online when I'm finished with the previous one.

So I was truly delighted when my new Kindle paperwhite 3G arrived today. I had always loved the original Kindle in 2007 and the Kindle 2 that I had bought in 2009, because both devices had an e-ink display that was easily viewable in bright daylight conditions as well as indoors. By contrast, I felt that the Kindle Fire was a big disappointment when it first came out. In fact, while I had bought one at that time, it ended up somewhere in a pile of unused electronic gadgets very quickly. It was neither good enough as a tablet computer to truly compete with the iPad, nor was the screen any advantage when reading a book, and the battery life was just too short. In fact, I kept reading my books either on the Kindle 2 (outdoors) or on the iPad (indoors) for the last couple of years.

Kindle paperwhite

But the new Kindle paperwhite changes all of that.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Backup/Restore on iOS - not always what you'd expect

Yesterday I had an interesting experience with the backup/restore function in iTunes 10.7 while migrating all my data from my old iPhone 4S to the new iPhone 5. Due to my previous unsatisfactory experience with backup/restore from iCloud when migrating from an iPad 2 to iPad 3 this spring, I decided to use iTunes on my MacPro to make a local backup this time. Furthermore, I wanted to make sure not to run into any iOS 5 -> 6 upgrade issues, so I had already upgraded my iPhone 4S to iOS 6 in the previous week to make this switch more efficient - or so I thought! When it was time to make the move, I connected the 4S, waited for the sync operation to finish, and then right-clicked the phone in iTunes and selected backup.

After the backup process completed, I turned off the old phone, connected the new phone, and selected "Restore" to restore the phone from the backup I just had created. After I waited through a reboot and confirmed a few more dialogs, I thought I would now have everything on the new device exactly the same way as I had on the old phone. But that was not the case…

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III vs. iPhone 4S - a phone-swap experience

I am always on the look-out for the newest gadgets and best technology for my own personal and business use, so when the Samsung Galaxy S III started shipping in the US this month, I pre-ordered a Verizon 4G LTE model in white with 32 GB and it arrived Monday last week. I set myself the goal of doing a "phone-swap" and using the new phone exclusively for one week to determine whether it could replace my iPhone 4S as my primary smart phone device. Having all of my data in the cloud already through a combination of Google Apps, DropBox, Evernote, and our corporate email system, setting up the S III was a breeze. All I had to do was configure my Google and Exchange server accounts, download the DropBox and Evernote apps, and I was ready to go with all my calendar, contacts, notes, to-dos, emails, etc. 100% in sync on the new phone. In addition I installed Google Voice and Skype for my telephony needs as well as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for social networking. The next step was to go through all the other apps on my iPhone that had accumulated over the past year and determine which ones I really used more than once a month. That in of itself was a true cleansing ritual and I was able to get rid of a lot of junk (yes, I do admit that I actually played all levels of Angry Birds Space when it came out). And I was pleasantly surprised to find that about 95% of the apps I actually used were available on the Android platform as well. For convenience, I arranged them in a similar manner with folders so that I would be able to easily locate each app on both devices: 2012 07 15 10 51 18 cropped For the few apps that I did not find in the Google Play app store (or other app stores) I was able to easily locate an equivalent replacement app with only two exceptions. More on that later… With all these preparations done in the first day, I was ready to embark on my one-week phone swap test and redirected my iPhone phone# to the Galaxy, as well as including it in my Google Voice list of active phones.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Emperor's New Clothes - a "New iPad" Review in a "Post-PC World"

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I love gadgets and usually am an early adopter of the latest and greatest toys that tech companies produce and I often share my opinions about these devices with the world. I bought the original Kindle, the Kindle 2, the Kindle Fire, all generations of the iPhone, various Droids, the Xoom, the original iPad, the iPad 2, and now… the new iPad.

IMG 4202

When Apple did their big announcement on March 7th, I immediately went online that afternoon, pre-ordered one in the largest configuration (WiFi+4G 64GB), and it arrived yesterday afternoon. I am not going to repeat the benefits and new features of the device, since they've been aptly covered by Walt Mossberg and many others. And the new screen with its super-high resolution is really stunning.

Instead, I wanted to put Tim Cook's claim that this is now a "post-PC world" to the test and decided to set up my new iPad without connecting it to either PC or Mac and use my iCloud backup of the old iPad 2 to set up the new iPad.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fun with EPUB

Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2012, which was announced today, adds tons of new features to various products in the MissionKit, including EPUB support in XMLSpy.

Since there has been a lot of recent press and blog coverage of Apple's iBooks Author program, I wanted to point out that an open standards-based alternative exists in the form of EPUB and that we at Altova are fully committed to supporting such open standards.

EPUB is published by the <idpf>, the International Digital Publishing Forum, and is widely supported by various manufacturers and on many devices. The standard is based on XHTML, CSS, SVG, and other well-known web standards and a huge volume of freely available EPUB books already exist today.

Canterville
From "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde, 1906

Let me point out a few useful resources for getting started with the EPUB standard and also outline the new EPUB capabilities in XMLSpy.