iPhone Keyboard

Dvorak aka Nostradamus seems to have sources that say the fatal flaw in the iPhone is the keyboard. Of course he’s been wrong a few times.

“The keyboard is a disaster, and people are going to return the phone in droves. I’m guessing 20% will go back.”

One important thing to note is that the iPhone has an iPod connection on the bottom. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Blackberry style keyboard attachment that snaps onto the bottom for those who don’t like the feel of glass. I’m sure someone is already looking into this.

Regardless, I think the market for accessories on the iPhone will be very interesting to watch.

Update: Walt Mossberg posted his take as did David Pogue.

According to Walt Mossberg:

On the keyboard…

The virtual keys are large and get larger as you touch them. Software tries to guess what you’re typing, and fix errors. Overall, it works. But the error-correction system didn’t seem as clever as the one on the BlackBerry, and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying.

On what’s missing…

…There’s no instant messaging, only standard text messaging. While its two megapixel camera took excellent pictures in our tests, it can’t record video. Its otherwise excellent Web browser can’t fully utilize some Web sites, because it doesn’t yet support Adobe’s Flash technology….

Countdown to Meebo being iPhone compatible commences now. I’m surprised about the inability to recording video. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the feature added in the future. No flash? I think that’s just temporary as well. I don’t think Adobe wants to miss out on this market.

There’s of course much more in that review, I’d recommend giving it a read. It’s a real nice summary that goes into many aspects of the phone.

David Pogue had a somewhat similar take on the iPhone. Overall pretty positive. He does make this interesting note:

But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.

You can’t follow Apple hardware and not read what these guys have to say. I’ve been waiting for their takes on the iPhone for a while.

Google Interstitial RSS Page

Dear Google,

Every time I want to add a feed to Google Reader using Firefox, I am sent to a page that prompts me to decide if I want to use my Google Homepage or Google Reader. I have over 200 feeds in my reader, and hence have been asked over 200 times about this critical decision. It’s annoying and just a pain in the butt. It would be great if you can just remember my preference and get out of my face. Should I reconsider this option, I will promptly visit the account page and update my preference so that I am prompted repeatedly.

Regards,
Robert Accettura

P.S: I’m still waiting for a Google Phone, so I can compare it to the iPhone.

Google Used For Spam

This happened a few weeks ago. I kept it quiet and reported it. Hasn’t happened again, and I haven’t heard anything, so I presume it’s fixed.

It appears spammers have learned to hijack Google Alerts for spamming purposes. By setting up an alert with a spam text, the email is sent through Google’s mail servers. Because it’s plain text, most Email clients will parse the link in an email to make it clickable. Effectively Google is running an open mail server. Here’s what I saw when I visited Google’s site to see if it really was in my account:

Google Spam

So apparently a spammer was smart enough to realize they could hijack this functionality to send spam through Google. I emailed Google a few week ago about this problem, and didn’t hear back. I haven’t seen another, so I presume they fixed this problem by now. From what I’ve read Google is pretty prompt with this stuff.

This just shows how careful you need to be with security of web forms. Even something innocent sounding like this can be hijacked to send nasty payloads. A spammer could have used this to send links to infected files, etc. All looking like legitimate Google emails (because they are from Google).

Here’s what the email looks like (slightly sanitized by me):

Continue reading

Firefox Tip: Tab Management

Some of you may know this one, but some may not. You can middle click (press the mouse wheel) on any link to open it in a new tab. To close a tab, just middle click on the tab. This is often much faster than going to the red “X”.

By default Firefox only shows the tab bar when multiple tabs are open. This is done to keep the UI simple, and maximize the space available for the page itself. Other browsers such as IE 7 keep the Tab UI visible at all times. If you prefer this, you can change it by going into Tools -> Options and clicking on the “Tabs? tab. Then check the box next to “Always show the tab bar”.

Always Show Tabs

Firefox Tip: Master Password

Love the password manager? Previously I provided a tip for haters. Here’s one for the lovers. Use a master password, this allows you to use one password to provide security, but without needing to remember all those others you have. To set one go into the
“Tools” menu and select “Options” and click on the “Security” tab. Now check where it says “Use a master password”. You’ll be prompted to create one. It will even show you how good your password is.

If you need help generating a good secure password, check out SafePasswd.com.

Firefox Tip: Don’t Let Websites Resize Your Browser Window

Have a favorite website that still thinks its 1999? Resizes your browser window into a small awkward space? It can be annoying. You have that big display, and you should be able to use it. Thankfully you can prevent this. Just go into Tools-> Options and select the “Content” tab. Then click on the “Advanced” button across from “Enable JavaScript”. Uncheck the “Move or resize existing windows” checkbox. Now you don’t have to deal with this.

Safari Redux

I said yesterday:

  • Security – I have a feeling this will make it much more of a target to hackers. So far Safari has fared pretty well. I guess we’ll see.

Well, that didn’t take long.

The bottom line is: web browsers are complicated pieces of software that deal with a ton of different technologies and render code written by people you shouldn’t trust. While countless security measures are taken, nothing short of floating a hard drive in outer space will be secure, and even then… you never know.

Security is partially about preventing problems, and largely about dealing with them.

WWDC 2007

Here’s my take on WWDC happenings for this year. These must be fun to be at. Especially in recent years with all the buzz about Apple. Yes this is a long post, but this is one of the big events of the year for developers and Mac users. Being a web developer with some software orientation, and a Mac user, it’s highly relevant. So here we go…

General

  • Webcast – Once upon a time Apple used to webcast the big events, why has this gone away? In the age of video, why has Apple exited? They used to claim records for it. Thankfully many websites post live updates of what’s going on (even with images) to keep those not fortunate enough to attend informed.
  • Apple Redesign – To accompany the announcements they redesigned the site a bit, redoing the tabs on the top that have been there forever with a more modern look, it’s also only top level sections now. Looks like the site is powered by prototype.

Mac OS X Leopard

Leopard

  • Stacks – Awesome. This has a slight resemblance to the old “Launcher” Control Panel, but much better.
  • Finder Cover FlowThe new finder looks sweet, likely useful for images, but little else. For some reason I don’t think sorting through spreadsheets and word documents (or source code) is going to be that great. I could be wrong. PDF support is a nice touch though. I wonder if it will read iTunes data for mp3’s and use the right cover art, or just show an generic mp3 graphic.
  • Search other Mac’s over Spotlight – Cool, but having cross platform support would be even better. And much more attractive for “switchers” and those who use dual platforms on a daily basis.
  • Leopard 64bit – Hopefully this won’t result in compatibility problems (they claim it won’t). Other than that… sweet. Oh wait, I have a G4 Mac Mini at home. Blasted!
  • Quick Look – Another sweet enhancement. Hopefully the delay in slower computers won’t be to the point where the word “Quick” is like a cruel joke.
  • Core AnimationCore Animation is awesome. I do wonder what this does to battery life on laptops. I wonder if this will be like Aero is to Windows Vista, and known as a battery sucking waste. I hope it’s at least able to be disabled, or ideally automatically scaled back when on battery.
  • New Bootcamp – Nothing really groundbreaking here. Just hope it can be done so Parallels or VMWare can share the same install as Bootcamp.
  • Spaces – I’ve loved this on Linux for a long time. I’m glad to see Apple adopting it. I think Mac users who haven’t used it before will really appreciate it.
  • Dashboard Widgets – I’m a moderate widget user. I’ll be spending more time with them in the near future as both a developer and a user. I think we can have some fun together.
  • iChat – Do people still use that? I guess some do for the video part, though I wonder how many know others with such a setup, and the bandwidth/willingness to use it. I would have thought Adium would have destroyed it’s market share a long time ago. That said I WANT the R2D2 Leia projection.
  • Time Machine – This is a great utility. Really nice. I wonder if Apple will start making dual hard drive computers standard and push for using 1 dedicated for backup. Considering the price of disks, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Notable exception being laptops.
  • Pricing – $129 for 1 license, $199 for family pack (5 licenses). That’s a great deal. A 5 pack for less than Vista. Actually a little less, since I can get a corporate discount as many can through their employer, or if your in school through them. So when are pre-orders taken?

Safari

Safari 3.0

  • “Most innovative browser” – Really? Yea, your tabs are really innovative. Never seen that before. Ooh extensions? No that’s a Firefox thing. Tabs aren’t innovative for several years now, they are in every application/website on the net. They were innovative in 2000. Safari has a minimal UI. Sell simplicity not innovation.
  • On Windows – My testing showed it to be fairly stable on windows, and pretty fast. Looks like it uses NPAPI so it uses any plugin Firefox or Opera uses. Overall very easy for most web developers to support. Only bad thing will be developers who assumed Safari was Mac OS X only when sniffing the User Agent. I don’t think there are too many cases like this, but those could cause problems.
  • Widget Theming – This is what I was most curious about. Safari does use Mac widgets for buttons and other form inputs. I presume this was done to keep things as consistent as possible across browsers. Looks a little strange on Windows, but not bad. Then again, I’m a Mac guy.
  • Security – I have a feeling this will make it much more of a target to hackers. So far Safari has faired pretty well. I guess we’ll see.
  • Anti-Aliasing – Very well done!

iPhone

  • App Development – Didn’t get a clear picture if apps all run online or are run offline. If they are offline, that makes for 3 current offline support specs. IMHO that’s a disaster in the making. I’d like to learn more about this though. This could be a lot of fun. Perhaps by 2nd Gen or 3rd Gen I’ll get an iPhone and play.
  • Google Development – Mention of Google developing apps this way. I guess it is possible/likely to see YouTube featured on the iPhone. I’m pretty certain GMail and Google Reader will be supported.