A small, well-reasoned update.

When I launched this site earlier this year, my intention was to have a place to expound on topics that interested me. In the time since I began, I’ve added a series of social networks and other sites to my daily use. Most significantly, a Tumblr, and Posterous. Tumblr was supposed to be a place for pithy little observations and pics as funny things happen around me. Posterous snuck up on me because its use mechanics are so ingenious, and having discovered it, I was instantly smitten. As time wore on, I realized that most people’s attention spans (mine included), not to mention their time allotments for Internet leisure time, were not large enough to always accommodate the longer format. Even my hardcore blogger friends are expressing a feeling of change, since Twitter effectively killed all of our motivation to do any extended writing.

So in light of these events, I’ve decided to make MoS more of a destination than a specific tool. Squarespace is such a great platform, I felt like if all I was doing was simply writing a little here and there then I was wasting its potential. It’s extremely extensible, and in spending time with it, I’ve enjoyed fleshing it out a bit more. I’ll be posting from a variety of places now, including Flickr and Posterous, but pushing the updates here and will use the Tumblr as a “sister site” for shorter ideas or funny things that may come my way. Of course, I’m already changing my mind about things, so who’s to say it won’t change again, but for now, I think it’s of more value to the occasional interested reader or friend who wants to see what’s quite literally going on in my head. I know I personally find it tiring to follow a series of sites for every person I’m interested in following, so in an effort to stem the infoverload (which was, in fact, a motivation behind this whole project, AND a term I’m totally coining right now) I’m trying to streamline while still being able to feel like I’m being at least a little creative.

I’m constantly fighting the battle of content vs. clutter, though, so there may by more changes afoot as my design sensibilities change. Be warned.

That being said, in the interest of full disclosure, I spent the entire day inside at the beach, trying to keep my flows of ideas moving, and completely wasted some beautiful weather. Absolute summer FAIL. At least today, I have something to show for it.

Gadget dreams.

You know you’re in trouble when you start dreaming about your gadgets, and I’ve been there for a while. Last night I had a bizarre dream in which I had just arrived in a tropical locale, possibly Aruba. My iPhone screen, though under no duress, cracked in my hand. Then it cracked again. And I was to be on the island for a week or more. I found an Apple Store, in which only some of the products were available, and which basically looked like a tiki bar that happened to sell Apple products. The lady I spoke to told me that while my iPhone was under warranty, they didn’t have any in stock – that is, anywhere on the island – but they might be able to have one flown in from a nearby store. As I stared at the now ridiculously cracked screen in my hand, I told her to go ahead with this plan. It was shortly after this point that I woke up, and with groggy, sleep-filled eyes saw my actual phone on the nightstand, screen secure in its non-cracked glory. I laid back down, and returned to slumber, relieved in the fact that such an atrocity had not occurred.

Yes, I know. I have a problem.

Dropping the ball.

When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, a lot of people scratched their heads and wondered aloud why exactly Apple was partnering with AT&T. Well, Verizon passed on it, believing it to be a failure in the making (and cementing their place in the annals of ‘Bad Business Decison-Making History’ in retrospect), and that left two smaller carriers on different mobile network protocols. So it seemed AT&T was the only choice.

There were a lot of feelings of contsternation, but eventually everyone accepted it and it was laid to rest. Mostly. The phone became a huge success, a cultural phenomenon, and a business coup for Apple, and AT&T rode it all the way to the bank, putting up massive subscriber numbers every quarter. With the advent of the App Store in the summer of 2008, Apple added another layer of complexity to the equation, as independent developers were allowed to touch the vaunted platform (officially) for the first time outside of the quasi-illegal (depending on your definition of the DMCA’s nature and whether or not it was applicable in this case) jailbreak option.

One of the things that a lot of people wanted to see what a decent VoIP option. What application would be the first to offer such functionality? Skype arrived in early 2009, but was limited to Wi-Fi only for calling, although chat and other features were available on 3G. Truphone was also an entrant into this arena, but with less recognition among the general public. Google Voice stepped up, and was believed to be a strong contender, but this week Apple rejected it summarily from App Store contention, and upon further investigation, it was brought to light that AT&T was directly responsible for the action. Many are positing that although the move was contentious and viewed as poor judgment (based on the fact that Skype is available, for instance) it was to be expected, as Apple and AT&T share a relationship based on an understanding that the subsidized price of the phone will be recouped over time with a wireless plan and other options. Allowing a user to operate outside of this arrangement would cannibalize AT&T’s profits.

And finally, here’s a lovely notion that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around. Today Macworld published an article stating that “Apple has told the U.S. Copyright Office that modifying the iPhone’s operating system could crash a mobile phone network’s transmission towers or allow people to avoid paying for phone calls”. Apparently, the jailbreaking process, which Apple has opposed since day one, as it allows experienced users access to the baseband radio, poses a threat to AT&T’s network infrastructure. The article goes on to state that the filing also mentions that “jailbreaking affords an avenue for hackers to accomplish a number of undesirable things on the network”.

What’s that Penn and Teller show I’m thinking of right now? Oh, right.

There’s no way – no way – that I’m going to believe that a hacker with a jailbroken iPhone poses a greater threat to AT&T’s network security than an equally experienced hacker with a laptop and a wireless broadband card does. Yet there is no mention of this kind of security worry. Read that first statement again:

…modifying the iPhone’s operating system could crash a mobile phone network’s transmission towers or allow people to avoid paying for phone calls.

That last part is very telling, isn’t it? AT&T’s not really worried about securing network facilities, because if they were, they’d be sweating every able hacker with a wireless card in his/her laptop. But they definitely don’t want people subverting the constraints of the money machine they’ve put into place with iPhone voice and data plans, because that would severely hurt their bottom line.

Moreover, they’ve crippled other apps in the past (see Sling Player for an example) that would have used the network to stream large amounts of data. They know the network can’t keep up with the iPhone user base. It’s been proven time and again (SXSW, CES) that they dragged their heels into the upgrade process and now are panicking and dropping usability features for users to protect their coffers.

Apple even acknowledges this, albeit in a very tongue-in-cheek way, as evidenced by the comments from this year’s WWDC keynote regarding both MMS and tethering. Surely they can’t be happy with the fact that the carrier they partnered with for this game-changing device has hamstrung progress at every step of the way. AT&T is basically, at this point, riding out the severely limited 3G network’s capabilities as they prep for 4G. But we’re all left to wonder: will Apple still care by the time they get there?

I hope not, because I love my tech for what it does – not what it should be able to do, in the hands of a more capable provider. 

Thanks for nothing, Twitter.

Earlier this week, sensitive Twitter documents were exposed due to the work of some nefarious character. As a result, co-founder @ev advised in a tweet the dangers of having easy-to-crack passwords. I have long put off updating my passwords across the board, but decided, since I had some time, I would finally do it. I can’t remember the last time I made a mistake this egregious.

I changed my password one time, and Twitter locked me out of my own account. I googled how to get back in, and found that I can reset my password through an email that Twitter will generate. So I did this. Fine, I’m back in. Log out, I’m LOCKED OUT AGAIN. So I begin the process again. Back in. Make a few posts, log out, LOCKED OUT AGAIN. I checked to make sure that no other clients are accessing my account. Nothing’s on. I can’t do anything. Every time I try something, I get locked out. How long am I out for? I don’t know, as Twitter’s advice is for me to “chillax”.

Thanks, Pauly Shore. I’m glad that all I need to do in order to get back into my account is “chillax”.

So I’m still locked out of my own account, with no way to get back in short of changing my password AGAIN, and I can’t believe how piss-poor this system is. I’m so glad that I decided to make my life more difficult by trying to protect my sensitive personal information. Had I known it would be this unbearable, I would have simply jammed needles into my eyes as opposed to going through this endless process.

Tech confession.

I’m emotionally split when I see people rocking a ridiculously old cellphone. Part of me wants to laugh and jump up and down and point at them and make them feel as silly as possible for still using something that old when there are SO many other options. I mean, come on! You can walk into any carrier store and pretty much walk out with a better phone for free! I can’t even imagine the presumably god-awful battery life on that thing. How long does it hold a charge, that Nokia you got in ’99? An hour? Fifteen minutes? One call?

Conversely, I’m secretly a little jealous that their life is, at least on the surface, perfectly manageable with such a device. All they really need to do is make phone calls, and they might not even do that so much. No one’s buzzing them with emails, demanding action on their part. I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat because I had a nightmare that I was forced to give up my iPhone for something like a RAZR. And then, a tiny voice, deep, deep inside whispers, “would it really be that bad?”

It’s usually at those moments that I grab my current phone and fire up no fewer than six different apps in quick succession to prove to myself that it’s totally worth it. Because if I start doubting now, the entire architecture of my adult life and livelihood comes crashing down around me. Ah, who am I kidding? It’s pretty freaking awesome. Yeah, so suck it, hopelessly old phone users. There, now I feel better.