Room for +1 More?

Hey again,

I’m back again having some issues focusing on writing, and I’ve been pushing everyone I know to try Google+, and for longer than a week or so. No, I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I really think it can be excellent. The trouble with Wave is (was) that there was no public release. The trouble with Buzz (and in my opinion Foursquare and Facebook Places and the like) is that it is TOO dependent on location. + has found a good balance between Facebook and Twitter in terms of brevity, location and personalization. So far the big shortcoming I can see is that there is an inability to tag, you can only control who has the ability to see posts. Notifications so far only come in the form of people +1ing posts, people adding you to their circles and finally people making comments on posts.

When more people join the network, the ability to let people know you’ve sent them something will be crucial. I can envision IM, “email-type” messaging from one person to another right in your stream, concentrated sharing to one group, and finally “tweet-type” posts that are public, either to everyone in all your circles or to anybody who is watching.

The enticing thing about this social network is that it is a great place to “Hangout”, as in group video chat. After using this only once to test it, I VERY much like it. The feature which allows you to add a YouTube clip to the group is perfect for sharing music with people and discussing it in real time. Also, once an iOS app is released, presumably with the Huddle functionality built-in, group texting will be available between smartphones, as well as possibly between any group of cell phones. My favourite part of this service is that it is built-in to Google’s other services. So far I do have a couple of other gripes, such as when I am in chat on Gmail as well as on + they are completely separate protocols, and turning one off doesn’t turn off the other. Also, it would be very nice to have the ability to see how many unread emails (perhaps with a similar dropdown box) I have in the fancy new black bar, which could be a very nice unified menu for all Google Services (like Reader as well for example).

Lastly, there is the matter of “invites” to Google+. I would like to describe to you the story of how I came to get onto + (within 24 hours of it being released). I signed up for an invite as soon as possible through Google, and then I heard one friend had gotten an account. I had him share something with me by email through +, and I was in after clicking on the link. It’s as simple as that, I’ve done it with several people. I promise you that this site will get better as soon as more people start using it, and Google will continue to add features based on your experiences and issues to make it GREAT.

I do hope I have given you a few reasons to try out + on more than a trial basis. It really is a very nice experience, and I have said that as soon as an iOS app is released, I’m planning on converting to only + and deactivating Facebook, at least in solidarity with the hope that Google+ is as successful as I know it should be. Happy sharing!

-Robert

Root Access For All!

Hey again, I broke through the one post barrier!

I want to say a few things about jailbreaking iOS products because everybody seems to be either very apprehensive or afraid of doing this, when in reality the jailbreak community is a beautiful place and allows for a huge amount of customization which would otherwise not be possible. All a jailbreak does is allow root access to your phone (in other words, allows you to change things which Apple hasn’t explicitly allowed through their App Store) as well as install a third-party app/tweak store called Cydia (the Latin name of a worm which lives inside of and eats apples….mmmm apples).

Many, MANY people talk tirelessly about the differences between iPhone vs. Android vs. BB etc. and which one is better and more open and these types of things, but the fact is, they are both extremely similar. Apps in the iPhone app store are submitted to Apple just like they are submitted to the Android market. These two development environments are extremely similar and neither is truly open. Any discussion of features provided by either (with the exception of hardware differences such as NFC chips and dedicated buttons) depends only on developers. I personally prefer iOS because its coding allows for much smoother scrolling and switching, it just feels better to me.

With the release of iOS 5, many people will probably not bother to jailbreak, because so many nice features the jailbreak community has released are making their way into the official release. Of note is the pull-down notification centre (very similar to the tweak LockInfo) as well as the ability to sync via WiFi when the phone/tablet is charging. Note that Cydia does not mean that apps or tweaks are free, it is just that they give functionality which Apple does not allow in accordance with their terms with developers.

Finally, when it comes to iOS using Flash-based webpages, which everybody refers to as one of the major drawbacks of the platform, it is not a shortcoming of Apple, merely a choice which Steve Jobs et al. have made due to compatibility and smoothness issues with the software. The company prides itself strongly on the smoothest and easiest user experience possible, and this means having the user experience be the same or as similar as possible across all devices. Apple chose to stand behind HTML5 (a language which Google is also strongly pushing and which Google uses for all of its services due to its speed and usability) because they feel that in the end that technology allows for a better experience. Apple does NOT like glitches or bugs.

Speaking of glitches and bugs, I have chosen this topic for today because Jailbreakme 3.0 was released today. This allows you to simply point Safari to http://www.jailbreakme.com and start the process. I won’t go so far as to recommend that anybody jailbreak their iOS device, but if you are in any way unsatisfied with Apple’s rules about what you can do with your phone, it is a great and completely reversible (by restoring) way to take back some control of your operating system. Also, it is extremely simple and convenient in this case, and having the app doesn’t require that you use it, so if you’re feeling even the slightest bit adventurous, give it a try. It is an extremely simple program to use and with the simplicity of the web-based jailbreak, now is the time to give it a shot.

I hope I have shed a little bit of light on this topic for those of you who have little technical expertise, and if you are in the market for a smartphone and are having trouble deciding if Apple is worth the extra money, feel free to post questions, I would love to help you out!

-Robert

Blog Odyssey ‘011: The Blogtacular Bloggening

Hello World. (I have always wanted forum to say that)

First of all I would like to introduce myself as well as tell you a little bit about why I decided to start writing and what I hope to get out of it, as well as what I hope you will learn from reading. I don’t know how long I intend this to be just yet, but hopefully I can be precise and brief so as not to keep you too long. For starters, I am 23 years old and as I write that (for the first time mind you, my birthday was yesterday) I get to really contemplate what that means. I am about 10 months into a Masters degree in Chemistry at the University of Ottawa, and I really don’t know what life is all about yet. Why am I doing a Masters? I’m not really sure, everybody is quick to tell me it’s a REALLY good idea though. I’m not thoroughly convinced, but we’ll see.

When asked why I decided to take a graduate degree, I usually say that the economy is bad right now and nobody is hiring, so maybe if I spend a year upgrading my degree with three more letters the job market will be in better shape, and of course everybody wants to hire somebody who has documentation proving they are a Master of something. Right? People tell me I’m of above average intelligence, and I’m inclined to agree with them, but I take that with a grain of salt considering I’m well aware of the existence of many people dragging the average way down. Who’s to say I couldn’t get a good job I’m perfectly suited to right now with no trials or tribulations? I have no idea, I haven’t even tried to look. When asked what I want to do with my adult life, all I can really say so far is that I would love to work at CERN doing some kind of job I would totally be qualified for, or astronaut. Most people who say that have nothing to back it up, whereas I would be a PERFECT astronaut! The only qualifications (yes, I’ve done the research) are 20/20 vision, being in good physical shape (sure I could probably work out more, but this is a dream job, I’d be willing to put some effort in) and a bachelors degree in science or engineering. Hey, wait, I have ALL of those things! So people (mostly family and friends) tell me, what’s stopping you, go to astronaut school. To those people I respond, I don’t think that’s actually a thing, and if it is CSIS is probably doing all the recruiting secretly and I’ve already been passed over.

Alright, I realize that was a little off-topic, but it does give some perspective on where I’m coming from. I know where I want to be and I have some idea of what I want to do, but the fact of the matter is that I would be reasonably happy doing almost any job as long as I would be working with good people doing something that doesn’t drive me crazy. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Now, on to what I think I would like to accomplish by sharing this with you. I live in a world where many, MANY things drive me just a little bit crazy. I can keep it to myself, because honestly nobody really cares that much about little things that much. I’ll try not to complain ad nauseam about things, but for example, I will use SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging.

First off, I LOVE text messaging, it simplifies communication SO much, and we are at the point where more young people text than call, and over 50% of young adults don’t have a landline. That being said, I really want to stop sending SMS messages. They cost money even though they are sent as part of communications your cell phone makes with cell towers anyhow. And they cost a LOT of money. I understand that companies need to make money, but gouging us in these ways to pad the bottom line is turning me off from the service. Especially when there are SO many free alternatives which use the internet. I could talk for hours about this (and I plan to) but the bottom line is that paying for these kinds of things drives me crazy in a digital world where there is so much possibility for improvement.

Secondly, as a goal of writing here for you, I would like to put fingers to keyboard and just write what I think and feel. I keep about 95% of my thoughts to myself because (again) nobody really cares, but I’m not going to make you read this, so I don’t have to feel bad. Eventually this will evolve and I will be able to keep things short and sweet, but I’m not going to regret being verbose for the first little while. As an extension of that point, I haven’t really written anything in a while, and since I’m trying to write up a paper right now, and my thesis in the coming months, it seems like a good idea to work on my style a little, try to find my voice.

Finally, because I could probably go for pages and pages, I would just like to introduce you a little bit to the person I actually am (the person only people who have known me for a while know). I LOVE technology, as well as reading. I currently own a desktop computer, a laptop (both from Dell, before I get accused of being an Apple fanboy), as well as an iPad, and iPhone and iPod nano. As i bought them in order I was able to rationalize each purchase by saying that I really would have a use for it, and in all honesty I do use each of them for different purposes and would say that each of them were well worth the price. I will expand on how and why each of these different devices enhances my understanding of and immersion in the world later, but for now just know that I very much enjoy being connected to the world, and I hope it enjoys being connected to me in the same way.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it, and I look forward to pouring more of myself into the internets in the very near future.

-Robert