Category

Technology

Play the Original Super Mario Bros. in Your Browser

By | Games, Technology, Website | No Comments

HTML5 has brought about some awesome web functionality that doesn’t kill your computer like Flash once did. Together with CSS3 and javascript, it’s a potent combination that is sure to stick around for some time.

Which brings me to my point. Some genius was able to put the entire Super Mario Bros. NES game into a website and make it playable using HTML5! I really like the fact that it’s super widescreen too. Check it out here.

[Image created from fullscreenmario.com screen grab]
Dreamhost

Moving from a Shared Host to a VPS

By | I'm a Nerd, Technology, Website, Wordpress | No Comments

This past weekend marked a change that was long overdue. I had been struggling with my web host, Dreamhost, for about a month trying to figure out why my sites were performing so sluggishly. I have been a longtime Dreamhost advocate and customer (since 2004). I contacted them multiple times and was informed that ‘everything was behaving normally.’ I disagreed.

Then it happened. A week ago, the server hosting my sites (note: this is my and my client sites) had a catastrophic hardware failure. My sites were dead. Things had gone from bad to worse.

Initially their support was responsive and helpful. They said that they would be restoring files from their backups and things should be running normally soon. I gave it a couple of days and things weren’t working. Sites were taking 30-45 seconds to load; if at all. I don’t really consider that working for my clients and decided to pursue the support route. This time they weren’t responsive. In fact, they still have not responded to my direct requests and it has been 5 days.

I started looking to other hosts. I considered Bluehost, Hostgator and some others due to their favorable reviews. I looked into best WordPress hosts now that I’m developing wordpress sites for my clients. I also started looking at VPS hosting. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting promised me dedicated CPU, RAM and HD space at a moderate price increase above shared hosting. Reliving the sluggishness of my sites even before the hardware failure, I was sold.

A weekend of configuration and installation later. I’m loving it. It wasn’t easy, but my new host was awesome and very fast to respond. If you’re looking for a speed boost and more control definitely look into VPS. I can recommend Knownhost.

MailPilot

Perfect Solution for Email & Tasks = Mail Pilot?

By | Software, Technology | No Comments

Mindsense is set to release their new email application Mail Pilot.

I’m excited because of it’s promise of a ‘task-oriented approach.’ Why is this important to me?

My current workflow has me reading emails, flagging ones that have actions associated to them, adding that action to my list of things to do in 2Do with a due date and category, completing the task, marking the item as complete in 2Do (which is pretty good), unflagging the email and then filing it away in a related folder in case I need to refer to it later. This process works for me, but I can’t help but want something that’s all in one place (and syncs across devices). Yep, kind of a headache, isn’t it?

Enter Mail Pilot.

The beta version of the program is set to be slowly released over the next couple of weeks to people who signed up (I’m one of them). You can sign up here if you’re interested in trying it out.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Massive Denial-of-Service Attack on Apple

By | How To, I'm a Nerd, Technology | No Comments

In the form of iOS 7 downloads, that is.

For those who didn’t know, the high anticipated iOS 7 was released for your i gadgets just a few short hours ago. The problem is that it appears that a lot of other people know this too and has effectively killed the ability to update due to service availability errors.

If you’re like me, you’ll be able to download the software, but upon installing and verifying the update you’ll receive an error message: “Software Update Unavailable.” It doesn’t mean it won’t work later, but for now the millions of folks with iPhones and iPads are launching an unintended denial-of-service attack on Apple.

Since you’ll be waiting a few hours, might as well remember the following before updating:
1. Update to iTunes 11.1: take advantage of the new iTunes Radio and have the ability to download the software to your computer if you’re having problems directly in your device. I couldn’t find this on Apple’s site so I got mine by following the link here: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2013/09/download-itunes-11-1.html
2. Back up your iPhone/iPad: You never know if the update will kill your data.

If you get permissions errors after installing iTunes 11.1 (like I did):

1. Quit iTunes
2. Open the ‘Disk Utility’ program
3. Select your hard drive from the list on the left side. It’ll be the second one in the list, most likely labeled ‘HD.’
4. Select the ‘First Aid’ tab in the window area on the right. This will most likely already be selected.
5. Click the ‘Repair Disk Permissions’
6. Wait
7. Once the process is complete, Quit the ‘Disk Utility’ program.
8. Restart your computer
9. Enjoy!

[thank you to flickr user johnwayne2006 for the rotten apple image]

iPhone 5C Announced

By | Technology | No Comments

Apple officially announced the iPhone 5C today alongside the new iPhone 5S.

My take is that Apple is finally enabling their business to go after emerging markets with a lower cost device. Samsung has been cleaning up on the continent of Africa so we’ll see if this device can gain some traction.

[image sourced from Engadget]
Photoshop and Lightroom

Photographer’s Best Software Friend(s) Just Got Even Better

By | Photography, Technology | No Comments

You can have Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for $10 a month. They’re even throwing in 20GB cloud space and a ProSite to Behance.

They’re calling it the Photoshop Photography Program and it’s in direct reply to the thousands of photographers out there that weren’t happy about having to pay $50 / month for Adobe Creative Cloud. I can’t blame them.

If you take photographs then I can’t recommend any two programs better than these guys. Lightroom for all your storage, management and editing needs with Photoshop there for the more advanced techniques. Are you still reading this? Go sign up.

But you better hurry up as you must sign up by December 31st, 2013. I guess you don’t really need to hurry, but in my opinion it’s a no-brainer.

[source: Adobe Blog]

Will I buy a Sony QX-100? Probably.

By | Photography, Technology | No Comments

UPDATE: The yet to be announced Sony QX-100 and QX-10 (they’re coming tomorrow) are an interesting step in photo tech. Take the body of a camera out of the picture and you’re left with a lens and sensor. Replace body with your smart phone and you’re all set.

The QX-100 ($500) will have has the same 1-inch sensor as my beloved RX100 which means this thing will take some awesome pics.

F/1.8 aperture size means it’ll be descent in low light.

It is about the size of my 18-55mm lens on my NEX-5 which isn’t very big. Possibly pocketable. QX-10 ($250) definitely looks pocketable, but sacrifice on quality.

What really intrigues me is the ability to have these two things in separate places. You can, for example, put the QX-100 next to a bird feeder and you stand 100 ft. (UPDATE: It has a tripod mount) away with your iPhone snapping pictures and taking video. All via Wifi.

One reason I wouldn’t buy? It apparently doesn’t shoot RAW. Another, might be the battery life UPDATE: Shoots 200 images…read, not great.

Looking forward to learning more about this when I wake up in the morning. Reading about it now.

[image sourced from Sony website] [leaked news sourced via MacRumors, Apple Insider as part of a leaked press release earlier today]
Manyatta Rent Logo

Manyatta Rent v. Safaricom

By | Startups, Technology | No Comments

Manyatta Rent is a startup in Nairobi, Kenya whose product helps people pay their rent via Safaricom’s M-Pesa system. This means you can pay rent using your mobile phone. I had a blast working with the co-founders Steve and Duncan during my time there. Helped them with their branding and their website. Now they’re battling the giant that is Safaricom that loves copying ideas.

Turns out that Safaricom is now coming out with their own mobile rent payment product roughly a year after Manyatta Rent. Problem is it sounds like they may have borrowed an idea or two from Steve.

Manyatta Rent is not the only startup who has had problems with Safaricom moving into their turf. M-Pepea offered instant loans via M-Pesa and Safaricom introduced a similar product a few months after M-Pepea was released. I also worked with M-Pepea on their product. It’s a tough situation and shows you need to innovate to win and sometimes watch who you partner with.

Original story at HumanIPO: http://www.humanipo.com/news/30253/safaricom-stole-my-idea-claims-manyattarent-founder/

Leap Motion Device

Leap Motion Initial Review

By | Review, Technology | No Comments

I recently received my brand new Leap Motion Controller in the mail.  I had a gift certificate from Best Buy so I figured why not give it a try.

I read about this project months ago where they were demonstrating a device that would bring ‘Minority Report-like’ controls to life.  Consider me interested.  I followed this device somewhat loosely as I wasn’t sold on motion controls, but with implementations like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

Out of the box you have this tiny little device that’s about the size of a package of Watermelon Bubble Yum.  You plug it into an available USB port, download the software and you’re all set.

You are taken through a series of demos that show how the device tracks your hands and familiarizes you with the space you can work within.  It shows your hand tracking in 3D space.  Not a functional piece of software, but it gets you pretty excited to use this thing.  It’s amazingly accurate at tracking your movements.

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Once you get past the Orientation you enter the Airspace store where, like the Apple App Store, are able to purchase additional software that can make use of the Leap Motion device. It’s a nice store, laid out well and easy to find new software. The selection is fairly limited for now, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the selection almost double so there are obviously people developing for this.

What’s my take?

Now that it’s 2013 we’re starting to see some really great uses of touch controls on tablet and computing devices.  Remember when the iPhone first came out?  The touch felt more like a gimmick than an benefit and people complained that it would never be as fast as using their traditional keys on their Blackberry devices.  Now you never hear anyone complain about the touch screen and we’re seeing more and more UX/UI changes that really utilize the technology.  Swiping to access menus just makes sense.  Multiple fingers to access different functionality on the fly is efficient.

Why am I talking about touch screens when this thing requires you to touch nothing?  Growing pains.  Like every new innovate technology it takes years to be able to really truly make good use of it. Look at the Playstation.  It typically takes developers 2-3 years to able to make really stunning games that can use the full capability of the system.  It’s proven that that cycle is shorter now, but the analogy holds true.

Every day, more and more apps are added to the Airspace store by developers.  I give it a couple of months and we’ll start to see some original content that really takes advantage of this device.  It’s too early to say it’s not worth it; after all, I kind of said the same thing about the iPhone.