You Mean Radio Can Be Received Without Wires?

A new service was just introduced to the iPhone and iPod Touch communities called FlyTunes. It is a website that is designed specifically for the small screens of those devices (it'll work on your full-scale browser too) and makes over 375 "radio stations" available for live streaming over WiFi or EDGE. What a concept!

So, looking more closely... This is a free audio service that will put (relatively) low quality audio at your fingertips virtually anywhere you get an Internet connection. Pardon the lack of excitement.

I am hoping that this site is working on the bells and whistles to make it stand out. So far, it sounds a lot like AM radio to me. As a society, we have left this technology in the dust. If we want localized community, we do use traditional radio. If we want quality, this certainly can't deliver. And, if we want genre-specific micro-programming, we use an iPod. Oh, that's right... the very same device this service was designed to run on.

For FlyTunes to be successful, we'll need to see significant social networking features. We'll need single-click "purchase with iTunes" functionality. Sure, this site is nothing more than re-aggregating content from other sources, so the costs to program are low, but there is not much "there" to FlyTunes.

I figure its the dead-pool for this site within 9 months...

iPhone 2.0 Release Date

For nearly a year, I've suppressed my desire to buy an iPhone. Three months ago, my wife started hounding me for one. There is a lot of pent up demand for something shiny and useful in our household. Much to both our chagrin, I think we'll be waiting a bit longer.

Call me crazy, but I'm predicting the new iPhone 2.0 hardware will launch on the same day as Apple releases their business-centric 2.0 software...and that day will be Friday, June 27, 2008. As a long-time fan of Apple products, you start to see marketing patterns and synergistic strategies repeat themselves. It only makes sense that they release the software and hardware at the same time. Apart, they are good product launches. Together, they are stellar. Last year's June 29th iPhone launch was a home run for sure. Do you really think Apple will stand at the plate and not shoot for a grand slam this time?

Call it a Steve Jobs orchestration with a mix of AT&T appeasement. I am sure that Apple could ramp up production of the new iPhone hardware much sooner than June 27th, but two hurdles stand in their way to rushing the product to market. First, they need to absolutely nail the business software. If they can release a nearly flawless software platform for business, watch out Blackberry. You'll be toast. Second, with Apple twice criticized in the last year with how they have handled iPhone price reductions and memory upgrades, they'll cool their jets until the one year anniversary to make more cahnges. AT&T is also served well by this date. With high-profile press leaks of the new iPhone 2.0 impending release, they'll need to carefully control how they manage their inventory.

So what do I expect in the new iPhone? Honestly, I think the idea of two cameras is neat, but unlikely. 3G is a lock. I bet it will have a removable battery. Otherwise, businesses will have a real reason to say 'no' once again. GPS I'd give 3:2 odd on. I think there is a reasonable shot that the screen technology might change a bit to eek out even more battery life and save space.

Software surprises are likely in store as well. While developers certainly are looking at the second SDK and testing the new business side of the iPhone, I'll hazard to guess that Apple is holding back some consumer improvements. Voice dialing is a sorely missed item on the current version, so I think you'll see that. I also think you might see a video capture (from the existing lens) with direct upload to YouTube. Dot.Mac syncing and deeper ties into life publishing are also areas of likely improvements.

Time will tell. Regardless, my wife and I are going to be waiting at the doors of our local Apple Store on the first day. We've waited long enough to join the revolution...

Twitter Isn't All That...Or Is It?

What is wrong with us these days? I've been testing Twitter for the past three weeks in my own social experiment and I gotta say..."get over yourselves people!"

For those of you who don't know, Twitter is another Web 2.0 application that allows you to broadcast messages about yourself to (potentially) the world. The idea is that you type in short blurbs about your "status" and anyone who wants to tune into your special Twitter channel will be able to see your updates whenever they want. It's like a more immediate form of email, where you don't need to address the message to anyone...it'll just get read by your group of "followers". To see a mile-high view of Twitter messages (called "tweets") in action, I recommend you take a short break and surf to Twittervision.com for two minutes. You'll have an ah-ha moment and then you can continue reading...

I am not saying that Twitter isn't valuable. It is. I am wondering, for those Twitter-addicted people who are constantly using it, where you sneak in any time to actually live.

During my experiment, I would make entries like "going to sleep now" or "headed to the store to buy batteries". It was part of the way I immersed myself in Twitter and it taught me something. Silence is golden, or, more accurately radio silence is golden. Radio silence generally means...Don't transmit for the sake of transmitting, transmit only when you have something valuable to say. Now, clearly the idea of Twitter is that you are transmitting to a friendly group of followers, so the word valuable takes on a different meaning depending on who you are transmitting to; however, I tend to doubt people need to hear that I am buying batteries.

Like any new form of communication, much experimentation is needed to figure out the best way to use it. I really believe that Twitter has stumbled upon a fabulous new genre of communication. If used properly, Twitter can fill a niche area quite well. Twitter is a cross between email and instant messaging, with some potentially interesting aggregation services as well. Twitter messages don't necessarily have to come from you. Other devices and services can be programmed to automatically update your Twitter channel for you. For example, each time I post a new entry in my blog, a piece of code picks up on the new material and sends a Twitter message out with a link to the new blog post. Twitter automation is what starts to really get me excited.

Imagine going about your daily life without having to manually update Twitter. Instead, you set up automation triggers that send out useful Twitter updates on your behalf about critical (remember, that's critical to your audience) items. What if you set up a trigger inside your GPS-enabled cell phone that would post Twitter updates when you arrived at work, left work, went to the mall, went to Starbucks, etc. Your friends (followers) might actually have a better chance to know when to see you in real life and you could live a richer, fuller life.

A real-world example of Twitter automation is that you can rig your plants to Twitter you when they need watering. Besides the incredible geek factor, what's interesting is that that particular Twitter message is most useful to you, not others in your audience. So, Twitter can serve as reminder or To-Do service as well.

I think Twitter will mature over time. Let's hope those that use the service will do so as well. Like TV, the technology is only worthwhile if there's something worth watching. Right now, I think the signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter needs work. That work begins with each one of us as individuals. We need to practice using radio silence and judiciously use Twitter only when (and where) appropriate. Not everyone needs to know you just finished your mocha latte...


It Probably Already Exists

I consider myself pretty tech savvy. I've been using a computer for more than 28 years. In the beginning, I dreamed of what I'd like my computer to do. I thought up crazy things like recording my voice and storing it as a file, live chatting, playing games with people remotely and watching live TV from faraway locales. Years later, nearly all of my ideas have come to fruition in the marketplace.

Nowadays, particularly with the Internet, I find it hard to dream something up that isn't already available. In most cases, for free! While many feel the Internet revolution revolves around search and email, the real revolution is in online software.

So, next time you want your computer to do something new, start a Google search. You're likely to find it. Here are some examples:

And, if you find something you like, go thank an advertiser! Yes, it's the very same invasive advertisers with their voracious appetite to categorize, analyze and scrutinize their potential online customers that are funding these web applications. They continue to pour billions of dollars into R&D budgets of thousands of software companies in order to attract your attention to whatever they're peddling.

Well, they certainly have my attention. And I, for one, don't mind looking past a few banner ads to get all those cool free online programs.

Protect Yourself With Passwords

Personal identity theft is a huge and growing threat to our online lives. It can literally ruin us. Imagine losing your home or a bank account because someone was able to assume your identity. Pretty scary.

We've all seen movies where the technologically-advanced bad guys gain access to an electronic vault or use a supercomputer to break into a computer program which then allows them to siphon funds, undetected, into a Swiss bank account. It's sexy stuff for the movies, but its mostly flights of fancy that are very unlikely to occur to you or me. Unfortunately, there are real personal identity threats with real consequences out there. The most common threat is called social engineering and it's painfully easy to fall victim to it. You may have already fallen into its trap.

For this article, we'll stick to one facet of social engineering...capturing passwords. We'll do so because most personal identity theft starts with an ill-gotten password.

Your password is the key...and the bad guys want it. Yet many surfers just don't see the connection between an insecure web password and real world theft. For example, do you think the password to your email account is no big deal? I'd bet that same password can be used elsewhere on the Net to access your far more lucrative (and vulnerable) accounts.

Ever since there was the Internet, there were websites that needed passwords. They may look innocuous enough, but I strongly suggest taking the establishment of a new account seriously. Unfortunately, you can't trust every website to do what is right. As an example, if I wanted to socially engineer users for their personal identity, I could simply set up a website with promise of free products or a chance to win something. I'd make the site free as long as you signed up for an account. What would I ask for? Your email address and a password to access the site. Of the many passwords people enter, I might get a 3/4 'hit rate' using that same password on various other sites where that person used that same username and password combination. Perhaps they even use the same password for their bank account. Sound like you?

For this reason, my passwords and usernames change with every site I am visiting. I won't tell you my scheme, but if you don't have one...get on it immediately!

Here is a list of excellent articles related to passwords and why you must protect yourself...now!
SilverMarc's Blog Posting
G-Archiver Program Steals GMail Passwords


Apple Does It Wrong?

I am an avid reader of Wired magazine going back to its very first extremely "loud" neon-ink edition. I am also a very big fan of Apple, Inc. So, when I came across this article, I found the title so intriguing that I just had to read it. I hope you will too.

How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

Let me know your thoughts!