I aired this thought online this morning thinking it was innocent enough and that most people would agree with the fact that on Windows 8, it's pretty hard to see notifications that have happened in the past.
I was wrong. It seems the common feeling of most out there right now is that 'Live Tiles' on Windows 8 are enough, and that they provide enough information at a glance to quickly be informed on what's going on, but I disagree. They have a number of large flaws that are being overlooked.
Live tiles are a great system in many ways, and Windows Phone has been extremely effective at demonstrating this, but they have major issues with scaling, both in their sheer numbers and when a large number of notifications come in.
I found this particularly frustrating when Windows Phone first launched. I would often find that when a deluge of information is sent to the phone – such as a Facebook status update with a large amount of comments, or multiple text messages – the tile couldn't present it in a way that reflected the history (how old they were) nor could it differentiate different actions other than just displaying a number. Even worse, there are so many different places to check for different actions, the “Me” tile for Facebook/Twitter, Messages for SMS, individual application notifications and more.
Windows 8 suffers from the same problem. Maybe you've been having a conversation on Windows Live Messenger (why isn't there Skype support yet?) with two or three different people through the Messaging hub and you walk away and come back in three hours. You have 10 messages waiting, but you don't have time to read them over right now. With Windows 8, you have to wait for the tile to flick through each and every one. If it had a notification centre, you could pull it up, skim over the separate messages and carry on with your day.
This leads me to my next point. What if, while you were away, you received 10 new IM's, three new emails, one Facebook message and two game notifications. You get back to your PC, and you have to open each application one by one to go over the notifications and clear them. You could skim them without opening, but those notifications stay unread in that state. But what if you have 50 applications? Or 100? I'm sure over time – just like any PC – users will experience application overload. Then, it's actually a mundane and frustrating task having to scroll and actually actively look for what's happened since you've been away.
Similarly, another issue caused by the lack of an aggregated place for notifications is when users do get application overload, or choose to unpin applications, how do they receive alerts? My guess is as good as yours, but as it stands, they disappear into the abyss as soon as the alert slides off the side of the screen.
I really don't think there's an excuse to not have one anymore. Users shouldn't have to work to find out what's been happening in their world, and Windows Phone's motto was always 'Glance and Go,' so how about we add some functionality that lets us do that in more complex situations?
It's obviously far too late now, since Windows 8 hits the corporate 'street' on Monday, but maybe it should be added, before we all get overload.
I've always been a fan of the physical keyboard, and have long been a sceptic of whether the coming tablet deluge would be able to move me (and the consumer market) away from physical keys, or just end up being another companion device until serious input is required, at which time the keyboard comes back out again.
Until July, I had not owned a tablet PC and had held off getting one for a while since I didn't see the purpose of one in my life. The laptop was enough, I figured, and continued to lug it around. I'd always thought that if I were to get a tablet, I'd have to get an external keyboard for it, since on screen keyboards weren't enough considering how much typing I do.
I have a laptop, why do I need one?
While I was overseas in the US, I had my Chromebook with me (since it's the lightest laptop I have) and was a little tired of having to carry it around. In San Francisco, I found myself accidentally in the Apple Store downtown and literally made a snap decision to purchase the new iPad. For what it's worth, I've never spent any significant amount of time with the iPad and hadn't really seen it's value as much more of an entertainment device and was purchasing it for this reason.
After I started using the iPad, I realized that by the end of the trip I hadn't been reaching for an external keyboard or a laptop since I had purchased it. The on screen keyboard really is good enough; if you get tired of typing with the iPad on your knees then it's simple enough to switch to the split keyboard and hold it instead. Not only is the keyboard good, it's light. I can slip it into a backpack or bag and barely notice the difference.
I never thought I'd say this, but in the thirty days since I've gotten a tablet (and all the travelling I did in-between), I have used my PC a total of two times. Once to play Starcraft II, and another when I was a bit too tired to aim at the screen and type.
It turns out that the iPad can perform almost every task I need to do that I usually use a laptop for. I can write emails, surf the internet, watch videos, play games, download movies and manage my pictures. And the best part? It's consistent, never crashes and is effortless to carry around. It really is the best device on market right now to begin the 'Post-PC' era.
Tablets still don't go far enough yet
Whilst I'm a big fan of what the iPad does, I don't think it goes far enough yet, and I think Microsoft has it a bit backwards and takes their tablet idea a little too far. I want a device that is my computer, can be docked in any orientation, and when docked, behaves like my computer does. However, when I don't have the appropriate input devices (keyboard, mouse), I don't want to see “touch-optimized” desktop bullshit. I want the immersive, touch experience. I don't think Microsoft understands that users don't want to deal with “PC-era” conventions – like the desktop – on the go.
Ubuntu for Android is exactly what I imagine the future could be, a phone that only acts like a phone when you're on the go, but when it's docked you get the entire PC experience. It's hard to say when/if that will actually come to fruition in the commercial world, but hopefully phone manufacturers start looking past just the mobile OS soon.
I'm a tablet convert, and I won't be carrying a laptop anymore.
I was reading through this fascinating article about former Facebook employee, Katherine Losses' disillusion with Facebook and how she moved away from the company.
As part of the customer service team, she was supposedly given a 'master password' (we knew this existed) that gives access to any Facebook data. Apparently, this includes passwords;
“She could go into pages to fix technical problems and police content. Losse recounted sparring with a user who created a succession of pages devoted to anti-gay messages and imagery. In one exchange, she noticed the man’s password, “Ilovejason,” and was startled by the painful irony.”
Seriously? Facebook doesn't encrypt their users' passwords, and their staff can just access them? What is going on here? The password should be hashed, both in the database and in transit, so how was she able to access it? This is absolutely unacceptable, and horribly bad security practice. Nobody inside the company should be able to decrypt the password manually and it definitely should not be stored in an easily accessible manner.
This is terrifying to hear, especially if the company still practices giving their staff (no matter how 'important' they are) this level of access. Other companies, like Google, are never able to retrieve information like this and must reset users' passwords to gain access to accounts.
Windows 8 exposes the great danger of Microsoft's vision: a software environment that forces you to go “PC” when all you want is the “Plus” bit. If the iPad has taught us anything at all, it's that there's a lot of people out there who are happy with pure tablets, and actively desire pure tablets.
This is exactly what makes me wonder if Microsoft may have shipwrecked themselves with Windows 8. I've always stood by the thought that people want an iPad, not another PC.
“Windows 8 gets a lot right, but its PC side is still there, and it's inescapable.”
The PC is associated in the mentality of most users with a special kind of hell that includes viruses, tune ups and other things that users hate doing. Viruses almost non-existent today, but users still don't seem to understand that a banner online offering free smilies isn't legit and could change the way their computer operates.
An iPad “just works” because it's got a limited set of tasks to perform and it does those extremely well. Users don't really care about the PC part on tablets because without it, they work in an extremely simplistic and reliable manner, and that's how it's marketed. Nothing can really go wrong, because it's sand-boxed. You can use the entire device, full time, without a keyboard, too.
Do users really want a PC for a tablet, where virtually anything can happen because it's got such a vast feature set? I still don't think so. Why would they?
HTC released their forecast for Q3 2012 today, and it's not looking good.
“HTC saw profit more than halve in the second quarter after European sales disappointed and phones destined for the U.S. market were held up by customs inspections.”
I have to be honest, I think I can see why. The One Series line up has been somewhat of a botched release, not only do there seem to be widespread QA issues, the One series was released around the same time that the Galaxy SIII was. They've pitched it against a phone that's gained almost 'holy grail' status in the Android world, and haven't bothered to price it competitively to it.
I wrote a glowing review on the HTC One X a few months back, and even jumped ship from iOS and donated my iPhone to my girlfriend. It was a great device, initially. After a few months of owning one, though, I am left wanting something more and regretting my initial review. It's hard to see the issues that are coming so early in a release cycle.
I am stuck with a phone that can't even get through a day without needing a charge, is unstable, has a cracked screen (despite dropping the device only 15cm) and an OS that HTC pretty much ruined with Sense UI.
I've had a lot of history with the ROM flashing scene, and had been holding off jumping back in with the HTC One. I had hoped, that maybe this device would have been the first I don't have to flash to get to a point where it's enjoyable to use. However, after becoming curious as to if I could actually use the device without becoming frustrated anymore, I flashed an AOKP release of Jellybean onto my One X. Despite it's very early development phase, I can tell you now that it's clear to me that HTC really has botched the software on the One X. My battery life is now **literally* quadruple that of the stock ROM and performance is… smooth. Sure, these might be thanks to Jellybean, but I can't figure out why it's so poor with Sense UI.
I have colleagues that also purchased the One X and have the same issues. Laggy UI, poor battery life and generally poor build quality. I've also personally owned two devices, both with the same issues. However, there are others out there on the XDA forums that are seeing insane battery life. It's not hard to see why the Samsung Galaxy SIII does so well, it's earned the title of being the most stable, well built and reliable device that isn't an iPhone.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the SIII, something about the faux-metal finish and the way it looks irks me. Industrial design is important. I'll be switching back to the iPhone next month. It's clear to me why HTC is losing money.
BT is the “official communications services provider” for the Olympics and has 1500 Wi-Fi hotspots at Olympic sites, with prices starting from £5.99 (NZ$11.40) for 90 minutes.
Where exactly is the line between protecting your brand and being an asshole? I seriously couldn't even believe this when I read it. It's even worse than the last asshole move I can think of in the world of spot where the IRB fined Samoan rugby players $10K for wearing incorrect mouth-guards.
Not only are 'real' hotspots banned, so are those generated by smartphones.
Want to create a wireless hotspot on your smartphone so you can get online on your laptop or tablet in between matches? That's prohibited, as are portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices.
Holy shit. Is this even legal? Banning folks from using their own data plans? Can people actually be thrown out of Olympic venues for this? It's officially banned by the London Olympics Committee, but can they really stop people from using their own devices to use their own data? I doubt it would hold up in court. But, perhaps if you're at the olympics, consider tethering via Bluetooth for now.
This week has a been a bit of a whirlwind as I continue to travel across the USA, and the thing that has been on everyone’s mind this week has been the shooting of innocent movie goers in Denver, Colorado. If you’ve been living under a rock, The Dark Knight premiered on Friday last week and many people rushed to the theater to see it. In this instance, part way through the film, a man threw open the emergency exit and began randomly shooting into the audience at the theater, ultimately injuring over 50 people and killing 12 others.
There are more details on what actually transpired here, but for some reason this really hit home to me. Death can strike anytime, anywhere, and not how you really want it to happen. Don’t we all dream of growing old, falling in love and having a family? I know I do. But for those involved at this shooting (and many others before it), they may not have had the chance to experience life to it’s fullest. Isn’t life fragile?
I have spent the last few days pondering what actually happen in the event I or someone close to me died. What happens to all their physical stuff? Then I started thinking along an even creepier track; what happens to their virtual footprints? How do I feel about them remaining to be online? Would I want them to be a tribute to my life or would I rather them be taken down? So many questions, and yet so many out there probably don’t even consider these an issue. They are morbid questions.
The problem with online profiles, in my opinion, is that they portray an active life. A Twitter feed, no matter how out of date looks active and appears to have a person manning it. As does a Facebook, with a slew of photos and check-ins. I got caught on this notion because I noticed that in the shootings, a young woman by the name of Jess had died in the shootings.
What was eerie about this particular case was that she had actually had a near miss at a massacre in a Toronto mall late last year, and had written a blog about her near miss and how it had impacted her. I really urge you to read it, it’s pretty haunting. I then found her Twitter profile, @jessespector and just got a sick feeling in my stomach when I read her last tweet.
@jessespector MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES
Words can’t express the feeling of sadness I get browsing her feed. I know this is likely an extreme case here, but do I really want my words immortalized online like this when my time comes? I don’t think so. If you look at Jess’ feed, it feels like she’s so alive, and then it suddenly just stops. At this point I think I realized how fragile life really is. One minute we have it in the palm of our hand, and then another, someone (or something) can rip it away from us.
I then realized that I don’t want my profiles kept online if something were to happen to me. They portray a living being who shared the intimate details of their life with hundreds of others, unlike my parents who just have precious photos and rolls of film to share fleeting memories.
I began becoming curious about what options I do have, so did a little research into what could be done. Twitter was first on my list, and I found their policy pretty easily. In the event of a death, Twitter does not allow access to a profile and is able to deactivate it provided the person seeking the deactivation is actively willing to jump through a number of hoops that don’t seem too complicated.
It is our policy to memorialize all deceased users’ accounts on the site. When an account is memorialized, only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in Search.
Hmm, so can I have it deactivated, or can someone gain access to it? Not so sure I like that. Thankfully, further down the page it seems you can get rid of it:
Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from the site.
I find it strange that the default option is to have the page memorialized. I don’t know if I want some sort of faux-shrine to live on forever with my face and name next to it. Will anyone even care? It’s just Facebook. I want my profile destroyed, not to display the tiny idiocies of my life. Also, Facebook doesn’t allow access to your data by anyone after you die, either. I actually have mixed feelings about this - I wouldn’t mind someone like Fem or my family accessing my data, but unless they already have the keys to the kingdom, they can’t get it.
Since I was already on a roll, I also checked out Gmail’s policies. They differ a little more because the information in there is not public in the first instance. Google says that they may let you in if you can prove the person has deceased but it is not guaranteed. You also need to obtain a court order to gain access, so you have to really want it.
All this information was wearying. It made me begin to wonder if it would even be worth someones time to deal with the ‘bio-digital jazz’ I had left behind. Then I realized a way to beat the system, if I wanted my accounts to be either accessed or destroyed. Just give out the passwords to someone I trust, then they can manually deactivate them. This does require a whole facet of trust, but could be done via a legal method like a will too.
Life is so fragile. It can be taken at any moment, either by our own stupidity or others’, and in an age of sharing and data vomit, do we really want to leave our mark on the world with meaningless status updates, or would we rather impact the people we love and through the things we love? I guess now is the time to decide.
Well, this is interesting. Facebook doesn't want people using their brand as a verb such as “I Facebooked her,” according to their brand guidelines;
“Do not use Facebook, or any other of our trademarks, as a verb. And don’t pluralise them either. Trademarks may not be modified in that manner.”
Also, you know those screenshots you see online of Facebook with the users' identities obscured? Facebook says you should be getting their permission to share the screenshot, and then not obscuring it, or you probably shouldn't be sharing it at all.
“Screenshots must be unaltered, meaning they cannot be annotated or modified in any way from their appearance on Facebook.
Screenshots with personally identifiable information (including photos, names, etc of actual users) require written consent from the individual(s) before they can be published.
Screenshots of any Facebook profile will need written consent from its creator before use.”
Even better? They want you to fill in this form if you take a screenshot in the media. Hmmm. Does anyone actually use that, and do they enforce it? It seems like they don't, yet.