Apr 02

The Dilbert widget for embedding the comic strip uses Flash, so you’ll have to tap on the link the old fashioned way to see today’s comic:


written by Nick \\ tags:

Apr 01

Consumer Reports have been known in the United States as the premier, independent testing lab for consumer products. To iPhone owners they are probably best known for their role in stoking the flames of reported issues with the antenna design of the then newly launched iPhone 4.

Last week it was time for another attack on Apple’s latest product: The new iPad gets up to 13 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 when playing a game

This report had many experts scratching their heads, and it even prompted an official response from Apple.

Now it seems it may just be part of an elaborate launch promotion for their latest app: iGRill.

Inspired by earlier apps that exercised the iPhone CPU to the point where it could be used as a hand warmer, and this video showing how the iPad can be used as a great kitchen appliance, it was obvious that the latest advances in thermal engineering of the new iPad called for an app like iGRill.

Here’s how it works: Place your new iPad on a flat surface in your kitchen. Make sure that the surface is not flammable and that it can withstand prolonged exposure to the immense temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Now launch the iGRill app and turn up the dials to maximum heat. Wait a few minutes until the awesome heat animation indicates that the surface of the iPad is now exactly “13 degrees hotter”.

Bring out your raw meat, raw chicken and other foods that are dangerous to consume if they’re not thoroughly cooked. Place the food on the screen of the iPad in the indicated areas. Be careful not to layer the food items. Note that there is no need to add any cooking oil, since the oil from your fingers stored in the oleophobic coating of the screen is sufficient.

If your new iPad and your iPhone are both on the same iCloud account, then you will receive an iMessage as soon as the food is done. This way you don’t have to hang out in the kitchen for months while the food slowly turns into charqui.

Another exciting feature, which can be unlocked with a modest in-app purchase, makes use of the front facing camera. The camera will capture an image of each food item as it’s placed on the screen. The app then matches the captured image with GR’s extensive food database and provides you with instant nutritional information.

The iGRill app is not yet available in the App Store, but we understand there have been heated discussions between the developers and Apple. So look for it to appear in the What’s Hot section soon.

written by Nick \\ tags:

Aug 18

We need to submit our app to the store before it closes for the weekend—what time does the app store close on Friday nights?

I found that quote on the very funny site ClientsFromHell.net. Reportedly it’s an actual quote from a real client.

Of course the App Store is not shut down for customers during weekends. But we have recently found out that the app review team no longer works on weekends. Back in the days when it seemed like the app reviewers were constantly having trouble keeping up with the ever increasing flood of app submissions, you would see apps get approved at all hours of the day and on weekends. No longer.

In a previous life when I was building large scale web sites and server systems we learned to never deploy new code on a Friday, unless you wanted to work on weekends to fix bugs or deal with launch jitters.

The same thing applies to iOS apps now. Don’t set the release date of an app to fall on a Friday. Should there be a problem with the new version of the app and you want to push through an emergency update, then nobody will act on your request until the following Monday.

But, you don’t have control over when an app will be approved, you say. That is true, but you can set the date when the app will be released. And you should always, always use this feature.

Look at the current App Store Review Status and add some margin to allow for delays. For example, today the status says that 99% of all new app submissions and 99% of all app updates are reviewed within 7 days. I would set the release date to around 2 weeks for an app update. Make sure that the date is not a Friday, and that it’s a day when you’re available and ready to handle new customer support issues.

For a new app submission I would set the release date even further into the future to allow your marketing campaign to ramp up and steam forward towards a known date. But that’s a different topic.

written by Nick \\ tags: ,

Jul 05

I came across this incredulous article in NY Times. After recovering from the shock that you can actually pay for legislation at such a detailed level, it struck me that this process would be a great way to deal with the patent trolls that we love to hate.

All we would have to do is to get our highly paid iOS developer lobbyists in Washington to write legislation that specifically invalidates Lodsys’ patents. Or while we’re at it, generally make the App Store a patent free zone.

Then, as it appears, it’s just a formality to get the legislation passed by Congress.

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Apr 01

In honor of Apple’s founding on April 1, 1976 I usually try to come up with an April Fools joke here on the site. However, the past couple of months I’ve been heads down working on a very large project, so no time for pranks this year. 🙁

So instead I’ll just link to some of the better collections of April Fools jokes this year:

And of course there’s Scoopertino – funny year round.

I hope to be able to announce the big project real soon now, and get back to more regular blogging.

written by Nick \\ tags:

Sep 17

So, I was exiting the Castro Street MUNI station, taking the escalator up to street level. I had my book bag over my shoulder behind my back and my iPad in my hand. I decided to hop up the last few steps and tripped hard on the last step. As I careened towards the ground (I knew I was going down) I put my left hand out and realized it contained my iPad. Rather than let if fly or shatter it as I put my hand down, I launched forward and planted an exaggerated right shoulder roll, cradling my iPad like a football. It never touched the ground. I stood up on my knees, embarrassed, laughing and letting others around me know I was okay …. but it was really about my iPad.

You don’t have to be this passionate about your iDevices to work here at Pervasent. But it helps. 🙂

written by Jess \\ tags:

Apr 01

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been fortunate to have access to two iPads. Per the rules, they’ve been tightly locked away in a secure, windowless room that we affectionately have come to know as the dungeon.

One day — this was before Apple had posted more detailed tech specs on their web site — one of the iPads fell on the floor. Gasp! A quick examination showed no cracks in the screen. Relief! But something was definitely amiss. The screen no longer rotated to match the orientation of the device. Our first thought was that the accelerometer had broken, and we irrationally started thinking about how to explain this incident to Apple. “You know those two super top-secret devices that you were gracious enough to loan to us… Well something happened to one of them…” [duck, cover, insert earplugs]

Shortly thereafter one of us noticed this small button on the right side of the iPad. “I wonder what this does?” Of course it turned out to be the screen rotation lock button, and once flipped back, the “broken accelerometer” started working again. 🙂

So after surviving this near-death experience, we decided to go for broke. What else could we do with these devices? Video out is an interesting feature if you’re using the iPad to make a presentation. But we’re not PowerPoint guys, we’re developers. And as a developer you know you can’t have enough screen real estate when you’re working. The latest iMacs have this cool DisplayPort input feature whereby you can use the iMac screen as a monitor. Hook two 27″ iMacs together this way, place them side by side and you have a pretty decent development environment. (Granted, downgrading a full iMac computer to be used as a monitor might be seen as a waste of money. But it’s all about esthetics. Having two identical looking monitors side by side on your desk is just more zen.)

Would the iPad have a similar feature? Apple is known for building in secret features and capabilities into their products. And since we didn’t have any tech specs or even a manual to explain trivial things like the screen rotation lock button, there was only one way to find out. After hooking the two devices together, it took some trial and error to get the right startup sequence (turn on the master first, then the slave display). But it worked!

You’ve probably seen Microsoft’s concept pictures and videos of their Courier tablet, which has a two-screen clamshell design. Of course Apple had to one-up them with a dual display setup for the iPad.

If you had a difficult time transitioning your apps from the good old 320 x 480 “fixed” display size to the larger iPad screen, then just try to wrap your head around a dual 768 x 1024 display. No more 4:1 pixel ratio. And if that’s not enough, imagine one of the displays in portrait mode and the other in landscape mode. How does your app cope with that? As you probably know by now, the iPhone OS does not give you much support in handling different interface orientations or different screen sizes. Each app has to deal with that in its own way. But there seems to be a new framework that may offer some help today. In the Private Frameworks directory, checkout the new ITSaprIlfoOLsdAy.framework.

Update: Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. It has just come to my attention that there is an app for the iPad that extends your OS X desktop onto the iPad, effectively making it a second screen. The app is called iDisplay. But before you rush to install it you might want to checkout this review.

written by Nick \\ tags: ,

Apr 01

Allowing 3rd party iPhone applications to run in the background is an often requested feature in the official SDK. Apple has responded that they can’t do that primarily due the increased, and unpredictable, battery drain. However Apple is also notorious for claiming that they are not working on something and they have absolutely no interest in working on it, until they surprise everybody with a working solution. With that in mind I decided to poke around a bit in the new 3.0 SDK.

There are 1,000 new API:s in 3.0, so there’s a fair amount of ground to cover, but a new framework called AsyncPRocessIngLibrary caught my attention. I have not been able to find any documentation for this framework, but it’s not in the PrivateFrameworks directory, so it’s presumably fair game.

Here’s an example of what you can do with this library that was discovered today:

UInt32 numProcessors = MPProcessorsScheduled();
/* Schedule task across available processors.
   Major hint of new hardware... */
for (n = 0; n < numProcessors; n++ ) {
   MPCreateTask( MyTask, kMPStackSize, NULL, NULL, taskOptions, taskID );

This is all pretty standard multi processing code. What’s new and interesting here is the taskOptions:

enum {
   MPTaskOptionNone                   = 0,
   MPTaskOptionTerminateOnAppExit     = 1 << 0,
   MPTaskOptionTerminateOnThreadDeath = 1 << 1,
   MPTaskOptionTerminateOnSemaphore   = 1 << 2,
   MPTaskOptionKeepRunning            = 1 << 3,
   MPTaskOptionLurad                  = 1 << 4,
   MPTaskOptionGetauscht              = 1 << 5
typedef UInt32 MPTaskOption;

Most of these flags are self-explanatory, but unless you set the 4/1 bit, they don’t behave as expected.


UInt32 taskOptions = (MPTaskOptionKeepRunning | MPTaskOptionLurad);

It’s important that before attempting to launch your background process, you first need to ensure that the device you’re running on is capable of this:

if ([[UIDevice currentDevice] isProcessFoolEnabled]) {
// start your process here

written by Nick \\ tags:

Jan 20

I have a great idea for a new iHouse. This is relovutionary; nobody has every thought of this idea before. Now I just need to pardner with a very solid iHouse builder to make this realty. I come up with the ideas, you bring the expertise!

You must have at least 2+ years of experience with building iHouses, dealing with Mapple’s approval processess and selling on the Hip Store. Please send me all examples of relevant, prior work so that I can try them out for free.

This is a very simple house. For an experienced iHouse developer this project should only take a few days hours to compete. So I’m being extensively generous in offering to share the guaranteed-to-come future profits with you: 50/50.

This iHouse idea is so super extraordinary that you need to be prepared sign tripplicate NADA and non-complete contract.

If you are good and professional I will email you back.

It cracks me up each time I see these messages on Craigslist and other message boards. The above was aggregated from actual posts. A few minor edits were made to protect the innocent. Now back to our regular scheduled program.

written by Nick \\ tags:

Apr 01

An interesting quantum mechanics effect makes it possible for some lucky owners of the current generation iPhone to connect to high-speed 3G networks today.

Hubert Hochsztapler, a researcher at the institute for nano-technology at The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, discovered back in 2004 that old GSM cellphones could be used as 3G phones using the quantum tunneling phenomenon.

Would it work on the iPhone?

The iPhone was not tested by Hubert Hochsztapler and his colleagues, but our own lab reports today confirm that most current iPhones are already 3G capable. No new hardware is required.

The iPhone contains an accelerometer which measures minute movements of the iPhone. This turns out to be a great benefit to achieving the 3G capability. But due to interference from the accelerometer when it’s inactive, you first need to open an application on the iPhone that makes use of the accelerometer. The Safari browser is an excellent choice, since it will also allow you to visibly enjoy the effects of the faster data connection provided by 3G.

First turn the iPhone from portrait mode to landscape mode, back and forth a couple of times to ensure that the accelerometer is engaged and working. You should see the display change between portrait and landscape mode. Now start downloading a very large web page and simultaneously begin shaking the iPhone lightly along its y-axis. Think of the iPhone as the yoke of an aircraft. You want to avoid pitching and rolling the iPhone as you’re shaking it.

If you hit the right shaking-frequency (41 Hz seems to be optimal), the electrons in the iPhone will reach their tunnel state and the radio transmitter will “tunnel-up” and connect to the AT&T 3G network in your area (if one is available).

Impact on Apple’s stock price?

A Gartner analyst recently reported that Apple has already placed an order for 10 million units of the new 3G iPhone from their manufacturers in Asia. But when current iPhone owners discover that their iPhone already is 3G capable, they will not upgrade as Steve Jobs has decreed they should. This will effectively turn Apple’s 10M order into one big iBrickload of phones, says April F. Olson, an analyst covering the AAPL stock for Hochs Securities.

It doesn’t work with all firmwares

This technical trick has been confirmed to work only on non-jailbroken 1.1.4 firmware phones (also known as the 4.1 release in the U.S.).

Please report your success with your “new” 3G iPhone in the comments below.

written by Nick \\ tags: