Tag Archives: Apple

MacBook is home safe thanks to social media

You’ve probably heard about the guy who had his MacBook stolen and used the Hidden application to take photos of his robber. Well his MacBook is home safe now and I thought we could all learn something about the power of social media from this story.

In a nutshell, here’s the timeline:

March 21 – Joshua Kaufman had his new Oakland apartment broken into and his laptop and few other items were stolen.

March 22 – Joshua activated the theft-tracking software (Hidden).

March 24 – Joshua started receiving photos taken by the computer’s built in camera from Hidden, which showed the unauthorised user. Among the photos was a screenshot of the man logging into his email account, which revealed the name of a taxi company. Joshua presumed this was the his workplace and took the information to the police… who were unwilling to help.

May 27 – Joshua decided to take action and set up the blog called This Guy Has My MacBook, including images of the thief, in an attempt to track him down.

May 31 – After not getting a huge response from the blog, Joshua hit up Twitter. Within a few hours, it had been retweeted and liked thousands of times.

Later that afternoon… The local police department was contacted by Good Morning America who had joined the MacBook reclaiming bandwagon. Joshua received a call from the police saying that they were following up the case immediately.

May 31 – The thief was arrested, based on evidence gathered buy Hidden.

June 1 – Joshua picked up his MacBook from the police station.

The bad guy gets locked up, the MacBook is reunited with his rightful owner and we all live happily ever after, thanks to our pal, social media.

Yours in success stories,

iCloud? What is it?

Apple have, in my opinion, created one of the best things for people on the go and even the everyday person: iCloud.

iCloud stores your music, photos, calendars, documents and more! It then pushes all of them to all your devices, enabling you to view anything created on your iPhone, on your iPad the next day at work. You don’t need to tell it to sync – instead, it just works!

For the photo-lovers out there, as soon as you take a photo, iCloud will automatically send it to all your devices over any available Wi-Fi network including Apple TV so you can share the memories with your friends with ease.

Currently, there is a Beta version for iTunes music where you can download all purchases to all devices. And you can even download previous purchases! However, this nifty device is only available in the US at the moment.

I can’t wait for this to happen. I reckon it will be the best thing Apple have done in many years.

Yours in iCloud,

Tracing the iPhone’s problem

Ever wondered what a map of EXACTLY where you have been over the last month looked like? Got an iPhone? Well, here’s something you probably didn’t (but should) know!

It may come as a bit of a shock, but you might like to know that your iPhone is actually capable of doing this. The technology is nothing new or special, 3 cell phone towers are used to triangulate your exact co-ordinates which are then stored in a database with a timestamp. Due to the fact that your phone does this without the assistance of its GPS hardware, this is NOT something that can be turned off or that you can opt out of. Though this method of recording your position is potentially less accurate, it is countered by the fact that it stores this information timed to the second. Want to see what this information looks like when its displayed through a program on a computer? Check this out:

Washington DC to New York from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

The next interesting (or scary fact), is that it’s been happing since June 2010 with the release of iOS 4. The information is kept in a file that is synced to your computer via iTunes where it can be deleted (along with the rest of your phones back up) but the next time you sync your device a new copy of the file will be created. It is also moved to a new device when the old one is replaced.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of information about all of this is that it took two security researchers to stumble across it for the information to come to light. Apple have stored all of this without the user’s permission or knowledge through the use of undocumented and seemingly hidden features of its mobile operating system. Telephone service providers are able to record this information however it requires legal documentation and is normally only accessible by the police. It is pretty easy for anyone who has access to your computer to get hold of this information which for some is more worrying than the fact that your phone stores it in the first place. Unfortunately at the moment there is no way of opting out of this either. Discoverers of this information have written a simple program on Mac OS X that is capable of displaying this information on a map which illustrates just how detailed the stored information is. If you’re interested in trying it out visit their website.

As someone who likes to keep my personal information cards close to my chest, I strongly recommend reading the articles that inspired me to write this post, visit:

iPhone Tacker – http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/#1

Gizmodo – Your iPhone is Secretly tracking everywhere you go

The Guardian – iPhone keeps records of everywhere you go

Yours in spying and secretly tracking things,

The ‘Bandwagon’ that’s not for everyone

Apple’s strong marketing campaigns, amazing hardware and great software have definitely been stealing the technological spotlight almost to the extent where (and I don’t mean to start arguments about this) people seem to be forgetting all about Microsoft and what they have been up to. So I would like to take the time to talk about something that hasn’t even been rated enough to be under-rated, if that makes sense!

While we have all been staring or drooling at the pretty screens of the new iPhones or iPod Touch or iPad, we as consumers, and Apple’s competitors have had the blinkers pulled over our eyes. Apple’s icon-driven user interface on their iOS devices works. And it makes sense. It helped them sell their products in the volumes they have and it has also inspired their competitors to follow the trends they are setting. Google’s Android operating system jumped on the bandwagon and followed with very similar core design principles. With two of the major mobile operating systems choosing to go down this path, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a lot of the same things carry over interface designs, but what about Microsoft? Have they fallen off the radar, stuck in user interface dark ages of the old desktop metaphor or will they jump on board the bandwagon and give us some more of the same?


They have actually done something completely different! Their approach to the touch screen user interface for smart phones is actually very cool. I like it because of their clever use of typography and iconography. It’s subtle, simple and clean. Take a look at these screenshots:

Windows Phone 7 Start Screen - Source: Microsoft

Windows Phone 7 Music Player - Source: Microsoft

They call the design language behind this user interface “Metro”. Its key principles are the fact that it’s incredibly clean and modern, it’s all about typography and all about doing something authentic and original. If you’re interested to see its slick animations or play with its incredibly responsive menu system or just look at something different, the next time you get a chance to, pick up a Windows 7 phone and see that no everyone has to follow the crowd.

Yours in technology,


Fastest Selling Gadget Ever? You’ll be surprised!

Which is the first company that pops into your head when I ask the question, who manufactured the fastest selling gadget of all time to date?

If you guessed Apple, I wouldn’t blame you, but you’d be incorrect – it’s actually, believe it or not Microsoft!

That’s right, a new Guinness World record for the Fastest-Selling Consumer Electronics item has been set by none other than Microsoft with its controller-free gaming device Kinect.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The Microsoft Kinect system broke all sales records for consumer electronics, selling 8 million units in just 60 days. This smashes iPad sales figures by Apple (they sold 2 million units in the first 60 days of launch). The average of these sales by Kinect means they have achieved roughly an average sale of 133,333 units per day.

The record was confirmed Friday by Guinness on their blog.

If you read our blog often, you’ll know that I posted about Kinect just prior to its launch back last November. Since then, the number of games available that are compatible with the Kinect platform have increased and it has become one of the most popular additions to the Xbox 360 console ever.

Have you tried Kinect?

Yours in record breaking games,


Is your brand a fractal?

Influenced by Lee’s original blog about fractals, I started to think about how fractals can be used for brands. I came to the conclusion that fractals are a good paradigm / framework to model your brand.

The definition of a fractal according to Hyperdictionary is:

A rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a smaller copy of the whole. Fractals are generally self-similar (bits look like the whole) and independent of scale (they look similar, no matter how close you zoom in).

If a brand is the total experience you get from interacting with a product or company, then a good brand will emanate a consistent message or culture both internally and externally. By taking a fractal point of view when creating a brand, we can design total experiences where all aspects, large and small, reinforce each other.

If your brand is a fractal, then any interaction with part of the brand will reflect the interaction with every other part of the brand, as well as the complete brand itself.

An example of a fractal brand is Apple.

As a whole, the Apple brand exudes a culture of lifestyle, imagination, innovation, quality, aspirations and empowerment through technology. Apple is a successful brand because they maintain this culture at all contact points. Their TVCs stimulate the imagination and promote the liberation found in their innovative products; the interior design of their stores give the feeling of quality and usability, as does their website; the staff are knowledgable and continue the theme of empowerment as they cheer for you when you’ve bought a product.

Is your brand a fractal? Look at ways to integrate all aspects of your brand, from your logo design through to how the phone is answered.

Yours in fractals,

(Image courtesy of Julia Map)

10 Gadgets that Changed the World in 2010

Technology makes great strides every year, but in 2010 gadgets brought us much closer to the future of our dreams. Below are 10 devices that changed the world for the better.
1. The Apple iPad
Announced in January, only to be mocked about its name, the Apple iPad has silenced its doubters. More than seven million have been snapped up around the world, including more than 200,000 in Australia.Google reports the tablet’s unusual name became the fastest-rising search term in consumer electronics.
2. Xbox 360 Kinect
Microsoft promised it in June 2009 and late this year it delivered.
3. 3D televisions
In home-entertainment circles, 2010 was the year of 3D. The trend arrived on Australian shores on April 12 when Samsung became the first TV maker to bring 3D plasma and LCD screens Down Under.
4. Miniature cameras
Advanced digital cameras just keep shrinking – and this year they shrank into unprecedented forms.
5. Addictive apps
With the Apple, Google, BlackBerry, Windows and Samsung app stores begging for new apps to feed hungry phone users, it’s little wonder that 2010 gave birth to some of the most innovative programs for mobile phones.
6. National broadband
A select group of Tasmanians this year plugged into a national network that could change the way we live.
7. Big-screen smartphones
Touchscreen phones were big last year, but never as literally as in 2010.
This year a handful of phones bucked the miniaturisation trend and grew in size. While these phones remained slender, displays grew to four inches or more.
8. Small tablets
They didn’t make the same impact as their 9.7-inch rival (that would be the gadget at number one), but small-sized tablets are arriving and thriving.
9. eBooks for everyone
Electronic books trickled into Australian hands last year through Amazon.com, but the trend truly took off in 2010 when more digital tomes became available locally.
10. More channels
Remember when TV lovers had just five channels available? This year an extra three free channels appeared.

I wonder what Gadgets will change the world in 2011.

Source: The Brisbane Courier Mail.

Yours in Technology,

KPI time!

OK… so it is now officially the end of the working year and I was thinking the other day about a few things I have set for myself to have done by the yearly reviews next year in July.

One of my ‘KPI’s’ was to have an iPhone application submitted to the app store. Now I just remembered this and thought I better get cracking and get an idea together for an app that would be useful to people. In saying that, I have come up with my idea, and I will reveal once we are published in-store!

Something that I came across for the app I am creating, is that the user must have an internet connection to use it. Apple are very kind and have provided a class called ‘Reachability’. This class checks to make sure the user does have a connection and if not, then warns the user the app is not going to work until they manage to get one. Having no internet connection and not warning the user about it, is the (according to Apple) third most reason for an app to be rejected.

The ‘Reachability’ code can be found on the Apple Developer site

Now that I have got this under control… I know what i’ll be doing over my Xmas break!

Yours in iPhone development,

Apple teases ‘Black Friday’ shoppers

Apple has advertised that they are marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season with a special one day shopping event. You’re invited to “wrap it up” this Friday when the apple online store will be having a sale on iPods, iPads and other Mac gifts.

This isn’t the first time Apple have had a Black Friday sale with no pricing details divulged. Each year the mention of less expensive products intrigues and tantalises shoppers!

Yours in online shopping,