The blog of Matthew A. Smith and Michael Chappell, on topics from A to Z


by Matthew Smith · May 9th, 2011 · No Comments

My site is in a state of dilapidation, and a new one is on the way soon… in the mean time, if you’re looking for my photography, check flickr. If you’re bored and want to waste time, feel free to peruse my old posts… or check back in a few weeks!


» No CommentsCategories: General

Checking out iPhone OS 3.0 Betas

by Matthew Smith · April 1st, 2009 · No Comments

Yesterday, the team application for an iPhone developer account was finally approved. I paid my portion of the fee, the team lead configured my account, and I was off to the races. Since I plan on using the iPhone OS 3.0 beta more for daily use and less for developing, I plan on keeping a log of my experiences as well as any tips and tricks I discover along the way. I also plan on making a long overdue update to the OTA iPhone Calendar Sync post with all current methods and their benefits/drawbacks. I might even get around to finishing up and posting a few other iPhone related things while I’m at it.

The Install

After backing up my iPhone and downloading the sizable update image from the Developer Center, I used my MacBook and iTunes to install the new OS (using Option+Click on the the Restore button). The installation of the new software took around 20 minutes to complete. Once my iPhone rebooted and aquired activation, I connected it to my Windows machine to restore the backup and sync, which took around one and a half hours to complete.

First Impressions


Prior to installing the beta (version 2), my phone was running a jailbroken copy of OS 2.2 with a lot of extra ‘unoffical’ stuff installed, some of which seriously reduced performance. Since my copy of 3.0b2 is not jailbroken, I don’t have any of these apps installed and as a result, my phone feels much “snappier” than before; however, I have no way of knowing how much of a performance change is due to the new OS vs the lack of “extra baggage.” Apparently beta 2 resolves most of the performance issues present in beta 1 (I’ve read reports of people requiring a reboot on a daily basis with the first beta), but since I did not have access to the first beta, I can’t compare those either. After a few hours of use, however, it seems fast enough for daily use. We’ll see how this plays out.

Update: After using the OS for a few days, I did notice slowdowns that required a reboot to solve. I probably had to reboot my device once every 3 days with beta 2. I’ve just upgraded to beta 3, so I’ll soon report back on it’s stability.

Discovered Issues

  • MMS (b2): Apple/AT&T are not supporting MMS during the beta period. There have been mix reports of success and failure on various sites around the ‘net. In my experience, it seems to be more of a carrier configuration issue than a software issue. As of yet, I’ve been unable to send or recieve MMS on my iPhone. I called AT&T and spoke to someone who said she would provision my phone for MMS, but it’s not working yet. After that modified my icss file according to these instructions. Still no MMS and I’m no longer recieving text messages when someone sends me one, and I’m not getting a ‘blocked’ response when sending images to the special MMS email address.
  • Tethering (b2): While this needs further investigation, enabling and connecting to my laptop caused some serious performance issues, at least right after enabling. I did not play with this long enough to get online.
  • Messaging App Landscape Mode (b2): Sent message bubbles do not expand/reflow horizontally to take advantage of the wider reading space. They stay the same width as in portrait mode.
  • Keyboard Crash (b2): I’m not really sure how to classify this, but on at least two occasions the keyboard would show up with all of the letter keys transparent. The number/symbol keys worked fine, however. This only occured in Safari.

Note: Number in parenthesis indicates the beta version this was noticed in.

I’ll be updating this post with further information as I play with the software, so check back to see what’s new. I will also be updating and creating some additional iPhone related posts in the near future.

Update: I have some screenshots that I’ll be adding soon.

» No CommentsCategories: iPhone to Cease Operation or Something

by Matthew Smith · April 1st, 2009 · 1 Comment

Heh heh hehFor years, has been proud to bring you excellent technical content, the best of the web, and a candid view into the lives of it’s editors. Writing and maintaining this site has brought us immeasurable joy over the past five years and it is with heavy hearts that we must say goodby and close this chapter of web history.

But why, you might ask? The answer is simple… we’ve recently developed some exciting new technology and are focusing our time and efforts on bringing it to market. We’ve been in secret discussions with several venture capitalists and are excited to announce that our efforts will be backed by our new investor, The Widmore Corporation.

Thanks for the memories.

Namasté, and happy April Fools :)

» 1 CommentCategories: General

Time to Become an iPhone Developer

by Matthew Smith · March 19th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Apple Developer ProgramJust in case you missed it, Apple announced the latest OS for the iPhone (and iTouch), version 3.0, on Tuesday. It includes a ton of new features, mostly in the programming department (though copy and paste will be a welcome addition, as will the new MMS feature … no more texts!). The OS will be open to consumers in June, but is currently avaliable for registered developers (must be a paid developer, not a free one). Me, being totally impatient about this, was twittering about the OS upgrade and recieved an offer to go in on a dev team and split the cost of membership. This will give me (legal) access to the 3.0 beta OS, the 3.0 SDK, and the ability to test any software I write on the phone itself.

I’m doing it. I’ll post my thoughts when I get signed up. And who knows, maybe this will even result in some software for your iPhone!

» 4 CommentsCategories: iPhone

Chrome Experiments

by Matthew Smith · March 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Falling BallsI’ve really been enjoying Google Chrome, the web browser created by Google which features the “blazingly fast” V8 JavaScript engine. To show off the features of the JS engine, they’ve created a site called Chrome Experiments (via Google Blog). There’s some really cool stuff there (check out the Browser Ball demo), but I think my favorite is Ball Pool… it’s fun and it makes cool looking paterns! There’s also a few neat 3D demos.

I’d recommend checking them out, though you may need Google Chrome or a late version of Firefox or Safari to view them.

» 1 CommentCategories: Technology

Stupid Computer Security Ideas

by Matthew Smith · March 17th, 2009 · No Comments

An oldie but a goodie, Marcus Ranum’s “Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security” are a great read. I think my favorite is #2, “Enumerating Badness.”

» No CommentsCategories: Technology

Thoughts on Google Latitude

by Matthew Smith · March 3rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

Google LatitudeGoogle Latitude is both extraordinarily useful and superbly useless.

Let me explain myself. First, I must mention that I consider myself quite the technology aficionado (no surprise to many of you) and I attempt to stay abreast of the latest “web2.0″ trends. I try new web services often and usually abandon them quickly. When exploring a new service, I try to find a way to enhance my life with its’ functionality. Unfortunately the majority of these new services fail to meet that goal and I never log in again. Occasionally, however, I stubmle across a new gem with potential for greatness.

Google Latitude is one such product.

For the past year, many people have been touting “Location Based Services” (LBS) as the next big application for internet connected mobile devices; I’ve maintained a passing interest in this since I got my iPhone. There are a few small players experimenting in this area (such as Loopt), but nothing huge. The largest social networks (Facebook and MySpace) are strangely absent from this area, even though both networks offer decent iPhone applications.

When Google released it’s Latitude product a few weeks back, I immediately signed myself up and added a few friends to my network. Currently my location is updated by hand and at random intervals, since the functionality has not been released for the iPhone (it is rumored that it will be an addon to the Maps application). After playing with the iGoogle widget for a few days, it seems clear to me that Latitude is intended to be a location platform not a service. Its current interface is not much more than a basic proof of concept; Latitude will not truely shine until the API is released and it becomes a behind-the-scenes service that manages your location data and its distribution to outside services and applications (like Facebook or MySpace).

Facebook is the current home of my most extensive social graph, with over 800 connections. While Facebook could easily develop their own location service and integrate it with thier iPhone/BlackBerry applications, I think that this would be a terible move. In my perfect world, Google would host the platform (Latitude), giving me a central repository for my location data. I could then select the web applications with which I would like to share the data (and updates about it). Such as Facebook and MySpace, or any other location based service that I deem will add value to my life.

I’m hoping that is what Google has in mind, but they are laying out the pieces slowly and trying to get each step of the puzzle correct. There’s huge potential for LBS, and Google is making a very “googlesque” play here. I just hope that companies such as Facebook continue opening their platforms and playing nice together; I don’t want to need a seperate application to update location information on each of my 12,031 networks. I want one platform that can be updated with my choice of program and will push the information out to my networks. Simple!

Note: there’s also Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, which provides a similar service but already has an API and some programs that work with it. I haven’t played with it much, but I have similar concerns… and it would be nice if location data could be passed between Fire Eagle and Latitude, even though they’re both supposed to do the same thing.

» 1 CommentCategories: iPhone · Reviews · Technology

New Year’s Resolutions, January 2009

by Matthew Smith · January 30th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Normal People do their resolutions before the beginning of the new year. I do mine much later. Without further ado:

I, Matthew A. Smith, in the nineth tenth year of the second third millenium*, hereby resolve to:

  1. Travel to at least 50 places I’ve never been before
  2. Get in the best shape of my life
  3. Look for adventure in the mundane
  4. Drink less alcohol
  5. Eat better
  6. Save $15,000
  7. Redesign my website, and actually roll out a complete site on time
  8. Create more videos
  9. Take more pictures
  10. Post content regularly, and of greater variety (see also, number 7)

Now, let’s see if I can pull this off… What about you?

*2000 would be the first year of the third millenium, correct… I originally had 1008?

» 7 CommentsCategories: Journal