Archive for August, 2012

Blackberry Jam

Friday, August 31st, 2012

If you are wondering about the title of this post and if you guessed the smartphone instead of the substance you spread on a pb sandwich then you are correct. Yes, RIM might be flailing and kicking but they have just booked the Four Seasons in Vancouver for a day to host this event (probably their last?). I had the opportunity to attend this event mainly because they had a separate web track that discusses HTML5 and how it can be used to develop for the Blackberry platform but more importantly for other mobile devices as well.

Some of the more notable frameworks discussed were jquery mobile, sencha touch, dojo toolkit and zepto.js to name a few. The idea is to build these out and skin them using bbUI.js to make it look as close to a native BB app as possible by using the same graphical elements. You could take this further by using either WebWorks or Apache Cordova to build/package it as a native app.

If any of your are interested, Blackberry has released these presentations to the public and I have also made them available here:

  1. Building HTML5 Apps with Native Capabilities
  2. Advanced BlackBerry HTML5 Development: WebGL and Remote Web Inspector
  3. How to get that Native Look and Feel using bbUI & Alice.js
  4. Making the Most of Existing Public Web Development Frameworks
Dev Alpha device

Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha

They also gave up Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha devices. These look fairly OK but they don’t function as good – I know they are evaluation devices but I had no idea how far off Blackberry 10 is . . . the OS is laggy, boot-up time takes forever and it crashes quite a bit, battery isn’t very good either and it takes so long to charge. I have almost given up on mine . . . it is like paperweight . . . how can you test on it if it won’t stay on long enough? The browser crashes very often as well . . . to me, it seems like they are pretty desperate. To send out a half-baked OS on a device and courting developers to develop on it?? As the market currently stands, the Blackberry platform is on life-support and this doesn’t really give developers confidence in the product, how do you expect them to waste their time to develop for it?? Well, one upside to it all is that the screen looks pretty good . . . hope somebody develops a good music/video player so I can make use of it.

Habits and Data

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I have been reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and have been gaining insight into our behavior and why we do the things we do. Humans are habitual creatures and apparently, we go through the majority of our day by relying on our habits – though it seems like we are making multiple conscious decisions throughout the day.

I have also found out about how much of what we do are being recorded and studied. There is actually software, Hit Song Science that predicts the popularity of a song. I wonder if that is the reason why there is so much crappy music nowadays . . . radio stations around the country are using data to see which songs are popular and then form playlists around those songs. A study shows that the majority of us will not tune out of a station if it is playing something familiar to us, regardless of whether we like it or not. Personally though, whenever a song I dislike gets played on the radio, I immediately tune to another station or plug in my iPod. However, it seems interesting to me that most people do not . . . However, all of this is moot as I have learned from other sources that a huge majority of teenagers use Youtube to discover new music. So, Youtube is now the new MTV.

More and more companies are relying on mathematicians and statisticians to make use of the enormous amounts of data they have on their customers. Patterns emerge whenever you apply the correct algorithm/formula and from there, companies are more than eager to take advantage of it. There used to be a time when I wasn’t too worried about companies mining data by monitoring my spending habits but they are now integrating their data with data they have bought or mined from somewhere else. There is a huge compilation of data on each individual through social media, online retailers and offline data records. It is no longer science fiction or paranoid to think that Google would know more about you than your co-workers or friends.

I’m also aware of the fact that the next generation would have no problem sharing this information to companies since they grew up in a time where it is the norm. Once they grow up to be our age, everything would probably be public information and perhaps it will be a better world, who knows? A whole generation will not know what a dial tone is, or a rotary dial phone for that matter, they will never see a typewriter and perhaps not know what a watermelon seed looks like. But hopefully, all the data that is gathered about them, helps them form good habits or at least, help them make good decisions.