Friday, June 29, 2007

Tales of Buying the First iPhone

I was debating whether I was going to wait on line for hours to get an iPhone today. On my way to a lunch meeting in San Jose I stopped by the local Cingular/AT&T store (one of only two in all of Santa Cruz county) and I saw that there were only about 15 people on line. I called Laura and told her to grab a spot on line for a couple hours until I could relieve her after my meeting. Just before noon I visited an Apple retail store in San Jose and the line had a couple hundred people already queued up so I figured that it was probably a bad bet to wait at an Apple retail store.

Laura was on line by 11:30 am and I showed up at 2:30 pm to take her spot to await the 6 pm "witching hour" when they iPhone sales' would commence. Guess what? Ms. Impatient wouldn't give up her spot! She was actually enjoying it! Laura was about 25th in line and there were about 20 people behind her so she told me to go to the end of the line – that way we could buy two iPhones since it was one per person at the AT&T stores (at the Apple retail stores it was two per person).

So, I queued up at the end of the line. There were plenty of people walking by who didn't know why there was a crowd camped out in the middle of the mall (we refer to them as "civilians") - when they asked me what all the fuss was about I told them that Paris Hilton was in one of the stores signing autographs.

The geek factor, of the people on the line, wasn't too bad. One group near the front of the line had a video projector and played Star Wars - in its entirety - by projecting it on the ceiling.

Click image to enlarge

At 6 pm the AT&T store reopened and the first batch of seven customers dashed in. It seemed to take forever until the first, ecstatic, iPhone owner emerged. I couldn't understand what took so long since the only thing that needed to be done was to pay for the phone. Activating the phone is done at home through iTunes. Finally, after 15 minutes the first customer pranced out of the store to a round of cheers.

After waiting for an hour after the store reopened it was Laura's turn. She literally darted into the store – a distance of about six feet.

So, at this point, we knew that one us was about to become an iPhone owner. As I neared the door to the store the AT&T manager came out and announced, "At this point, I only have nine units remaining."
Panic choked everyone around me. I quickly counted nine - exactly nine - people in front of me. As I counted, people started dissecting the manager's announcement with follow up questions, "Does that nine include the people in the store or is it in addition to the people in the store?"
He said he wasn't exactly sure because the inventory was moving so fast.

BP 160 over 110, pulse 170 and rising with tunnel vision.

Laura emerged with her iPhone in hand. I whispered to her, "They going to run out right around me!"
There was only one person in front of me, at this point, and he asked Laura how much he could pay her for her iPhone if they ran out. But, a moment later, he was invited in. A few minutes later another employee emerged. I thought it was to make a follow up announcement, but, instead, he walked over to me and introduced himself as Dave as he escorted me into the store - with Laura in tow.
"Do you have any 8 GB left in stock?", I exclaimed.
Just as I said that, another sales rep picked up an unopened 8 GB iPhone and started to bring it to the back of the store. Dave called to her and grabbed it as he told me, "This is the last one."

I couldn't believe it - I just made it! After waiting for more than five hours I was the last one to receive an 8 GB iPhone. Whew! Had one more person been in line my only option would have been to place a backorder which would have been shipped to my house. The backorder option would have been a faster alternative than waiting for the store's resupply stock.

The Apple online store reports a 2 - 4 week lead time for orders placed through the company's Web site.

Had Laura not gone to wait on line at 11:30 this morning neither of us would have an iPhone. Thanks, honey!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No DRM Free Songs for Sale on eBay?

Remember a few years ago when an iTunes song was resold on eBay after some brouhaha? It was deemed too impractical due to DRM. How come we haven't seen anyone resell an iTunes Plus song without DRM? First Sale doctrine should make this easy.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

David Pouge On UI Design

In the TED conference video, NYT tech journalist compares UI designs between the Mac, Windows, and Palm.

read more | digg story

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Where did that spam e-mail come from?

The way you can tell where an e-mail originated from is to look at the e-mail's headers. The default headers show To, From, cc, Subject, & Date. To see all the headers, you need to select Show All or Long Headers. Here's how to do it on Mac OS X's Mail application:

By revealing all the headers you can see each hop the e-mail message made to get to from the originator to you.

Each time an e-mail makes a hop, from the sender to the recipient, it is stamped with the information of the relaying server. A typical e-mail will have two to five hops and each hop will be stamped Received: showing where the relaying mail server received the e-mail. The first Received hop, at the bottom of the list, is usually where the e-mail originated and each successive hop is added above the previous hop. Of course these hops can be spoofed, but that's usually not necessary for a spammer since they highjack people computers (details below).

Most ISPs (except for Google and a few others) will stamp the sender's original IP address on the first hop - even if the e-mail was sent using Web mail.

Here's a perfect example of a phising spammer's e-mail claiming to be sent from PayPal.
(click on image to enlarge - blue highlighted area shows the IP address of the highjacked computer - actual recipient's e-mail address redacted for privacy)

The e-mail should have originated on PayPal's network but, instead, it originated somewhere in Brazil ( Here's the text from its first received header, where the message orginated:
Received: from ( [] (may be forged)) by (Xserve/smtpin36/MantshX 4.0) with SMTP id l5ND6ElW020957 for <>; Sat, 23 Jun 2007 06:06:16 -0700 (PDT) is clearly not

Hard To Catch
It's hard to catch spammers because they highjack unsuspecting personal computers throughout the world. In virtually all cases, these are Windows computers which have been infected with viruses, worms, and spyware. Each highjacked computer is used to send out fake e-mails (spam) to thousands of people without their knowledge before or after the fact. Some of these fraudulent e-mails claim to be from legitimate companies - especially financial institutions such as PayPal and banks.

The purpose of most of these phishing e-mails is get the recipient to click on a link in the e-mail which looks like it'll take the user to their financial institution but, instead, it redirects the user to a Web site which looks exactly like the real thing. From there, a user will enter their account login and password and then click submit, which submits the user's login and password to the spammer's server. Once the spammer has a user's login and password, they can log into that user's real account and do what they please.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Love/Hate AT & T

When it comes to AT&T, I love their top of the line business DSL with five static IPs. I recently had a technical problem where a route to a Web site only worked on two of my five static IPs due to a misconfigured AT&T router. The technical support staff was outstanding as we troubleshot the problem, together, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and, finally Monday, when the problem was fixed.
Although it was a bear to track down where the problem was, it certainly wasn't a show stopper, so their attention to the problem was greatly appreciated.

That's the love part.

The hate part is when I receive my AT&T phone bill and see that basic phone service costs $5.70/month but caller ID costs $7.99 and it's going up to $9.99 in mid July. My mother-in-law and father-in-law have more than 50 years of combined time employed at that company and they know how simple it is to provide a customer with dial tone service. Ten dollars/month seems a bit excessive for caller ID.

New Capitola Data Center

Top Row (L-R): Database Server, App Server, App Server, Web server
Middle Row: Ink Jet Printer, GSM Modem, Fax
Bottom Row: USB Drive, NAT Router, Gateway Router, Network Switch

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to Make the iPhone Location Aware

About five or six years ago I did wireless development on the Palm VII and Palm i705. These wireless apps were similar in design concept to a Mac OS X Dashboard Widget - except the apps were just HTML (no CSS or JS). The really cool thing was you could put a proprietary tag in your HTML form which told the cell tower repeater to embed its ZIP code in the HTML form submission on its way to your Web server.

You could just hit AutoFind in, for example, the Starbucks app and it would show you the closest Starbucks cafes without you needing to know your ZIP code. Very handy - plus, a user could block this feature if they wanted privacy. Obviously, this isn't good enough for navigation, but it's a start in the right direction without adding the costs of GPS electronics to the iPhone's price tag.

Unfortunately, Palm shut down its service in 2004. I believe the Palm VII originally retailed for $599 and it used Cingular's network at a blazing 9600 baud. (I think only people over 30 use the word baud anymore.)

Does anyone know if this feature (ZIP code embedding) is still available on other mobile platforms?

Joel Compares Apple vs Microsoft Fonts

At some point, the resolution of a display can't properly render fonts. So, which do you prefer, blurry or pixelated? Either way, there are tradeoffs.

read more | digg story

Sunday, June 10, 2007

High Level Politics

High level politics is about access - meaning access to power by those who support their candidate. If my friend is running for president I will vote for him since I have access to him.

This is one reason why incumbents typically win reelections. This is also why Governor George W. Bush was nominated over Senator John McCain for the 2000 Republican Party primary. Since George W. Bush is the son of a former president this gives the first Bush's former supporters access to the current presidency.

Using this reasoning, Senator Hillary Clinton stands the best chance of getting the Democratic Party nomination for the 2008 presidential election. Her election to president gives former President Bill Clinton's supporters access to President Hillary Clinton.

But, the Democrats face an obvious wildcard among its two current front runners (Senators Clinton and Obama). Despite my reasoning are Americans ready to elect either the first woman or first African-American president?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

God Bless The Convertible

When the new patio set won't fit in the Honda Accord (much like the BBQ) then it's time to turn to the VW Bug convertible.