Posts Tagged 'Apple'

September 4, 2014

Keeping your private parts private.

Even with the knowledge that images can live on forever to haunt you, people continue to snap self-portraits in compromising positions (it’s your prerogative). Heck, before smart phones came along, people were using Polaroids to capture the moment. And, if history teaches us anything, people will continue the trend—instead of a smart phone, it’ll be a holodeck (a la Star Trek). Ugh, can you imagine that?

The recent high-profile hack of nude celebrity photos came from private phones. They weren’t posted to Facebook or Instagram. These celebrities didn’t hashtag.

#birthdaysuit #emperorsnewclothes #whoneedsdesignerthreads #shegotitfromhermama

Their sensitive data was compromised.

After speculation the hack stemmed from an iCloud® security vulnerability, Apple released a statement saying, “We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.” The cloud platform was secure. The users’ security credentials weren’t.

These were private photos intended for private use, so how did they get out there? How can you protect your data; your images; your privacy?

You’ve heard it once; twice; probably every time you create a new account online (and in this day in age, we all have dozens of user accounts online):

  1. Use a strong password. This SoftLayer Blog is an oldie but a goodie where the author gives the top three ways to make a password: 1) use a random generator like random.org; 2) use numbers in place of letters—for example, “minivan” becomes “m1n1v4n”; 3) write your passwords down in plain sight using “Hippocampy Encryption” (named in honor of the part of the brain that does memory type activities). Or take the XKCD approach to password security.
  2. And for heaven’s sake, don’t use the same password for every account. If you duplicate usernames and passwords across sites, a hacker just needs to access one account, and he or she will be able to get into all of your accounts!
  3. Craft little-known answers to security questions. Don’t post a childhood photo of you and your dog on Facebook with the description, “Max, the best pup ever” and then use Max as a security validation answer for “What’s the name of your favorite pet?” It’s like you’re giving the hackers the biggest hint ever.
  4. If available, use a two-factor authentication security enhancement. The government (FISMA), banks (PCI) and the healthcare industry are huge proponents of two-factor authentication—a security measure that requires two different kinds of evidence to prove that you are who you say you are and that you should have access to what you're trying to access. Read our blog or KnowledgeLayer Article for more details.
  5. Remember passwords are like underwear—don’t share them with friends and change them often. When it comes to passwords, at least once a year should suffice. For underwear, we recommend changing more regularly.

We won’t tell you what to do with your sensitive selfies. But do yourself a favor, and be smart about protecting them.

-JRL

September 20, 2013

Building a Mobile App with jQuery Mobile: The Foundation

Based on conversations I've had in the past, at least half of web developers I've met have admitted to cracking open an Objective-C book at some point in their careers with high hopes of learning mobile development ... After all, who wouldn't want to create "the next big thing" for a market growing so phenomenally every year? I count myself among that majority: I've been steadily learning Objective-C over the past year, dedicating a bit of time every day, and I feel like I still lack skill-set required to create an original, complex application. Wouldn't it be great if we web developers could finally get our shot in the App Store without having to unlearn and relearn the particulars of coding a mobile application?

Luckily for us: There is!

The rock stars over at jQuery have created a framework called jQuery Mobile that allows developers to create cross-platform, responsive applications on a HTML5-based jQuery foundation. The framework allows for touch and mouse event support, so you're able to publish across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, Nook and on and on and on. If you're able to create web applications with jQuery, you can now create an awesome cross-platform app. All you have to do is create an app as if it was a dynamic HTML5 web page, and jQuery takes care of the rest.

Let's go through a real-world example to show this functionality in action. The first thing we need to do is fill in the <head> content with all of our necessary jQuery libraries:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
    <title>SoftLayer Hello World!</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.3.2/jquery.mobile-1.3.2.min.css" />
    <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.9.1.min.js"></script>
    <script src="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.3.2/jquery.mobile-1.3.2.min.js"></script>
</head>

Now let's create a framework for our simplistic app in the <body> section of our page:

<body>
    <div data-role="page">
        <div data-role="header">
            <h1>My App!</h1>
        </div>
 
        <div data-role="content">
            <p>This is my application! Pretty cool, huh?</p>
        </div>
 
        <div data-role="footer">
            <h1>Bottom Footer</h1>
        </div>
 
    </div>
</body>
</html>

Even novice web developers should recognize the structure above. You have a header, content and a footer just as you would in a regular web page, but we're letting jQuery apply some "native-like" styling to those sections with the data-role attributes. This is what our simple app looks like so far: jQuery Mobile App Screenshot #1

While it's not very fancy (yet), you see that the style is well suited to the iPhone I'm using to show it off. Let's spice it up a bit and add a navigation bar. Since we want the navigation to be a part of the header section of our app, let's add an unordered list there:

<div data-role="header">
    <h1>My App!</h1>
        <div data-role="navbar">
            <ul>
                <li><a href="#home" class="ui-btn-active" data-icon="home" data-theme="b">Home</a></li>
                <li><a href="#softlayer_cool_news" data-icon="grid" data-theme="b">SL Cool News!</a></li>
                <li><a href="#softlayer_cool_stuff" data-icon="star" data-theme="b">SL Cool Stuff!</a></li>
            </ul>
        </div>
    </div>

You'll notice again that it's not much different from regular HTML. We've created a navbar div with an unordered list of menu items we'd like to add to the header: Home, SL Cool News and SL Cool Stuff. Notice in the anchor tag of each that there's an attribute called data-icon which defines which graphical icon we want to represent the navigation item. Let's have a peek at what it looks like now: jQuery Mobile App Screenshot #2

Our app isn't doing a whole lot yet, but you can see from our screenshot that the pieces are starting to come together nicely. Because we're developing our mobile app as an HTML5 app first, we're able to make quick changes and see those changes in real time from our phone's browser. Once we get the functionality we want to into our app, we can use a tool such as PhoneGap or Cordova to package our app into a ready-to-use standalone iPhone app (provided you're enrolled in the Apple Development Program, of course), or we can leave the app as-is for a very nifty mobile browser application.

In my next few blogs, I plan to expand on this topic by showing you some of the amazingly easy (and impressive) functionality available in jQuery Mobile. In the meantime, go grab a copy of jQuery Mobile and start playing around with it!

-Cassandra

October 8, 2011

Smart Phones: Technology Replacing Contact?

So much of our life has been moved to digital devices these days. Smart phones are one of many devices that have made an impression on our lives. Smart phones these days have become a must for most, whether it is for business or personal use, almost everyone has one.

On the plus side, smart phones enable users to conduct business from just about anywhere in the world. Access to email accounts, VPNs and other tools that make business move on a daily basis have become accessible from the palm of your hand. You can even administer your web server from your smart phone with the right application setup.

You're carrying a small computer around in your pocket. It'll be interesting to see what new devices will emerge in the market in the next few years. Tablets are becoming wildly popular, and mainstream consumers are starting to keep an eye on the newest innovations, joining the "tech geeks" in the "early adopter" line.

There are several players in this market with Google, RIM and Apple leading the pack, and dedicated fans rally behind each. With smart phones becoming so increasingly common, I've started wondering if it's really for the best. Do we really need to check our e-mail every 10 minutes? If we're not on Twitter, Facebook or one of our other social networks, will they be there when we get to our computer?

Being digitally connected all the time give us a false sense of "socializing" in the old school face-to-face sense, and that pull us away from those IRL (in real life) encounters. Numerous crashes have been caused by people texting or updating their statuses while driving, and there have been cases of people walking into a busy street while being distracted by their phones.

When it comes to technology like smart phones, how do you keep those devices from becoming a dependency? How do you keep yourself from letting them take the place of direct human contact rather? It's something to think about as technology continues to evolve and permeate our lives.

-James

October 7, 2011

On the Passing of a Giant

In March of 2000, Apple was set to launch the first version of Mac OS X. At the time, I was working for a company called Macromedia (creators of Flash, subsequently purchased by Adobe) on a professional illustration program called FreeHand. Part of the Mac OS X transition was a system that reimplemented the programming interfaces from Mac OS 9 on the operating system kernel of Mac OS X. That system was called Carbon and was key to the strategy that let Mac OS 9 application transition to the Mac OS X platform. We had worked very hard with Apple and FreeHand was one of the first applications to run under the new system. I was invited to demo FreeHand running on Mac OS X at the Mac OS X launch event.

The launch was held on the Apple Campus in the "Town Hall," the same venue that recently hosted the launch of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4s. Members of The Press were across the hallway in an adjacent room while those of us who were going to present were reviewing our parts, being fitted with microphones, and anxiously milling about. At one point an Apple employee stuck her head into the room and announced that Steve Jobs would be arriving in a few minutes. Most people took the announcement in stride and continued about their business.

At some point in this process, two of the representatives from Apple's Developer Relations team that I had been working with seated themselves about halfway up the auditorium; they were innocently waiting for the event to start.

When Steve walked into the room, he did so through a side door that was just to the left of my seat. I was standing in front of the seat, and Steve came to stop right in front of me. The moment he walked into the room, all conversation died out. The entire room held it's breath for a few heart beats while Steve stretched and commented aloud about being "ready to do this thing."

As the conversations around the room came back on-line, Steve turned to me, pointed at the Developer Relations folk halfway up the auditorium and forcefully asked "Who are those people?" Naturally I fumbled to find a reply and was explaining that they worked for Developer Relations. Thankfully the VP of Developer Relations was nearby. He tapped Steve on the shoulder and told him "Those are my people, Steve." I often tell folks at that point that "The Eye of Sauron turned" as Steve went off to review his presentation.

This was my first encounter with Steve Jobs. I've had a couple more over the years, minor interactions that I have no doubt he would never have remembered. Still, I have been working on Apple products since I was very young. Over the years my specialization in the field of Apple development has allowed me to care for myself and my family. Apple's products continue to be an important part of my life.

Shortly the official press event announcing Mac OS X, I was invited to the cafeteria at Apple, Caffe Macs, and heard Steve talk about how Mac OS X was going to change everything. Over 10 years later, and that operating system now powers not only the Macintosh computer, but the host of iOS devices as well. A decade away I'm now working at SoftLayer to bring some of that innovation, and excellence to our mobile products.

I am one of millions whose lives have been touched by Steve Jobs. I know that while he was here he seized life with an intensity that inspires many of us. I hope that where he has gone he will have time to relax, reflect, and rest for a time.

That is, I have no doubt, before he starts "One More Thing..."

Rest in Peace, Steve.

-Scott

Categories: 
May 27, 2011

SoftLayer Mobile - Coming of Age

The SoftLayer Mobile application allows customers to work with support tickets, examine and control servers, monitor bandwidth information and more. The application is available on two platform: Apple iOS - supporting iPhones and iPads, and the Google Android operating system - supporting mobile phones and devices from a variety of vendors.

The SoftLayer Mobile application is quickly approaching its first birthday. The application was first introduced to the world in June of 2010. Frequent visitors to this blog may remember when we introduced the iPhone application right here in the SoftLayer blog. We got back with you again when the Android application reached the milestone of 100 downloads. Our success with the application continues to this day with the both the iOS and Android versions sporting impressive download statistics which multiply those of a year ago many dozens of times over.

In the course of the past year, we've gotten some great suggestions for improvements from our customers. The first request was for the application to store account passwords a feature which we implemented quickly. From those humble beginnings we added some larger, more complex functionality based on your feedback like two-factor authentication using VeriSign Identity Protection, bandwidth charting, and the ability to check account balances and make one-time payments against those balances from your phone.

We'd love to continue that trend and hope to tap into the experience of the thousands of you who are working with the application. In the coming year, we hope to expand our existing functionality, include new features, and support both new operating systems and new devices. We'd love to hear about your ideas on how we can best improve the SoftLayer Mobile application to make it an even more valuable tool for you.

Would you like improved tracking of your bandwidth? Can we offer greater control over your server's network ports? Do you need to monitor your server's CPU usage even while you're in line at the bank? Is there one particular task that compels you to visit the SoftLayer Customer Portal time and again? If so, and if it would be convenient for you to have that information on the phone in your pocket rather than on the computer at your desk, please let us know!

To offer your suggestions, please create a support ticket in your SoftLayer account detailing your needs. Alternatively, if you are already using the SoftLayer Mobile application, drop us a line through the feedback links built into the Support section.

If you haven't been using the SoftLayer Mobile application, then we'd like to invite you to download it and explore its features. For more information, and for links and information about downloading and installing the application, visit our Mobile Application resource page.

Keep watching that page over the coming months as well. We have some exciting projects in the works and hope to share them with you very soon!

-Scott

August 12, 2010

The Great iPhone 4 Case Quest

I recently was able to get ahold of a 32GB iPhone 4. It is the first iPhone I have owned, and seems like a good model to start my 2 year AT&T contract with. I can say that it lives up to all of the hype (positive and negative), so I will not bore you with yet another review that repeats what is already out there.

Instead, I would like to share my case-quest story.

Shortly after getting my new iPhone 4, I inadvertently dropped it in a parking lot. I am happy to report that the front and back panels are truly scratch resistant. After falling on asphalt, amazingly, there were no scratches or marks on either the front or back panels. Because of this, I feel comfortable forgoing the screen protector I was considering buying.

However, the corners of the phone were another matter. After the drop, the corners got slightly chipped, but not badly. No one besides my fellow webby colleague Steven Rogers has been able to notice them, but they bug me nonetheless.

Sadly, these corner chips could have been avoided if I was able to buy a case at the same time as my phone, but unfortunately, there were none to be found at the time of purchase. The iPhone 4 compatible cases seem to be more scarce than the actual phones!

After my un-paid stress test for Apple, I began looking around for an iPhone 4 Case that I like. At one place, I saw an Apple bumper case that a fellow iPhone 4 owner had, and that seemed like an ideal match. It protects the corners, and looks like an extension of the device.

I began my case-quest by going around to several Apple Stores, but it was the same story at each one I went to: "Sorry, we had some earlier today, but we sold out." These bumper cases have been flying off the shelves of Apple Stores and seem to be gone moments after they are put on the racks. I heard reports that some customers were so eager to get one, they even got it in a color they didn't care for.

I also tried going to a couple of different Best Buy mobile stores, but the types of cases they had were not appealing to me, and were in low supply as well.

After looking around at many stores, I was able to get a "temporary" case at a mall kiosk shop. It is a decent gel-type case, but has a closed back, so you can't see the beautiful glass-back with the Apple logo on it.

The gel case protects my corners, but I still wasn't satisfied with it completely, so I renewed my bumper case quest.

Fortunately, I was able to get one from an Apple Store during a week day and so finally fulfilled my quest. I really like my new case. It has metal buttons for the volume buttons, and the sleep/wake button, and it has an extra thick enclosure around the mute switch so you don't accidentally bump it.

So, the moral of this story is that if you are planning to get an iPhone 4 and want a case, try to line up a case that you like ahead of time as well.

Oh, and one more thing, if you haven't done so already, check out the SoftLayer iPhone Mobile Client app that I helped make.

-Brad

Categories: 
July 14, 2010

Build on Strength

Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 4 has had an interestingly polarized reaction. While many have praised the all-new design and unprecedented screen quality, others, who are already happy with another platform, have found it almost completely un-compelling. Beyond the natural tendency for human bias and the obvious contrast in priorities of the two platforms, this difference of opinion still provides some food for thought.

If you had asked me what the iPhone’s strongest advantages over its competitors were before the iPhone 4 announcement, I probably would have cited, among other things, build quality and text rendering. And yet, apparently, those are two of the things Apple has most focused on improving. It could be argued that this is an illogical move on Apple’s part—that Apple should have instead focused on the software features touted by competitors. (I’m not an Android user, but I’m told its notification system, for example, is excellent.)

But I don’t think Apple’s decisions are at all illogical. I think they’ve employed a principle we could all do well to realize and remember: when your company has a best-in-class product or service, it shouldn’t get too distracted with beating its competitors to beat itself. Certainly there are things to be learned from competitors in any industry; but the most important customers are always the ones you already have.

So, why strengthen what’s already strong? Current customers probably chose your company because of its strengths and in spite of its weaknesses. In a way, then, they’ve already identified that what your company does well is extremely important to them. This is, of course, no excuse to ignore weaknesses—doing so could be catastrophic. But it is a charge to never get complacent about what your company does well. One day, someone else will do it better. But no company is in a better position to do so than yours.

Categories: 
May 20, 2010

To Buy or Not to Buy an Apple iPad

I have traditionally been a Windows sorta guy though, over the years, I have been slowly (very slowly) gravitating towards the Apple side of the fence. I haven’t purchased a full on Mac, as my love for Windows 7 is in full bloom, but when it comes to handheld/mobile devices Apple has been doing exceptionally well. I already have an iPhone 3GS and I swear by it. I really know of no one that has an iPhone and is disappointed by it.

Now I am in the market for a new laptop and I’m considering the iPad. Shut it, I know it’s not a “laptop”. It’s a medium between a smart phone and laptop, blah blah. What I should find out is if my life would be better with a laptop or an iPad. What exactly do I need?

Well, I can’t play World of Warcraft on my iPad, right (maybe)? I could definitely watch some streaming Netflix though. That would be pleasant. I have about 200 books for the Kindle app on my iPhone. I’m sure the experience of reading on the iPad is better than on the iPhone. Do I need the 3G or just the WiFi version? What about that keypad? I’m the type that rests their fingers on the keyboard. All my composed emails would end up like the following:

A;ldskfj;ada;lskdjfasd;lfkjasd;flkja;sGODHELPME!!!!dlkfja;l;lskadjfjklfadlkjfdaskl dfsak asdf kjk f faldk fdsa fasl;kd jaakls;jdf;afs kdl;j fasIHATEEMAIL!!!!djkla fjsk;lafkjls j askl;djfasjl fk;alsk;j df!!!!11!!1!

Well, at least they have a Bluetooth keyboard for $69. I guess that helps.

The more I research the iPad, the more I like it. I watched Steve Job’s iPad presentation yesterday. Though, I couldn’t help but notice the missing flash movie during his presentation.

Steve Jobs - iPad

Never the less, I don’t see this as a big issue as I foresee Flash movies being replaced by HTML 5 anyway.

So with all this said, will I purchase an iPad? Yes, I most definitely will. I should set up a “Steven Rogers needs an iPad” fund. You can send your donations to the SoftLayer corporate office addressed to me. ;)

Once I get the iPad and have played with it for a bit, I will write a follow up to this blog.

Update: I bought a 64GB WiFi-only iPad recently and will post a follow up to this blog on June 1st.

Categories: 
April 28, 2010

A Review of the Opera Mini for the iPhone

Opera Mini for the iPhone

Opera’s new mobile browser for the iPhone has finally been approved by Apple to be included on the App Store. Read the official announcement.

I’ve played around with the browser for the past 30 minutes. My impressions are as follows:

Pros

  • It’s a wicked fast mobile browser. No doubts about that. A definite improvement over the other browser options on the iPhone.
  • The Dashboard is a very welcome addition.
  • Zooming in and out of the web page to read different portions of the web page was something I didn’t like at first. After browser a few pages, it grew on me. You can turn on “mobile view” in the settings to force the content to narrow to the view screen.
  • Opera’s version of tabbed browsing is remarkable!
  • Opera has great offline support through “Saved Pages”.

Cons

  • Bookmarks were a little difficult to find at first. It’s located under “Settings” which seems to be the wrong place in my opinion. Trivial, I know.
  • You can NOT set the Opera mini as the “default” browser. Though this is directed more towards a failing of the iPhone OS than the Opera browser itself.
  • Text heavy pages tend to have some text overlapping issues.
  • Unlike its PC brother, the Opera Mini does not pass the ACID 2 or ACID 3 tests.
    • On this note, Safari on the iPhone does pass both the ACID 2 and ACID 3 tests.
  • My overall impression of the new Opera Mini for the iPhone is good. For me, ease of use is a major clincher for mobile internet browsing and the Opera Mini hits the target.

July 27, 2008

What if SoftLayer Managed Inventory and Demand Like Apple?

Quick Answer: It would be disastrous!

Consider Apple's rollout of the iPhone 3G. Full disclosure: I'm trying to get my hands on one of those new iPhones, but as yet I have been unsuccessful.

When the first iPhones rolled out in June 2007, it was understandable that Apple had no idea how many to produce in advance of the launch. It was a product that moved the smart phone concept forward in several ways, but it wasn't perfect. Also, buyers set it up at home on their own using iTunes, so the buying process was simple. Get in, pay up, and get out. The long lines moved quickly. There were rumors of overproduction based on realized demand. I bought one for my wife's birthday at the 2007 release. Buying it and setting it up was easy.

This year is very different. Because of aftermarket hacking, you are required to activate and set up the phone with AT&T service in person this time around. So if you want to jailbreak the iPhone 3G, you'll have to pay a cancellation fee to AT&T. There is no get in, pay up, and get out. The buying process is running 20 to 30 minutes at this point, and Apple and AT&T are selling TONS more phones than at last year's rollout. Stock outs are occurring everywhere. But yet, Apple is still selling them on a first come/first served basis. Yes, you can prepay at an AT&T store, but they're quoting a minimum 10 business day wait for your phone.

It would make complete sense if a few months before the launch date, folks could have logged in, paid a deposit, reserved a phone, and set up a time for activation. Apple could have better anticipated demand and tailored phone production and store staffing accordingly.

Suffice it to say that SoftLayer does not manage inventory and customer demand like Apple. We strive to anticipate demand and arrange our inventory and staffing accordingly. We do our best to find that balance to keep our inventory lean so as to not waste money on maintaining unused product, yet have enough on hand so that our customers' businesses can be scalable. In other words, when you need another server or two or two hundred, we've got ‘em for you – and ready for you to use in a few hours, tops.

Yes, you can order enough servers for us to require a few days to call in a shipment. But that would be quite a large order, and you can rest assured that you wouldn't be a nameless "first come, first served" patron.

Bottom line, if we treated the customers who want our services as Apple does their iPhone customers, we'd have a lot less of them. That's customers, not iPhones.

-Gary

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