Redbox and Verizon are gearing up to launch their new streaming service poised to compete with Netflix and have launched in the iOS and Android apps in anticipation. The service is currently in pre-beta stages and they’re slowly sending out invite codes. Although most people can’t even use the service yet, over 87% of the reviews on the Play Store are a single star. Upon installing the app Android’s power users have found it requires an un-rooted device to work. Newsflash for Redbox and Verizon, there’s a huge overlap between early adopters in the tech world and Android users with rooted devices.
While one can simply go to the Superuser app and temporarily turn off root in order to use the app, Rebox’s competitors Netflix and Hulu+ gladly play nice with rooted devices. It seems the video streaming world didn’t get the memo three and a half years ago when the largest online music retailer gave up on DRM. Once again DRM has found itself in between a good user experience and the consumer. Just in case nobody told them… In the world of pirate video, Torrents and Usenet are the preferred choice, not a paid streaming service.
Hopefully Redbox and Verizon can pull their heads out of the abyss and offer a service as convenient as their competitors. If not, I’m sure they’ve still got a bright future in DVD rentals for the next few years.
DISCLAIMER: I do not have any apps on the Android market, nor do I depend on revenue from this hobby blog. I wrote this in defense of all the indie developers and publishers out there who are used by ad-blockers.
Ad-blocking is seen as perfectly harmless by most people. Some even justify it as the noble act of sticking it to the overbearing ad-man. It’s obvious that the world has no love for ads, but nobody hesitates to enjoy all the “free” content the new web age has afforded us. But the reality is, as you’ve always heard, nothing in life is free. Ads are how we pay for much of our online content and most of our Android apps. Taking content without using the accepted form of payment is theft, plain and simple. And that would make blocking ads, theft.
No, you’re not really hurting big companies like Facebook when you install that ad-blocker on your computer or phone. Facebook is too big to be taken down by such a small number of users. But you are hurting the people who need your ad revenue the most. Indie developers on Android are the reason there are so many useful and free apps. And Indie developers on the web are the responsible for many of the services people use and enjoy every day. Nobody starts out as the big dog, and nobody gets there without a source of revenue. I know you’re thinking about Facebook how they got so far without any ad revenue, but look what kind of monster their investment model made them into. Do we want an entire internet of Facebooks? Do we want the Paramount Pictures and Sony Musics to dominate every industry?
AdBlock users come up with a bevy of justifications to make themselves feel better. Ads can be obtrusive and obnoxious. There are animated ads, flashing ads, ads with fake download buttons, flash ads, loud ads, and scam ads. But those are empty excuses, you can choose not to support companies that use those types of ads. If you can’t stomach the ads, you shouldn’t be taking the content. Don’t like the ads in that Android app? Many of them have donate versions that are ad free. If you can’t remove the ads you can always buy an app that doesn’t have ads. If you can’t stand the ads on that news site or that file host, use another one. Nobody is forcing you to be an unwilling audience for ads, they may not be your favorite way of paying for things, but unless you’re willing to pay for every little thing you use, it’s your obligation to stomach them.
I know a lot of people won’t appreciate my stance on ad-blocking. But maybe next time you’ll think about the people you might be taking from when you use a blanket ad-blocker.
With the rise of the surveillance state and the lax security of the current generation of cellular systems, nobody can guarantee the privacy of your mobile transmissions anymore. Because of that, I’ve been on the lookout for a way to send encrypted text messages to friends. I tried a few of the top results in the Play Store like Crypt Haze, but I wasn’t pleased with what I found. Most of them require extra steps to encrypt and send a message. I gave up on finding a ready made solution and started hunting for an open source SMS App to build an encryption system on top of. I could only find one open source SMS app and it happened to be exactly the app I wanted, TextSecure.
It’s tagline is the app in a nutshell, “Security, Simplified.” When you first start up the app it prompts you to enter a passkey and then asks if you’d like to import all your existing messages. I suggest clicking yes as TextSecure not only encrypts your messages over the wire, but also encrypts all the messages stored on your device. After that you can use it as you would use any other messaging app, when you want to start a secure conversation with a friend who has the app you just click the little lock icon in the thread and it prompts them. Once they accept, keys are exchanged and your conversation is now encrypted. All the work is done in the background so what you see on each end looks like a normal text, but what’s transmitted appears to be a garbled mess for anyone who would intercept it.
TextSecure is perfect for anyone who wants encrypted messaging but, it lacks the frills you’d find in most popular SMS apps. I personally prefer the no nonsense functionality and simple security. It also attempts to emulate the stock ICS app which was my preference before TextSecure.
I was an Alpha Tester, a Beta tester, and developer for Boxee’s app platform. I’ve had a HTPC in one form or another for about a decade now. Windows Media Center, Sage TV, XBMC, Plex, you name it. I’ve tried just about every HTPC software there’s been. So, when Boxee announced it’s plans to use XBMC to build a ten foot interface that would bridge the old world of HTPC piracy to the new world of legal content I was beyond excited. The opportunity to dawn a new age of internet content on our TVs was what drew in Boxee’s first testers. What we want, when we want it, and legally. It was an opportunity never offered before, and to many of us it was the future of television we’d been waiting for.
January 19th, 2009: The Boxee for Windows Alpha becomes available.
When I first got my hands on Boxee there was no worrying about where your content came from, all that mattered was what you wanted to watch. Boxee would search it’s vast internet library and stream content from whatever source had it available. It seemed almost too good to be true, internet television made easy. Well, it was too good to be true. Unfortunately, the dream of legal on demand internet content on your TV would remain a dream.
'Clever hacker' programs back-door into Wordpress, submits pull request on Github -
To anyone who questions the security of open-source software, let the community discussion that followed the pull request belay your fears.
Bloomberg Rumors Amazon Smartphone -
You might remember me calling this one about four months ago. Honestly, as a huge supporter of Google’s mobile OS, I feared then that an Amazon phone might be a huge blow to Android. I feel now that Android is on a strong enough footing, that if there were an Amazon phone, it would only hurt Google’s content aspirations in the Play store.
But, with the new emphasis on Play and the Nexus 7, it may be a more level playing field by the time that Amazon releases it’s handset. The longer Amazon waits to release it’s phone, the more Nexus 7 tablets and Android phones end up in the hands of users. The question is, will they tie themselves into Android’s content system? I’m not sure, but I’m going to be a very interested observer.
Linked In, Last.fm, eHarmony, Gawker, Hotmail, Twitter… the list is extensive, and will continue to grow indefinitely. It’s not a matter of if, but when a web service’s customer information will be compromised. It’s not always a matter of negligence or ignorance, it’s a matter of time. It is just not possible to secure something against the whole of human ingenuity. There are hundreds of thousands or, more likely, millions of professional hackers out there. It is impossible to devise a system that they cannot find a hole in. No human is capable of such forethought, and all security systems are made by humans. So, how do you stay secure in world where nothing is truly secure?
In recent years, companies like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have danced around an old securities limitation by offering a quid pro quo model. Unable to give an average person stock in exchange for your money, needy start-ups enticed would be contributors with products and swag. Kickstarter even became so successful this past year that it managed to out-fund the National Endowment of The Arts. For those of you who don’t know, that’s over $150 million dollars. But what has driven these types of projects and products to seek funding from everyday people like you and me?
Would Amazon ever make a phone? Sure, it’s a crowded market right now. And we’re currently looking at more mobile operating systems on their deathbeds than we are at one’s that will succeed. Even Microsoft, a software giant of old has yet to get their new Mobile OS in to the hands of even 1% of the US smartphone market. But Amazon has a curated Appstore, Amazon has a simple user interface, and Amazon has a store for Music, a store for Movies, and for Television shows. Who else has all these things? Apple, that’s who.