Category Archives: Tech

Why is the iPhone graphics consistently worse than its Samsung counterparts in every new release?

This is usually because Samsung utilises Super AMOLED display technogy. Super AMOLED allows for much deeper blacks by turning off the pixels that need to show black completely providing more realistic pictures with deeper shadows, at the cost of viewing angles. Apple utilises IPS technology which is standard in most phones. This technology uses all pixels at all times which causes white color bleed into a black picture. IPS though has significantly better viewing angles though.

iPhone Graphics vs Samsung
iPhone Graphics

How intelligent is Bill Gates?

I worked at MSFT from 87 to 98. I had multiple meetings with Bill, from the days when you had a meeting with him like you would with anybody else to the days when just getting on his schedule was like meeting with POTUS.

Back in the day MSFT was full of really really smart people. For example, Nathan Mhyrvold was an astrophysicist who had done some stuff with Stephen Hawking. And that kind of background wasn’t that uncommon among the people there. Lots of PhDs in lots of fields (not just CS). (I once remarked to a Really Smart Friend that I always felt like the dumb guy in the room; he looked surprised and said that was how he always felt.)

And yet, with all these smart people, who remember specialized in some small aspect of Microsoft, when they would meet with Bill he would almost always pick out very quickly the things they had missed in their product plans and strategies. HE was invariably the smartest guy in a room of brilliance.

Let me give a specific example from the last time I saw him. I was in the marketing department on a product team that was launching our first ever product for ecommerce (Microsoft Commerce Server). It was a very small team on a product that was not expected to make a great deal of money, but was necessary from a strategic standpoint. My point is, it wasn’t exactly on Bill’s radar. We had gotten the product via an acquisition, ported it to NT (remember NT?) and were ready to launch it.

Somehow we managed to get Bill lined up for the launch event, which was super hard to do because every product team wanted Bill at their events–a Bill appearance would guarantee lots of turnout, both by press and customers, as well as press coverage. So it was a major score. We had one very brief planning meeting with Bill several months in advance and, when the PM started telling him about the product, he cut him off saying, “I don’t want to fill up my head with a bunch of stuff that I’ll just have to learn again later.”

A couple of weeks before the launch at the San Jose Convention Center, we had a briefing with Bill on the product and launch, where we went over features, messaging, competition, etc. We had an hour I believe. Two weeks later and Bill gets hustled in back stage, surrounded by his (now ever present) “bubble”–PR flacks, assistants, security people. Bill went out on stage and did a complete in-depth presentation on the product, space, future, etc, all from memory, no notes. Then dashed off to his next meeting.

bill gates
bill gates

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using GCM (Google Cloud Messaging) for iOS push notifications compared to APNS (Apple Push Notification Service)?

With the addition of iOS push notification support to GCM it is now possible to implement very similar logic to send a push notification to either an iOS or Android device through a single platform.

Are there any disadvantages to using GCM over APNS for this purpose or situations where sending a notification directly through APNS would be a better choice? What additional advantages (beyond code re-usability) does GCM bring to the table?

Cloud Messaging Options
Which is better Cloud Messaging

Why is the iPhone 6s so expensive?

It’s not. It’s the same price as the iPhone 6 when it was introduced.

What people forget is that they have a pretty powerful computer in their hands, not just a cell phone or texting device. An iPhone does a lot of the things a laptop or desktop computer does, yet it fits in your pocket. Usually, when you buy something that is smaller, it costs more (a desktop computer vs a laptop, for instance).

Also, an iPhone 6s is comparably priced to the equivalent Samsung Galaxy models, so I really can’t agree that it is “so expensive.”

Too expensive?
iPhone 6

What does it mean when they say the data is “encrypted” And is it really encrypted on the iPhone?

Data on an iPhone is scrambled in an encoded and unreadable way which can only be decoded with the private, device-unique key.

That private key is stored inside a dedicated chip, the “Secure Enclave.” Without the key, the data is unreadable.

If the iPhone has a passcode set, that private key cannot be accessed without the passcode. Even with specialized tools, the encrypted data cannot be read from the phone without the user releasing the private key. The “Secure Enclave” hardware is designed so that the key cannot be directly read; data is decrypted by passing through the chip once it is unlocked with a passcode. If an attacker keeps randomly guessing passkeys, the delay between accepting keys grows exponentially with each bad guess, stopping a brute force guessing attack.

This very secure level of encryption makes governments very nervous, and they are frantically trying to outlaw this capability.

is phone data encrypted
phone data encryption

How will I know that my cellphone is being tapped?

That is not the correct question. The correct question is “How do I know my cellphone is NOT being tapped?” You always have to make the assumption that your phone, email, etc is being tapped all the time and as a result act accordingly. You can never assume privacy.

When I worked at Cisco I happened to visit a large quasi-governmental company that was buying tens of milions of dollars of storage equipment. I was shown a warehouse sized room filled with storage. It sounded like a jet engine with the amount of ventilation and cooling it required. The workers had to wear headphones to protect their hearing. When I asked what they were doing with all this storage I was proudly told that this company could “re-create any day in the history of the United States since 2003. Every financial transaction; every single email; every text message; every phone call.” If it was sent digitally, they preserved it. Your information is already being stored somewhere. “Tapping” can take place years after the fact. All they have to do is go back into those files and find your data.

The cryptic internet assault group Anonymous has a saying: “Don’t think. If you think, never say. If you say, never write it down. If you write it, don’t sign. If you think it, say it, write it and sign it, don’t be surprised by what happens to you.” Also, playwrite David Mamet said, “Assume that every word you speak on the telephone will be recorded and held against you. Remember, that in practice, the presumption of innocence applies only to the guilty. Should you, God forbid, be tortured, make sure you have something to confess.”
I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.

is your phone being tapped
phone being tapped

What is the best thing to do with your old cell phone? Donate it? Sell it? Re-use it for parts?

If your phone does not have any resale value, you might enjoy taking your smartphone apart to see how it all works (in a very crude and functional way…oh! this is the RAM…oh! this is the gyroscope chip…and this is the WiFi receiver). This is especially fun if you have kids (or are a kid, physically or mentally), and doing it on an old phone will give you the confidence to switch out individual parts on your new phone if they fail.

I recently took apart my old Samsung Captivate (the last phone with a physical retractable keyboard that Samsung made) and now I am obsessed with teardowns. All acquaintances should hide their old phones.

Take apart old phones
Old phones