Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…

Archive for July, 2009


Amazon Kindle = Big Brother?

Posted by Robert Alonso under Books, Hardware, Opinions

In a future predicted by George Orwell’s “1984,” the government censors writing that it deems inappropriate and the population is left to read only what is approved. It seems Orwell was off by 25 years, but the dystopia he predicted may be beginning. Amazon recently deleted “1984” and “Animal Farm” from customer’s Kindle devices without notice or authorization. I consider this equivalent to a store clerk from a book store breaking into my house and taking a book that I purchased earlier that day. It is outrageous and portends a bleak, dystopian future.

Amazon has said that they mistakenly sold copies of the digital books without having the right to sell them. This may be true, but it still does not give them the right to delete them from personally owned devices. If this were allowed to stand as something that is acceptable corporate behavior, it would enable other companies to delete items from your computer, iPod or iPhone if they deem it to be pirated or objectionable for whatever reason. Now imagine a future where there are no paper copies of books, just electronic ones on devices like the Kindle. The government is taken over by, lets say left wingers, who want to eliminate all copies of Bill O’Reilly’s conservative books. They remotely delete them and all other conservative authors that they abhor. In that scenario, what can the regular guy do to get a balanced view of the world?

Amazon’s ill advised deletion should be the catalyst for congressional action. We need a Digital Rights Amendment that specifically details the rights of purchasers of digital content. It is outrageous to allow a corporation to go into our property and delete or take back something that you have paid for. It is also dangerous to a democratic society.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon has apologized for his company’s action. Here is a quote from his apology:

Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

I accept his apology, but I do not accept his promise that Amazon will not delete books from end user devices going forward. I believe that the time is right for a law that prevents this type of abuse from occurring again in any form and from any source. What do you think?

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Mac Mini for iPhone Development

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions, Software

I recently purchased a few Mac Minis to be used in the development of iPhone applications at Alonso Consulting. This is the first time that I have owned an Apple computer and it is the first time that I have used one for any purpose other than to click on the Safari browser and say, “That’s nice.” In fact, the last time that I actively used a Mac was in 1989 as a consultant at GE Capital and all I used was Microsoft Word to document some requirements for a project. These Mac Minis have given me more respect for Apple. They are solid, useful machines that are easy-to-use and configure. Even taking the components out of the box was a pleasant experience. Everything came in white boxes and all the parts were wrapped in thick cellophane. There is no comparison between the way a Dell arrives and the way an Apple computer arrives. It is a totally different experience.

I have grown accustomed to several open source applications on the PC. Three of these are TrueCrypt, FileZilla and VirtualBox. These are for encrypting volumes of files, using the FTP protocol for file transfers and creating virtual machines on the PC, respectively. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were Mac versions of these available. I installed them and a few other very useful applications including Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac and am at the point where I could do all my work on the Macs and ignore the PC completely.

I am quite pleased with the way the Mac OS X works. It is pleasant and fast. I find the performance on a 2 GHz, dual core Intel processor with 1 GB of memory to be superior to the 2.4 GHz Intel quad core processor with 3GB of memory on my Vista PC. The only thing that I can’t stand is the crappy Mac keyboard that is flat and missing tactile feedback. I found a way of using an old IBM Model M keyboard with a Belkin USB to PS/2 Keyboard adapter and now feel more comfortable typing on the Mac.

Apple has a good thing going for itself requiring a Mac to develop apps for the iPhone. As we make progress on some applications, I will keep you posted on the progress. If you are looking for iPhone development, please consider my company; Alonso Consulting. We will deliver excellent results at a very reasonable cost.

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Awesome iPhone News App

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Service, Software

“Fluent News” is a free iPhone application that works with all three versions of the iPhone OS. It is a news aggregator that gathers news from various reputable sources and presents it in an easy-to-use application. It is one of the fastest news applications that I have used for the iPhone. I have read New York Times, BBC and CNN articles on it complete with the full text and pictures and it is a joy to use.

It continually updates from the various news sources and stores news for offline reading. You can also share a good story with your friends by sending a link via email or posting a link to Facebook or Twitter directly from the application. You can download it for free from the Apple App Store. It is developed by Fluent Mobile.

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