I have been slacking on this blog as of late. As of the past 4 months actually. A good thing, been REALLY busy. Just moved even closer to DC. Sorry about that everyone.
On that note, just wanted to note that I love how when I go into my command prompt on Windows and type LS, it actually works because I have all the unix binaries properly pathed and my Linux behavior begins to act up anytime there is a prompt screen and the background isn’t blue. Lol!
Some people tell me that this is the best Sharktank invention ever. I tend to agree. It uses already existing technology that can be transferred over a network that is highly difficult to calculate and makes a new practical use. I think Mark Cuban just bought a genius is what he did.
The web world is big. You hear me say it all the time. And just when you think you have a wrap on just how big the internet is, you get another Framework that has been around for nearly 5 years, that somehow skated right by you.
I’ve briefly heard of Yii Framework before, but did not realize how advantageous it really was to quick development using techniques I love like DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) and MVC (Model-View-Controller). What does Yii stand for? “Yes, it is!” Every single thing that you need for rapid website development, all influenced by Prado, Ruby on Rails, jQuery, Symfony, and Joomla. This little guy is light weight and offers quick and heavy integration with databases and user interface fun all out of the box.
If you are looking for another PHP Framework to give a try, take a look at this one.
The Jailbreak community is back in full swing now that the latest Unteathered Jailbreak debuted for iOS 7 late last year. If you’re not familiar with Jailbreaking, it’s defined simply by removing the restrictions Apple places on your iOS devices. When I bought my iPhone 5S a few months ago I didn’t think I wanted to jailbreak again, because I thought iOS 7 offered many of the reasons why I jailbroke my iPhone 4 in the first place. However, it’s hard to dismiss how creative and inventive developers are and as soon as I saw the next generation of tweaks for iOS 7 that were being developed I couldn’t help but jailbreak my new iPhone!
This article is not intended to educate how to jailbreak your iOS device. However, if you’re curious about why people jailbreak their iPhone, then take a look at some if not all these tweaks I mention below. These jailbreak “tweaks” as they are called are my absolute favorite so far and I recommend each one of them. There are however thousands of tweaks that exist in the Cydia App Store, which is the store that is installed on your iOS device when you jailbreak your device, therefore I’m very selective with my choices. Please take a look and share your opinions!
1) Tweak: CCToggles Developer: deVbug Purpose: Let me first preference that I love CCToggles. It’s my favorite tweak right now and deVbug, the developer of CCToggles, is really active within the jailbreak community with many practical tweaks as you’ll read below. CCToggles enables you to completely customize the Control Center with your own QuickLaunch apps and Toggles. Why is this important? When you swipe up from the bottom of your screen, you’re shown Apple’s standard Control Center, but unfortunately it’s limited to the few applications Apple feels are important such as: Calculator, Timer, Camera and Flashlight. With CCToggles you can now swap out these core apps with your favorite applications that you personally need most and the best part is you get pages of them! Another nice feature that’s worth noting is if you password protect your lock screen, your phone will prompt you to enter your password when you launch any of your Control Center apps. Let’s not forget the core toggles Apple features such as Wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, etc can now be swapped out with dozens of additional toggles thanks to deVbug’s tweak and you can have pages of toggles, too. There’s also a clever feature I’m sure everyone can appreciate once you’ve enabled CCToggles and that is the ability to quickly switch Wifi networks or Bluetooth devices from Control Center. This is achieved by simply holding down the toggles for a few seconds to reveal its settings menu so you can quickly switch to another network or device. This developer has really thought about everything when he designed this tweak. Apple’s new Control Center was one of the most requested features to finally make it to iOS, but once we got our hands on it every iPhone user knew it was extremely limited. Fortunately deVbug solved this problem to take back your Control Center!
2) Tweak: AppSwitcher QLPanel Developer: deVbug Purpose: Developer deVbug is back taking his CCToggles even further by developing an Application Switcher into the Control Center just beneath the QuickLaunch apps and it’s pretty slick if you ask me. Why would you need a second Application Switcher when Apple built one into the core iOS? It’s not like Apple’s core application switcher isn’t very good, it’s actually really nice now that they’ve improved it with iOS 7, but now that I’ve been using deVbug’s new AppSwitcher QLPanel I personally find it faster to switch applications by swiping up to reveal the Control Center than double clicking my home button to reveal Apple’s core application switcher. What’s even better is deVbug built in many customizable features such as transparency, kill all open apps option and more. This tweak may not be for everyone, but I would recommend trying it out if you’re looking for a faster, subtle and more convenient application switcher.
3) Tweak: HiddenSettings7
Developer: deVbug Purpose: If you’re a heavy folder user with your iOS device then this tweak will surely strike your fancy. I’m personally a huge advocate of managing my apps within folders, but Apple’s stock iOS 7.0.4 only supports one level of folder creation. For example, I have handful of games and I want to keep my favorite games separate from my kid’s games in their own folder. Instead of creating two separate folders separate from each other now with HiddenSettings7 you can enable Apple’s “Allow Nested Folders” option, and combine your folders within folders. There are many other settings now available once you’ve enabled Apple’s hidden settings, so have fun exploring!
4) Tweak: 7Folder Relayout
Developer: deVbug Purpose: You should only install this tweak if HiddenSettings7 installed since it’s designed to compliment deVbug’s “HiddenSettings7” tweak by adding custom options on top of Apple’s “Allow Nested Folders” options. You’ll now have 4×4 icon layout instead of Apple’s standard 3×3 icon layout, some additional blurring options and including a grid icon layout when the folders are collapsed. I personally love this tweak and in my opinion is critical if you use Apple’s “Allow Nested Folders” options.
5) Tweak: CCClockOpenToAlarm Developer: Jerry En Purpose: If you use your iPhone as an alarm clock then this is the perfect tweak for you. There’s a clever secret that not everyone knows about. I say this because I’ve shared this secret with some colleagues of mine and nearly every time I’m thanked for showing it off. The secret is when you swipe up from the bottom of your screen to reveal the Control Center, Apple displays a few QuickLaunch short cuts and one of them defaults to the Timer setting within the Clock application. The Clock application as you may have just realized is where your Alarm Clock lives therefore simply clicking the Alarm button takes you to your precious Alarm Clock with just a few taps. Since I use the Timer setting very sparingly, I do however use the Alarm Clock every day and so this tweak simply defaults the Timer QuickLaunch short cut to launch the Alarm Clock when pressed. That’s all it does — it’s so perfect in its simplicity that I can’t recommend it enough!
6) Tweak: DateCarrier
Developer: Bradley Friedman (S1ReX) Purpose: Apple believes it’s more important for you to know the time of day than today’s date. So this is why Apple displays the time in the status bar and you have to seek out what today’s date by swiping down from your Notification Center or checking your Lock Screen. Developer Bradley Friedman believes the date is just as important as the time and I happen to agree with him. So, he developed a tweak that enables you to replace your service provider label (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) that’s in the upper left corner of your status bar with the option to display today’s date. There are handful of formatting options to play with, but I like the look of simplicity of just the Month and Day without the year.
7) Tweak: Apptray Developer: DarkMalloc Purpose: There’s only one place that Apple allows you to manage your apps within iOS and that’s on home screen also known as the SpringBoard. Sure, Apple gives you the ability to add apps to the dock and folders, but again the location of your app management is on the SpringBoard. The iOS springboard is the equivalent to the Mac/PC desktop. Do you keep every app within your computer on your desktop? I would imagine you probably have a few apps on your desktop, but not all 100+ apps you have installed on your computer is launched on your desktop, right? That would be insane! So why would you want all your apps on your iOS SpringBoard? That’s what developer DarkMalloc must have thought as well, because he developed the perfect location for all your precious apps and it’s called AppTray! Once you install AppTray, simply swipe down to reveal your Notification Center and you’ll have a brand new tab that can store limitless amounts of apps for you to switch into quickly and easily from within any app! No more closing an app just to open another app. Everyone should have this tweak installed and Apple should really be paying attention, because the SpringBoard is no place for applications.
8) Tweak: TapTodaysCalendar Developer: ianb821 Purpose: This tweak is an absolute standard for all jailbreakers out there. Let me ask you a couple of questions first. What happens when you reveal the Notification Center and you click today’s weather description? It will open the weather app of course! What happens when you click on your directions description within the Notification Center? It will launch your maps application, which is really convenient. So, now ask yourself what happens when you click on today’s date from the Notification Center? Go ahead and press it. Did you press it? Did you expect something to happen? You probably thought it was going to launch something date related perhaps a calendar, but it didn’t, right? That’s because it appears Apple forgot to make that the only thing you can’t press! Well, developer Ianb821 solved this obvious feature that Apple forgot by developing a little tweak that gives you the ability to launch you favorite calendar app when today’s date is pressed! There’s also an added bonus to swap out the weather description when pressed with your favorite weather app. This is a probably one of the most practical tweaks developed. Enjoy!
9) Tweak: iForward Developer: Ryan Conigliaro Purpose: I can not believe this tweak exists! When I found it I said, thank you developer Ryan Conigliaro for saving me from my forgetfulness. This tweak solves the problem when I don’t have my phone available with me nd I’m constantly missing phone calls and text messages. I’ll be working from home on a project for hours at my computer and realize my concentration has been laser focused for a long time and I got a lot done! Why is that? That’s because I wasn’t interrupted with phone calls or text messages! “Oops,” I would say, “I left my phone somewhere in the house!” I miss so many important phone calls or text messages this way and it sucks sometimes. Fortunately, there’s iForward to the rescue! This wonderful tweak will do exactly what its name implies and forwards those missed calls, text messages and voice mails to your email of choice. So, when I’m at my computer working, I’ll always know if I missed a call, text or voice mail. Thank you, Ryan, for developing iForward.
10) Tweak: TransparentVolume Developer: bushe Purpose: This tweak should be unnecessary. I mean really unnecessary. So, you know when you’re watching a video on your phone probably on youtube, vimeo, Facebook or the like and you increase/decrease the volume? You’re shown that large gray volume indicator that has a nasty 5 to 7 second lag after you stop pressing the volume rocker. This tweak makes the gray volume indicator transparent, so you’re not interrupted for 15 seconds and have to rewind the video every time just to see what you missed. Until Apple fixes what I think is a design flaw, do yourself a favor and install this tweak.
11) Tweak: VideoPane
Developer: Ryan Petrich Purpose: This tweak is not for everyone, because only in rare moments will you probably want to take advantage of it. However, it’s probably one of the coolest tweaks that I like to share with folks. Developer Ryan Petrich developed a method to multitask any video playing on your iOS device while you’re in another app. So, if you’re watching a live broadcast on youtube, safari or another favorite video app of yours, you can pop the video into a modal window and watch your video while operating another app. It comes built with lots of features such as transparency, shrink/expand its size, it can be moved around the screen and more. As I said before, this tweak may not something that will probably use a lot but if its critical that you need to multitask a playing video then install VideoPane.
12) Tweak: iTouchSecure Developer: SpiritOfLogic Purpose: So you bought one of those shiny new iPhone 5s models and you’re feeling really safe now having all your data locked away with your finger print sensor. Then you realize Apple only supports using your fingerprint for a very few purposes: unlocking your iPhone and making purchases within the App Store/iTunes Store. That’s nice, but why can’t I use my fingerprint sensor to enter my bank password or ebay password? Not yet says Apple. So, here comes SpiritOfLogic and they support this exact functionality you crave now and with a single touch of your finger all your your websites and password managed apps can be unlocked with the touch of your finger. It’s so convenient now, it’s the best tweak to install for all iPhone 5S users.
13) Tweak: Action Menu
Developer: Ryan Petrich Purpose: This tweak is a time saver. I use it really for one purpose and that’s its copy/paste clipboard functonality. I place all my favorite pieces of text that I paste the most often in its clipboard. For example, I like to store my email, address, phone number and other personal information in my Action Menu ‘favorites’ clipboard so I no longer have to type it out. Saves me a lot of time and I recommend it. When I show off this tweak to friends everyone wants that same feature.
14) Tweak: AddNote for ActionMenu Developer: Davide Mainas Purpose: If you liked the Action Menu ‘favorites’ feature I mentioned previously then this little tweak may spark your interest as well. Lets say you’re selecting some text on a website and you want to save this piece of text? Perhaps its a phone number, address, email or something else that’s important to you. With AddNote installed along with ActionMenu, when you highlight any piece of text you’ll be shown an option to save it as a Note. Press the AddNote icon and its immediately saved in the native Notes application and it works flawlessly!
15) Tweak: BiteSMS
Purpose: What can you say about this tweak? It’s the reason iOS users jailbreak their phones, because we want to reply to a text message without leaving any app you’re currently in. **Round of applause** Are you listening Apple? It’s 2014 and iOS is now 7 years old and we still can’t reply to a text message natively without leaving an application? This is where BiteSMS comes in and knocks a home run right out of the park! These guys are the best at text messaging and if you don’t have it installed on your jailbroken iPhone, you are truly missing out. Go get it now.
16) Tweak: NoteCreator
Developer: JGTweaks Purpose: Have you ever been on a phone call and you needed to take a quick note, but you’re in a rush and can’t find a pen, paper or even your favorite app to use? I know I have and it’s tough thinking quickly sometimes when you’re trying to write down that confirmation number. This tweak will provides you the ability to invoke a note taking modal window that floats onto of any app you’re currently in including your phone dialer. Once your note is saved, you can return to it later by visiting Apple’s stock Note application. Install this bad boy and save yourself the trouble of fumbling for a pen.
17) Tweak: DockShift
Developer: NG Purpose: If you like simplicity then this little tweak may be for you. I love a good clean SpringBoard so I can view my beautiful background photo of my family without any clutter. I want the same clean look for my dock even though it sits at the very bottom of the screen. With DockShift installed, you can knock out the dock background so its transparent or switch it to a different style.
18) Tweak: Activator
Developer: Ryan Petrich Purpose: You can’t jailbreak your phone and not have Activator installed. It’s a killer tweak that even Apple should build into iOS. It’s a shortcut/hotkey/macro creator. Let’s say you want a triple click on the home button to launch your phone book. Now you can with activator installed. Let’s say you want a double click of your home button to launch your camera app. Now you can with activator installed. There are dozens and dozens of possibilities with Activator.
19) Tweak: Infidock Developer: chpwn Purpose: Apple limits the amount of icons/folders you can have on your dock to 4 apps/folders only. With Infidock installed, you can install an infinite amount, because it enables the ability to swipe to see multiple docks. It’s a great little tweak with lots of options and highly recommend it.
20) Tweak: SwipeSelection Pro
Developer: Kyle Howells Purpose: Developer Kyle Howells thought out of the box with this tweak. Whenever you need to make an edit to a piece of text or select a piece of text that you want to copy, you would have to awkwardly place your finger on top of the piece of text and use a magnifying glass to inspect the text so you can highlight the text. The problem is your finger is usually fatter than 3 to 4 letters on the screen and you can’t usually see what you’re selecting even with the sorta helpful magnifiying glass. In comes the tweak SwipeSelection Pro, which allows you to place your slide your finger over any part of the keyboard and it will move the curser as you swipe. It’s actually really easy to select text with this tweak now, because your finger is no longer on the screen! I’d recommend this one for sure.
If you know me, you know that I am into motorcycles and just about anything else with two wheels on it. Trouble with a motorcycle is security. In San Diego, we had to put down $2000 and $3000 security deposits on our Ducati rentals incase of theft, damage, etc…
If you drive any small, lightweight type motorcycle or scooter, you can lock your wheels, chain the bike, or even put a cover on it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a couple of strong guys to lift up your bike and put it inside of a pickup. It is very common.
So, as a solution companies such as Xena have produced Disk-Lock Alarms. Attach them all over to your bike, carry them with you pretty easily, deter thieves. And as always, if you have a bike that doesn’t get the luxury of regular garage use, comprehensive insurance is always a must.
The Wii U, the Xbox One, and the PS4 all next gen consoles that made their debut in 2013. Well that was last year, and this is 2014 the future of gaming. For those who like to define themselves as gamers there has traditionally been two distinct parties; those that play consoles and those that play on the PC. Up until 2014 PC gaming has been home to hardcore gamers/hardware junkies. It was a place that allowed people to express themselves in their own customized gaming rigs. Whether it be in the form of aesthetics, raw processing power, or both; the PC gaming market had a little something for everyone. The one thing that PC gaming hadn’t become synonymous with has simply been ease of use for most people. Gaming rigs are like Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s requiring special attention, constant maintenance, and endless configuring. In 2014 Valve has set out to change the PC gaming landscape forever.
Falcon Northwest’s Tiki SteamBox available 2014. Early estimates see Falcon Northwest to continue their tradition of creating the highest end PC’s. Their Tiki Steam Box will be priced between $1799 and up to a staggering $6000.
Alienware’s Steam Machine variant. Is this the Valve partnering with the dark side?
One of the biggest advantages that consoles have had over the years in contrast to PC gaming is the ease of use and accessibility for everyday people. To put it simply…
I like console, I buy console, I turn on console, I put game in console, I play game, I turn off console…The end.
Ease of use this is why video game consoles like Sony’s Playstation’s, Microsoft’s Xbox’s, and Nintendo’s countless systems over the years have come to dominate the landscape commercially. While in stark contrast PC gaming can well, be like this…
Which processor do I buy Intel or AMD, are they compatible with the motherboard I want, should I go Nvidia sli or ATI crossfire, single or multi rail PSU, can I buy that extra 8GB RAM kit to make a total of 16GB of Ram, etc…
The list of possible combinations is almost limitless, and with constantly new hardware coming out every month it is impossible to keep your gaming rig up to date. There is no ease of use, or just put the game in and play option. The games needs to be installed, but you may run into issues before starting. The DirectX driver needs to be updated, or the graphics card has a particular issue running a game and the drivers need to be updated first before playing. I experienced this exact issue before being able to play Rage by id software back a couple of years ago.
The reality is that the raw processing power of the highest end PC rigs could already blow the PS4 and Xbox One out of the water the day they were released. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean there are many PC only games that take full advantage of this raw processing power. The one most recent and famous exception was Crysis developed by Crytek in 2007.
Crysis looking like 2014 way back in 2007…
The console market dictates the gaming landscape, but with the release of the SteamBox platform that trend may soon reverse. For years people have been clamoring that PC gaming is dead, and “experts” have proclaimed that each set of console releases will be the final nail in the PC’s coffin. Alas this has not been the case, and a dedicated few have stuck by the PC, and the fruits of our labor are paying off. In 2012 PC gaming accounted for over $20 billion dollars in sales according to PC Gaming Alliance. This is a full 8% increase over sales the previous year, and this has been the largest year in PC gaming since the early 1990′s. Monster games like World of WarCraft, StartCraft II, Diablo 3, Crysis, and the Total War Series have helped boost sales. Diablo III pushed over 3.5 million units in 24 hours alone. In comparison GTA V pushed nearly 6.5 million units in its first day alone, and became the fastest entertainment product of all time to gross $1 billion dollars. No one is claiming that game consoles are dying, but PC gaming is surging forward.
Diablo III by Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II by Blizzard Entertainment
Rome II Total War by Creative Assembly
A huge part of the PC’s success over the past years has been the introduction of the Steam Store by Valve. Where Apple created iTunes and changed music purchases forever. Valve’s Steam brought the video game store online in the form of the cloud back in 2003. Games could now be virtual purchased and saved to an online account keeping a record of the transaction forever. So there were no more lost or damaged CD’s, and if I purchased a new computer I download Steam and my entire game library travels with me. Ubisoft followed suite in 2009 with the launch of Uplay, and EA re-released their online store as Origin. GOG.com is another great digital distribution platform available as well.
For those familiar with Steam need I say more than Steam Sale. At key times during the year a Steam Sale will enter my life, and make an entire treasure trove of game on sale for staggeringly low prices. Games like Portal II or Bioshock Infinite on sale for less then $9 dollars. Steam has also stripped out the middle men, and high production costs for game developers as well. Many games now get founded through Crowd-founding on Steam. Free to play open beta’s also give game developers access to countless number of testers for free in return of already owning the game when the final product comes out. While Steam has single handily carried the PC market on it’s back, and kept it on life support in its worst times. Valve’s SteamBox’s look to carry the PC market yet again into a new domain…Your living room.
iBuyPower’s SteamBox Variant with controller.
Imagine a world where powerful gaming rigs meet the reliability and ease of use of console machines. Well that reality is now here in the form of the Steam Machines. Valve has created a Linux based operating system called the SteamOS that will accompany each Steam Machine. Using my Steam account I can now purchase a game download/install it, and play it without any additional manual configuring or tweaking. I also will have full access to my own personal Steam library currently sitting at 50 games. There are currently thirteen manufacturers of the Steam Machines, and each company has it own unique models and design. In addition there are going to be models that are competitively priced against the PS4 and Xbox One, as well as Steam Machines that will run as high as $6000. IGN has a great wiki on the SteamBox that helps breakdown these new machines even more. Here you can find a full list of confirmed games, available upcoming models, and information on the revolutionary new controller.
Portal II Control Binding Example.
A lot of the success of the Steam Machine will ride on the revolutionary new controller that gives gamers the dexterity of a mouse, and the functionality of a controller. The Verge wrote a great write up of their hands on impression of the controller and the SteamBox. The Steam Machines will support and fully embrace those purists who want to continue to use a mouse and keyboard, but Valve also needed a way to enter comfortably into the living room as well. Their controller is looking to merge these two worlds, and from early reviews it looks as if they have accomplished this task. Albeit the controllers are not completely intuitive at first, and have a higher learning curve then a traditional Playstation or Xbox controller.
The SteamBox or Steam Machine may not be for everyone, but the revolutionary idea of creating a stable OS for the PC coupled with a ground breaking controller, and undeniably the largest launch library in history makes the SteamBox a formidably foe to the PS4 and Xbox One. Another interesting fact is that all three platforms will use AMD’s x86 architecture which has essentially eliminated the arduous task for what used to known as porting. When the SteamBox’s start to release later in the year game developers will have no reason to leave the PC faithful waiting for their version of the best games. Games moving forward should release on all three systems down the road further cementing PC gaming into the future. Coupled with the raw power these machines can muster; game developers just might start paving the future of gaming with the PC instead of the game console.
Independent Consulting provides a lot of freedoms in life. But also a lot of risks. If you do it right, you keep your bucket always more than full, never put more than 50% of your eggs in one basket, and you learn to make time for yourself, just so that you don’t go crazy.
Something else that is common place for IC’s, is the vast numbers of Project Managers. Project Managers are an interesting breed because they can come from all over. They can come from the Business functions of an organization; from IT as a BA / SA, Operations, or best, a Developer; they might have a background in Education; they could have bought or started a small business; software world, the not-so-software world. Project Managers come from everywhere.
I think, the best PM’s I have ever run into are equally male and female. Here is a list of qualities that I feel makes an amazing PM in the software development world:
Smart and Quick
Listened and Understood
Multiplied LOE’s by three
Built a Relationship with their Developers
Played Interference with the Business
Knew how to say No
It’s funny how often I see deadlines set without even really analyzing true component breakdowns and amounts of time to complete. Or how often I hear an unrealistic deadline. Pressure from the top just rolls down hill and it puts everyone in a spot that is not very fun.