June 2009 – Stay N Alive

Come Follow Me on Facebook

FacebookStarting tonight, any Facebook Public Profile Page (that’s Page with a capital “P”) with over 100 subscribers has the opportunity to select its own vanity URL.  While it hasn’t had the hype from the blogosphere that we saw from the previous private Profile vanity URLs, it does seem to be having a large effect, as Facebook has slowed down tonight, even more than when the private Profile vanities were released.  Get yours now while you can – you can reserve yours for both your Public Pages and private Profiles via the http://facebook.com/username link.  Please comment below if you want some help reaching the 100 fan limit!

As with any and all of my social network profiles, please don’t hesitate to friend me!  My most active profiles are listed over on the upper-right of this blog, but if you Google “Jesse Stay” you can find just about everywhere I belong.  Tonight I was able to reserve short URLs for my most active Pages – please become a fan or friend me!:

My personal Facebook Profile: http://jessestay.socialtoo.com

My public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/socialdeveloper

SocialToo’s public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/socialtoo

I’m on Facebook–Now What??? (my first book)’s public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/fbbook

FBML Essential (my second book)’s public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/fbmlessentials

We’re Baptist’s public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/baptists

We’re Catholic’s public Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/catholicsocial

Don’t forget to join SocialToo (my service) to get your own personalized vanity URL.  yourusername.socialtoo.com will redirect to your Facebook profile, and we’ll track statistics for everyone that clicks on your URL.  It’s the only URL you’ll ever need to hand out to others.  Oh, and see the above URLs? Expect a solution for those soon as well.  Sign up for yours at http://socialtoo.com.

Mob Wars – Tomayto, Tomaahto…

The GodFatherSince today seems to be a slow news day and some sites seem to be anxious for traffic I thought I’d put my hand into the ring for a piece of that traffic (hey, at least I’m being transparent). Let’s start by saying I really like Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch.  Quite honestly, I gained a new respect for the way he handled and explained the misunderstanding which happened between him and Leo Laporte on a recent (and possibly the last) episode of the Gillmor Gang. I do think he is a genuinely nice guy with good intentions and an amazing brain for business – I highly respect him for that.  I think we could be good friends in person.  He quite often gets a lot of flack  which I think is undeserved – I think that gets to him at times.

That said, I think his recent article comparing FriendFeed to “Syphilis”, a rapidly spreading disease that will kill those in its path until it evolves is quite unfounded. First of all, I’m only aware of 3 people that has happened to (quit FriendFeed, not contract Syphilis), which happened only recently, and only after Mike Arrington started this idea that “Mobs” were killing FriendFeed.  Each one of those cases (besides Arrington’s) were people that only post to the service and rarely interact.  One of them even admitted he just didn’t have time for an extra service – a somewhat legitimate answer.

I also admit that about a year ago there was one additional “mob-driven” departure from FriendFeed during the political campaigns – a Conservative (most of those leaving seem to have been conservatives claiming to have been driven out by their Liberal counterparts on FriendFeed – note that I am also a Conservative) left briefly from the service due to disagreements and attacks on his own Political views.  He is back in full force on FriendFeed today.  I admit, it’s hard to be a Conservative on FriendFeed and express your political opinions (I usually choose not to).  Heck, it’s hard to be Conservative on the internet in general!  The organized nature of FriendFeed, while it has this con (which does not stand for Conservative), is still a very strong platform for organizing well-thought-out conversations.

However, there are 2 sides to this “Mob War”.  Remember last July when I decided to leave Twitter?  Check out the comments of that post – they look very similar to that of my friend who recently decided to do the same with FriendFeed.  That was just my blog (I especially like the one that called me a “self-centered douche” – that made me want to stay on Twitter even longer) – the problem is I have no way to organize all the comments that occured on Twitter which were  offensive or hurtful. You should have seen how bad it got after that post made it on TechMeme (which wasn’t my intent for that post – I had only been on Techmeme about once before that post I think).  TechCrunch’s rage towards FriendFeed is easy to understand – FriendFeed is much easier to point the finger at because the discussion, both the good and the bad and even the ugly, is all in one place.

Is it a Mob or a Groundswell?

Now let’s look at another side of the coin.  Remember that term, “Groundswell”?  If you haven’t, go check out the book by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li tomorrow from the Library, or purchase it from Amazon.  All this “Mob” stuff sounds very familiar – in fact, it was originally termed by Forrester as a “Groundswell” – in Bernoff and Li’s book they define it as “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations”.  That sounds awfully similar to a mob, with the exception of the Technology part.  So would this more accurately be called a “Groundswell” instead of a mob?

One example they cited was that of Digg’s users rioting against Digg due to its original stance on the HD-DVD encryption key.  Those users wanted to see Digg pay for their actions.  I’m sure it hurt a lot reading some of the things which were said at that time.  Digg rectified the situation and listened to those complaining, and turned around the entire movement to a “Mob” or “Groundswell” promoting Digg and fighting the AACS instead.  Mobs can be controlled, but a mob’s still a mob, no matter which side they’re on.  Was that a Mob or a Groundswell?  What about when Digg turned it around to their benefit?

The problem with today’s “Groundswell” is it now targets the personal brand as well as the corporation.  We see that in Arrington’s situation, as well as several others that have recently been targeted.  It could have happened on Twitter.  It could have happened on Youtube, or Digg, or anywhere else.  The fact is when someone the majority likes is targeted, or the service the majority likes is targeted, or has the appearance of being attacked, the mob goes in defense mode, attacking back.  When this is someone’s personal brand we’re talking about and not just a corporation or entity, it hurts a lot more.  It’s impossible to not take at least some of the comments seriously – we’re all human after all.

At the same time, Groundswells can be used for good as well.  Look at what Drew Olanaff is doing with his #blamedrewscancer on Twitter.  He’s gotten me to donate $25 a month to the American Cancer Society because of it, along with many others.  Or look at what is happening in Iran – I’m sure it looks like a “Mob” to the Iranian government.  It’s still a Groundswell no matter which way you put it.

I still think the recent article on TechCrunch is wrong in targeting only FriendFeed in this matter.  The words he used were quite harsh, and unfair to the service’s hard-working founders whose service has been working far better than that of the hard-working founders of Twitter.  Arrington seems to be offended (or looking for traffic for his upcoming conference – it’s hard to tell), and riling up his own Groundswell against the service – perhaps this is just his response to the Groundswell.  Just check out the comments on his post, then read the comments on Scoble’s FriendFeed response and those comments that are being deleted from TechCrunch.  If that’s not the case I really don’t understand the strong words against the service, and why TechCrunch is seemingly only targeting one service in all this.

Mike Arrington calls this a “Mob” – I call it a “Groundswell”.  Is there really a difference?

Here’s a great video portraying in real-life how quickly a “Mob” or “Groundswell” can be formed:


How to Push Sync Calendars and Contacts to Your iPhone Using Gmail

iphone.jpgMy friend, Phil Burns, recently wrote a very rare blog post citing a discussion this morning at the monthly Utah CTO breakfast, hosted by another friend of mine, Phil Windley (former CTO of Utah).  Burns stated his concerns with the “anti-Microsoft people” (which I am not, nor am I anti-Apple or anti-Linux) and the fact that they were complaining about how hard it was to automatically sync all your contacts, calendar, and mail on their phones from services such as Gmail and other 3rd-party services.  Burns’ (I’ll call him by his last name here so as not to confuse him with Phil Windley) point was that he already gets this service on his Windows-based phone and laptop through Exchange.  Valid point.  However, I think those at the breakfast were uneducated on the matter that Gmail now supports Exchange sync and push services to the iPhone.  Push sync of all contacts and calendar events are completely possible using Google services on the iPhone.  I don’t blame those complaining though, since the documents explaining how to do it are extremely hard to find via Google’s own search.  I thought I’d explain how to set that up here:

What you’ll need

First of all, the only things you’ll need are a Gmail account, a Google Calendar account, and an iPhone.  That’s it.  You’ll also need to have the 2.2.1 or above iPhone firmware since that is when they started supporting Exchange (at least I believe that’s the reason).  For push e-mail, a Mobile Me account will be needed, but Google is set to enable that in the future as well.

Calendar and Contacts Set up

  1. To set up push sync of your Google contacts and calendar events to your phone, simply go to your iPhone settings, select “Mail, Contacts and Calendars”, and then select “Add Account”.  Here’s the trick though – instead of selecting “Gmail”, you’ll need to select “Exchange”.
  2. On the following screen you’ll be asked for several fields – enter your gmail e-mail address in the “e-mail” field.  Leave “domain” blank.  Your “username” is your gmail e-mail address – the full address with @gmail.com or @googlemail.com, prefixed by your username.  Then enter your Google account password in the “password” field.
  3. On the following screen you’ll be asked to verify the certificate – choose “Accept”.
  4. Then, on the next screen you’ll see the same screen again, but there will be a “Server” field.  Enter “m.google.com” for the domain and select “Next.
  5. On the following screen you’ll have the option to turn on mail, contacts, and/or calendars.  Turn contacts and calendars on, leave mail off.  As you select each option you’ll have the opportunity to delete your current iPhone contacts and just start fresh with your Google contacts and calendars or leave them there and add your Google contacts/calendar on top of it all.  Hit “Done” when you’re ready.
  6. You’re done!  Now when you go to your Calendar app you can update the calendar, it auto-updates Google calendars, and you get updates immediately as they come from Google calendar itself.  Your Gmail contacts work the same way.  Now you can sync all your contacts’ phone numbers, addresses, and other data from your computer to your iPhone, and have those immediately update Google with the new data, giving you a complete Google address book (and no need for Plaxo!).  Add to that Google Voice, which just started handing out invites to new users today, you’ve got a pretty powerful, real-time contact and calendaring system right on your phone!

What about e-mail?

E-mail currently does not work via push yet for Gmail and the iPhone.  However, I’ve found the IMAP-based setup that the Gmail options in the phone give are quite fast and pretty close to real-time.  Be sure to set that up, and turn off the contacts and calendar for Gmail on that particular setting when you do, since you’re already retrieving those through the Exchange connector.

One other option you could always do is to get a Mobile Me account just for the e-mail and iPhone location services (Apple will notify you where your iPhone is at all times, let you send a message to the phone, or even completely erase it if you tell them to).  Then you could forward all your Gmail mail to Mobile Me through your Gmail forward settings, and retrieve it that way.  With the proper set up and filters, your mail will continue to archive in Gmail while letting you get mail real-time via push through Mobile Me.  I think for mail IMAP is generally sufficient though.

So there you have it – push contacts and calendaring for your iPhone, through Gmail.  It’s completely possible, and 100% supported by Google and Microsoft (I’m told they purchased Exchange licenses just for this).  Soon I’ll have to share how I’m doing the same thing natively on my Mac.

AT&T: They Knoweth Not the Right Hand From the Left #ATTFAIL

att-fail-smallFor those that know(eth) me, I am an avid iPhone user.  I wasn’t always a fan, and in fact publicly wrote a post on why I wasn’t going to get an iPhone.  It lured me in though, and I’ve even moved from an unlocked, contract-free T-Mobile plan to the horrid service AT&T provides in order to get full 3G speeds.  I even renewed that plan just last week as I got a new iPhone 3G S.  However, today, as they were charging Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) $11,000 for his cell phone bill (I had no idea about that whole “movement” until later after I got home), they crossed the line for me as well.  Here’s the story:

3 days ago, after successfully selling my phone on Ebay and purchasing a new one under the standard upgrade plan for the same price, we decided to do the same for my wife’s iPhone 3G.  The idea was supposed to be we sell it on Ebay, get the money, and use the money from the sale to purchase a new one at the same price as we sold the old one for – that’s just how much they’re selling for (I didn’t make the rules)!  We purchased the phone in September of 2008, still in the limits AT&T set to qualify for iPhone standard upgrade pricing (the lower pricing option).  At the same time, I’m paying over $200 to AT&T each month with a family plan between myself and her, and an additional USB data plan on top of it all.  It would seem plenty of my money is going towards AT&T, and I thought we would qualify – after all my own phone qualified just fine.

So I went to the http://apple.com/iphone/buy site to authorize my wife’s phone and verify it did qualify for the standard upgrade pricing, and to my surprise, it said she didn’t, and she wouldn’t until May 6, 2010!  I was blown away, considering AT&T might want to keep her around and right around the time she can finally leave is the time she has to wait to get her new iPhone.  This is especially considering the amount of money I am paying AT&T each month to get her plan.

AT&T Authorization

So I called AT&T to find out what was going on.  The lady on the phone was really nice (I even sent out a Tweet about how great AT&T service actually was), and while she tried to explain why my wife wouldn’t qualify, she quickly realized my wife actually did qualify.  She put me on hold several times, I’m assuming asking others what was going on, and finally she got permission to call the store and let them know I qualified for the new phone.  I had her call the Gateway Apple Store in Salt Lake City, Utah (my state of residence), and she put me on hold to call them.  When she came back, she said they had let her know all would be fine if I came in, and to just leave detailed notes on my behalf to explain the situation.  She left very detailed notes, and said I would be just fine getting my wife’s new phone under the new plan.  I took this as AT&T’s approval to get the phone under the lower, standard upgrade price plan.

AT&T Customer Service

So excited, we put my wife’s 3G phone up for bid on Ebay on a 3-day auction.  The phone easily sold in 3 days for $300 (which is low compared to other phones selling right now), and we were finally ready to get her new phone.  I quickly transferred money around and headed off to the Apple store, excited to get my wife what I’ve been experiencing over the past week.

After a 30 minute drive to the Apple Store, and even feeling a little sick, I was ready and excited to get my phone.  I get into the store, it is packed as usual, and I look around, and not surprisingly I noticed there was a line for the iPhone.  I stood in line for about 20 minutes (a breeze compared to the opening day when I got mine), and finally get to talk to an Apple rep to get my new phone.  I tell him my story, and to my surprise, he responds with “We can’t do anything – we’re stuck with what AT&T tells us on the apple.com/iphone/buy site.”  I explained what the AT&T rep had told me and he said his hands were tied.  He suggested I go to the AT&T store, just about a block away in the same Mall.

So, still feeling sick, and rather disappointed, I headed over to the AT&T store.  I got there, and waited for about another 30 minutes while AT&T reps helped other customers, some that came in after me.  Finally one of them noticed me waiting, and asked if he could help.  I told him my story and he looked up my account.  I still have no clue if he even cared to look at the notes for my account, but he was definitely persistent that there was nothing he could do for me.  He even went to the extent of stating that the AT&T customer service reps on the phone are “often wrong” and they “get that all the time”.  I neglected to mention to him that this particular rep even contacted the Apple Store about it, and seemed to infer that she “does that all the time” as well – I should have.  This guy in the AT&T store even said he had complained to his boss about the same issues with some friends of his and couldn’t do anything about it.

Needless to say I went home very disappointed, wasting a few hours of my day for something I was told over the phone was completely possible.  Not to mention the fact that I had now sold my wife’s old iPhone, contract still in hand, and nothing to replace it with.  I’m furious!

So what’s going on?  Who do I believe?  It would seem that some at AT&T feel they have the authority to say what is and isn’t authorized.  However, when you get to the people that can actually sell the phones, that flexibility is all of the sudden gone, and the customer service has disappeared.  Often I would think it should be the other way around but this is AT&T after all – just search for their issues on Twitter.  (not to mention I just noticed they charged me a Poison Control surcharge – FOR MY USB DATA PLAN)  It would appear that AT&T has become so big that the customer has been caught in a tug-o-war with their own employees, a very sad situation.

As for what to do?  Well, I’m going to have to risk my years-long reputation on Ebay and take back the auction someone was anxiously hoping they had won, not because I changed my mind, but because AT&T won’t let me.  I will forever blame AT&T if my reputation is adversely affected from this.  At the same time when my wife can finally upgrade her phone, you better believe we’re switching to a new service – AT&T has shut the door on themselves on this one.

AT&T has the opportunity to make this right, and they should for not just those with a voice – they need to fix their customer service process.  Get people on Twitter and Facebook and FriendFeed and start learning the issues people are having.  Search the blogosphere.  Then, fix those problems internally.  Give everyone the customer interfaces flexibility to bend the rules occasionally.  Make the customer right again – the customer should be AT&T’s most valuable asset.  I don’t feel like that right now.  Heck, I feel like a piece of dirty laundry they just hung out to dry.


My New iPhone 3G S, My Review, and Trip to Fox 13 News

3 days ago I got up at 3:30am, packed up my truck with things like sleeping bags, camping chairs, and goodies to snack on and drink, and headed off to the Gateway Apple Store in Salt Lake City, Utah to get my new iPhone 3G S.  About 3 hours of waiting in 50-60 degree weather later (too cold for me!) I had my new 32 GB iPhone 3G S.  Just a day before I sold my previous iPhone on Ebay for $307, and that will go to the proud new owner, Unlocked and Jailbroken with the new 3.0 firmware tomorrow morning.  I documented the entire process on Qik, which you can watch here.  Fox 13 (KSTU) News here in Salt Lake City also picked up my stream and shared it with viewers – you can watch their coverage of it here.

Shortly afterwards, my friend, Kirk Yuhnke, an Anchor and Reporter for Fox 13 News texted me and asked if I could show it off in a segment today.  I obliged and this morning got to take my first venture into live broadcast TV, showing off my new iPhone 3G.  Kirk let me come back-“stage” with him and we hung out in his office waiting for our turn, and I showed off the iPhone in preparation for our segment.  Then it was our turn, and it went by too fast!  I admit if it weren’t for the video playback it would all be a blur!  I shot the following behind-the-scenes videos (shot entirely on the iPhone) of my trip to Fox13 Studios, on my new YouTube channel:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs1jiS24bJc&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_profilepage&fs=1]

iPhone Dev Team Gives You the Key to Other Networks

iphone-security.jpgThe iPhone Dev Team has done it again.  Just last week I reported that you could now Jailbreak any iPhone to the new 3.0 iPhone firmware, meaning things like easy tethering, live streaming through Qik.com, and more.  Tonight, the iPhone Dev Team has taken that one step further by completely unlocking any iPhone before the iPhone 3G S to work on any GSM cell phone network.

Set up is easy.  Start by Jailbreaking your iPhone using redsn0w or the Pwnage Tool.  Then, in Cydia or Icy, add the repository, repo666.ultrasn0w.com.  Then search for “ultrasn0w”.  Install it, reboot, and your phone will now work with any GSM network!  It is reported that due to T-Mobile USA’s network compatibility, 3G speeds will not work on the phone, so it’s encouraged that users disable 3G before installing Ultrasn0w that might be on that network.

As of today, any iPhone previous to the 3G S no longer requires a contract on any service, and has full access to copy and paste, search, voice memos, and more, in addition to all the great tools a Jailbreak can provide.  The unlock and Jailbreak does not yet work on the 3G S, and it is rumored that it may take awhile due to the new chipset on the new device.  If you run into issues with your unlock, report them on the iPhone Dev Team blog, or here and I’ll be sure and report anything major.

Track is Back! Steve Gillmor Rejoices

Twitter TrackerOne of the major reasons I joined Twitter over a year ago was the ability to easily subscribe to Tweets, based on search terms I sent over my cell phone or IM client.  Due to scaling issues and load on Twitter as they grew, Twitter removed that ability shortly after Scoble and I visited them last year.  Twitter called it “Track”.

It was simple functionality.  I send “track keyword” to 40404 on my mobile phone, and immediately any Tweet with that keyword would be sent straight to my mobile phone (or IM client if I had it set correctly in my preferences).  It was very useful.  For instance, if I wanted to know every happening at the time going on at Sundance here in Utah, I would simply “track sundance” and all those Tweets would be delivered to me, as they happened.  I could do the same with my name, my brand, or my favorite technologies.

Twitter may have removed that functionality last year, but just over a week ago, they finally released API methods to make the real-time searching of keywords and search terms available again via their limited streaming APIs available in Alpha right now.  The API method is conveniently called “track”.  On June 12, John Kalucki, developer behind the real-time streaming APIs Twitter is now providing developers described it on the Twitter developers mailing list as such:

“The /track resource allows searching the Firehose stream for a list of keywords. This resource may be a useful adjunct to the Twitter Search API. While the predicates are less powerful than the SearchAPI, results are streamed continuously and with low-latency. For common keywords, a more complete set of results can be delivered than is possible by polling the Search API. Consult the Streaming API documentation for limits and details: http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Streaming-API-Documentation.”

Put in simple terms, developers now have access to take a list of keywords for a specific Twitter user, and have Twitter deliver any Tweet that meets those search terms in real-time back to the developer’s app.  That means Push notifications via iPhone applications on the new iPhone 3.0 firmware are now possible, any company utilizing SMS can easily deliver terms via SMS again, and more.

Because the Streaming APIs are in limited Alpha, only certain developers will be allowed access, but I fully expect to see this integrated in the near future.  I expect to see this especially as the code solidifies and moves out of Alpha, into apps such as TweetDeck, Tweetie, and Seesmic Desktop.  Twitter users everywhere can rejoice, as their most requested and most favorite feature taken from Twitter has just been found.

Twitter Tracker logo courtesy NBC Tonight Show.