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Mission Control

Jake's take on the world of tech.

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Domain names are the names we use to navigate the World Wide Web. is an example of a domain name.  Essentially, the purpose of domain names is to allow us humans to avoid typing in a string of numbers to reach websites.  DNS allows us to use human readable addresses which are converted to the numerical addresses preferred by computers.


To get your own domain name, you need to register it through a "domain name registrar".  The registrar then provides tools for you (or I) to use to link your name to a computer (or hosted website for example).


There are literally thousands of domain name registrars, most of whom are resellers.  If you end up choosing an unresponsive registrar, it can become a nightmare if you ever want to change, or move to another one.  


From my experience, I would recommend only one,  I've held all my domains with them for nearly 4 years now, and have not had a single problem with them.  As such, I've set up an affiliate account which gives me a small cut of the profits if you register domain names using my link.  Prices are the same whether or not you use the link, so please do ;-)


I also offer domain name registration and web hosting as managed services, but if you'd like to take care of the nitty gritty details yourself, use the link at the top of this page, or start here

Adobe CS5 New Feature Redux

As a quick followup to my previous post regarding some awe inspiring new features of Adobe's Photoshop CS5, here is a video released by Adobe evangelist Russell Preston Brown.  His narration is comical (and very enthusiastic), but these new features are nothing to laugh at:

Big Brother is watching ... and his name is Google

Today Google has admitted to collecting data from wireless transmissions within range of its Street View camera car while it has been scouring the streets of the world during the last three years.  Frightening to say the least.  Only unsecured wireless networks and WiFi hotspots could fall victim to this type of invasion of privacy; it is yet another compelling reason to ensure your wireless network is secured to today's standards.  

More here from BBC:

In related news, Facebook is making the press again regarding it's tactless collection and use of personal data.  I expect the backlash will continue, and although I envision a web based on personalized information in the future, the clarity and disclosure of how this is accomplished by the companies responsible is a subject which will continue to be in the headlines for some time to come.  I imagine the backlash against strong-arm type tactics like Facebook uses will continue to gain support.  I don't however expect Facebook to change their tactics until it begins to effect their profits, which is not likely to happen anytime soon.  

More here, also from BBC:

Eagerly awaiting...

There are some very exciting upgrades and releases lingering on the horizon - the already infamous iPad, rumoured 6-core Mac Pros and quad core MacBook Pros, OS X 10.6.3, iPhone OS 4...  

There's another big release I've been watching for news of as well, which is Adobes fifth installment of their Creative Suite series, CS5.  Rumours were appeased this week as Adobe announced a launch date of Monday, April 12, 2010.  CS5 promises to take advantage of 64 bit processing, which will provide an enormous boost to the speed of many operations, and help open the door to what must be a ridiculously resource intensive tool in development: "Content Aware Fill":


Adobe is not boasting this as a feature of CS5 (yet), but it appears to be nearing the end of development, so one can hope.  If you're thinking "early April Fool's joke" like I did initially, the same video has been posted on Adobe's blog as well:

Thanks to my brother Luke for bringing this to my attention!

iPads and what's to come

There are two camps of iPad speculators that have been vocal lately.  Camp "love" believe this device will be a game changer in ways similar to the iPhone.  Camp "scoff" say it's nothing special, just more Apple hype, and it will flop.  I'm firmly in camp "love", but not for the reasons most others are.

The important thing to remember is how our interaction with digital audio and visual content is evolving. More and more tasks are absorbed every day into the digital realm, with our laptops and desktops being the most efficient (not necessarily convenient) methods of interacting with this media.  Apple is on the forefront of this "wave" if you will, via the App store, iTunes music and video sales, and very soon, digital reading material - books, magazines and newspapers.  With the iPad and iPhone OSs being closed systems (all vanilla software running on them, or "apps", are approved by Apple, and sold only in Apple's App store), Apple is creating a closed market of content, much of which is only going to be accessible on it's own devices.  The motivation for this philosophy is of course control - over the devices, the content, and of course, the profit.  I never like being locked to one provider or manufacturer, but it is a fantastic business model, given both the devices and media remain high quality and relatively accessible.  

Apple's control over all aspects of its products is essentially what sets it apart from Microsoft, who has always worked from the opposite perspective, expecting 3rd party software and hardware manufacturers to address compatibility issues.  This is one of the biggest reasons why Apple products are so much more stable than Windows machines, and also the reason why Apple operating systems cost $20 when Windows cost several hundred.  

Back to the subject at hand, one of the most exciting possibilities lies in the interactivity that can be added to educational media.  There is a surprising lack of good educational apps for children, something which surprises me.  My two year old doesn't know what "TV" does (yet), but she can navigate an iPod touch. The big difference to me (and the reason she has been sheltered from TV and similar commercial video) is the speed of delivery of the content.  Children's TV programs are traditionally lacking interactivity and very very quickly paced.  A scene change per second or more sure will keep a kid's attention while mom or dad cooks dinner, but this type of forced high-speed consumption has been proven to be detrimental to developing brains over the long run.  Now imagine for a second what might be done with a traditional children's book if it were ported to a device like the iPad.  I came across this video the other day that illustrates this point beautifully, from Penguin Books:


Now imagine sitting on your couch which your child on your lap, reading an "eBook" on a laptop, or better yet, a desktop.  I'm not a proponent of "digital babysitters" - my children's time with such devices will remain limited as long as I'm able, include me as much as possible, and our bookshelves will always be full.  I am however very excited to see what is to come.  

The iPad itself will not be revolutionary simply as a device, but rather in it's ability to allow us to interact with new media in a much more involved and participatory manner, and the liberation users will experience from our currently accepted restriction of when, where, and how we experience the media.

- Jake

Apples "latest creation" revealed!

At last, the cat's officially out of the bag: today Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPad to the world, kicking off yet another groundbreaking product line.  This fabled device did not fail to impress me, and despite the furiously churning rumour mill ending up spot on regarding many claims, there were still some surprises.

In case this is the first you're hearing of the iPad, imagine an oversized iPhone.  It is a very small and very portable computer, on which most of the input is given via a wonderfully responsive touch screen. 

Apple iPad

Features worth boasting about:

Price: Starting at $499 US, Apple has certainly exceeded my expectations.

The top of the line model at $829 is itself below the previously rumoured price point.  In the US, apple has negotiated a deal with ATT providing data plans for the 3G capable models at under $30 per month.  The best part though is that these models will be sold unlocked (not tied to a specific 3G carrier), and that the data plans will be contract free. Hopefully we'll see similar offerings here in Canada, and with Bell and others moving into the formerly exclusive to Rogers 3G market, I'd guess we will.

LED and IPS on all models!  The displays in this device are all built on the same technology Apple had been using in it's 24" display, and more recently, it's iMac line.  These displays provide accurate colour reproduction, crispness, clarity and viewing angles matched by very few displays in the field.  I'm a huge fan of this technology, and I was very happy to see it being included across the board.

The Apple A4 - Apple has returned to designing their own CPUs, with the "1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip" handling the iPad processing.  I would hope to see vastly increased reliability with this return to proprietary processors (like Apple's G4 and G5 CPUs which preceded the current Intel lineup), and from the reports of graphics capabilities and battery life, Apple also appears to have a very efficient powerhouse here.

What's missing?

What would be the fun of releasing the 'perfect' machine first time around?  My guess is that this version will be tantamount to a very advanced prototype (think original iPhone), and we early adopters will be the beta testers.  I could be wrong, as much of the technology involved in this device has already been proven in the iPhone, but here's a quick list of what I see as missing features:

First: No camera.  This will be a guaranteed addition at a later date, imagine Skype on the iPad!

Second: No multitasking, at least not yet.  With a processor this powerful, it should be theoretically possible, but apparently there are still some hurdles to overcome on this front.  We did not see an announcement of the next iPhone OS, so expect this feature in the near future.

Third: Still no programmable dedicated buttons.  If I could have one feature added to my iPhone, it would be a button or two I could program to do whatever I wanted: take a photo, open a blank email, trigger audio recording, etc.  Likely this would rely on apps running in the background, so it would be dependant on the aforementioned multitasking, but I have a suspicion the lack of dedicated buttons has been a design decision: keeping things simple.

Steve Jobs said to watch for international release in June and 60-90 days in the US depending on the model.  Apple's website of course has full details here:


Apple Documentaries

Three Apple related documentaries air this week on CNBC -

Welcome to Macintosh was an amusing history of the company.  Packed with amusing dialogue with current and former (original) employees, it was an enjoyable watch, and a good breif history of the company and the products.  It originally aired Jan 4, and re-runs several times this week.  

MacHEADS airs Jan 5, and as you might guess is a look at mac fans, and their unique subculture.

Planet of the Apps airs Jan 7 and promises an in depth look at the booming business of Apps.  What's an App?  Apps are the tiny yet incredibly useful programs that make the iPhone indispensable to people like me.  *Side note - Lake Superior State University has included App in its 2009 "List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness".  -I say they're just jealous ;-)

More on Welcome to Macintosh and MacHEADS here

More on Planet of the Apps here

Pranav Mistry gives us a glimpse of the future


The part I was most impressed by was his attitude.  Above all, he wants to see the technology used.  I'll be first in line!  

Original video courtesy of

Using cell phones to 'augment reality'

By RACHEL METZ - AP Technology Writer -

Sunday, October 04, 2009 SAN FRANCISCO -- You're walking down the street, looking for a good place to eat. You hold up your cell phone and use it like the viewfinder on a camera, so the screen shows what's in front of you.  But it also shows things you couldn't see before: Brightly colored markers indicating nearby restaurants and bars.   Turn a corner, and the markers reflect the new scene.  Click a marker for a restaurant, and you can see customer reviews and price information.  Decide you'd rather be sightseeing? The indicators are easily changed to give information about the buildings you're passing. Read more »

Apple releases yet another groundbreaking device!


Today Apple released the long rumored Multi-Touch mouse.  In true Apple style, this and several other hardware upgrades were announced, just one day before Microsoft releases Windows 7.

The newly announced "Magic Mouse" melds Apple's exclusive Multi-Touch technology with a traditional mouse form, yielding a unique device - part touchpad and part mouse.

More here on Apple's website

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