Data Wholesalers & Monopoly

2009-08-13 20:00:00 -0400

Clay writes over on the Sunlight Labs blog:

Once you start editorializing data— well, you’ve lost both accountability and transparency as well as credibility.

Sunlight Labs is a pretty cool project, where their focus is taking all that data the government makes available and digging into it to find out what’s actually going on. And one of the problems they have with a lot of the government projects like is that while they espouse transparency, they don’t actually provide the raw data, they editorialize it and provide websites and displays that spin it to their advantage. When you look at it like that, it’s the opposite of transparency. In fact, if you want to set up your own data mining and digging, and you want FEC data, you’re probably better off getting it from Sunlight, who’ve already taken the time to build machine readable databases for you.

On a related note, there’s an upcoming set of presentations called BigAppsDevCamps, for those who want to use New York City municipal data in their apps. It’s probably of interest to many mobile developers, and I was planning on stopping by if I can. I think that might be an example of government being a good wholesaler, as opposed to a bad retailer. Although that depends on what they make available and how. I don’t like the notion of filing an RFP just to get access, when it’s public data.

SQLCipher Users Mailing List

2009-08-11 20:00:00 -0400

We’re starting to get a lot of questions about SQLCipher from developers, ranging from getting the source code to build environment integration and linking. In order to better facilitate use of the library, encourage the growth of a developer community, and to hopefully avoid repeating the same answers too often, we’ve started the SQLCipher Users mailing list on Google Groups. You can sign up over here.

If you use SQLCipher in your project, you should subscribe to get news about updates (like integration of upstream changes from SQLite), changes, and new features. Traditionally we’ve fielded questions about SQLCipher from our support email account, but from now on we’d appreciate it if all requests for help with this software be posted to the mailing list.

Another AT&T Anecdote

2009-08-11 20:00:00 -0400

Since every day seems to be boo-AT&T-day, I figured I’d add another anecdote to the chorus.

Lance Ulanoff writes over at Yahoo! Tech that the AT&T 3G service on his Blackberry seems to be crummy when he goes underground or out into the suburbs:

AT&T appears stuck in some year 2000 time warp

hoverboard Lance, I think AT&T is caught in a 1988 time warp, and I for one would like the accordingly fashionable and gigantic phone to go along with it. Also: a hoverboard. It’s a real disappointment to have what basically amounts to an $800 personal computer phone thing in your pocket that can’t hold a call for more than two minutes.

My AT&T service on my iPhone (3G and Edge) stinks everywhere, all the time. It’s consistent fail coverage. It barely works in my apartment in Greenpoint, which is just across the East River from Manhattan. Calls get dropped all the time, and the sound quality is almost always terrible. It also doesn’t work for anyone at all in our coworking space in Northside Williamsburg. We often have to take a walk to have a chat on the phone, and that means putting up with the noise of buses and trucks on the street.

It doesn’t work in the ‘burbs, and yes, it doesn’t work underground. I don’t expect cell phones to work underground, and it’s nice when they do, but I do expect that they should work in freakin’ Brooklyn and I shouldn’t have nearly so many dropped calls. I mean, come on. This isn’t the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, I’m not trying to make calls from a secret lair.

NSDate (Helper) Updated

2009-08-06 20:00:00 -0400

We’ve got a small category extending the NSDate class found in Cocoa with some really convenient methods that allow us to work with date objects without cluttering up our code with NSCalendar and NSComponent objects and operations. If you’ve ever had to do date manipulation or formatting in Java, I can tell you that it’s as much a nuisance in Objective-C, too.

In any event, I finally got around to putting up a proper description of each method, and added a new instance method, weekday, which gives you the day of the week for an NSDate, 0 – 6 (0 being Sunday).

Zetetic is the creator of the encrypted iPhone data vault and password manager Strip and the open source encryption-enhanced database engine SQLCipher.

Spolsky on Twitter and Real Conversation

2009-08-05 20:00:00 -0400

Joel Spolsky on the Stack Overflow podcast last week:

The trouble with Twitter though … as soon as the conversation threatens to become actually real, the 140 k limit [sic] and the fact you don’t want to just sit there and tweet all day actually forces you to stop. Then you’re not having any kind of real conversation.

It’s time to escalate.

One of the greatest bits of inspiration for me coming out of the #futureruby conference was this notion of just replacing things. You don’t like it? Change it. Build a new thing. Launch a thousand ships against the ebays and amazons and apples of the world. That clever Panic fellow has the right idea.