Swartz vs Snowden OR Resist Restrictions that Seem Arbitrary or Capricious

MIT released its report on Aaron Swartz (.pdf) this morning. It is interesting to read about the amount of energy and concerted effort around Swartz, in contrast to Edward Snowden. Swartz’ prosecution and MIT’s “neutrality” to that effort seem sad when taken in the context of President Obama’s comment on June 27th where he said “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

In the report the authors pose questions to the MIT community, including: “How can MIT draw lessons for its hacker culture from this experience?” The answer includes:

MIT celebrates hacker culture. Our admissions tours and first-year orientation salute a culture of creative disobedience where students are encouraged to explore secret corners of the campus, commit good-spirited acts of vandalism within informal but broadly— although not fully—understood rules, and resist restrictions that seem arbitrary or capricious. We attract students who are driven not just to be creative, but also to explore in ways that test boundaries and challenge positions of power.

This raises the question of whether the MIT community is sufficiently aware of what the hacker culture is meant to be about, of the risks inherent in crossing lines as part of hacking, and the roles of faculty, staff and administration in responding to what might or might not be a hack.

Yet in the computer context, unlike as in the physical world, “unauthorized access”—ill defined as it may be—can be grounds for a major federal felony prosecution. For Swartz the end result was calamitous. The entire episode may create a chilling effect for those students contemplating exploits that may push the bounds of their and society’s knowledge, but will also take them to places where conventional rules say they are not supposed to be—“coloring outside the lines” so to speak, punishable by criminal records rather than mere forfeiture of crayons. [emphasis added]

I can’t help but think of the recently exposed removal of President Obama’s promise to “Protect Whistleblowers” from Change.gov. Which read:

Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.

Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process. [emphasis added]

Later, in the answer to the above question, the MIT report asks “Are we misleading students and community members by advertising one kind of community and enforcing rules more appropriate to a different kind of community?”

This seems to be the question not just for the MIT community, but for all Americans.

iOS / Objective-C App Delegates Explained Using Birds

As I build upon my understanding of Objective-C, I’ve been working to better understand the concept of a delegate and when they should be used.  In searching for clarity, I came upon an explanation by Mark Hernandez the administrator of iPhoneDevForums.com.

For posterity, I’ve copied Mark’s explanation here. For his full explanation and his code example, follow the link above.

My favorite way to explain how delegates work involves animals.

Let’s say you are going to create a particular bird. You start with a predefined class definition of a bird (provided in the existing framework as, say, CFBird). The existing framework class assumes all birds have certain things in common — they hatch and grow the same, poop the same, fly the same, and lay eggs the same way, etc. (tee hee, I said poop.  ) But different birds look different, are different sizes, chirp differently, eat different things, and may mate differently. Continue reading iOS / Objective-C App Delegates Explained Using Birds

Fix for Terminating App Due to Uncaught Exception 'NSInvalidArgumentException'

I’ve been experimenting with a multiview iPhone / iOS app with a tab-based navigation and came across an error and solution for “unrecognized selector sent to instance.”

In one of the tab’s views I had a standard button with a Touch Up Inside event that I had connected to a buttonClicked method in the view’s controller.  For some reason, when I tapped that button the app would crash.  This was not happening when I built the same stuff in a single view app.

I went searching and was happy to find that the problem was well described and solved in the developer forums of MacNN.  It turns out that when you have have multiple view controllers for separate .xib files being controlled by a Tab Bar Controller you need to take an extra step of setting the Class Identity for that particular view. Here’s how: Continue reading Fix for Terminating App Due to Uncaught Exception 'NSInvalidArgumentException'

Rock Show Concert Posters 2.0: Now on iPhone and iPod Touch

concert posters rock show ipad iphone

I’m pumped to announce availability of Rock Show 2.0.  This is the first version of Rock Show that works on the iPad and both the iPhone and iPod Touch.  A lot of fixes and tweaks are in this version of the application, along with some new posters as well!

Two articles are up about the release, Padgadget is hosting one item and a second can be found at IntoMobile.  For a full low-down and updated info on the app, visit its page: http://www.rockshow.fm

Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

When you submit an iOS application for review, you’ve got to make sure your ad copy is tight.  The app description may be the last thing holding back a tap to buy your app.

Apple doesn’t give much guidance on this important chunk of text. “Write your Application Description with a focus on what makes the functionality or design of your app unique.” was a tip from this past June from the App Store Tips blog.

We know that 4000 characters is the limit.  And App descriptions are made up of simple text, including unicode symbols like checkboxes (✔) and more (♣☢☂).  Apple takes your unicode text and formats it for display on the web via Web Preview, in iTunes and on the iOS devices themselves (the app store).

Since you probably have very specific points you want to get across, and users have a very short attention span, you need to pay attention to how Apple will format what you write.  In this entry I discuss how to create app descriptions that look great everywhere Apple publishes your app description.

Continue reading Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

Reprogrammed Animatronic Bear Band Plays MGMT Cover

Aaron Fechter the President of Creative Engineering, Inc has been reprogramming a working animatronic bear-band set up.  It looks like the company created it for a line of restraunts similar to Chuck E. Cheese.  He’s currently taking cash bids to do syncing or “choreography” for the band members.

The way the performance is filmed and presented are awesome.  Shakey prolonged shots, quick pulls outward.  The overall video quality is low and the colors look a bit washed out.  Everything is blurry and the bear with the guitar has a spooky shadow.   Great media.

Using an HTML Web View with a Transparent Background in iPhone SDK's Interface Builder and Xcode

Something almost every iPhone application needs is an About and Help view that allows the user to learn a little bit about the application they’re using and  how it should be operated.  The problem with a UITextView in Apple’s XCode and Interface Builder SDK is that you can not use rich-text styling or even bold one line over another.

One solution to this problem would be to create image files containing stylized text and then rasterize them and allow the user to page through them.  The problem with this is that you can’t have tappable URLs or links embedded in the text.

David Peixotto, coding ninja and my business partner for Neutrinos, suggested we look at using a Webview or HTML view and put an imageview in the background.  The trick is telling the iPhone to display a UIWebView with a transparent background.  I looked around for the solution to this and came across this helpful post in the iPhone Developer SDK forums.

Step one of getting a transparent web view in interface builder is to create HTML in the controller.m for the view containing the webview that contains the CSS line: <body style=”background-color:transparent”> Inside the <head> </head> sections of the html.

Step two is to set the background color of the webview to clear or transparent:  myWebView.backgroundColor = [UIColor clearColor]; Continue reading Using an HTML Web View with a Transparent Background in iPhone SDK's Interface Builder and Xcode

Custom Styling the ShareThis Button Using CSS Without API Calls

ShareThis CSS Style Classes Button

I was just doing a ShareThis icon for a client I’m working with and found that how to properly style the button is poorly documented.  In order to replace the whole icon and text, you are supposed to use the developer API.

I only wanted to style the text, so I was hunting for some CSS to style the text and could not find the right classes to call.  Some hunting turned up the following: Continue reading Custom Styling the ShareThis Button Using CSS Without API Calls

Contact Us Javascript Form Validation and Custom Fields in SalesForce

The web Contact Us form serves as an important starting point for people interested in a product or service.  For a big company, handling inbound leads over the course of a long sales process requires a strong CRM.  SalesForce is a fully featured CRM plaform, however in my experience it has somehow ignored an important source for sales leads: contact us forms on the company website.

Salesforce does not explain how its clients should go about crafting a quality Contact Us web page.

What is a quality Contact Us web page?  

Generally you’ll find the same type of fields on Contact Us pages across the web.  You are asked for your first and last name, job title, complete address and something specific about your query, like Where did you hear about us? Or What model Range Rover are you interested in?

 What’s the use of having their name if you don’t have their phone number?  Usually, a company will want to set specific form fields to required. Checking whether a potential customer has filled out a required answer is called form validation. Continue reading Contact Us Javascript Form Validation and Custom Fields in SalesForce