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Page Two TAB Articles by Geoffrey Goetz

Can’t Seem to Digg Your iPhone Anymore These Days?

Digg has changed more than just its style recently, and apparently has left their third-party development teams screaming for a transition back to the old Diggs.  The bottom line is that the iPhone App does not work at all anymore.  I use to be an avid ‘Digger’ myself, until the iPhone came out and my RSS reading habits changed greatly.  This was also about the time where I stopped subscribing to feeds individually, and started using Google Reeder exclusively.  When  the official iPhone version of Digg came out, I became a ‘Digger’ once again.  The look and feel of the new iPhone App was so impressive that I modified my online reading behavior slightly, and starting ‘Digging’ into popular feeds once again.  I consider myself a member of theDiggnation and have even been part of the studio audience of “The Screen Savers” back in the day.  So when the iPhone version of the App stopped working, I Started Digging a little deeper to figure out what was the matter.  I did what any self-respecting iPhone veteran would have done:

It was this last step that proved that I was indeed not crazy.  The developer forums have been buzzing with requests to bring back the prior version of the APIs.  It appears as if the update to the Digg site had some unforeseen consequences.  Kevin Rose has eventweeted about some of the issues since he has taken charge earlier this year and has vowed that an update was coming that would resolve many of the issues.

Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 22:00:02 -0700
From: Digg Support
Subject: Re: [Contact Digg] Bug Report - General
Due to the launch of the new version of Digg and related bugs, the app
is not currently working as it should, but is and the app
should be fully functional shortly.
Thanks for your patience.
– Digg Support Team
Follow us on Twitter – @digg
Learn more in our FAQ section:

Then I received the above response from the Digg support team, basically verifying my findings.  It appears that it is not only the iPhone App that is suffering from the ill effects of the redesign.  Several individuals of the Diggnation have spoken up and voiced their opinion on the redesign.  With all of the Buzz about Digg online lately, perhaps I should switch back my RSS reading habits, as I would have seen the issue with Digg posted a lot sooner if I was not depending on Digg itself to let me know what topics were trending hot.  With any luck, the iOS Digg App will be functional before Digg elects a new CEO to run the company.


August 29, 2010 Posted by | How-To, iPhone, Software | , , , | Leave a comment

Mystery Island, Now Just a Message In the Bottle

Koingo SoftwareI typically get software update notices at least every other day (more so following OS X releases) for all of the Mac software I have purchased over the years. Typically the I make a mental note of the update and plan on downloading and installing at a later time. Not this time. I received an interesting correspondence from Koingo Software. They informed me of my prior purchases and let me know how to upgrade my existing license. Just the usual information from a company you bought software from. Then the interesting bit, a scavenger hunt. An old scavenger hunt that has been going on for some time now.  Apparently they have lost one of their original software titles a while back and are still looking for anyone that may have a copy residing on an old hard drive or backup volume. The software title in question was the original release of Mystery Island. You may recall the tag line: “Millionaire James Harvey has died and his son inherited it all. Now he is missing. It is your job to solve the mystery!” According to Koingo, the archive was originally 42 MB and was a .sea file called “Mystery_Island_Full.sea.” So I quickly ran over to a stack of old MacAddict (now MacLife) disks that I still have looking to see if the title was on any of the discs I still have. Sadly no. It is an intriguing situation as not very many current Apple customers have had Macs since that time. It would be interesting to know if you remember playing this game back in the day, and even more so if you happen to still have an original copy of the installer. You could now score $500 from Koingo Software if you do.

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Software | , | 1 Comment

Oracle Sues Google over Java – Objective-C Unaffected

Oracle vs GoogleApple created a huge development ecosystem that brought developers to Apple’s iOS and Objective-C programming language.  Many corporations started taking mobile development more seriously as the number of users grew to astounding numbers.  The iOS platform quickly became a staple development platform.  Now Google is trying to convince that same community of developers that it’s platform is the second coming.  The adoption of the Android platform by users has caught up and surpassed that of iOS.  But app development in the Android Market Place had not exactly followed suit.  Revenues on the iOS platform have not been worth sacrificing by spending time on Android development.  Until recently.  As more developers start targeting Android, the frequency of updates, new features, and even the release of new iOS apps will begin to slow down.

It should therefore be no surprise that Oracle timed the filing of its law suit against Google shortly after Android passed iOS in smart phone market share, and shortly after Google announced its plans to generate billions of dollars off of the Android platform.  In a move similar to Apples move to protect its intellectual property when it sued HTC over patent infringement, Oracle, the current owner of Java, has sued Google over its use of Oracle’s intellectual property.  Given that iOS and Android are direct competitors in the smartphone marketplace, and all app development on Android allegedly uses Oracle’s intellectual property, anything that affects Android negatively can and will affect iOS positively.

Jonathan Schwartz may have know that this day was coming when he wrote in his farewell memo to the employees of Sun stating that “every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go.”  Sun Microsystems’ corporate culture had a very different attitude concerning the licensing of one of its most valuable technological assets, Java. One may say that Sun’s open culture influenced one of its former employees, current Google CEO Eric Schmidt, to make the Android operating system open. All that has changed as Larry Ellison now owns Java. It is not that Oracle does not see the value in Java, it most certainly does. And counter to Google’s philosophy when it comes to technology, where there is value, there should be revenue. Especially when it comes to mobile platforms.

There is one technical glitch, Android claims that it does not use Java, it uses Dalvik. So what is Dalvik? No, it is not a fishing village in Iceland (well yes it is, sort of). The best way to explain the difference between Java and Dalvik as it pertains to Oracle and Google is to use an analogy comparing it to the differences between UNIX and Linux.  Java is a programming language that got its start at Sun Microsystems back in the 1990’s. This programming language needs to be compiled into bytecode in order to execute. This bytecode then runs within a virtual machine. It is the Java Virtual Machine that is akin to UNIX. Dalvik is also a virtual machine similar to Java’s virtual machine. The Dalvik virtual machine would be akin Linux in this analogy. The Dalvik virtual machine is fundamentally different in its design from the Java Virtual machine, but they are both still virtual machines.

And here is where things get a little funny. There is a tool that takes Java compiled bytecode (which would normally run in the Java virtual machine) and converts it into a different instruction set which is used by the Dalvik virtual machine. The same Java source files are compiled into the same Java bytecode which is then transformed to work on a different virtual machine.  So technically, on each Android device, there is no Java bytecode, and there is no Java virtual machine installed.  No physically installed, copied or otherwise distributed Oracle Java product on the device at all.  That does not necessarily mean there is no Oracle enabled technology involved.

So why is Oracle chasing Google over Java on mobile platforms and not Apple and other operating system developers on desktop platforms?  While it is true that Sun did make Java Open Source via the OpenJDK, it appears that this only applies to the Standard or desktop Edition, not the Mobile Edition. And this is where Oracle hopes to make its claim on Google and in turn any Android manufacturer. But is it even the same Java source code? It is important to understand that Dalvik uses a subset of the Apache Harmony Java classes, an effort which essentially re-wrote the necessary Java classes from scratch.  So what part of anything truly Java is on Android to begin with?

What appears to be in question is whether or not any of the Harmony sources can be used on mobile platforms, and wether or not Google’s attempts to utilize the Java Language, not the virtual machine, on a mobile platform in any form violates the intellectual property now owned by Oracle.  So long as there are still 24hrs in a day, developers will have to choose which platform they spend their time on.  If you are a developer looking to port your existing inventory of lucrative iOS apps over to the growing Android platform, you may want to delay that decision a little while longer as the dust settles and analysts evaluate the merits of this law suit.

August 13, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Development | , , , | Leave a comment