Thursday, July 30, 2009

iPhone still not ready for the Enterprise crowd

I'm quite excited as I will be getting my new iPhone 3G S tomorrow evening! But while I do think that it is a great phone, I still think that it is still not ready to play with the big boys in the Enterprise space yet.

Apple claims that it has increased the security in the phone with the release of OS 3.0, but as the following videos show, the implementation is quite weak. Bewarned if you are going to watch the video though as it contains quite a lot of techie jargon (and not the easily understandable kind unless you have played around with UNIX or Linux before).

The first video shows the hacker easily cracking the passcode for the phone and retrieving supposedly encrypted data in just about 2 minutes!

The second video shows the hacker getting a complete unencrypted image dump of the iPhone, which is supposedly hardware encrypted. SQL statements and IP addresses are shown wizzing by in real-time as the dump is generated. If you thought the first video was already hard to understand, just take my word about the second as it's got even more jargon in it.

Don't think we'll be seing the White House issue Obama an iPhone anytime soon as Apple still has a way to go before it can challenge Blackberry in the enterprise space.

But I think for the average consumer, it's more than sufficient. Just don't store any naked photos of yourself on the phone...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How much punishment can an iPhone take?

I'm about to get my new iPhone 3GS this Friday and I'm really excited about it. I've been meaning to get a smartphone for ages and hopefully it meets my high expectations.

Unfortunately, you can't please everyone. Click on the following link to see some pictures from people who were not too happy with Mr Steve Jobs' cellular masterpiece.

I particularly like, in a twisted sort of way, the blended iPhone...

Talk about creative destruction...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bejeweled Blitz for Facebook - Tips & Tactics

UPDATE: I've written some additional tips for the updated Bejeweled Blitz, however, all tips below are still applicable in the new version, so please do read them as well as the additional tips here.

First things first, let me set some expectations. I am by no means an expert in Bejeweled Blitz for Facebook. My best score so far is 184,000 and I have played enough to consistently score above 75k. I have friends who score higher than I do, but I'm normally 1st or 2nd on my social ranking every week.

As I played and tried to improve my score, I looked around for tips by other players on how to improve (without cheating!). I found a few good tips but they were all scattered about. So I decided to consolidate the tips and tactics, particularly for beginners, to try and get a good score.

So here goes:

1. Get a jumpstart!

Not many people realize that you can actually start moving your first gem even before the voice says GO. This gives you a precious seconds or so to perhaps get your first power gem so you can...

2. Get the 2x multiplier gem early

It really helps if you get the x2 multiplier within the first 10 seconds of the game. This gives a good boost to your score moving forward.

3. Get the multipliers

Multipliers are produced when you get rid of 12 or more gems with 1 swap. So far the easiest way that I have found to do this is to explode a power gem and hope that you get as least 1 cascading match (9 from power gem, 3 from cascade). Be careful though, as you need to wait 10 seconds after a multiplier appears before you can get another one. So pace using your power gems so you don't waste them.

4. Power up!
Since Power Gems are the quickest ways to get multipliers, try and get as many as possible. This is done by matching 4 gems. To me, the problem with matching to get Power Gems, is that it keeps 1 gem in place and that sometimes throws me off on what are the other gems in the surrounding area. So I occasionally need to take a second to re-evaluate once I get a Power Gem, unless I quickly see another match on an area in the board that was not affected by the 4 gem match.

5. Avoid using the Power Gems at the sides

If you use the Power Gems at the absolute sides of the playing area, you are going to lose out on 3 gems when it explodes. So unless you are sure of making 2 cascading matches after to make 12 gems for a multiplier, don't match Power Gems at the sides!

6. Keep up the speed

You get speed bonuses if you make quick matches. The bonus is added to each match that you make until you fail to slow down. The first bonus of 200 if you make 3 matches within 2 seconds. This will then build up to a maximum of 1000. The higher your speed bonus, the longer that you have before you lose the bonus. So what does this all mean? Keep matching like crazy and don't stop!

7. Maximize the Hypercubes

Hypercubes are created when you do a 5 gem match and it destroys all the same coloured gems that it is swapped with. These are harder to get than the Power Gem and pay-off is quite good as you get a base of 400 points per gem. But why settle for a measly 400 points per gem when you can get more with the multipliers! So don't be so quick to do a Hypercube swap. Try to do one when you have at least a multiplier. Obviously be sure to swap with the gem that most fills the playing area to get more bang for your buck.

8. Don't waste the Hypercubes!

Hypercubes don't come easy. So why let them go to waste? Be sure NOT to do the following:
  • Match a Power Gem next to a Hypercube as it will destroy the Hypercube.
  • Swap a Hypercube with a Hypercube (DUH!)

9. Stay on the downlow

If possible, keep matching to the lower portion of the playing area. This minimizes the movement of your mouse, making you a bit faster and also has a higher probability of causing cascading matches, since the gems need to drop and new gems need to come in. The further up you play, the less gem movement there is, thus less probability for cascading matches.

10. Don't be afraid to quit

After a while, you would have gotten the hang of things and know when you are having a crappy game. If things are bad, just bail! Just click on Menu-> Main Menu -> Yes -> Play Now and voila! A fresh start!

Generally, if you haven't hit a 2x multiplier within the first 15 seconds of the game, you aren't going to get a good overall score, so unless you think things are gonna pick up (lots of same coloured gems on screen and you have a 2x and 3x multiplier just waiting to be matched), you might want to consider restarting to save you time.

Weird Tip: Switch off sound

Yeah, I thought this was a stupid idea too. I initially thought that the sound isn't distracting and was good to indicate when time was running out. But then I found that once I turned the sound off, I wasn't so bothered with the time anymore and was able to focus more on the playing area and just getting good matches. This allowed me to more scores above 100K.

Ok, so those are my tips for the game! Hope it benefits other Bejeweled Blitz players on Facebook. If you have found any other useful tips, please share them in the comments section below.

Now I'm off to trying and breach that 200K barrier... Wish me luck and Have fun!

Please leave a comment if you found this guide useful! If you are a Mafia Wars player, you can also check out my Mafia Wars strategy and tips here.

TrackID Review / MusicID comes to iPhone

I'm currently waiting for my iPhone 3G S to arrive at the end of this month and the one application that I was going to miss from my current Sony Ericsson W880i phone was the TrackID application.

What's that? Well, how many times have you been caught in this scenario - You are listening to the radio and hear this cool tune that you really like. You wait for the song to end hoping that the DJ will say what's the name of the song and artist. Unfortunately, it goes straight into commercials or the next song on the playlist fires up or the DJ just doesn't give you the info you want (How rude!). Sound familiar? Well, it has happened to me a countless number of times.

That's where TrackID came in and saved the day. TrackID actually uses a technology called MusicID from Gracenote, which utilizes "multi-step recognition method to enable identification, categorization, and organization of digital music". Ok, sounds funky. So what does it do already?

Well, what this little application claims to do is to identify any song and artist by just taking a 5-second sample of the song and then, using any available data service on your phone, connect to the MusicID server. MusicID will then do it's magic and display the results of the search on your phone's screen.

Sounds too good to be true right? Well, I was unconvinced as well, so I put the application though a series of tests, including putting on some local (though popular) songs and some Japanese and Mandarin songs.

To my surprise, TrackID was successful every time!

I then tried it out in my car, I fired up the radio and tried identifying a song while I was driving (background noise). No problem! Took a turn and had the indicator clicking in the background - bingo again!

Over the course of 1+ years using the application, the service has occasionally not been able to find a match and I have gotten the wrong result a couple of times before, but all in all, it has been very accurate and a very useful application.

So when I finally decided it was time to upgrade my phone and chose going the way of the Apple, I was quite bummed that I'd be losing this app.

Well, I am bummed no longer as I found out yesterday that Gracenote has released a version for the iPhone as well! Cost is USD2.99, but it's a small cost to pay I guess.

I also just found out that there is another similar and free service available called Shazam. So I'll be trying both these services out and posting my comparison later.

Stay tuned!

First post!

Besides music, food and general nonsense, my other great interest is technology. I've always loved to fiddle around with new gadgets and in my youth (ahem), used to be a fairly active gamer as well.

My time in Japan was blissful as I used to love making trips to Akihabara to check out all the latest toys and funky little gadgets there. Unfortunately, I'm back in Malaysia now but I still do keep abreast with what's happening in the world of technology and occasionally do still dabble here and there with gadgets or games.

This blog is for me to share with the world things that I think is news worthy in the world of technology and share my views on things. Hope you enjoy my techie babbles. =)