This is a recipe that my old roommate taught me about 10 years ago. He grew up in Punjab, which according to him is kind of the “hard-ass” part of India. It’s kind of right there between Pakistan and Kashmir, so I’d have to agree. I hadn’t really been a fan of curries that associated themselves with Punjab before, mostly they seem to be these pea and cheese curries that I would take a little of because it seemed “healthy”. Anyhow, he learned this recipe from his mother, and never could get it right. So he taught it to me.

A word of encouragement: Don’t be afraid of how involved this recipe looks. I tend to explain things. It may seem long, but most recipes are written too shortly and miss steps. This one doesn’t.

You’re going to make a stockpot full of curry with this recipe. It’s going to last for days.

Ingredients (in the order they’re used):

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of tumeric
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I use olive, but coconut is probably a better choice)
  • 2 red onions
  • roughly 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, give or take a tomato
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika (he told me that this was the closest spice he found in the US to the one they use)
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder (it’s a bunch of spices blended together, but it saves you from having to have a bunch of various things)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter – if you want to be super authentic, buy some Ghee at the Indian store. I use unsalted Irish cream butter.
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 3-6 crimini mushrooms, depending on size – more if they’re small
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes (red potatoes are fine too, I just love yukons)
  • 4 1/2 cups of water (the potatoes and chicken will thicken it, along with the fact that you’re going to simmer it for awhile)
  • optional: Extra teaspoon of garam masala, paprika, and curry powder for spicing the chicken directly

Pans and kitchenwares:

  • 1 wok type pan (for the base)
  • 1 griddle (for the chicken)
  • 1 stockpot (for the finished product)
  • wooden spoon
  • Sharp kitchen knife (helps with tomatoes)
  • Fork
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Part one: the curry base.

This is the hard part. A lot of people give up and just buy a base premade in a jar…it’ll cost you as much. Still, if you have a bunch of onions and tomatoes, just make it yourself. :)

First step: dice the onions as finely as you can. The finer you can, the easier the next part is. It requires a lot of supervision and effort.

Second step: dice up the tomatoes. Doesn’t need to be as fine. If you want to cheat, get a can of tomatoes, they’re almost already in the state they need to be. Don’t get tomato pulp, though. That’s just going too far (no really, it ruins the texture of the base).

Third step: you need to add the tablespoon of tumeric and the oil into the wok. Blend it together with a fork until it’s consistent, then you need to “burn” the tumeric. If you burn it too much, it’ll taste terrible, if you don’t, it’ll taste like an aspirin. So what you’re looking for is put it on high for a few minutes. The oil should get pretty hot. It’s tough to really visualize, but the oil and tumeric should turn a slightly darker color without giving off smoke. If you screw it up, pour it out and try again. This part requires supervision.

Fourth step: pour the onions into the wok. Start “smushing” them with the wooden spoon into the tumeric, make sure they all get mixed in really well. They’re going to get both browned and almost look like a pulp when you’re done with them. This requires some arm effort just constantly smashing them into the wok and mixing them around.

Fifth step: pour in the tomatoes. Mix them up like you did with the onions until the whole mixture is very goopy and saucelike. You don’t need to stir and smoosh quite as much, but you do need to make it as even as you can (let it be a little “chunky”, though…trust me on this).

Sixth step: The fun part of making the base. Spices! Sprinkle in one teaspoon of the garam masala (do not add both, the second one you add in the later phase to maintain the flavor, this is just to get it distributed evenly). Sprinkle in one teaspoon of the paprika, then BOTH teaspoons of the curry powder (this one needs to get more heat because there’s tumeric in it usually). Now toss in the butter. Yes, butter is a spice in this dish…it also keeps the base from sticking to the wok when you let it simmer a little.

Seventh step: take the wok off the current burner and put it on a low simmer. Stir the base occasionally.

Curry base: forgive my ugly looking wok, it gets a lot of use

Curry base: forgive my ugly looking wok, it gets a lot of use

Next up – the Curry!

First step: chop up the chicken breasts (tenderloins work well too, thighs are okay).

Second step: Toss the chicken into the griddle with a little bit of oil. Optionally, go get another teaspoon or two of curry powder, garam masala, and paprika and sprinkle it over the chicken. Thyme also works well, as does basil or rosemary. It ensures that the chicken will get a good dose of spice. Stir the chicken around occasionally to get a good coating of spice and oil on it.

Third step: Chop up the mushrooms. Thinly sliced or diced is best. They’re like earthy filler that adds a little interesting flavor and substance to the curry.

Fourth step: Wrap the potatoes in a damp paper towel and microwave them until they’re soft. This may take 5-7 minutes depending on your microwave.

Fifth step: Dump the curry base that has been simmering into the stockpot, along with 4 1/2 cups of water.

Sixth step: When the chicken is about halfways cooked and the spicy oil is on every surface of the chicken, dump the chicken into the stockpot with the base.

Seventh step: Add the mushrooms into the stockpot.

Eight step: Chop the potatoes a little bit, then add them into the stockpot.

Ninth step: add in the second teaspoon of the spices above (garam masala and paprika specifically).

Tenth step: Stir until even.

Eleventh step: Let it boil up for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing gets stuck to the bottom.

Twelfth step: Make the rice or couscous (If I’m going fancy, I like to pour the curry over couscous because it makes it super awesome. But basmati rice is okay too most of the time.) Add a little lemon juice or maybe thyme to the rice or couscous if you like. Sometimes I cook in a little curry powder or even saffron if I’ve got it.

Thirteenth step: Take the curry down to a simmer and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stir occasionally (more at first because the heat is still coming down).

Curry in the stockpot with all the stuff added in, boiling a little. The steam made it tough to get a good picture with my very old smartphone.

Curry in the stockpot with all the stuff added in, boiling a little. The steam made it tough to get a good picture with my very old smartphone.

Fourteenth step: After 30 minutes, the water level should go down a little, and the curry should be fairly thick. Thick enough that you don’t have to serve it in a bowl…you can spoon it over rice or couscous and it’ll hold in place. That is the potatoes and chicken fat working together to keep it all together and make it less “soupy”.

Serve it up! I made some modifications to the original recipe, mainly, the addition of potatoes as a thickening agent. My old roommate’s recipe ended up way too soupy for my liking…I like a curry bowl, but soupy curry ends up making the rice really soggy. It requires a lot of naan bread to soak it up. My old roommate approved of the use of potatoes, and he is now an important manager working at Intel, so he probably knows his curry. Oddly enough, my modifications made it seem more middle eastern than Indian. Oh well. It’s better this way. :)

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Moving, jobs, and all kinds of other things have been preoccupying my time.

I typically just use this blog to sound off on politics and geeky coder and mobile nerd stuff. I want to do more comedic writing on here, but I prefer to do that on Twitter. It keeps me from writing 10 paragraphs to tell what should be a 2 sentence joke.

Maybe I’ll do more picture taking. There’s that. That’s pretty fun. I live right by the river, for pete’s sake, and walk up the trail 4-5 times a day. I also get out of town as often as I can and explore, so I’ve got all these great pictures of weird places I go.

I’m burning out hard on politics like anyone does after an election year. At this point, it’s all too ridiculous to deal with. I can’t defend an administration that thinks assassination is an awesome idea, nor can I defend people who think rich people shouldn’t have to pay the same percentage of taxes that a person struggling to make ends meet is paying. You can only shout so long about trying to keep the planet even halfway livable that you just get to a point where you just say to yourself “maybe we’ll adapt somehow”. After awhile, it just feels pointless to argue about…you’re not debating an issue, you’re telling someone that the code they live by is flawed and then they get hurt. Even when you don’t want to hurt anyone.

I know my last blog was kind of about sports, but it was really about mental health, and anxiety in particular. It’s a disorder that no one without it understands. Too many people confuse it with fear because they have felt fear, but they’ve never felt their brain actually disconnect and completely lose control of their reason while at the same time they’re furious at themselves for losing control. Thankfully, the situations I deal with I’ve been able to fight through…most people with it simply can’t and have to take meds.

The mobile world has nothing really interesting going on in it anymore. New iPhone, new Android…don’t care. Just lost interest. No one is doing something that really catches my eye and makes me say “wow”. I did the mobile thing for a long time, and every so often there’s a product where I feel strongly that they’re doing something new and really awesome…but the big powers usually do everything in their ability to smash it down. All the while offering nothing new and groundbreaking. Little tweaks, things people have expected for months if not years…it’s pretty much turned ho hum for me. I’ve been using smartphones before anyone knew what a smartphone was, so it’s lost all of its luster for me.

Music and comedy still leave me in awe and wonderment quite often. Art seems to still be blowing my mind, so that’s where my head is at now. Still a lot of science out there that’s amazing. There’s a lot out there that still blows me away and a lot I can still learn. Just a change and broadening in interests. That’s why I’m going to post damn near everything in “stuff” because that’s how it is now.

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Most NBA fans have some sort of an opinion about the issue with Royce White’s situation with the Houston Rockets. Most people should know about it because what the league and media has done to the guy is shameful and bigoted.

Yeah, you can be bigoted against people with disorders that don’t allow them to do a lot of the same things that other people can’t do. Most of these same people would feel bad if they had, for example, made fun of a blind man or someone in a wheelchair. An anxiety disorder is something that is really hard to live with, and unless things work out perfectly, it affects the course of your entire life. It doesn’t “go away”. Medication has severe unwanted side effects…it can make you mentally sluggish, confused, tired, and other things that can equally make you non-effective at your particular career choice. I tried medication, and as a software engineer that has to amp his brain with 32 ounces of coffee a day, those meds would have probably caused me to lose any job I’ve held. Not a good tradeoff just to treat something that ostensibly, I wouldn’t have to deal with every day. You know, like a job.

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder twice…once early in college, once about 3 years after I started my career. I knew at the time that there would be certain things that I wouldn’t be effective at as a result of it. Anxiety disorders are different for most people…for some folks, like Mr. White (and I’m just guessing how he feels based on how I feel when I’m in those situations that cause problems), the thought of flying (or driving in my case) starts working its way into your head. You kind of get sucked down a trail of concerns, all you can visualize are the many ways you will die…it’s always different but it’s always the same in a way. That’s why it’s a diagnosable mental disorder. There are many classifiable and distinct characteristics. There are types of medication and everything…it’s not a “make-believe” disorder like so many sports talking heads and sportswriters are implying.

Mine happens almost always when I’m driving. Mainly, it’s when I am driving in high elevations, near water, or in fast moving, dense traffic. Most people get a little nervous in those situations. I, on the other hand, cannot picture myself doing anything but driving off a cliff or watching another car change lanes and crash into me. Or drive into the ocean and drown because I can’t get the door open due to water pressure. I deal with it by singing very loudly…or with a steady stream of expletives to drown out those worries. I do it because I make myself do it, but afterward, all I want to do is collapse for 6 hours. When I have the type of nightmares that make me wake up in a sweat, it’s because I’m driving along a sheer cliff along the ocean and can’t slow down and stop. As a result, I chose a career where I don’t have to do any driving, and I chose to live walking distance to where I work. I live in a town that doesn’t have severe traffic problems and has a LOT of mass transit options. For me, problem solved. You don’t want someone on the road who is imagining you crashing into his car and freaks out every time you swerve, believe me. I can drive quite well and comfortable in quiet rural areas; even in parts of downtown where I’m pretty familiar and we’re all taking it slow. It’s pretty particular to certain things and I’ve had that panic in those situations since I first started driving.

I can only imagine what would happen to an NBA player who had to do the same thing…but then go just a couple hours later and play as physically demanding a game as basketball against some of the most talented players in the world…only to then do it all again the next day. There’s no way I would be able to be anywhere near my best if I did that. I don’t blame Mr. White for basically putting his NBA career on hold…I’m sure there would be a way to work around his anxiety if the team made the effort. Even if he exclusively played home games, that would mean he’d play what, 41 games a year? That’s about as many as most bench players play. Most NBA players are bench players. I’m sure there would be quite a few he could take the train to as well…Texas is pretty well centrally located.

However, if the NBA doesn’t want to work around those problems, then by all means, he shouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t be able to perform at the level that would make him worth his salary. He wouldn’t stick around the league no matter how talented the guy is (and everyone who follows Big-10 Basketball knows exactly how talented he is). First round draft picks fail to make it in the league every year due to injuries. A psychological problem is exactly like an injury. It’s one where you can play through it, but you have to have team management that is willing to help you play through it. Sometimes guys wear protective goggles, protective vests, wrist guards…working around a psychological issue is the same deal. Unfortunately, NBA coaches, management, and trainers aren’t quite as progressive as they are in other businesses where they pride themselves on making work accessible for people with disabilities. It seems that either you work really well, exactly as they want, or you go away. The salaries are supposed to be incentive enough…but that’s not enough. You know that even if you make a big pot of money, if you can’t perform, you’re not going to keep making that money anyway. You might as well get a head start on a new career if you know you won’t be able to keep making that NBA money. If you have a broken leg, and your coach tells you that you have to do wind sprints or you’re off the team…and the doctor is telling you that if you comply, your leg will never heal right and you’ll walk with a limp for the rest of your life…what do you do?

The thing that everyone who has criticized the guy should be ashamed of, however, is that they’re basically mocking him for having a psychological disorder. They probably wouldn’t mock a guy who blew out his knee and couldn’t get his career started because he got hurt the “acceptable” way. Even if the team that drafted him knew full well that he had knee problems to begin with and drafted him anyway…then put a huge workload on him in training camp. That’s happened many times. The Rockets and everyone else knew that Royce had generalized anxiety disorder. Apparently, they decided not to look it up on wikipedia. Note the part about it being “uncontrollable”. And the part that it can only be diagnosed if it exists past 6 months. Everyone knew Royce had those problems back when he played for the Gophers. He then went on to play lights-out for Iowa for a year. That’s a lot longer than 6 months. This isn’t a put on by the guy, he’s not holding out for playing time, wanting to be traded, trying to make more money. It’s a real serious problem for the guy and anyone who implies anything else needs to sit their butt down and read that wikipedia page I linked. You don’t joke around with that disorder. It’s not like the A-Team and Mr. T where they had to drug his orange juice…it doesn’t work that way nor are the effects of those drugs reliable either. That was just a TV show.

Anyway, I’ve been following Royce’s career since his year with the Gophers because as a grade schooler, I lived on the U of M campus. I went to a LOT of Gophers games at The Barn…it was almost a weekly thing for 3 years and I’m still a fan. When I heard about the guy’s anxiety, I kind of hoped that maybe, finally, someone with a good shot at being famous could help people without this disorder understand those of us who have it. I’ve lived a long time being called weird for my reaction to those situations…you better believe I don’t like being treated that way and I don’t forget or forgive those slights. Even when you joke around, I still hate your guts for that because it’s deeply personal. Mr. White has been doing what he can to try and explain his problems to the media and the public, and a lot of people just won’t have it because they’d rather stay bigoted against people who have this disorder. They’d rather continue to be ignorant and misunderstand and mistreat people who live with this.

I think they’re too personally enthralled with the idea of having at least one more group of people to kick when they’re down. I can’t ask them to be well like Royce does…all I can do is call them out and shame them for being bullies. It seems to me most of the time that serious “red butt” is the only thing they can comprehend. I wouldn’t wish anxiety disorder on anyone. It’s embarrassing when you know you’re acting exactly the opposite of how you wish you could act and you can’t stop it. It’s humiliating. It makes you angry at yourself. And then people around you who don’t want to understand just pile it on and make it worse. It’s driven plenty of people to suicide, plenty to drugs and addiction. For me, it drives me to intense outward rage and the only way I can hold it back is to think about my dog, my family…then keep myself from getting sent to jail.

Be nice to Royce. Doesn’t matter how you feel about whether or not he could have helped your favorite basketball team. He’s trying to do something good for people like me who need it instead of making a lot of money playing a game to amuse you because you want it. And I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near as courteous and professional to the haters as he has been.

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This is going to be a little nerdy, so if you bail, that’s fine.

I’m really, really getting sick of Android as a prevalent mobile OS. I hate the naming conventions, I hate the attempts to copy other platform’s UI features and flow (while not really having a clean flow and dedicated “zen” or user flow to the platform. I still find it very clunky to use in a lot of ways…simplicity should be a concept pounded into the heads of everyone on that team. The use flow of the UI really doesn’t have a character of its own from phone to phone…and I do lay some of the blame for that on HTC and “Sense”. Sense is just a bad idea altogether, but it was born out of a dire need to make Android’s UI work better.

And it’s not like Android can say it’s a rock solid, ultra secure platform. I can cope with some UI wankiness if I feel absolutely comfortable with the stability and security of the platform. I lay some of the blame for that at the feet of Android’s masters (Google). I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable using Google products for anything, mainly because the way Google makes all that revenue doesn’t exactly rely on keeping customer data totally private, self-owned, and secure. As far as cloud services go, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with my password locked HP WebOS Synergy account than I do with my various Google accounts…and while it should be no different, Synergy doesn’t track my web footprints and remind me it’s doing so with periodic targeted advertising. While some folks probably don’t mind that, it turns my stomach and my innate paranoia kicks in. Google could run a lot leaner and smoother and be a whole lot better service…a lot of its cost is in maintaining its business model (having a legion of developers all coding away on various random research projects, giant data warehouses storing a massive amount of user history, opulent facilities…). Craigslist runs a very tight, lean ship, and while their owners aren’t exactly multi-billionares, they still provide a damn useful service and they’re never going to be in danger of going under due to having a very lean, focused, and smart business and operating model.

All that kind of contributes to the problem I have with Android. It’s kind of a catch-22…for it to remain prevalent in its current form/development model, it needs to keep getting those big Google bucks, and Google has to keep making tons of cash via data mining and ad revenue. But I also think that Android could stand very well on its own as a fully free open source project, developed in accordance to a model not unlike Linux has been (but maybe distros would be more “owned” by the phone manufacturers so they could custom tailor it to fit their devices and function more effectively). Probably not going to go down like that, though (but I bet it would resist a lawsuit from Oracle in regards to its goofball Java implementation practices, though). I only say that because it would give Oracle pause…suing Google for making money off a bastardization of their own property (Java) is one thing (and Microsoft was sued successfully for doing just that once upon a time), but how do you sue every carrier that has their own flavor of Android, modified to their product offerings? Certain companies (Sun/SCO) have tried to sue “Linux” (more appropriately, various companies like Novell with their own Linux distro) and it didn’t go down so well. Microsoft has tried to sue individual Linux vendors, but mostly for very particular reasons and most of those lawsuits don’t seem to go anywhere. Partially because a lot of those reasons are patents that could be easily dismissed due to prior art, etc. (IANAL, so I’m not exactly THAT clued in on that stuff). I think Android would benefit from the same sort of situation…given that it’s “Linux-derived”…and a fairly long distance from a puritan’s idea of a Linux distro by any measurement, I really do consider it its own OS in and of itself. I’d think its biggest threat would be potential lawsuits from Linux vendors over various features built for proprietary window managers and UI layers, but it would be like HTC suing Samsung over using some element of Sense in some Samsung custom UI, and not a broader suit against “Android” in general.

Then again, being protected by heaping piles of Google money has kept Apple and Microsoft at bay, which is impressive (though you get the feeling that if either had a clear shot, they’d take it in a heartbeat).

I still think Android has a clumsy tasking/threading system and notification system…but I’m spoiled. My mobile OS of choice, webOS, has had a near perfect tasking/notification system from the start and it kept getting better with each rev. Unfortunately, HP got its hands on it then realized that it didn’t know what to do with an operating system. Still, even with HP’s confusion (Mark Hurd seemed to know what he was doing, but apparently he didn’t explain the vision to Leo Apotheker and Meg Whitman, whom apparently thinks that vision was to put this awesome multitasking mobile OS with the best app store…Pivot…on printers in true blue HP fashion) and layoffs of Palm employees, webOS still has the best tasking and notification system simply because it was designed right from the start.

That’s another thing…when you use the best ideas you can think of, your own ideas, ideas proven by peer review and customer use tests from the start, those ideas tend to stand on their own a lot longer. When you borrow and tweak other platform’s ideas, you’re not always giving your users the best possible representation of those ideas (in part due to working around patent issues, product distinction, etc.). Which means that users will compare those features and find them lacking, and those features get reworked repeatedly. Backward compatibility and use consistency/use flow always take repeated hits as a result of this. I’ve seen so many mobile OS’s that have faded away that went down that road…Microsoft mobile OSs have run laps up and down that road since 1998. Android has really done a lot of that as well, and even iOS seems like they’re wandering down that road now. It’s better to stick to your best ideas from the start and make refinements and improvements where users request, rather than continuously reworking your platform to work more like another platform.

Whenever I trash Android for these reasons, I always get “yays” from Apple fanboys. I don’t think they realize that I despise iOS more, and am sick of talking about it. There are things I like about it. I like iOS’s simplicity. I don’t like its bloat and I especially don’t like how shortsighted Apple was in regards to making their OS safely unlockable (and this goes for Android as well, to a slightly lesser degree). The bottom line is that every smart software architect knows that end users are going to hack around a lockdown feature. It doesn’t matter how the business feels about having a boneheaded wall around their precious IP and OS…someone is going to cut a hole in that wall. What you want to do as an architect is to put a door in it right where you know where it is, and put a simple lock on it. If the user isn’t the type to know what they’re doing, they’ll give up on that lock. If the user is savvy enough, they’ll open that lock exactly as you, the architect/designer, expects. That door gives them full freedom, and at that point, they’re responsible for whatever they do. If they put bad applications on their device, you offer a way to completely reload their device’s OS.

The reason I dig on webOS is that is how they designed it. The typical user isn’t going to search the web for the Konami code and type it into the universal search to put the device into developer mode. That’s the sort of geek that probably knows what they’re doing…and the designers know exactly where that door is and how everyone gets in, so from a support standpoint they know exactly what’s going on. If someone screws something up so badly that they can’t fix it by deleting an app…well, the webOS doctor is a pretty easy to use web based utility that will completely reflash the OS onto your device. And since all your (officially supported) stuff is backed up in your cloud based Synergy profile, you just log into your profile when the OS reboots after reloading, and all your stuff gets sucked down and reloaded onto your phone.

That is exactly, exactly how iOS and Android should work. If they worked exactly like that, I’d be a whole lot less negative towards those platforms. But because they don’t work that way, I’ll still use my webOS Pre 2 and my Touchpad until I can’t find parts to keep them running anymore on eBay. That recovery capability, combined with webOS’s notifications and tasking capabilities (I mean, come on, you have a smartphone, solid notifications and multitasking are two of the biggest reasons to even own a smartphone. I’d rather have a dumbphone that alerted me properly and had gobs of battery life than a smartphone that didn’t alert me well and could swap me into, say, my email while I’m in a conference call if someone in that call sends me an important email or text message with maybe a document I need to read. And if those tasks don’t exit and clean up when I want them to exit and clean up, I start throwing my phone around. Smartphones should, by all rights, work as well as my computer. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a phone that should fill in adequately for a computer in a pinch?)

For me, it’s not just hating on the two big corporations. I simply don’t find their products currently capable of replacing what I already use…and unfortunately, Android and Apple are obviously the two largest players in the mobile OS market right now. I can only hope that HP gets their friggin act together and opens webOS up to carriers (or can build localized versions that I can flash onto other carrier’s phones! And can use either SIM cards or a standard Sprint radio board? And my own hostable Synergy server that I can admin? That would be so damn awesome…sigh. That would be a path to fully owning your own data, and just paying a carrier for their data/phone service…the way it should be, and the way the cloud should work.)

Otherwise, I have to hope that Windows Phone does something no build of WinCE, Pocket PC, Windows Mobile…has ever accomplished, and that’s to make me want to actually USE it on a day to day basis. And I develop for Microsoft.NET professionally. I’d stand a lot to gain if Windows Phone were successful…but I’ve always found its user interface unable to strike that balance between functionality and simplicity. It’s always either one, the other, or it’s doing something that just shouldn’t be done on a phone. Or it’s copying some other platform…poorly. And not copying the best things about other platforms at that.

1. Q: But they’re pooping on the street! And throwing poop at people!
A: Wrong. The majority of the Occupiers are essentially really, really frustrated people who have been frustrated at the progress of government, how much of it is bought and owned by the corporations that robbed us blind. They go out there for a few hours and be frustrated with other people so they’re not frustrated AND alone.

But but but…the Fox News said so! They’re all thugs and criminals!!! I heard they want…Socialism!

Wrong. It’s true that there are a lot of street kids that have been lurking around it, but frankly, if they’re not there, they’re going to be somewhere else. That’s what street kids do. They’re going to be drawn into that sort of thing because it provides them some semblance of cover and safety to hide within a large crowd.

And as for “socialism”, no, I haven’t heard anyone asking for the government to directly take over all means of production and nationalize them. Not even the banks. I just hear people wanting the government to investigate and hold accountable the criminals who robbed all of us taxpayers blind with “financial instruments” that were used as a justification to literally grab cash, run, and let the banks holding the empty bag get bailed out by taxpayers…only to see those banks not reinvest that money in loans to small business to spur job growth. There are a few socialists that show up, but you know what? If you’re a socialist and you live in America, I’m sure you’re very frustrated with the economic climate and of course you’re angry! And there probably aren’t a lot of people around you to feel angry with, so of course you’re going to participate in those events.

2. Q: “The “movement” stands for nothing! It’s just a lot of people being angry and stuff!!!”
A: Wrong. The organizers of OWS have been working on it for over a year and a half. They have a very defined message that, as a result of how widespread this movement has been (and how it’s had a direct effect on a number of establishment candidates that are losing face over it on a local level…and this applies to those within both major political parties), everyone is trying to co-opt it, stick their people down there, “guide” the movement…whatever. They’ve had a message from the start and that message drew those people down there.

And the simple fact that our country’s policies and the number of problems we’re faced with are so numerous is going to cause a lot of those people to have very diverse reasons for being politically active…but they’re actually there for the same reason. So there IS a message and it IS a movement. Or try telling the people in the affiliated Syrian and Egyptian movements that there isn’t a message. They protested much of the same corruption within their governments. And if a Fox News person finds one person out there that doesn’t know what the movement is about…well, that’s not hard to find anywhere. If you walk down the street and ask someone for directions, they might not know how to get to where you want to go. They might give you bad directions. Some of these people are just angry. They know they’re being fucked, but they don’t know the details. They don’t know who is fucking them, they don’t know how it’s happening, but they feel that their options to apply their learned skills and abilities for income are just not there. That their country and their society failed to give them opportunities and a fair shot (and believe me, if you ever tried taking your expensive college degree that you will have to pay down regardless of the income you make, with no experience into an interview, you might understand).

3. Q: “But what is it going to accomplish? Why are they even there! Why aren’t they just content to keep working day by day, and just do okay like I have been!”
A: Here’s a simple fact: 31% of Americans are polling to be ANGRY at Government and Congress. 80% disapprove. This level of dissatisfaction has risen dramatically since two events occurred: 1. Republicans taking the House of Representatives in 2010 and repeatedly blocking all legislation created to attempt to spur job growth and mitigate the unemployment crisis. 2. The Supreme Court’s passing of an activist decision (which has been one that has been brought up multiple times over the past couple hundred years and turned down repeatedly) to essentially say that Corporations were people. Therefore they have First Amendment protections and they can slander and campaign for whatever political candidate they want without having to follow campaign finance laws. So, basically, as long as you have big corporations behind you, you can drown out your opponents message with a bunch of nonsense and win elections.

Most people, if you were paying attention, learned in junior high civics class (if you still even had to take it as I did) that it has long been known idea that if 33% of the population are actively angry at the government, that country is ripe for a revolution.

So, if you can’t figure out why those people are down there protesting, maybe you’re not part of that 31% that is actively angry. So it’s pretty obvious that either you’re doing a lot better than they are, or you are the type of person that doesn’t really mind being screwed over. In that case, I just feel bad for you, not having the sense of self-worth and pride to fight back…go out kicking and screaming…and not just ducking your heads and shuffling off in line.

If you think the OWS protests are ugly, you have NO idea how ugly a real revolution is. I sure don’t. All I know is what I’ve read in books, and I can tell second hand it’s some seriously horrible stuff.

Lastly…the left has performed little, concise, prepackaged movements for the past 30 years, repeatedly. And yet, we’re no better off for it…maybe a few wins here and there, but generally speaking, the machine just kept running the country down the drain on its own schedule, and those protests didn’t really affect very much. Even with the elections in 2006 and 2008, you didn’t need a protest to learn how wasteful the Iraq and Afghanistan wars turned out to be, nor did you need a movement to see how poor the establishment’s response was to Katrina or their inability to catch the criminal that kicked off both of those wars.

Now do you see why I get ticked off when assholes keep posting “movement for no reason” or other similar nonsense. It’s just so stupid, so ignorant…and I see it coming from people that friends of mine consider “intelligent people”. I can’t figure out why I have so many really, really stupid friends and it’s a big part of the reason I can’t stand to spend a lot of time with them. It just makes me sad.

stored in: All, Politics and tagged:

After rereading a certain person I am acquainted with’s blog again…I realized something even more fundamental:

That guy is apparently turned on and motivated by the process of organization. The simplicity of a message, or the concept. He likes a concept, a movement, to be neatly wrapped, tightly packaged, and his real interest is in that process. He likes a movement that you can put a stamp on and say “this is what they believe!” Then they contribute money to something by passing the offering dish around, and make people who don’t have an offering feel bad for being there. Then they all hear that they have to support a politician, a political measure, or one specific idea.

These sorts of “actions” have been held for many, many years. There hasn’t been a true populist movement directed from the left since the 1930’s in this country. When that happened, true, fundamental change happened. Our society changed, our laws changed, our economy changed, our outlook changed. We went from being a frontier country to being the greatest superpower in the world with those populist ideas and philosophies, no matter how conservatives attempt to rewrite history.

What motivates me is truth. What makes me take part in something is a feeling that me, with all my various ideas and beliefs that don’t precisely fit in any category can feel comfortable being with people that have a shared, singular ideal. What I like is being around people who feel free to speak that truth, to believe in whatever they believe in. Even though I don’t really want to believe in things, but rather, just know or don’t know. But knowing that people around me feel free to be free with their ideas is what inspires and motivates me. Tightly packaged, socially normed events don’t motivate me. They smell of a lack of truth, a feeling that everyone has to walk one direction and do something one way. A fear that they may be misrepresented by observers is depressing. Everyone marching in line makes me fundamentally worried that there are people there who don’t feel free, who can’t be truthful, who can’t feel that they can speak their mind and maybe, possibly contribute to a movement or an idea with their own individual ideas. Even if they’re bad ones, someone put thought and effort into them, and that’s a beautiful thing, because that idea may make the overall ideal stronger.

The New Deal is like that. It’s not one idea, neatly packaged and prepared…it was a LOT of ideas wrapped up into one. The result of a major populist movement that started in the 19th century, and evolved to become mainstream. It was a lot of ideas that were bound around a singular message: “We can’t let our fellow countrymen be ground under the wheel of financial progress.”

That ideal is still alive today, and that ideal is embedded deeply within the hearts of the Occupiers. They’re out there braving the cold to make that point. They’re out there being arrested, being harassed, gassed, and humiliated on mass media to make that point. You hit a very, very exposed nerve when you question their resolve and you question the support of those people. When you “pooh pooh” them and you’re not one of them, you’re an amazing bastard.

I like what’s in the package, the ideals that are inside the wrapping. The wrapping is a product of fear of perception, fear of those who have a vested interest in fighting your idea with misrepresentations and lies.

The media goes so far as to call all of them “trust fund kids” who “throw poop at each other” and “do drugs all the time”. It’s an obvious lie…it doesn’t take a lot of effort to hire a couple people to go out to a park and put on a little show for the camera…and even if it’s valid, it’s occurrence is only in an extreme minority of situations. But if you say it over and over and over again, eventually people begin to believe its true.

I hate lies. I hate it when people lie to themselves. And I hate it when people encourage lies like that. And when they spread those lies like “they don’t stand for anything!” “they’re all over the place!” “they’re all a bunch of thugs!”. These are out and out lies. I’ve been down there and I’ve seen all of it first hand. I work 2 blocks away. When you recycle lies over and over, they begin to become truth with a lot of people.

I’ve watched the police lie. I watched two policemen, last summer, shoot pistols at a guy who was lying on the ground behind a dumpster across from my house. The official story? The cops used a shotgun that fired beanbags, but…OOPS! They forgot there was live ammo in that gun. Maybe they shot that gun at him when he was running up Naito, I don’t know, but I watched them shoot handguns at a guy who was lying on the ground and was obviously not a threat. The detective wouldn’t even knock on my door, he wouldn’t even come up and ask if I saw anything. The entire freaking police force AND the mayor was in my neighborhood, and they all bought that lie. The first people who responded to the shooting? A police medic. Put it all together in your head. Every media organization that didn’t bother to talk to me (until a couple dropped by the next morning) didn’t even bother to interview me. I made myself available. I sat by my front door. I went outside and pulled weeds, right in front of the detective that was standing right outside my door all morning.

The point of that story? All the cops had to do to make that lie a reality was to repeat it over and over, and let the media do the job. Now, think about it: How often, do you think, this really goes on? Maybe the truth slips through once in awhile to keep us buying the line.

When something isn’t honest, it’s probably a lie. That’s just how reality vs. fantasy works. It’s the only thing in this world that is still black and white. There’s real, and there’s fake. Even if you think something is a shade of gray, if you break a statement down far enough, you’ll find some parts that are lies, and some that are true. I try really hard to keep things true, and it’s hurt me a lot, personally, over the years. I keep my feelings in the open, and when something strikes a nerve, I unload. If you’ve ever been around me when I unload, then you know what I’m talking about. But afterward, I feel a lot better…because if this is a person I’m unloading on, the remediation is that I’ve decided that person isn’t someone who possesses any qualities worth any respect. It takes awhile for that respect to come back, a lot of truth wins it back.

I wish I could just accept people as ignorant and requiring more information to make a truthful statement. I really wish I could. But when I feel like a person has reached a conclusion and has shut themselves off to that additional information, that’s when things get bad because I realize that someone I know and had previously respected has committed themselves to a lie and will most likely continue to push that lie around.

This post is going to get used to reply to anyone I feel doesn’t understand what Occupy Wall Street and its movement is about.

First things first, the media has decided for everyone that this is a left wing/liberal/progressive movement. Which is completely wrong. They have made this assumption because they feel it is easier to package it as a counter-movement to the Tea Party. Apples and Oranges, with all due respect to a certain Presidential pretender.

The Tea Party, which stands for “Taxed Enough Already”, from its very foundation was a right wing, non-inclusive, movement. Originally, it was an offshoot of the Ron Paul movement that clung harder to the idea that somehow, by not paying taxes, that everything would be better and corporations would be happy and ecstatic to fix roads and provide clean, affordable water and firefighting/police/defense services. Obviously for somehow less than we currently pay in taxes per year. Somehow.

It was co-opted by the media, namely Fox News, as soon as it appeared to have an acceptable number of adherents. Fox News’s people even would report on where the rallies would be and tell people who to call and who to get contacted with. This was sandwiched around various opinion shows that praised the Tea Party and called them “patriots”. Then, buses paid for by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s lobbying firm and PAC would show up and scoot them off to those events so the media could get great shots of how many people were angry about the Democratic Majority and the outrage of them attempting to reform our extremely expensive (to both the customers AND all taxpayers) and inefficient health insurance system.

The Occupy Movement, in contrast, is a movement that has had a very clear goal from the beginning…and even I missed the boat on this early on…it’s a protest of the simple fact that our government is more than happy to bail out an industry that basically ate itself from the inside by making risky bets on bad loans and dealing them for more than they were worth…leading to a bubble that eventually popped (and a LOT of criminals who were responsible for that bubble are sitting on that scammed money right now and not even afraid of repercussions because they’ll never happen). However, that same government can’t seem to agree on a way to help people get jobs. It won’t bail out those who lost their homes, it won’t bail out those who haven’t found jobs, it won’t even make it affordable for those people to get retrained. It just decided to stall…everything. And yes, a lot of this is the result of Republicans in Congress using the cop-out variant of the filibuster to stop anything in the Senate while attempting to pass legislation in the House that has no chance of passing (or even directly putting people into jobs…giving a rich guy a bunch of money isn’t necessarily going to convince him that he needs another maid).

The movement, in and of itself, is a protest of Wall Street corruption and how our government has apparently taken the side of the corrupt over the taxpayers that sustain it. It’s a movement that should be very palatable to both sides-Conservative AND Liberal. As opposed to the Tea Party, which was exclusive from the beginning (obviously they didn’t want anyone with the idea that maybe taxes were okay if they were used to do good things) and thus, excluded Liberals from their movement. So, we get a real movement in this country, and obviously, the majority of the people showing up are going to be Liberal because they have no where else to turn. The Tea Party doesn’t want them. The Republicans don’t want them. The Democrats aren’t seriously fighting for them. The Greens are a joke, a party for liberal, upwardly mobile urban hipsters that want to be a part of a party that helps them clean their conscience but in the end, they vote Democrat anyway to avoid making their vote meaningless. These people who don’t have any way to get their voices heard are doing the only thing they can afford to do…they’re showing up in parks and staying there and trying to get people to hear them…instead of going somewhere and dying like a lot of the rest of us seem to feel like they should do.

I respect that they’re trying to fight for something, even if it leads to nothing. But it hasn’t. It’s already shifted the focus in our government towards jobs, instead of worrying about the debt ceiling and deficit spending and austerity measures. If you put people in jobs, they have more money to spend. If they have more money, they generate more demand because they will spend it a whole lot faster than a billionaire. When you generate more demand, the economy flows faster. This is simple macroeconomics. It’s simple common sense.

This movement is NOT a purely liberal movement. There are disillusioned ex-Tea Party Ron Paul supporters who were there BEFORE Sarah Palin, and had their movement co-opted by rich Republicans that were using it purely as a political tool to regain power in the 2010 election. They’re out there too because they know this isn’t about each of those various liberal people’s ideas, it’s about fighting corruption in Wall Street and Government. Everyone has their own personal issues that they believe in, and that’s what the media is focusing in on. You’re going to have Pro-Choice people and you’re going to have people who think environmental issues are important. But they’re all there for one, crystal clear and singular reason, to protest corruption on Wall Street and its corruption of our government.

Yeah, the drums are annoying. I agree. Kids who bring those drums out are dumb kids who are trying to get attention for themselves. They think they’re the “beat of the movement” and they think that it attracts attention. But their main motivating factor is that they want to play drums in public so people look at them. It’s a purely selfish move and it’s stupid.

Yeah, it’s annoying that the movement is costing the taxpayers a lot of money in regards to police protection. However, the city makes that decision to put police everywhere, not the movement itself. The movement has people who enforce rules and they HAVE a set of rules. If people don’t follow them, they get pushed out. I’ve seen this first hand as I walk by the Occupy Portland event quite frequently, considering I WORK for one of those big banks and I WORK right next to it. (And yeah, I know plenty of other people who work for the bank that have been down there joining into the protests. When you know firsthand what some people have done to everyone else, it’s enough to really piss you off. I don’t do the whole mortgage thing and I don’t work on software that is involved in screwing people over. I just add new features for customers, and help keep the bank up to Federal Regulations, and that’s about it.)

I’ve seen people get told to get the hell out who were smoking pot. I watched them walk a few blocks down and toke up in a different park. And I told them to their faces they were fucking idiots because I could smell their smoke all the way to the street and there were cops all over the damn place. I’ve seen the Occupiers yell at people who tried to go into the camp and take pictures of people sleeping in tents. Do YOU, when you’re camping, enjoy having strangers take pictures of you sleeping? I didn’t think so.

But they’ve never been violent. I’ve gotten a lot of smiles, and I’ve told them I support what they’re doing. And if you’re reading this, I want you to do something. If you’re a guy, look down your pants. Just indulge me here, okay? If you see two things dangling under your cock, then pull your goddamn pants back up, and send me an email. Buy a box of donuts. Meet up with me downtown at the Starbucks on third and Jefferson. There’s a parking garage across the street and you can get the coffee place to validate your fare for one hour. I’ll take you over to the encampment, and I’ll introduce you to some people. They’ll be happy to see you and glad that you’re on their side. They say they represent the 99% because they feel like they do. Those who are corrupt, who ran away with all that money that was built up by the bubble, those who bought all those inflated derivatives and then got themselves bailed out, they’re making record profits right now. They’re in the 1% and they’re doing better than they’ve ever done before. The rest of us? Our salaries have gone flat, and that’s only if you still have a job. Those people out there are fighting for you. Many of them have full time jobs and are giving of their vacation days to represent you and try and make that singular message heard. Many of them are just ordinary people, just like you, who are fed up with a government that will bend over backwards to help the obscenely rich, but won’t do anything to help those who are struggling to get by. If our wage growth is going flat while the value of the dollar is going down, we’re making less and less every year. They’re starving us much more slowly. Some who don’t have jobs are being starved quickly.

Only a coward won’t fight against his own inevitable death. They’re trying to fight against that, and if you can’t see it and you won’t see it, you are either a coward or an idiot.


Anyway. This one is pure nerdery.

I don’t have a lot of obsessions, really. Honestly. I’m pretty chill, I walk my dog, I drink gobs of coffee, and I live in Portland, for pete’s sake. I’m 36, and I could only do the family man thing for a grand total of 3 months because I simply wasn’t very good at it.

That aside, this is about Mobile (surprise). I broke into the development industry fully expecting to be some sort of Java/web guy in the late 90’s. My first job? Writing software for the Palm III. Specifically, barcode scanning Palm IIIs that were for the identification and point of sale industries. And since then, I’ve made a pretty big piece of my pocket change doing mobile stuff, for smartphones before anyone called them smartphones (they were sort of called “PDA/cell phone hybrids” at the time, as I recall). Kyocera, Handspring Treos, all that jazz. It was wicked cool and I got nerdy about it, big time. Unfortunately, you’ve never heard of me because I did applications that weren’t released to the public. I moved from company to company, learning how various people in various occupations did their jobs, and I wrote applications to help them do their jobs better. In the process, I learned a lot about people and various industries, but I didn’t really get a lot of fanfare like a lot of my fellow members of the old Palm Development mailing list got over the years. But that’s cool, you can still find stuff I wrote ages ago, sometimes, sitting out on the web in various archives for that group.

And to get it out of the way, when I say “webOS”, people, I’m talking about the Palm Pre. The Veer, TouchPad, Pixi, Pre2, and Pre3. Okay? Since everyone is so caught up in the names of their hardware that they don’t know what software they’re using. It’s like how Windows runs on your PC, or for the Mac people, that “pretty colorful stuff that is on my screen when I start up my MacBook Pro that I click on and make the fun happen”.

Anyway, that’s part of the reason no one reads my blog, ever. Nor cares about my opinions. Even my best selling public app, which was a bible reader for Symbian/Nokia Series 60 and 90 phones, had another guy’s name on it. (Believe me, it was awesome though to see the downloads numbers just scroll on Handango back on release day.) I never got wealthy, I’m just comfortable middle class…but I think I’ve learned a depth and gained an understanding of this market that a lot of guys avoided (like the plague…hell, no fanfare, middling salary, no job security…I can totally understand where they were coming from).

I even was part of a team or two that made a mobile device! Windows Mobile, but hey. It was a fun (and sometimes excruciatingly annoying) project to be a part of. So I have strong opinions about mobile OSs and the companies behind them. After all, I’ve at least dabbled in all of them, and have written moneymakers in some of them (mostly ones that I liked enough to take the project). I’ve also done enterprise applications for the desktop, small business stuff, web development, services for big multinationals…you get the point.

Anyway, the whole point of this thing (~500 words in) is that the way I felt when I first used this operating system (made by Palm, owned by HP) called webOS did two things to me: It was the first time since I switched from DOS to Windows that I really felt like I had really substantially “stepped up”. Not “it doesn’t crash as much” like a lot of PC to Mac switchers say or “it’s more intuitive” or whatnot…I realized pretty quickly that the way to use this is something different. Not hunting through lists of icons like on Windows, Mac, and a lot of the mobile OSs, and not typing at a command line, but a synthesis of both approaches. But moreso, this was the first operating system I’ve ever used where everything “feels” like I’m connected to something, like I’m using a web browser and not a browser that has been jammed into an operating system that seems to tolerate it.

Instead of being concerned about “How many free bytes of space I’ve got on it”, I’m more concerned about my data signal. Because instead of storing all my crap locally, I’m storing it on a server that is locked down with my login and password. Look, no device is hack proof. If you have it on your phone, all it takes is someone to steal your phone, and they have your stuff. Works the same way with PCs. You don’t normally password protect all your personal folders stored locally on your phone or computer…even though there are plenty of apps to do so…it’s just not easy to get at your stuff.

But more than that, you don’t have to care about how many bytes you have on the cloud (unless you’ve got a limited account, of course), because that is someone else’s problem. You just put stuff up there and delete it at your leisure when you don’t need it anymore (instead of picking things to trashcan or being stuck doing long backups at awkward times because you need to scrape 100 megabytes out for something important).

And the fact that the UI is so clean and so well designed for multitouch screens (this is something that was obviously built for multitouch, unlike a lot of mobile OSs out there that look like they were originally designed for resistive screens and styli, then had gestures and the like shoehorned on top of them. This was built for the input devices, just like Windows and MacOS were built for mouse input (and not poorly shoehorned in like DOS apps tried to do frequently). This is critical stuff here.

If you design your OS for the hardware, and you do it right from the get go, you give your team a hell of a lot of acceleration when it comes to building on that OS. Because instead of throwing parts away and starting over, you’re just improving stuff. I know this from over a decade of designing applications, developing applications, coming in as the closer to finish apps, doing maintenance to build up the app…all of it. I’ve done all of that and I know the process inside and out, and how a bunch of different companies all do it a little differently (but essentially, it’s a process that is highly organic and “just happens” unless you have very strict guidelines around your process). When you start out doing something right, you’re going to be so much better off down the road that it just isn’t funny.

That’s how I feel about webOS. They got that OS “right” off the bat. Universal Search (now JustType). Microsoft shoehorned it in as an afterthought, and seriously, it sucks on Windows (and everywhere else). But it kicks ass on webOS because it was designed into it. Multitouch gesture support. webOS even pared it back because the architects felt like maybe it was too much for those who used gesture-crippled OSs (like Android was, Windows Phone, and even, yes, iOS to a lesser degree). Service based architecture. You download an interface that connects to a service, not a huge honking application that gobbles up your limited system resources, not some weird proprietary Java that runs in an emulated state, none of that nonsense. Your apps are just interfaces to services.

Did Palm get hurt by the fact that they’ve got a service based application model that relies heavily on the data network (and was only 3G to boot?) Oh HELL yes. Their platform isn’t as much about 3D rendering and processor speed on the device…it’s about the network speed. That’s why apps run laggy. You optimize apps on webOS by doing web tricks like caching, speeding up queries, optimizing backend services, and other things that, frankly, don’t rely as much on putting some “badass processor” in the machine as much as adding some more and faster memory for cache. Or beefing up remote servers. Or tweaking wifi drivers. See, the thing is, native code will always have an advantage and that’s because it’s not pinging the network to do stuff. Unfortunately, native code also relies heavily on beefier hardware to do more and better stuff, and there are just simply physical limits when it comes to powering that stuff. At some point, you just can’t progress.

But with a “cloud” device, those limits are only confined to the speed of the data network, which so far, seems to have a whole lot more room to develop. Of course…the effect right now is “it’s scrolling laggy and it sometimes stops responding”. Because it’s probably retrying to send a packet over the line because your data network dropped you for a sec, or there’s a ton of data coming through…that kind of stuff.

But the ability to multitask when the real effort is on the server? Incredible. (Well, as long as not all your apps are pulling over your data connection at the same time.)

That’s a tremendous design advantage to start out with. It just makes sense, and it’s an architectural change that is not unlike the difference between a procedural DOS application and an event driven Windows application.

And no, just because your device interprets/compiles Java or whatever doesn’t mean it’s somehow immune to the native code issue. You’re doing the work client side, and you will simply need more and more muscle over time to keep that up. It’s doing that on your device, not the server.

There are two things I’d kill for in webOS: consistent, across the board push support (eliminating polling servers and pulling saves power, reduces packet transfer in data lines, and generally is good for everyone), and the ability to roll a “mini-Synergy” server, not unlike Sharepoint or whatnot, that a corporation can install and use to manage employee profiles, updates, notifications, and all that jazz…while they’re logged into the corporate network. Obviously, it would have to be able to “convert” your phone from using your own Synergy profile to using your office’s Synergy when logging into the wifi, and it would have to do it in such a way that corporate administrators would be able to force you to use your corporate profile while you are connected to their network. Now, that may sound scary, but right now, I can’t use the wifi in just about any company I work for because if you download “bad stuff” or go to “bad websites”, the company could get themselves in trouble in a myriad of ways.

But I’d really love to not have to carry 2 phones all the time, one for work and one for home, because that work phone is usually a piece of crap that some other guy used to use.

One other thing, if Leo Apotheker is serious about the enterprise, he’s got to either support something like Mono of webOS so us .NET enterprise code monkeys can port our enterprise code easier and better integrate with our web services and the like, or he’s got to make a whole lot of easy and free (as in free) remoting applications that work like butter. I know, it’s easier to say than do, but if you can’t run the application on your device, then if you want to play in the enterprise market, you better well be able to run the app on your Windows desktop (though it would be best to be able to integrate straight through…after all, you’d then be able to cache the data you accessed locally on your webOS device, and not on your personal computer’s hard drive that might be somewhere far away and you being stuck remoting to it every time you wanted to access that data).

Anyway, that’s a lot of words there, WordPress is having trouble keeping up. In a huge, ginormous nutshell, I don’t like OS’s that don’t know what they are. I find that iOS and Android simply don’t, as Windows Mobile was, and how PalmOS turned out to be. They started with an idea, then began imitating, throwing stuff away, rewriting, hacking things in, doing things poorly, opting to “let the third parties make things better”, and in the end, what you’ll get is a big ugly kludge that will have to start over again. I’ve seen this happen way too many times. That’s why I simply don’t like those OSs. Sure, to a normal user, they do what they want them to do right now, and that makes them happy. But so did Windows Mobile, once. So did PalmOS, once. So did SymbianOS, once. As did RIM. But what OSs, on which platforms, have managed to withstand the test of time? It was Windows and Linux (MacOS X ain’t MacOS 9, not by a longshot). When they came out, they both knew what they were, and by the time they became a kludge, they had already outlasted their competition (OS/2, Minix, other Unix variants). webOS has started out with a paradigm that definitely appears to be the next stage in mobile OSs (and maybe operating systems in general, if Google’s webOS envy with ChromeOS is any indication). They’re following a steady path where they’re not feeling the pressure to jam too much into their OS all at once in order to match a competitor’s marketing bulletpoints. iOS 5, the next versions of Android…huge amount of “throw away/rewrite/start over”ness. Which will mean new security holes, new growing pains, and all that crap all over again.

I’ve seen mobile OSs die that way before, and I’ll see a lot more before I retire from this business. My advice to anyone is to get on board with the platform that makes the most revolutionary step forward that every established OS from the big players immediately tries to quash and imitate, because that new player is doing something right.

Even if the hardware is shitty. And yeah, Palm was operating on a shoestring budget. How do I know? I interviewed there in 2007. I could tell something big and cool was about to happen, but I saw an awful lot of empty cubicles and not a lot of people walking around looking smug. Not too many people drinking coffee and laughing and having a good time. Just an air of “what the hell is going on?”. This was right before Ruby joined Palm. I knew they didn’t have money…I found out later that they opted to hire a guy who was local and was asking for less cash than me with my “oh no, it’s way too expensive for me to live down there…and besides, I’ll need to relocate and that will cost me so much” line. I had solid experience for the position I was interviewing for, too, having come off a gig with GE doing stuff that only real estate agents ever saw (and never probably ever saw my name on either). In retrospect, i wished I could have worked there for the experience, but the gig I would have been working on would have been Windows Mobile software support. Ouch. Wonder if those guys are still there, and made themselves learn Novacom Linux…

So basically, that’s my big love puff piece for webOS. Of course, I really, really, really wish I could find time to write things for it. Even moreso, find a job paying me to write things for it…which is really where my experiences are my strong suit. But I can’t because dumb people keep using dumb OSs that aren’t as good because they feel like the “hardware build quality” is better, instead of buying into the potential and supporting an awesome cause.

AT&T and Verizon both came out a long time ago against the notion of Network Neutrality. They really, really want to pipe bandwidth to “special customers” who can pay for it, and limit bandwidth to those customers who can’t…primarily because it’s a revenue stream. It doesn’t matter that AT&T and Verizon are both crazy profitable right now, apparently.

Sprint/Nextel and Clearwire have both come out in support of Network Neutrality. Huge plus.

Now, let’s look at the phones. iPhone bound themselves to one of the worst Network Neutrality offenders, AT&T, and has effectively boosted AT&T’s user base considerably since that decision was made (and made them a bloody fortune on data plans). Android mainly rolls with Verizon these days after a failed attempt to revitalize T-Mobile’s network. Which has already committed a Network Neutrality offense (by blocking Skype last year…though you can forgive them since Skype does kinda sorta compete with their landline/internet access business…but not really a whole lot). Android came to Sprint with the Evo…but it’s kind of late to the game. Plus, Android is owned by Google, a company that waffled mightily on their stance on Network Neutrality, paying it homage publicly while making deals privately.

Blackberry. It’s on all the networks, and honestly, RIM doesn’t really have much to lose with Network Neutrality (and probably plenty to gain…especially if you have networks that funnel bandwidth up for their higher priced Apple and Android phones and play slowdown on their el cheapo Blackberries). HP/Palm. Palm has the same hand RIM has in regards to Network Neutrality…and they probably hurt their product line dramatically when they decided to exclusively launch with Sprint instead of picking one of the bigger networks. And then there are the myriad of Microsoft phones, most being HTC built. While you’d think Microsoft would be against Network Neutrality…they’ve waffled on it just as much as Google. Both companies have tried to play both sides of the fence because they both want their devices, partners, and sites a fair shake…but they both want that revenue stream that playing with pipes give them.

Which is why when I say that if you want to fully support Network Neutrality with your phone, you get a Palm Pre on Sprint. Or a Blackberry. But even Blackberry users don’t want to have a Blackberry anymore.

All a dogg wants to do is pay the same amount as everyone else to get the same product as anyone else. If I’m paying for data, and some other guy with a more expensive phone is paying the same amount for the same plan, I don’t want to be “motivated” to break my contract and pay penalties to get the same service that guy gets. Nor do I want my website to automatically take twice as long to load as a content heavy corporate site just because I can’t pony up for the corporate rate. It’s not about blanding down the Internet, the pipes run over public property and many of them were subsidized by our taxpayer dollars. We should at least get a fair deal out of the whole thing.

For about 8 years, I defined myself as a mobile developer. What this essentially meant was that I would take a job with a company to help them create a mobile application that would integrate with a big chunk of their infrastructure, or their enterprise applications…something like that.

I really loved developing mobile apps as a hobby, and it was even better when I could get paid a full time wage to do it. I could do something that I really loved to do AND get paid. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing the generalist development I’m doing now…it’s a very good and satisfying job. But I don’t wake up wanting to get to work like I did when I was doing mobile stuff full time.

See, I had an idea that by creating mobile apps that worked within your company’s infrastructure, I could create a means for employees to do their jobs more effectively and easily. Not have to be tied down to a cubicle or desktop as much to get at information they need to get things done. For example, you write an application that automates the process to generate some reports that you might need from time to time…you’re in a meeting, and instead of bugging some IT guy to log in and run a process manually, you could start up your app, run the automated process from the UI, and when you need to present those reports to your boss…they’re right up there on the server.

The problem with Apple and Google is that unlike Microsoft and Palm used to be when I was doing most of my work for those platforms, their commitment to the enterprise vs. the casual user is weak. They’re all about people using their phones for games, casual applications, personal stuff. But when it comes to the enterprise, the advice you hear time and again is “just make a web page and browse to it”, because you certainly aren’t going to submit a mobile app intended for internal use to Apple or Google to sell online. If you could even get through the approval process because most likely you needed to do something very, very custom. (Which is often the case when you’re doing enterprise apps like this…you’re trying to create something that no one else has done, and this usually means bending the platform guidelines some.) As for Google, dealing with that Java mess and making it hit your custom secured web services and to trust it isn’t something that a lot of companies really want to risk.

And they really don’t like exposing a highly internal tool as an external website that you can just browse to using your standard cell data network…or even wifi for that matter. They like that thing to work internally, usually through a vpn, usually with custom security and encryption…you get the point. Having an open OS that lets you easily connect within the corporate infrastructure and get access to things really makes these sorts of projects worthwhile. If you’re going to clunk around using a platform without proper functionality and be stuck coding a lot of stuff from scratch, companies won’t do it. It’s too expensive, and they can just make you sit down at the desktop or use a netbook and do the same thing. The problem with those, of course, is that you’re probably not going to be able to whip your netbook out just anywhere and do what you need to do. You need wifi, you need power, possibly…a cell phone is always connected to a data network. And it’s secure in this case if you can establish a properly encrypted connection through a vpn tunnel.

So anyway, I’ve seen exactly 1 enterprise application request for iPhone come my way in the last 2 years. And people wonder why I gave up on the platform. If I were to have stuck with what I loved doing, I’d be living on the street right now. No one is interested because they didn’t make it easy enough for businesses to work within their own security practices and develop applications quickly.

Here’s why I flack for Windows Phone and Palm: They DO let you work within those security frameworks. Palm’s webOS is open and standards based. You can put all your real business logic behind a secured web service, and write a thin client using json to make connections to those web services. While you may not have the advantage of the vpn, you at least are putting most of your serious logic off the device and making it wicked simple to build that app. (Doesn’t mean a lot of work for a poor mobile developer, but if you know something about web services, you can carve yourself plenty of work there…and I do know some things about making secure web services.)

Windows Phone doesn’t need any defending when it comes to enterprise applications. Microsoft always gets it when it comes to business needs. That’s their focus. Their stuff might not always work perfectly, their UIs are painfully kludgy sometimes…and for god’s sake…Silverlight for a UI is way too heavyweight. You don’t need freaking Silverlight to make a UI…though using WPF makes a lot of sense and incorporating Silverlight as a response to Android’s gadgets works for me. But Microsoft gets business needs. That’s really their focus. They give you a zillion and one apis to connect to and integrate nicely with their entire product line. And things do work if you follow their best practices…mostly.

But here’s the problem: I haven’t done Windows Mobile apps because people stopped buying Windows Mobile phones. I remember seeing the writing on the wall when everyone at a company I worked at 2 years ago was carrying their iPhone as their personal phone, and their Windows Mobile phone as their work phone…and they did NOTHING with their WM phone besides answer phone calls and emails. At some point, you know these people are going to get their iPhone to be both their personal and work phone, and ditch their WM phone for good. Which is sad…what you’re really looking for out of your WM phone is the ability to use a data network to integrate with your business apps and “do stuff”. It really could be used as a separate device entirely…like an always on networked device as opposed to being your “fun” phone. But people didn’t get that, and thus, I have become a web developer after a few hard false starts.

It’s hard when you’ve got 10 years and you’re looking for relative experienced senior developer salary, and your prospective employers are thinking the same…but you know bringing junior engineer web dev skills to the job and you have to make your place with your overall development experience and other edge skills. It’s even harder when the stuff you really liked to develop for has faded away. I can write all kinds of crummy apps for iPhone and Android and totally just give in…but I know firsthand that all you really get out of that is hype. You get a lot of attention, maybe a few bucks, then there are 5 other apps that do the same thing and they’re charging less for them. And you’re stuck going back to the board and starting that process again. All to eventually come away with maybe 2-3 weeks of equivalent salary that you have to claim on your taxes. It’s just not worth it.

So, basically, 8 years of my career have been splattered against the wall. Nothing personal, of course, and I’m sure that Apple and Google would love it if I gave in and just started flacking for them like all their other fanboys do. I guess I’m just not the type to fall in love with the steamroller that accidentally flattened me. So I keep trying to support the players in the market that I feel might give me a shot to get back into the game and do what I really love to do (and get paid a fair wage at it). I doubt I’m going to have the time to really devote myself to both my contracts AND developing some side app part time. So, I got to hold out hope that these other platforms that are more enterprise friendly make a big push and break through a little.

And really. I don’t think the world needs another Starbucks finder app, or iFart app, or some other silly little deal that makes all of about 6 people happy for about 3 days before they stop using it. I’d rather walk my dog than contribute app spam in order to make a few cheap bucks off people’s stupidity. I want to use my skills to actually create things that make people’s lives considerably better, not just solve minor nuisances or amuse them for 5 minutes. And yeah, I’d like to be paid to do it. Kinda need that so I can feed my dog and pay my bills and not starve to death. I don’t ask for all that much these days to do a mobile app. If I break even, I’m cool.