Roger Stringer   About ▾

I'm Roger Stringer: a father, writer, developer, consultant, chef, speaker. Founder of TheInterviewr.

Articles Archives


Some Reviews of Haunted Empire

 

Here’s a selection of reviews that came on the heels of Jason Snell’s review, and Tim Cook’s statement condemning Yukari Iwatani Kane’s Haunted Empire…

First, we have the review by Rene Ritchie:

To be clear, my opinion is both objective and subjective. I freely admit I dislike some works that are genius and absolutely love some that are trashy as hell. That isn’t the case here. This isn’t a great book I simply didn’t like. This is a bad book.

I was sent an advanced review copy a week ago and it was arduous to get through it. I don’t have anything against the premise, gloomy as it may be. No one can deny how important Steve Jobs was to Apple and the hole his death left in the company and everyone who worked with him. There’s certainly a case to be made that Apple post-Steve Jobs is no longer the company that shook the world with Mac and iPod + iTunes and iPhone. There is a case to be made that Apple is doomed. Kane just fails to make it. Worse, she doesn’t even try.

Then, we had a review by Seth Weintraub:

The book concludes exactly how it has been prepared to conclude (sorry, no surprise ending). Apple is in a free fall (increasing sales numbers notwithstanding). Employees are leaving for Google and other Valley startups as soon as their stocks vest, if they can wait that long. Behind the scenes, morale is low and people are scrambling to find that lost sense of purpose. There is no room to believe that Apple could, in fact, have “its most innovative years in front of it”, to use Steve Jobs’s resignation words.

All of that said, I didn’t hate this book like a lot of other Apple reviewers did. I believe it is good for folks like us who often bathe ourselves in pro-Apple news and opinion to get an alternate reality that perhaps the mainstream sees more often in the 24-hour news/entertainment cycle. There were some interesting bits and, if nothing else, Kane’s view of Apple is somehow both cautionary and entertaining.

Finally, Recode has a response from Yukari Iwatani Kane regarding Tim Cook’s calling Haunted Empire “nonsense”

“For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve,” Kane said. “Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I’m happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private. My hope in writing this book was to be thought-provoking and to start a conversation which I’m glad it has.”

Somehow I doubt she was surprised by her conclusions. As for why Cook saw fit to comment, sure, it could be because her book hit painfully close to home. Or, it could be that it truly is nonsense. Reviews thus far clearly suggest the latter.

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Two Years Of Living By The Pen

 

NovoPenR4

The title of this post may sound a little misleading, I don’t actually mean the pen, which as a writer, I do live by, but I’m actually referring to an insulin pen.

Two years ago this week, I had just spent a month being miserable before finally going to see my doctor and getting a blood test. The blood test revealed that my reason for feeling so bad that month was actually because my blood sugars were 38, which in the 30 years my doctor had been a doctor, was only the second highest blood sugar she had ever seen.

That lead to a week in hospital where I received emergency insulin treatment, IVs, and quickly got over my lifelong fear of needles.1

A week later, I got out of the hospital and had learned to test my blood sugars and give myself insulin five times a day. The insulin was easiest, the blood sugar tests, took more getting used to.

Now, two years later, I still take the insulin, but it’s under control, and almost automatic. I’ve gotten to the point of knowing when my sugars feel high or low (which isn’t that often), and things are kept controlled by diet, exercise and meds.

That isn’t to say there aren’t days that are bad, I still have those… Now and then, I’ll wake up feeling exhausted, and hungry and quickly take a check of my sugars to learn that they are low, or feel the opposite and realize my sugars are higher than they should be. But those aren’t as often as they once were. For the most part, it’s a shot when I wake up, a shot at each meal, and a shot at bedtime, and my sugars stay mostly the same.

When I travel to conferences or meetings, I keep my diabetic gear in my laptop bag, and am able to check things without drawing any attention to myself. And in fact, while I don’t advertise being diabetic to people, I also don’t hide it if someone asks about it. Usually the medicalert necklace around my neck tends to give it away though as someone notices it and asks what I’m allergic to… I try to avoid saying sugar.

But I think the hardest thing about being diabetic, is that I’ve had to watch my 5 year old (then 3 year old), learn what being diabetic means. I’ve had to watch her tell me why I can’t have something while she is having it, or when she was talking to her teacher about her booster shots and saying how she doesn’t like needles, also told her teacher that “my daddy doesn’t like needles either, but has to take five needles every day because he’s diabetic”.

I, in all honesty, don’t like the fact that she’s had to learn at such an early age about diabetes, and why I can’t have certain foods. But there’s not much I can do about that, and it also isn’t good to shield your kids from things, so we’ve always been open about stuff like why sugar is bad for me, but fine for her (within reason obviously).


  1. Actually, I still haven’t gotten over that… Most days, I still close my eyes as I prick my finger or inject my insulin pen.

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TwilioCon 2013 and the launch of the Twilio Cookbook

 

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I was in San Francisco last week for TwilioCon 2013, where I got to meet some interesting people from Twilio and the Twilio community, and also launched my new book, The Twilio CookBook, which I published with Pakt Publishing.

The Twilio Cookbook was the result of months of writing on various topics related to Twilio, and covered nearly everything you can do with the Twilio API.

I was in attendance on Wednesday as Jeff Lawson told everyone about the book and officially launched it along with their new services:

  • 1600 character message limit: Previously, text messages had a limit of 160 characters, and we had to get creative for longer messages by breaking them up and including things like [1/2] at the end of the message.. Now.. Twilio supports up to 1600 characters in text messages.. This works out nicely..
  • Twilio Picture Messaging: The ability to send pictures alongside text messages is a feature I’ve been asked for by clients for a while, and having this capability is a big thing. I was actually in on this surprise as Twilio had contacted me to write a secret chapter for the book about Picture Messaging as a gift to all attendees.
  • New Developer tools:
    • The Request Inspector gives developers visibility into the HTTP requests and their responses during every phone call enabling them to identify failed and slow responses as well as showing the exact TwiML that Twilio executes.
    • The App Monitor gives developers a consolidated real time view of all errors aggregated by error type that enables them to identify the most critical error, helping them focus on what’s most important. It also gives them the ability to drill down to identify the root cause and a time series of the error to put in context.
    • Usage Triggers gives developers and sysadmins the ability to create email alerts or webhooks on daily, monthly or yearly thresholds of calls, messages or total spend. Making it easy to detect anomalous usage patterns.
    • Error Triggers gives developers and sysadmins the ability to create email alerts or webhooks on daily, monthly or yearly thresholds of errors and warning. Making it easy to detect errors before their customers.
    • Data Compliance Account and Security Settings including Limited Logging for the ability to switch the Request Inspector on/off, and enforced HTTP authentication on media URLs
  • Sip In & Out: Twilio has supported SIP in for the past year, and they’ve now launched Sip out as well for outbound calls.
  • Twilio.org: I like this one as Twilio.org helps empower non-profits to be able to use Twilio’s service for their service. Where Wednesday morning was for the developers, Thursday morning was for the community.

Finally, as part of the conference and book launch, I got to be on hand to pass out and sign copies of the Twilio Cookbook to all the attendees, which was a rush.

It was neat seeing people be excited about something I spent months making, and I watched the book table empty and get refilled several times over the two days we had it setup. I, in all honesty, have no idea how many copies I signed or people I talked to over Wednesday and Thursday, but it was great meeting everyone and answering any questions they had, ranging from what made me decide to write the book, to how I came up with the topics, to what I thought of the new announcements.

I flew home Friday morning, slightly tired, but also excited over the past week, and thinking of new ideas for the next book, as well as a few new ideas to build on. :)

[simpleazon-image align="none" asin="1782166068" locale="us" height="500" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518Da899KqL.jpg" width="406"]

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Verifying Trust

 

In the two years I’ve been running The Interviewr, I’ve needed no verification..

People could sign up and start using their accounts right off the bat..

Recently, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a couple users who have signed up, and made a ton of calls to numbers in China all in an hour or two.

This lead to rampant over usage on my Twilio account… In fact, this particular person was responsible for a cost with Twilio that was more than double what the other 2000 users have ever done in the past two years.

Both times the fine folks at Twilio have jumped in and helped get the account back up and running, but it was time to start taking action.

The first quick thing that was done.. Require all new users to verify their email addresses on sign up..

The second step.. Wasn’t quite as quick, but also wasn’t too painful..

Before anyone can create any interviews, all users who have signed up after Sunday are required to verify a phone number, using a basic two-step authentication procedure..

The user will enter their phone number, and receive a text message containing their unique code.. On the web site, they then enter their code and if the code they enter matches the code sent to their phone, then they allowed to schedule interviews.

These are annoying steps, I’ve always hated having to verify these things before I could use a web site.. But were necessary to prevent spam users.

Another step that was taken, was disabling any calling to Asia, Africa, South America, and parts of Europe.. This might be an unpopular move.. But it was necessary for the moment.. Once things have quieted down, then I can look at reactivating calls to certain countries as requested.

Currently, the countries supported are Canada, US, UK and France..

The final step added, was to activate some usage tracking and alerts.. If for some reason, a user does a higher number of calls in an hour, then I’ll get an alert.. If that user is especially a new user and suddenly starts making a ton of calls within an hour of signing up.. Then I’ll especially get an alert..

Some of these changes may prove unpopular, but in the end, they’ll also help my users have a better experience as we cut down on the users who just want to take advantage of the system..

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Thoughts on adding web apps on the Chrome Web Store…

 

I added The Interviewr to the Chrome Web Store back in July, and today I decided to look at some stats and see if it’s been worth it.

So far, it’s been worth it. I’m currently seeing a full 1/4 of our user base coming from the Chrome Web Store, so I’d say it’s been a good experiment.

In fact, adding web apps to the Chrome Web Store has been one of the items that I’ve added to my to do list when launching new web apps.

And the reason I say web apps is because this model doesn’t fit with all projects. A standard web site blog wouldn’t necessarily be a good fit as much as a site that lets users sign up and do something would be.

So when considering if you should do the same thing with your web app.. Consider this.. Would users benefit from having a good way to access my site?

Also, when I did this launch, I also set it up to allow people to log in with their google accounts via google’s open id service, so I also highly recommend combining those two steps here for that purpose.

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ChromeOS is not Android

 

The title of this post may sound strange but its true..

Now that chromebooks are in Canada, there is a noticeable problem with people who think that ChromeOS is just a desktop version of Android..

This was one comment I heard today:

The only problem with the chromebook is I can’t install APPS like Skype and FLV Players which are available on the Google Play Store and can be installed on my phone and tablet.

First of all.. Admittedly.. Being able to install the google play app on a chromebook is a good cause for confusion, but Google really needs to work on its image and education.

I love chromebooks, they have their purpose and the apps that are available work well, but there is way too much confusion going around..

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