Sep
06
2009
0

I Just Make It Look Easy

Easy-to-make iPhone

Easy-to-make iPhone

A company once told me someone had offered to build permanent disability calculators for their website in three months for $7,500.  One said six months and $20,000.  Recently, another suggested it would take them a year and $40,000.  My response is usually some variation on “You’ve got to take that deal.  You’re wasting your time talking to me.”

It’s no big secret that building a great product takes a lot of work.  The important thing to remember is that just because something is easy-to-use, that doesn’t mean its easy-to-make. [1]

Real iPhone

Difficult-to-make iPhone

Let’s take the iPhone for example.  Everyone will concede its an easy phone to use.  However, it was released more than two years ago on 6/29/2007. [2]  In that time the other players – BlackBerry, LG, Nokia, and Palm have all been trying to catch up.  If this easy-to-use phone were easy-to-build everyone would have their own version.

Look, there’s no special magic to building a website like this.  Really, anyone can do it.  All you have to do is learn the calculations inside-and-out, deconstruct the math involved in the various calculations, learn some client and server side programming languages, learn a content management system, make it all work together, keep current on changes in the law, start all over again each time the law changes, and earn the respect of the workers’ compensation community.  Once done, you’ll have your very own workers’ compensation calculator website!

To return to the lesson of the iPhone, building a touch screen phone that can play music and surf the web is totally doable.  Doing it right is another matter entirely.

  1. Visit the link for a PDF of a cut-and-fold iPhone.  Thanks Gizmodo! []
  2. Wikipedia link. []
Jun
06
2009
1

MicroSoft: Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

What has the world come to when Bill Gates is sending spam?

What has the world come to when Bill Gates is sending spam?

A few days ago I posted about how to prevent spam.  That method works in most instances by allowing you to give out fake e-mail addresses.  It also works most of the time against the shadier kinds of people/entities sending out spam.

However, few methods will work that spam is coming from a legitimate source.  A few days ago I received spam about “Bing.”  This is a new MicroSoft search engine, intended to be a competitor to Google.  I’m using the term “competitor” loosely here.  This spam e-mail was from “communications@communications3.msn.com”[1]

A recent blog post on BoingBoing.net summed up MicroSoft woes.  The “I’m a PC” ads are just not as compelling as the “Mac ads” with Justin Long.  The Zune is a poor shadow of the iPod/iPhone.  Hell, Windows Vista can’t compete with Windows XP.  On top of it all, the recent public interest in cheap laptops/netbooks has made Linux an actual competitor in the marketplace.

But, stooping to spamming?  Can I really expect to be receiving e-mails about MicroSoft along with Nigerian investment oportunities, hot young singles in my area, and erectile dysfunction medication?

  1. Photo courtesy of Annie Mole []
May
13
2009
2

PDRater.com calculators for your phone!

This phone will not run PDRater calculators, but yours might!

This phone will not run PDRater calculators, but yours might!

I recently discovered that installing the Opera Mini web browser on my “smartphone” has allowed me to run this website’s workers’ compensation calculators from my phone.[1]

Since launching this website I’ve given a lot of thought to support for cell phones.  There just are not many phones that can run these calculators.[2] The glaring and notable exception is the iPhone.

Amusingly, one of this website’s users has asked for an “iPhone app” version of this site.  Seriously, you’ve got one of the few phones that can use this site and that’s not good enough for you?  (Thanks Chris!)

This is huge.  It means:

  • I can blog from the Board[3]
  • More importantly, no more bulky money charts or rating manuals at the Board!
  1. Photo courtesy of storm gal []
  2. It would be more correct to say there are not many phones that support javascript and AJAX well enough to interact with this website in a meaningful fashion. []
  3. Probably a lot more interesting for me than it is for you… []
Oct
02
2008
2

Nerds Are The New Cool

Nerds

From Uncool Nerds...

Yeah, I said it. And, I don’t care that it sounds ridiculously self-serving. Frankly, I think iTunes, MySpace, and instant messaging are to blame. These three things, more than anything else, made computers cool.

You think mechanics and handymen were always considered cool manly-men?  No way.  First cars and home improvement had to be cool. THEN the guys who fix/maintain those things became cool.

There was a day when computers and the internet were only good for word processing and searching libraries.  When these things were not indispensable, there were no real uses for nerds.  You know, besides copying their homework.

I think the first time anyone ever thought I was cool for being a nerd was when I was in law school.  A fellow law student had a floppy disk (yeah, it was that long ago…) that stopped working.  The campus tech guys were unable to do anything about it.  I asked if I could take a look – and was able to recover the data.

To Cool Nerds

...To Cool Nerds

These days a nerd can save your iPod, iPhone, laptop, recover your lost passwords, convert your files, and set up your wireless network.  They keep your computers virus free, network humming along, and your e-mails arriving right on time.

Heck, sometimes they even build online web-based workers’ compensation calculators which crank out permanent disability ratings and let everyone use them for free.

So, why not hug a nerd today?

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Huey Lewis and the News, because it really is “Hip To Be Square.”

Aug
07
2008
0

Mick Jagger on Cell Phones

As the man said, “you can’t always get what you want.” Here’s what I need from a cell phone:

  • Multiple numbers per contact
  • Multiple alarms
  • Scheduling events
  • Text messaging
  • Ability to jot down notes
  • A battery with 4 hours of talk time and a few days of standby time

My current phone can do all that. The battery life is failing, reception is spotty, and its been dropped more times than I was as a baby. Here’s what I want out of a new phone:

  1. Contacts and calendar that can synch with my laptop
  2. Bluetooth support and file access (to transfer files wirelessly)
  3. A web browser that works as well as IE7 or FF2 (Namely: proper HTML rendering, CSS rendering, cookies, and javascript support)

I know the LG Dare can handle #1 and #2, but I’m dubious about its support for #3.

I know the iPhone can handle #3 fairly well, but am dubious about its support for #1 and #2.

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