What is 2-Factor Authentication & Why is it Important?

You may have heard the term before but if you are not a tech nerd there is just as good a chance that you have not — and that is truly a shame. With hacking on the rise and people’s entire lives residing on the internet, it is more important than ever to think about your digital security.

So what is 2-factor authentication?

Simply put, 2-factor authentication (two-factor autentication or 2FA) is the technology used to gain access to a site/service/app using more than just 1 method of authentication (the most common single method being a username/password). Instead, 2-factor authentication relies on both a username/password combo in conjunction with something that typically cannot be guessed or “hacked” remotely, such as a code sent to a user’s mobile phone or biometrics (fingerprint, iris scan etc.).

Continue reading “What is 2-Factor Authentication & Why is it Important?”

Facebook Messenger vs. BBM — Why BBM Sucks

BBM was just released for iOS and Android and a number of people are quickly jumping onto the new-old messaging platform. Before you hop on the bangwagon and add to the messaging fragmentation problem, let me explain why Facebook Messenger is better than BBM.

First off, BBM sucks is a bit harsh. BBM is actually great, it’s just unnecessary and worse than messaging from within Facebook.

1. Everyone* already uses Facebook.

This first point should be obvious but many people still miss just how amazing Facebook is. Until Facebook came along, there was no platform that could single-handedly connect you with everyone you would ever want to speak with (and even some you probably never will want to speak with, but that’s okay).

Facebook Messaging allows you to instantly connect with anyone on your Facebook, no PIN required (more on that later). You can message your closest friends, or reach out to an acquaintance for a very random and specific conversation.

* there aren’t many people left unreachable via Facebook, especially for younger generations.

2. Choice

You can use Facebook Messenger, the dedicated app, or you can message people right from within Facebook. Since many people are already on Facebook throughout the day, it just makes sense to pull up the message box and start typing away!

3. No need for PINs.

Tired of updating people’s phone numbers? Adding PINs? Dealing with phone changes? No worries! With Facebook Messenger you don’t have to worry about any of that. Simply log into to Facebook on any connected device on the planet and you can pick up where you left off in conversations, instantly!

4. Facebook Messenger can be used on a plethora of devices including the desktop.

Apparently BBM will eventually be releasing a desktop application, but as it stands Facebook Messenger has an enormous advantage since the platform remains exactly the same whether you are on desktop or mobile. This is a huge benefit to Facebook. When you’re on the go, use your phone. When you are at home, however, you have the option of typing much faster at your desktop, should you choose to do so.

5. BBM will lead to more fragmentation.

The biggest problem with BBM, the thing that truly does suck, is that it will lead to more fragmentation. Facebook was slowly starting to take over as the default communication platform for many people. Sure, people still text and use iMessage, but Facebook Messenger was always a reliable backup used for connecting you to anyone — especially good for conversations that contain close friends and acquaintances.

6. Facebook Messenger has all of the features of BBM.

Read receipts? Check. Send pictures? Check. Send emoticons? Check. Facebook Messenger has all of the desired features of BBM and none of the undesired ones (like requiring PINs, gross).

7. BBM is unnecessary.

By now, you have probably figured out a fantastic way to keep in touch with your friends. Maybe it’s WhatsApp, texting or iMessage, or even better, you’re messaging through Facebook. Either way, BBM will only complicate the communication with your friends.

Please stop this fragmentation nightmare. Don’t jump on the bangwagon!

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Freemium Apps Suck | Candy Crush and Other Abominations

Candy Crush sucks - Freemium apps suck
Candy Crush Sucks

Sometime within the last year or so, freemium has taken a dramatic turn for the worse; app designers are now beginning to ditch the “free” and focus on the “premium”.

The best example is the abomination that is Candy Crush; a game that has taken freemium to a frustrating extreme. The idea is simple: instead of offering the game for free with a reasonably-priced premium version (read, full version), they make a small portion of the game available for free with many purchases required in-game to proceed. You never buy the full game, you know have to continually pay-to-play.

Freemium apps suck

From a business perspective, it is brilliant, but the users are the ones that lose out — financially. Previously, you could try out a game or app for a while, and if you liked it, you could opt for the premium version — usually priced between $0.99-4.99. Many new apps, however, are now forcing you to cough-up money at regular intervals to progress through the game and charging a dollar or two each time.

The result of this nonsense, is that many users are spending much more than before on their apps, many without realizing it. Other users, like myself, become extremely frustrated with the game, never to play it again. There’s no option to purchase the app in its entirety anymore, so you either have to commit to a continual stream of purchases or stop using the app altogether.

The real problem is this: users are spending much more money with this new freemium model, but unfortunately, there are too many users that do not realize this and add to the problem by lining these businesses’ pockets. The market needs to wake up and start boycotting these apps to prevent a deluge of new freemium apps that will drain user’s pockets.

I am personally boycotting apps like Candy Crush and looking for alternatives so I don’t contribute to this problem. Will you join me in helping to fix this before it gets out of control?

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Google Maps for the iPhone (iOS 6)

There was a tremendous backlash against Apple when they removed Google Maps from the iPhone when they released iOS 6, and for good reason. Google Maps was an extremely polished app that single-handedly justified owning a smartphone. After weeks of struggling with Apple Maps and plenty of boiling-over hatred, Google Maps was finally re-introduced on for iOS 6 and calmed the masses.

“Yes I have all the Maps in the world at my fingertips and can get directions anywhere virtually instantly. Also, it’s very accurate (unlike Apple Maps).”

The first thing I noticed was the difference in speed. It was hard to judge how much of the speed improvement was as a result of the newly streamlined app, as opposed to the difference in phone speed in general since I had just upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5. Likely a little bit of both. The speed improvements are a result of Google’s newly incorporated WebGL technologies that dynamically draw the map instead of downloading new image squares every time you zoom in.

Click here to learn more about Google Maps with WebGL and discover how to enable it for desktop Google Maps as well.

A number of new features also came with the app — features that were once available only on the Android version. The biggest feature addition was turn by turn navigation. The TomTom’s of the world are in serious trouble now, as anyone with either an Android or iOS device can now use their phone as a full GPS. I have only used the feature a handful of times but it seems to be deadly accurate, unlike the ridiculous hilarity of Apple Maps.

I am still most impressed by the overall speed of the app. Zooming in and out happens almost instantly — an enormous improvement from the old days of watching giant gray boxes float on screen while the rest of the image squares were being downloaded. Searching for directions also happens instantly which has always blown my mind. To think that Google’s servers can receive the address information, match it up with their index and automatically suggest a route which is then draw in half a second on the app is beyond me. Switching transportation methods provides new directions just as quickly (mind explosion!)

Google Maps also provides several available routes each time you request a route. This is great because you can make on-the-fly decisions about different routes if there is a reason you want to avoid a particular street or area. I never find myself choosing an alternative route though, since the route it recommends is always the best — perfectly accounting for traffic, road speeds etc.

Having recently jailbroken my iPhone 5 and downloaded the new Google Maps, I am very content 🙂

Google Maps App iOS 6 Screenshots

Ars Technica Sets the Standard for Mobile Sites and Design

ars-technica-sets-mobile-site-standardMobile is the buzz bouncing around the entire digital industry these days, whether it is web design, advertising or telecommunications, everyone is concerned with mobile – and they should be.

Now that everyone and their brother has a mobile phone, it is increasingly important to make sure that your website is well optimized for a small screen. That can be accomplished by designing your site in such a way that it dynamically resizes for smaller screens or create a separate mobile site perfectly optimized for mobile devices (usually the better alternative). Despite the importance of mobile sites these days, many companies are still far behind with horrible mobile sites, if any at all.

Ars Technica is not one them.

The Ars Technica website has always been gorgeous (okay not always) but their latest redesign easily makes it one of my favourite websites to visit. Below I have included some photos of the mobile site taken from my iPhone. Let me know in the comments below if you can think of other amazing mobile sites. I’ll add them as an honourable mention if they compare with Ars Technica.


The layout is simple, the colours balanced and the typography is brilliant. The experience is so smooth that I consistently find myself browsing through looking for new articles after I have already read everything that was posted in the last week!

Ars Technica sets a high standard for mobile web design but a standard that every website should be aiming for. As content consumption shifts to mobile devices, it is a short-sighted move not to have an elegant mobile site. Not all websites seem to understand this (ahem, College Humour, ahem) with some content being inaccessible on mobile or so poorly presented that it may as well be inaccessible.

I look forward to a bright future of awesome mobile sites that are as much a joy to use as Ars Technica.


The Future is Square: Credit Payments, Anywhere!

Square has been around for a long time, but if you don’t live in San Francisco you may have missed it. Square is a device that allows anyone with a smartphone, or device such as a tablet, to accept credit cards. The device (pictured below) plugs into the audio jack of your iPhone or iPad and after a simple approval process, you can begin processing credit cards!

What is particularly amazing about the device is that it uses the audio jack to transmit data to the device. This allows for the charging port to remain open so as not to limit device operation. All you have to do is apply for a merchant account in a much simpler way than with the big guys, buy the device, install the app and swipe away! It’s a seamless process that is now allowing even the smallest merchants to offer credit card payments.

Square is a big deal. Not just because it opens up all kinds of opportunities for small businesses, but also because it allows them to operate from virtually anywhere. No longer are are businesses tied to their brick and mortar locations – you can now find merchants walking along the street processing transactions as they go.square-credit-card-payment-future

I am particularly excited about Square because, as I mentioned previously, cash is horrible and credit is king. Although it will be interesting to see how Square pans out because mobile phone payment systems like Google Wallet are gaining steam and will soon begin to take hold. Both mobile phone payments and systems like Square will dramatically change the way we buy things and I cannot wait!

The only detractor to both of these new technologies is that they are rolling out slower than I expected. Square has been around for over 2 years and I was hoping it would have made in-roads into Toronto but it seems to be slow going for the technology. Mobile phone payments, on the other hand, are extremely new so I don’t expect full-market adoption at this stage.

What do you think? Are you as excited about these new technologies as I am?


Did Apple Just Make its First Software Mistake? (iOS 5 Battery Drain)

Thankfully, as a jailbreaker, I tend to wait before updating to Apple’s latest iOS releases until the new OS is jailbroken. Normally this can be a pain as it can sometimes take over a month for a proper jailbreak. However, this time it seems to have been a blessing in disguise as I was saved from all of the problems that have come with iOS 5.

Apple is well-known for the polish it puts into its products. It is the main reason why they implement features that have already been available on other systems long before. Unfortunately, it seems that they rushed iOS 5 to market because it has been causing nothing but problems for consumers.

The problems with iOS 5 are many but one of the major complaints has been battery life. The battery drain issue is a huge concern, rendering any phone running the OS dead in as little as 4 hours. Apple released an update, iOS 5.0.1, to address these issues but it seems they just made the problems worse.

The new 5.0.1 release has been reported to cause the same or worse battery problems, removed the ability to download apps OTA as well as various sync issues. Gizmodo wrote an article that outlines the issues consumers have been complaining about.apple-software-mistake-battery-drain-ios-5

The question is, what will Apple do? They have to act fast to fix the issue before their blemish-free image is, well, blemished. Obviously it is extremely important for Apple to test its software even more thoroughly before releasing it.

The lesson here is to try and hold off on updating – whether it be to wait for the jailbreak or just to be sure all the bugs are taken care of. Apple must be held to a higher-standard – a standard they set for themselves.

iOS Advancements Have Jailbreaking to Thank

Like a recent article in Wired points out, you should thank the jailbreaking community if you like the new features in iOS 5. Jailbreakers have been advancing iOS at a far faster rate than Apple. Of course, it is win-win for Apple as they are then able to turn around and implement identical features that have long been available through 3rd party developers – it just doesn’t seem fair to users.

Many iPhone users are in the dark when it comes to jailbreaking. Apple has made it consistently more difficult to keep your phone jailbroken – locking users out of significant customization and advanced features. For those who are unaware: jailbreaking is awesome! Many of the new iOS features, including the newly implemented notifications, camera controls and even applications similar to iMessage, have long been available to those who have jailbroken their phones. I, for one, have been enjoying many of these features for over a year.jailbreak-iphone-ios-advancements copy This video outlines some of the features that jailbreakers have enjoyed long before iOS 5.

Of course, when Apple implements these features themselves they are usually more polished and more tightly integrated, but it doesn’t make up for the delay in availability. I’ll take a less polished implementation of a particular function if I am able to use it more than a year in advance.

Many people will argue that it is best for Apple to keep a tight lid on their system to keep things simple. I certainly understand this point of view but there are ways around it. Consider implementing an extension of the App Store that contains iOS customizations. That way, individual hacks can be evaluated by Apple and they can retain control of the system that they so desperately want. Currently, they have no control over those who jailbreak and they are essentially forcing users to do so by offering them no alternative.

I have two things to say in summary:

  1. Apple should be more open so that users do not have to go through the trouble of jailbreaking just to enjoy advanced functionality developed from 3rd parties.
  2. Jailbreak your phone! Give me a shout if you need help. It can be a bit of a process but it is easy to find someone (like myself) who knows how to do it but it is totally worth it! It is definitely one of those “you don’t know what you’ are missing until you have it” things.


No iPhone 5, but the iPhone 4S is Still Awesome!

iphone-4s-siriA lot of people are upset that after months of build-up, Apple failed to release an iPhone 5. I understand why some people would be disappointed but – the iPhone 4S is awesome!

Although I find certain things about the iPhone 4 annoying (like the lack of openness, in an open source world), it still remains the best phone on the market to this day. Well, until October 14th that is.

Yes, we all expected to have our imaginations shattered with Apple’s announcement the other day. The iPhone 4S is certainly an incremental improvement but a large incremental improvement at that. This is one powerful phone! The real question though, is if all those improvements did not warranty a “5”, then what will? I am truly excited for the next innovation that Apple will see worthy of the name “iPhone 5”. Who knows, by then it might be known as something else entirely.

What was particularly interesting in the pre-conference build-up was how sure many were of the iPhone 5 rumours. Some case manufacturers even went as far as to make cases for the non-existent iPhone 5, and some people are still buying them!

It is always a big gamble to try and predict what Apple will do next. Despite the “evidence” that travels around, the truth is that no one ever truly knows what they will do next . . .


Google Acquires Motorola!

Google Acquires Motorola for AndroidI previously posted about Why Google Should Acquire RIM but it seems Google had a different hardware manufacturer in mind: Motorola.

This morning Google announced that it will be acquiring Motorola for $12.5 Billion. This is an unprecedented move by Google but one that was likely to happen at some point. Interestingly, as I pointed out, Google CEO Larry Page said the acquisition was largely to equip themselves for the ongoing patent wars they have been fighting.

It was interesting that they decided to go after Motorola instead of RIM but it makes sense: Motorola devices already run their operating system. They’re just doing a little vertical integration and upping their patent protection in the process. It will be very interesting to see what happens now that Google is also a hardware manufacturer.

Hopefully they won’t make Android exclusive to Motorola hardware but at this point I cannot see that happening.