BlackBerry new lease of life?

The Globe and Mail reports Fairfax injecting funds instead of buying BlackBerry

Instead of proceeding with a buyout deal, Fairfax and a group of unnamed investors – which sources say includes a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund – agreed to pump $1-billion into the smartphone maker, giving it more money to work with as it tries to arrest a downward spiral in sales and market share.

A second group, led by BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, came forward with a highly conditional takeover offer during a dramatic weekend of negotiations that also resulted in the departure of Thorsten Heins, who has been BlackBerry’s chief executive officer since early 2012.

This is probably a smarter move than to buy the company and watch it fail.

Desperate social media managers

Vice takes a look at social media engagements by large companies.

Tom McElligott, founding creative partner of the great Minneapolis ad agency, Fallon McElligott Rice, once said, and I paraphrase because this was pre-internet 1980s: I would much rather overestimate than underestimate the intelligence of the consumer. That quote really stuck with me in ad school, and McElligott became an early hero of mine. You can see some of his creative work, which includes the brilliant Rolling Stone “Perception/Reality” trade campaign, here.

McElligott was a very smart ad man. Today, many of the social media managers at large and important companies are, by contrast, not very smart ad men. To say that they regularly underestimate their customers’ intelligence would be a great understatement. They seem to believe their customers have the brain power of a baked potato.

I feel insulted each time I see blatant engagement baiting on social media. Do something smart or witty to make me want to respond.

Ditching Gmail for IMAP

Joe Kissell ditches Gmail.

Some of my complaints are specific to Apple Mail, and I did consider switching email clients. But though I’ve tried many other clients (such as Bloop’s $2 Airmail, the $10 Postbox, and Google’s $10 Sparrow), I’ve never found one that offers all the features I rely on from a combination of Mail and half a dozen third-party plugins. In any case, even a perfect client wouldn’t solve Gmail’s privacy issues, outages, and wacky IMAP implementation.

This is a very drastic move but I wonder how many others have felt the same way as Kissell.

Issues with Gmail when using Mail on Mavericks

In-depth reporting on the issues when using Mail on Mavericks with your Gmail account.

Now, here’s what’s going to happen. Mail — despite the fact that it has already cached all your Gmail messages — will download all of them again. For me, with about 321,000 messages totaling over 4 GB, that took nearly two full days, even with a super-fast Internet connection. That’s an unreasonably long period of time, and a crazy waste of bandwidth since I already had copies of all those messages! Mail actually does this in stages, and I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that at a certain point in the process, your ~/Library/Mail folder could be twice as large as it should be, or even larger. Unless you’re running critically low on disk space, don’t panic about that, because it’ll eventually settle down — but be aware that it could take Mail a very, very long time to purge all those duplicate messages and return your ~/Library/Mail folder to a reasonable size.

I swore by Sparrow before it got bought over by Google. Now I reply on Airmail on Mac and Mailbox on iOS.

UPDATE: Apple has since addressed the issues by updating the Mail app for Mavericks.

The Nexus 5 still has an underperforming camera

I switched from an iPhone 5 to the Google Nexus 4 nearly a year ago, and by far the only major complaint I had was the camera. It’s really disappointing to see that Google still hasn’t fixed it in the Nexus 5.

Nexus 5 review

Let me just reiterate this point: in the right light, with a steady hand and no moving (or slow-moving) subjects, the camera can take excellent photos. It’s actually really upsetting because it suggests the Nexus 5 is capable of so much more — particularly with macro shots. But, in situations where those three factors are not in play, you will struggle to take a good photo. That means that by the time the lazy autofocus captures your scene, your kid will have stopped making that face, your friends will have thrown back their Jaeger shots, or your pet will no longer be doing whatever hilarious thing it was doing.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins steps down

It feels like it wasn’t too long ago that BlackBerry was a major player in the smartphone market and a status icon.

BlackBerry CEO steps down as company secures $1 billion funding from investors

Today was always going to be a momentous day for BlackBerry, with a looming deadline for its proposed takeover deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings. As it turns out, the full takeover deal isn’t taking place, but the company is going to receive an investment of $1 billion from Fairfax and a group of other institutional investors as it seeks to steer a new course. That will involve some major reshuffling at board level, starting with CEO Thorsten Heins, who is stepping down to be replaced by interim CEO John S. Chen.

Should tablet apps cost more?

There are universal apps, and there are also separate apps for the iPhone and iOS. While different businesses will take different approaches, it’s always important to plan for the future when pricing your app. Questions such as “why should screen size determine an app’s value” should be asked.

The clearest example of this concept is OmniFocus, a productivity app that costs $20 on the iPhone, $40 on the iPad, and $80 on the Mac. This pricing policy makes sense at first glance. The increased display sizes of the iPad and the Mac could allow for more features than the comparatively cramped display on the iPhone — since it makes little sense to charge the same amount for a less capable product, the current system appears to be the best choice.

But the iPhone app isn’t less capable than its larger counterparts. It better supports location-based features, was the first to be updated for iOS 7, and is probably used more often than the other apps. (It’s easier to use a task list on a device in your pocket than it is to use one on the computer sitting on your desk at home.) And the iPad app is often considered the best version of the app because of its ease of use and, previously, access to exclusive features. Saying that these apps should have different prices has little to do with the apps’ functionality and everything to do with App Store economics.

badBIOS malware bypasses airgaps designed to prevent it from spreading

Meet “badBIOS,” the mysterious Mac and PC malware that jumps airgaps

Another intriguing characteristic: in addition to jumping “airgaps” designed to isolate infected or sensitive machines from all other networked computers, the malware seems to have self-healing capabilities.

“We had an air-gapped computer that just had its [firmware] BIOS reflashed, a fresh disk drive installed, and zero data on it, installed from a Windows system CD,” Ruiu said. “At one point, we were editing some of the components and our registry editor got disabled. It was like: wait a minute, how can that happen? How can the machine react and attack the software that we’re using to attack it? This is an air-gapped machine and all of a sudden the search function in the registry editor stopped working when we were using it to search for their keys.”

Update 6 Nov 2013: Some researchers are having trouble reproducing the symptoms described in the badBIOS report. Of course, since we’re still in the early stages, it’s hard to confirm or disregard this just yet.

Some insights and history of the iPad

How Steve Jobs Made the iPad Succeed When All Other Tablets Failed

iPad is an incredible opportunity for developers to re-imagine every single category of desktop and web software there is. … The bottom line is, many apps which were cute toys on iPhone can become full-featured power tools on the iPad, making you forget about their desktop/laptop predecessors. We just have to invent them.”

Lucida Grande Retina-optimised in OS X Mavericks

Tim Ahrens analysed the new Lucida Grande.