Successful Tech Ecosystems, Part 1: Apple

Fifth Avenue Apple Store

I’m a fan of Apple. Not the kind of fan who will wait overnight in a line to get the latest gadget, but one who enjoys using their products and has a genuine affinity for how effortless they are to use. Say what you will about them (they’re losing their innovative edge, they have made some questionable design decisions, their products aren’t customizable enough), they are among the few companies who have truly created a solid technological ecosystem for their users, which in turn has created a fiercely loyal following of customers who aren’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.

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Converting UIView to UIImage for iOS Apps

Recently I was updating an iOS app and found myself needing to set a background image on a UIButton. Easy enough, except that each image needed to use an existing image asset used elsewhere in the app, which needed to be centered on top of a gradient background with a border. While I could have easily made another couple of images that had the background/border treatment baked into the image, I chose to “make” new versions of the images by placing them inside of a UIView, which had the necessary border and background treatment, and converting the UIView to a UIImage that I could use as the background for the UIButton.

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Dislike: A Case Study of Horrible Customer Service

Dislike

Dear Facebook,

It’s been 3 weeks. 21 whole days. Over 500 hours. Yet the technical issue I inquired about (and have been checking in on) has received minimal attention with no resolution in sight. It has caused me to realize the importance of good customer service and technical support, which I have not even come close to receiving from you. Also, it has shown how bad experiences are the quickest way to lose the trust of your customers.

And with this saga dragging on for three weeks now, I have developed a theory:

You [Facebook] noticed that I was removing a large number of users from my page, and flagged my page so I couldn’t do any more cleanup of suspicious users.

Allow me to explain…

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Social Privacy: What You’re Really Sharing

Big Brother is Watching You

Did you know that your Tweets are delivered to the Library of Congress, which archives them for historical purposes? Or that Facebook tracks and receives data about you when you visit any website that uses their platform, even if it’s just a social plugin? Or that Google not only collects your device information, but may also log its location, search queries, and all kinds of telephony information including calling-party phone numbers and the time, date and duration of the calls?

If you’re like me, you may have suspected social websites track you and your information, but not with this level of granularity. You have also probably never bothered to ever actually read the privacy policy of any of these sites (which, by the way, are freely available to users).

I recently took it upon myself to read through the privacy policies of the “Big 3” social sites: Facebook, Google, and Twitter. In the process, I’ve gained a better understanding about what information is collected (personal and non-personal) and how/where it’s used.

I have also been appalled by what I have learned. And I think you will be, too.

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Cookie Monsters

Laptop and Cookie Plate

Do you like cookies? I’m not talking about the kind of cookies you eat. I’m talking about browser cookies — those little pieces of data sent from a website and stored in your browser. While they’re often necessary for keeping track of useful information that helps create a good user experience, they can also be used to track users, which is sometimes cause for concern.

Recently, I became curious to find out how many cookies some of the most popular websites create for a single user. So I decided to test the top 10 most visited websites.

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