Archive for January 2022 - Page 1


    Twitter: 15 Years Later

    Happy Twitter Anniversary,

    2007 was a big year for everyone technologically, but a lot of other things happened that year for me as well. Some of these items include:

    I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at how those events have had an impact, mostly on me, but on the wider technology world. I did not initially think about writing this post, because it did not occur to me, but in reality it should have. That topic is Twitter, so let us start with Twitter early on.

    Twitter logo from 2006 to 2010

    Early Twitter

    Twitter is not that old in terms of social networks. In fact Twitter itself is almost 16 years old. The first tweet written by twitter c-founder Jack Dorsey was written on March 21st, 2006. Twitter began as a service that you could use via text message. In fact, this was why Twitter was originally limited to 140 characters, to take into account any sort of difference in cellular carriers. The idea was to publish what you were doing while out and about, via text message, and then read what others had written on the web. Twitter starting in 2006 meant that this was before the iPhone, before smart phones becoming common place, and definitely before unlimited data on cell phones. However, this was right when many had unlimited text messages, so it was a good time to start such a service.

    Twitter started out as a place that comprised of mostly people into technology. This is because the service was shown off at South by Southwest, which is a combination technology and music conference. Twitter was conceived in the era of text messaging. This meant that Twitter was designed with text messaging in mind, and therefore was limited to 140 characters, which is the same as many SMS services provided by carriers.

    I happen to join Twitter on January 28th, 2007 at 7:59pm, so just about 15 years ago as this is posted. The time I signed up is well before the service really took off. I heard about it from Justine Ezarik on a podcast, and she was talking about the service. She has been on Twitter since July of 2006. Once Twitter had started to become popular, it began to encounter some issues. In particularly, Twitter had some issues with scaling and early twitter users remember, sometimes fondly, the 'Fail Whale".

    Twitter Fail Whale

    Twitter has since improved on this and the times that twitter has failures are few and far between these days, but it still does happen from time to time. Typically it is due to a larger problem, like DNS issues, and often affects many sites not just Twitter itself.

    Early in twitter's life you could send and receive tweets via text message. This was a great way of interacting with the service while on the go, because some users did have unlimited texting plans, particularly after June of 2007 in the United States. This is because a new device, the iPhone, was finally available for sale.

    The iPhone increased the desire for third party apps. While there would not be any official app support until 2008, that did not stop people from creating apps.

    Third-Party Apps

    As mentioned earlier, Twitter was also accessible via text message, but Twitter has always had a website where you could see your timeline, send tweets, and send direct message to other users. The website was primary method of using the service early in its lifetime. While Twitter's popularity was increasing over 2007 and 2008, it was not until the official release of the iOS Software Development Kit, or SDK, that third-party clients began to be created.

    While the web interface was the most popular way, there was a contingent of users who wanted to use Twitter while on the go and on their iPhone. In order to accommodate this desire, a bunch of third-party twitter clients were created.

    Om Malik had a blog post from December of 2008 that had a number of the third-party clients. Having looked at this list there were some that I completely forgot about.

    The ability to have third-party clients were made possible through Twitters APIs. This is because Twitter itself did not have its own app and actually wanted developers to create applications to access the platform. Some of the other early Twitter available at the time included:

    • Tweetie
    • Twitterific
    • Echofon
    • La Twit

    I remember purchasing Tweetie and using that for a while. Tweetie was such a good Twitter client that Twitter acquired Tweetie in April of 2010 to be used as the official Twitter client.

    While the early days of Twitter thrived on third-party Twitter clients, the service changed over time to put a lot more emphasis on the official Twitter app. Lately though, that approach has changed again that allows third-party to build comparable clients. No, they are not feature for feature the same, but many of the things that used to be exclusive to the official Twitter client have now become available for third-party apps to adopt if they so choose.

    Clients and services are not the only things that have changed, my usage of Twitter has significantly changed over the years.

    My Usage

    Twitter has changed significantly over the years, both visually as well as how I use it. Twitter initially began as a way of posting things about my day, Over time though that has changed to be more of a place where I get my news. That is not to say that I do not use Twitter for communicating with certain people, I definitely still do use it for that, but it not the primary focus.

    As time has gone on though, I ended up building some friendships with those on twitter. Some of those that I have followed early in my time on Twitter I still follow today. Beyond this, I have built up some friendships with those on Twitter. Some of these relationships are more recent than others, but none are more important than others.

    Conversely, with Twitter being around so long there have been those that are no longer around. Some because they passed away, but also some left of their own accord due to harassment, or just due to non-usage.

    In the early days of Twitter it felt a lot more like a giant group chat. The is because it was primarily used by early technology adopters, so you would be able to keep

    There are two features that came about organically, but are absolutely essential on Twitter today. These are mentions and retweets. Mentions on twitter were easily done by putting someone's twitter handle somewhere in the tweet, typically at the beginning. If they were following you they would see the fact that you mentioned them and would be able to respond. Eventually Twitter added official support for mentions and Twitter would not be the same without them.

    Early in the life of twitter you could easily be a Twitter completionist, meaning that you would read all of the new tweets from everyone that you followed. There are some that still do this, but even I no longer do this. I do have a list where I try to read every tweet, but sometimes that is too much and I ma not able to do so.

    My usage has significantly shifted, particularly within the last few years. I used to be on Twitter a lot more than I am now, constantly interacting and keeping up with the latest developments around the world. Recently though, my twitter experience has been more of a "pop in see what is going on and pop out again". It is no longer my "go to" when I pick up my phone or use my computer. I am not sure why this has changed, but it has.

    I have spent a lot of time talking about the early days of Twitter, let us look at where Twitter is today.

    Twitter Today

    Twitter Logo 2021

    Twitter is no longer primarily a place for just people interested in technology. Now it encompasses a whole range of interest in topics and Twitter has definitely become more mainstream.

    If you can think of a topic of interest to yourself, I am sure you can find people who share the same interest. This could be something like the NFL, College Basketball, current news, video games, a tv show, or just about any topic, there is a group interested.

    Each social network has its own unique function. Twitter's function is where you can find information about breaking news. Some of the information may not be 100% accurate, but there is a lot of accurate information surrounding the news as well.

    Mentioned earlier is that Twitter began to move away from supporting third-party clients and instead opting to focus on their own app, to the extent that there was a great disparity between what features offered to third-parties and what the official Twitter app was capable of offering. The disparities were not just because third-parties did not implement features, but because they could not do so.

    Within the last year, at least as of this writing, Twitter has begun changing their stance on third-party clients and has started to offer a whole new API that provides many of the same features that are available in the official Twitter app. There are still some things not offered to third-parties, but this is slowly changing. I suspect there may eventually be feature parity between what third-party apps can offer and what the official Twitter app has, but it will take time.

    Closing Thoughts

    I am not on that many social networks. I have a Facebook account but I hardly use that anymore. I also have Instagram, but I just view stuff on there and do not post a lot. I also have a Mastodon account and have been trying to use that more, but I do not have many people that I follow, nor that follow me, on there.

    I do not have TikTok, nor Snapchat, nor any others. Twitter is by far the social network I use. It's the one I have used the most and also the one that I get the most benefit from. As mentioned earlier, I have built up some really good relationships through Twitter, some of them are local, but most are not. It is not likely that I will stop using Twitter anytime soon, but it is possible that the way I use it may change, but only time will tell. You can, of course, follow me on Twitter if you want.

    Twitter header for @waynedixon as of January 28th, 2022

    Windows Vista, The Turning Point: 15 Years Later

    Windows Vista with Start Menu Showing

    There are times throughout our lives when particular years tend to be more important than others. For me, one of those years was 2007. A lot of things happened that year, at least for me technologically speaking. Some of these include:

    • Announcement of the iPhone
    • Windows Vista (this article)
    • Purchase of a 21.5-inch iMac
    • Bought the original Apple TV.
    • Bought a 4GB original iPhone
    • Purchased a Black 13-inch MacBook

    Over the course of the year, I will look back at each of the events fifteen years after they occurred. Each of the posts will look back at my thoughts, and what has happened in the intervening time.

    The first one, previously covered, was the announcement of the iPhone. It was a significant turning point for me in terms of phone platforms. There are instances where a new device can bring complete joy, awe, and inspiration. The original iPhone was that.

    However, the iPhone was not available for sale until the end of June 2007. There was a other pivotal, at least to me, item that came out on January 30th, 2007. That product, was Windows Vista. Now, you might be confused given that I only use Macs, why I would be talking about Windows Vista. In fact, Vista was the catalyst that caused me to switch to the Mac.

    If you were steeped in technology or even tangentially aware, Windows Vista was not the best release of Windows that Microsoft has released. Vista was an operating system that was released five years after its predecessor, Windows XP.

    Windows Vista made some significant changes, like User Access Control, or UAC and Encrypted File System, and including support with the Trusted Platform Module, or TPM.

    Windows Vista About box

    Windows Vista to this day still has the reputation of being one of the worst, if not the worst, version of Windows every released. While it did improve as the years went on, it could not outlive that reputation of not being a good product.

    Along with these was a new Windows Display Driver Model, or WDDM required device driver manufacturers to re-work their device drivers. However, many drivers were not optimized for Windows Vista. Because of these non-optimized drivers, the device drivers would crash constantly, like every 5 or 10 minutes, without fail.

    Windows Vista Orb

    This caused nothing but headaches because the entire system to basically be unusable. The system would not blue-screen, but with the graphics drivers crashing consistently, it would not allow you to effectively do anything on the computer.

    I cannot be 100% certain what I did to mitigate the issue. If I recall correctly, I think I ended up changing the theme to be the basic theme, which would disable the advanced graphics features and would allow Vista to actually run. Even with this mitigation in place, I think this entire event put the seed of doubt in my mind about whether or not to continue to use Windows.

    It turned out, that less than two months later, in March, I ended up buying the 21.5-inch iMac, but more on that closer to the time that I bought the iMac.


    Thoughts on Microsoft Announces Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

    Microsoft Acquires Activision Blizzard

    Today Microsoft announced their intention to acquire Activision Blizzard in a deal worth $68.7 Billion, all-cash deal. This is a huge acquisition for Microsoft for a couple of reasons.

    First, because Activision Blizzard is the maker of some of the most notably franchises around, including Call of Duty, Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Pitfall, and Guitar Hero, just to name a few. This is a huge get for Microsoft, and the Xbox in particular.

    The second reason is that these franchises are already big on Microsoft's platforms, Adding the catalog of games to Microsoft means that even more games to Game Pass could easily entice even more subscribers to use the service.

    Along with the announcement today, Microsoft also announced that they had 25 Million Game Pass, and as John Gruber pointed out, at an average of $12.50 per month, comes out to about $4 billion per year, and that is just the current subscribers.


    Even with the announcement there are some uphill challenges to overcome. These include regulatory pressure and Activision Blizzard culture issues.

    Regulatory Issues

    Today's political landscape could prove challenging for Microsoft to get approval for the acquisition. That is because governments are looking at every acquisition, particularly in the tech sector, and they could stop the acquisition. One thing that Microsoft does have in its favor is that if the acquisition were to go forward, they would still be smaller than Sony and Tencent. One thing that would be in favor for the acquisition is that it would keep the United States competitive with Japan and China.

    The second, and bigger, challenge is the culture at Activision Blizzard. There have long been indications that Activision Blizzard has had a problem with sexual harassment and discrimination, to the point where the Security and Exchange Commission is investigating.

    In order to help change the culture, Microsoft is making some changes to the leadership amongst the gaming unit. Here is a graphic that they produced showing the changes.

    Microsoft Gaming Leadership Team - January 2022

    What you might notice is that among the leadership there are seven women and five men. This should help change the culture at the Activision Blizzard, at least that is the hope.

    We will see if the acquisition is blocked or allowed to go through or whether it will be blocked. If it is approved, I hope Microsoft cane make some major changes to fix the issues at Activision Blizzard.

    Source: Xbox News, Microsoft News


    The iPhone Introduction: 15 Years Later

    Original iPhone

    "Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything". When someone states something like the previous quote it is often seen as hyperbole. However, in the case of this exact quote, it was quite prophetic and not hyperbole at all. Although it would take a bit of time for it to catch on.

    This is the opening line to a keynote that introduced a device that would change the way that people use technology. The keynote was for the MacWorld San Francisco that took place 15 years ago today, on January 9th, 2007.

    I have not been lucky enough to attend any of Apple's keynotes. Instead, I would watch them at home. I distinctly remember feeling that this would be a different one, and indeed it was. As Steve Jobs stated, "Today we are introducing three revolutionary products, A Widescreen iPod, Revolutionary mobile phone, and an internet communicator…Are you getting it, these are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone".

    Apple introduced the iPhone well before it was to be on sale. The iPhone did not go on sale until June 29th, 2007. The rationale for announcing it so early in order to avoid any information being leaked. Jobs even stated as much in the keynote. For years there had been rumors that Apple was building a phone. In fact, Apple started by making a tablet, but they could not get the technology to scale properly, so instead they turned to making a phone.

    Was the iPhone the first Smartphone, no, that would likely go to the Palm or Blackberry. Yet, the iPhone has indisputably been one of the most popular lines of devices ever produced. The introduction of the iPhone sparked the modern cell phone revolution. Many of the paradigms and interaction methods introduced with the iPhone remain to this day, including swiping and pinch to zoom, just to name a couple of examples.

    The iPhone not only changed the way we interact with mobile devices, but it also brought a much more prevalent and larger revolution, the mobile app revolution. Again, the iPhone was not the first to have apps, but it was the device that help usher in a new digital economy. While it is entirely possible to use a mobile device using only the provided applications, it is very very likely that every smartphone user has installed at least one additional app to their phone.


    At the time of its launch, there were many who did not think as though Apple could pull it off. For instance, Nokia's Chief Strategist at the time, Anssi Vanjoki stated:

    The development of mobile phones will be similar in PCs. Even with the Mac, Apple has attracted much attention at first, but they have still remained a niche manufacturer. That will be in mobile phones as well.

    Another example is from Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he said

    We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.

    The last example is from Research in Motion's Co-CEO of Blackberry, Jim Balsillie,

    It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.

    At the same Macworld event Steve Jobs stated that Apple was hoping to sell 10 million iPhones in all of 2008, which would have been one percent of the overall market at the time. It took Apple just over 74 days to sell their one millionth iPhone. Apple did reach their goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, when they sold 6.9 million iPhones in their 4th fiscal quarter, alone, which was from July to September 2008.

    Personal Journey with iPhone

    As for my own personal journey with the iPhone, that is an easy one. I did not buy an iPhone on launch day. I actually waited until the second day, June 30th. While there was definitely less fanfare that day, it was actually probably better because I was the fourth person in line when I went to get mine. I can clearly recall the delight of being able to use a whole new type of cell phone. My Motorola Razr V3 was still a great phone, but the iPhone was different.

    Since that day, I have only had an iPhone as my preferred mobile device. While I would prefer not to give up my iPad, if I had to choose only one device between the iPhone and the iPad, I would choose the iPhone every time. My iPhone the device I use the most. It is usually not more than a few feet away from me at any point throughout the day. The iPhone has come a long way in the last 15 years. Will the iPhone last forever, no, nothing ever does. But I am sure it still has a long life left in it.

    We now have many things that were not present on the first iPhone. Things like Copy and Paste, Multitasking, and vastly superior cameras and even video recording capabilities. The original iPhone did not even have 3G capability, that would come in 2008 with the release of the iPhone 3G. It is strange to think that the iPhone that begun the entire journey of modern smart phones can no longer be used as a cell phone. Even its four successors, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S will no longer be capable of being used more cellular connectivity as of July 1st, 2022.

    While there are many who prefer to use Android-based phones, they cannot argue that the iPhone is the device that pushed Google to create Android. I do not think that today's modern technological landscape would be nearly where it is today if it were not for the iPhone. It was, and remains, a truly revolutionary device that has transformed an incalculable number of ways that we do things. It will be interesting to see the next 15 years of the iPhones life will be like. It is possible that the iPhone may be a secondary market and something else may take over.

    Original iPhone as compared to an iPhone 13 Pro Max

    You can watch the full Macworld keynote on YouTube.


    Reading List for December 2021

    2022 is now upon us, so that means it is time to provide the list of books that I read/listened to in December. I did not listen to a bunch of holiday-themed titles, only two, both of which I have listened to previously. I did listen to a total of 17 titles. 12 of the 17 were first time listens, or approximately 70.58%, which is more than two-thirds and the highest percentage of new listens in a single month so far.

    Out of all of the items listened to, I would recommend "The Apollo Murders". It is a good murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Plus, it's written by an actual astronaut.

    If any of the titles pique your interest, be sure to click on the link to bring up the information for the book.

    Disclaimer: The links below will provide a bit of a commission if you purchase anything.

    Title Author First Listen
    The American Civil War (Great Courses) Gary W. Gallagher Yes
    Years that Changed History: 1215 (Great Courses) Dorsey Armstrong Yes
    Hornet Flight Ken Follett No
    10 Women Who Ruled the Renaissance (Great Courses) Mark Tufo Yes
    The Great Escape Paul Brickhill No
    Genesis Ken Lozito Yes
    Pale Blue Mike Jenne Yes
    Dusty’s Diary Bobby Adair Yes
    Freedom’s Fire (Freedom’s Fire Book 1) Bobby Adair Yes
    Freedom’s Fury (Freedom’s Fire Book 2) Bobby Adair Yes
    Zero Day Code: A Novel of the End of days: a cyberwar apocalypse (Book 1) John Birmingham Yes
    Fail State: A Novel of the End of days: a cyberwar apocalypse (Book 2) John Birmingham Yes
    The Apollo Murders Chris Hadfield Yes
    A Very Scalzi Christmas John Scalzi No
    The Christmas Train David Baldacci No
    Starship Grifters (Rex Nihilo Book 1) Robert Kroese No
    Forerunner (AI Fleet Book 1) Isaac Hooke Yes
    Total   17

    Previous Reading Lists: