Friday, June 28, 2013

Playbook users...

Patrick Balleux

Blackberry Playbook nuclear blast!

This morning, Blackberry announced that their super-duper-2-year-old tablet , the Playbook, will not get the latest and greatest OS BB10!

This is a really bad move from Blackberry, this is a nuclear blast to the fan base that were waiting, and waiting, and waiting...

The Playbook is a great device, the OS is not that bad. The ecosystem is the main issue. No major apps, errrrr, I mean no apps at all. The 4th most downloaded free app is the "Bible"... Basically, the Playbook has been a fancy media player and browser for the last 2 years. The only major update was when they added email/calendar support a year ago.

But the nuclear blast is not that the Playbook is now considered obsolete by the users. It's not that some people have paid +450$ on launch day and never got a decent tablet for the price. It's not even about the fact that the Playbook never got a good integration with the Z10 and the Q10.

The main issue is broken promises!

Loyal fans were promised many things in the last year by Blackberry. The motto of a Blackberry Playbook user is "Have faith!". Never got Skype, never got Netflix, never got BBM, never got BB10, and so on.

This morning, announcing that the Playbook won't have BB10 is telling the users that the tablet is now obsolete. Some have even bought the Z10/Q10 in hope of having a good integration between their phone and the tablet like iPad/iPhone users do. Not going to happen...

Blackberry was predicted to disappear last year, but they manage to survive and do a come back with their new BB10, Z10 and Q10. That's all they have now. Loyal fans are pissed off this morning, at least those who bought the Playbook. All it tells us is that Blackberry cannot be trusted to deliver...

Imagine that they would announce a new tablet in the next few weeks. A better, more powerful device, with amazing features. Would you buy one? I wouldn't simply because they have proved in the last two year that they cannot deliver their promises. Would I buy a Z10/Q10? Nope! Simply because I would be worried that the device, on a 3 years contract could go obsolete before I reach the end of my contract.

The Playbook is still a good enough device to play movies and browse the web, read emails, you know, basic stuff. But that's it! Don't think about doing some work on it, compose music, create arts, manage your server, play the latest and greatest games. Devs have already stopped producing apps for the device. Blackberry users are looking towards Android/iOS/MS devices...

Blackberry does not understand that users want "integration" between their devices (phone/tablet/tv). Assuming that tablets will die in the next 5 years maybe true, but until then, tablets are the "THING" that everybody wants. Especially those having a smartphone.

Bets are now opened as to BBRY will survive the end of the year. Trust is a major selling point these days. And Blackberry lost it.

Patrick Balleux

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eventz on A tool for event organizers:

If you are an event organizer or planning any kind of events, you can easily promote it to using a special page that does not required a GPS enabled device.

Visit with your computer and add a new event that will be located using the postal address of the event.

Make sure to validate that your address will be perfectly located on Google Maps before submitting.

Basically, you need to input the name of the event, and the amount of days left before the event ends.  The address will be used to locate the geo-location of the event (Latitude and Longitude).

Hope you like it!

New feature at Eventz

A new feature was added at, Eventz!

You can now add events to Crombz and see what is happening in your area.

Simply select a type of event, provide a name and indicate the ending event date (in days).  The event will be added to and be visible for people visiting the app in a 100km radius.  Events are display from the most recent post to the oldest.

It's an easy way to promote your Garage Sale, your party, your concert or whatever!

Visit with your smartphone, enabled the GPS access and share your events in your area.  It`s easy, it's free, it's fun!

Looking for love in wrong places?

Feeling lonely or adventurous tonight? Someone in Facebook has contacted you recently and shows some possible interest in your personal profile? Be careful, the net is full of holes and caveats that you can fall in. If it's too good to be true, IT'S A TRAP!

Nevertheless, you're saying "Mind your own business, old man!", I'm much smarter than Larry... Yeah, right...

Keep in mind that scammers are trained professionals and they know how you get you into deep trouble. Until you realized what happened, you'll wonder why you're bend over, pants down...

Okay, enough bad jokes and back to a more serious post. Here's a few tips that may help you detect a scammer sniffing your butt (ahhh, again, I couldn't resist).

- If someone wants to be your friend and you never heard of that person, there is something fishy going. In general, you'll get new friends on the net because they are at least friends with one of your friend...
- A nice looking lady that just opened her Facebook account a few weeks ago is really suspicious. More if she has only one photo, no history or posts and only guys are friends with her.
- Anyone asking for your password, whatever the reason is after more than a good friendship.
- Money is never, never, never free and falling from the sky. Any promises related to money has a big pink elephant painted on it saying "I'll get you!"
- When a web page is asking to verify your password, make sure that it's legitimate. A simple look at the URL at the top of your browser often reveals misspelled known websites like "" or "".
- No major social network will shut down your account if you don't "Click here".
- Misspelled words often indicate text translated thru Babelfish. That means that your new friend does not speak your language.
- Profiles showing no picture are a big no-no!
- Shortened URLs shared in a chat room often leads somewhere else.
- There is no way to make money really fast. You have to work hard and for a long time. Or win at the lottery, official ones...
- If webcam sessions are involved, you can be pretty sure that it will be recorded. If it's showing on the screen, you can record it. Believe me, I spent 5 years on WebcamStudio working on that feature.
- If the new friend's webcam is broken, but next time, a new one will let you see... IT'S A TRAP!
- Profile picture are rarely taken by a professional. Be suspicious if everything is looking perfect, like in a magazine.
- A girl normally has female friends also, not just male friends
- If a girl is proposing to move to Skype after only 5 minutes of chatting, something's wrong. In general, they'll want to double-check if you're a creep and know a bit more about you.
- Always add at least 20 pounds when profile pictures only show the face.
- When a girl "nearby" wanna chat with you, don't get all fuzzy in you head. They can figure out your location by the IP address you are using.
- Nobody has a picture of you on some random weird website.
- Nobody has heard about you and publishing rumours about your sex life.
- A "Check this out!" means "Pull your pants down!"
- Be careful with comments in forums, saying "I agree" with some links below it.
- Check the link destination before clicking it. Simply hovering your mouse over the link will show the real URL at the bottom of your browser. Otherwise, just copy the link, and paste it in a simple text editor to reveal the website destination.
- Shared pictures in a PowerPoint will get you more than you were expecting in your computer.
- You don't need a downloader, your browser can do the job.
- Any email ending with numbers like can be suspicious... Not always, but people will generally use their real name or a nickname that seems to mean something. A sexy email address like also shows promises for troubles.
- If the new friend says that he/she is a friend of one of your friend, validate with your friend. You'll thank me later...
- Anyone claiming that you have an amazing smile after a few minutes of chatting is after something more than friendship.
- Basically, if it's too good to be true, it's a trap!

Now that you have been warned, be careful. Follow those tips and you'll avoid troubles most of the time. But remember, scammers are really smart people, just having a really bad habit of framing people...

Patrick Balleux

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Enough scam!

On the Internet, scam is everywhere... One dude try to by contacting me on my Twitter account. I did a little googling on his account name and found a few infos to track him down.

Share this picture everywhere, for everybody to be aware of this guy!

Patrick Balleux

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Universal Access is being lost!

10 years ago, the web was a way to get information and data on your computer without having to deal with software compatibility and media format compatibility. Browsers were racing to be compliant with the latest HTML version, plugins (Flash) were used to provide a universal media access.

Before that time, our computers were limited by the installed operating system, meaning that a software running under Windows XP wasn't available for OSX and vice-versa. Oh, yes, there were Linux users struggling on their side also. But the web was accessible by all of them since major browsers were (and still are) available on all platforms.

From a simple web page used as a blog to a full blown word processing, the web was transforming into a gigantic app repository, providing solutions to replace native softwares. One example is mail client like Outlook Express or Eudora that were completely replaced by web mail clients, where no configuration was required.

Then something happened... Mobile devices appeared 5 years ago, slowly but surely replacing the old PC for daily tasks such has managing emails, calendars, chatting and media consumption. For the average user today, a computer is not even required as smartphones and tablets can do 99% of their daily tasks.

The thing is that these new devices are locking their users to their ecosystem in some way or another. Universal Access is getting lost without us noticing it. Major apps are available on every device (mostly), media are well supported on each of them. Where are we losing the universal access?

Currently, there are 4 great device families: Apple, Google (Android), Blackberry and Microsoft.

Each of them have an app store, a video store, a music store and some specific services to each brand. Buy a movie on iTunes and you can't easily view that movie on your Samsung. Buy music on Google and you can't easily listen to your hits on your Blackberry Z10.

Of course, you can copy your files on a computer and transfer them from one device to another. But let's face it, most users won't know how to do it thus creating a way to lock them in. It's not a big deal as users do not move from one brand to onto their that often, but Universal Access is being lost nevertheless...

There is now a new trend emerging slowly: extending native brand apps/services to other brands. Messaging services is a good example. Discussions about having BBM (Blackberry Messaging Service) available on other iOS and Android are popping up everywhere. The same goes for iMessage for BB10 or Android. Only Google seems to have taken a step further by providing Hangouts on iOS and on the web for other brands.

Wouldn't it be easier to to have a universal protocol/format to implement messaging services, compatible across all platforms. Oh wait, it was already done by using XMPP... What happened? The new trend is to get your brand app/service on all devices instead of using a universal protocol that every app can implement. If you device does not support Hangouts/BBM/iMessage, you're out of luck!

Imagine that SMS would be deprecated by cellphone providers. This means that there would be no way to send a short message to your friends if they don't have a device compatible with the service you're using. We would have to fallback to emails as we were doing 10 years ago.

If you rely on BBM, you can only chat with your Blackberry friends. If you are relying on iMessage, then only your iOS friends can be reached. The same goes for Hangouts or Skype (Microsoft). Lucky SMS are still available but I wouldn't be surprised for its disappearance in the next few years with all those messaging services replacing it on mobile devices. Then, we'll be stuck, having no universal messaging system... Oh yeah, emails should still be there, I hope...

Are you thinking Facebook as an alternative? Not everybody has an account and not everybody wants to use it has their main messaging service.

Universal Access is being lost, slowly but surely. We'll have to make sure that our new device will support the most common services used by our family and friends, like we did, 10 years ago...

Patrick Balleux

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fighting Crime with Crombz

A new feature was added today to the project

Crimez will let you see how many times a category has been reported in your current area (around 1 km radius).  Also, you can see a world wide report for each crime category.  When you're looking for appartment or a new house, have a look at Crimez on before making your decision...

Crimez is relying on users to populate it's database.  Of course, at this time, the database is quite empty and awaiting for your input to provide other users a general overview of the criminal status of your area.  You can report only one a day (to prevent abuse).  If you reported a category by mistake, just write to CrombMaster on Twitter with the current location (longitude,latitude as seen with the Compass button) and date/time of the report.

Note: Screen capture is showing a few numbers as an example.  It is not the current status of my actual location.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Revolution, everybody wants one!

Revolution is a word mainly used to describe the impact of a new product when released.  It seems that the whole blogosphere is expecting any new product to revolutionize the whole world each time.  The automobile, the telephone and the Internet have revolutionized the world.  Mainly because nothing existed before their time.

iOS 7 is currently criticized for not ring revolutionary.  Of course it's not.  The same goes for Android or BB10.  Changing the looks, adding new feature, increasing performances are simply an evolution of the product, not a revolution.

The iPhone was a small technical revolution and a big social revolution.  Since then, just evolutions...

- Android: simply another OS
- Tablets: Simply big iPhones
- Google Glass: a really small tablet or smartphone holding on a pair of glasses

Those other products have had a great evolution in the last few years.  Really cool features, really good looking, easy to manage and new formats.  But nothing that would compare in terms of revolution to:

- The computer
- The Internet 
- The WIFI
- The mobile Internet access on any device (almost)

Those are real revolutions in a technical point of view.

In the last few years, nothing really changed since the arrival of the iPhone.  Tablets are just big iPhones, Android is just another operating system, NFC is just another WIFI, Z10 is just another smartphone.

Each of them is an evolution, not a revolution.  Some have more interesting features, better good looking, easier to manage.  To each his own.

Is iOS 7 will revolutionize my world?  Absolutely not!  It a nice EVOLUTION of a product I bought.  Same goes for the next Android for Android users and the next BB10 for BB users.

As the Unkown Pirate said: Drop the "Rrrrr"!

Monday, June 17, 2013 Updates, updates, updates!

The new social network was updated today with some nice features.

  • Optional Login is available for more features
  • Each cromb (message) can be approved (likes, +1, etc...)
  • Newz is showing Top Cromberz (logged account only)

In the last week, photo upload was added when posting a new message.  Some bugs were fixed and if you load on your mobile device (iPhone, Android, maybe others...), you'll see the background reacting to your movement to provide a pseudo-3D effect.

You can still view with your computer (works great with Chrome), but you'll only be able to see and post messages that are near your computer.  To really benefit from, you must use a mobile device that has Internet access everywhere (a.k.a: A Data plan).

What is Crombz

Crombz is a new kind of social networking.  Instead of exchanging with the whole world, you interact with other users in your area.  The idea is simple:  Post a cromb (message) at a specific location (like the bus station) and anyone can see that message only at that specific location by accessing
It's like writing on any places what ever you want, without destroying anything.  Make the world, your own blog!

If no crombz (messages) are available at your current location, you can see if some other crombz are nearby.  The "Distance" will tell you how far is the closest cromb.  By clicking on it, you'll see which direction to take (assuming that your GPS Compass is pointing to the North).

There are already Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter, why another one?  None of them let's you post a message anywhere in the world.  They let you tag yourself at businesses and POI.  With Crombz, you can even post in the middle of the ocean (if the Internet access is available, of course...).

The "View Area" is around 11m in radius.  Walk around, post anywhere, leave your mark on the world...  

Share with your friends!  Start early and be the "Top Cromber"!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

iOS 7: Borrowed or natural evolution?

In the last few days, since iOS 7 announcement from Apple, you can read everywhere that the new look and the news features were basically stolen or borrowed from competitors. That may be true or that may be simply a natural technical evolution in the world of mobile devices. I personally think that it's a mix of both.

A smartphone, as it is currently designed, is a device that let's you access apps using a list of icons, displayed in a grid. iOS, Android, BB10 and Windows 8 are all inspired by this basic interface.

Starting from this interface, composed of touchable icons, you will eventually generate new concepts that will overlap in design and features. Take a 1000 designers and ask them to make the best looking interface based on this kind of display. There is a good chance that all good designs will look similar in one way or another, even if these 1000 designers never knew what the others were working on. A good idea will always be a good idea. Is it impossible that two persons may have the same idea at the same time? Definitely!

Of course, designers are human can be influenced by external factors. Fashion trends may influence the colour palette to use. An old 3D look will eventually be transformed into a flat one, until it gets old again and revert back to a brand new 3D look. Customers asking the same things over and over again will eventually provide some inspiration. You know, with time, trends come back...

- Flat is now good looking. We seen 3D looking GUI for so many years now that anything else looks better. Remember when people wanted 3D everywhere, even on a 2D display? Flat is now "THE THING"!

- Moving background, basically borrowed from Android. Not exactly. In Android, you can have a moving wallpaper. iOS 7 is providing a way of having contextual moving background. The weather app is using this feature perfectly, creating a visual effect that is amazing. Moving background have been existing for many years, on Windows or on Linux. The idea is not new, but having contextual moving background is quite amazing.

- Notification Center and Control Panel, also borrowed from Android. Have users been asking for a long time for a way to control their iPhone without having to go into settings? Jailbroken devices have had some solutions and Android devices have had that features for a long time. So what should Apple do? Never implement it and be accused of not listening to their users or create their own implementation and be accused of borrowing? This one is easy to answer...

- Look and Feel looks like Windows 8. Not at all. Apple followed the new trend: flat, colourful, simple. As Microsoft did, as Google did, as Blackberry did (?). In a few years, the new trend will be 3D, dark with less graphics elements, or whatever...

Some features were borrowed, others were asked by users and many were planned years ago, before any bloggers started ranting about who cheated the most. Do you really think that Apple, Google and Microsoft released a new design that was created just a few weeks ago after seeing a screenshot leaked on the Internet from a competitor? Those designs were planned for many years and they probably all had the same vision of what would be great based on what has been available for a long time. After 3D, there is Flat. After Flat, 3D will come back.

I'm currently working on I'm not much of a designer but thought that having a semi-transparent panel over a colourful background would look nice, different. I did that design a few weeks ago, a few weeks before the release of iOS 7. While watching the WWDC, I realized that Apple did the same thing, having a transparency on the display "to give a sense of depth". Was I influenced by a leaked screen capture? I don't think so as I don't recall having seen this concept from them.

I simply came up with the idea by looking at my iPhone display and realizing that the background wallpaper was hidden completely by the panels and icons in my interface. I'm pretty sure that Apple had planned that design way before me. They didn't borrow from me (I surely hope) and I didn't borrow from them. I just had the same idea, the same vision just by thinking about it and trying to see how to make it different.

The only thing that is worth talking about is how each company is implementing a concept. Shouting that the concept was borrowed, stolen or copied doesn't make the original the best... In the end, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry are trying to provide the best to their users. If they don't, they'll disappear!

Patrick Balleux

iPhone disabled for the next 40 years? Here's a fix!

A friend of mine sent his iPhone 4 for repair to change the broken glass display. His iPhone never was synch with iTunes on a computer and he doesn't have a SIM card. Basically, it's an advance iPod Touch.

When he got his hand back on his best friend, the display was showing that the device was deactivated for more than 22 millions minutes... That more than 40 years, 43 to be exact in his case. Only thing that could be done was to make emergency calls and that's it!

After reading on the web how to bring back the iPhone to life, there was basically two solutions:
1- Connect to the iTunes computer that is the main controller of the iPhone and the lock should clear itself.
2- Put the iPhone in DFU mode, erase and restore the whole device.

Since his iPhone never was associated with an iTunes computer, the only thing to do was to completely erase it and restore from iCloud. Technically it would have worked, but would have taken a lot of time.

So I figured that the clock of the iPhone was off by 43 years (we are in 2013) bringing the "current" date of the iPhone to year 1970. Then it hit me.

Often, devices and computer have a starting date set to Jan, 1st 1970. Everything is calculated based on that starting date. Since the iPhone had to be disassembled to replace the broken glass display, surely the battery was removed, thus resetting the internal clock to 1970. Since there was no SIM card in his iPhone, it couldn't sync it's clock with the 3G network or even WIFI.

The solution is quite simple. I just put my own SIM card from my iPhone into his, waited a few minutes until the time would show up on his iPhone. And voilà! It was working again. It does not need to connect to the provider's network, only detect a 3G network and that's enough to sync the internal clock.

As I said it took a few minutes until the clock was synced. I even rebooted the iPhone to force things to happen. I eventually pressed the two volume buttons at the same take, taking a picture to trigger an event in the iPhone. By taking a picture, the iPhone does need the time to timestamp the image. At the same time, the clock did synced. I'm not sure if it's a coincidence and the clock would have been synced eventually, but the result was there.

After, I just entered the pass code to enter the iPhone and all was working as expected. I got my SIM card back into my own iPhone and has a very happy friend!

So if your iPhone is deactivated for the next 40 years, this is how you can reactivate it without having to erase and restore.

Hope that it will make you happy too!

Patrick Balleux

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And now,!

What is  It's a website, it's a nice place, it's for vloggers.

Of course, Youtube contains so many videos that it can be hard to find good vlogs.  Crombz is filtering and searching Youtube to find amazing people vlogging about anything and everything.

While exploring HTML5, CSS and Javascript, I wanted to create a place where it would be easy to find great videos about amazing people.  That's how I got the idea of creating this website.

Viewers can explore and discover new videos and new vloggers each day.  A Top 10 list is available to find out who's trending and recently, a Featured Vlog was added to the available features. is built using HTML5, CSS and Javascript with a backend in PHP.  The goal was to create an interactive website using some advanced features of HTML5/CSS by creating a 3D carousel to show the videos.

If you visit the website with a mobile device, you can swipe the 3D carousel from left to right to scroll thru the available videos while exploring the latest trends on Youtube about vloggers.

Some vlogs are share over the official Twitter account ( where a community is slowing building around Crombz and it's sub-site.

Not into vlogs?  Have a look also at:

Each of them is dedicated at their own niche videos from Youtube.

Thanks for sharing those links with your fans!