For the last few years, Business Insider has made a name for itself by finding a way to point out the negative implications of current technology news on Apple Inc. So, I was surprised to read Jay Yarrow's post, It's Pretty Clear That Apple Is Winning The War With Samsung, which discusses the many ways that Apple's premium product strategy is producing benefits for Apple, while increased competition seems to be squeezing Samsung in ways that hurt their bottom line.

This article is making the rounds of the Pro-Apple blogs and websites today. But it's important to stop and consider what it's saying.

The squeeze that's on Samsung results from forces at both ends of the market. According to Yarrow, "At the high end it's competing with Apple. Apple isn't going anywhere. It remains strong thanks to a sterling brand, high-quality phones, and iOS, the best mobile operating system in the world."

Apple has a huge advantage in terms of its ability to control the total user experience on the iPhone and the iPad. The strategy it uses of one coordinated hardware and software release per year is not only making device choice easier for its users; It's also allowing third-party developers the time to release apps that take advantage of new features almost as soon as they are released.

There are a lot of Smartphone users in the United States who are in denial of the difference in quality between Android and iOS, the terrible impact that practical limitations and restrictions of Android version upgrades are having on that user community, and how much the open platform and "ship it first" mentality of Google and its licensees is a major security incident waiting to happen.

Samsung cannot compete with Apple at many levels because it doesn't have complete control of the operating system on which its flagship smartphones operate. As such, it cannot optimize the low-level features of the OS for its devices. Many people look at the continued inclusion of replaceable batteries and ultra power saving modes in Samsung Galaxy devices as great features. I would argue they are not great features, so much as they are practical reactions to the limited control that Samsung has over Android's performance on Samsung's hardware.

Jay Yarrow's article also says, "At the low-end of the market it's competing with upstarts like Chinese phone maker Xiaomi and an army of Android phone makers that use Android. There's little reason for a consumer to pay a premium for Samsung phones instead of a Samsung clone."

I would personally love to see Xiaomi enter the U.S. market in a larger way, because it would give people who like Android a sense of how to market Android with panache. However, I see a lot of similarities between Xiaomi's marketing in Asia and Apple's marketing in North America, and I wonder if they would be hurt by the conclusion that Xiaomi is taking too much of a "me too" approach.

Last night's Hall of Fame game between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills was the first official NFL game where Microsoft Surface tablets were available as an alternative to printed overhead black and white photos.

Operation Gadget was one of the first sites to capture a live picture from an NFL game where a Microsoft Surface tablet was being used.

Availability of photos on the sidelines at NFL games has always been closely regulated, in order to not provide either team with a competitive advantage. So no one should be surprised that the NFL is carefully managing these tablets.

The NFL is employing Surface tablets as a part of a technology partnership announced with Microsoft in May 2013. That multi-year partnership, reportedly valued at $400 million, has resulted in the creation of a new system called the Sideline Viewing System, which is an attempt to replace printed sideline photos as well as notes and diagrams drawn on top of those photos. Although the primary use will be on the field, ProFootball Talk reported, "Teams also will be permitted to take the {Surface} tablets to the locker room during halftime to review photos with notes. During halftime, however, the tablets won't be connected to the wireless system."

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, "... several conspicuous alterations made to the company's standard tablets {were made to Surface Pro 2 tablets at the NFL's request}. The NFL's Surface tablets have had their cameras disabled and can connect only to a private in-stadium wireless network. The devices can only run a single program, which allows people to browse through digital game photographs."

The article continues, "It's not exactly a groundbreaking moment of innovation in football. The photos displayed on the tablets are in now color and arrive to the sideline slightly faster than before. The tablets also allow annotations to be made on the screen, and specific plays can be saved for later review. Other than that, there's no difference between the tablets and those binders you've always seen quarterbacks poring over."

Where we disagree with BusinessWeek's take on Surface use at NFL games is that we wouldn't call them "crippled". By making the tablets weatherproof, connecting them to a private wireless network in each stadium, and limiting them to a single app, the NFL is avoiding many of the foreseeable performance and reliability issues. It's also maintaining ownership and control of the devices to be used on the sidelines, which is going to take off-the-table the potential competitive advantages of a more open bring-your-own-device system.

The rollout of these Surface tablets raises a lot of interesting technical and league rule questions that we hope to explore as we talk to our contacts within the NFL.

My sister pointed out this article from The Wall Street Journal which says that the National Football League is making aerobic fitness a priority for its game officials for the 2014 season. This is the result of several teams in the NFL using the no-huddle offense for a large percentage of their plays from scrimmage.

According to the article, "Veteran referee Mike Carey, now an NFL rules expert for CBS, estimates referees run anywhere from 6 to 7 1/2 miles over the course of a game. This year, they'll have to do it at an unprecedented pace. Last season, teams ran 150% more plays without stopping for a huddle than they did in 2008. From 2012 to 2013 alone, the increase was 37%."

It's interesting that the article relies upon an estimate of distances run by referees that seems so back-of-the-envelope. Because so many NFL games are played in open-air stadiums, they could equip each official with a GPS-enabled device, and accurately track their movement in terms of speed, distance traveled, and so on.

Then, once they had a good data set, they could build training programs that truly prepared officials for the pace of play.

I get a lot of requests for help from people who have performance issues with WiFi networks at home and in public. It's often difficult to help because most people know WiFi like they know electricity: as long as it does what they want it to do, they don't think about it.

The MacObserver published a great article yesterday called 4 Wi-Fi Tips from Former Apple Wi-Fi Engineer. This is not a comprehensive how-to, but there is something in the article for many people who think fairly deeply about the WiFi systems they use.

Just to give one example: in the article, Alf Watt says, "Use {the} same SSID for all radios on the same network." I never knew that this mattered. I have 2.4 and 5 GHz networks in my house that have different names. Watt is saying I should not be doing this. So I will have to change this and see how it affects performance.

If you care about your WiFi networks, you should go through this article and see if you can learn something as well.

FiveThirtyEight.com, a website that's part of ESPN Internet Ventures, is one of the coolest sites on the Internet for data geeks. They constantly come up with articles that pique my imagination.

Today they published an article which says that classic rock isn't what it used to be, citing data compiled from "25 classic rock radio stations operating in 30 of the country's largest metropolitan areas for a week in June".

This is a fantastic article, in part because the author, Walt Hickey, built a scraper written in Python to compile the data from public play lists. I have to look back at this data set and get further into how he obtained it.

What I think is missing, however, is data from what gets played on Sirius XM. I think that what they play on Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl, and Deep Tracks at the very least, should be the counted in a survey like this. I think these channels are as free as possible from the "regional influence" that Walt Hickey discusses about half-way through the article.

Some people also pointed out in comments that Classic Rock isn't a genre so much as it's a radio format. They argue, while the play list changes periodically, based on "some consultant's idea of what does or does not fit this month", the constant is reptition of some timeless classic songs combined with some songs that are better considered flavors of the month.

My kids listen to Sirius XM channels like these when they are travelling with me. But they also listen to 80s on 8, 1st Wave, and Hair Nation, because I think these channels are worth playing at different times of the day. I've become a bit of a classic rock junkie in that respect.

Ted King

During last year's Tour de France, I said that Ted King Should Still Be Riding in the Tour de France because he was eliminated after finishing Stage 4 7.6 seconds slower than the required time. King separated his shoulder in last year's Stage 1, managed to finish Stages 2 and 3 under the time limit, but was eliminated in one of the fastest team time trials in Tour de France history.

This year Ted King is back riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling, and supporting team leader Peter Sagan who is a sprinter and one of the leading contenders for the Green Jersey.

Another reason for me to root for Ted King is that he graduated from Middlebury College, Kathleen's alma mater.

It's a virtual certainty that one of the favorites will win the General Classification, such as Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, or Alberto Contador. But, we'd love to see Ted King finish the race in Paris, and ride as high in the G.C. as he can.

Since the beginning of the World Cup 2014 game between USA and Germany (and again during USA-Belgium), we've seen people report issues with starting to stream the game on AppleTV and iOS.

We believe that this is an issue of the scalability of the connection between WatchESPN and the Cable Providers authentication servers.

We also believe that this backend service is called Adobe Pass, and it is used by many broadcast rights holders in North America and around the world, see What Does Adobe Pass Do, And Why is it Critical to Live Sports Event Streaming?

We were able to get authorized by Verizon to stream the game in about 3 minutes of trying, although it took two attempts to successfully authenticate.

Another alternative for U.S. users is to download Univision Deportes and try it, because they are not requiring authentication for the first round of the World Cup. Here is our guide to Univision Deportes.

We will continue to monitor Twitter and report on our Twitter feed if we hear of more severe problems.

Seven Years of iPhone

Original iPhone Box Top View

On June 29, 2007 at Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, New Jersey, I bought the first model of the iPhone that was made available for public sale. We still have that iPhone here today. My son Peter sometimes plays games on it.

I remember saying to my wife Kathleen, "Well, I'm going to go to the Apple Store and if it looks amazing, I may buy one." I ended up paying $599 plus tax for the 8 Gigabyte model.

My first article about the iPhone was actually about the problems I had activating it, I Got My iPhone Yesterday, Maybe It Will Work Today. This article documents the process of:

  1. traveling around, trying to find a store that had sufficient stock to meet the initial demand, the lesson learned that day is never go to a carrier's store on launch day if there's an Apple Store within driving distance,
  2. going to Best Buy and purchase a Windows XP upgrade because I had been using Windows 2000 Professional, and the iPhone was not compatible with Windows 2000 for syncing purposes,
  3. upgrading a homemade PC to run Windows XP, watch out for SATA disk controllers that are not natively supported by Windows XP,
  4. activating the iPhone, a process that took until 9:26pm on Saturday, due to the scalability issues that AT&T with their custom activation process for the iPhone.

A friend of mine named Mike Kreaden who works at Salesforce.com is running The Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile ultramarathon conducted on trails between Squaw Valley and Auburn, California.

I remember watching the Western States 100 on television when I was in college about 25 years ago. This is an incredibly difficult race to complete, and anybody who finishes this race once ought to go down in history as a great athlete.

Mike has been an inspiration to me in many ways since I reconnected with him a few years ago. He started a charity called Run for Amma which raises money for cancer research in memory of his mother-in-law, Champa Seshadri. It's a cause that I have supported in the past and hope to donate to again in the future.

Anybody who can hold down a big job at Salesforce.com and find the time to train enough to run the WSER has an incredible work ethic x 2. Good luck tomorrow, Mike. I hope you get the silver buckle.