TracKit 1.0

I’ve shipped the first version of my new app, TracKit, today. It’s a little tool that I personally love to use.

iOS Simulator Screen shot Sep 11, 2013 10.27.39 PM

I  love tracking things, lots of things. I might even be guilty of overdoing it. I like to track the number of hours I sleep, how many kilometers I manage to get out of each tank of gas, the time I spend commuting and lots of other stuff. If at this point you think I’m weird then this app is definitely not for you.

The reason I track this kind of stuff is to be able to get a quick overview of how I’m doing at anytime, and try to optimise it. I built an iPad app a long time ago that I used for this purpose, but it was far from perfect, even for my own needs. So I never even thought about releasing it. A few weeks before WWDC when iOS 7 was announced, I was seriously considering building a new version which does the same thing with a few extra features. By the time iOS was first previewed I had already made up my mind and started building it as soon as I was able to download the new SDK after the keynote was finished.

The goal was simple. Build an app that would help me track all the crazy things I like to track, visualise my performance with a graph, and show me stats that would give me a quick overview about how I’m doing with what I’m tracking. And the result was TracKit.

I might be the only crazy person that likes to track things happening in their life, or their might be a lot of other people who also need this app. In either cases, I’ll keep building TracKit until I’m personally satisfied about it. So I have a lot of exciting features planned for the next few months. In the mean time, go get it from the App Store and let me know what you think.

button-downloadontheappstore-flat

Mobile Operators Spam Has to Stop

If you live in Egypt you have probably received numerous unsolicited commercial advertisements through SMS. This has got to be the worst form of advertising and it has to stop.

You might think that the phone numbers that receive these messages are picked randomly, or through curated lists of phone numbers like what happens with spam email, but it’s much more than that. This service is actually provided by mobile network operators in Egypt. They sell your information to advertisers to send you spam SMS based on your location, the value of you phone bills, your interests – which you are asked about when you open your online account – and other criteria. So advertisers are not only spamming you with unwanted messages, but they are also doing it through the mobile network operators, which you as a subscriber never gave them permission to sell your information or to send you unsolicited promotional SMS.

It’s not like mobile network operators are providing you a free service that they have to somehow cover its cost with an alternative source of revenue. You pay monthly subscription fees and service charges to the mobile network operator and you have the right to demand this to stop. This kind of messages should be opt-in, if they exist at all, and as far as I know there’s currently no way to opt-out of it.

In the United States, EU and Australia SMS spam is criminalised and violators may face substantial costs which has reached up to $175 in some cases for each spam SMS sent. Operators like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Spring in the US allow you to report any spam SMS you receive by forwarding it to a number. Reported spammers are then disconnected from the network and faced with legal charges.

I can’t see this being criminalised in Egypt anytime soon as the mobile network operators could easily lobby the government out of making such rules and regulations, but at least we should get a way to opt-out of it.

What are your thoughts on SMS spam. Does it really bother you? And what can we do about it? Leave a comment below.

Update

Turns out that on Vodafone you can call customer support and request to be unsubscribed from all the promotional messages and calls sent by Vodafone. This only solves a small part of the problem, but still worth doing.

Not sure if this is available on other networks or not.