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The unsocial phone

iPhone, for all the jesusness it has, is definitely not a social phone. The apps’s access to the network and the outside world is too crippled to allow really interesting real-time social things. Sure, it can do Facebook apps but until sync services come into full effect and actually deliver over the air sync and data push nothing is going to happen on that side.

Android, on the other hand, is everything iPhone is not. It’s open, allows full network side and proximity networks. Or will, somewhere after 1.0.
Google’s decision to ship minimal bluetooth and no xmpp on 1.0 makes sense from a platform engineering standpoint but kills a lot of the launch buzz for 1.0. No flash mobs, no meme p2p, no real life mmorg.

/mobile | edited on 2008/08/29 -- permalink, click to comment

Palm Treo Pro

Nobody cares. Really. It’s just another crappy winmo phone and it’s more expensive than an htc.

You blew it Palm.

/mobile | edited on 2008/08/27 -- permalink, click to comment

Android is coming

In the wake of the movements of T’Mo and HTC around Dream and the announcement of an A-Phone about a month from now I was starting to write about Google wasn’t making with the software. And just to prove me wrong Google drops the v0.9 SDK which actually might look like the finished thing.

The UI is definitely OK and usable both with a touchscreen and hard keys. Apple here clearly has an advantage by controlling the hardware, Android tries to accommodate all the imaginable phones and that usually doesn’t end well. It’s kind of ironic the way two of most prominent features on both Android and iPhoneOS, the browser and maps are pretty much the same on both sides. Both use a browser based on Apple’s WebKit (even higher irony, the lean webkit was seeded by Nokia) and both use Google Maps. On Android’s side using Google Maps is part of the whole google-in-your-hand approach which on the iPhone using Google Maps is underplayed. The same way, Google is pretty happy with WebKit but doesn’t go into big efforts to make sure everybody knows the code comes mainly from Apple. So, what’s actually different ? Each side plays on it’s strengths, the iPhone is quite obviously a mobile phone strapped onto an iPod while Android enables people to access the Google cloud from anywhere and eventually make some phone calls too.

At the end of the day the iPhone is much more all around polished and Android will allow a lot more stuff but users on both platforms will be starting the same browser to check gmail and google reader and find something on google maps. Gmail/Gtalk/Gcal is be better than mobileme while the iTunes experience will be excellent until someone does an app for Android that grabs music right off amazon. iPhone will sync seamlessly, Android will have a bunch of sync and push and pull apps for different and sometimes amazing things while iPhone will be stuck with an apparently crippled push service. Oh well.

I wish Google didn’t chose Java for Android. It’s just damn annoying. Google owed it to us to make things much more interesting by using something like Python or, to make things really interesting, Javascript. Relearning Java for Android is almost as annoying as learning ObjC for iPhoneOS.

On a final note, where’s search ? Palm invented 10 years ago. I pressed search on my PalmIII and it searched all through my apps. How can that not be possible in 2008 ? Apple, you got spotlight. Google, well, you are google. This shouldn’t be all that difficult!

/mobile | edited on 2008/08/19 -- permalink, click to comment

iPhone and The Others

The only operator in Portugal that’s not selling the iPhone is trying to make up for it by touting stuff like the Samsung Omnia as much much better. That’s kind of like starting with a lame donkey, slaping a red saddle on it and trying to pass it on as a racing horse.

This may seem a bit harsh but if you look closely it’s pretty much what Samsung did, they started with a pen pointer based UI, slapped a fancy front screen with large icons on it and passed it on as an “iphone killer”. This is just as true of Samsung as it is of all the other makers (still) trying to do the same 1 year after the original iPhone. The first screen looks fine and dandy and the hardware seems to actually have been designed this century (2Mpx camera, ohhh pulese) but underneath there’s the same old crusty windows mobile UI with 5x5 pixel ‘ok’ buttons and apps pretending to be a desktop. And a sad sad sad excuse for a web browser. Sad sad.

So people, this isn’t hard. Make a consistent effort at designing a confortable, consistent, quick UI. It’s not about the “touch” part, really. All my phones have been tactile so far. They have this things called buttons which I press with my fingers and they’re even haptic (which is a word I swear didn’t even exist last year). I press them to dial numbers and they go down and make a satisfying “click”. So people obviously aren’t all hyped about touching stuff.
The only ones apparently doing a reasonable effort at this are the good folks at Nokia. Instead of slaping a touch screen on their phones (why oh why SonyEricsson ??) and calling it an “iphone killer” they’re back to the drawing board working on a touch interface for Symbian S60, although I see quite a lot of penning on the early videos. Pen bbbaaadddd ok Nokia ?

So I’ll repeat, this isn’t too hard. It’s not about dialer apps with large buttons. I had that on my Treo180 in 2000. Yes, I could dial with my thumb on a touch screen on a smartphone in 2000. I could also take or reject calls too. It actually worked back then. I can remove my phone from my pocket, dial a number with my thumb and disconnect with my thumb, single handedly on any phone on the market today. It’s not about that m’kay.
Let me illustrate with something out of the laptop world. I used to only use the laptop built in pointing device only in the most dire circumstances. That was before I started using the MBP. The MBP touchpad is about twice the area of the touchpad on the pece I was using before so I can actually get a decent accuracy and on it. It’s also conductive instead of pressure based so it has a decent touch. And I can do a number of things like right click and zooming on it. So I have no reason to use an external mouse and in fact I spare myself the hassle of carrying one around. (after using the multitouch pads on recent MBPs I felt like sending mine on a long walk off a short pier. oh well, I digress)
This is the kind of detail that usually gets left out making human interfaces and it’s the kind of detail that makes all the diference.

/mobile | edited on 2008/08/17 -- permalink, click to comment


As Nokia is taking extra sweet care fixing my N80 I defaulted back to my trusty SE T68i. It doesn’t have a camera, it doesn’t play music, it barely has a screen, but for connecting people and computers to a GPRS network (3G wasn’t there yet back then) it’s as good as it gets.

I wish SE still made good phones.

/mobile | edited on 2008/08/16 -- permalink, click to comment


OMFG! I just converted to git. Why, cause setting up a svn repo is a pain and eclipse sync is just next to useless. git has the excellent feature of being totally painless to setup and allows me to work seamlessly on the laptop well way from my intranet.

/tech | edited on 2008/08/10 -- permalink, click to comment

Canon S5

Got a new Canon S5 to replace my ancient S1. The main reason for the swap wasn’t the ancient bit but the being broken bit. As far as I can tell it’s just the sensor that went bad, lens and display are clearly working but only noise comes out on the card side (btw, if anyone is interested I can sell the S1 as-is).

The concept is basically the same but brought into this century with a (real) 8Mpx sensor, the glass kept IS and was upgraded to 12x, the memory changed from CF do SDHC and the LCD is larger and more useful. The viewfinder is basically the same and so is the general usage.
One non obvious change is the body being a bit fatter as demonstrated by not fitting correctly into the S1 slot on my camera bag. Other non obvious changes were due to about 6 years of DIGIC development, the S5 as face detect which actually works pretty good to my amazement and ISO1600 which is a crappy as expected. The glass is about the same quality as the S1 (but 6-72 instead of 6-60) and shows some magenta aberration on the edges of the image on bright areas when the zoom is fully extended. Otherwise it’s all good.
The lens cover is like a reflex lens cover instead of sticking just by friction which i guess will work better than the S1.

The only annoying thing is the accessory ring changed from the S1 which means I have to buy a new adapter to use 55mm stuff. So, If anyone is interested in a LA-DC52E conversion lens adapter for the S1 (and G1 to G3 iirc) i’m willing to sell mine. It’s part of the LAH-DC10 kit (adapter+parasol), which I can sell complete.

/tech | edited on 2008/08/10 -- permalink, click to comment

TWiT 154 and MS marketing

On TWiT 154 the guys focused on how bad the mojave experiment is on changing the common (correct) idea Windows Vista is a pille of dung. They comment the whole thing is centered on how people think Vista is bad and instead of “wow, it’s actually good”.

That reminded me of a Microsoft campaign for some type of managed service or suport service where an office worker works into the wee hours of the night geting consistently more disgruntled at his computer until right at the end when he’s trying to save or print the computer crashes and he loses everything. So the main idea of the campaign is “Microsoft software is unreliable crap that will screw you at the worst of times but if you throw more money at Microsoft they promise they’ll come in and make slightly less unreliable”.

I’m sold!!!

/tech | edited on 2008/08/04 -- permalink, click to comment

Who’s the communist anyway ?

As an habit, Open Source as been equaled to communism, particularly on the USA where “communist” seems to be an insult. Let’s deconstruct that and see who the real communists are.

Communism is characterized by monopolistic entities controlled by a single head. Everyone buys from and works for the entity. There are no alternatives.
The goal of a capitalist company is maximizing shareholder return. This simply means minimizing expenses and maximizing income to yield more profit. Maximizing income means selling more at higher prices which means end game for a capitalist venture is achieving 100% market quota and staying there. Once The Company is the sole employer and raw materials buyer in that market the minimizing costs problem solves itself. Also, without competition quality isn’t an issue which also helps lowering the cost.
Sounds familiar ? It should. The end game for a capitalist company is creating a communist market where The State is The Company. All aspects of the market are dictated by The Head of The Company and competition is kept out of the market through a number of mechanisms from dumping to unnecessary incompatibility. For a case-study of nearly all the mechanisms see the history of Microsoft. If you join Apple’s story you get basically all the mechanisms, probably except murder.

Now lets look at the Open Source market. By definition, there is no monopolist entity because property must be licensed to everyone and noone can turn it back into a closed monopoly. There are no artificial technological barriers so it’s a level market. In fact it’s not much of a market at all. So where’s the market ?
In the Open Source market software is a commodity and services are the actual traded good. In the monopolist model services are also traded goods but secondary and tied by the monopoly. In the Open Source economy services, be them support, custom development or whatever the market requires, are the unique scarce resource. Scarcity isn’t generated artificially as the tools and knowledge to create services are readily available. It’s natural as service interactions are singular.
Since there are no barriers to entry the Open Source service market is a truly open market where price is regulated only by quality of work and delivery capacity.

So turns out the end goal of the software capitalist enterprise is to create a communist market and the end goal of Open Source is to create a capitalist market.
All the western states have laws in regulations in place to keep capitalist enterprises from reaching their end goal but none have laws to keep Open Source from reaching its end goal.
So, who’s the real Stalin ?

/politik | edited on 2008/08/03 -- permalink, click to comment


This is the first article on a three part series about the virtues of a programer.

Laziness in this sense goes a good bit beyond phisical laziness. I’ll demonstrate with a short story that sumizes the point.

Back in undergrad one of the unix/c course assignements was writing a program able to solve hanoi towers. The point of the exercise was learning about signals and probably IPC. I forget.
As I walked by the row of vt220s my classmates were particularly busy coding 3 page functions choke full of switch/case and if/else structures. I couldn’t help being amazed at how industrious and hard working they were. And i mean that in the worst possible way.

I got home and stared at the ceiling for about 5 minutes (undergrad!), grabed the keyboard, coded about 7 lines and it worked on the first build. Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to mess up just 7 lines.

When i went in the next day a good deal of my colleagues were elbow deep debuging a few hundred lines of spagetty code. They got there by being hard working and the wrong kind of lazy which is comonly called being an idiot.
Presented with a task they jumped right into it cause thinking is hard and they much prefered 2 or 3 hours of mind numbing coding. Also, spewing out klocs made them fell productive and geting work done.
I, on the other hand, would rather listen to a celine dion record than spend those 2 hours coding that drivel. So I Iazied out and changed the problem from solving hanoi towers to what’s the smallest amount of code that can solve hanoi towers.
At the other side of the process i ended up with a couple of for loops and a decision matrix. Got a boundry condition wrong ? Debug 5 lines. Piece going left instead of left ? Put the right decision in the matrix. How can you even consider unrolling the loops manually ? Crazy talk!

However, let’s see this from the manager point of view.
First pass: buttoned down developer working hard, weird developer chating on messenger.
Second pass: buttoned down developer still working hard, weird developer appears to be sleeping.
Third pass: buttoned down developer still working hard, other guy gone.
Next morning: buttoned down developer still working hard (debuging his own mistakes), other guy not there.

And that’s why most companies suck.

/tech | edited on 2008/08/01 -- permalink, click to comment

Kevin Kelly on the future of the web

TED published a 2007 talk from Kevin Kelly about the future of the Web that at some point touchs on my
in the beginning was the X 3 part series on how the data is really important.

Go watch it.

/tech | edited on 2008/08/01 -- permalink, click to comment
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