Archive for April, 2006

Yet another phone

Hey, it’s been almost a week that I got a new phone. It’s time to get a new one. ;-)

I am awaiting this coming week the 3G Japanese FOMA DoCoMo phone “Motorola M1000” (based on Symbian 7.0 and UIQ 2.1), for a review for OSNews. Stay tuned. I have only used UIQ on emulators, so it’s time to use the real thing.

The phone has Bluetooth, WiFi, two cameras, Opera 7.5, VPN client, a 2.9″ 208×320 touchscreen, MS Office document viewer, support for many multimedia formats, and yes, it even has a real SDK for native apps (there are about 500 third party UIQ apps out there).

On other news, the 3rd season of ‘24′ sucks (especially the first 14 episodes) while the first season is so-so. The fourth season ain’t too bad (I am still on episode 11), but I still think that the second season tops them all (and if it wasn’t for the Kim Bauer sub-plot, it would have been perfect).

Cooking for Jack Bauer

You know, watching the real-time “24″ TV show it makes you wonder when the hero, Jack Bauer, finds the time to eat, drink or visit the restroom. Last night I saw one of these funny dreams. So, in my dream, Bauer just did some arrests and the place was full of cops. When I saw him, I immediately thought that he’s probably been up for at least 24 hours, so I closed to him and asked: “hey, what would you like me to cook for you? You must be starving!”. And he DID ask me for a specific food, I just can’t remember what it was he asked for. Hehehe…

QTek 9100: my new phone

Yaay! My new phone is here! A Qtek 9100 (codenamed by its OEM as HTC Wizard). I upgraded it to its latest AKU2 ROM, but I continue to have small problems with Activesync (it only connects when it feels like doing so). Nothing serious though. I also enabled A2DP/AVRCP support in it via hack that was released just today (am I not lucky or what?).

My three gripes with the phone so far:
1. Slow Texas Instrument CPU at 195 Mhz (this is a dual-cpu layout, one for the phone part and one for the PDA part. VGA Video playback is slow though).
2. No hardware “lock” button. Listening to music with the phone buttons locked and the screen off will be problematic.
3. No dedicated buttons for the “Start” menu and for “Close app” (instead of just “minimize”). T-Mobile ordered a special hardware version from HTC for their Vario product (same model as mine) with these buttons in place. I wonder why HTC doesn’t put those by default.

Other than that, it’s a really good phone and its full Qwerty keyboard is really handy.
JBQ ordered a 2 GB miniSD for me too today for usage with this phone. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

Update: QVGA WMV is unplayable. QVGA .mov, mp4 (with mp3 or aac audio) or divx .avi are fine though (encoding a widescreen movie to 320×180 DivX should playback without any dropped frames with TCPMP) . I don’t think that the WMV codecs are slower compared to divx or mp4, it’s just that the decoding libraries Microsoft ported to PocketPC (and both TCPMP and WMP use), simply suck. A more careful porting of the libs would have taken the problem away. Even 400 Mhz PXA-255 CPUs produce dropped frames with WMV QVGA video (e.g. Dell Axim X5), let alone my poor 195 Mhz TI dual-cpu.

Update 2: Mediocre reception. Just 1-2 bars, when my Linux phones get 3-5 bars.

Update 3: Inaccurate battery reading. About 10% off.

The second season of ‘24′

My friend Billy was always boasting about how good the political thriller/action show “24″, and my brother did too. I always resisted it, mostly because I couldn’t stand of Kiefer Sutherland. This season we started watching 24 on Monday nights just because we had nothing better to do, and because the Las Vegas TV show that my JBQ usually watches moved to Fridays. We started watching 24 when it was already well into its plot, around episode 7 onwards. I quite liked it, but JBQ still resists it (not sure if he doesn’t like Sutherland too ;) ).

Billy said that seasons 2 and 4 are the best, so I decided to have a look at the second season. Wow! It blew me away. It is indeed a much better season than the current one, and I am thinking that the second season of 24 is as good as the first season of “Lost”. Very intense, very fast, very intriguing. Only the Kim Bauer sub-plot was too much over the top and too draged-along as far the main story is concerned.

Oh, and [after watching season 2,] Kiefer Sutherland is hot.

Google OS

There was a post on Digg today (that was retracted/deleted later) linking on a Flickr account (which became password-protected later) with pictures of the Google OS. I believe the screenshots were authentic. GoogleOS is a modified Linux with a modified Gnome on it. Its desktop environment looked a lot how all Google’s projects look visually: bare bones.

Nokia’s S40 Engineers: Amateurs

I decided to install the Nokia S40 3rd Edition SDK tonight and have a look at its XHTML/WAP web browser. What a piece of shit. And no, I am not talking about the fact that it doesn’t have super features. I am not a feature creep. I am talking about not getting the basics right:

1. When a table is 100% width and the whole page normally should fit without ANY horizontal scrollbars on its QVGA screen, it still doesn’t fit. It seems that their calculation of their available screen resolution is off. This results on most of the sites I tried that normally fit even on a 128×128 screen to create uneeded horizontal scrollbars (when using the default setting of “Full” screen rendering). Look screenshot rendering osnews.com.

2. When changing the setting to “small screen rendering”, the browser does not behave as a media=”handheld” anymore, so it downloads the full CSS layout which is meant only for desktop browsers. For example, Slashdot looks terrible with the “Small screen” setting because the browser downloads the “screen” CSS file and not the “handheld” one. Opera gives web developers the same headaches too. In my opinion, all mobile browsers should be “handheld” no matter the mode they are in. They are running on handheld devices. End of story.

3. What a freaking waste of space. Look at the screenshot and see the 16 pixels of width of the vertical scrollbar and 24 pixels of height of the horizontal scrollbar! Lots of unused space for no good reason! The whole OS is like that actually, and Series60 is as bad on saving real screen estate too.

Now, how is it possible Nokia to have a browser out there for over 4-5 years and yet make such crucial rendering mistakes like the one described on #1? If you can’t get the 100% table width right, then you should not be shipping AT ALL. You hear this Nokia?

Let’s talk about miracles

The following is a rough translation from the front page of the generally respected Greek news and TV/Radio agency, Flash (please note that this coming Sunday is Easter for the Orthodox Christians):

“In the midday of Good Saturday, a bit after 1 PM, it will happen again at Jerusalem: the Miracle that shocks. Inside the Holy Tomb of Jesus, at the time of the Patriarch’s prayer, people will hear a loud sound and the candles will light up all by themselves.”

This ladies and gentlemen, from a major news agency. This is journalistic integrity for ya…

A Linux print dialog on Mac OS X?

I was helping Nathan tonight to print a CD cover image from within Mac OS X’s Preview application. Nathan doesn’t have Photoshop on his iBook and so we tried to do the printing via Preview. Well, it didn’t work very well on my local test because Preview is printing the PNG image rescaled all over the A4 paper and doesn’t respect the “print size” information a user can set via Photoshop or another graphics application (which is 4.75″ by 4.75″ for a CD cover).

So we went back to Preview’s printing dialog and tried to find any settings for “scaling”. And there is one. And it’s such a badly implemented option that you would only expect from a Linux printing dialog and not from a Mac OS X one. So, the scaling option is an input field that defaults to “100%”. It is a relative field, not an absolute one. So, how much percentage scaling you should input in order to get a print size of a 4.75″x4.75″ which is originated by an image pixeled at 780×780, and it’s going to be printed at an A4 paper? Go figure!

Electro-shocked by your cellphone

Some people think it’s a stupid idea to have your phone shock you instead of just vibrate or ring when you have an incoming call. Well, not if you are my father. He can’t hear well (so usually he can’t hear the ringing), and when he is arguing about politics in my village’s cafeterias (a very common and agressive… hobby in rural Greece), all of his mind is set on arguing against the socialists or communists.

I guess, a bit of electroshock will do him good. Maybe even, very good.

Invasion’s back — but with a negative twist

Last night ABC aired the 18th ‘Invasion’ episode, a TV series that came back after a 5-week hiatus. A couple of things (with apologies to my online friend Nathan who guest stars in the show):

Overnight ratings show a 2 million decline in the viewership compared to pre-hiatus episodes (about 7 million over 9.5 a month ago). This situation will have consequences in ABC’s decision to bring back the show next season or not. The whole hiatus thing and the rumors of cancellation put off a lot of viewers it seems.

The CG last night were awful. I made a forum post here and uploaded some screenshots to make my case. It really made me wonder if they had budget cuts because these scenes were really low quality.