Archive for June, 2006

Sony Ericsson W810i Walkman Phone

So, my new phone is here (it arrived from Hong Kong in less than a day!) and the review will be going live next week.

I was astonished to see the stupidity of the Sony Ericsson’s hardware division though. While their software division seems to have their head screwed on (the UI is remarkable), the hardware division guys needs a kick in their nuts. Why? Read on.

About a year ago Netfront 3.3 was pushed as the new default browser in all new Sony Ericsson phones. The old native SE browser in version 4.2 had made quite a few strides and it was rendering pages pretty well (sans most CSS and JS of course). But carriers now require CSS and JS, and so either Opera or Netfront were the only alternatives at the time that could deliver these technologies (Obigo’s and Openwave’s versions were not as fully-featured at the time).

Basically, SE did the right business decision to move to either Opera or Netfront. Anyways, they chose Netfront (remember that Sony has a good relationship with Access.co.jp). Here’s the problem though: the old native SE browser was a small, lite browser. It didn’t do much and so it wasn’t memory hungry. Netfront can do 100 more cool things, but it requires more MEMORY to do them. But the geniuses at SE’s hardware division did NOT give Netfront enough memory when they designed their new phones. Instead, they were STUPIDLY thought that “if the old browser could run in 1 MB of RAM, so should Netfront”. MY A$$, a$$holes! STUPID hardware people who don’t understand software. God damn it. I hope you are f*cking reading this!

As a result, even OSNews’ mobile front page, does not always fit in the memory of the new SE consumer phones! Netfront chokes at around 29 KB of overall data (code+pictures+text)! Think that if you try to load CNN or Slashdot or Digg, your browser will choke long before even starting rendering any useful text! You will be lucky if you get the logo rendered too.

Such a pity. Cause it’s a beautiful phone, great software, being raped by the hardware f*ckers who don’t want to spend an extra $2 per phone to add some memory and make the web experience acceptable.

I hope that who ever took that decision, OR overlooked Netfront’s needs GETS FIRED ON THE SPOT. Seriously.

Putin kisses boy on stomach

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday stopped on a walk through the Kremlin to speak to a young boy before lifting up the boy’s shirt and kissing the astonished youth on his stomach.

How little the westerners understand of eastern culture. While it is not something you do in public, the kissing of a child’s stomach represents parental love. But on a western news site, you are probably going to get some pederasty undertones…

On other news, I put one of our laptops for sale. Additionally, while completing the first month of my diet, I’ve lost ~7 kgs so far.

Who’s afraid of the wind of change?

Peace was closer earlier this morning:
The rival Hamas and Fatah movements agreed on a plan implicitly recognizing Israel, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday after weeks of acrimonious negotiations aiming to lift crippling international aid sanctions.”
and then, in the afternoon, all hell broke loose:
Israeli troops crossed the border into southern Gaza early Wednesday in a campaign meant to secure the return of a soldier kidnapped by Palestinian militants over the weekend, the Israeli military said.

I find it extremely fishy that in the news of potential peace, Israelis make such a major attack. Many no-names have been kidnapped or killed in the past, with much smaller concequences. If I was a political analyzer (I am not), I would say that the Israeli goverment wants the war to continue for some peculiar reason…

Three remote controls review

I posted a review of three remote controls over at TuxTops. The universal remote is really cool. It makes our living room look really high-tech. And I am excited that the XP Media Center remote controls also work easily via lirc and mythTV under Linux.

Next week I am preparing one more review for TuxTops (about a Bluetooth GPS receiver), and a book review for OSNews (UI design). There’s a good chance (it’s not for sure yet) I will also be reviewing the Sony Ericsson M600i for OSNews in the first week of July. This phone is using Symbian 9.1, but with the brand new version of UIQ, v3.0. UIQ 3.0 uses a completely redesigned and modern UI on top of the Symbian kernel compared to UIQ 2.1 which I reviewed 2 months ago.

Update: Ok, I am in a huge dillema as to which phone I should order for the review: M600i, K610i or W810i? Help me decide!

The K610i has UMTS, 2 MP camera, a vga video-call camera, Netfront browser and A2DP support. But it has a low-res screen, no FM radio and a Memory Stick Micro slot (while I already own a 2 GB Memory Stick Duo Pro card that I can’t use with that phone).

The W810i has EDGE, 2 MP camera, FM Radio, Netfront browser, the “special” Walkman media software preloaded and it takes Memory Stick Duo Pro (so I can use my card with it). On the downside, it also has the same low-res screen as above, no A2DP and no UMTS/video-call.

The M600i has UMTS, QVGA touchscreen, keyboard, A2DP support, Opera browser and some Office software. But it has no FM radio, no cameras whatsoever, it uses the Memory Stick Micro slot that I don’t want, and I hear that it’s still somewhat unstable (being the first UIQ 3.0 device in the market). And even if it’s the only smartphone in the list, it still doesn’t come with WiFi or VoIP SIP support. But at least you can load native apps in it, while on the other phones you can’t (only java apps are supported on the other two phones).

These models only have a $60 price of difference, so price is not the problem. Features is. So, which one should I order for the review?

SVGA resolutions down to 12%

OneSTAT released their PR regarding monitor resolutions, just as they do every year. The SVGA resolution, 800×600, is now down to 12% among internet users. Some will say that this resolution is not significant anymore, but in my opinion, 12% is still 12%. And the fact is, that larger resolution web sites means more trouble for mobile browsers. And given that most sites don’t have autodetection or a mobile web site, this makes browsing even more difficult for mobile users (”breaking” many nested tables it’s very difficult job for a mobile browser).

More over, KDE/Gnome developers and third party devs are not careful anymore for most of their apps to fit on SVGA (when calculating the height of two 24-pixel taskbars and the window manager height). The “About me” and the “Gnome keyring” preference panels for example, don’t fit.

Music and its effect on me

There are some songs that stand out so much more than the rest… Some of them, I just love them for their rhythm and melody (e.g. “Gimme Gimme Gimme” by ABBA or “Unchained melody” by the Righteous Brothers), for others I like them for their lyrics (”What it’s like” by Everlast or “What a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong or “Guilty Conscience” by Eminem) and some few ones, for the memories and thoughts they bring me. And I think that this third kind has the strongest effect. Here’s a sample…

* “Schism” by Tool. This song instantly transports me to torture chambers of the middle ages. It’s creepy. And a great song too. Too bad that iTunes does not carry it at all so I can’t link it for you, but I found a RealPlayer link on the web.
* “With or Without you” by U2. The video clip is exactly the kind of “picture” I usually have when I am dreaming.
* “I’ll fly for you” by Spandau Ballet. Reminds me of the times I’ve been in love as a young teenager in the late ’80s.
* “It feels so good” by Sonique. I kept listening to this song when I was living in UK and my JBQ was in USA. Thousands of miles apart, both feeling so lonely…
* “California Dreaming” by Mamas and the Papas. For some reason this song transports me back in my childhood, running in the planes of my village chasing my hens. :)
* “Get Together” by Madonna. Amazing atmosphere and the video-clip was spot on. This song transports me into some dark scifi/space comics of the ’70s. Huge starships, large moons in the background…

Madonna - Get together

* “Waiting for Tonight” by Jennifer Lopez. And here I am, in the mid-90s, waiting for Saturday night to go clubbing with my friends.
* “Boulevard of broken dreams” by Green Day. Reminds me that… disaster can strike at any time…
* “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. Can’t keep my feet in the same place…
* “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode. Reminds me of how inadequate religions are.
* “Across the Stars” by John Williams. The ultimate theme for a forbidden love.

Madonna - Get together

Of course, I love many more rock, pop, dance, new age and alternative pieces (only most of hiphop/rap, jazz and modern country music gets on my nerves). But the above ones seriously get under my skin…

MS Exec: Linux No Threat To Windows Desktop

“The loosely coupled model of development prevents Linux from being successful on the desktop. […] The magic of open-source software is not the software. It has nothing to do with the code at all. Most open-source code is terribly inferior to commercial software code,” Hilf said. “The magic is the community and how you interact and participate in a community and make development transparent enough that the community believes in you and trusts you.”

The guy is right on the money on what he said. He has his screws screwed tight. I was surprised to see that many of the OSNews readers (who are largely OSS advocates) actually agreed with him too. I wrote something similar of this sort a few days ago too.

Mugshot, Part III

And so I was given a Mugshot account and tried it out all this week. The Windows client is very rudimentary atm and it has numerous bugs: it only loads IE (even if Firefox is your default browser), you can’t quit it without killing it, and each time you type a character on the chat window a huge memory leak takes place (from 15 MBs to 65 MBs of memory consumption, and counting).

But these are easy-to-fix issues. They are not the crux of the problem. The real problem is that Mugshot is not a useful application. It does not solve an existing user problem. It creates yet another virtual world where users can be part of Groups and have Friends. It is a lot like Orkut, but without many of Orkut’s features. Instead, Mugshot uses existing desktop applications and adds extra value to them. For example, if you are running the Mugshot applet and you happen to listen to music from one of the 2-3 supported music apps, then the title/artist will show up on your Mugshot page. Or, if you share with the World or your Group a web link, then this opens in a web browser.

Basically, think of Mugshot as an *engine* that has a social network background but uses third party desktop apps to extend its functionality. In the future, “plugins” that hook on existing desktop apps will extend its functionality further.

The idea of Mugshot being an engine is not a bad one (from an engineering point of view). The implementation is what bothers me though, and I talked to Havoc about it a few days ago. Basically, having Mugshot creating a brand new world is a bad idea. Almost no one cares to be part of a new Orkut, or a new Friendster or a new mySpace. Instead, Mugshot should have been developed as an addon to Jabber, right from the beginning. Mugshot and its third party app-hooks functionality can only be kinda useful to an existing world, where users have already established their friends.

I mean, think about it: who the hell cares if user “Eugenia” listens to Guns’n’Roses? Or if Eugenia currently watches “24″? Or if Eugenia currently reads Engadget? Nobody cares, and nobody should care. However, it is a tiny bit more interesting if that person is actually already on your IM list. If someone exists on your IM list, then this person is most probably, your [real] friend. And then, sure, just for our information, it would be kinda interesting to know what our friend listens or watches or reads at any given time. Mugshot could work as an extension of the “away” messages that some IM clients allow you to edit and share.

Jabber/GTalk would have been the best target, as they are open source and very successful already. Adding social features to an already established IM engine it would make youngsters drool (and especially if someone else adds VoIP SIP and Video to Jabber it would make it more useful to us, older users). But in fact, Mugshot represents everything that is wrong with Linux right from its inception: open source developers don’t look at the bigger picture and how to work with other devs in order to make their open source case more acceptable, but instead they re-invent the wheel, constantly and surely.

Even if Havoc –as the manager of the project– see the light and turn the whole Mugshot thing to be part of Jabber, how the current Mugshot users are going to migrate to it? Some of us already have Jabber accounts, but some don’t. And how easy would be to migrate existing Mugshot users to the Jabber login credentials? In other words, it won’t be easy, even if it’s doable. I just hope that something like this happens soon.

In conclusion, we don’t need yet another stinking virtual social network. What we need is interoperability, extendability on an existing network and fewer user accounts in our lives.

Diet Recipe: Dieter’s Curry

Curry. A favorite from the Indian cuisine. Here’s a version that it’s diet-friendly, with only 200 calories in it, and extremely easy to prepare.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 80 grams of lean, small turkey breast pieces (85 cals)
* 200 grams of cauliflower in small pieces (50 cals)
* 85 grams of frozen peas and carrots (50 cals)
* 60 grams of button mushrooms (10 cals)
* 15-20 grams of chopped ginger root (2 cals)
* 1 chopped small onion (3 cals)
* 1/3 teaspoon of coriander, cumin & turmeric powder each
* 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder (use 1/3 teaspoon if too spicy)
* 1/2 cup of water
* salt to taste

Execution
1. Wash and then slice vertically the mushrooms.
2. Add all ingredients in a pot. Bring to low-medium heat.
3. Stir occasionally until cooked through and thickened. Serve immediately.

Tip: If your diet allows meals of 300 calories, you can boil 33 grams of Basmati rice (100 calories usually, depends on the brand) and use it as a side dish with the main curry dish.

Diet Recipe: Seafood with wine pasta sauce

The following recipe is a tasty meal for low-calorie dieters: it has only 200 calories.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 27 grams of fussili or other pasta (100 cals)
* 60 grams of small shrimp (60 cals)
* 75 grams of zucchini (10 cals)
* 60 grams of button mushrooms (10 cals)
* 100 grams of canned chopped tomatoes (20 cals)
* 1/4 of a cup of red wine (0 cals)
* Salt and pepper to taste (0 cals)

Execution
1. Boil pasta and when done, drain as usual. Do not add any butter.
2. Wash and cut zucchini in thin slices. Wash and cut mushrooms vertically in thin slices.
3. Pour the chopped tomatoes on a food processor and blend them for a few seconds.
4. Add all ingredients (except pasta) in a pot under medium heat.
5. When the sauce is thickened a few minutes later, serve immediately, next to the pasta.

Tip: For variety, instead of just shrimp, you can use a mix of shrimp, clams and small calamari. All three share similar calorie information.