Archive for September, 2006

Exei kai o kairos gyrismata…

It’s amazing how a person can change his or her perception in music. Back in the ’80s the Greek TV and Radio was playing a lot of Stranglers, especially their “Golden Brown” song. I couldn’t stand it, their sound was not commercial enough for my taste as a teenager. Same thing for the Cure or the Smiths. I would turn off the TV each time they were on, they and their music were really pissing me off.

Fast forward 20-22 years and I actually enjoy their music a lot. And in a funny turn of things, I can’t listen to ’80s pop and rock songs anymore. Not sure if I matured as a listener, or the music scene did and whatever was “weird” back then, it’s “In” now. One thing’s for sure, writing music that it’s “ahead of its time” is not always great for your wallet as an artist.

In this decade, I much enjoy Gorillaz and OutKast btw. Their songs “Feel Good Inc” and “Hey Ya” respectively are simply amazing!

Sorry, I can’t stand Marilyn Manson (except maybe of his main hit and 2-3 covers he did). Maybe in 20 years…

Nitpicking on the N95

You know, I am a perfectionist. I will always nitpick about stuff. For example, on Nokia’s highest-end cellphone ever, the N95, there are a lot of things to love (TV-out, Wifi, GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, 5MP camera, A2DP, HSDPA) but there are also a few things missing before I would give it a 10/10:

[Hardware-specific issues]
1. No EDR for its Bluetooth (it has it!)
2. No AVRCP and GAVDP profiles
3. No 4 or 8 GB flash storage
4. No standard mini-usb charging and data port (it has it!)
5. No DVB-H support
6. No UMTS support for USA
7. No Qwerty keyboard

[Symbian-based issues]
8. Bluetooth items end-up on messaging instead of file manager
9. Many nested menus on some S60 3rd Edition apps
10. VoIP doesn’t support NAT Traversal (if it has VoIP)

Cellphone cameras are getting there

It is very scary when you have such a thin cellphone and it is able to shoot such a good quality pictures like the one below. Anyways, await the review of the Samsung D900 tomorrow on OSNews. Update: Review is up.

Teachers on strike

For the last week all the kinds of teachers in Greece are on strike. Remember that in Greece teachers of public schools and universities are paid by the government as most of the education is free.

When I was a student I remember that we had strikes by our teachers at least 2-3 times a year. Each time they were asking for more money, and teachers in Greece are getting paid well above the average professional (something that is not true in USA). They keep asking for more money instead of actually asking to fix the Education itself. I can’t stand the fact that in the Greek education system students must remember whole books WORD BY WORD in order to get a seat in a university instead of actually putting the students to THINK FOR THEMSELVES and solve problems based on what they were taught. In France students can get to a university just by having a high school diploma. But in Greece getting to a university it means “a guaranteed social worker’s job in the future”, and so they try to limit the positions. There are no real colleges in Greece (IEKs are pretty much a joke and offer very few professional opportunities) and so it means that if you are not among the ~3,500 that make it into a university each year, you better get married and do children, your life is over in terms of further education (except if your parents have the cash to send you to UK or Italy’s unis).

Except of the above, the other thing that I hate in Greece is the system of its social workers. In USA and elsewhere being a social worker is a low-paying job as it’s a low-skilled job. In Greece, you can live like a king instead, if you manage to become a social worker because you have a well-paid job for life (there was a law since 1920 that social workers can not be fired unless they do something really-really bad — not sure if this law has changed yet). So basically you can have some very bright people finishing a university or an engineering school and be jobless for YEARS (until they get a position as a social worker) and then you can have some freaking idiot with the right political connections getting a social worker’s job and making it for life. But even if the person did not use “connections” to get a social worker’s job, the fact that everyone strives to get such a job one way or another is a bad idea for the country’s future. No one creates anything in Greece except feta cheese, olives and tomatoes. Because the right people are never given the opportunity to CREATE, neither they want to, because being a well-paid social worker is EASY LIFE. The whole system is functioning in a way that doesn’t push progress.

I wish that the Greek government takes the hard decision to FIRE all these THOUSANDS of teachers who are not going to return to work in 2 days time, and IMMEDIATELY RECRUIT the thousands that are awaiting to get recruited as teachers (there is a waiting list for teachers, it’s easy to find them and recruit them in no-time).

It is appaling having the country’s children missing days and days of education just because their teachers want more money (from the tax payers), when they already are getting paid way more money than most other Greek professionals. At least if these teachers were fighting for a better education and exam ways, it would be justifiable, as this is a point where Greece suffers.

No, I don’t like USA’s way either: education here is very expensive. But at least the teachers here make sure they do their job right, or they lose it on the spot. A system like France’s or Germany’s or UK’s is probably the best.

I hate Nokia’s marketing

Nokia announced today two high-end cellphones, one more high-end than the other, but really, both really high-end. They also announced two S40 music phones. But Nokia on purpose only puts A2DP support on their very high-end phones. From all their recent Symbian phones, only the N9x series have A2DP and only 1 model of their S40 phones have it too. Each time they include it, they advertise it as a selling feature.

Why is that? It’s a 20KB library for God’s sake. It’s a compilation flag! Why not include it on ALL their phones? There is plenty of storage available to fit a 20KB library.

But noooo…. Nokia wants to offer a gazillion of models each year and they need some differentation between them so people don’t shout at them that they re-released the same phone under a different name and plate just like Sony Ericsson does. And so they removing software features that it would be so easy to include in the first place (and they don’t even have to pay license fees to these). I mean, why isn’t the N80 have A2DP/AVRCP anyway? It’s a multimedia phone but I guess it’s not as different as the N9x-series otherwise… Lame.

At least Samsung is putting A2DP on ALL their phones since they had finished the writing of the driver last year. It’s part of their OS and each time they release a new phone, this is included. They don’t remove software stuff “just because”. And all Sony Ericsson’s new mid-to-high-end phones also include A2DP since January too. The last mid-range phone that did not include it was the W810i (it had passed certification by carriers before they finished the driver so they couldn’t add stuff afterwards).

I find more lame the fact that Nokia removes small libraries and then resells them as “super special features” for some phones rather than not including a 3.5mm standard audio jack on all phones. At least in the audio jack issue there is some legacy involved and many accessories built upon these proprietary ports. But a 20 KB software library?

Dork

I do look like a dork… I even forgot to take my glasses off.

More Stuff…

* A new month, a new cellphone. A Samsung D900 is arriving next week. It has a QVGA screen, it’s quadband and EDGE, it has a microSD slot, great quality 3.2MP camera with autofocus and macro, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP/AVRCP/GAVDP support and even TV-out (but it requires a special proprietary-to-RCA cable that it’s very rare to find). Judging from the specs, it’s only missing a standard 2/3.5mm headphones port (and maybe FM radio).

* The time that I will have to re-install WinXP is very close. USB just doesn’t work properly on this Dell PC for months now. My guess is that a third party driver has screwed up something in the system. If that’s not the case then we surely looking at a hardware problem, which can cost me $1200 to get a new PC. I am not looking forward to any of that.

* We had a great time tonight as a friend visited us, we had loads to eat and drink (I grilled some beef steaks) and then we watched Metallica on DVD playing together with the San Francisco classic orchestra! Great combination of music. This reminds me: we need to buy a new DVD-stand this weekend, we are out of storage space on our existing ones.

* My MDR-XD400 Sony headphones arrived! I look like a complete dork with these on but, boy, do they sound good! Great buy at $70 (on amazon). Highly recommended. Ignore the laughable looks!

* I received a product today for a review that doesn’t quite work as advertised. I hate it when I receive these, they bring me in a difficult position. Hopefully they will send me the missing cable so I can actually review it properly.

* And then, I had a well-known book company sending me a second set of the same books they sent me 3 months ago for a review. Hmm…

* I watched “Six Degrees” last night on ABC (created by J.J. Abrams of “Lost” fame). Abrams obviously tried to exploit the fact that many “Lost” viewers love that during flashbacks the lives of the heroes are inter-connected, even if they don’t know it. So he comes in and creates a brand new TV show based on that premise alone. And it sucked.

Social Bookmarking

I have put together the most important social bookmarking sites that can help spread the word of your blog or news site. All you need to do now is this:
1. Steal this HTML code and add it somewhere in your own blog.
2. Save one by one the little icons from the page above and FTP them on your site, under an /images/ folder.
3. Edit that source code to search-and-replace the {permalink_link} & {the_title} text with your URLs and titles of your articles (or their equivelant variables). Keep them as is only if your blog is on Blogsome or your WordPress blog uses “Smarty Tags”.

Please note that in my list of social bookmarking the following sites are not included, because they have such a low traffic that they would just take space on your site, they won’t yield any respectable results: co.mments.com, connotea, del.irio.us, feedmelinks, smarking, tailrank, link-a-gogo. So, I didn’t bother with these. I might look back at them if they get into the top-20,000 of Alexa in the future.

And BTW, on a similar note, it makes me sick that Netscape’s Digg clone requires to create a new account and it won’t work with AIM credentials! Talk about interoperability within the same organization…

World War III

If USA won’t change its imperalistic behavior (that has put into difficult position even its closest friends), within 20-30 years we will have to go through a WWIII. Chances are that USA won’t want to let go of its grip on power. And as Einstein once said “I don’t know how the third world war will be fought but I do know that the fourth one will be fought with sticks and stones.

Lost Email

I am devastated. I lost all email from Nov 2005 onwards. I haven’t made a backup (although it was a regular thought in my mind) and the “compacting” procedure of Outlook Express with over 70,000 emails in my “Archive Folder” failed. I have done compacting in the past and it didn’t fail. But this one time it did.

I installed Thunderbird right after that and I imported my Outlook folders (1.2 GB of data overall, after the loss of data). The imported “Archive Folder” loads in about 4 minutes after you click it, while it takes Outlook Express just 4 seconds to go through it. This is unacceptable and it makes Thunderbird unusable. Don’t even get me start about all these imported emails that date from either 1969 or 2101. Sure, Outlook Express has f*cked up once in all these years (and maybe for a good reason, because the internal file system of the dbx archive files is FAT16 and that can’t be over 1.6 GBs of data or it might get corrupted — and I knew that), but Thunderbird craps up on you from the moment you install it and it’s slow as molasses. So, back to Outlook Express, even with the danger of losing some email in the distant future (I will be making backups from now on). The Mozilla Foundation can wipe my ass with Thunderbird.

The only thing that sucks really is that I lost email addresses from important companies like Apple, addresses that I used in order to go into special events or to get review units. Professionally-wise, I am now back to 2005. Sucks hard. I wanted to kill my fish. I didn’t.