Archive for October, 2006

Apple iPhone Coming Soon, Part II

Apple’s iPhone yet one step closer.

Jack Bauer facts

– When a convicted terrorist was sentenced to face Jack Bauer, he appealed to have the sentence reduced to death.
– The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.
– If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he’d shoot Nina twice.
– Jack Bauer’s calender goes from March 31st to April 2nd, no one fools Jack Bauer.
– When 24 airs on the Spanish channel everyones lines are translated except for Jack’s. The reason for this, nobody speaks for Jack Bauer.
– Only Jack Bauer can fly a plane from the luggage compartment.
– There have been no terrorist attacks in United States since Jack Bauer has appeared on television.
– Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun.
– When Kim Bauer lost her virginity, Jack Bauer found it and put it back.
– 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.
– A standard deck now contains 48 cards. Too many people were getting hurt for trying to play Jack.
– Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone.
– Jack Bauer was never addicted to heroin. Heroin was addicted to Jack Bauer.
– Jack needed a well-earned holiday after season 5. Drugged, captured, beaten and tortured in a cargo hall surrounded by Chinese agents eager for revenge is just his preferred method of travel – otherwise he tends to get bored on long trips.
– Jack Bauer doesn’t have a firewall on his PC. He has a Bauerwall. It’s basically just a JPEG of Jack Bauer. No virus has ever attacked Jack Bauer’s PC. Ever.
– Tony was once shot in the neck, rushed to the hospital, underwent emergency surgery and was back on the job in just a few hours. Jack Bauer still can’t believe that pussy went to the hospital first.
– Jack Bauer doesn’t speak any foreign languages, but he can make any foreigner speak English in a matter of minutes.
– The truth may hurt, but it doesn’t hurt as much as Jack Bauer.
– Don’t ever ask Jack Bauer what is going on. He’ll explain in the car.
– Jack Bauer teaches a course at Harvard entitled: “Time Management: Making the Most Out Of Each Day.”
– Jack Bauer has never caught a cold. How do we know? Colds still exist.
– The “Smoothie” was invented when Jack Bauer needed information from a banana.
– If Jack Bauer saw a terrorist reaching for a bomb to blow himself up, Jack would shoot the bomb first. Nobody steals a kill from Jack Bauer.
– Quentin Tarantino was asked to direct a biography about Jack Bauer. He passed. It was too violent.
– The Black Eyed Peas were just The Peas until Jack Bauer heard their music.
– Jack Bauer went out to the desert, and was bitten by a rattlesnake. The snake died.
– If you’re holding a gun to Jack Bauer’s head, don’t count to three before you shoot. Count to 10. That way, you get to live 7 seconds longer.
– When Jack Bauer was a child, he made his mother finish her vegetables.
– People with amnesia still remember Jack Bauer.
– Once Jack Bauer becomes governor of California, Mexico will have an immigration problem.
– Jack Bauer has been to Mars. That’s why there’s no life on Mars.
– Jack Bauer could get off the Lost island in 24 hours.

More facts here.

Slash prices on Pay-As-You-Go schemes

I find phone rates in US really high and the fact that carriers are trying to lock you in with ugly contracts and on-purpose crippled phones does not make it any better. I wish there was an MNVO that leases airtime off Cingular and had no contracts but instead an easy to understand “pay as you go” system that isn’t featureless. This is what I would like to see:

– You don’t have to refill your credit for up to 1 year.
– Free 1-to-1 (the user can select a single person where all calls are “to” and “from” completely free)
– $0.15 (USD) per minute for voice calls
– $1 per 1 MB for GPRS data transfer (configuration details to be found on web site)
– $0.05 per SMS via GSM (GPRS rates apply for SMS via GPRS)
– Standard GPRS prices for MMS messages (up to 300 KB) (conf details on web site)
– $1.00 per minute for EDGE/UMTS video calls (configuration details on web site)
– $0.10 per PTT per minute (configuration details on web site)
– Standard GPRS prices for IM (Wireless Village server with Jabber backend configured to also support GTalk, Jabber, ICQ, AIM, MSN and Y!) (configuration details on web site)
– $0.35 for Canada voice calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– $0.35 for Mexico voice calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– $1.00 for all other international calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– An additional $25 per month for 2 GBs (supposedly “unlimited”) of GPRS data (either via the handset or laptop).

No free phones are given to customers. Customers are free to choose and buy any GSM unlocked phone. The company can only suggest handsets that appear to be fully compatible with all the extended services offered (e.g. IM or PTT).

You would notice that I don’t give a flat rate for MMS messages but –as they technically should be– the price is dependent to GPRS prices. This will make people be more careful about the sizes of videos and graphics they send out too. A max sized MMS at 300 KBs would cost $0.30 while a small MMS at 30KBs it would cost instead $0.03. You should only pay what you actually used. If the user is also an “unlimited” (2GBs) GPRS transfer subscriber, then all MMS messages would be essentially free.

Honestly, I believe that these prices and services are very easily doable by any carrier, but they are so greedy and they don’t want to deal with “unsupported” phones that they offer really mediocre services. My current plan for example, which is Cingular’s Pay As You Go (I refuse to sign a contract), costs $10 per 1 MBs of data transfer, $1 additional for every day you use the phone, no PTT, no video calls, no IM, expires every 3 months, minute-rounding on international calls makes me pay a lot, and it resizes all my MMSes down to 4 KBs! It sucks.

Just like when Google came along and they changed the face of webmail or search, I pray that a company with guts can deliver such a service.

Nice laptop!

I really like this laptop (specs). It’s extremely lightweight (3.5 lbs) and portable without sacrificing on features. And it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than the equivalent Fujitsu and almost a thousand dollars cheaper than the similarly small Sony Vaio and Sharp offerings. The only features missing are integrated bluetooth and webcam.

The idea was to wait for OSX Leopard to ship so I can pick up a Core2Duo-based Macbook/Pro with it inside, but none of these Mac laptops are actually lightweight — which is a big deal for me. Again, I have to weigh in how much I value Macbook’s extra features (and price, if I go for the Pro) compared to Averatec’s small size. Decisions, decisions…

Kai Staats of Yellow Dog Linux

Almost exactly 3 years ago I published a review of YDL that TerraSoft’s CEO Kai Staats didn’t particularly like. What followed was a big shouting match via email. He wouldn’t back down, and in my normal fashion, I didn’t either. Maybe I would have if I knew that Kai is so damned cute. Don’t worry, our (professional) relationship is much better now. ;-)

Can’t wait for my JBQ to buy a PS3 so I can run YDL in it.

When using small distros

When not using one of the top-5 distros today (ubuntu, fc, suse, mdk, debian), it has it’s ups and downs. I like Arch Linux because it’s fast, uses less RAM, it’s clean and it’s Slackware-like simple. But on the other side, by being a small distro means that it doesn’t have enough maintainers, some (standard) features are to be supported or not depending on the maintainers’ whim, plus some stuff are not setup’ed by default (so the user has to do some initial manual work to make the OS a usable modern desktop).

I believe that GnuCash 2.x is a major OSS application and there should be an official package for it, mostly because it requires some patching in order to work on Arch Linux properly. If it was a straight compile, I wouldn’t have made the feature request. But it isn’t. Additionally, the “community packages” are unmaintained and the GnuCash people themselves suggest that users should not try to build it themselves because it’s a pain in the rear to do so properly (they fully recognize this). The verdict was that Arch won’t create packages for it because there is no one who wants to maintain it in the Arch Linux team. Great, just great.

Despite this blow I will stay with Arch because I can build Gnucash myself and apply the patches needed. I evaluate how much simplicity and speed means to me compared to the lack of packages and added conveniences, and then I make my choice. But I never suggest this distro (or Gentoo, or even Debian for that matter) to newbies. For users who need added conveniences, Ubuntu is the best choice right now (with FC6/SuSE close behind).

Regarding horror movies

I can’t understand people who go to see ugly horror movies that have lots of raw gore in them. I mean, why would I want to see in great graphic detail how a person gets tortured? WHY?

There is even a TV commercial these days here in USA that a horror fan coming out of the theater says “everyone wants to get scared”. Well, no, not everyone. I don’t mind some “light” horror movies that don’t really take themselves too seriously (e.g. “Final Destination”, “The Others”), but when you have to deal with raw gore violence of excruciating proportions like some movies in the last 4-5 years, I am against it. I just don’t see any entertainment or other value in them. It’s not only that I don’t have the stomach for them, but I also loath them just for existing. In my mind, there should be no reason for such movies to exist.

Greece Still Having Trouble Figuring Out The Internet

Oh boy.

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Slashdotted/Digged

This guy is describing how his blog got “destroyed” by Digg because it had about 10,000 hits in a few hours. I don’t get this. We used to run OSNews (version 2) on a dual Celeron 466 Mhz (we now run on Xeons) and when we were getting Slashdotted back in the day, the server would work fine for up to 45,000 pages per hour served! It worked fine. Today, Adam’s rewrite of OSNews (version 3) continues to work fine when Digged or Slashdotted.

In my opinion, it’s not only the fact that these guys haven’t edited Apache’s and mySQL’s conf files to optimize them, but the client software they are running are unnecessarily bloated and slow. Including this very blog that I “lease” off Blogsome (WordPress). This was one of the reasons why I had decided back then to write OSNews v2 from scratch rather than use phpNuke or similar CMSes of that day. While I am not nearly as good as Adam optimizing stuff, it still proved way faster than popular off-the-shelf solutions because we focused on simplicity rather than feature-bloat.

Mobile MPD

For the last few days I am toying with the idea of creating a web-based MPD front-end for cellphones and PDAs. This is one case of a user interface where frames are absolutely needed (example). Aside of the problem that some devices won’t support in-browsing mp3 playback (in the best case they might launch the device’s media player), the frames are an even bigger problem, because half of these browsers don’t support frames at all and the other half don’t respect the frame’s requested size and so the “music control” frame just won’t render correctly.

This is a good example of a web-based non-Ajax interface that simply can’t be translated into a good mobile browser experience today.

I guess compromises could be made, e.g. to select the playlists/albums before starting the player and then only have the ability to play these pre-determined songs and only be able to forward 1 or 2 songs each time from the playlist window (no frames). It won’t be as satisfactory as a real full-featured MPD client, but on some browsers and some mobile platforms it might just make the cut. IE on PocketPC, Opera Mobile (not Opera Mini), and WebKit on Symbian S60 might be the best candidates for compatibility. Not sure if Netfront/Blazer would work — depends how it was configured for each of its ports. I wouldn’t hold my breath for all the rest of the mobile browsers/platforms.

Update: It would have to look something like this:

Mobile MPD mockup