Archive for December 20th, 2006

The talking pet

Wouldn’t it be so great having a pet that could communicate to you its needs via human language? Apparently parrots are able to do that (and more and more) after having gone intense training for some years. I think that it’s possible to train a parrot to learn about 20 words pretty easily, just enough to be able to communicate his/her need for food, music, sleep, walk etc.

Even crows seem to be really intelligent. Other animals are just plain funny.

So, you want to get a Smartphone?

It’s time to write a guide for smartphones (not plain “feature phones”). Only recent models are included and I do not include ‘Windows Mobile Smartphone Edition’ phones because their UI sucks (’Pocket PC editions’ rock though and I include only HTC’s versions, as the majority of the other sellers like i-mate and O2 are just licensing devices from HTC in reality). Here we go:

1. Is WiFi important to you? If yes, choose among the:

HTC Hermes, HTC P4350, HTC P3300, HTC P3600, Nokia E60, Nokia E61, Nokia E70, Nokia N80, Nokia N93, SE P990

2. Is Quad-band GSM important to you? If yes, choose among the:

HTC Hermes, HTC P4350, HTC P3300, HTC P3600, Nokia E61, Nokia E50, Nokia N80, Nokia N73, Palm Treo 680/700p, all Blackberrys

3. Is a Qwerty keyboard important to you? If yes, choose among the:

HTC Hermes, HTC P4350, Nokia E61, Nokia E70, SE P990, Palm Treo 680/700p, SE M600i, Sidekick

4. Is A2DP important to you? If yes, choose between:

HTC Hermes, HTC P4350, HTC P3300, HTC P3600, Nokia N93, SE W950, MOT-ROKR E6, MOT-A1200

5. Is a good camera important to you? If yes, choose among the:

Nokia N80, Nokia N73, Nokia N93

6. Is VoIP SIP important to you? If yes, choose among the:

Nokia N80 Internet Edition, Nokia E61 with v3.x firmware (and E60/E70 when and if Nokia updates their firmware). Pocket PC-based and PalmOS-based VoIP third party software don’t work well (buggy, and not integrated at all).

All the above phones suggested have at least QVGA screens, cardslots, EDGE/3G and Bluetooth. Some of the devices have GPS, FM radio or touchscreen.

Feature-wise, the best overall smartphone today is the HTC Hermes/TyTN (which can be sold under other names too, OEM’ed). The only problems it’s got is the non-standard mini-USB headset jack and the lack of GPS/FM; everything else seems to be near-perfect. The Nokia N80 (Internet Edition, which adds VoIP) is the second best handset (only standard jacks and A2DP/AVRCP are missing pretty much).

Interesting models to look for the future is the yet unannounced Nokia E90 (Communicator device) and the Nokia 6290, the first handset that will run the S60 3.1 operating system (scheduled for an April 2007 release).

The slowdown of GNU/Linux

I was just reading about the GTK+ toolkit which is pretty much out of commited maintainers. Its previous major developer (who actually developed stuff instead of just maintaining), Owen Taylor, has moved to Mugshot development instead…

This piece of news is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole “Gnome and peripherial ecosystem” is dry for 2 years now. By now, gnome 3.0 was supposed to be released, and Red Hat/Novell engineers had big plans for it. Instead, Red Hat moved away from the desktop, Novell only does bits and pieces now, and there is no GRAND plan about the future of the project. There is no real roadmap, not even a solidified idea as to where they would like to see the project move to. Mostly fixes get into major versions of Gnome for the last 2 years and most of the major additions are third party developers deciding to bring their small utilities into the platform. KDE is not much better either. There is no major distro that pays engineers to work full time on it anymore, so KDE is as dry as Gnome is. I am not saying that nothing is moving forward, it’s just that it’s not moving not nearly as much as it should have been, and certainly not as much as things were in 2001-3.

I think that in part, the reason for all this slowdown is that the ‘Linux in the desktop’ bubble has been already broken and so very few third party programmers want to spend serious time on Gnome/kde. Linux’s high times were between 2001-2004 in terms of desktop hype and enthusiasm. Personally, I find the whole thing pretty sad, because I really like the Gnome desktop.

Update: Thom has commented on the issue in his blog.