Archive for February, 2010
When I went to Japan I put Skype on my phone so I could keep making almost free calls home and not pay for long distance calls.
Skype is now pulling support for Windows Mobile and won’t offer the service anymore. So go grab the installer now so you’ll have it in the future. After this you’ll likely only find it hidden in the corners of places like XDA forums.
From Treehugger. At TED David Cameron (apparently in an attempt to look like less of an ideological conservative) actually pointed out a really good idea to promote conservation.
On electricity bills just compare the user to their neighbors.
A commenter in the post mentioned that showing money saving would be a better incentive but why not show both?
People love to lord over each other how much better they are, or if you’re under-performing they like to know so they can comeback and beat their neighbors. it sounds silly but everybody loves to make a game out of things.
Head over there for the full post and a video of the talk.
It’s amazing how much green screen is on TV.
I long for the day when TV and movies filmed reality instead of a person against a fake backdrop.
I remember watching a season opener for 30Rock and noticed that they were fliming live on the streets of new your because when Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey walked past there were more than a few people doing double takes as TV/Movie stars walked by.
TechCrunch has a great post on a new company coming out that built the interface for the movie Minority Report where they’re actually making it real. They have actual video of it in progress and it looks spectacular; I would love to play with this.
The company is Oblong Industries, and their product is definitely well worth checking out.
However as I’ve posted before (in reference to Microsoft Surface) this type of computing isn’t as practical as it seems. MG Siegler falls into the mindset that many of us techies have with cool ultra tech like this. It really does seem to be the way of the future from our perspectives; the problem is that being neck deep in new tech everyday our perspectives aren’t exactly grounded in reality. To try to ground myself I always think, “If I walked my grandmother or my parents up to this device, would they have any idea how to use it or would they prefer something else?” Or in this case, would I myself really still want to keep using this after the initial novelty wears off.
I wanted to say here what I basically said there that while this is super cool for specific interactions it doesn’t translate to real world applications like email and surfing the web. When watching the video keep in mind that this is a promo video where things are carefully orchestrated to make it look as seamless as possible but much pre-production was likely done (like how the computer knows how to perfectly crop elements out of videos to be thrown into a haphazard mess on the screen in front of the user).
First off is how much it will cost, and how much room it takes up. It looks cool for massive government installations but do the same thing in front of a 11″ netbook and you’ll look like a moron.
Second is that it’s not as intuitive as it looks, this isn’t pinch to zoom, you’re going to need to learn alot of complex 3D gestures to use this. And for what? Complex interaction with photos?
Third, lack of accuracy. It’s nice for virtually grabbing an image and rotating it but notice the lack of clarity while drawing with fingers. People who use Photoshop will know how useless it is unless you have nearly pixel perfect control.
Finally, is simple human nature. People are lazy and if there is an easier way to do things people will prefer that. Almost everything done onscreen can be done with a keyboard and mouse with next to no physical effort. As fun as it would be to command fleets in a 3D world using my hands in the game series Homeworld, I can do it just as well slouched in my chair with a keyboard and mouse with less effort, significantly less room, and significantly less price.
I love the “Minority Report” ideal as much as any techie but it’s not practical for mainstream use. I’m sure the government will have fun with it as well as some major companies; plus it will become a staple on CSI and related crime dramas. But it’s not the future of home computing.
Ars has an interesting article on the copyright legalities of Karaoke. Personally I think that anything that causes your customers to obsess over and promote your product for you would be a good thing but obviously I’m not running the big record labels.
I can see the legalities for when you hire a singer to sing songs that aren’t theirs in a bar or club if that’s what they exclusively do. But Casual covers or public singing should be allowed in my opinion.
I really noticed this as a problem in Japan at Karaoke bars, many songs couldn’t be played in the same version as broadcast so they had crummy midi versions that were nothing like the original. It really ruins the fun and makes me not want to listen to the song. Which seems like a bad thing for the people who are trying to promote it.
Firstly, I agree that the UI looks absolutely beautiful for properly bringing together Social Media info, Games, Music, and Photos. Even Jesus Diaz, one of the big pro-iPhone fans on Gizmodo is saying that “Microsoft Has Out-Appled Apple” and I agree 100%.
They do a really good job of pulling in info from multiple disparate sources and putting them together nicely on their “hubs” this very idea is basically what many people think the future of computing will entail; instead of separate apps for each outlet it can all come together in one place.
And it looks so advanced compared to iPhone with good reason. iPhone is still the basic app menu homescreen it has been for the last 3 years; Windows Mobile has always been derided because it seems sold compared to iPhone. Now Microsoft has leap fogged Apple and makes iPhone look like it is, an interface design that is nearly a third of a decade old.
And here is my first problem with Windows Phone 7 (WP7), I didn’t like how restrictive iPhone was. When it’s apps came out it got better but it’s still what Apple wants you to do and nothing else. WP7 is starting to look like the exact same thing. Microsoft’s integration of Social Media, Games, and Photos is damn near perfect; however I shun social media, never use my phone for games (I don’t even have an xbox 360 and no live account), and I think photos taken from phones are a waste where a real camera should have been used.
The only thing in Microsoft’s hubs I’d really use is Zune. And when I tried Zune out on my computer I hated it; it’s the last thing I want to be FORCED to sync music through. It’s as bad as iTunes but with a different look.
And a lot of the nasty rumors that I think are no-gos for a phone for me are now official are pretty much a given.
No custom skinning by third party manufacturers (HTC Sense, Toshiba 3D, TAT Home).
Apps only come through Windows Marketplace.
No Backward Compatibility for old programs.
Possibly no stylus support.
Possibly no keyboard.
Possibly no COPY AND PASTE!
Yes, TechCrunch hinted at limited to no C&P. Although that’s not certain at all.
My gripes with the phone are the same as my iPhone gripes. For all the slick, pretty, shock and awe interface stuff at the end of the day I want functionality. Unfortunately all the WP7 functionality seems to be focused on helping you waste time on social media, or waste time playing games, or waste time staring at pictures (I’m single with no kids, I understand this sentiment changes with children).
I came from PDAs, for me my phone is a computer in my pocket, a resource I can look up important data, keep my life in order with PIM applications, track when I’ve spent too much time on a subject and need to move on, translate info or languages I don’t know, remotely connect to server resources I don’t have direct access to, etc. Just about every use I’m going to have for my smartphone are things that don’t exist on the WP7 phone as it stands. They’re going to need to create a lot of apps to be able to keep up with the functionality of my Windows Mobile 6.5 phone.
So ironically it looks like I may be transitioning to Android in the near future to have a phone that is diverse as the Windows Phone I have now. However it’s too early to tell on anything, so many amazing things are happening in the handheld device space this year that all we can do is wait.
The only current phone up for play is the Nexus One that looks like a killer Android device. The HTC HD2 isn’t released yet but may be the pinnacle of what Windows Mobile reached before moving to WP7. Dell is creating a smartphone-tablet transitional with the Mini 5 that looks incredibly tempting if I can justify carrying around something that big. Windows Phone 7 Series deivces will be dropping by fall. And by time all players are onstage Apple with have the iPhone 4G shipping.
The future looks bright but difficult if you’re shopping for a new toy but undecided like me.
My Phone uses WM6.5 and sometimes it feels like I’m the only one defending it; many people attack it because the interface isn’t “iPhonesie” enough for them. In other words they don’t have the eye hand coordination to hit buttons smaller than 2in square.
Plus I like that Windows Mobile is actually more open than iPhone OS or Android to tinkering and changing. Not only does it make the phone customizable to my tastes but it means that any programmer can go in there and make the Os do what they want to. Ironic since I know so many Open Source gurus that lament my choice of Windows 7 on my desktop saying Linux is the way to go. But they have iPhones…
Anyway BGR has new rumors on the specs Windows Mobile 7 will have when it’s revealed in a couple weeks. And it’s all bad news.
- The traditional Home Screen will get a whole new look and will not support custom interfaces like Sense and TouchFLO
- No Flash support as time constraints prevented its inclusion
- Applications will be installed through the Windows Mobile Marketplace only, manual installation from a storage card will not be allowed
- Say no to multitasking and yes to push notifications which may be provided by a Microsoft hosted push notifications environment
- No .NET Compact Framework backwards compatibility so all those old apps will not work, but a portion of the data and business logic .NET CF may be ported at some point
- Browser is based upon desktop IE7 codebase, but with some IE8 functionality and is currently faster / better than the iPhone 3G
- No more active sync or Windows Mobile Device center. Zune software will handle all syncing
Basically they’re going to make WinMo suck as hard as iPhone. I’m frankly sick of the world striving to emulate the iPhone and focusing on all the worst aspects of the iPhone to adopt. First it was taking away the stylus, now where locking down the device and not allowing third party companies to improve upon the design.
I REALLY hope that either this is all bunk. Or the rumors that the phone OS is splitting into a Business and Consumer version; and that this is the consumer version and the Business version will retain the openness of the current OS.
As I’ve already mentioned in a few past posts, There isn’t currently a gap in my computing options that needs to be filled. During the reveal of the Apple iPad Steve Jobs touted it as filling a gap between the Macbook laptop and iPhone. Personally I already have an awesome home desktop, Netbook for portable computing, and HTC Tough Pro smartphone for specific computing jobs that work best when mobile (dayplanner applications, basic calculation, timer, and data lookups, etc).
So what I’ve been hoping for is a way to make my netbook into a convertible tablet. Then it can be both my mobile computer and a tablet computer. I don’t have much of a “gap” in my life but at the same time I want to do more than my smartphone can but not have to worry about whipping out the netbook.
Tablet computers are generally great but always just a hair too big to truly be portable. I’ve moved away from full laptops and onto netbooks because of this. For a laptop you need a good protective carrying case, and due to power constraints you usually have to haul a tangle of power cables as well. Pretty soon you’re carrying a backpack full of equipment to the coffee shop an pretending it’s mobile; because while it’s more mobile than a desktop, it’s certainly not as convenient as pulling a phone out of your pocket.
The apple tablet is almost the same size as my netbook and a good midrange size but at times even that netbook is a bit big. You can’t put it in your pocket on the way out the door, I keep mine in a neoprene case that is about the size of a dayplanner a “go-getter” from the late 90’s would carry around. But it’s still got to be carried by hand, plus a coffee in the other hand and I’m suddenly helpless to do simple things like open doors.
That’s why the Dell Mini 5 (aka streak, M01M) caught my eye. It pushes the limit of fitting in a pocket and is basically a smartphone, but it’s optimized to all the non-phone functions of a smartphone.
I’m a long time PDA fan going all the way back to 2000 when I got a Handspring Visor upto the Dell Axim X51v I had right before I switched to smartphones, so carrying a dedicated computing device in my pocket isn’t really a stretch for me. The only change is the addition of a phone, and while I don’t want to hold a Dell Mini5 to my ear (I think the iPhone is too big) it’s really easy to have a Bluetooth headset you can pop into your ear when you get a call. I actually prefer this because I can talk hands free and take notes on the device in my hands, or continue doing any work while the conversation if beamed from my ear to the slate in my jeans and out to the phone network.
In fact 99% of my phone usage is non-phone related, it’s all the computing features that I usually use, from quick text messages, to music, to video, to web surfing and reading. So having a larger than smartphone screen would be really helpful.
This would be made even better if the Locus OS concept by Barton Smith.
Locus basically works like a device that customizes its interface and options based on the job at hand. I first noticed this idea and got excited about it when the Motorola Droid was coming out. The idea was a car kit where the smartphone automatically switched to in car GPS mode when connected to the kit.
As a concept it’s great and would pair perfectly with a device of the Dell Mini 5’s size, imagine a phone that worked like a secondary screen/controller when docked to your computer. Would switch to a universal remote when in front of your entertainment system and could minimize to a web browser to lookup imdb or wiki info while watching. Then when you went out to your car and plugged it into the car kit it would become a GPS and pump music to the stereo. Or if you ride the bus or trains it would become a PMP and play movies or podcasts for the ride.
I love the fact that all these is possible right now and is little more than a few lines of programmer code from reality. The only remaining question is if any company will have the forethought to make it real, and if I can stand holding a 5” phone to my head to make calls on days I forgot to carry a separate headset.
Bing just integrated a tool to their maps that polls flickr for geotagged images and overlays them against the streetview images in the same way photosynths overlay each other.
It’s not the most amazing thing but it’s nice to see a massive database like flickr be mined for locally applicable data like this.
In response Google just opened Google Maps Labs with some new features.
Is it just me or does Google Maps Labs have nothing worthwhile by comparison to what Bing released?
Drag a box and zoom is cool but I thought it already had that. I must be thinking of the millions of other map programs that do this normally. It reminds me of when Apple made a big deal adding Cut+Paste to the iPhone. It’s not a new feature, it’s just fixing an omission.
Aerial Imagery is nice when available but Bing has had that all along. Google is playing catch-up here.
Rotatable Maps only make sense on the GPS in my car, and even then it’s a bit disorientating. Besides rotating an image isn’t really “innovative”.
Where in the World game?! I’m going to stop here because this is absurd, when I’m looking for directions the last thing I want to do is get distracted playing a boring game. The only time I play virtual voyeur on Google maps or Google earth I know where i want to go.
It’s like MS and Google have switched places. Bing is testing some features that are new and could lead to alot of cool things. Google is giving us stuff that we’ve always had and expecting us to applause.
Here we go again. Quality over Quantity.
Again news is distorted on a lot of tech blogs that focuses on simple numbers and pie charts rather than reality.
Many sites are reporting about how the iPhone is more popular to develop for than the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. I’m not surprised by the numbers but look at what we’re talking about here. There are a few good games for iPhone but most are cheap flash style games; compare that to the complex fully and professionally developed games for PSP and DS.
When looking for a gaming system you need to consider the games; and I want a system that runs games with the depth of the Final Fantasy series, not a bunch of cheap games that involve tapping gophers as the pop out of virtual holes.
Pepsi has their “throwback” versions of drinks right now where thy use sugar for sweetener instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s supposedly a limited time thing but I think it’s a disguised test on whether people will approve of changing back to sugar in drinks.
The change to HFCS was snuck in a few decades ago because of the US’s massive corn subsidies. It’s cheaper to put corn in drinks than sugar cane or sugar beets.
However with the demand of biofuels going up corn is getting expensive so going back to normal sweeteners is coming back.
Meanwhile sugar byproduct is being used in the bottles to bring down the carbon footprint for making bottles.
Sugar in the bottle but not in the drink. Although hopefully sugar will make its way back into drinks soon.
First Kayo leaving Polysics and now Etsuko leaving Shonen Knife; it’s just not shaping up as a good year for Japanese musicians.
The Shonen Knife lineup has changed quite a bit since they we’re opening for Nirvana back in the 90’s; Naoko (the lead singer) is the only original member left. However when I saw them when they toured the US a few years ago Naoko’s sister, Atsuko the other founding member played with them since she now lives in the US (might as well kick it with the old crew I guess). But when the came through the member that really stood out was their new drummer Etsuko, here’s the quote I made in my last.fm review of the show.
…I ended up totally being taken by the new permanent drummer Etsuko Nakanishi (total hottie) who was a wizard on the drums.
What a bummer, I hope she finds her way back to another band to put those drum skill to use. Plus it’s always comforting to know that somewhere in the world there is a Japanese hottie working herself into a sweat rocking out on a set of drums.
BTW: The picture at the top reminds me of the Little Drummer boy on Robot Chicken.
Caution Dragonball-Z and Akira spoofing.
Buzz. It’s like twitter, only by Google so you know that the information will be used to create a bunch of shitty targeted ads to cover your screen.
“Shitty cover information? Checkout Bob’s Shitters and Outhouses Emporium.”
-Ads by Google
I hardly use twitter but it’s popular and easy to integrate so what little I do use it for is now mixed with the blog. See twitter updates on the right hand sidebar.
The blog is still hosted myself rather than being a “wordpress blog” but the technology is no longer nucleus.
Problem is that RSS import didn’t work so that the posts have to be moved by hand and have their dates changed to match the original posting date. Also the links that linked within the blog don’t work anymore, or until I fix them. Plus comments were lost but there weren’t many; I do read them and still remember and since most were messages to me the info is not lost.
That reminds me that tomorrow I’ll be doing more work on prepping next years hydroponic garden. I’ve been tracking this one from day one to make up a list of parts needed, how much they cost, and where I got them.
Anyway sorry about the mess, I hope the new look is an improvement.
I also might be testing out new features so if weird stuff appears and disappears it’s just me farting around with stuff on the back.