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Handhelds

Journal: Worst tech of 2006: Nokia 770?

Journal by Eugenia Loli
Some stupid editor over at C|Net put the Nokia 770 in the same bag as some bad hardware products currently selling out there. He wrote:

"This thing, it surfs Internet. You want to make phone call? You can't make phone call. You like Ethernet? No Ethernet. You get Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is nice. No wires! You like slow load times? Yes? It is good for that."

Hmm, this guy obviously has no idea about the PDA/gadget market. Why would anyone expect this (mobility-aware) tablet to do ethernet? And why would you expect it to do phone calls? Just because it comes from Nokia? So, if another department of Nokia started making dildos that guy would expect to also make phone calls with them too? The point of this product is to complement Nokia's phones (by surfing via Bluetooth+GPRS), not to compete with them.

"You like battery that lasts more than three hours? It does not have one. Nice screen, though."

The Nokia 770 has low standby times (because it doesn't support real standby), but when used continously, it can deliver over 3 hours of WiFi-activated usage and over 5 hours when WiFi is off. It still ain't as good as some high-end PDAs, but it ain't as bad as some other PDAs either (e.g. the Lifedrive which delivers less than 2 hours of Wifi usage).
Handhelds

Journal: The Future of Palm PDAs is VoIP 4

Journal by Eugenia Loli

It is not a state secret as to how doomed the PDA market is. The market has moved to another level and business people who needed PDAs now buy phone-PDAs (aka smartphones). Here's the problem though: for companies that they don't do cellphones or their main market is PDAs this is a big problem because they see their market vanishing quickly. This is why a [true] rumor says that DELL is currently building a PocketPC phone too. HP, DELL's biggest PDA competition, has moved to PPC phones too.

But the big question is: where does this situation leaves Palm?

Palm already has 2 active smartphone models out there selling right now, but their main bulk of sales are STILL their PDAs. The PDAs that their sales decline overtime.

On two seperate recent occasions where Palm execs were interviewed, they made mention of a mysterious "new category of product" that they will add between their existing PDA/Lifedrive and smartphone product lines.

I am pretty sure that this new category is nothing but PDAs (of the Tungsten TX caliber) that have VoIP functions. I mean, think about it. VoIP is taking off, plain PDAs are dying, and Palm simply needs a shot of adrenaline to keep their product line still relevant to today's business needs. Sure, it's still the same wolf in a new dress but the relevance of VoIP today can help that product line to at least not become obscure.

Such a VoIP PDA is _very easy_ to implement by someone like Palm. All they need to add to a PDA like the Tungsten TX is two more buttons left and right for "receive" and "hang up" a phonecall, a microphone and a SIP application that can be written by their software staff (I hope not ;) or get bought/ported from a third party company. With a retail price at around $300 VoIP makes such a product both an excellent PDA and a business IP phone. The future of Palm, Inc. is phones and so it makes sense to grandually move their entire line to this market, being IP or Cell phones.

Now, if they could also replace their ugly font with a nicer, smaller, anti-aliased font, slightly color the application buttons' interior with a soft gray color and add A2DP/AVRCP/printing support to their Bluetooth stack, PalmOS 5.5 would rock and look more friendly to the eyes. ;)

Communications

Journal: I had a dream....

Journal by Eugenia Loli
I had a very weird off-topic dream this morning, but out of the blue, I dreamt of the Apple iPhone. And it was not at all as I imagined it in my "concious" self. My unconcious self saw it as a white iPod-sized laptop form-factor gadget. When the lid is closed, you are exposed to the iPod look, exactly as the iPod Video looks like today. When opened, you are presented with a larger widescreen on one side and a full qwerty keyboard on the other. So it's a bit like Danger's Sidekick phone, but better.

I guess, in a few months we will know if I am a psychic or not. :)
Communications

Journal: Best non-smartphone today (out of Japan)

Journal by Eugenia Loli
The 6280 is an amazing phone. The Nokia Series 40 environment has come a long way from the days that it was unusable. This phone makes it difficult to distinguish between smartphones and non-smartphones today. Only things missing from this phone is A2DP/AVRCP support, a standard audio jack and maybe a conversion application. Other than that, it's got the full monty.
User Journal

Journal: Top Muslim clerics: Convert must die

Journal by Eugenia Loli
"Senior Muslim clerics are demanding that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."

Religious fanatics get on my nerves. No wonder countries with many such fanatics in them are still in the 'middle ages' and get dispaired with wars all the time. People must open their minds and get out of the vicious cycle.
User Journal

Journal: Greek drivers

Journal by Eugenia Loli
The Science Channel showed today a nice documentary on the building of the Via Egnatia road that it's currently under construction in northern Greece. The documentary was spot on and the guy who put it together was very clueful (they even showed the road shrines that are put when someone dies in that spot). Towards the end it showed real footage of very dangerous driving in the Greek roads, and correctly noted that Greeks are the worst drivers in the european union.

The documentary correctly identified the overtaking, speed and lane-disrespect as the most important reasons for all the 22,000+ accidents that happen each year in Greece. And it did remind me how my brother wouldn't stay on his lane when we visited Athens last Summer. The reason for that is because all roads in our home in northern Greece are single-laned (one lane going towards one side, and one lane for the other side). Even if my brother is a very young person, he doesn't know how to behave on a multi-laned road. He doesn't know that he must stay on his lane instead of switching from one to another all the time for no good reason and without using the flash. Athenians are not much better either. So while we can say that Greeks are bad drivers, the conditions of the current roads have an effect in their performance too.

It was also nice to see my place in the US TV. They showed Ioannina and Metsovo, which are pretty close from where I am coming from and have visited a number of times.
User Journal

Journal: BenQ confirms iPhone?

Journal by Eugenia Loli
As I predicted a few months ago, Apple is working on a phone. A BenQ exec pseudo-confirmed it today when he revealed that this is common knowledge among Taiwanese hardware part companies who have been contracted by Apple to deliver the goods. Additionally, rumors say that the new iPod will have stereo Bluetooth support.

Update: Just for kicks, here's my iPhone mockup.
User Journal

Journal: Crowd kills man for hammering on deity

Journal by Eugenia Loli
"A 27-year-old mentally disturbed man was beaten to death by enraged onlookers at a world-famous shrine in downtown Bangkok after he destroyed a popular statue of a Hindu deity with a hammer, police said."

Which is why I prefer (true) Christianity. Sure, there are a lot of crazy "Christians" out there that they would do the exact same thing to the poor guy if he was found to be destroying a deity of Christ or Virgin Mary. But true Christians would never kill or hurt, no matter what, because Christ preaches of love even to his worst enemy. Other religions --while well-respected and with longer history-- they don't go into such depth into love towards our fellow man. So even in the event that these Thai guys were not religious fanatics, they might had still choose to hurt someone just because their religion in its very center does not preach *love and forgiveness* as the most important things in someone's life. Christianity does so and that's the only reason why I am still a bit attached to it and haven't outskirted completely into becoming an atheist. Notice that I am not critisizing their religion, I just note this specific difference it has with Christianity and why I prefer Christianity (although I must say that Budhism is very tempting).

I read a very interesting editorial by an atheist a few weeks ago. He concluded that while he doesn't believe in God, he reads the Bible sometimes and he prompts others to do so, not because he believes in all the stories in the Bible, but because Christ's teachings ultimately make you a better person. And that's what matters. If Christ is truly who he said he was, then he would prefer people to live by his teaching and not recognize him as the Son of God, instead of recognize him as such but still sin. And so that atheist makes a better Christian than many others "Christians" out there.
User Journal

Journal: Kelly, MSN Mobile, Royal Flushes

Journal by Eugenia Loli
Kelly of osViews has done it again. He once again accuses Thom that he is posting anonymously at his site, while Thom is really not. Kelly's half-knowledge of how IPs and ISPs work really show how this person who runs "OS"views.com has no clue about OSes whatsoever. Instead of the occasional XP usage and heavy OSX usage, the guy doesn't really run or endorses anything else. Anyways, Thom has made a good write up here.

I completely redesigned the Pocket MSN front page in i-Mode cHTML so it's looking better on non-IE PDAs or phones that Microsoft doesn't support. MSN's mobile page is querying the user agent and then sends either a WAP page or an IE HTML page. Thing is, none of their two versions look good, some of the code is heavy and unesessary (hey Microsoft, people are paying GPRS by the KB!!) and the web developer who wrote the HTML version for Pocket IE shows up his idiocy when he declares a gazillion of completely unessasery tables at 240 pixels width. While PocketPCs are 240 pixels width, the guy forgot to take into account the scrollbar! So, I redid the page and it now renders much better on devices that can do HTML. You are very welcome to use this cHTML (non-WAP) version of mobile MSN (don't worry, no info is being stored on my server, it's a plain HTML page). Just make sure you have already signed in on MS' MSN website (check the "save my email address and password" option while signing-in) and then, for any subsequent visit use my version.

To show you how much lighter and cheaper to use my version is, here is the rundown:
MSN Mobile's HTML-only page uses 8.07 KB and with all images it uses 14.7 KBs.
My version uses 4.50 KB for the HTML and 9.25 KBs overall (including images). And if I had taken the time to place all images on my server (resulting in smaller URL text) and properly optimize the gif icons, we would be seeing just 8 KBs of *overall* downloading (including images). And this means 7 cents of savings with Cingular's GPRS ratings ($10 per 1 MB). So if you are checking Hotmail or MSN sites once a day, that would save you half a dollar in a week's time. Might not be a big deal to wealthy people, but it's still a saving and if ALL supposedly-mobile pages out there were properly optimized, per-KB-GPRS-users would be saving many dollars per month over their cellphone bill.

Opera Mini is server-side and does a good job "cleaning up" unessasery code resulting in cheaper GPRS charges, but in the process makes most pages look like ass and as a web developer myself it's a tradeoff that I am not always willing to make.

UPDATE: Check one more comparison between the two sites on my QVGA Linux phone running Opera 7.50.

I managed two royal flushes this weekend in Reno, NV in Video Poker ("Jacks or Better" game). I made about $5 (I only play for pennies, just for fun, I never gamble). JBQ made over $300 clean profit I think. It seems that I would be making some hundrends too if I was playing $5 per hand, instead of the $0.05 that I actually played. But I am a chicken, I would never play for real money. I've seen many starving days in my life to starting now throwing money on bloody casinos.
GNOME

Journal: Cairo - slow

Journal by Eugenia Loli
Since the dependency of GTK+ to Cairo, the Gnome performance has taken a hit. It's not even something that's measured in some percentages, it's just visible when using the system. But Xara Ltd has some numbers to show how slow Cairo is compared to Windows' GDI. If they were using DirectDraw instead of GDI, it would have been many-many times faster than Cairo.
Communications

Journal: Want a cheap Linux smartphone?

Journal by Eugenia Loli
Geeks.com started selling today a Linux/Qt phone from Motorola, the quad-band/EDGE A780. The phone was originally destined only for Asia, but now Geeks brought it to US with the best price of any Linux phone I have ever seen: $295. Which is a very good price considering that you are getting a PDA/phone with Opera, Real Player, Document Viewers with an updated firmware from late 2005.

If you are not convinced that this is a bargain, consider that the brand new and VERY similar in software/specs Motorola Ming A1200 Linux phone costs $700 here in US.

Its software is almost identical to my E680i Linux phone, so expect the same lag in the UI and in the video/camera application. The A780 phone is better than my E680i in every respect, except in three points: it doesn't support A2DP, it doesn't have an FM radio and it uses Transflash instead of SD (so you are limited to 1 GB instead of 4 GBs of removable storage). Other than that, it's a really cool phone and the BEST Linux purchase you can make today, if you are a Linux geek or a prorfessional who needs PDA functions on an affordable phone device.

If only Motorola was to freely release the SDK though so devs could port apps. That's the only limiting factor from calling all Motorola Linux phones "true" smartphones. :-(

BTW, at the bottom of the Geeks.com page it says that the phone doesn't seem to work with Cingular's GPRS, but this is not true. This phone DOES work with GPRS/EDGE with both T-Mobile and Cingular.
GNOME

Journal: Foresight Linux, the champion of bugs

Journal by Eugenia Loli

My friend Thom is jumping up and down for Foresight Linux usually, and so I decided to have a second look yesterday, downloading a VMWare image of their latest 0.9.4 'stable' release that included Gnome 2.14 in it.

I found about 30 bugs in about one hour of using the system. Some of them are usability bugs, some are just personal irks, but about 15 of them are real hardcore bugs.

In fact, I am a proud finder of a huge security hole that I discovered on Gnome's fast-user-switch 2.14.0 applet. This is the first security bug I ever found, IIRC. Anyways, I emailed James who is the maintainer of the applet, he replied soon enough and he will possibly look into this (I'll be watching).

But what really bugs me is that Foresight Linux's bugs I found are easily detectable with a simple SMOKETESTING. Don't these people care about their project? Don't they see these reproducible errors, crashes, freezes, whatever? I have to state the following in capitals, I am sorry:

IF A PIECE OF SOFTWARE DOESN'T PASS SMOKETESTING, DON'T BLOODY RELEASE IT.

No matter if your software is marketed as "bleeding edge" or not, there is a difference between having some bugs here and there and not pass smoketesting. This is the difference between a Beta/RC version and an eternal Alpha. Who wants to use Alpha software? Surely not someone who respects him/herself.

Desktops (Apple)

Journal: Apple now loves SPEC?

Journal by Eugenia Loli

I have an Apple developer account and I received today an email from Apple asking devs to become "ADC Select" members and get a Macbook discount. Well, here's the thing. It really surprised me that they had this fine print on their email: "*Based on estimated results of industry-standard SPECint and SPECfp rate tests. SPEC® is a registered trademark of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC)."

You see, when Apple was in the PPC architecture, they were avoiding publishing SPEC benchmarks just like the 'devil avoids the holy water' (this is a Greek saying btw). Apple would just not release SPEC results, even if ALL other CPU and machine manufacturers would. But now that they are on the Intel platform, they don't mind doing so and mentioning SPEC.

This exposes Apple as huge liers to the public when they were saying back in the day via ads that the G3 is faster than the PII or that the G4 was faster than the P4. In reality, especially the G3, it was even slower than a PII-Celeron at the same clock. Internally at Motorola, the G3 was never meant for a high performance CPU in fact, but Apple had no choice but to use that CPU for their Mac line or they would have been out of business.

Of course, Intel is not much better in that regard when they were saying that the PentiumII would make your internet connection... faster. Or AMD's claims over some of Intel's models. Everyone lies. Pick your poison. It's just that I don't think that anyone has lied as much as Apple has the past few years regarding CPU speeds.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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