Cue Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’

February 6, 2007

Microsoft Revisited: Vista, Apple and the Sony/Nintendo Phenomenon

We may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, which takes place in every generation. Remember IBM? They were invincible. How could they be beat? By a couple of geeks in a dorm room, that’s how. Microsoft rises. And then another snot-nosed kid with a great idea and a dorm room made it happen in the box business, enter Dell. Then others got wise and squeezed their efficiency-based margins to nothing. Apple rose like a phoenix, crashed and rose once again, by virtue of innovation and a customer-centric ethos. Sony was like IBM. Now they’ve been bloodied by the customer-centric and community-oriented Nintendo. And now there’s Google, the poster-child for the democratization of the Internet and the ever-flattening, increasingly frictionless world. When put in this context Microsoft just seems so big and slow and old, hidebound by 30 years of culture and organizational silos that seem impregnable. And it appears that Vista – the product, the PR, the marketing approach – is the result of such an organization. At times brilliant, very heavy, complicated and expensive. This is not a product for today. This is a product for an era when the desktop ruled. And that era is long gone.

A really Grade-A++ essay that is a must-read.


OS X Widgetry And iPhone Possibilities

February 4, 2007

I do not currently own a Mac. I do not currently own an iPod.

I’m using a bottom-feeding Dell with a wee less than 1GB of RAM and a wee over 1GHz CPU. After having the machine turned into a fucking spambot, I’ve had to install many countermeasures. Suddenly, 1GHz does not seem like 1GHz any longer (which makes me hesitant to jump onto a 1GHz UMPC, like the lustful Samsung Q1P).

The last Mac I had was an LCIII, bought brand new from J&R for a whopping TWO GRAND as part of a special bundle deal that also included a modem and a cheery “So long, sucker!” from the J&R staff. It ran System 6. (By the time I really really needed System 7, the OS was further up in numbering and no 7 disks were to be found. Ah, that cruel world before ebay!)

So I come to Mac OS X widgets really really ignorant of what they are, how many there are, what they can do, etc.

But the recent post I did about the lucky Aussie journalist who got to fondle an iPhone woke me to the fact the iPhone uses widgets.

So today I go to investigate said widgets. And via Google (really, what else do people use?!), I find an Apple page devoted to them.

Now wait, let me back up less than 24 hours.

I was thinking, OK, widgets. Does such widgetry make full-blown apps possible? Could there possibly be widgets that would allow word processing and the like?

FF to now.

And there on the Apple page, just submitted Feb 2, is Google Apps Dashboard Widget.

Whoa.

And look at that: Docs/Spreadsheets.

And Docs is a word processor!

What I dearly want to know is how difficult it will be for existing widgets to find their way onto the iPhone? Apple is rumored to will hold its WWDC in June. I bet that will be The Topic. Update: Apple announces June WWDC.

According to Hands (and fingers) on the iPhone at Macworld’s website:

I would imagine that we won’t get any details about how Apple plans to address iPhone development until this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference at the earliest. However, I am intrigued by one subtle bit of language in the iPhone announcement: Apple talks about iPhone applications as well as iPhone widgets. Which makes me wonder: will developers be able to create widgets more freely than applications? In Mac OS X terms, a Widget is generally a bunch of JavaScript and some images, usually including Internet access. (Yes, you can embed code in Widgets too, but let’s leave that aside for now.) When I think about Widgets — and Apple’s new Dashcode development environment for building them — I begin to wonder if Apple will permit iPhone Widgets to be developed much more freely than iPhone applications. If Apple limits those Widgets to ones created in Dashcode, using only JavaScript and Internet connectivity, the iPhone would really benefit — and without the huge scrutiny Apple will probably give to more complicated iPhone applications.

And this is perhaps a clue too: The iPhone, Widgets, and VerifiedDownloadAgent.

And Some Deeper Thoughts On Apple’s iPhone offers this set of very intriguing possibilities:

Always-On Javascript Engine?
The widgets that were presented today appear to be almost mirror equivalents as those on my Mac OS X dashboard, and since those are fully based on XHTML/CSS/Javascript I can only imagine that these iPhone widgets are as well with some slight modifications. Klondike Mike’s prediction about Apple’s extensive use of Webkit was completely on point, and if the iPhone has a full Javascript runtime engine (that can be utilized by user-developed, uploadable widgets) I think it will be a monstrous event for web designers and developers. To be able to utilize the Javascript calls that we have already engineered for our web applications on a shiny new iPhone widget is monumental, and could open up a tremendous amount of possibilities for computerless content distribution. Moving the Web “off” the Web is the future, and if I can upload my homegrown widgets to my iPhone (or provide them for users to download) the possibilities are nearly limitless.

Which, at iPhone a Potential Boon for Web Developers, leads to the possible reason why the iPhone will seem closed:

Once I got over my slack-jawed amazement at the ultimate gizmo (what Gizmodo is ever-so-subtly calling the Jesus Phone), I quickly realized that Apple has created a platform in which web developers will be able to play a substantial part. With the inclusion of widgets, Apple has created one of the most accessible development platforms for data transfer and productivity apps to date on a mobile phone. All you need to know to develop a widget for Tiger’s dashboard is XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With the iPhone running OS X, I’m assuming the requirements will be the same.

There are hoards of people who know these technologies and now they have a new toy to play with. Current mobile development platforms such as Symbian, Windows, and Java are the playgrounds of uber-geeks. No more! Now a weekender with a book on web development, some tips on how to create a widget, and a data source can create a mobile application.

Emphasis added by me. Although I am very grateful to those who develop things for the love of it, I also know there are people evil bastards who develop things for the maliciousness of it (see spambotting of the Dell, above!). Won’t you feel safer having Apple vet these things first?

If creating a widget for the iPhone is going to be almost as easy as creating a HyperCard stack was, then the same temptation for evil will exist. But so will the same exciting possibilities.

See also: widgipedia


Toronto Sun Are Dumb Bastards

February 4, 2007

So I go Google for any rumors I’ve missed of a possible Super Bowl 2007 TV ad from Apple. News.com and Gizmodo both point to a Toronto Sun article. I’d like to see the article so I can judge if it’s just echoing net rumors or if it has the infamous Unnamed Sources Inside Apple imprimatur.

I go to the article and am met with this bullshit:

Deal for Beatles on iTunes in works

By TERRY OTT, SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The worldwide Beatles grapevine is buzzing over the distinct possibility that the long-awaited remastering of the Fab Four’s United Kingdom CD back catalogue will finally see the light of day — by June.

The story you are searching for is available in its entirety via email, fax or mail for $10.00 (plus GST), payable with credit card (include expiry date).

TEN FUCKING DOLLARS?!!!?

This is the INTERNET you goddammed eejits! Not even the still-near-clueless New York Times charges a rate like that! I know the Canadian Dollar is shit and this will probably translate to $3US, but even that — for a piece that is probably nothing but bullshit rumor I’ve already read — is too much!

I’d really like to know who us echoing whom.

digg credits Leo Laporte.

But then Apple Gazette says it’s Macbreak Weekly‘s Merlin Mann who said it first.

But around the same time AppleInsider credits the eejits of the Toronto Sun!

I’m typing this near 3PM EST. The Super Bowl begins in about three hours.

Will there be a surprise jaw-dropping TV ad from Steve that will have the entire fucking world talking and which will be replayed over and over on TV this week?

Please Dear God if so let it be all of this!

By the way, if it turns out the source for this was indeed the Toronto Sun and there is indeed an ad along the lines of what they have claimed, I will change my headline here! Come back to see how much egg, if any, gets on me face.


LifeDrive Notes: Failure #1

January 22, 2007

I finally had a stretch of several hours to sit at the desktop PC to attempt bringing the LifeDrive back to, uh, Life.

This report will be a source of great merriment among the technomaniacs. But I figure every other brave/desperate dope like me is going to go through this process too, so even though I come off like an eejit, I intend to document it to save others from blindly flailing around as I have done.

I downloaded dd for Windows. This was the first Duh! It can’t just be clicked on to run. No. It doesn’t work like that. It took me some time to figure out that what it actually does is add the dd command to the Command Line Interface of Windows XP. Of course, this is the sort of baby step the tech jocks don’t bother to mention.

And, oh, using the CLI again was brain-damaging. I had to dredge my vast and cluttered mind for those damned few DOS commands of the early 1980s I once knew. Like how to change a directory and list files. Going through that, I can’t believe there were once people who preferred DOS over the MacOS in the mid-80s. No doubt those people are now drooling away watching static-y teevee in nursing homes for Alzheimer’s victims. CLIs kill brain cells!

Once I had the dd thing sorted out, I invoked it after plugging the LifeDrive’s 4GB Microdrive into a USB 2.0 multi-card r/w.

But I didn’t see anything that resembled the Microdrive pop up in the cryptic list of storage devices.

Hmmmm.

OK, maybe the reader couldn’t actually read a Microdrive. Others have reported such problems. However, the r/w light on it did show activity, so something had gone on.

I tried another multi-card r/w. This one was, groan, USB 1.0.

I invoked dd again.

Same result.

WTF? This I just refused to believe: that both r/w devices cannot see a Microdrive. I refused to believe it. Refused!!

I reviewed some of the directions I referenced here and saw that some people needed to reboot their machines with the Microdrive already attached.

OK, I tried that.

Cutting this short: Same bloody result! With both r/ws, dd did not list the Microdrive.

Then I saw in this 1src thread a mention of something called Windows Disk Management. I’d never heard of that before (go ahead and laugh, you CLI-huggers!). I had to use The Google Beast to find out where it lived in XP.

I got a Microsoft Knowledgebase page: How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP. That was the first time in my entire life of having to use the Microsoft Knowledgebase that I got the page I actually needed.

The 1src post then said:

When I placed the LDHD into the CF reader, Windows Disk Management saw it as a physical disk with the following:

partition1: 65MB, healthy
partition2: 22MB, unallocated
partition3: 3.73GB, healthy

Ah! This was good, useful stuff!

For me, however, Windows Disk Management reported:

Disk 1 Removable (E:) no media
Disk 2 Removable (F:) unreadable
Disk 3 Removable (G:) no media
Disk 4 Removable (H:) no media

And that explained why dd was not listing the Microdrive. Because:

Unreadable
The disk is inaccessible because of possible hardware failure, corruption, or I/O errors.

This was the point where I decided to give up. For now.

I have several possible future steps:

1) Learn some Linux.
2) Learn how to create a bootable Linux CD.
3) Learn how to get my PC to boot from that CD into Linux instead of XP.
4) Then get dd_rescue and try that. (This might be a total waste of time!)

Or

1) Learn some Linux.
2) Learn how to create a bootable Linux CD.
3) Learn how to get my PC to boot from that CD into Linux instead of XP.
4) Follow these hackndev instructions. (Which means learn a hell of lot of Linux!)

Or

Use Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru solution.

By this time, those with far more tekkk sKillZ than me are probably laughing like mad or ripping out their hair over some very (to them) obvious points I’ve missed.

No matter.

It would have been just swell if everything had gone smoothly. But I hadn’t expected it to. The entire point here is to be able to learn how to tranny a LifeDrive. And to learn what problems might crop up in that process and how to solve them.

My money and time haven’t yet been wasted. I’ve learned how to open up a LifeDrive, how to disconnect its battery, how to disconnect its speaker, how to lose its two wee feet (yep, I managed to do that; but I could have done without learning that!), how to slice through that eejit This Will Void Your Warranty!!! sticker, how to remove the Microdrive, how to use dd, and how to use Windows Disk Management.

And for what I paid for the LifeDrive — a unit that is in otherwise near-mint condition! — I am still ahead of the game. I am still way below the price of buying a new LifeDrive. The three hours I’ve spent in time go under the I’ve Learned Something New category. That is an accrual, not a deficit.

This is where things are right now. I must ponder my next steps.

Some things I wonder about, though. If that Microdrive is a total dead duck, what does Palm do with it when it’s sent in for service under warranty? If these drives are so prone to suicide, does Palm complain to Hitachi and get a refund or what? Does Palm have some whizzard software that does an xyzzy to determine if the drive can be salvaged? I wonder what the dumpsters behind Palm HQ are filled with? Hmmm…

So for those who want to sex-change a LifeDrive, here are the first two steps not offered anywhere else:

1) Brush up on those damned DOS commands!

2) Run Windows Disk Management first on the Microdrive to see if further action is possible.

LifeDrive Surgery Class is dismissed for now.


Fear The Future

January 19, 2007

When Being a Verb is Not Enough: Google wants to be YOUR Internet.

Seeing Google as their only alternative to bankruptcy, the ISPs will all sign on, and in doing so will transfer most of their subscriber value to Google, which will act as a huge proxy server for the Internet. We won’t know if we’re accessing the Internet or Google and for all practical purposes it won’t matter. Google will become our phone company, our cable company, our stereo system and our digital video recorder. Soon we won’t be able to live without Google, which will have marginalized the ISPs and assumed most of the market capitalization of all the service providers it has undermined — about $1 trillion in all — which places today’s $500 Google share price about eight times too low.

It’s a grand plan, but can Google pull it off? Yes they can.


Web Reference: Pepper Pad 3

January 12, 2007

Pepper Pad Community Forums
The Pouch
Does anyone know how to get Google video to show full screen?
So I am searching the market for a mobile bag that snugly and securely holds the PP3.
Tech pr0n: Pepper Pad 3 in bag
The Good, The Bad…The Ugly with PP3

The Bugs (with Pepper 3.1)

1. avout no longer works
2. browser still hangs fairly often

Man, I do not want #2!

NuShield
Pepper Pad 3 screen protector
Journal just pissed me off BIG TIME!

All gone. I only had the first line out of 3 hours work saved.

I don’t want that, either!


Pepper Pad 3 Upgrade News

January 12, 2007

CES 2007: Hanbit Electronics and Pepper® Computer Announce Pepper Linux® Upgrade for New Pepper Pad 3 Handheld Web Computer


Steven Levy Nails It Again

January 11, 2007

Apple Computer Is Dead; Long Live Apple

The things you do with an iPhone are familiar to many mobile-device users—e-mail, photography, messages, music, even watching video. But Apple’s relentless focus on simplicity, efficiency, utility and fun makes the iPhone seem a different species than its competitor, something more personal, more approachable and, ultimately, more desirable than anything else out there. The best I can compare it to is the transformation that came when Macintosh popularized the graphical user interface in the computing world, and the cold environment of the digital world suddenly welcomed “the rest of us,” as Apple’s ads put it.

And then there’s this tidbit from Jobs Himself:

“You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” meaning that anyone can write applications for it and potentially gum up the provider’s network, says Jobs. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”

Still, since the iPhone runs a full version of OS X, the operating system of the Macintosh computer, it’s reasonable to expect the device to take advantage of that power by running lots of applications, even if Apple has to vet them to make sure they won’t compromise the integrity of the network. In the version we saw last week, there aren’t a whole lot—the notable ones include SMS text messaging, the Safari Web browser, e-mail, iPhoto, Google maps and two mini-applications (known as widgets) for weather and stock prices. Jobs says we can expect more apps on the phone by the time it ships in June. (For instance, one might expect the iPhone to allow users to view Word documents, something that the prototype doesn’t do today.)

And this too from The Steve:

To Jobs, the whole issue of what future applications may run on the iPhone, and what billing system it uses, really isn’t the point. The big picture, he emphasizes, is how Apple has delivered what he considers a triumph on the scale of the original Macintosh and the iPod. “[The iPhone] is five years ahead of what everybody else has got,” he gushes. “If we didn’t do one more thing, we’d be set for five years!”

We’re getting rid of television. We’re getting rid of the Command and Control model. I guess it’s now time to get rid of the existing cellcos. Get to it, Silicon Valley!


Goo-Goo Ga-Ga

January 3, 2007

Google Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm

Google has always wanted to hire people with straight-A report cards and double 800s on their SATs.

All who will never be remembered in the Grand Sweep Of Time.

Balzac, Baudelaire, Poe, Nerval are remembered and known (and if you have to, uh, Google that last name, you’re not as goddammed smart as you think!).

Google itself will be dust swept under the rug in twenty-five years. And that includes YouTube.


Video Reference: LifeDrive

December 15, 2006

Replacing Palm Lifedrive Battery

YouTube
Google Video