Monday, December 15, 2008

Too Late for Palm

Palm Pins Its Hopes on Nova - BusinessWeek:
"Rubinstein and others say the goal is to create products that bridge the gap between Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry devices, oriented to work and e-mail, and Apple's iPhone, oriented to fun. 'People's work and personal lives are melding,' Colligan says, adding that Palm is aiming for the 'fat middle of the market.'"

A worthy aim for sure, but in the meantime iPhone OS keeps moving towards that centre and there's not going to be any room left there. In hindsight the critical moment might have been when Palm refused to sell to Apple, and when Steve Jobs realised the future of the PDA would be in the evolution of a media player into a primary personal computing device.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sony Ericsson get on Android

Good for Google I'm sure. Good for Sony Ericsson? Not so certain. Sony's history in terms of customising platforms and adding value is not so great, and they lose some of their differentiation. Bad for Microsoft? For sure.

Originally posted as a comment by sharl on MobileDevicesToday using Disqus.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

Awesome, terrifying story of how we got into this mess:
And short Eisman did—then he tried to get his mind around what he’d just done so he could do it better. He’d call over to a big firm and ask for a list of mortgage bonds from all over the country. The juiciest shorts—the bonds ultimately backed by the mortgages most likely to default—had several characteristics. They’d be in what Wall Street people were now calling the sand states: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada. The loans would have been made by one of the more dubious mortgage lenders; Long Beach Financial, wholly owned by Washington Mutual, was a great example. Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.
The End of Wall Street's Boom - National Business News -

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Technology as Leveler

Ray Ozzie Wants to Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode :

One incident in particular introduced Ozzie to the magic that comes when people connect via computer. He had taken a part-time assignment helping a professor finish writing some courseware. The prof lived on the other side of town, so Ozzie collaborated with him remotely. Ozzie came to know and like his boss, save for one annoyance. "He was the worst typist ever," Ozzie says. "He was very eloquent on email, but on Term Talk it was just dit-dit-dit, sometimes an error, but agonizingly slow." At the end of the project, the man threw a party at his house, and Ozzie discovered the reason for the typing problem: The professor was a quadriplegic and had been entering text by holding a stick in his teeth and poking it at the keyboard. Ozzie was floored.

I remember an experience myself back in about '95 when someone I was swapping 2600 cart sources with on Usenet turned out to be similarly disadvantaged. One of Darian System's first consultancies for setting up a cybercafe was with a registered blind entrepreneur. Both personal wake-up calls to how technology could change things for the better, and key to understanding why I remain, at heart, an optimist when it comes to this business.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence

I won't even attempt to go into the myriad reasons for my extended absence here. I'll simply say sorry and move on. More soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Marketing as Disease

I've had fights at work over this same thing: Viral Marketing is bullsh*t. Adoptive Marketing isn’t.
I hated the word “viral” the very first time I heard it in the mid 1990s, probably because it made Marketing sound like we were spreading a disease other people had no choice but to spread, too. At the time, the whole “viral marketing” thing got people excited because it used the Internet to cheaply spread crap like Burger King videos or Hotmail invitations. Dance monkeys, dance.

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Häxan (1922)

Last night's Birmingham Town Hall screening of Häxan was remarkable, not least for the Julian Cope lecture that preceded it:
But there is much more to "Häxan" than a mere collection of grotesque images and vignettes. Towards the end, in particular, the commentary becomes quite pointed. It is quite easy for anyone - film-maker, writer, commentator - to criticize and condemn the beliefs and practices of the Middle Ages or of any other long past era. But it is far more of a challenge to, as Christensen has done here, point out the sometimes devastating parallels to one's own era. It is always such a comforting fiction to believe that we are so much more enlightened than past generations have been, and yet it is rarely if ever true.
Häxan isn't easy-going for a modern audience, partly because familiarity with some of the imagery has reduced it to the level of the ridiculous, partly because it takes its time in developing scenes that wouldn't get screen time now. It's still amazing though, and demonstrates the sheer wonder about the medium that must have been commonplace in 1922. Here's a clip, though lacking the electronic live soundtrack we were treated to last night.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Force Feeding

Over-jealous waiters annoy me almost as much as they do Christopher Hitchens:
The vile practice of butting in and pouring wine without being asked is the very height of the second kind of bad manners. Not only is it a breathtaking act of rudeness in itself, but it conveys a none-too-subtle and mercenary message: Hurry up and order another bottle.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Going deeper on Digital Photography

I've been looking for proper information on this sort of thing, and I've found no better than Norman Koren's particle on Tonal quality and dynamic range in digital cameras:
If you choose to save images in RAW format, you should expose to capture maximum information: to maintain as much highlight and shadow detail as possible, even if the middle tones aren't what you want in the final print. You should strive to capture all highlights except for bright light sources and specular reflections. You should expose enough to capture detail in large shadow areas. I mostly agree with the article, Expose (to the) Right, which recommends setting the exposure to the maximum value that doesn't burn out highlights. (This applies only to images saved in RAW format.) However I wouldn't go too far. A little margin doesn't hurt; there are plenty of levels in 12-bit A-to-D converters. In extreme situations, you may want to make two exposures and combine them.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Best news of the week, in a week of horrible news

Steven Moffat gets the Doctor Who lead job:
Moffat said: "I applied before but I got knocked back 'cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven.
"Anyway, I'm glad the BBC has finally seen the light and it's a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television.
Pretty much all the best episodes have had Moffat's name on them.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

XP is Vista light

Thanks to DF for the heads up on this wonderful bit of Redmond doublethink:
Dell will take advantage of a licensing option in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate that lets PC makers provide XP under the Vista license, which Microsoft calls a "downgrade" license. (Enterprises with site licenses have these same rights with any version of Vista.) In essence, the user is buying a Vista license that it can apply to XP, and Microsoft can still claim a Vista sale.
In other news, war is peace, and we have always been at war with Eurasia.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Software, seen via the history of popular music

On First Installing Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 6 — Thought Palace:
If this is the “lite”, for-dummies, cheap-n-cheerful version of Photoshop, I can’t imagine how huge the real version must be. I mean, if MacPaint was “Rock Around The Clock”, and the first version of Photoshop was, say, “Please Please Me”, then this is Yes’s Tales From Topographic Oceans. If so, that makes Acorn and Pixelmator something like “The Clash” and “Pink Flag”, respectively; not really a threat to the hegemony yet, but if future versions can mature into “London Calling” and “154”, it’ll be time to kick out the jams.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Microsoft to Yahoo: You will be mine.

Microsoft Sends Letter to Yahoo! Board of Directors: Microsoft Sends Letter to Yahoo! Board of Directors:
If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

You only notice great UI when it's not there

Good article on the iPhone from The Times:
However, the shocking surprise is the web browser. The iPhone’s browser allows you magically to expand and shrink the pages you’re looking at with that funky iPhone touch interface. This is a really big deal. You can do this on photos of course, but no one, except Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, really needs to zoom in on photo details that often, although it’s a fun gimmick to demo to mates. You need to do it on web pages all the time when you’re peering at a small screen, and it’s brilliantly effective.

Actually, it's become a big deal for me in viewing photos too. My seven-year-old is always zooming in and out on the iPod touch to get a better view of people in pictures. A friend was showing me some photos on her Nokia N95 a couple of weeks ago, and I automatically tried to stretch the photo to get a better view before remembering that not all photo viewers work like that. It's remarkable that after about 6 months of owning the iPod touch this gesture has become hard-wired into my brain, and testament to how natural it is in the first place.

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Webomatica: I Deleted My FaceBook Account

And so it begins:

I Deleted My FaceBook Account:
It’s also just too popular for its own good. I reached a point where I was overwhelmed, spending time fending off emails with super pokes and vampires, resulting in blocking app behavior and ultimately deleting them. I was spending more time ignoring and preventing communication which is the opposite of what the site is supposed to be about. I didn’t feel enabled. I didn’t feel like I had any control. And most importantly: it wasn’t productive. Pretty much everything I did on Facebook was a just a huge waste of time.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sony: PR people on Crack.

Anything I could say about this is just unnecessary.

Barcelona, Spain - 10th February 2008 -Today marked the launch of XPERIATM and a new era in mobile communications with the announcement of the XPERIA™ X1, a stand-out, arc slider phone from Sony Ericsson designed to address the growing need for a premium, converged mobile experience.

The XPERIATM X1 combines a 3-inch clear wide VGA display and a full QWERTY keyboard within a quality metal-finish body. With Windows Mobile® inside, the XPERIA™ X1 lets you choose from a dynamic range of activities at anytime and anywhere; from enjoying your favourite entertainment content to working efficiently on-the-move. Access a world of experiences simply by touching the XPERIA™ panel on the screen.

"XPERIA™ represents the first brand that is truly borne from within Sony Ericsson. It represents our vision for a premium, energised communication experience," said Dee Dutta, Head of Marketing, Sony Ericsson. "This launch, and the announcement of the X1, further strengthens the overall Sony Ericsson brand and places us at the forefront of mobile convergence."

(via Gizmodo)

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

My American Friends.

Ok there's an amount of good old American Cheese contained herein, it's too long (as a video, not as a speech), and it still might not help defeat the hillaryzilla. The message is spot on though, and it makes me wish I could vote in the US election. If you can, you know what you have to do.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I don't know whether to laugh or cry

The HEMA - online winkelen is obviously a joke (though the folks at the Register don't seem to get it), but it's one of those jokes that might only be funny if you're Dutch. And a Web Designer. And on drugs. Or if you were a big fan of Mousetrap.

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Portable Hotspot

Connect your laptop to internet easily using your mobile phone's internet connection.

-- JoikuSpot is free
-- JoikuSpot turns Nokia Smartphone to a Wi-Fi HotSpot
-- 1-click SMS download from

JoikuSpot is software based, no hardware or cables needed.
Recommended use with unlimited mobile data plans.

I'd almost buy a N95 to use this. Maybe I should investigate a second-hand N80. Is there a small, wifi-equipped S60 phone that doesn't suck? I'd be leaving it in my bag as a hotspot for my iPod touch whatever.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The platform just gets better.

Apple Adds New iPhone & iPod touch Models:
“For some users, there’s never enough memory,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod and iPhone Product Marketing. “Now people can enjoy even more of their music, photos and videos on the most revolutionary mobile phone and best Wi-Fi mobile device in the world.”

No fuss, no song-and-dance, just a press release and more memory to hold your TV shows and all those third-party apps that be-a-comin'. Contrast this with Nokia putting 8GB in the N95, and practically relaunching the damn thing. I wouldn't mind so much if the black N95 had fixed the shitty buttons. And if we needed telling again, the iPod is now a Wi-Fi mobile device rather than an mp3 player. Oh, and the average price just went up. Weren't Apple supposed to be getting squeezed by low-cost commodity players by now?

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Colombian drugs lord found dead:
Colombia's most-wanted drugs baron has been found dead in a holiday cabin in the Venezuelan city of Merida.
Officials confirmed the body is that of Wilber Varela, alias "Soap", a man with a long and bloody history as leader of the Norte del Valle drug cartel.

While Varela had a $5m bounty from the US on his head, the evidence suggests he was killed by his own men.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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I can't see this working

That's Noah as in "nooooo... arrggghh" then?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

The next-generation disk that wasn't.

Byte of the Apple iTunes Movies Outsell HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disc - BusinessWeek:
Interesting statistical aside from the Jobs keynote on Tuesday. Apple has sold 7 million movies since the, and yet that number has been more or less deemed a failure. But, thats a million more than the six million Blu-Ray Discs sold as of the end 2007 according to Home Media Research, besting HD-DVD by a near 2-to-1 margin. MacDailyNews points out that iTunes Movies hit the 7 million mark after 15 months, besting the 18 months it took Blu-Ray out hit the six million mark.

It's not just me that's said it before: No-one but the Industry wants a new disk format. The future might just be plain DVD plus HD digital-only.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Sony screws up DRM-free downloads

Sony BMG Confirms DRM-free Music Downloads, But …:
The ideal situation would have been simple downloads from say, Amazon MP3. But no, Sony had to add brick-and-mortar into the process. You will have to buy a gift card at a retail outlet and then use it on Sony’s MusicPass site, and only that site. This new program, called Platinum MusicPass, will start on January 15th, according to a press release at the MusicPass site.

Seriously. Would someone pin a 'going out of business' sign on these guys?

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Warner goes Blu-Ray, consumers keep wallets shut?

Hollywood's DVD Problem: Not Going Away - Silicon Alley Insider:
Separately, consumers still need to 1) upgrade their old sets to HiDef ones, which is happening at the high end of the market but still isn't a mainstream behavior and 2) become convinced that they need new DVD players. The latter isn't a given, because for many folks, conventional DVDs viewed on nice HiDef screens looks pretty good already. And if that's the case, then they're not likely to be in a hurry for a new machine, format war or no.

Personally, I'm in no hurry to replace my DVDs, and I'm this close to digitising the whole lot and waiting for a proper digital-download solution that just works. What does that mean? It means a simple way of ripping my existing disks and cataloguing them, a proper connection to my EyeTV stuff, TV programs on demand, rental movies downloaded, and whatever physical format emerges handled too. Oh and it means it all working together properly and playing nicely with my iPod. I won't hold my breath, though I'm curious about whatever emerges from MacWorld shedding some light on Apple's role in making it happen.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Negroponte: "Waah! Not Fair!"

Laptop-Project Founder Fa. ults Intel -
Mr. Negroponte proposed creating a $100 laptop three years ago as a way to bridge the technology divide between rich and poor countries. But the current model sells for $188 and because of increasing competition, OLPC has had trouble attracting large orders from governments.

Of course, it couldn't possibly be because it's a POS could it? I've seen videos and Flickr sets of some of the poor saps who went for the 'give-one-get-one' guilt trip deal trying to get anything done on the damn thing and, well really, give me a break. Are we really saying that if a developing nation wanted to buy a million laptops they couldn't negotiate the price of the Asus eee pc down to $200 or less? I know which I'd choose.

And for my money this is still the best comment on the whole fiasco.

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