Wednesday, January 18, 2012

5 pieces of technology that defined my adolescence

The Verge posted this and asked what was my five. I posted in the comments, but I'm reposting here for posterity.

1. My first cell phone. GSM, it was on Sprint's now defunct GSM system. Such a great little phone. 30 minutes of call time a month for 30 bucks and the first incoming minute was free!

2. My first touchscreen. I remember it being terribly expensive and then it died cuz it got submerged in water. Didn't know until I was researching that there's a shrine for this watch

3. NES, what else is there to say?

4. Worked a whole summer to buy this thing. I dreamt about it constantly. The possibility to have console quality games in my hand was too much. 400 bucks for this thing was too damn steep though.

5. Waterproof and played all my tapes. It was *the* walkman to have during my highschool days.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Switching from the (first gen) iPhone to the G1 Android

A friend of mine asked why I was preordering the T-mobile G1 rather than jumping ship from T-mobile (which I am using with a hacked iPhone) to AT&T for the 3G iPhone. He was considering the iPhone and was curious why I didn't want to upgrade. I wrote him an email but I figured it was good enough to post as well:
Personally, I think you will enjoy the iPhone. I mean, I've had it for over a year now and its been pretty good to use. The lack of a persistent apps, like a google talk client is kinda weak, seeing how the blackberry can do it (which seems pretty underpowered in comparison). Also, I'm kinda curious how expandable and far the apps will go for the G1. I mean, T-mobile says no tethering, but I can bet that's gonna be blown away within the first few months from a dev. Also, seeing how the first gen iPhone doesn't have GPS and the G1 has a nicer camera on it, and the fact that I didn't wanna really switch to AT&T (wiretapping is legal!), I figured I'd go with the G1. The hardware is intriguing even if there is no 3.5mm jack. I always liked the trackball from the blackberries and I kinda like hardware keys. Even though I can type pretty fast on the iPhone now, there still is some cognitive dissonance since there is no feedback from the keyboard, especially since I've turned off the keyboard clicks. I think coupled with my curiosity and my growing annoyance with some of the small niggles of my first gen iPhone made me take the leap to preorder the G1. That and I didn't wanna pay 35 bucks a month for data and 200 SMS text messages which would push my monthly bill close to 80 bucks a month after taxes are included.

If you want your phone to work well, and you don't mind the limitations of the SDK (which means stuff like not being able to download a podcast without iTunes or customization of the themes, which for the latter technically you can do if you jailbreak the phone) and you don't miss a hardware keyboard, I think you'll like it. There is one caveat as of now. Apple released 2.1 for the iPhone and while its less buggy, its still kinda buggy. I mean before, if I opened an app on the 1.1.x version, it was instantaneous. Now when I open an app, even a core app like SMS, Safari, or Contacts, there is a 1 or 2 second freeze before it starts operating which is a lot better than the 2.0.x versions which would freeze for 4 or 6 seconds before anything would happen. I think v2.x is a deviation from the iPhone's supposed roadmap because they felt they had to open up the platform with a SDK before they were ready to do so since they knew there was a demand. Feels like a bit of mismanagement from the mighty Jobs but who knows. Maybe v2.2 will fix a lot of the issues I'm bringing up here. They say that since there isn't persistence in the apps, they'll handle notifications (like new IMs) via a notifications server. It was supposed to be released in 2.1 but I guess they had a huge mess to clean up with the 2.0.x debacle, since calls were dropping, crap was buggy, and a lot apps were just crashing. The other annoying thing about non-persistence is that if I had a webpage open in safari, and I close it, and I don't have a signal, there won't be a cached page of what you were looking at if you start safari back up. Its like its wiped clean and will try to retrieve the URL again, since the URL is the only thing that is cached. You should read this esquire article, it seems to make a little sense, even if the writing style is kinda douchey and a bit pretentious.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nokia's New tablet...revisited

So the cat is finally out of the box and Nokia has come clean on its new Tablet. This was just a scant 10 months after they had introduced their second generation tablet, the n800. Although pundits seem to be saying this is not technically a third generation but a 2.5. Why? Because the guts of the machine are almost the same (except they over-clocked the processor, or underclocked the n800's depending on perspective) and they slapped on a nice slide-out keyboard (finally!) and a GPS chip. So does it address some the issues I outlined in my previous post, let's take a look.
  1. Out of the box web browsing experience: Looks like Nokia has been listening, they've replaced the close sourced Opera browser with Mozilla/Firefox variant which is able to handle sites like Google Docs with ease, judging from ThoughtFix's videos over at tabletblog, youtube seems to work fine. Nokia has also finally added more video codecs so let's hope that videos on certain webpages will play just fine. Page rendering seems to have been alleviated with a snappier processor. Again, I'm going to reserve judgement on this though until I actually have one in my hand to test.

  2. Media Player: It still looks like something that's been thrown together. Nokia really needs to put some more time/money/man power into developing this thing into something usable.

  3. Email: Still the same crappy email client. This is not good, especially with the introduction of the keyboard. People will want to use email more and more with such a device. Of course there's always be webmail, but really, if that's the case, why even give us such a crappy client to begin with?

  4. Non-symbiotic relationship: we're still tethered to the desktop to do OS/firmware updates. bleh.

  5. GUI: Same ol' same old. Obviously, no one in Nokia's maemo division has picked up an ipod touch/iphone and see what consumers are readily getting used to with finger gestures and the ability to forgo the use of a stylus.

  6. Transflective screen (viewable in the sun): YES! Finally, someone in the design team decided not to go cheap on us.

They've also thrown in GPS and maps which is a nice touch, except to unlock all of its potential, you have to pony up more cash to subscribe to the features.

Now here's the kicker, the n800 has started to become a lot cheaper on various online stores. You can find it as little as 230 bucks at How much does Nokia want for the n810? 480 bucks. That's more than double for essentially a keyboard, GPS chip, and a transflective screen. Not to mention that you lose dual-full size SD card slots (from the n800) to one mini-SD card slot and non-removable 2GB flash memory onboard. Which to some might seem like an ok trade-off, but to most users that were looking to upgrade from the n800, looks like a downgrade.

Had Nokia released this tablet as its first iteration rather than the third, it might be a revolutionary product, but as it stand now, I'm not that super-excited about purchasing such a device for such an expensive price.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nokia's third Internet Tablet

A few days ago, Nokia unofficially announced their third iteration of their internet tablet. Ok, they didn't announce it, but it showed up on the FCC testing radar. I truly hope Nokia makes a better product to the point that it hits critical mass. I do know they tried with their n800 model, but it became a niche player. Why? Because it was still targeted at the power-user set but they tried to market it to the everyday person. Here are the reasons why I held off on purchasing one, even though I do own its predecessor (the Nokia 770)
  1. If you're going to call it an internet tablet, it has to handle whatever the internet throws at it. This includes but isn't limited to the following:

    1. Be able to play youtube and the like smoothly. This should work out of the box without any types of tweaks.

    2. Speaking of video, any other types of embeded multimedia should also play flawlessly. That means quicktime videos, windows media videos, and the like. I know that's a minefield that a big corporation like Nokia could probably maneuver if they realized that the mass market isn't going to want some half-baked internet browser.

    3. Web Applications like Google Documents should be usable as much as it is on any plain old web browser

    4. Page rendering should be snappy. I shouldn't feel like I'm sitting on my old 486DX computer trying to browse the web. If I'm connected via broadband speeds, I should have a broadband web browsing experience. (This was not the case with the Nokia 770, trying to load something like slowed to a crawl)

  2. If Nokia is going to tout its tablet as also a powerful multimedia machine, it shouldn't release it with such a poorly designed, unintuitive and ugly media player.

  3. People still use Email, and good god, the email app on the maemo platform (the operating system that the these tablets run on) is horrendous.

  4. Non-symbiotic relationship with a desktop. If Nokia wants to set up an ecosystem with my desktop like Apple does with its iPhones and iPods, then great. There would be a reason for my to hook up my tablet to my desktop to sync stuff or whatever, but if its to be its own entity, why do I need to connect to my desktop to update its firmware?

  5. Easier user interface. The Maemo graphical user interface (GUI) is horrible. Its not very snappy, nor is it very intuitive. I hate to say it, but Apple did something Nokia didn't consider. If you're going to move to a touchscreen environment, then shouldn't be borrowing GUI elements that require a keyboard or a mouse. On top of which, get rid of the stylus. No one wants to peck at screen with a tiny stylus, especially if its on the go.

  6. Nokia marketed the internet tablet as something "on the go." If that's the case, why can I not read the screen when I'm outdoors? Get with it Nokia. Even your cell phones have better displays in the sunlight than the current tablets.

I'm sure there a ton more, but the "open-ness" of the platform that everyone loves, since its built on Linux, might also be its achilles' heel as well. A lot of the applications out there are ported over to be "good enough." But there isn't any killer app, besides, maybe Canola (a flashy multimedia player) that really shows off the strength of the tablet. Unless Nokia uses its corporate thinking to spruce up the platform a bit to the point that it will appeal to the masses and not the geeks. Here's hoping they figure that out sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Facebook gets it far

I'm enjoying using Facebook a lot more immensely than MySpace in the past few weeks. While I bitch about closed (technical) systems sometimes, I like the fact that Facebook only gives people that I know access to my content. Meaning, I can share photos and videos of events going on in my life with the people I know. A closed social system that tries its best to protect my privacy is great. Of course this could be accomplished on Flickr or YouTube too I guess, but Facebook is more broad than the niche areas that Flickr & YouTube serve up. After all, the latter options are focused on only sharing video, or only sharing photos, but with Facebook, its a one stop shop. It also helps that its where everyone is flocking to these days.

I think it also says a lot that people are fickle. Give them something better and they'll immediately drop what they're used to as long as they see some extra value. Which is why there seems to be this jump from from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook with the majority of people I know. I guess people aren't married to technological habits as much as they are to real life ones.

More Apple woes

Do you hear that sound? That's the sound of a corporation that bought into their own hype and got greedy. This is the year that Apple's stock might be soaring, but its also the year of many mis-steps. First, screwing early adopters out of 100 bucks only months after they released their iPhones. Which really isn't that big of a deal until you look at all the other factors that come into play.

  1. OS X Leopard gets delayed. Everyone was expecting this beast to drop in June. I mean it has been touted as the next best thing for the last 2 years and now? We're not getting it til October.

  2. iPods rushed to market. Sure the new iPod line-up is nice, but now there is all these bugs that are popping up because Apple got greedy. iPod Touch screens are having quality issues with dark screens. Coverflow and the UI for the iPod Classic and iPod Nano are buggy and not performing up to what most people expect from Apple.

  3. More closed standards rather than open standards as time marches on. They tried to lock the iPod out of any other interface besides iTunes. Most people use iTunes which is fine, but what about the small set of people that want to use Linux? Before, no problem, but now the new iPods have a hash (that's already been cracked thankfully) to make sure who and what is connecting to it to upload music. I'm sure Apple is claiming that they're doing it for our own good. To "protect" us, but really, they're doing it for themselves. iTunes is now locking out any home-made ringtones. There was a way to circumvent this in the last few versions but Apple keeps patching them. What if I want to put ringtones on there of my dog barking? Does the RIAA have a say on that? What about a recording of anything that wasn't produced by some commercial entity? And of course why is the RIAA getting to say what Fair Use is on music that I own? Where is the little guy telling Steve Jobs that the RIAA is screwing us?

I take it that Steve Jobs is now thinking that the more closed of a system he can create, the better he can control who and what uses his products will offer rather than letting consumers do what they want with it. Its like telling a child that he should only use a spoon to eat with and not use it to dig up dirt in the backyard.

And today? To call a press conference to offer the same phone to the UK? I mean seriously, I don't know how many Europeans are really gonna buy into the iPhone. Sure, its a great iPod, but from my understanding, Europe is rocking 3G. That means most people that are data enabled and tech savvy are already hopping along at broadband speeds over their cellular network. Are they really going to want to downgrade to EDGE speeds just so they can lock themselves into the iTunes+iPod walled garden?

Sure, Apple makes things that usually "just work" that doesn't require you to be an elite hacker to get things done, but the larger they grow, they more greedy they get. If they move on this path much longer, I definitely will begin to lose faith in them, and they sure will be getting less and less of my money.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm starting to dislike Apple

I remember a time when I was pissed that Microsoft was flexing its monopolistic muscle so much. They had the power and they knew it. They started locking people down with their stupid "Genuine Advantage" activation crap and dictating what people should and shouldn't be doing with their machines. And now Apple is doing the same crap with their iPhones and iPods. Seriously, since they've gotten the power of the mp3 market, they've done their best to muscle out any freedoms their consumers can do with their devices. Why am I paying a buck to make a ringtone out of my own music? And why am I only allowed to do it with what the mafIAA has said could or could not be a ringtone.

I'm kinda annoyed that Apple is doing the same thing with a lot of their practices now. They stood on the shoulders of open source projects because they were the underdog but now they're in a position to do something with that power, they're locking stuff down. I remember Steve Jobs's speech at Stanford about to "stay hungry" and "stay foolish."

Hey Steve, how about Apple stay hungry and stay foolish and be on the side of your users, especially the ones that were with you thick and thin, and not the corporate lawyers and your shareholders.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Ubuntu for me

After a week trying to use Ubuntu on my ultra tiny VAIO and wanting to really like it, I couldn't. I switched back to the evil M$ with much chagrin but Ubuntu just isn't ready for everyday use. And its sad that Windows "just works" better than Ubuntu. Because we all know Windows does not "just work." I really wish there was a polished version of OSX86 out there for my machine.

After reading today's column from Walt Mossberg about how Ubuntu isn't ready for primetime, I feel somewhat vindicated about my decision. First 2 annoyances out of the box with Ubuntu were simple things that should've been thought about from the get-go. Why is there no trackpad support to adjust my trackpad? Why did I have to go into a text editor to configure it?

Second, no GUI for bluetooth networking?! I had to go to a terminal screen, even after I had did a bunch of terminal hacks, to tether to my phone to get online? This was a deal-breaker since I rely on bluetooth quite often and realized this after I had no easy way to access it.

Third, out of the box, none of my videos played properly. Not on VLC, not on mplayer, and not on a couple other players I "apt-getted."

I really wish there was something polished as OSX but in an open-source form, but it just ain't happening. So here I wait, adjusting to landscape that is fraught with frustration.

Friday, August 31, 2007

iphonesimfree warped time space

What the hell is wrong with that site. They claim they've unlocked the cellphone with proof on Engadget...but its been a week since that and they claimed it would be for sale this week. Guess what? Week's almost over! Plus, if they sell the unlock for more than 40 bucks, I don't think they're gonna have a lot of takers.

Then again, I don't even have an iPhone nor plan on buying one anytime soon!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I don't usually youtube

I guess this makes me an old fogey, but most of the time, I don't use youtube, or any other type of video flash-based stuff. Maybe its because usually, I'm either on my internet tablet nokia 770 and it doesn't do video. I have to get an n800 for that, and the other time, I'm on my little hacked notebook that doesn't seem to have proper sound drivers. The only time I'm in front of a proper computer is when I'm on my work computer which unfortunately is sitting in a wide open space where there are no cubicle walls, so I can not just slack off without someone noticing. Thus, I don't use youtube that much.

Was there a point to this post? I guess even how pervasive youtube is nowadays, I've gotten over the gee whiz value of online videos...that or I'm becoming a crotchety old man.