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.