Jul 30

Nintendo DS, I never even got to know you; When the iPhone convergence story wins

Apple, Tech, iPhone with tags: , 2 Comments »

I have been wanting a Nintendo DS for quite some time. I have watched friends with their special ROMs that have every game under the Sun on them, and some of the games have phenomenal game play. I always love a device that focuses on that rather than raw graphics.

I don’t know why I didn’t get around to getting one. I think that the reason partially lies in the fact that I had bought a PSP when it first game out. It was great fun to play, but since I had a child quite shortly after, I think that my nephews have played it more than I.

There lies the rub. For me, the only real time that I get to play something like that (including a DS if I had one) is on a flight. In those times when boredom sometimes strikes, the Internet isn’t there to help, and you are stuck in cabin where the idea of doing anything useful on the flight disappears.

So, I never have got a DS. I don’t think I will end up with one now, because I can just download games to the iPhone. There aren’t any that I love right now, but I can enjoy a short period playing Tetris and trying out some free / very cheap new games that try to use the gyros.

I trust that the same will go for the Amazon Kindle too. I really like it in theory, and I am waiting for the next version to come out. But by then we may have a MacBook Touch that will illuminate the need.

Sometimes the convergence play doesn’t work. The bulky “I do it all” stops making sense, and you just want something that does that one thing really well. Apple is nailing it though, and I think that the iPhone is actually going to be THE computer in the years to come.

Bluetooth to headsets, glasses that show the screen directly on your retina, voice controls, magic keyboards, and a hell of a lot of processing in the cloud.

I am sorry that I will only be buying a few devices in the future. I always remember my iPhone. I often forget the PSP etc.

Jul 29

Green Suburus, Yellow International Scouts, and Passats

Personal with tags: , , , 8 Comments »

Ah, Boulder. As soon as you come over the hill on 36 and get the first glimpse of the city, you also get to drive past a green Suburu. This year they are a touch different, in that they have Obama stickers on them as well as “Dog is my pilot”, “My karma ran over my dogma”, and “Impeach Bush”.

When back in Colorado, I get to drive a 1972 International Scout. Think of a Jeep that was made by a company that made tractors and the like. Oh, and it is banana yellow.

Here is Sam enjoying driving it:

International Scout

It can take awhile to warm up and get started, it doesn’t handle great, and you don’t want to put your foot down in it, and these are reasons why I love it. It slows you down. The mountains slow you down. It is also interesting to think about it is a car that doesn’t have 500 computer chips in it, and you could open up Car Mechanics for Dummies and actually do something with it.

As I drove the Scout to the airport I not only nodded as I had the Suburus go by, but I also saw a disproportionate number of VW Passats, just like years ago when I lived in Boulder. I remember test driving one and thinking about getting it. You know, the Audi without the price tag and the stigma. I decided against it, and turned out to be very glad as this was just when the VW plants were moved south of the border to save money. Quality tanked, and we quickly saw less and less VM Passats and Jettas, as Toyota kept on marching along.

If you ever see me with a dog in the front seat of a green Suburu, remind me of this post and shout loudly at me :)

Jul 28

new Kitt(); Componentizing the Kitt animation for eye-ball browser testing

JavaScript, Tech with tags: , , 1 Comment »

Kitt of Knight Rider

Ever since Aaron Boodman uses the back and forth saw animation to demonstrate how the Gears WorkerPool can keep your UI responsive with the browser, I have used it for testing just that. It turns out the human eye is quite good at the “oh man look at how badly that jumps” kind of test.

To make it simple, I have componentized it, allowing you to drop in a kitt.js and a new Kitt() to be on your way.

Kitt Element

This is the minimum that you need to kick one off. The new Kitt will look for an element with the default id of ‘kitt’. Since it isn’t found, one is created and appended to the end of the body.

What about expanding this?

You can tell Kitt to do more, such as giving it an explicit id, colors to use, whether to use the automatic start and stop buttons, etc. Here is an example that turns off the buttons and programatically starts and stops the animation.

var evilkitt = new Kitt({id: 'evilkitt', animateBackgroundColor: 'red', hideButtons: true });
setTimeout(function() { evilkitt.stop(); }, 6000);

With this simple little component at work, I can drop it in on the variety of performance testing work that I am doing more and more of these days (hopefully something to share one of these days).

Now, I need to make it use SoundManager2 and the sound of Kitt! ;)

For more information, check out the Google Code project that hosts the code.

Jul 28

A second look at Dare on the OWF

Google, Tech with tags: , 1 Comment »

Dare Obsasanjo took some of my words among many others when he discussed his thoughts on the Open Web Foundation.

When I take a look at his post, I see two things:

Is using a question a way to be more passive?

Dare has used a technique that I have most recently seen in the political scene. He has disparaging words on the OWF and motives, then talks about Google participation using the question technique:

Why would Google decide to sponsor a separate standards organization that competes with the IETF that has less inclusive processes than the IETF, no clear idea of how corporate sponsorship will work and a yet to be determined IPR policy?

There are several Googlers showing up on the list and participating. This isn’t surprising since many Googlers care about the Open Web and find it a good home for them. Also note that there are plenty of contributors from Yahoo!, Facebook, Sun, IBM, various open source folks, and even Microsoft itself!

One of the values of the OWF is that it is individual based and not company, yet Dare takes the fact that some Googlers like myself are involved and claims that we speak for Google in a certain way.

What about the IETF/insert your favourite group

Dare talks about the IETF, a standards org that many of the folks participating in the OWF admire and participate in! There are plenty of groups out there that have attributes that are fantastic. The IETF is particularly light weight, and there is much to learn there too.

However, as others brought up, why have many of the recent APIs not gone through that body? Why didn’t OpenID/OAuth/oEmbed/… go there?

Dare talks about the IPR side of things, but in fact the editor of the RFC actually has a lot of control, so much so that you can’t always tell where you stand and you have to read the fine print. Many of the standards are done 100% correctly, but not having the rules set clearly at the org level can be a worry.

I also feel like community is a part of it too, and something that people often don’t think about. Why do we have the Dojo Foundation? It may have started out as a way to do open source correctly, according to the values of folks such as Alex Russell and Dylan Schieman, and with a safe correct legal structure. New projects come into Dojo though in a way where there is a match on those values, and as such there is a Dojo community feel. The same can be said for Apache. It has a community.

I personally hope that the Open Web Foundation creates a productive community that revolves around the core values that we are all creating as I type this. There is a reason that this is the Open Web Foundation, and not the Open License Foundation. This is about the Web.

And that is the point Dare. Come join us. I have been so happy to see people that have spent a lot of time in IETF, OASIS, W3C, ISO, JCP, and many more orgs, and have strong opinions on what needs to be done here.

Also, we need to hold off on any praise until we have projects coming through incubation. When we see the projects and the community come to fruition, then we can make more judgments.

Jul 27

Monkey Balls: Watch out Threadless

Tech with tags: , , , No Comments »

A couple of folks pinged me about the monkey balls comment in my last post, so here is what is going on.

I enjoy a nice game of table tennis (much more civilized than ping pong don’t you think?). Unfortunately, my table didn’t quite work when I moved to Palo Alto.

Fortunately, there is a nice basement in the family cabin in Eldora, Colorado. My father-in-law and his brother tirelessly took a shipment out from the storage closet in the midwest, and this shipment included the table.

Now that we could move in to the new abode, we got the table ready and the action really kicked off when Madeline (sis-in-law) brought over some other summer-lovin (read: not working and having too much fun) mates who make good margs.

Unfortunately, the new pad has the white wall thing going on, which made it hard for some of these young folk to see the ball. The solution, thankfully was not to take Sharpee pens to the walls, but instead to the balls. With a copy of The Onion on the bed, everyone set to creating a true work of art that included two monkeys, a mountain lake panorama (Lake Dorthy to be exact), tiger stripes, multi-colors, and some HEAT.

You can watch a short snippet of the frolicking:

Wait a minute, they don’t have jobs! How about taking the Threadless.com model and putting it to use on ping pong balls! Have people send in designs, and people buy the best of them!

Of course, not only are these used for table tennis itself. The great college sport of Beer Pong could be a sure fire game to sell into. What about sponsorship? iBeer for the iPhone was a great idea for Carlsburg. You grab a “game” that is an ad for their product! How about a Carlsberg set of pong balls? Each one has less beer in it than the last!

Jul 27

New Facebook: Popups? Errors? Content-less?

Facebook, Tech No Comments »

When I heard that Facebook had released a more FriendFeed like version I was excited. Maybe this would bring me back into the Facebook world that I have pretty much left alone as a destination (now using FriendFeed and Twitter more, even though that means I am in tech-friend land).

At first glance I liked it. The river of news flow, the un-boxiness. Good stuff.

I quickly ran into flaws though. I wanted to upload my video on monkey balls (not what you think) and I got a “hey you need to allow popups”. Really? Isn’t this going backwards? The video upload experience has always been top notch on Facebook, why ruin it now?

Then in the popup it completed but with no way to save the info. I opened up Firebug and found this:

New Facebook Error

If I didn’t despise the phrase “FAIL” and “EPIC FAIL” I would have used those terms. To get the video up there, I had to go back in time and go to the old site, but this unfortunately took any changes with it.

The second frustration is the way that actual useful content has been striped from the mini-feed.

Take a look at this:

New Facebook Page

See the Dion has activitiy on FriendFeed post? Are you kidding me? My river of news now has millions of those which tell me NOTHING. I want the opposite. Given a choice I would rather see “Dion said that Facebook has some rough edges with its new version” with no mention of the FB brand other than the icon say.

Overall I like the new look, but there are definitely things I want to see ironed out. You?

Jul 24

License the content that goes with the code; Google Code supports Creative Commons

Google, Open Source, Tech with tags: , , No Comments »

As you can see, you can now attribute the content that goes with your open source project on Google Code.

This is a piece of news that won’t make TechMeme, but I believe it is actually a big deal (even more so than Robert Scoble blogging about blogging).

We often think of opensource projects as code. We think about the licensing of that code, and how important it is. Tell a developer GPL vs. BSD and they know the general rules.

That is great, but few projects only contain code. What about the artifacts? What about documentation, and samples in articles, and screencast movies, and protocols and formats? A good project will clearly define that area too, but the open source licenses don’t fit.

On Google Code, you can now select a content license that fits your project. A small thing, but an important one, as you yet again tell all of the users and developers of the project exactly what the rules are…. explicitly.

Jul 23

The Open Web Foundation; Apache for the other stuff

Tech with tags: , , 3 Comments »

I am excited to see the recent talk of Open Web Foundation is now out there. I think that it is poised to become a great new corner of the Web giving us a place for the other stuff.

Let’s take an example. Imagine that you came up with a great idea, something like OAuth. That great idea gains some traction and more people want to get involved. What do you do? People ask about IP policy, and governance, and suddenly you see yourself on the path of creating a new MyApiFoundation.

Wait a minute! There are plenty of standards groups and other organizations out there, surely you don’t have to create MyApiFoundation?

Well, there is the W3C and OASIS, which are pay to play orgs. They have their place, but MyApi may not fit in there. The WHATWG has come up with fantastic work, but the punting on IP is an issue too.

MyApi has some code in there, so how about putting this in Apache? Apache is great for code, but it doesn’t deal with the other stuff, which is fine. That isn’t its mandate. Apache does things very well though, especially when it comes to governance and the incubator process. What if we had a foundation that had some of the same values around people participating (so anyone can, versus companies) and a varied community (not just a few blokes from the same company).

This is why I am hopeful for the Open Web Foundation. It is a new place to look at if you come up with something helpful for the Open Web, a place that may match your values.

But wait a minute, what about this “Open Web” thing again. As I just said on a post about defining the term, people can’t agree on what the darn thing is! There is a lot of gut feel “Flash and Silverlight are not the Open Web, but GWT is!”

I believe that the Open Web Foundation needs to be a leader in working this out. With metrics in place, the foundation can bless projects that meet the requirements. When a project starts it may not be Open Web yet (e.g. multiple browser implementations). We need a place to move forward and push the Web. Can’t wait to see what happens there.

Jul 21

A tale of two iPhone 3G buyers

Tech, iPhone 7 Comments »

Last night I was talking to a chap who had also gotten the new iPhone 3G. He was so excited. He loved it! He seemed surprised that I wasn’t as enthusiastic, but we quickly found out why. He had never owned an iPhone before, so he had gone from the dark world of Windows Mobile to iPhone. I can understand why he was so excited. He had the great iPhone UI, with all of the apps, and ActiveSync there to not make him sad.

For me though, the new phone has been a non-event.

Why did you buy the darn phone?

The main reason that I bought the new phone was not a shiny black back with a curve, it was actually for the hope of a better signal at home. I read reports of the 3G network being better in Palo Alto than EDGE. I get 1-2 bars way too often at home, so the very thought of a decent connection was enough to make me giddy.

VOIP on the iPhone via one of the applications is one option, but what about incoming? Also, subtle things bug me. When I use Skype to call people they see “0123456789″ or something like it in their caller ID. I wish I could map in my real number. UPDATE: It can! Praful Mathur in the comments gives the info:

  1. Goto skype.com
  2. Login to Account section
  3. Click on Call Identification
  4. Tell Skype your number
  5. It takes 24 – 48 hours to update your account

Back to the network, there was no 3G network at all at home. Nada. It made no difference. When my phone is at home all I get for it is a battery that goes down faster as it checks for a 3G connection :) In fact, it is even worse than this. I am often turning off 3G as an option, as I have found there are many places with 1 bar 3G, and full bars EDGE. It picks 3G and that 1 bar doesn’t give you any connectivity. It needs to be smarter and know that full EDGE > 1 3G.

GPS is nice. Seeing the blinking blue button the Maps application is very nice, but you can hardly use it as a car tool since it doesn’t do either voice directions, or move through the steps (you have to click on “next” to get it to go through). Overall not that useful unless you are walking, and then you could probably quite easily keep up with yourself.

What does this leave me with? The only cool part of the new phone is the push of iPhone 2.0 software, which I could get on my old phone. Even there, with some good new apps, I get constant crashes and a bunch of the apps that I enjoy don’t work well. NetNewsWire can’t seem to deal with my amount of feeds, and I can’t seem to be able to tell it “dood, just grab the priority 1 items.”


iPhone.Next will hopefully get me excited again, if it has a decent camera with zoom, video, full bluetooth support, the magic tactile feedback electric zapper, updated hardware, over the air syncing, and more.

Jul 14

Loopt, I just can’t do it again; My friends are out there

Comic, Tech with tags: , , 1 Comment »

Loopt Friends

Loopt looks very cool. I downloaded it early on for the iPhone 2.0 software, but after I set up an account I saw the “Invite Friends” step, and I just couldn’t do it.

Even though the service ties into my iPhone contacts, and online allows me to blast my contacts on Gmail etc (although not using the Google Contacts API so you have to give them your email password which is a password to everything since people can “forgot password?” you) I still couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ask my “friends” to go through yet another process to show that we are friends.

I have noticed this from the other side. Plurk comes out, and you get a set of emails from people asking to connect. I don’t need another Twitter, even if it scales.

You start to see the same faces again and again. FriendFeed asks if Bob is your friend. Yes, yes! He is my friend on Facebook and Twitter!

Where is the magic “just do it already” button that takes this over for me. Where is the data portability + with ease. Everyone needs to do more, and there are hard problems there, but I am slowing down on services until it happens.

I click on less as they come in. And, I take less time to go and friend back the person, again even if I have already done so on another service. It’s just too much.

So, sorry Loopt. It isn’t you, it is me. I don’t have the energy to do it, so I will leave my account up with 0 friends, and as the odd people find me I will accept, but I am not going to go after anyone…. until the systems talk to each other and I don’t have too.