Category Archives: technology

HP Spectre X360 (Continued)

It has been a while since I’ve been posting. Still happy with the laptop and it indeed has some excellent battery stamina which actually keeps surprising me. In the meanwhile I’ve bought a pen, but am still waiting to really start using it and determine whether this is an addition of just a nice gimmick, but I guess this primarily will come down to software being used that makes use of pen input.

If you’re thinking about buying one of these machines, I would say go ahead, it looks good, and performance is good, though I can’t recommend whether that is for games as I haven’t played any games on it yet.

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Some disturbing thoughts

This morning while reading my feeds I had one of those moments while reading several feeds that i connected some possible dots and they where somewhat disturbing to me. One article I read was over on scobleizers blog about the Microsoft acquisition of aQuantive. And I read some other posts concerning google and dell whether they would be using some sort of spyware. Though this is disturbing, my take is that openDNS of course has some reasons to come forward with this, and I haven’t seen it confirmed yet on other sides. But if true Google and Dell should make sure that this is mended.

But this made me thinking, Google is already heavily in the advertising business and with the recent additions is entrenching even more heavily. But the nice thing of using a search engine is that you can easily use another one. If google is starting to use to much of my data, I’ll just search for another comparable engine and I’m off. These companies have a vested interest in obtaining as much user data of me as is possible, because they might be able to find patterns and provide me with targeted advertising.

As I never had heard of aQuantive i had a look at their website because i was curious about the company. As it seems to be build out of some other companies i had a glance and saw their Atlas company. And maybe this triggered me, I wasn’t sure yet, but it actually doesn’t matter really what triggered me. I saw the opportunity and it disturbed me. These companies live of gathering data about users. (just as google does) But what I found disturbing is that after the acquisition it could be possible that they would slowly push for some stuff in the Windows Operating System to start gathering user data (they already do this with your consent for instance with regards to msn to enhance the user experience..).

But what if they just start doing it. The OS can call home numerous times because for instance the WGA check, windows update and error reporting. It would be relatively easy to just sneak some user data in there which could be used to target users. They control the browser as well, so they could sneak stuff in there as well without the large mass of users knowing it, and you would definitely get some nice user data which you could then use to convince advertisers that they have the best data and hence it would make sense to advertise using their system….

The disturbing thought of course is that most users won’t be able to move away from this as is possible when moving away from the search engine. Only future will tell us whether they’ll do it. But I think it’s important to start keeping a sharp eye on both of them as competition increases.

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Flash(Flex), Silverlight and JavaFX my thoughts

The last month there where a lot of announcements regarding Flash(Flex), Silverlight and lastly JavaFX. All seem to occupy a certain space in the RIA environment. And of course all vendors are making claims which isn’t to surprising I should say. But these claims have made me thinking about them.

our product is multi platform

This is one of those that you’ll here a lot. But I guess all of them regard multi platform somewhat different.

Silverlight

For instance Silverlight runs on Windows and Mac, and can run on windows mobile devices… No talk yet of it running on any other platforms like Linux, Symbian, Palm or Solaris. So it runs on approximately 99% of all PC’s, 50% of the servers and 10% of the phones. (All percentages are roughly written down, they might differ depending on who has measured it.)

Flash(Flex)

Flash runs on almost all operating systems on PC’s, has got a server component running on Linux and Windows and has an implementation on mobile phones called flashlite. It runs on most mobile platforms like symbian and windows, but there’s no mention of it running on Linux phones. So it will run on 100% of all PC’s, 75% of all servers and a large percentage of phones.

JavaFX

This one is the latest kidd on the block and seems to be able to run on anything that runs Java, which is a lot of stuff (though they might need to upgrade to the latest version of java. So this puts it potentially on 100% of the PC and Server market and an almost perfect score on mobile phones (on most already there’s some sort of Java implementation)

Conclusion

Strangely the last one to enter the market seems to be in the best place with regards to platforms supported followed by Flash and Microsoft entering the last place, mainly because they’re focussed primarily on their own stack and lack substance in the phone area, (the one i guess where the biggest growth is possible)

We will support you developers and designers

For the developers it’s pretty straight forward, all three support you via an IDE, and in most cases you can use the IDE you’re most comfortable with. F.I. Microsoft will incorporate it in visual studio, adobe is offering Flex developer and Flash CS3 and JavaFX is supported by Eclipse and Netbeans. If you’re a Java / PHP / Ruby programmers in most cases you’ll like Flex and JavaFX, if you’re a .net programmer you’ll definitely have a preference for Silverlight.
Now for designers, it’s something different. Most designers have had a preference for the Mac and software like photoshop et al. Adobe is very entrenched here and has the upper hand.

Flash(Flex)

Has probably the best support and userbase in this area through it’s products. You’ll have trouble finding a designer not capable of working with these products.

Silverlight

Microsoft is bringing to the market new products called expression studio which entails products for designers. As they’ve just released these tools it’s not clear yet whether designers are picking it up in large amounts. Though a drawback for some of them might be that they can’t run it on the Mac.

JavaFX

There have been some remarks about support for designers, but nothing has been finalized yet. It remains to be seen how solid there offering will be. And which platforms are supported.

Conlusion

Well the king of the hill is very clear, it’s adobe with a lot of dedicated designers. Microsoft is trying to hook some of these designers up, but it’s not clear yet how they’re faring. JavaFX is a dark horse with nothing solid yet and it remains to be seen what they can deliver to entice the designers in.

In the coming days i’ll write some more on these three products…

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Time for reading

Yeps, sometimes you take the time for reading and I’ve decided to read the following books (actually mostly I just read them in the same timeframe, which makes it maybe somewhat harder, but it keeps the mind at least busy):

One of them is workbased and is targetted towards learning more about Ruby:  Beginning Ruby on Rails E-Commerce - Christian Hellsten & Jarkko Laine

The second one I decided to start reading because of an article in the NRC concerning a young philosopher which statements made sense and I like to read stuff from people that make sense to me: The Hacker Ethic - Pekka Himanen 

The third one that I started reading is I guess for me a special one because in a previous post I already wrote about atheism and Richard Dawkins which is a strong atheist, so I decided to read his book, though I don’t need to be saved: The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

Furthermore I’m still reading the last part of Neal Stephonsons Trilogy. I haven’t got the book at hand currently so I’ll provide you with the title in a later post. The nice thing about reading those books is that all of them stimulate me to think or provide me with new food for thought. Pekka’s book is very thought proviking as I would hope, though it’s somewhat old (I regard older than 4 – 5 years as old). Dawkins book is very interesting because of his argument against religion (or maybe better said agains the zealots which can be found in any religion).

For those wondering, I’m not the one in the hospital bed. That’s the boyfriend of my mother in law which got a broken rib while skiing. I had a look at the website and every day i’ve been skiing more than 40 km’s which indeed was very rewarding. But that’s enough for now..

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Portable mediaplayers like Creative, iPod, Mpio and Zune

Well there are certainly a lot of mediaplayers available and on the pic you see the two which are owned by me. The left one of course is my iPod nano and the right one is my old Mpio, which is very damn smal, but then also only dsc00038.jpgsports a meager 256Megs internally. In the middle for reference an Euro. It basically works as an external USB where you put your MP3’s on. You can forward or go backwards, stop and play and change the volume and that basically is all it does!! Simple does it. It helped me enormously when I was running the NYC marathon back in 2004. I simply liked it. The only real problem was the memory space space it provided. It’s quite a nuisance when you’re out skiing and the only stuff you will hear are the same songs over and over again. So after a while i demoted the Mpio to a basic USB drive and bought myself an iPod nano. Basically because I don’t need to have 30Gb of music with me, 2Gb caries me through the day.

Why i bought the nano was actually pretty simple, i had bought some CD’s from the iTunes store and wanted to be able to take them along and I liked the integration between the itunes and the nano. But all this played in the era when i still had a windows computer around. Nowadays everything in the house runs Linux (ubuntu to be exactly) . Why I decided to do this might be something for another post, but to be honest, that would only encourage the Zealots to come in and frankly I’ve had enough of them and their zealotry (whether from Apple, Microsoft or Linux side).

But the decision to use only Linux as primary OS has had some implications about what I will be able to buy in the future and I’m definitely aware of that, and it basically means that i won’t be able in the foreseeable future to play DRM protected files on my PC. I can still play the iTunes files using Codeweavers Crossover as I’m basically to lazy to burn everything to CD’s and convert it to either Ogg or MP3. If i for some reason need windows I run it in VMware which basically suits my needs.

When I read the first reports about the Zune, some functionality actually excited me. (people like scobble etc. where fairly even with their comments). I new they where still on the grapevine, but they sounded to good to be true. The biggest bummer was for me not the fact that i won’t be able to use the wifi as i would like to use it, but the simple fact that I can’t use it as an external harddrive or USB device. That just basically kills it for me. Maybe my next device would have been a Zune, but I don’t want to be forced to use an OS together with it. (currently both my Mp3 players are usable together with linux!! simply because of this feature). I remember when the first iPods emerged in Europe and for some of my colleges then the compelling reason to buy it was the added hard drive capability, that sold it to them, they could transport documents between their home and work without being restricted to the @ that time pretty small USB drives.

Maybe Microsoft will amend it, and provide an upgrade which enables this feature or maybe somebody is able to install linux on it. (that would open up a whole lot of new capabilities, but maybe in another post about that). And to be honest, I guess in Europe we still have to wait some time before we will even see some Zunes coming available.


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My Garmin Forerunner 305

I happen to own a Garmin forerunner 305 which i use for my workouts, and I do love it. My only gripe is that I still have to use windows to download the data to the motionbased website, but I can live with that. You can’t always have it both ways (you actually can download you’re trainings out of it on Linux, but it’s not as nice as one would hope).

The motion based website is very nice as you can see your run projected on google earth and I’ve got to say the pictures provided are very neat. But there’s one thing that I just thought about. Though I don’t really mind it, people via motionbased can pinpoint you’re hose pretty quickly (especially when you’re point of departure most of the time is you’re house).

The only added functionality I would like being added is the possibility to actually continuously broadcast you’re location while running, so people could actually see what you’re up to ;).

But this just as an aside, what i really like about it, is the fact that it provides you with data, and these data seem better than the data I received from my Timex, as that wasn’t capable of also providing location data (at least the one I had). It’s a lot easier to see actual progress when you’re able to measure even the smallest extra speed when running or rowing. If you’re into sports, I would definately recommend this one and I don’t think it will end up in my Gadget Graveyard.

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Am i getting glitzy GUI tired?

Lastly I’ve been wondering whether I suffer from a serious “Tired of a Glitzy GUI” syndrome. You might think why, let me explain. The last few months most tech publication on the net or in print have been busy describing the new gui’s of Vista and Office and somewhat less about the glitzy gui possibilities of Linux distro’s.

And every time I read about it the only thing I’m wondering about is how will it make me more productive. Yes wobbling gui’s etc. might be fun, but I’m not interested so much in fun. After switching from windows XP to Linux, I have somewhat become accustomed to the spartan Gnome GUI, which is very basic, but it fits my need. Currently when I’m at an XP box, the first thing i do is set it back to the W2K gui because it’s so basic “and fast”.

Why not putting effort into making the GUI more useful instead of making it more glitzy. I know, Glitzy sells, but some of the stuff I’ve seen lately really makes sense. The click wheel of the iPod for some reason makes sense, after a minute you understand how it works and what it’s supposed to do and it can make scrolling really fast. It’s simple does it. I wish more people would bring stuff back to the basics. Give it a function and that’s it. I like the modularity of Linux just because of that, what I don’t need, I won’t install. For the same reason I like most of the internet based wordprocessors. They are simple and for quickly entering text it just does as advertized.

Maybe web2.0 will bring us more of these simplified gui’s, but I’m afraid once we hit web4.0 bloat will be king again…. I wish some of these developers would understand that KISS is still the acronym they should use and when they want to make stuff very glitzy, please also provide a simple design to be used by those that prefer Simple over Glitz….

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