Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UMA Is Not Dead Yet?

What? G2 is FCC certified with UMA? Dire predictions about death of UMA were wrong?

I'll be glad to eat my hat if that is the case. Still pondering about nuances of making profit on UMA, other than $10/mo surcharge on the plan plus feature appeal, stacked against the overhead of VOIP infrastructure and increased tension between the wireless carrier and Internet service providers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quote Of The Day: Applied Mechanics

Understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of the car and oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of the car. Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall and torque is how far you take the wall with you.

-- Internet Lore

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If There Is One Lesson Android Market Taught Me...

...then it is: don't be a smart aleck and name your application in a way that conveys with cristal clarity what the hell it is doing. Preferrably in three words or less.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Google Voice: Speech To Text

This is the text people read:
Ash from Alaska's volcanos is like a rock fragment with jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive. It can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages. The young, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to ash-related health problems. Ash can also cause damage engines in planes, cars and other vehicles.
This is what comes out:

Person 1
hi from alaska's okay and i was like a rock right what do i get in his name is daniel this is mister briefings if you can just gave guys inbreeding past yeah how doing if you wish for tori problems are especially susceptible to actually and have a call i should also call us damage engine plane is part of the vehicles

Person 2
ask from the left because what can i was just like it looks like meant with jagged edges instead you since and so would please if you can't even just giving i've been passages the young and the elderly in people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to actually good health problems ask can also call damage engine's complaints cost on the vehicle

Person 3
astra last call because he's like a role that fragments with jack at just and i have the new US and and also i believe it was you can injures scheme i live in within prances be on the elderly people et cetera problems that especially susceptible thatched related health problems ask and also called them with and in in planes cards and on vehicles

Person 4
hi asher moscow booking of the like a rock fragments jagged edges and has been used as and just real abrasive hey can interest in i've been reading process the young and i will be million people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to actually to health problems has can also cause damage engine plane cars another vehicle
Two people out of four speak American English without accent, two others with noticeable, but different accents. Good luck figuring out which is which, though.

Verdict: Not quite usable yet, but let's see how soon they can get it straight.


UPDATE: Person 5:
Ash from Alaska. Look at those you'd like. It looks like Ben, there's a decade edges and and being used them and to that. Broza it can in your interest keen eyes and bracing I said the young. The else we can build interest for three problems are, especially suspect little to fashion related to sales trouble ask camp else okay. Those Savage, angin. In Plain cars and that we go.

Google Apps, Android and Corporate Customization, Take Two

Back in November 2008 I wrote that Google Apps are at the breaking point with Microsoft Exchange.

Looking back, seems that the analysis was correct. The same trend continues, Google Apps gain popularity, Microsoft Exchange loses it.

What is even more interesting, Google Apps is now at the breaking point with Lotus Notes:



This fight would be much more interesting to behold - from what I've seen, IBM and its Lotus Notes is rooted much more deeply than Microsoft and its Exchange ever was. Whereas Microsoft definitely had wider exposure, ot was shallow - Exchange doesn't scale well. Notes, on the other hand, scales better, has much deeper penetration, bigger clients and higher cost to exit. In addition, whereas Microsoft alienates customers on a daily basis, IBM has penetrated the customer base - it's a consulting company now, remember? This increases the cost of exit even more - it is very questionable who is going to be in bigger trouble if a contract with IBM is suddenly terminated.

Oh, this is going to be painful. Let me go get my popcorn.

Handcuff Notes: Analytics Beyond The Box

Just a few days ago i was pondering the problem mentioned further down, and now I read this: Analytics for GMail usage.

Well, it's interesting how the human mind works. It can comfortably work with notion of something there is one of. It takes heroic effort to think of two of the same. And it is almost unthinkable to make a transitjon and think of N.

So what was I thinking, again? Simple: when Analytics will offer the API that will no longer be tied up to web traffic, but literally anything, and how to implement that today, shoehorning the API available into measuring what's needed. Meta-analytics, if you wish.

Okay now. so they have transitioned from 1 to 2, let's see how long will it take them to transition all the way to N. I'm sure it won't take long, and I will be here to report - all in all, it happened before.

UPDATE: coming closer?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Google Talk via SMS Hits The IQ Barrier

A while ago Google introduced SMS Text Messaging for chat support.

For a while, it was good and well, but, apparently, either people started racking up text messaging bills or just were afraid of doing so, and SMS support got trimmed - the message length couldn't be arbitrary or close to it (as it was in the beginning), and the number of messages sent to the other party before the reply was necessary to continue dropped - eventually to one, or so it appears.

And then the denial of service came into effect. Consider the following scenario:
  1. You desperately need to reach someone;
  2. They're not online, or outside of data coverage area, so you can't IM them;
  3. You invoke the "switch to SMS" option and send them a message;
  4. SMS is not quite as user friendly for non-smart phones, and there may be situations where it is not practical (for example, you can easily read SMS while driving, but to send SMS is much more difficult than to make a voice call), so they either log in and IM you, or simply call you and take care of business;
  5. They conveniently forget (that is, assuming they ever knew) about the fact that they have to reply to you before you can send another message to them;
  6. You get stuck with a non-functional end of IM/SMS gateway - the counter doesn't expire, and if you try to "switch to SMS" a week or month later, the dreaded "X must reply before you can send more messages" error is still there.

Boom, you're dead.

Oh, and as soon as they remove your message they were supposed to reply to in order to reactivate your end of the SMS chat, everything is lost forever.

The only option left is to switch to the plain old SMS provided by your phone hardware - but that's much less convenient than using SMS gateway provided by Google (keyboard assisted, storable, searchable, etc.).

My guess is that expiring the switch counter in a reasonable amount of time would be fair enough.

Wonder how and when Google is going to address this.

T-Mobile G1 $100 off: Costco bait and switch

There was a persistent rumor that Costco is selling G1 for $79.99. Turns out, nope, it's the same $180 as it was before (see the comments for the original link).

I wonder
  • Whether it is the initiative of some overzealous T-Mobile reps at Costco (it's not quite Costco that sells mobile phones, the relation is not that clear);
  • Why Costco didn't say a peep about the fact that the actual price is going to be $100 more than advertized (false advertizing?)
  • Does this situation qualify as "bait and switch"?
  • How Costco is going to handle this PR disaster - I'm sure the Internet is about to explode in criticism in a few hours.
Nice try, shooting themselves in the foot.

Oh, and by the way, the $97.99 G1 from Amazon is apparently sold out.

UPDATE: There are price discrepancies. Sometimes it is $180, sometimes it is $129.99 for a new line and $169.99 for an upgrade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

${mobile-device} + Squeezebox

Following the trail of ${mobile-device} + ${appliance}, it would be interesting to see what applications already exist for Squeezebox remote control. Hence, this is a sticky page that will be updated as I find more and more applications - with additional links to reviews of applications for hardware I have in my possession.

iPhone

BlackBerry
  • none found so far

Android
  • none found so far

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nature Keeps Coming With Better Idiots To Fight Concurrency

Incompetence

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article about Erlang style concurrency. Immediately MapReduce and Sawzall come to mind as smart paradigms intended to reduce (if only as a side effect) the complexity of concurrent programming to complexity of single threaded. And I almost start hoping that there'll be the next best thing since sliced bread which will make all the problems go away. But then, I look back at the code, more and more lines of which gets written every day, and chuckle. No way smart things can fix the situation, given into wrong hands (recent example: A340-600 ADAT accident).

So, what's the good that is supposed to come out of this rant? Very simple advice to make your life easier, if your IQ allows you to follow:
  • Fughet the deadlocks and race conditions, they may be the least of your worries in the sanitized world of J2EE containers (sure, take this with a grain of salt, but not too much salt, OK?).
  • Scope variables right. Not too wide, not too narrow. Using instance variables to hold request scope data is a recipe for thread safety violation and subsequent data loss and corruption. Reading configuration that doesn't change unless you redeploy the application within a loop is a recipe for a major performance impact.
  • Maintain thought over and consistent instantiation and object life cycle patterns.
Now, if you think this is way too simple and can't comprehend why something this trivial should even be explained (and feel like questioning my IQ) - well, feel free to donate something to, say, DZ to alleviate my mental pain and suffering from working with code like this on a day to day basis. Why, you ask? Well, I guess someone does need to do the dirty work...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Extreme Computing: Antec P-182 In Woodworking Workshop

A friend came over and, astonished, asked - "Can you run computers in a workshop?" Well, obviously, they did run in a workshop without dying, for a long time, so I said "yes", but the seed of doubt was planted.

So I decided to check, and the first picture below is the result (that's Lian-Li V-Cool PC-V1200B, having worked in the workshop for about two years). The second picture, for comparison, is somebody else's computer.

No Chip Fan


Well, about a year later I've decided to upgrade the memory in P-182, and used this opportunity to check the effect of dust again. Below are the pictures.

Antec P-182 and dust
Antec P-182 intake fan and dust

In other words, the condition of the case is more than satisfactory. The only contaminated surfaces are the fan blades, that's it.

Too bad I lost a chance to photograph the filters - dust has fallen off as I opened the cover. I am surprised with the efficiency of these washable filters - they gather, in fact, more dust than usual foam filters.

One more factor that contributes to low contamination is the airspeed - the Scythe SY1225SL12M fans used in combination with active speed control offered by Asus Striker II Formula motherboard provide very low airspeed while maintaining decent cooling, if needed. I'm sure that older case with higher speed fans would've been contaminated much more than this one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Way They Think



A few years ago I've started working at a new place. Several days later, a guy (that I knew by then was driving E30 M3) approached me, and the following conversation followed:

- [him] I saw your car.
- [me] And?
- I looked inside.
- And?
- You drive a stick.
- And?
- Otherwise I would've had to stop talking to you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work

THIRTY FIVE new Justice Courts...

One opinion I've heard was that the simplest way to kill the camera program would be for every person receiving the ticket to actually show up in court - then, the burden put on the judicial system will be so high, the idiocy of it will become obvious.

This was over a year ago. Apparently, this is how much time the public and the government need to wake up and realize what they're doing.

And the other consideration is - well, you know, I would have preferred the police to have served and protected me instead of watching the safety of speed cameras at the same exact moment my car was being broken into... While I was paying for them to do so.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Demo Review

PC gaming is not dead. However, significant efforts to make it dead are underway.

Project Origin demo sucks. Apparently, the game itself sucks too, judging by reviews at Amazon and Newegg.

First of all, it's a poor PC port of a console game. Excuse me, folks, but if I wanted to play a console game, I would've bought a console version of it.

It's not only the dialogues that are obviously built for a console, it's even the mouse behaviour (note, the menu doesn't even call it "mouse" any more, it's "aim" now. Move the mouse a bit too sharp even on the minimum "aim" sensitivity setting, and the game performs a dizzying spin, and you're no longer sure where the hell you're looking. Smells with motion control tuned for the console controller and reused for mouse - unacceptable.

What used to be scary is now simply annoying. Just like Doom 3, every time they jump from behind the corner you think "Damn, I knew they would be here!".

Save is gone, replaced by checkpoints now. I don't know how many checkpoints the actual game has, but the demo has one. And the end of the demo for me was... when I got stuck in a puddle next to the place where the sniper rifle is, unable to move. An attempt to "reload last save" popped me up right there, stuck. That was the end of it, 'cause the other option ("exit to menu") obliterated all the process made, and I'm not going to repeat this exercise in humility again. (update: the game also has one save slot - now, that is dumb, what exactly do you do if you get stuck like I did in the demo?)

Maybe I'll buy the game when it drops to $14.99, though probably not. And it is definitely not worth the price it's being offered for today.

Too bad, I was looking forward to it.