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Welcome back…

Since you haven’t been reading this blog for a while, I’ve got some updates for ya.

I’ve been watching the original Twilight Zone again.  I’d forgotten what an awesomely well-written show it was, and how effectively it could deliver thought-provoking stories with a minimal budget.  There is just something about those old episodes..  in any case, I found this great list of the top 10 TZ episodes.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately, but the soft drink companies (Coca Cola primarily, and Pepsi to a lesser extent) have been gouging the market bigtime.  2 liter bottles of pop are up to $2.29 in most Canadian stores, and even at Costco, where a 30 pack could be had for $8.99 at this time last year, the price is now $10.49 for Pepsi and $11.99 for Coke products.  Ridiculous.  Coca Cola blames the price hike on their bottlers, whom they should just fire and bottle their own product.  Unsurprisingly, Cott shares are surging on better than ever sales figures.  Gee, I wonder why… maybe because a 2L bottle of Cott Cola is $0.99.  Get with the program Coke – unlike Apple, I don’t think you’ll be able to conjure up enough of an RDF to keep the #1 spot forever.  Especially when your product is 100% more expensive than it should be.

A report from the Ontario Public School Boards Association shows that students who are subjected to pen and paper exercises instead of computer-based learning are tuning out.  I’m so shocked.  Wait, I’m not, that was sarcasm.  When I was in school, I too tuned out due to the lack of technology, and that was years before the Internet.  "Many students feel that when they come into school they have to 'power down' to fit into an environment that offers fewer options for learning than are available in the life they live outside of the school. This can erode students' perceptions of the relevance of education as they experience it in many schools today." That describes exactly how I felt, and why I didn’t bother going.

The Arctic icecap is twice is thick as had been assumed by environmental nutjobs.  Remember, I’m basically an environmentalist, I’m just sick and tired of people exaggerating, putting forth assumptions as fact, etc.

In order to counter the bewildering success of the Wii, and the upcoming release of motion-sensitive controllers by Sony, Microsoft will be releasing a sensor bar of sorts soon for the 360.  Unlike the Wii however, the technology won’t rely on woefully inaccurate and infuriating Piimotes, but rather three cameras that capture real human motion.  Apparently, from those who’ve seen the technology from 3DV that it’s based on (not just this article) the technology works perfectly and exactly as one would imagine it ideally should.  Hopefully Microsofts developers (developers, developers) can come up with some games that not only demonstrate the technology effectively, but are also fun to play (unlike ALL games for Wii).

Oracle bought Sun.  Many people I know told me they wanted Sun for the server hardware, so that Oracle could be an integrated company from end-to-end.  I never understood that reasoning, since as we all know, hardware isn’t a big money maker (unless you can trick people into paying a tax for the privilege of buying your products) – but software sure is, and Oracle is after all, a software company.  Except of course that Oracle’s initial offer for Sun was solely for the software assets (primarily Java, but Solaris as well) and the only reason it turned into a complete buyout was because Sun wasn’t willing to piece out the company.

Netbooks are burning up the sales charts.  Not at all surprising if you think about it.  If you ever were in the market for a laptop before, and you wanted something small and light, yet capable… you were in for a shock.  The ultra-portable notebooks were all $2000+ and of course, unless you’re travelling for business – all the time – there was no way any sane person could justify the expense.  Netbooks blend the best of both worlds.  Small form factor, decent battery life and low cost.  My wife has an Acer AspireOne, as does my boss and they both love them for different reasons.  But for web surfing, word processing, spreadsheets, email, etc – it’s a perfect product.  The thing I found most fascinating is that Acer has really pwned the market with the AspireOne (30% of the netbook market, which is now 20% of the overall notebook market).  It’s odd, since ASUS was first to market with them, and I know people who have non-ASUS netbooks and still refer to them as Eee PCs.

The Intel Atom processor is at the heart of all of these netbooks, and it’s a surprisingly capable little chip.  An Atom based machine doesn’t feel sluggish, in fact it’s rather fast, at least in XP.  I’m currently building embedded PC’s for the company I work for, and we’re putting together machines with 1GB of RAM, 4GB of Flash, a custom-made case, power supply and Windows Embedded Standard (XPe 2009) for under $225CDN per unit.

Another great story about Windows 7, and how Apple will respond to it.  Particularly how the new taskbar puts the OSX dock to shame.  Very interesting.  Also amusing is the lineup of retarded Mac fanboys in the comments thread.  Another group of fanatical loony-tunes who value form over function, and wouldn’t know anything about UI design if it were a living, toothy entity that could physically bite them in the ass.  Got Douchebag

A great article about being a critical person, and why you don’t have to self-flagellate, but instead can revel in your criticism.  To me, people who criticize nothing are non-people.  Whether they’re simply too simple-minded to formulate opinions, or are haplessly extroverted to the point where they ponder nothing… it’s still a non-person thing in my view.  He talks for a small bit about how he feels Steve Jobs is a prime example of the critical personality type, and how he’s managed to parlay it into huge success.  I agree to certain extent that is the case, although just as with Bill Gates, a large dollop of PFL* sure helped.

The MagUnSafe power adapter, which up until now served no function – finally is serving a function!  As a target for a class action lawsuit against the incompetent ‘computer’ manufacturer.  I always found this product hilarious.  Anyone so stupid that they’d trip over the power cord for their laptop is… oh wait, an Apple user for sure.  I forgot.  My bad. 

Two of the top three smartphones sold in Q1 ‘09 are Blackberries (and that would include the #1 spot, by the way).  PS – if you’re Canadian, you should own a Blackberry and not that other lame smartphone imitator from the US (the #2 phone, BTW).

Linksys has discontinued their line of Media Center Extender products.  Not shocking, since I know of almost nobody who has one.  Considering; the cost of these devices, the fact that the Xbox 360 includes this functionality, limited advertising to educate the public on what they can do and truly pathetic user interfaces it is entirely unsurprising that they’ve made this move.  Sadly, many of the people who’ve tried these products have found that the video stutters (a lot).  This is of course due to the fact that the devices are specced out with hype.  Almost every one includes wireless support.  This is the root of the problem.  Wireless just doesn’t work.  After having done several site surveys with advanced WiFi spectrum analyzers, the amazing thing about WiFi is that it works anywhere at all.  The spectrum is so jumbled up with crappy cordless phones, poorly made WiFi devices that clutter up the spectrum and cellphones constantly looking for open networks that it’s almost impossible for it to reach it’s potential.  Standard a/b/g is insufficient for any video, and n is barely capable of SD.  What Linksys and other companies SHOULD HAVE DONE was to omit the wireless feature and tell people they have to run a cable.  Nothing wrong with that.  Too lazy to do it?  Oh well, watch your crappy cable television or sit in front of your computer.  You ain’t streaming HD over wireless, not for some time to come.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the case of the RIAA vs Tenenbaum.  A poor guy who just wanted some music, and who is now facing the wrath of an industry drowning in its own shortsightedness.  Luckily, to the rescue comes Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson.  He is about to argue that file-sharing is covered by Fair Use.  To my (and most Canadian legal experts) understanding of the concept as long as you are copying for noncommercial reasons, it is fair use.  From what I gather, things aren’t as clean-cut in the US and fair use does not extend this far.  Hopefully his argument holds water, as I firmly believe that sharing for noncommercial purposes is fair and always has been.  More details here.

And one last thing, a public service announcement if you will.  I’m tired of people who bandy about figures based on completely bogus data, scientific or in this case, marketing wise.  Two numbers I take serious issue with…

1. PC market share based on number of units shipped.  These numbers are always held against how many units Dell, HP, Acer, etc shipped.  The problem is that there are a great many computers being shipped from companies that aren’t tracked by the companies who compile these numbers.  A great many are put together by distributors, local computer shops, buddies who ‘know about computers’, tier 2/3 vendors etc.

2. The prolificity of a platform based on web browser responses.  For example, these constant ridiculous stories I read about how XX% of mobile web traffic comes from iPhones due to the Safari tag.  It’s no biggie to report the information, but they’ll go on to say that Blackberry users only account for 1/4 of that amount of traffic.  I don’t buy this, and the reason I don’t buy it is simple; if you leave the browser ID on your Blackberry set to “Blackberry” you end up getting saddled with WAP versions of sites where there is limited content at best, and the site looks like shit.  I set my BB to respond with “Internet Explorer” so that I don’t get a crappy web experience.  The BB has no problem displaying 99% of the websites I’ve visited in their full form.  As a result, I’ll bet that a majority of BB users are responding as IE when in fact they are not.  iPhone users don’t have to do this, because websites don’t seem to feel the need to saddle them with a subpar web experience for no reason whatsoever.

My fingers hurt.  I’ll be writing sometime later this week about my experiences with PHP and C#.

* Pure Fucking Luck


Nice to see you back! We need to get together for dinner and/or drinks sometime soon!

January 2010

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