Category Archives: technology

I has an iphone 5


But unfortunately iphone 5 is not yet here. And that is not the only reason iphone 5 not being my phone. The most correct reason would be because I won’t get another, not even in the future.

I’m not bias. I’ve had a taste of both iphone 4 and androphone, and I have to say that I’m more in love with the latter than the former. That said, my next androphone would be either the upcoming PSPhone or the custom order phone from synaptics.

When Windows feels better than Linux


In an attempt of Linux trying to be better than windows, there are apparently a few significant features being left out that ended up making it feels inferior to the latter. They maybe not that important but it really is annoying to know that they’re missing, considering that those features help in expediting many personal computing operation.

The first thing I noticed missing in Linux is the “click-twice-to-rename”. In windows you don’t have to right-click and select rename in order to rename a file/folder. Just by clicking the icon twice will activate the renaming process, thus saving great deal of time.

Another feature that I noticed is missing is the automatic focus to the specific file when we opened a file browser such as nautilus from within an application. For example it is just natural for one to right-click on an icon of a downloaded file from within Firefox’s download list and select “open in file manager”, hoping the focus will be for the said file, but no, it is not. It is quite time-consuming to look for that one file from the swarm of them in the file manager window. Wouldn’t it be more convenient if it works just like in windows, right?

Actually there are still more I’d like to point out too but I’ll save them for future posts for now. If you also think there are also other things Linux could learn, please let me know by leaving your comments here. You may also write your own article about it and linking it back to this post as a mean for sharing.

Pumping words/text to my blog from my Androphone


Image representing HTC as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

As mentioned sometime ago, this is my new blog, a successor to my old blog at wordpress.com. thank goodness that ‘almost’ all entries from my old blog has been succesfully imported to this new place. Actually it has been my dream to have my own dotcom domain, and now that I finally have it, I’m gonna blog with more motivation than I used to be.

And you know what? This post is composed on my new Androphone, and it’s also has been my dream to have an Androphone. LG Optimus One may not sound much compared to a certain popular brand like HTC but at least it fulfilled some of my dreams.

I’m making my own slate/tablet (I’m not joking)


Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’m tired of people talking about tablet/slate is the future of personal computing. I mean I’ve built my own PCs all this time so why don’t I start making my own slate if that is really the future?

Many people think iPad is the best tablet so far. I beg to differ. It’s probably the worst since it has no USB port, it does not use desktop OS, and it has no memory card slot. So you’re asking why does using a full-fledged desktop OS matters to me? Read on.

Before I go further, I’d like to tell you how important to have at least one USB port on a slate. Imagine this; we should already know by now that iPad in 2 versions; the 3G and non-3G. People with money would normally go for the best their money could buy. For poorly paid public servant like me, it’s just normal to opt for the cheaper one, which is in this case the non-3G one. Practically it’s cheaper to buy the non-3G and then plug my existing USB 3G modem (or even 3G-enabled phone) and I’m good to go. Besides, even if the slate does not have a memory card reader, I can always plug a USB card reader too, should there’s a need to do so. Not to mention the freedom to directly connect my other devices such as phones, digicam, mp3 player, etc. without the need of a PC as a mediator. It would also allow me to expand the built-in memory by plugging in USB flash drives. See how cool it is to have a USB port? The presence of USB ports on some Windows slates makes them the winner over iPad.

Talking about connectivity, the non-3G iPad would only benefit home users, provided that the house is equipped with wi-fi. Travelers and road warriors would be happy with the 3G version, but that’s it, they’re restricted to 3G only. Since many new ISPs have started rolling out WiMax services, even the 3G version of iPad is out of luck, as there is no way to plug in USB WiMax modem to it. That’s why I’d like to stress out that having USB port is as important as having the core of the tablet itself. Not only it allows the slate to have extra features, it may also doubles the existing features.

Now, into the OS as I promised earlier. I don’t mind if people prefer to put/use a specially developed mobile OS for tablets. However I can’t accept it if people think tablets must use mobile OS instead of desktop OS, citing issues like battery life, “overkill”, etc. I’m not really sure about the “overkill” part as I never think desktop OS is too much for a tablet, because even netbooks can accept them. However when it comes to battery life, actually it’s the goal of all desktop OS to become most power efficient and it doesn’t have to be for mobile OS only. Besides the battery life is usually determined by the CPU. That means even if the OS is power efficient, if the CPU is power-hungry then even a tablet with power-optimized mobile OS would have it’s battery juice drained in no time. For an analogy, imagine comparing a 3GHz Intel Pentium-powered PC with a 3GHz Intel Core-powered PC. Install both PCs with Windows 7 Ultimate and I’m pretty sure the latter would be the winner for consuming much lower power despite using the same OS.

For me, no matter how people want to push the usage of a mobile OS in a tablet, a tablet must be powerful enough to support at least Windows 7 in it, should there are people who want to use it in a tablet. People should not think that “a slate is a smartphone+ and it should have similar battery life to a smartphone”. It is a ridiculous idea to believe that way. Sure it’s welcomed to see a tablet that can run as long a smartphone does but it’s still pretty much unrealistic and just a wishful thinking. A tablet is good enough if it could run continuously (with 3G/wi-fi on) for 6-8 hours with single full charge.

Actually what you do with a tablet is all that matters, not the OS inside it. If tablet is really the future of personal computing then doesn’t that means it would need the OS of personal computing know to everybody (Windows/Linux/BSD/OSX/etc.)? Really most people have fallen victim to the illusion made by Apple that now they believe the reason iPad is popular is because of its OS. They’re totally wrong. iPad was popular because it was from the “new” Apple (Apple under Steve Jobs management). Just a matter of fact, everything that comes from Apple since the return of Steve Jobs would sell, no matter how feature-poor they are.

I believe people would still buy the iPad even if it was loaded with OSX instead of iOS. Likewise, I don’t think Fujitsu’s tablets would become as popular as the iPad too, even if they had some mobile OS pre-installed. After all, reputation helps a lot here. Many people don’t know the truth behind the OS selection for iPad. The initial plan was to use OSX but they had a hard time to re-scale OSX’s kernel for lower-powered mobile use. Therefore they went to recreating/redesigning the OS again, and that explains why the earlier versions of iOS were all “unfinished products”, rolled out prematurely to meet its users with no copy-paste, no multitasking, etc.

Talking about reputation, since I’m anime fan too, I’d like to touch a bit about anime as well. It was reputation and hype that helped popularized Panty & Stocking anime a while back. People have known GAINAX for a long time, and people have known them for their good works. However I bet P&S would be as popular as we know it today if the exact thing was made by some American cartoon studio or even by some Asian animation studio outside Japan. Instead it might have ended up being known as yet another cartoon with Powerpuff Girls style animation, and wouldn’t make it to either Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon but would be aired in the midnight adult slot in some US TV channels due to its dirty jokes. In other words, people who have fallen for P&S is just like those people who have fallen victim of the illusion created by Apple as I explained in earlier paragraph.

There’s no way a Nokia phone could be this good (or bad?)


A couple of weeks ago Nokia has launched their newest and latest flagship product, the Nokia N8. The emergence of this phone marks Nokia’s “re-entry” into a serious smartphone business after they lost to the likes of RIM, Google and Apple, though this might be a bit late for them to make any significant change. However let’s leave the personal sentiment here and go ahead to the main subject after the break.

The launching was held worldwide simultaneously, and last week I was able to test this much-anticipated phone for about half an hour (and another testing session earlier this week too, making it a total one hour of hardware testing). Having this phone makes me feel like a damn rich spoiled kid who can buy every newly released hi-tech toys he wanted using his parents’ wealth. If it’s not because the phone store has a test unit and allowed me to experience it myself, I might never get any chance even to have a touch on it.

The phone chassis is made of anodized aluminum (available in 5 different colors), which feels very solid and tough, and the most important thing is it does have the ‘Nokia’ feel. Long time Nokia users should understand about this ‘feel’ I’m talking about. Being encased in aluminum chassis does help in reducing the wight, thus despite the big size this phone bears, it only weights 135g, which is lighter than I expected. The 2.5′  AMOLED display is also crystal clear, though in terms of color reproduction it may not a s good as iPhone 4. However it is good enough in doing its job with ‘only’ 16M colors, and the most important part is, the capacitive display is very responsive, almost as good as what I’ve seen on iPhone 4, if not better. And since it is capacitive, multi-touch is possible and everything is a breeze.

There are two things I don’t like about this phone though, which I think is my greatest disappointment about it. The first one is not user-changeable, which means there’s no way to replace the battery without sending it back to Nokia center, which is the same case with iPhones. Although a good battery won’t likely need to be replaced that often but everybody knows batteries are always most likely to be the first part in any phone to have a failure. Besides a mobile phone is traveler’s companion and recharging should not be the only available option when the battery runs out of juice when alternatives such as spare battery is possible. From the spec. manual, the standby time may last up to 390 hours. According to the guy at the phone store, since the arrival, the test unit has only been charged once, and with at least 5 people testing it everyday, I must say the battery life is awesome, if that guy is not lying though.

Anther thing that I don’t like about this phone is it only comes in one version only, the 16GB version, which I think is so not like Nokia. Usually for a phone in this class (smartphone) Nokia usually ship them in varieties of capacity, just like the older X6, where it has 8GB, 16GB and 32GB version. Not really sure whether there will be a lighter (8GB) or a more advanced (32GB) variants in the future but for me, they better do. Well, perhaps a “lighter version of Nokia N8” is already exists in the form of the cheaper Nokia C7 (which bears the same CPU but is inferior in overall hardware specs) thus Nokia didn’t bother to come up with a lighter variant for N8. This phone however supports memory expansion of up to 32GB via microSD card should the built-in 16GB space is inadequate for you. For me, 8GB is good enough for a smartphone, because if I want anything more than that I’d prefer a dedicated media player like iPod, since I don’t mind carrying more than one device.

Apart from the above flaws, there are other minor flaws as well. For example the annoying lag when I switched the phone language. I switched the phone language from English to Malay, from Malay to Chinese, and from Chine back to English, and between the switching the phone seemed to be not responding and I thought it has crashed. However the menus are not laggy at all, which is a major improvement on Symbian OS which always carries the reputation of having laggy UI navigation. The startup time is also quite fast, and there’s no noticeable lag in switching the phone mode into camera or media player mode. Also with the ARM 11 680 MHz processor, this phone is quite underpowered in its class, given that some of its rivals already sporting 1GHz CPU.

680 MHz maybe enough to squeeze everything from Symbian^3 OS but for me if they could use a faster CPU then why not? The price of this phone is 1,690 MYR (±543 USD) which is quite cheap for a smartphone so I think to add another 310 MYR/±100 USD (to make it 2,000 MYR) for a faster CPU should not hurt too much, and it would still be cheaper than an iPhone 4. Well I guess Nokia wanted their smartphone to be as cheap as it could without compromising too much power, thus they adopted the ARM 11 processor.

The camera on this phone is really good, as expected from a Carl Zeiss Tesar 28mm autofocus lens (3x digital zoom for image and 2x digital zoom for video). The camera quick access button cum shutter button is located to the side. The 12MP camera is accompanied with a powerful xenon flash and capable of capturing HD video (720p only). The camera lens doesn’t have lens protector so you’ll have to be careful when handling it. Being capable of playing HD video (again, 720p only) the phone comes with HDMI out so you could hook it up to any HDTV. Too bad though the store where I test this phone has no HDTV for me to test the HDMI capablity, and there’s no HD content loaded inside the phone to begin with. For internet, this phone also comes with 3G and 3.5G, as well as wi-fi, which is perfect to save on your 3G bill. Data connectivity with PC is possible with Bluetooth 3.0 (supports Bluetooth audio) and microUSB cable. For navigation purposes, this phone is equipped with both GPS, A-GPS and magnetometer (a.k.a. electronic compass). Also present are proximity sensor (that will detect your face and activate the answering mode when you receive a call) and accelerometer that will change the screen orientation depending on how you hold/place it (and useful for games/apps that support it).

The phone also comes with awesome sound, thanks to the Dolby Digital Plus technology, but that is only if the connected audio system is capable of delivering Dolby processed sound (such as digital speaker or Dolby headphone). As with most recent Nokia phones, this phone also comes with the standard 3.5mm audio jack to connect it to headphone/speaker. The music playback . It also comes with FM radio, front facing camera for video call (most smartphones today come with it too) and the standard software packages you can expect as other existing Nokia phones. Available with the hardware package are USB cables (microUSB and USB On-The-Go adapter), standard Nokia stereo headset, Nokia original charger and HDMI adapter.

I believe I’ve explained everything that I know about the phone. It seems like the phone has everything most users would want but for me there are parts that I think is overkill. For example I don’t need front-facing camera because I don’t make video call. I also personally think a high MP camera is pointless without optical zoom (though optical zoom for a smartphone this thin maybe a funny thing to see). Not to mention that I don’t use a phone to play the so-called HD content. For your info, I don’t acknowledge anything lower than 1080p as HD, and to play HD content I’d prefer using a more powerful player (at least a netbook that’s capable of playing HD content for example). That being said, if Nokia could fix all the flaws and remove the unnecessary things from this phone, then there would be no excuse for me for not getting it.

*sorry for the poor quality pictures. They’re taken from my old dumbphone (>_<)

The biggest lie the IT world have told me (resurfaced)


 

Windows XP Virtual Machine on a Mac
Image by scottpowerz via Flickr

 

My first experience with Linux was 10 years ago. Although I started my computing experience earlier than that (I attended computer classes since 1995) but I remain a n00b because the beige boxes scares me. I only started falling in love with computers and IT stuff when my father purchased our first family PC (powered by Pentium III) in year 2000. By having our own PC I can freely tinker around it without having to worry too much. Although the PC was pre-installed with Windows 98 SE, an article in local PC magazine drove my curiosity to try Linux and ended up installing RedHat in a dual-boot environment. I admit that I fell in love in Linux but I love Windows more because of it’s ease-of-use thus I set Windows as the default OS. Actually nobody in my family knows there’s Linux in the PC because it is only bootable via a boot diskette. Despite using Windows most of the time, I keep using Linux occasionally out of curiosity and started mastering it unknowingly in the process.

A couple of years since my introduction to Linux, I learned about the existence of special kind of software that would allow me to use Linux without having to set my beige box to dual-boot system. The software is known as virtual machine. I installed Connectix Virtual PC and began experimenting with various Linux flavors, often more than 2 at one time. Sure, having such load in a Pentium III box with maximum RAM of only 512MB is a pain but for a geek it was a pain worth bearing. However it still does not enough to make me a Linux convert because I still think that Linux was still immature for a beginner’s use. It was during the same time I introduced Linux to my family and nobody accepted it. Yes, the heavy reliance on CLI freaked my family members and unlike Windows which they can fix themselves, they’d left dumbfounded should they face problems in Linux. And I was more convinced that Linux is still not good as a beginner’s OS. Well, perhaps I’ve used the wrong distro but how should I know if the one I’m comfortable with may be too scary for others?

Fast forward a few years and I’ve almost gave up being a Linux evangelist to my family. Yeah, I know it wouldn’t succeed because I still not using Linux as my main OS up to that time. It’s not that I don’t want to but virtualization software consumed too much of my limited system resources, although my PC was among the most powerful of that time. Even if I set my PC into a dual-boot machine and dedicate all system resources to whatever OS I booted, it wouldn’t help either because I’m not happy with the hassle of having to reboot the machine just to switch the other OS. Then I think why not the computer developers simplify it? My computing knowledge were pretty much limited on that time. All that I could think for improvement is either to make the virtualization less resource hungry or something that I described as “hardware-level virtualization”. The former might be impossible because no matter how small footprint the virtualization software has, the overall system resources is still shared among the host SO and the guest OS. For the latter, I thought it was ridiculous until I read an article in another local PC magazine about the so-called “hardware-assisted virtualization” in 2005, around the same time of the emergence of multi-core consumer CPU.

From what I understood about hardware-assisted virtualization, it’s similar to my vision of hardware-level virtualization, where system resources are partitioned at hardware level instead of in software level as in the traditional software virtualization. In the article both AMD‘s “Pacifica” and Intel‘s “Vanderpool” were mentioned well. I thought the technology I’ve been waiting for has arrived but I was wrong. It’s all liars. The article mentioned about having a machine where we can boot into both system at one time without the need to install the virtualization software and we can switch between the OSes in real-time without having to reboot the system (let’s call it “double-boot” instead of dual-boot) or reloading the same OS without restarting it. Sounds nice because should the current working environment crashed, the loaded copy of the OS would take over and this could be done without the user noticing it. However I still haven’t seen my dream of “double-boot” system become true despite the technology is already available. The technology becomes useful only if the virtualization software is installed, which means it still need the host-guest relationship between the OSes, of which I think kills the purpose of having the hardware-level virtualization. I am highly disappointed. However there was one time in local PC expo where I saw an Apple representative demonstrated switching between Mac OS X and Windows XP in real-time using certain key combination. I asked him whether there are any virtualization software installed or not and he answered me the Mac only use Bootcamp. I’m not sure though whether it’s true or there were just some tricks because I never really have a chance to use Windows on Macs but whatever system it is, I only want to see the “double-boot” system become true.

Justifying the iPhone


got the iPhone4 in my hand, finally (gonna put in on a stress... on Twitpic

Just a couple of days ago I was talking about my ‘genius’ friend who was about to get the iPhone 4. Well, it looks like I’m being the one to get it first before him though I never really planned for it before this. Yes, I’m now officially the owner of iPhone 4 (pictured above), but I have to say that ownership part is half-true, half-false.

It’s half-true (or half-false, depending on how you see it) because I paid half of the price while another half is paid by my girlfriend. In other words, I’m holding 1/2 share of the ownership, making me a co-owner of the iPhone 4. Actually it was my girlfriend who’s so passionate about getting it. She could have bought it herself but I somehow wanted to experience it myself when my girlfriend first mentioned about getting it thus I agreed to have a share on it. My first impression? Not that bad but not that great either.

Having the phone in my hand makes me wonder what if Apple didn’t make a smartphone but went for a ‘dumbphone’ instead? I bet nobody would buy it even if it is from Apple. Chances are the ‘dumbphone’ from Apple would be just another overpriced Nokia and won’t sell that way. So it’s quite makes sense for Apple to make it smartphone and on top of that to build the best smartphone possible to make it stand out from the rest of its rivals.

As usual Apple seems don’t mind selling their products with premium price but somehow with iPhone they used a modified formula. In order to make buyers feel like they are getting what they paid for Apple not only rely on the design but also adopting the latest and the best technology they could carry out on a phone. So what makes a cellphone a smartphone? Touchscreen alone is not enough. Many earlier smartphones already have it, except that most of them rely on stylus for the screen input and most of them are also geared for one-hand operation in order to compete with the traditional keypad operation. Apple thought giving a smartphone a multitouch capability for its screen would give it an edge over the rest of rivalling models but I personally think it’s a bad idea. Most people only use one hand for phone operation which is why it’s a phone, which also means most people wouldn’t bother to use the multitouch feature anyway. Therefore from Apple we get a phone with capacitive (multi-touch) screen and a few other whistles and bells.

Should a smartphone has capacitive display instead of resistive? Some might argue that a phone is bad if it requires more than a hand to operate it. Alright, iPhone is not a phone that needs both of your hand to work but because of it’s multitouch nature, it has extra functions and features that traditional touchscreen smartphones doesn’t have though I doubt not many people bother to use that feature anyway. Some other people might argue differently by saying there’s no point of getting a touchscreen smartphone if you’re only going to use one hand to operate it; better get a traditional keypad-type phones. For me I have to say the latter argument is weak because touchscreen offers an alternative to keypad input since writing is more natural, flexible and dynamic than typing. Speaking of writing, multitouch display isn’t as good as most people thought. For instance capacitive requires special kind of stylus if you want to write on the screen, unless you’re OK of doing so using only your finger gestures (which I prefer not to). Resistive allows virtually any tip of solid object to substitute the stylus if you lost it. I remember writing notes on iPaq PDA (anybody remember that?) using the tip of my necktie clip. Not to mention how I missed the Graffiti on the legacy Palm PDA series. It was fun and my only concern was the handwriting recognition algorithm although things keep improving each year which greatly reduced the error rate in the recognition. By the way I prefer the way Palm separated the Graffiti from the working display, because the stylus won’t get in our sight, although input on the screen works too. I also like the way Nintendo doing the similar thing on their mobile console, the N-DS where despite it adopted the dual-screen design, the user’s focus is emphasized on the upper screen while the lower, secondary display acts as a touchscreen interface for the stylus as part of the game controls. That’s why even if this iPhone 4 support some awesome 3D gaming, I won’t dedicate it for mobile gaming as how I did with my Nokia N-GAGE QD before, because I don’t like my gaming display disturbed or interfered by my fingers.

So does being the co-owner of iPhone 4 makes me more tolerant towards iProducts? Not a bit, in fact I still hate it. It took Apple three generations of iPhone before they could first came up with multitasking OS, despite the OS is a derivation of Apple’s desktop system counterpart. The only explanation I could think for this is the iPhone OS (predecessor of iOS 4), a mobile port of Mac OS X is not stable enough for multitasking (for your info, even the multitasking in Mac OS X itself took a very different approach than most other OS, which may be the culprit of why the OS initially is not suitable to be re-scaled for mobile device). I even heard there’s this issue about memory leakage or something like that, making multitasking in iPhone OS was not a good idea or almost impossible. I could say the previous iPhones are unfinished product because they’re preloaded with immature OS. Not to mention the arrogance of Apple of ignoring the current standards (eg. Flash). In my case I’m getting the iPhone 4 as a geek, not as a fanboy. This is just another hi-tech toy for me to play around, so I guess I’ll tinker around it a little more (and add some more troll in in the process).

And I don’t understand too why developers (both hardware and software) keep spoiling and favoring iProducts from time to time. It even irritates me more when they somehow has special unit or division to develop stuff specific for iProducts, as if iProducts are that important to the IT world. iProducts may be influential enough to control the tide and wind in the IT world but not jumping into the Apple bandwagon is not a bad thing either. I hope those developers didn’t doing so just because they think having Apple in their product support range is cool.