Tech

Video: Four Generations of Cell Phones

April 19, 2010

Well, I previously threatened to make some video blog entries and now I’m finally making good on that threat. THIS IS NOT A VIDEO DIARY. In fact, if all goes according to plan, you’ll never see my face on camera. So before I get into the entry itself, a quick bit about making the videos. I captured them on a Nikon D300s in 720p, copied them over to my computer and ran them through Windows Live Movie Maker. I know, the software is a piece of shit and barely does anything more than add title cards, transitions, & re-compress — but that re-compression is important. The video raw off the camera is 100MB/minute. After Windows Movie Maker, it’s about 30-35MB/minute. During the process, of making today’s entry, I created two test videos. The first capture test only ended up at 480p, and had some lighting issues. My second capture test took a LONG time to get settled properly, but ended up at the proper 720p and looks decent in terms of the lighting. In the end, I’m pleased with how good the 720p video looks, people might not use it, but for those that wish it, it is there for them. So… on to today’s actual entry. Yesterday, I ordered a Nexus One. Yes, I broke down and did it. I really want to use it for development… plus it is just so damn cool. As I was watching videos on YouTube about it, I realized most of the video reviews were shot on release. IE for T-Mobile & Android 2.0. Since then we’ve achieved multiple carriers on the Nexus One, and been updated to Android 2.1 (Update 1). As I wanted to create my own video blog posts/reviews — I thought this would be a perfect time to do so. Of course, I need a “test post”, so this is it. Below is the embedded YouTube video in its 720p glory.

Why we hate fanboys? Lack of reality

March 23, 2010

Being a “fan” (short for fanatic and sometimes also called aficionado or supporter) of your favorite product or company isn’t a concept unique to technology (computers, software, video games, etc). Just take a look at sports (Raiders or 49ers?), bands (U2 or Linkin Park?), cameras (Nikon or Canon?), automobiles (domestic or import?) or even ice cream (chocolate or vanilla?). Everywhere and anywhere you have the ability choose multiple options, you’ll have fans. Some people will be “meh” about the entire deal, but the ones you’ll really hear from are the fans. Since I’m not involved in sports (in any way shape or form) one of the best examples of fanaticism I can pull upon is cameras. The camps really break down to Nikon versus Canon. Sure there are other sides, like Sony, but even the Nikonians and Canoners band together to hate on Sony. Seriously, who buys a Sony DSLR? That being said, while there is an extremely strong rivalry between the two groups, I rarely run into anyone who is die hard rude about it. I, a Nikonian, regularly run into Canoners (including some disowned members of my own family ^_^ ). We joke about being mortal enemies, but really everyone is cool about it. I understand that some people like Canon. I got my start on Nikon so that’s where I stay. From what I understand, this is basically true for all rivalries. Sure an extreme minority take it too far, but most people can come to grips with it. Except for, it seems, one group.

Thank you Apple for cleaning up the AppStore

February 24, 2010

of Apps removed from App Store by AppShopper.com In case you haven’t heard, Apple recently decided to ban most “sexy” applications from the iTunes app store, nearly 6,000 in total. In brief, they removed anything that had any implied sexuality up to anything showing skin at all. CNN Money put forth the theory that they are doing this because of the upcoming iPad release (ah, the biggest flop we all know and love). So I titled my post “Thank You Apple”, and you might be wondering: why? Because this is fantastic news. The more stupid stuff Apple pulls like this, the more disillusioned developers will become. The more people that become publicly jaded by Apple’s bible thumping antics, the less likely they will want to develop for it and the quicker Apple will die a slow, painful death. No Bikini’s, except if you’re name is ‘Sports Illustrated’ Let’s look at it realistically. Here are nearly 6,000 applications which were previously allowed, that no longer are, through no fault of the developers of these applications. Even if the application was nothing but gratuitous tits and ass, it cost money to make. Someone had to put in the time writing the code and compiling the application. Someone had to take or license the media used in these applications. Someone had to take the time to go through the app submission and approval process. It may not have been a lot of time to program; it may have been a lot of money to license the images, but it did cost actual time and money. Money these developers can no longer recoup, just because Apple woke up one morning and decided that’s the way it is. Hell, even if you’re marketing is a bit risque (and by risque I mean risque as used by the Islamic militants, or maybe the puritanical Amish) like in the case of Wobble, you get delisted.

Driving Tax vs Gas Tax

February 23, 2010

This post was inspired by: an article from the Washington Post. Currently we pay a tax on each gallon of gasoline we buy. Part of it is Federal, part State, and possibly even a local part (don’t know anywhere like this, but it is a possibility I suppose). As we move toward more fuel efficient vehicles (be they motorcycles, hybrids, or whatnot), the amount of tax money is decreasing. Obviously, the governments dislike this as they need that money to keep the roads up, one of the things that has been suggested is to replace the per gallon tax with a “Per Mile Driven” tax. This would mean that the cost of filling up, be it a hybrid or a truck would be much closer in cost. Sounds good for the gas guzzling truck, but not so much for anyone who bought a more fuel efficient vehicle to save on gas fill ups (and/or pretends to care that they really bought it to make the environment better). Were something like this to pass it could put a serious dent into hybrid sales and also standard motorcycles (like the Suzuki Boulevard S40). Since Standard bikes are fairly cheap (new and used are generally well under $5k) and get good fuel economy (40-80 mpg depending on the model), they are popular sellers when gas prices start to rise, as they usually pay for themselves in a few months, depending on your commute (not to mention the awesomeness that is a motorcycle). Hybrids on the other hand are less of an impulse buy as they are quite costly. The main reason people suffer this cost though is because they are getting a savings at the pump. Remove that savings and hybrid sales will slump. When Jon and I discussed this new tax, we kept coming back to the same question: How can you, the government/tax collector, prove how many miles I’ve driven?

MKV's & Ubuntu: Redux

March 12, 2009

For all (5) of our regular blog followers, you already know that I’ve installed Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Alpha on to my Eee PC 1000. It is running a Low-Power Intel Atom (LPIA) processor at 1.6Ghz. It is not exactly a fast little devil, but it does a decent job for most things you’d want to do on a netbook. One of the things I do, is watch videos on it and one of the perennial problems with doing so under Linux has been poor MKV (H.264) support. In fact I wrote about this a year ago. On the Eee PC non-MKV videos generally work well. Occasionally, they’ll have render troubles (due to lack of processing power), but for the most part, they work fine. What surprised me though was the fact that many MKV videos I’ve downloaded have also worked well, or at least much better than I recall. When I found that some MKV files didn’t have any trouble at all playing, frankly I was shocked. I wasn’t sure if it was something in 9.04 or what was going on, so I had a co-worker test on his 8.10 box and they also played well. Now I’ve found some videos, generally the ones that look like they are higher quality (therefor require more CPU time for de/compression) and have high-motion action scenes, that don’t fare so well. Even with that being the case, turning off SpeedStep (so the Eee PC is stuck at 1.6Ghz) seems to remove a lot of the issues. On one of these “problem” videos for me, I had the co-worker test and he reported that everything went smoothly. He said that if he didn’t know about Linux’s sordid history with MKV’s, this video would give him no reason to believe otherwise. Info on machines after the break… My previous post was in March of 2008, which means I was most likely using 7.10. It is possible the MKV issue or base line decoding algorithm was “improved” in 8.04 or 8.10 and has been tweaked in the last year.

Comcast sells you cable internet for $12 an hour

March 11, 2009

I recently caught a press release from Comcast that I thought was interesting, “Comcast to Roll Out Extreme 50 Mbps High-Speed Internet Service in Bay Area". It really caught my eye because, I live in the area, so theoretically I could call them up and have 50 Mbps internet by the end of the month. Cool… or is it? We all remember that Comcast isn’t the best ISP in the world because they love to use Sandvine to tinker with your internet (namely disable anything they don’t like) and they think it is a “good idea” to cap bandwidth. Though since this service is something like five times faster than their previous offerings, it is possible, if unlikely, that they changed or removed the cap. Curious, I went into the Comcast live chat system and asked them. What they said: “the service is still under the cap”. This reminds me of the old AOL days, when they started sending out CD’s offering you 1000 free hours a month. Cool… except there are only 731 hours in the average month, so you can’t use it. Comcast is doing the same thing, “Here is THE FASTEST home service ever!!!! Except you still can’t download any more than you could previously”. Wow. How fucking useless is that? And for this “honor”? You pay $139.95/month (not including any fees or taxes). Why is this service so amazing? Well according to Comcast, you can download an HD movie in just 16 minutes. Of course the service is “ideal for households or businesses simultaneously using several computers”. Say you have a family of 4, all of whom have their own computers, and with this blazing fast service they start downloading (or streaming) HD movies (say from Netflix). Congrats, you each get to download 10 movies a month. That isn’t a bad number per say, but it is easy to watch more than that. Of course if you do that, you can’t use your internet for anything else. No VoIP, no email, no surfing, no music, no streaming radio, no Xbox Live. Let’s take a quick look at the real numbers though. 250 GB * 1024 * 8 = 2,048,000 megabits / 50 Mbps / 60s / 60mn = 11 Hours 22 minutes. If you max your line, you get internet for 11 hours. That’s it. Not a few days, not 3/4ths of the month, just 11 hours. Oh and don’t forget, you are paying $139.95 month / 11.37 hours = $12.30/hour. Why would you pay that, when you can pay less per DAY at a Starbucks. I’m sorry, but we’re moving into the internet age. More and more content (and media) is being provided over the web, sites are getting “richer”, downloads are getting bigger, and bandwidth requirements are getting larger. The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. Comcast is trying to put it back in the bottle by capping net usage. Maybe I have a valid (and legal) reason to download (and/or upload) large quantities of data. I download Linux distributions over Bittorrent; I have to update them often (alpha’s and all that); I regularly download tens of gigabytes from Microsoft (MSDN); I stream legal TV shows (thank you Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, and all the other providers, like CBS and ABC who let me watch from their own page); I have 4 computers running (at the very least); the list goes on. I’m just one tech enabled person. Imagine the family of four with two teenage kids who are technically competent. Frankly, if I want to saturate my connection, I’m going to do it as often and for as long as I want, especially if I am paying for it, which I do with my 6 meg DSL line. Comcast can go screw itself with their fool’s promise of fast internet. I’ll keep my DSL line and sleep well tonight knowing that I can download 2 terabytes a month if I needed to. In the extended body (IE “Continue Reading”) I’ve included the entire (unedited) chat transcript.