Category Archives: New World

Feed fixed

Adam told me my feed sucked, which I hadn’t noticed. The feed should now include the full stories with full formatting. If you have issues with the feed, please ping me. If you get the old stories in duplicate – sorry.

Photosynth

I just saw the friendliest “we don’t support you computer” message ever – and it came from Microsoft:

“Unfortunately, we’re not cool enough to run on your OS yet. We really wish we had a version of Photosynth that worked cross platform, but for now it only runs on Windows. Trust us, as soon as we have a Mac version ready, it will be up and available on our site.”

I’m impressed even before I’ve seen the service itself.

World of high end audio and video is just amazing

I’m in process of radically changing my living room audio / video hardware. The old stuff is the usual setup with a DVD player, PVR, Yamaha amp with 5.1 speaker setup, Airport Express for streaming audio and of course a HD capable flat panel telly. Oh and the only console hooked up right now is the Wii.

I’ve been meaning to change all this for a while but never got to do it until two things happened at the same time. I bought an eyeTV digital television receiver on a spur of the moment, and saw the design of the new Drop speakers. After having used the eyeTV unit for a moment with an old laptop, I noticed I was happier with the interface (and especially the recording capabilities) of the unit than the Handan PVR unit so I’m dumping that in favor of a Mac Mini. The Mini of course obsoletes the Airport unit for music streaming, which in turn means I can now store the audio in a lossless format of the larger than before drive, which means I should get a new amp for the Drops…

I promise to do a graph of the whole setup soon, when I’m happy with it. It seems I’m getting improved sound quality with nicer to use equipment for less than what I might get when selling away the old stuff.

Anyway to the point – as part of Googling for the kinds of audio stuff I ought to purchase, I’ve (again) figured the “high end” audio market is full of outright scams, which are of course all based on people’s willingness to believe in anything. The most amazing scam going on right now is of course high-end HDMI cables that companies claim will improve your picture quality. Of course, this is impossible.

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a connector that packs a digital stream of bits that bundles a multi-channel audio stream with DVI-compatible video stream. The combination of audio and video in one well designed compact plug is convenient for the consumer and the streams support bit-rates high enough for the highest HDTV resolutions and multi-channel surround sound setups. What most people don’t realize is the interface has also been designed with the entertainment industry’s requirements in mind – the data streams are encrypted.

Encryption means you either get all the data bit for bit and are able to decrypt the stream, or you miss something, the devices disconnect. There is no “get some bits with lower quality” mode to HDMI. The cable either works perfectly, or it doesn’t work at all. The only difference in the quality of cables are the distance at which the devices can still connect and work. High quality well shielded cables will give you a few feet extra on top of the bad quality cables.

If the $5 cable over HDMI gives you the picture, that’s the same picture you’ll be getting a $99 HDMI cable.

And the girl you’re trying to impress won’t see the gold plating anyway, assuming you haven’t setup the rear end of the equipment facing the viewer. Actually, for anyone with gold plate HDMI cables, I recommend that’s what you do for best value. Because that’s the only value the plating has.

Nokia music store opens

Freely translated from the email I just got: “The songs sold in the Music Store are very high quality files protected by Windows Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, which you can listen to using your computer and your mobile device.” I find it interesting that Nokia enters the music market with a new store with DRM, just as pretty much all other stores have learned the lesson and are dumping the technology.

The deal smells like new N-Gage.

The site doesn’t even let me in to check what it looks like – I’m just getting the Mac’s not wanted message.

Philips Brilliance CT

Daily Mail has a story about new Philips CT scanner that can produce awesome full-body scans of the whole body in a minute (via Gizmodo).

The machine costs $2 million which sounds like a big sum but I realized it actually isn’t that much. For example, the city of Helsinki is considering building a massive drive-through tunnel under the city where the latest projected cost (that I heard) was 750 million Euros. $2 million is measly 1.35 million euros which means that at the cost of the tunnel, you could purchase 200 of these machines (271 million euros), then use, say, 350 millions to build a massive scanner complex and then spend 130 million on hiring people to man the machines. (Obviously you’d need to invest a lot more to pull this off but humor me here.)

At 10 people / machine / hour for 7 hours a day, 300 days a year the entire population of Finland could be scanned in about 15 months.

A system like this would more or less completely eliminate surprises from cancers and various blood clots, which in turn would probably save a hell of a lot of money on the long run.

Given that this would be possible to pull off already now, I guess full body CT for all will happen in 10-15 years, when the scanners have dropped significantly in price. Can’t wait to see what I look inside! :D

N95, it's what computers have become

I just had a revelation on what’s wrong with Nokia’s smartphones right now. It’s not the phones as such, the technology is very cool – it’s the way Nokia thinks about the phones which then reflects to the customer experience.

My N95 broke during the Austin GDC (screen went blank for no obvious reason) so I had to take the phone to service. I couldn’t backup the phone without the screen so the service order had “Do not delete data” written in VERY LARGE type. So, obviously when I got the phone back a month later, the software had been upgraded and all data was wiped, including all contacts, photos, messages, installed apps, the lot. For some reason the new software only includes butt-ugly hard to use visual themes, too, so I hate my phone now.

You’re probably nodding and thinking “Yeah, that tends to happen when your phone is serviced” and that’s exactly what’s wrong with the phone industry! Nokia is selling N95 with the slogan “It’s what computers have become” so I expect them to treat my phone like it’s a computer. If I take my laptop to the service, I wouldn’t imagine the service people would format the hard drive and tell me I should be happy that they upgraded the OS version. That just doesn’t happen.

So, challenge to Nokia. Try to change the mind set of everyone dealing with your customers to treating the phones like they’re computers. This means quick service and absolute no loss of your customer’s data.

Update: I found a positive side effect of the software update – the GPS now suddenly works. It used to take up to 30 minutes for the phone to get a lock under an open sky, now the locks seem to happen in under 30 seconds.

Market price differences

Sometimes, I just get pretty pissed off by market prices differences. I’d like to get the Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8 lens but guess what – the Finnish average price is around 1550 euros ($2200 US) while the US price in the better web stores is $1130.

That’s a frickin’ 100% price increase for Finns! Even if I account for the 22% tax here, that’s still a massive price difference. I bet the local Canon representatives are happy but I’m just feeling screwed.

Incidentally the same goes for Garmin GPS units where the better ones cost around 150% more here than in US. Apple used to do the same but I have to give them some kudos for actually adjusting their prices in the last couple years.

Daily WTF

If you do programming and like The Office or Dilbert, you might enjoy Daily WTF, a “blog” about programming brainfarts, some of which explain the weird issues found in software. Part of the series is screenshots of funky error messages and views.

The reason I’m writing this I just saw something pretty funny. I just tried to reserve time to get my car’s tires changed to the winter tires – check the date for my reservation schedule.

I think people used to have carts with horses back then.