Category Archives: New World

Grand Perspective

I’ve always wanted to get a graphic visualization on where I’m spending my precious hard drive space. There’s now a small cool utility for OS X that does just the thing. After spending 15 minutes with the tool, I’d cleaned away a massive amount of old crap I had sitting on my drive.

Grand Perspective

Mobile GPS integration to web

I’ve been toying around with a Bluetooth GPS and Nokia N95’s built in GPS for a while. I’ve been surprised by how bad and/or expensive most of the available software is for GPS use. The trend seems to be that software is either

  1. Cheap or free but doesn’t include any maps. If converting map data to the software actually works, the software is buggy, lacks features and tends to crash.
  2. Expensive and doesn’t have detailed maps available

For map vendors, the amount of money charged for useful maps is just ridiculous from consumer perspective and I’m sure it’s slowing down the adoption of location based services.

Nokia’s Maps software is nice but frankly I’d like a lot more detail to the maps in rural areas. I’ve checked the maps a couple times when I’ve been somewhere in the wilderness and the maps are next to useless outside the city. Making the algorithm the chooses how much detail is shown at the different zoom levels smarter would improve the usefulness of the software immensely.

On the hardware side, the external Bluetooth GPS with SIRFstar 3 chipset is very accurate and fast. The battery capacity could use an improvement – I’d expect at least 15 hours of use with one charge. The GPS inside the N95 on the other hand seems to be next to useless. The Time to First Fix takes so long that it seems to me the GPS always does a Factory fix. I’ve only managed to get my location on the device a couple times and it’s taken up to fifteen minutes for the phone to find the location under an open sky.

One surprise I’ve had is that the Bluetooth GPS only allows one software to connect to it at the same time. This imposes severe limitations on what can be done with the GPS – for example I can’t record my track while at the same time using a mapping application for navigation. Obviously this would be solved by having both features in the same app but sadly I have no software where both features work to the level I’d like them to. Apparently if all the software used Nokia’s Location API, that’d solve the problem but unfortunately there’s no third party software that supports using the API yet.

But here’s the reason for this post: I’ve been trying to look for a piece of software that’d read the coordinates off from the GPS and send them to a web page using a GET parameter with the phone’s built in browser. Mystically, an application that does this doesn’t seem to exist!

Such an app would allow me to send my location to any web application in world. I already have one small app waiting for this to happen and I can see myself creating a small app to “bookmark” locations when I have this capability. I’ve already sent this idea to a number of people developing GPS apps for series 60 and the general response has been that the developer doesn’t get what I’m driving at…

Anyway, if you develop stuff compatible with Series 60 Symbian v3 phones and know something about GPS’s, please create this application. Feature spec here:

  1. Allow user to store POIs based on the current location
  2. Allow user to add a list of named URLs
  3. Allow user to send the coordinates of the current location or a stored POI (with POI name, if one exists) to one of the stored URLs, using two GET parameters, “lat” and “long”
  4. In case of N95, please make the app use the official Nokia Location API instead of blindly requiring the use of Bluetooth

That’s all, thanks. :D

Adventure with Adobe's Reader

I had to fill in a PDF form using Adobe’s Reader and had problems with the file. My copy of the Reader application complained it was older than what the document was intended for so I decided to update the app. Here’s how not to implement software updates. I guess this could be called a “install a Reader Update Game”.

  1. Started up Reader 6.0, updater pops up and tells me to update to 6.0.6
  2. After installing the update, Reader starts up and tells me I should install update to 7.0
  3. 7.0 installer wants to quit some applications while it updates. After it’s done, I get recommended I should install updates to versions 7.0.5, 7.0.7, 7.0.8 and 7.0.9. I now have 6.0.6 and 7.0 installed.
  4. Instead of installing all the updates, the 7.0.5 installer creates a new Reader copy named Reader 7.0.5.app and stops the update process. I now have versions 6.0.6, 7.0 and 7.0.5 installed.
  5. Updater now recommends I install critical security updates to versions 7.0.7, 7.0.8 and 7.0.9.
  6. After the update, the application’s name is still Reader 7.0.5, Finder also claims it’s that version but Reader thinks it’s 7.0.9. The updater application still wants to install the “full” 7.0.7, 7.0.8 and 7.0.9 updates. Trying to update the software fails since the updates aren’t compatible with the semi-updated installation.
  7. Decided to give up and go to adobe.com to download the latest version which turned out to be version 8!
  8. Downloaded the downloader which fired up a Reader Download Manager which fired up the installer.
  9. Reader 8.0.0 installed, just one update left anymore. I now have Reader 8.0.0 with Language Support. Threw the three old versions to trash. Reader now actually works and is pretty fast.

The question remains, why didn’t the first update notification tell me version 8 was available? In my view the process took seven (long) steps too many.

Ferrofluid sculptures

I never did art myself (although I do photography pretty actively) and have sometimes wondered what kind of art I’d do if I did, especially when I bump to such beautiful projects as the Morpho Towers project. Watch the video for an amazingly beautiful shape-shifting sculpture.

I hope the sculpture comes to an exhibit to Finland at some point. I think I could sit and watch that for hours, wondering about the physics that make the piece work.

(Via Boing Boing)

EMI to sell music on iTunes without DRM

Applause!

EMI and Apple just announced DRMless iTunes music sales. Instead of 99 cents for 128kbit/s AAC with DRM, you will soon have an option to pay 1.29 cents for 256kbit/s AAC that’s not crippled.

When questioned if this will cut iPod sales (not being vendor locked on the music), Steve Jobs said he doesn’t see the connection as most music in iPods originates from CDs anyway.

I’m very, very happy to see this happen. And hoping this will work out for them. In fact, I’ll even go as far as purchase something from EMI when this goes live. If EMI gets to boast record sales as a result of them doing this, other companies will follow.

EMI’s press release
Apple’s press release

Scandinavian Airlines flips the finger to frequent fliers

Given that airlines sell most of their tickets online nowadays, I’m awe at how badly SAS can screw up their Internet experience for the end users. The the following screenshot I just took on flight reservation system:

SAS’s site changed it’s URL and for some reason my username doesn’t work anymore. Since I use the system keychain, I know exactly which username used to work a couple weeks ago so I doubt I’m at fault. Also the fact that I tried a wrong username/password combination _once_ locks out the account so I can’t request a new password even with SMS. This means they expect that someone trying my username means someone’s stolen my phone which is just insane. They do list out a phone number I can call but that’s tomorrow and presumably there’s a queue so I’m not exactly thrilled.

Links to Help section show me a “page not found” error. I used to be an ex-gold card holder, I guess I’m an ex-flyer now.

YouTube Video Awards 2006

YouTube’s Video Award winners are now out. Google News clocks ar 320 articles which is pretty good. The first winner video has 13.5 million views already. Pretty good!

I find it interesting as a phenomena that a new company can pop up in the Internet and challenge existing giants to the point where they want to kill you, no matter how much it costs. I’d love to see some figures about whether the YouTube awards created more buzz among regular Internet users than the Oscars. I’m sure YouTube will publicize numbers at some point so while waiting for those, here’s two clips:

My favorite video of the winners is the Kiwi!. Even though it’s listed as the “most adorable” entry, I found it deeply sad but somehow inspirational.

The video actually reminded me of the Extreme Trainsurfer video. I’m at loss when trying to pick words to describe this clip. And am inspired by the fact that we have a medium to spread content like this. With TV, I’d not have seen this in the first place and especially would not be blogging this video in a way that you can read this. “You can only be free… when you have nothing to lose.”

Apple TV hacked

Seems that some people have found how to add value to Apple TV. I’ll become interested in the device when I can record and play TV with it with less hassle than I have with the crap Handan digital TV received I have now and it just looks like this might become reality. I guess this is again a lesson about the collective intelligence of the Internet – if you put modifiable hardware or software out there, there’ll be a lot of hacks, quickly. (via /.)