Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reading 2.0

The iPad and a couple of additional tools (not 100% related to it) changed my online reading habits a lot.

Here's my "Reading 2.0" or rather: as of December 2010, it will probably evolve further:
  1. I have Google Reader as the central management point for the RSS feeds (blogs, news, ...)
  2. about 30% of those articles I read online while I'm in front of a PC.
  3. the rest I scan on my iPad using Reeder.
  4. Most of the interesting articles and postings I save for later reading with Read it later, also on the iPad with their app.
  5. Item with more "eternal" value might then get save to delicious, but that's only one or two a week.
So basically I separated the consumption phase (step 4) above from the discovery phase (step 3 above).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Samsung did well

So, only 5 weeks after its "unbranded" arrival, the Android 2.2 update for the Samsung Galaxy S (i9000) is finally available for the A1 branded version. Quite frankly, not too bad, considering how long it takes Nokia to get the branded versions out.

Then again, the Samsung Kies software is the worst PC Suite type of software I have ever encountered.

Update went well without any errors; just that the home screen was reset to whatever A1 thinks it should be is not really nice, and that all apps/icons are now sorted alphabetically... hmpf... apart from that... fine.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ATM design flaw

I just noticed at a local ATM that there was a sign right next to the slot for the cash reading:
Don't forget your money!

Though it never happened to me personally, I do know some friends who actually forgot either their bank card or the money in the ATM. So the warning does make sense.

However, isn't there a fundamental design flow in the user interface or process of an ATM when you have to remind the users of the very one thing they came here for in the first place ??

Quite frankly, I'm not sure how to fix this, maybe glue the card to the money?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Case for Social Search

An interesting and well written article in the NY Times about the owner of the online shop decormyeyes caught everyone's attention: the owner actually admits to willfully create negative ratings for his shop by actually giving crappy customer service... because this actually pushes him up in Google search results, due to the nature of the page rank algorithm. And thus the bad reputation actually brings him additional business.

Why?
Because everytime someone has a problem with him and posts this to a blog or a consumer feedback site like getsatisfaction.com there is a link to his site (with a mention of the product they purchased), and each of those links counts in the PageRank alogrithm, which is primarily based on the number of incoming links to a site. The more links point to your page, the more relevant this page is considered.
Due to the large number of complaints, he actually made #1 for many of the goods he sold on his site.
And shoppers searching for the item were likely to shop there, because it was #1 search result. Organic search result - that is - not a paid ad.

No-one saw all the negative feedback, because Google does not show it (or actually know about it).
However, if you do a search on the site's name you will also see a lot of complaints about decormyeyes on the first results page. So searching for the site/shop does work as expected.

Odd that it took about 10 years for anyone to notice this flaw...

The problem there is, that Google search results are not recursive... i.e. you do not see the results of a result.
(Maybe this would actually fix the problem).

Google is not to blame for this, and the PageRank algorithm is still fine. If Google were to implement some semantic magic in their algorithm that would treat a positive reference different from a negative reference, it would create an altogether different problem: for all the controversial topics (or persons) out in the world, you simply will always find negative and positive references, and in many cases the negative will outnumber the positive. The system would be gamed with as easily as the current.

That's what Google said in reaction to this story:
As it turns out, Google has a world-class sentiment analysis system (Large-Scale Sentiment Analysis for News and Blogs). But if we demoted web pages that have negative comments against them, you might not be able to find information about many elected officials, not to mention a lot of important but controversial concepts. So far we have not found an effective way to significantly improve search using sentiment analysis. Of course, we will continue trying.
[...]
Instead, in the last few days we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.
In other words, for the time being, Google will - on a very high level - curate the search results.


What worries me (if only slightly) here is that Google will use "their opinion" to determine which merchants (in this case) to filter.

Although I consider this is the right solution for now, it has two flaws:
  1. It can only work a posteriori,
    i.e. only after you find the next merchant (or content provider, or ...) who games the system like this, you can remove him from search results, but this means that they already did damage.
  2. This is the by-far #1 search engine - let's call them a monopoly for the sake of this argument - applying their opinion/judgement....worrisome, isn't it ?

The solution:

Take the opinion out of Google's hands. Crowd-source the opinion.

Let the wisdom of crowds or rather the opinion of crowds do the work.

Which crowd? My crowd of course. For me.
Your crowd for you.

In other words: Social Search

So the decormyeyes incident - apart from being disgusting from a customer care perspective - can finally help make the case for social search.


---
Did you notice that in this entire post I never linked to the actual site, just to avoid contributing to the problem ;-)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blogging from the iPad

I just installed BlogPress in my iPad and will test blogging from the iPad with it. Expect even more typos and strange autocompletion errors from now on.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Updated my iPad to iOS 4.2

Finally, yesterday the 4.2 update for the iPad arrived. Well for other devices as well, but the iPad I cared most for.
I had to install it immediately... well when I say immediately, the 500MB download took 5 attempts to finally get through (networking problems, not Apple's fault I guess).

First impression: multi-tasking and app-switching is awesome :-)
I wonder how long it will take me to get used to the screen rotation lock being software only now.

Folders, AirPrint and AirPlay I have to digg into a bit more, I'm not sure I even have a demand for it ... yet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Attachmate to buy Novell

That Novell is up for grabs (or rather was) is not the news here.

The actual surprise is, that Attachmate - who bought them - is still around. Most of my colleagues don't even remember them. Last time, I had to deal with them was with their 3270 Emulation... not really a 2010 kind-of-business model.
Well, find your niche and hide there ... :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to sync photos FROM the iPad...

This is a bit embarrassing, but I still post it here... so you others don't have to admit you didn't know this... of course you knew... everyone knew... except for me.

So for a while I was wondering why a sync of my iPad through iTunes did not store the images generated on the iPad to the specified folder on my PC. Here's why:

In iTunes select your iPad, then click on the "Photos" tab and select a folder there.
This will then (everytime you sync) copy all the images from this folder on the PC to your iPad.

OK.

However, for the other way round it does not work through iTunes, but rather like this:

One thing that bugged me about my iOS devices is that everytime I hook them up to my PC, Windows prompts me to select an action or application for this device... Quite annoyed me because... hey... you're supposed to connect to iTunes... duuh.

So iOS devices register themselves to your PC as a camera as well. Still I thought: How stupid, my iPad does not have a camera. And neither does my iPod touch.

Well, in some weird way it is a digtial camera: from a Windows / interface perspective the iPad is a device that creates and (more importantly) stores images. Just like a digital camera.

So images you create on your iPad (e.g. as a screen shot, or email attachment, ...) can easily be sync'd to your PC through this interface then. Windows (or the program of your choice) will do the transfer for you.

Odd, though, that Apple suddenly relies on Windows features...

So, this is how you sync photos from your iPad to your PC... but of course, everyone knew that.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

App Store Quality ?

So this is the rigid quality control on the Apple App Store ??

How could that pass?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

So, Samsung...

... now you can prove that/if you are any better than Nokia :)

The Android 2.2 update for (my wife's) Galaxy S finally arrived. But of course not yet for the operator branded version she own (A1).
This is/was to be expected, because the operator will have to test and approve the official/final update and then apply their branding on it again

Last time on my Nokia E71 it lasted until forever and it was Nokias fault.
I sure hope that A1 and Samsung can get this done in 2-3 weeks.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are there Fictitious IP addresses?

A recent rant from a friend of mine about the utterly wrong representation of IP addresses in a science/tech show on Austria public TV (ORF) made me think.

What worries Martin, is that they use internet addresses like 156.284.632.715, which are obviously fake, because the are not made of 4 8bit values (octets).

I really like to defend the ORF in this case[1]: as with car license plates or telephone numbers, it could be considered a breach of privacy to pick one that exists for real. So you have to revert to numbers that do not exist in reality.

The US, for example, have reserved the part of exchange code 555 for such fictitious telephone numbers, meaning that you can pick any 555-xxxx number without running the risk of bothering anyone or being sued over it[2].

Not sure how it is done with license plates, but since they tend to be centrally registered, I guess there is a range of numbers that can freely be used in fiction.

However, with IPv4 addresses being on short supply anyway, one would have to revert to IP addresses that 100% cannot by owned by anyone (else), like 127.0.0.1 oder 192.168.x.y.

You would be kind of safe from a legal perspective, but nor from Martin's rants.

Had the ORF shown 127.0.0.1  or 192.168.1.1 to actually be resolved through DNS, Martin would still have ranted about it. Not because the IP address is wrong, but rather because the name used would never be resolved to this address.

So, Martin, this is an OK use of "wrong" or rather "fictitious" internet addresses, not an "Epic Fail" as you say.

--
[1] I very rarely do so.
[2] at least in the US

Sunday, October 10, 2010

4G - Which is it?

I'm a bit confused now; both LTE and WiMAX seem to be labelling themselves 4G...
But which one is it really?
Any idea?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Facebook Phone ?

So the last 10 days or so saw a lot of rumors, denials, half-hearted confirmations and semantics about a Facebook phone.

Current state: they are obviously not manufacturing the hardware (what a surprise) but teaming up with INQ mobile to integrate facebook into (or rather:onto) the software stack.

Does it make sense to have a Facebook feature phone?
Not to me.
The Facebook apps for the various smart phones are powerful enough. Just to have your (phone) contacts synced with facebook[1], does not require or justify a Facebook feature phone. Much less the crappy Facebook chat.

Does it make sense for Facebook ?
Sure  - Three words:

mobile.
ad.
revenue.

As I'm saying, the are a (only) marketing platform...

I rest my case, your honor.

--
[1] if you want that at all - I don't.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Moleskine Covers for iPhone and iPad

I don't know... to me this is a cultural clash:
Moleskine introduces two new hybrid tools designed for making it easier the simultaneous use of paper, phone and internet utilities: a Smartphone Cover compatible with iPhone 3G and 3GS, and a Tablet Cover, iPad compatible. Both Covers are combined with blank notebook pages. They are conceived as analog-digital ultra-portable workstations for the contemporary nomads.

The analog darling embracing the digital darling...
How strange.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Enabling Multiple Google Calendars for iOS

Found the following tip recently:
iPad Quick Tip: Enabling Multiple Google Calendars: Apple:

quick version: if you go to http://www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect you can select which of your Google calendars will be visible on your iXxxx (iPad, iPhone, iPod, ...)

Previously I had to manually copy/paste the various caldav URLs from Google to the iXxxx, which is quite cumbersome.

This here is a lot easier.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Feeding the iPad

The top use of my iPad is reading the tech news - through RSS feeds.
There is an excellent RSS reader for the iPad called Reeder.
Here are my favourite bullets about Reeder:
  1. makes full use of iPad geometry
  2. uses Google Reader as the feed list;
    not only import, but actually works with it; so everything I read on my iPad is automatically marked as read in Google Reader; perfect way to stay in sync
  3. easy to step through articles.
    there are scroll buttons on at the left edge in the middle of the screen; I first wondered, why they had been position there, but once you get used to holding the iPad in landscape mode, this is exactly the position where your left thumb is... tricky,ey ?
    Scrolling is a lot more convenient this way, then with the mouse or the J / K buttons in Google Reader
  4. it's a lean back experience.
    This - to me - is new for news consumption via feeds and I really prefer it over the laptop / desktop experience.
  5. You can easily (one click) save/share articles to Delcious, Twitter, email, ...
Quick summary: perfect feed reader on the perfect news device.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Got my iPad

So I got my iPad yesterday...

No - actually I got it Tuesday, but I managed to hold back until yesterday evening to unbox and activate it.

Cool device... great form factor. Super fast (compared to an iPod touch or Galaxy S)
A weird mixture of lean-back browsing (like TV) and lean-forward browsing (like PC).

Still amazing how many apps are only available in the iPhone/iPod compatability mode... and not yet optimized for the iPad.

But those who are (optimized for the iPad), like the internal Mail app, or the excellent imdb app, really make great use of the touch interface on the "big" screen...
Keyboard is a lot better and more easy to type on than on the iPhone/iPod...

Can't wait for the iOS 4.2 Update.
 
Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cisco to buy Skype?

TechCrunch rumors that Cisco might acquire Skype right before their IPO.

If they really do, that'd make for quite interesting Linksys boxes with Skype built in... Just add your Skype Phone, or TV, ...
Skype by Cisco on Linksys by Cisco ...

Then you'd no longer need to have your PC running to place or receive Skype calls - or video calls.
Bad for the Telcos...

I like it :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Facebook vs Identity - again

Well, it should read "Facebook vs Privacy - again"... but the point I want to make is, that Facebook could have been an Identity platform.
In a way they are... not only in a way, if you go and count the sites that allow you to login with your facebook account. But that only makes them an Identity provider.

An Identity platform needs more than just a secure single sign-on.
For example authorization: you should be able to finely tune who has access to what. That's why the social graph (or your address book, if you will) is so valuable. Facebook does have most of the data and means to enable proper authorization: who can see my wall-posts, who is allowed to contact me, ...

It would have been easy to extend from there.

But with Places they once again proved that they rather go the pure marketing platform way, instead.
  1. Places is mostly opt out. It is somewhat (but not fully, it seems) enabled by default, until you disable it.
    Not a good default - privacy-wise.
  2. Other people (your friends) can check you in at any place they want.
  3. You can't control your places. Anyone can check in at your home...[1]
This is all good and fine for a geo platform (like foursquare)... but not for an identity platform

To Facebook (the company) it seems more important to publish stuff about you (and make money from the ads) than to have you properly manage your identity. That's fine, too, but that makes them a marketing platform only...

Sorry.

--
[1] different issue, I know, but it still troubles me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to get Thunderbird attachments as read/write...

This has been bugging me for years now... ( I guess ).
When I double click e.g. an OpenOffice attachment in Thunderbird, the document is then opened as read-only in OpenOffice.

There's 1000+1 reasons on the web why this is a) intended and b) good... but I still did not like it.

Some (short) analysis revealed, that Thunderbird is actually setting the read-only attribute of the attachment, so OpenOffice was not to blame.
Easy to google from that and find a really good tip here:

One has to set the configuration value browser.helperApps.deleteTempFileOnExit to false [1]

E voila... Works fine now.
No unintended side effects so far.
--
[1] you might have to create it...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ProfiMail for the E71

Thanks to the hint of a colleague, I installed ProfiMail for the E71. Well, I needed the hint, because I never intended to install yet another 3rd party app on my E71...first of all, because this never increases the stability of the phone, and secondly, I thought it would only be cumbersome...

I couldn't have been more wrong.

ProfiMail (v3, 3.28 to be more specific) has everything you want from a professional mobile email client.
  • full imap/imaps support.
  • "push" email... well, it's "only" IMAP IDLE but thats good enough for me[1]
  • multiple accounts
  • full folder support on IMAP, and it allows you to move an email message from folder to folder.
  • user interface is very OK
  • proper attachment support
  • proper address book support
Seems like the creators actually use it themselves or have a good feedback process... it's the little things like the feature to check mail on startup and immediately go to the inbox when you start the email client...

Access to it is quite easy, if you map the application to the long-press of the Messaging one-touch-key, then it's just one (long) press on the envelope button, and there you go.

I seem to prefer it over the built-in iPod/iPhone mail client... but that's probably only because of the physical keyboard... which I stll prefer over the virtual touch keyboard.

--
[1] and it's enabled on my mail server...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Surprise

Today I finally managed to get my eCard to work as a citizen card ("Bürgerkarte") with more than just the federal tax online aplication ("Finanz Online").
I could - for the first time ever - access the federal pension plan application (PVA) as well.

It was not easy, and I really don't know what I did differently with the (I guess) 3rd approach, but it finally worked.
And now it seems to work stable, i.e. I could access the site and authenticate with my eCard a second time...

After only more than half a year of struggling.
Amazing.

Now that this is done, and now that I know my future pension ... it's time to retire :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tab Candy for Firefox

There is a new Firefox add-on in the works called Tab Candy, that will help you to organize your tabs into quite powerful and dynamic tab groups:
  • Lightweight Grouping... simply drag & drop
  • Only the Tabs You Want... once you open a tab group, you only see the tabs from this particular group, all others will be hidden
See the demo/concept video here.

An Introduction to Firefox's Tab Candy from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

(I'm not sure I follow Aza on all the future steps and developments in the second half of the video.)

To me, the need to organize your tabs, group them, prioritize them, hide "inactive" tabs is just another way of saying how important and dominant web-applications  and the browser has become... It is no longer a tiny window into the world of the internet, that does a little HTML rendering... it's become the universal client.

One more quote, though, from Aza's post:
Tab Candy is made entirely with HTML, Javascript, and CSS. There is no native code—just the open Web. That is how powerful the web has become.
Looking forward to it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

iPad Available in 9 More Countries This Friday

Can't hardly wait... I guess I'm gonna get one...
iPad Available in 9 More Countries This Friday: "Apple’s iPad will go on sale in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore on July 23."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Digg4 alpha is out

I just got invited to the new alpha of Digg4 ... which finally introduces a friend-based news feed, i.e. I can see the storied that were digged by my social network.

So I know have two dimensions of filtering my digg/news feed.
a) by category (as before) like "Business", "Sports", ...
b) by my social network...

Probably the most usefuly type of curation in this century.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Who needs sorting anyway...

Well apparently mobilkom austria[1] does not... at least not in their online shop:

8 - 3 - 5 - 2 - 1.3 - 12

maybe this is a code to a secret message ...
--
[1] sorry, A1 Telekom Austria as of today

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Microsoft's Kin is dead

The Kin will be discontinued and never make it to Europe.

So what?
Is anyone really surprised by this?

First of all, Microsoft never had a good track record with or mobile phones (and their operating systems) nor generally with hardware...

Secondly, a pure social network phone that's cluttered with status updates, tweets and stuff does not make any sense. A phone is still a phone, and not a social network beeper or pager.

If I consider my social graph - any of them, be it Facebook or on Flickr or on Xing or on Twitter - I'd panic if I'd get all their updates directly on my phone.

So lets grieve for the Kin...
Then again.... No, let's continue to ignore it.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Odd limits on the E71

In the last couple of months the limitations on my Nokia E71 started to really annoy me.
Today's incident:

When I added my new corporate email account[1] (and did not delete the old one) I wanted to enable Automatic email retrieval[2] - of course.
To my great surprise, I could not...
Turns out, you can only have 2 email accounts with automatic retrieval enabled.
A limitation I don't understand at all.


Totally time for a new handset... preferably one with proper reception... :-)
--
[1] new because Oracle bought Sun and as of today I am 100% Oracle
[2] you know, the one that cannot be set to 1 hour...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When recommandation engines start to bug...

Amazon for instance keeps recommending Freedom TM to me[1], although I marked it as "I own it" ("Gehört mir" on amazon.de) and also rated it... the very edition, they keep recommending to me... for weeks now...

And as if this was not annoying enough, Facebook today started recommending that I like Black Books (the hilarious UK TV series), although I liked it on Facebook months ago...[2]

So could you guys please all go back to your desks and fix your recommendation engines... they bug me.
Thank you.
--
[1] OK, I sort of keep recommending it to you guys as well, but that's beside the point.
[2] I just noticed that the verb "[facebook] like" works a bit different than "[real-world] like"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spooky

It's really spooky to listen to the E3[1] review on this weeks TWiT podcast, while at about the same time reading Freedom TM by Daniel Suarez...

What is being rendered as sort of a nightmare in the latter, has just been presented an demoed as the latest and greatest at the former.

Kinda gives you the creeps.
--
[1] the Electronic Entertainment Expo 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

AppTabs Extension for Firefox

Today I finally tried out an extension add-on [1] for Firefox called App Tabs, which has been on my radar for quite a while now.

Not only does it reduce the tab of your favorite apps and sites to an icon (the favicon of your application/site) - thus saving tab space, which leads to a more well arranged tab bar.


It also allows to keep this app permanent, i.e. it keeps you from inadvertently closing those apps, and also opens them automatically when you start Firefox.

All you have to do (after installing the add-on from here) is to go to your favorite sites, and then ctrl-click[2] on the tab... et voilà... it's become an app tab with a fixed app.

Pretty neat.
Love it.

According to the tab bar preview video I posted yesterday, this will become a Firefox 4 feature.
--
[1] sorry, I'm still in old Mozilla-speak
[2] see options of the add-on

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Tabs are on Top in Firefox 4

Nice overview of the new UI concept / ideas of FF4... and the reasoning behind it.

Facebook email replies still odd

It still bugs me that I can reply to a facebook comment-notification per email, but not to the notification of a facebook message...
If I get the notification (along with the full facebook message body) in my email client, I want to reply by email... is that so hard to understand? Or implement?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vuvuzelas and the platformness of the iPhone

I guess by now everyone knows the Vuvuzelas, those fan instruments / noise creation devices of the soccer worldcup finals 2010 in South Africa. I will not rant about them here... just report a nice observation.

There is a Vuvuzela app[1] for the iPhone/iPod which creates the sound of a Vuvuzela.

Granted, not the most useful app - but fun to annoy friends an colleagues.

But the mere existence of said app, which went viral within a couple of days only, proves to me that the iPhone with its app store is a serious platform for SW developers - as well as a serious marketing vehicle.

To me, the Vuvuzela app has proven the "platformness" of the iPhone & appstore


--
[1] actually there are several of those

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No more Technorati for me

I've been using Technorati for my blogs for years now. First for statistics, then for search, but then...

Their service and availability/uptime started to really suck, and Google did better for both (search and statistics).
Their ranking is really irrelevant to me, because I don't even try or pretend to have top authority.

So, today I removed technorati from all of my blogs.
Weird thing though is, it's really hard to delete your technorati account.
There is no menu / action in the account settings panel for this, and according to their support fora[1] you should write an email with your account details to some suspicious non-technoarti email address..
Also, feeback on the success of such emails is not too positive either.

Totally odd... especially for company that centered around bloggers you'd expect a more modern and open approach to account deletion.

--
[1] too much Latin in my past, can't say or write "forums"... sorry

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Google sniffing passwords? - Don't be stupid

Admittedly, the situation with Google "inadvertently" sniffing private data when recording the location WiFi networks is sad, annoying, stupid, ...

But what really annoys me is that "the media" keeps talking about Google collecting "private data ... like passwords for online banking".

What??

So they decrypt SSL/HTTPS, too?
Or do online banking sites no longer provide secure login?

Come on...

Yes, they shouldn't have done it - not even by accident.
But...
What's the damage?
Who - with an open / unencrypted WiFi network is to complain... reallly?  [1]
It's like leaving the front door wide open and the complain about burglars ...
And real sensitive data not only go over an encrypted Wifi network, but also at least over HTTPS (and in many cases) over a VPN as well.

I still don't see the actual damage.... except for the damage to Google's reputation...
It's not even evil, only stupid :-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Blog moved

This blog has just moved to this address. Shouldn't pose any problems, since it is a DNS redirect and still on blogger, so all your links and subscriptions should continue to work.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Distracted eGovernment

So, this week Microsoft and our government[1] announced the "E-Government Browser"...

First of all, it's not a browser, just a browser plugin or toolbar. It does not add any functionality to anything. No new e-gov app... nothing.

Then, please make up your mind whether you want to call it "browser" or "explorer"... seems that Microsoft had their say with the naming here... "browser" (wrong as it is in the first place) seemed to be too generic a name for Microsoft, so they had to bring in "explorer" (as in "Internet Explorer") as well.

And by the way... WTF... it's just a toolbar with shortcuts to some Austrian e-gov and non-e-gov applications... I don't need that all the time around... wouldn't a simple link collection[2] with a proper easy-to-remember URL suffice.

And ... please... if at all you have to do this... why IE8 only?
And why in the same interview exclude the iPhone and Apple with a very bogus reasoning:
Wir möchten als Verwaltung selbst entscheiden, was wir an Inhalten dazufügen oder wegschalten können" , begründet Christian Rupp, Sprecher der Plattform Digitales Österreich
["We as the [federal] administration want to decide ourselves which content we want to add or remove", says Christia Rupp, spokesman for the platform "digital Austria"]
Well, then... where's the toolbar for IE7, Firefox, Opera, Safari, ...

Why not spend your time and efforts in getting the e-card to actually work?! Still does not work for me.

Why have anyone (in this case Microsoft) spend "a significant 5 digit Euro amount" ("hohen fünfstelligen Euro-Betrags") on this, instead of using the money for e-gov applications that work?

I wonder what the EU commission has to say about this, when they just forced Microsoft to open up the windows default browser installation with the browser ballot[3] and then one of their member states goes endorsing IE8 all over again.

*facepalm*

--
[1] OK, not the federal government itself but their "Initiative Digitales Österreich" - initiative [for a] digital Austria... same-same
[2] call it "portal" or "planet" if you like
[3] no, I don't like the ballot either

HP and WebOS - pt II

Last week I mused about the HP Palm acquisition being not so much about Palm (the hardware) but webOS...

Here's what (HP CEO) Mark Hurd hast to say about it... via cnet.
He told the audience that HP did not "spend billions of dollars trying to go into the smartphone business; that doesn't in any way make any sense," according to a ZDNet report.

We didn't buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn't seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP. The WebOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a Web operating environment...We have tens of millions of HP small form factor Web-connected devices...Now imagine that being a Web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition.


I rest my case :-)

Monday, May 24, 2010

HP and WebOS

So, after acquiring Palm just recently, HP seems to draw a more clear picture[1] about its intentions with Palm.

Or should I rather say "with webOS".

Two headlines from the past two weeks or so that caught my eye... the more recent and more obvious from the Register:
HP exec confirms WebOS tablet • reghardware:
"According to Monty Wong, VP of PCs at HP's Taiwan operation, WebOS will be used in smartphones and tablets, but not in netbooks, DigiTimes reports."

and the more surprising one where Ars Technica quotes Mark Hurd:
When we think of printers, you’ve now got a whole series of web-connected printers that, as they connect to the web, need an OS.
in their article "HP: introducing the webOS... printer?"

webOS for printers? Does make sense... doesn't it?
  • you need an OS that is capable of a proper rich user interface on a small screen/LCD
  • you are still connected to at least a local network, quite likely to the internet as well
  • you can have a market for (3rd party) apps that handle output, connectivity, etc, etc directly on the printer
So HP was actually looking for an app-ready operating system for their series of connected gadgets and devices, rather than for yet another hand-held (HW-) manufacturer...

This now makes a lot more sense[2].

As Ars Technica sums it up quite nicely:
In other words, webOS gives HP its own lightweight, Web-savvy client operating system for all of its consumer-facing gadgetry up through netbooks.
Don't mind that Ars Technica and The Register contradict each other regarding netbooks... that's beside the point I think. Every device that has the size and hardware capabilities of a netbook will run Windows and/or Linux anyway. The more exciting area here is tablets / pads / printers / gadgets.

Can't wait to see if they manage to get that done properly...
---
[1] at least more clear to me, sorry, if this was all obvious to you ...
[2] Ford and Microsoft are already going for an app-ready OS for cars... the Ford SYNC.

[wired] Top 20 Ways to Provoke a Geek Argument

Yes...
yes... and
yes...

Top 20 Ways to Provoke a Geek Argument (GeekDad Wayback Machine) | GeekDad | Wired.com

So true.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

VirtualBox 3.2 released

Apart from the kind of obligatory yearly re-branding attempts[1] by the respective new owner, VirtualBox finally comes with some cool new features...

  • Latest Intel hardware support
  • Large Page support
  • In-hypervisor Networking
  • New Storage I/O subsystem
  • Remote Video Acceleration
  • Multiple Virtual Monitors
  • Hot-plug CPU's
  • Virtual SAS Controller
  • Online Snapshot Merging
Details and explanations here, download here.
and, as they guys from ElReg say in their article,

With VirtualBox 3.2 (and no one is ever going to call it Oracle VM VirtualBox, so let's get that straight), the software engineers have tweaked the type 2 (meaning hosted) hypervisor so it can run on all the latest "Westmere" variants of Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors for desktops and the Xeon 5600s for servers and high-end workstations.

VirtualBox 3.2 also sports acceleration for the Remote Data Protocol if you are using a Windows 7 client in a VM, and the hypervisor can emulate an LSI Logic SAS controller for storage as well, which is common in high-end x64 workstations and entry servers and midrange x64 servers.

VirtualBox supports just about any x64 operating system you can imagine: Windows NT all the way back to 4.0 and Windows all the way back to 3.0, plus DOS, OS/2, Linux 2.4 and 2.6, Solaris, and BSD Unix - and now Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.5 and Canonical Ubuntu 10.04 are added to the long list.

So, away with the just-installed v3.1.8 and lets got 3.2...
----
[1] Sun Virtualbox, Sun xVM Virtualbox, Oracle VM VirtualBox, ... come to mind

Monday, May 17, 2010

eCard still not working

Still no progress with accessing the pension and social security applications with my e-Card.

Federal pension plan (PVA) still gives a $fourletterword about the new Mocca client.

And Austria (or its government) still brags about being #1 in e-government.... yeah, right... 'course...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Thunderbird 3.1 beta 2 out

Finally the beta2 for the new Thunderbird release (no, just an update, actually) is out[2].

It brings 2 important features:

a) the Lightning nightly updates only work with TB3.1 beta for a couple of weeks now... so finally I am up-to-date again with Lightning as well.

b) the fully indexed search introduced in Thunderbird 3 was great, but what annoyed me ever so slightly, was that they used the same search field for filtering and searching and you had to select from the drop-down what you actually wanted to do (filter the current folder view or search all over the mail boxes).


Cumbersome, at least.

Now with TB3.1 they split those into two... a filter bar and a search bar.
Search is hot-keyed [1] with Ctrl-K (kind of a standard anyway) and filter with Ctrl-F (which is mnemonically OK).
Although the filter bar takes away some space from the folder pane, it is worthwhile (to me). You can always hide it again. Not sure if I can make use of the quick filters for unread/starred/contact/... but let's just see.

What still strikes me as odd, that in the ... uhm ... message pane action area (?) ... not sure what it's real name is... you know, that one here, the one that way introduced with TB3...

Ok...that one. So well they are still missing a "File" or "Move to" action there. Do I really have to hack it into TB with an extension ?

Also they are still missing the Favorite sub-menu in the Move to context menu... only recent folders there... what would be so favored with my favorite folders, if not being a frequent move-to-target.

Still, TB3.1b2 seems quite stable... production grade, it'd say...

---
[1] not sure if this is a verb... well now it is.
[2] download here

Friday, May 07, 2010

Date - sortable

This is to all the people who include a date in a file name or document name (and there are good reasons for doing so... simple way of versioning).

Is this really so hard to format a date so that it is sortable?

That would be year first, then month, then day (of month) - just like ISO 8601 says it should be. year-month-day or year/month/day ... whichever separator you prefer...[1]
And please - numeric only.

So please, do not include a name of the month, because then April appears before February. And the sort order would be locale/language dependent. Not a good idea.

So no "Apr-27th" in a file name please (I've seen that).
Just make it "2010-04-27".

That's sortable. Everywhere.

Come to think of it: in that regard the rather awkward American way of writing a day (month/day) does make sense all of a sudden... still month/day/year is totally pointless.

Thanks for listening.

You can go back to what you were doing.

--
[1] but stick to it. No point in using - in one file name and / in the other.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Update for eCard configuration for Oracle's Sun Ray

There's an update for the new Austrian eCards for the Sun Ray[1] Server... the 2010 card... you know, the one that does NOT work properly as a citizen card.

The update can be found and downloaded here on the Sun Ray User Group wiki.


--
[1] yes, they are called the Oracle's Sun Ray Clients now.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Book: Daemon - by Daniel Suarez

I just finished reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez. It was recommended on twit a couple of weeks ago as an audible book. I still chose to read it on paper.

What distinguishes this novel is the technical accuracy... Suarez does not just throw buzzwords up in the air. The are accurate, then he talks about IP/network characteristics and effects, DDOS attacks, ... etc etc

Totally nerdy & geeky.
But really good.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Palm and 3Com re-united

So, HP bought Palm... not Apple, as has been rumored over the last couple of weeks.
Palm and 3Com [1] finally re-united.

IMHO (and as a former Palm fanboy) this still does not give Palm/HP a chance in the smart phone market: HP/Compaq never managed the iPaq to smart phone transition - with the help of giant Microsoft - so why should they be able to manage it now without any help, when they are up against Apple and Google (and. yes, Nokia, but they are an easy target).

--
[1] Sorry, "HP networking" as they are called since last week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

James Gosling to leave Sun/Oracle

Well, this kind of sort of in a way was to be expected. James Gosling left Sun Oracle, as he reported here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

eCard problems continued

Well, the problems with my healthcare card (eCard) as an Austrian Citizan Card (Bürgerkarte) still continue.
  1. My old card had problems, so it was replaced with a newer version last December...
  2. Then the availabe citizen card software (Bürgerkartenumgebung) was not compatible with the new type of cards, and I was told this would be fixed in January.
  3. It was not
However, now there is a new citizen card software called MOCCA: it is Java based (finally) and available through webstart...
Works quite well for the one application where I would not really require the Bürgerkarte: Finanzonline - the federal tax return/claim application. It does not require a citizen card login... but there it does work.

For applications that require the login, like my (federal) pension plan, it still does not work.
Error code 2006:
HTTP/HTTPS binding: Incorrect parameter encoding.
Seems that they are not ready for MOCCA yet (after about 2months).

Could someone out there please coordinate the government agencies? What about synchronized releases of obviously interdependent pieces of software?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Flickr language - could this be any more embarrassing

Remember how I ranted about how Fickr changed the language to German for my account, and I could not find how to change it back to English...

Oh this is sooo embarrassing.... really... but I have to admit this...

Anyone ever take a look at the bottom most bar in flickr?


Yeah... that one.

Turns out, that when you click on English, it changes the language to English.

Another example, if you click on Deutsch, it changes the language to German/Deutsch.

Funny stuff, really.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Flickr language

And why exactly is it, that Flickr fall of a sudden talks German to me?
I did not change any preferences, still have en_xx way before de_xx in my browser language settings, ...

But starting last weekend, Flickr is German.
And no option[1] to turn it off.

What the f%&/( ??
--
[1] none that I could find, anyway.

Friday, March 05, 2010

April 3rd - I'd rather stay offline

So, the iPad will hit the stores on April 3rd this year...

I think I'll stay offline that day, because all the blogs, twitter, facebook and whatnot will be full with love and hate messages, and Why the iPad is the best device ever, and Why it is total crap...

The usual fight between Apple fan boys and the Apple haters, as well as those who expected a thinner/smaller MacBook with a full OS and those who love the idea of a larger iPhone...

I'll just stay offline ....

Monday, March 01, 2010

Google Acquires Online Image-Editing Tool Picnik


Odd .... Google Acquires Online Image-Editing Tool Picnik (see also here)
I know Picnik mainly from / for Flickr, which now is a Yahoo company...

So, did Google just grab Picnik before Yahoo had chance?

Then again, it was also available for Picasa et al... still surprised me.

Skype on Nokia E71 - update

So, I've been using (native) Skype on the E71 for a couple of days now, and it really works quite well.
Faster then the Java version (and that's me saying this). And more complete.

It does, however, not honor the settings for
  • Default access point
and
  • Sign In [When Skype starts].

It currently ignores both.

I changed them to their other respective values, restarted Skype, changed them back, still no change.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Skype on Nokia E71

When I read that Skype was dropping support for the Java Mobile version of Skype (light), which I use on my E71, I just thought "What the f*"... [1]
Then I continued to read to find out, that there actually is a native Symbian version of Skype, that I totally missed during the last 1.5 years...

So, lets install it... just point your phone browser to skype.com/m.
Check back here to find out what my experience with it is.
Looks promising at first sight.

--
[1] yes, I literally thought "f asterisk"... :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Perfect Intro to Cluetrain and Web 2.0

Look at this excellent TED presentation by Alexis Ohanian of Reddit to understand how the Cluetrain Manifesto maps to Web 2.0...

And what it is, that corporations and organizations simply have to get.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Facebook: Half-hearted email replies

For a couple of weeks now, Facebook allows you to reply to a notification (e.g. when someone comments on your status) via email.

Xxx Xxxxxx commented on your status:

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras neque diam, tincidunt sit amet faucibus quis, tincidunt eu mauris. Nulla vitae est ipsum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. "

New Feature: Reply to this email to comment on this status.

To see the comment thread, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks,
The Facebook Team
So just hit reply on this e-mail and type away your response.

A really nice feature, since most of the time I read the comment first via email, not on Facebook itself - no matter if mobile, iPod or Web. So being able to reply right from my mail-client is really convenient.

However, the one notification one cannot reply to via email, is a notification from a facebook message itself. If someone sends you a message on facebook, you have to log on to facebook and reply their.
Odd.
Half-hearted.
Please...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Urgent feature request for Google Reader

If some Google engineer reads this...(yeah, very likely):
Could you please do a quick hack in Google Reader that would allow me to "mark all items about iPad as read and boring".

That'd be helpful right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cowardly admin

How nice... I got this error message on a webserver just now:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, /dev/null and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
The server administrator /dev/null... didn't know that admins are that self-conscious nowadays.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Regex Pitfall

I guess this was the first time ever that I had to search/match/replace with regular expressions across line boundaries.
Not the usual multi-line ("/m") operation; quite the contrary, I wanted the source string to be treated as one single line regardless of newline-characters in it.

In other words: the dot (".") should also match a newline.

Not that easy, it turns out.
Quoting from the Regex Tutorial:
The dot matches a single character, without caring what that character is. The only exception are newline characters. In all regex flavors discussed in this tutorial, the dot will not match a newline character by default. So by default, the dot is short for the negated character class [^\n] (UNIX regex flavors) or [^\r\n] (Windows regex flavors).
Changing this behavior is actually language dependent.
Since I needed it within JavaScript (XUL/Thunderbird) I had to revert to a [\s\S] instead of the .
JavaScript [does] not have an option to make the dot match line break characters. In
those languages, you can use a character
class
such as [\s\S] to match any character.
This character matches a character that is either a whitespace
character (including line break characters), or a character that is not a
whitespace character. Since all characters are either whitespace or
non-whitespace, this character class matches any character.
Weird. Unreadable. Requires a comment.
But it works.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who is Facebook afraid of?

These days Facebook is really pushy and aggressive to get the data of your contacts who are not yet on Facebook.

Exhibit A: Facebook FriendFinder

Facebook seems to shove the FriendFinder into your face these days, no matter when or where on Facebook you are at the time.

For a time there even were almost full-size banners on top of the main Facebook page (stream) for it.



Exhibit B: The new iPhone app

The new Version 3.1 of the FaceBook app for the iPhone allows you to sync your iPhone Contacts with Facebook. Now as nice and handy this may be for syncing the Facebook contact information (picture, phone number, address, birthday, ...) down to your iPhone I'd never let all my phone contacts by synced up to Facebook.

Well, I don't have an iPhone (yet), but a - in this regard - functionally equivalent iPod Touch, which obviously does not contain as much contact information as my phone. And the E71 app for the iPhone is way to broken to ever get such a sync feature.

So this is not a problem for me, but I'd not even sync my handful of iPod contacts to Facebook. Even if I could.

They are really kind of desperate to get all your contacts data, i.e. your whole social graph.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Austrian ecard still not a Citizen Card

So during my previous attempt to activate my national health card ("ecard") as a citizen card ("Bürgerkarte") I was told that this very most recent version of the ecard was not yet supported and I should check back in January.

Guess what I did today...

Well to cut a long story short, it still does not work.

Why did I even bother to try...
I've been working in the IT industry for the last 20 years now [1], always on - sort of - the production side: vendor, developer, ... never really on the consumer side...

So I should know what a vendor or developer means by saying "in January". It's rather like February 12th or so... and not January 18th... duuuh... should've known... been there...

So, if anyone cares to try this "in January", i.e. before 18-Feb-2010, just be so kind and post a comment with your results here.

--
[1] OMG...that long?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Show sender's picture in Thunderbird 3

With Thunderbird 3 you now can store a photo to each contact.


Nice feature, but totally pointless without an option to actually display this photo next to the emails.

Now for the good part: there is an add-on to do exactly this...

Contact Photos :: Add-ons for Thunderbird



It looks if it can find the sender of the email in any of your address books, and there is a picture stored with this record. If so, it will be displayed in the message header. If not, a dummy picture is displayed.

You can control the behavior a bit...


I know the Mac folks will now brag that their Apple Mail software could do this for years... And you are right... It was overdue.

Now all we need is a way to easily collect those photos (with gravatars not being that popular). Since the address book in Thunderbird still lacks usability, there is of course no way to simple drag and drop images into the address book... Maybe I'll hack this...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote an published a Facebook app that reveals how much data a Facebook app can actually see from you and your friends.
Nice thing, is that they made it in the form of the quite popular quizzes.

Read the story here, or try it yourself (if you are on Facebook) ...
HINT: always choose the worst possible (from a privacy point of view) answer... that will help...

Turns out that an app can see almost everything, regardless of what you say in your privacy settings, and - more shockingly - it can see a lot about your friends as well... and they don't even know about it...
The ACLU quiz demonstrates this by actually showing you some of your friends data.

Go directly the quiz on Facebook.

Key take away:
So some of your profile data might even be read by an app that a friend is using... you don't even know it, much less authorized it.

So:
#1 Don't take those quizzes
#2 Accepting a friend request on Facebook just got one more thing to consider ('cause you don't know what apps they use)

Sees Scott McNealy was right: "There is no privacy - get over it" [1].
I still hate that attitude... but he seems to be more and more right...

--
[1] there are slight variations of this quote... but all to the same effect.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gartner acquires Burton Group

Oha, coming home from a 3 days vacation (not even that offline) I stumbled upon this
Burton Group Identity Blog: Gartner acquires Burton Group: "Gartner acquires Burton Group"

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Scheduled Sync for the E71

Just when I was about to rant about the lack of periodic or automatied calendar sync on the E71 (over-the-air/OTA via SyncML) I did in fact google for it and found that the Bergamot project on Google Code does provide exactly this.

The program is called SWIM and this is what it does:


Swim is a utility for automatic periodic synchronization of data with internet servers such as Google Calendar (through GooSync), Mobical, Zyb, ScheduleWorld, Ovi or any system running Funambol. It makes use of the existing SyncML support in the system, and adds timing capabilities, something both UIQ and S60 mysteriously lack! You can set it to sync your data every 15 minutes, every hour, every 4 hours, every 12 hours, daily, or weekly.

Swim uses the existing Synchronization functionality and profiles from the E71... which is cool, so there is no difference if you sync manually through the menu or run the synchronization scheduled.

The how-to section is quite ok... here are some tips and tricks from my installation, though:

  • For my E71 I needed version 0.41 from the download section. The more recent v 0.50 did not do anything.
    The tricky part is, getting the beast signed using the Symbian
    Open Signed Online tool.
    This is also well explained in the
    How To Install section: just upload the unsigned .SIS file, download the signed .SIS file and install this to the phone.
  • However, I ran in to the problem that my phone said that the certificate of the signed .SIS file was “not yet” valid. A google search for that revealed that this is a common problem with - as it seems - the clock of the signing server and the phone being too far out of sync. The trick is, to put the phone 1 day ahead, install the software, and the put the phone back today.
    Frankly, I don't really see why I should (self-)sign software at all, if the only way to install it, is with a kludge like that.
  • Anyway, after that it ran just fine, I put it to 30min synchronization interval for starts and thats what it did... After a day of observation (without any problem) I put it to 12hrs, which is sufficient to have my corporate (Sun) calender synched with my phone...
So Hooray and thanks to the Bergamot project...