Sunday, October 30, 2011

Public Parts - Finished

So I finally managed to finish Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis.

The book starts (and ends) with a couple of excellent observations and thoughts on privacy versus publicity... and also how those two concepts came to be.

Good read... but if you know Jeff Jarvis' blog and other statements already, this will not be news to you. Also he devoted too much space on essantially a re-cap of his earlier book What Would Google Do?

I still highly recommend both books.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nokia did it again...

They still manage to surprise me. Just unsubscribed from one of their newsletters...

Guess what, it will only take them "up to 14 days before" the remove me from their mailing list.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to build up a 1000+ € phone bill..,

... without you knowing.
And no roaming.
Or doing anything different ... compared to the previous month.

This is what just happened to a friend of mine:
She learned from their operator that she ran up a 900€ data bill, and the month (i.e. billing cycle) was not even over.
Did she have an app running, that kept data open? No.
Did she have a video running in the background? No. [1]
But she did have a 15MB email in her outbox that could not be sent for days.

The email app (on the iPhone) was trying every 3 minutes.
Could be tracked down with the operator's help.

My guess: it failed, because the mail server (or mta) did not let it send a 15MB+ email...
So it kept retrying, without any chance to succeed.

Simple math:
3 minutes a day = 20 times an hour = 480 times a day

Lets just say it successfully transmits only 1MB before the error[2], that's still 480MB ~~ 1/2GB a day.
Continue for a week or so, and you have 3.5GB... and through the 3GB ceiling and you hit the area where it gets really expensive.

And she really did not do anything wrong. Claimed that there was no error message, from the mail-app... And why should there, it kept retrying anway...

Well, the operator in an act of humanity - or to avoid the negative publicity of a court case - found a way to help here. But only because it totally breaks her data pattern until then.

[1] The operator really asked this... no pun.
[2] unlikely, it probably occurs after a lot higher transfer volumn, so those are best case numbers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Kindle Experience So Far

I have read a couple of books on my Kindle so far. Here's what I found out:

  1. The Kindle is an excellent reading device. The e-ink display has the perfect contrast for reading... Once you started reading on a Kindle (or just looking at it) you'll never ever consider reading a book on the iPad again. Trust me.
    Not surprisingly, the display/e-ink quality was my reason for buying a Kindle:
    My actual craving for this device started on the tube in London, when I first got a glimpse at a kindle of a fellow passenger. My first thought was "This is a mockup". Honestly. I really thought someone just glued some paper on some dark carton, before I realized this was the real thing. (Well, the real kindle... not real paper).
  2. Buying books for the Kindle is - of course - even more instant than buying a paper-book on Amazon (which is still amazingly simple). It's a matter of seconds.
  3. That said, I still browse for books and buy them from my PC/Laptop. I do this very rarely on the Kindle directly. The userinterface and "browser" speed there is simply not suitable for this. It's a reading device after all. Not a tablet or a PDA.
  4. Sharing books - forget it.
    With my wife working in a book store, we share a lot of books. It was quite common that I picked up a book which she just had finished (reading). Well, it's different now on the kindle, because I would have to share the device with her..
    So while I'm reading book A (on the Kindle) she of course cannot read book B (on the same Kindle). This used to work pretty well with real books :)
    Maybe she should get her own Kindle[1].
  5. Privacy
    When you read a book - say - on the underground, everyone can see what you're reading. This could be embarrassing... depending on your choice of books. With a Kindle, no one knows what you read.
  6. Publicity
    As I just said, with a Kindle, no one knows what you read.There's no visible/public bookshelf - in your home. So you cannot brag with your library. Most of us judge people by their library, in a way. And really, browsing the backs of the books on a friend's bookshelf sometimes gives excellent conversations and recommendations. This will have to work differently with a Kindle. You will have to ...
  7. ... share
    So if you want to have the publicity about your reading habits, about your library, you'll have to do this actively, like in a blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, on Goodreads. You'll even have a bigger audience there.
  8. As for the act and experience of reading itself. NO DIFFERENCE.
    We'll maybe for books with illustrations :-)
    But when it comes to being able to concentrate, or (not) getting distracted, or getting tired... no difference to a real book. I came to prefer the Kindle over books when it comes to the shape and how you hold the thing... it's lighter (in most cases), there's no clumsy page turning (as with thick books), ...
Don't get me wrong; I still LOVE real books. And I still read them... (see the problem with sharing above). But there is nothing to be said against the Kindle. 

[1] yeah right... like booksellers would buy a Kindle...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


So dear Google+, kudos for finally making hash-tags link to the respective search, i.e. allowing # as a keyword marker, like Twitter.

... BUT...

... there are some pretend-hash-tags, that really aren't.  Sometimes a has is just a hash...

Like in
(for the geeks among us)
or #1 #2 ... (again in geek terms #\d+)

But still better to have the link to a pointless search than not have the link at all.


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Is it really ok to fully quote an article from someone else as your blog post and then just add a "Source:" at the end? (In a much smaller font even)
I say no.

But if you do, then you have to cope with the criticism you receive, and you cannot just say "I'm only quoting xyz."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Icecream sandwich approaching?

It seems like the majority of my Android apps from the Android/Google marketplace have been updated during the last couple of days. Some it seems on a daily basis.... This can only mean, that everyone is getting ready for Icecream sandwich... Right?

Meaningful error messages

This calls for a new series:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Excellent presentation on Cloud Computing

Ok, this is a bit old (OSCON 09) but still easily the most fun and solid presentation about Cloud Computing:

Found it via the IT Conversations podcast.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Flight Search - Hipmunk

If you ever wanted to know how fast a search for flights can actually be, try Google Flights. Only US for the time being ... but this is really fast.

But what I really wanted to show is, how flight search results can be presented... Try Hipmunk.
Cool overview; excellent timeline; nice and helpful coloring. Check the above image (click to enlarge)

Also: redundant flights are being masked out, i.e. flights with the same time but different number (code sharing), or just a higher price - but you can unhide them with the dropdown to the very right.

I have yet to search a real-life flight for me to be able to judge it, but it looks promising indeed.
Also available for iPhone and iPad and Android. Granted, on sub-tablet form factors[1] this is less helpful than on PCs and tablets.

Most importantly: it got an animated chipmunk.

[1] formerly known as smart phones.