The iPhone hath cometh

Jobs announce the iPhone

I am impressed. After months of rumor and speculation, Apple Computer has finally announced the iPhone. From the stream of pictures coming from sites like Engadget, the upcoming iPhone looks even more impressive than anything Apple fanboys have conjured up in Photoshop. The hardware features are outstanding - high resolution 3.5” tough screen, 2 megapixel camera, bluetooth, quad-band GSM, Wifi, and either 4 or 8 gigs of onboard memory.

Most impressive, however, are the software features that Apple is touting for the device. This device runs embedded OS X, complete with Safari and support for push-IMAP. Wow.

It will only be a short matter of time before someone pulls together some killer mashups. Imagine being able to throw in a bluebooth GPS receiver into your backpack and having a portable navigation unit based on Google’s image and routing data. Within seconds you could pinpoint yourself on an up-to-date map (with satellite view, too), figure out using Google Local where the closest Chinese restaurant is, and place a phone order for lunch, while you leisurely find your way walking to the restaurant - all from the same device. Wow.

Of course Apple is going to wow the public with their announcement, but not even Apple will be immune to first iteration bugs and design flaws. How will the device provide feedback response, since there will not be (or will there?) tactile feedback? One of the things I hate the most about the 3rd generation iPod was the lack of feedback on the buttons - will the iPhone suffer from the same fault? Will the touch screen stand up to daily use and the obligatory encounters with keys and coins? Will the battery life be what Apple claims?

The iPhone won’t be available for at least another 5 months, but the timing of today’s announcement was as brilliant as the device itself. Anyone who is in the market to buy a high-end smart phone will do himself a favor by holding off for just a few more months. Non-Cingular customers up for contract renewal may think twice about sticking with ...

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Symantec Harmware Suite 2007

I recently got back from visiting family in Ireland, and one of the things that I did during the trip was “fixing” the family’s computer. I say fix loosely because all I really did was uninstall some really shitty software, namely by a company called Symantec. The family had a decent enough computer (P4 3ghz, 512mb RAM), but no matter what they were doing, the hard disk would grind away relentlessly. Normal events like starting Window XP’s Control Panel or starting an application would require an annoyingly noticeable delay, even on a cold boot with nothing else running. Clearly something was amiss.

Since there was a big ugly Norton button permanently stuck on the taskbar, I didn’t have to do much diagnosis. It turns out that Joe, my distant Irish relative, followed the instructions that popped up after the computer’s pre-installed copy of Norton Anti-virus complained of expiring. Being extremely safety oriented, Joe happily went along with the scary messages NAV was popping up, and via dial-up purchased the entire Symantec Norton Internet Security Suite, and, get this, Symantec Norton SystemWorks. He spent 2-3 nights downloading and installing the applications that were supposed to help his system but instead turned it into an unbearably slow, useless piece of shit - Swiss-cheese Windows XP home propped up by a few hundred megs of prime, bloated, Symantec harmware.

I explained to Joe what I thought should happen with the computer, and he quickly agreed that we should replace Symantec. After uninstalling Symantec’s LiveUpdate, Norton Internet Security, and SystemWorks through Windows’ Add/Remove Programs, the uninstaller asked to reboot. Great, I thought, we’re almost done. Nope, on reboot, Norton GoBack took another hour to uninstall itself (what kind of application takes that long to uninstall?). After that was finally over, the computer booted into Windows and was instantly cured of its’ Norton ailment. GUI interactions were snappy again and the hard drive wasn’t on 100% grind mode.

Being the safety-oriented person that Joe is, he was clearly uncomfortable with losing an antivirus program, a firewall, an anti-spyware ...

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The Family Connection

December 17, 2006
tags: life | web

I recently got married, and one of the results of marriage is that you gain some new family members. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my cousin-in-laws, Jackson West, is writing for NewTeeVee, a newly found GigaOm-network website devoted to web video. It was only a few months ago that I found out Jackson was as much a pyromaniac as I am, as we tried to rig together as many bottle rockets as possible in one go. We both survived unscathed, and now it’s definitely good to see Jackson doing his thing for NewTeeVee. Looking forward to the new gig, Jackson.

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Flash 9 sound on 64-bit Gentoo Linux

I recently blew away my completely setup Gentoo desktop when I decided I needed to rebuild on a new RAID5 array. This meant that I got go through the entire Gentoo install, build, and configuration process from scratch, after not having had to do it for ages. I also took the opportunity to use LVM2 this time around, which I’ll probably write about in a future post.

Either the Gentoo process has gotten much easier or I’ve gotten much better with Gentoo. It was a fairly painless install, and it turned out my only real hiccup was getting flash9 to output sound to ALSA. I knew I had correctly installed ALSA since all my other ALSA applications output sound perfectly - Amarok, Kaffeine, and even aplay from the CLI. I also knew that Flash9 was completely ALSA based instead of OSS, so as long as other ALSA apps were playing, Flash9 should be playing. After a day of thinking about it, I gave up and visited #alsa on freenode.

Adobe only supplies flash as a 32-bit binary, so running it on my 64-bit Gentoo system meant I had to either use net-www/nspluginwrapper in 64-bit Firefox or install it on 32-bit firefox. Gentoo supplies a 32-bit FF package called www-client/firefox-bin that works well on 64-bit environments and allows for native 32-bit plugins, so this is what I use. Well, on my previous install (before I wiped the disk) this 32-bit FF combined with flash9 worked beautifully, and I was able to browse Youtube all day long in full multi-media glory. However, this time around it would play the video without sound. I couldn’t get any flash based audio to work - last.fm, pandora, youtube, etc.

It turns out the problem was an oversight on my part. Since the plugin and browser are 32-bit and my ALSA was natively compiled at 64-bit, the two couldn’t really talk to each other. I just had to do a simple

emerge -av app-emulation/emul-linux-x86-soundlibs

After that, a restart of ALSA and Firefox, and I was back to full flash9 sound ...

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