Category Archives: Companies

Some noteworthy posts – June 9 2010

Apple faking 489 to 815 PPI on iPhone 4 ads

After examining the iPhone 4 advertisements, it appears that Apple is showing 3 to 5 times the Pixels Per Inch (PPI) in their ads when they should only be showing 2 times the PPI.

Estimate of network bandwidth for iPhone 4 FaceTime
From my estimates, FaceTime video conferencing on iPhone 4 will take 667 Kbps to 2 Mbps. If my assumptions about the resolution and frame rate of FaceTime is correct, it explains why FaceTime is limited to Wi-Fi operation.

If Apple allows interoperability, the industry must follow
Matt Hamblen of Computer World wrote about Steve Jobs’ lofty goals for the iPhone 4’s video conferencing feature “FaceTime” to become an open standard.  Open standards are always welcome, but the industry generally looks at these invitations with suspicion and for good reason.  Just because a standard is “open” doesn’t mean it is royalty free.

iPhone idle disconnects also to blame for network problems
Steve Cheney of business insider has a very interesting article on how Apple’s hardware design choices for the Apple iPhone are also to blame for AT&T’s wireless congestion problems. More importantly, iPhone OS 4 will make this even worse with the addition of multitasking.

DDR2 memory prices doubled over last year
Silicon chips are one of those things that we simply assume will continually drop in price as time goes on, but that is more of a general trend which isn’t immune to temporary upward trends. Over the last year, I thought it was my imagination that computer memory prices were rising. Unfortunately for technology lovers, it wasn’t my imagination.

Do you really need 300 PPI on a 3.5 inch phone?
Apple claims that 300 Pixels Per Inch (PPI) is the limit of the human eyes when viewing something approximately 11 inches away from the eyes, and that the iPhone’s 326 PPI beats competing Smartphones with only 252 PPI. 252 PPI is the eye’s limit at 13 inches, but do people really hold their phone less than 13 inches away?

MSI L1350 Netbook Wi-Fi problems and system hangs

I bought an MSI L1350 Netbook with a standard second-generation Intel N450 Atom processor for $230 last weekend which has an additional $30 rebate.  The Ralink 802.11 b/g/n mini PCI-E adapter that comes with the netbook has some very buggy drivers that cause Wi-Fi to intermittently disconnect or fail to find any network.  An even bigger problem is the fact that its drivers seem to cause Windows 7 to completely hang requiring a hard reboot.

I have found a solution that seems to have fixed the random Wi-Fi problems by updating to the latest Ralink drivers posted in March of 2010.  The system hasn’t hanged due to Wi-Fi drivers in two weeks now.  These are signed drivers so they are legitimate and you will not get a certificate warning.  If you happen to own this netbook or something with a similar network adapter, I would highly recommend updating the drivers.  It’s generally a good idea to update all your drivers anyways.

Another problem I’ve found is the Intel 3150 graphics driver blue screen of death when trying to launch Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder 3.1 (which is a very good free video capture and encoder software that allows you to broadcast high quality directly to sites like Ustream).  This problem affects all netbooks with the N450 CPU. The only way to fix this was to update the Intel 3150 integrated graphics driver and you can obtain a copy of it here on Intel’s site.

It sucks to have to get a consumer product that crashes so badly out of the box.  It’s even hard for me to handle and I can’t imagine the frustration that normal users would have.  This blog post should help you a lot if you managed to land here after googling these problems.

Can your tablet digitizer pass the bumble bee test?

This video clip of world-famous pianist Lang Lang playing Flight of the bumble bee” has become the next viral video crazy.

Not only is it funny, it shows just how good the iPad’s multi-touch digitizer and OS is if it can register the fingers of Lang Lang.  Lot’s of companies make touch screen devices and even multi-touch tablets, but can they pass the bumble bee test?  If I were still reviewing hardware, I’d make this one of my test requirements for any tablet OS.  Do people need to play the piano on their tablet?  Probably never, but they do like their touch screen devices to respond instantly and accurately to the touch.

Google’s Matt Cutts hypocritical on privacy?

Matt Cutts, who is more or less the “face of Google” to the IT industry, has changed his Facebook profile to not allow his data to be shared with other Web sites with the new Open Graph system. I find this ironic, because Google is just about the biggest “Big Brother” on the Internet. I suppose the difference is that Facebook is sharing your data with other sites and Google keeps it all in-house (like Amazon), but I still think it’s a bit dodgy. Basically, he’s saying that you should trust everything to Google, but not Facebook’s selected partners. Even if Google was an insanely altruistic company (which it tries to be, but isn’t when it interferes with profit), the fact remains that it is now a huge target for hackers and crackers, and it will not be a surprised when it turns out that someone’s ripped off a bunch of their data.


YouTube HTML5 slightly better, but still bad

Earlier last month, I found that YouTube’s HTML5 beta wasn’t even worthy of being beta.  Three weeks after that, Jan Ozer ran some CPU performance tests between YouTube Flash and HTML5 on Mac OS X and Safari and found that CPU performance was better on HTML5.  However, my tests (using same 720P video posted by Jan) on Windows with Google Chrome showed that both are equally bad CPU hogs, but HTML5 was also very buggy and still had very bad image quality.

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Thoughts on the Oracle/Sun merger

The Oracle/Sun merger is old news, even the approval of it is old news. All the same, I am a bit surprised by how little people fought against it. Look, if it was Microsoft buying Sun, there would be picketing outside the SEC by a zillion people begging for the deal to be halted, on the basis of monopoly. But somehow the protests seemed rather muted. In any event, it is now a done deal, so let’s look at the results.

With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle has just made an end run around IBM to become the big Java shop out there. The big difference is, Oracle hasn’t capitalized well on Java so far. All of their Java related offerings fall under “also ran”, “never was”, and “wannabe”. In fact, the same could be said for just about everything else that Oracle makes, other than their core database product. They are a lot like Sun, in that regard. Other than Java, has Sun been a market leader in anything for the last ten or so years? Nope. That’s why they were going under. Oracle stays in business by extracting gigantic license fees from their mostly unwilling victims… I mean… customers. Given the choice, which do you prefer? Oracle, or Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, or PostgreSQL? Probably not Oracle. Would you rather deal with Solaris or Linux, a BSD, or Windows? Probably not Solaris. Which makes more sense, using “real” Apache or IIS, or Oracle’s hacked up version which is always ages behind? And so on.

Another thing the two companies have in common in the utter ugliness of their products, in terms of living with them. The only installer worse than Solaris’ is the Oracle installer. You know, the installer that for years puts the wrong permissions on the files it installs under Windows, and makes you wrestle with a million Java errors just to get the install going. I have never met someone who actually said, “I like Oracle”. Every single person I spoke to despises it. The only positive thing people have to say about it, is that it is so hard to use that they can justify charging $250/hour as an Oracle consultant. The situation is about the same for Solaris, except few people will be a consultant for a whole OS; instead, Solaris admins get paid such a premium that no one wants Solaris in their server room.

So what we have here is the merger of two really ugly parents who have some good looking kids with behavioral problems (I’m thinking of a mix of The Brady Bunch and House of 1000 Corpses).

And then there is the MySQL end of things. Oracle just went from being one of three major DB players to two of three. That’s pretty scary, and almost makes me want to buy a SQL Server license just to keep things fair. All joking aside, it says a lot about MySQL that folks are considering it just as big of a prize, if not bigger than Java. The fact is, Sun messed up with Java pretty bad. When they kept the development close to themselves, they did the usual “Sun’s magic touch” where they created a marvel of technical wizardry that met no one’s needs in reality. Somehow, Java survived long enough for folks like Spring and Apache to bring enough inovation to the table to make Java an attractive platform, despite all of its problems. Meanwhile, Microsoft, the 80,000 lb. gorilla, has been able to do enough interesting things with .NET that there is relatively little third-party open source for .NET because there just is not enough necessity to birth any invention. Luckily for Oracle, Sun didn’t have MySQL long enough to wreck it.

All the same, one has to wonder what will happen to MySQL with the awful combination of Sun and Oracle’s collective ineptitude when it comes to customer satisfaction. I would not be surprised to see a fork of MySQL at some point, but at the same time, you have to realize that very few people work on MySQL for fun or in the spirit of open source, relative to the number of developers working on it. It’s just one of those projects where people are paid to work on it, because everyone hopes to exploit it somehow. Hopefully, enough people will consider MySQL to be a critical piece of infrastructure (and it is, despite all of its flaws) that they’ll manage to keep Oracle from trashing it or reserving all of the important features for paying customers.


YouTube HTML5 not even worth of being beta

Google is beta testing HTML5 for video playback on YouTube, and my initial impressions of the technology are not good at all.  A few months earlier, I couldn’t get Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome to run HTML5 video.  I am able to get the latest version of Chrome to render the video, but the results look terrible in its current stage.

Figure 1: YouTube HTML5 beta interface
YouTube HTML5 beta interface

As you can see in Figure 1, the rendering is horrible compared to Figure 2 in Adobe Flash mode.  The image scaling looks like it merely using pixel duplication rather than something decent like cubic interpolation much less something good like Lanczos3.  That’s why the image looks extremely blocky and pixilated.  There’s no apparent support for 480P, 720P, or 1080P either.

Figure 2: YouTube Flash 10 interface
YouTube Flash 10 interface

In Figure 2, we see a mature Flash 10 interface with much nicer quality image rendering as well as higher resolution support.  This isn’t to say that there’s fundamentally something wrong with HTML5, just that the current implementation on YouTube has a long way to go before it can replace Flash.  This is a major issue for iPhone/iPod/iPad users and Steve Jobs is throwing his whole weight behind HTML5 and has no intention of supporting Adobe Flash.

There’s good reason not to like Flash as it is very buggy and full of security holes that expose its host operating system to nasty malware attacks.  Furthermore, the performance of Flash on many laptops and nearly all netbooks is horrible short of having a really fast laptop with rarely deployed dedicated graphics hardware.  Microsoft Silverlight (which has been beta tested on iPhone) performs much better on similar hardware than Adobe Flash so there’s a possibility that HTML5 mode might also perform better.  But until the implementation becomes much more mature and capable, HTML5 doesn’t even appear to be worthy of being beta.

Google probably pulling out of China

This is huge. Google is looking like they will pull out of China. In a nutshell, someone’s been trying to break into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists (Google won’t say so, but no doubt it is the Chinese government), so Google is looking to shut down in China if the government won’t let them simply scale back to being an uncensored search engine.

Can’t blame them, if the government is trying to hack your system, hard to do business there… too much risk. Of course, Google will spin this a bit as them trying to do the right thing, and admittedly, that may play into it a bit, but the fact is, no one around the world will touch a Google service if they think that the Chinese government is able to and trying to crack it on a regular basis.


What’s so new about the Nexus One business model?

Update – Google ETF is actually $550 on top of the $180 you already paid!  So if you pull out early, you’ll have to pay $730 total!

I know Justin was impressed with the business model Google’s new Nexus One phone, but I really don’t see how it’s any different.  You can buy the phone from Google for $529 without a carrier subsidy, or you can pay $179 with a T-Mobile subsidy.  You buy the phone directly from Google, but how’s that any different than buying an iPhone directly from Apple?

Furthermore, it seems that Google isn’t very honest about the Early Termination Fee.  It’s actually $350 if you break the contract early but Google advertises a $200 ETF.  Verizon honestly advertises a $350 ETF and they’re being persecuted by some members of the FCC and by the so-called consumer advocacy groups who haven’t made a peep about Google’s misleading advertising or the $350 ETF.  Why such an obvious double standard?

The Nexus One is made by HTC and it seems to be fairly impressive with an 800×480 OLED display and a 1 GHz ARM processor.  But according to Michael Arrington, it only gets 1.5 hours of battery life when he games with the display at full brightness.  That’s pretty pathetic considering the fact that a full size laptop gets more than that.