May 28, 2006

Motorola exec reveals next-gen slimphone: the SCPL - Engadget

Motorola exec reveals next-gen slimphone: the SCPL - Engadget:
TLK BT TS: MTRL'S HD HNCH FR CLLPHNS, RN GRRQS, RVLD TH XSTNC F N PCMNG HNDST CLLD TH SCPL (THT'S SCLPL, N CS TH LCK F VWLS MD T NCLR) DRNG RCNT CMPN NVSTMNT CNFRNC -- BT KPT LL TH MPRTNT DTLS T HMSLF. LL THT'S KNWN BT TH SCPL (WHCH W HP N N WLL MSTK FR TH SRGCL TL PCTRD HR), THR THN TH BVS FCT THT T WLL B QT SLM, S THT T WLL SPRT FV FTRS THT PRMS T ST T PRT FRM TH PCK -- WHCH W'LL TK T MN WMX, GPS, 3CCD HD CMCRDR, 30GB HRD DRV, ND PRBBL DRCTV DSH S WLL. T THS PNT, W CN'T VN S FR SR THT TH SCPL S NT TH SM S TH SPPSD RZR 2, R "CNR," THT'S BN FLTTRNG RND RCNTL, BT WHTVR TH'R WRKNG N, W'LL HV T WT NTL NXT R T GT R HNDS N N.

And for those who like their text Motorolised -- here's a small Ruby thingie to do the trick:

#! /usr/bin/ruby -w
#
# Motorolise input (i.e. remove vowels and upper-case).
#

outp = file = data = ""

def mtrl (inpData)
  inpData.upcase!
  inpData.gsub!(/[AEIOUY]/,"")
  inpData
end

case ARGV.size
when 1
  if ARGV[0] == "-h"
    puts "MTRL or MTRL <flnm> or MTRL <flnmrd> <flnmwrt>"
  else
    file = ARGV[0]
    File.open(file) {|f| data = f.read }
    puts mtrl(data)
  end
when 0
  data = STDIN.read
  puts mtrl(data)
when 2
  file = ARGV[0]
  outp = ARGV[1]
  File.open(file) {|f| data = f.read }
  o = File.new(outp, File::CREAT|File::WRONLY)
  o.write(mtrl(data))
  o.close
end

Save this script as mtrl, do a decent chmod (chmod u+x mtrl should do). Assumption is made that your ruby is in /usr/bin if it is not — alter shebang line.

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May 27, 2006

GUI vs. console

Is the Console next Desktop?:
For professions that require loads of data-entry, such as bookkeepping, income tax, retail... console-based applications still provide more user performance than any visual design.

This is the second para in the first comment posted. I can't agree more. Time and time again I am seeing that good GUI metaphors are extremely hard to come up with. Designing an intuitive GUI, even if you've got a whole bunch of guidelines is not easy at all, for better or for worse you do end up making numerous exceptions to rules you came up with yourself.

At work we have recently replaced an old console-based back-office application with a new one with a GUI. Operations productivity has dropped. This was not only a result of an unfamiliar interface (this certainly is impacting performance). Even once users have managed to come to grips with new interface, they were still spending more time than before on processing transactions. And that's despite the fact that there was more information on a single screen...

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Macbook -- continuation

I have now had a little more time to play with the “little white box,” here’s a few amendments/additions/clarifications to my earlier review.

Glare/display

There is a glare. In some case it might, indeed, be strong. Yet you can relatively easily get rid or reduce it -- you should generally not be sitting with strong sources of light beaming either straight or at an angle at your MacBook screen.

However, it is well worth to note that screen is much more crisp than either PowerBook G4 or iMac G5 I have. And it has a very respectable resolution for a tiny 13.3“ screen.

Performance

While it is a very fast machine indeed, I can't say that it performs levels of magnitude faster than my iMac. When one runs benchmarks -- maybe. But for a regular (or average) person’s tasks (”regular“ does not include hard-core gamers and geeks that love compiling X11 after lunch) you are not likely to be blown away You will notice a speed up, but it won't be like moving from Apple ][e onto a PowerMac G5 Dual. And it is a good thing :).

Ports/periferals/network

For a modern laptop it seems to have all the ports my heart desires: 2 USB ports are there, FireWire, external monitor, etc. Since this is a light (and likely a secondary) machine, I doubt it really needs much more. Since it is not a high-end portable, then a few things that the ”Pro“ has, that are missing from the younger brother -- no problem

I did run onto some strange AirPort issues with loss of connection to the network -- not (yet) sure if this is wrong configuration or genuine hardware issue...

Remote control -- is a cool eye candy, really. Makes all of my friends salivate, but so far has been useful for little more.

The box (where it was all packed)

Was small. Four times smaller than my PowerBook's.

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Why Your Boss Is Overpaid - Forbes.com

Why Your Boss Is Overpaid - Forbes.com:
Workers are frequently ranked relative to each other and promoted not for being good at their jobs but for being better than their rivals. It is a natural response to the difficulty of true performance pay.

Now, this is one interesting statement, and so very true. This also makes any sort of “objective performance appraisals” a nonsense: if you compare a person to only a limited subset of employees, your “exceeds expectation” mark may well be another man's “meets expectations.” So much for being a good manager at evaluating performance!

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May 22, 2006

MacBook

Today marks the day when I yielded to a temptation thoroughly. I saw, I liked and I bought — a new bright and shiny Apple MacBook. A nice little white marvel that fits so comfortably on ones laps or an airplane table...

By way of rationalization I bought it for my wife — she claims to have liked it. I think she may have said that to give me an excuse, if I needed one. I pretend that this was indeed her honest wish.

There now are three Macs in our household — my old PowerBook G4 17”, a relatively new iMac G5 (without iSight) and this new little baby. At first I wanted to wait till I got back and picked a name from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for it — then I decided to call it the name that sounds very close to marvel — it has, therefore, just been christened as “Marvin.”

Marvin is maxed out on RAM — it has 2GB of it. It is the top of the MacBook line with a SuperDrive and a 2.0GHz Intel CoreDuo CPU. The only thing I have decided to leave unchanged is the hard drive, hence it has a mere 60GB one (The primary reason is that I may decide on upgrading it to a bigger *and* faster HDD at some point in future. On the other hand, since my wife is unlikely to carry tons of MP3s and loads of AVIs on it — 60 should be enough!). While black matte MacBook looks quite nice, I found more traditional color to be a better fit.

What it feels like

There were quite a few of MacBook reviews made all around the web already. Mine here is not really a proper review/benchmark, but rather a look at what is/is not different on this white Intel-based baby and my other two Macs (and it looks like I’ve got a nice set of three latest generations of Mac CPUs in my house).

This is all very subjective, yet overall this little thing does feel a bit more responsive than both of my other machines. Then again, my PowerBook and iMac both have respectively a fourth and a half the memory MacBook has. Applications do indeed startup much faster on MacBook, and dragging of the windows happens fast as well — no complaints there.

It is very quiet — especially while running on battery (a bit noisier when charger is plugged). It does seem to warm up a bit more than PowerBook, but at the same time it does not burn your laps as much — most likely thanks to its plastic body.

I do miss the ambient light sensor of the PowerBook and the keys that would light up automagically in low light conditions. The keys themselves feel a bit strange — they are completely flat and move in a subtly different way. That said, I don’t dislike them — they’re just different.

MagSafe connector I like — it snaps in nicely and stays there quite well, at least IMHO. Have not tried it in a “reclined” position, maybe then it would behave less adequately. (UPDATE: There does not seem to be any noticable issues with MagSafe). Wrist rest on MacBook is quite generous, although the edge of the body can be felt, maybe a good idea to tilt it a bit. I like the big rubbery legs that this laptop has, unlike the always-getting-torn-off-and-lost variety that a PowerBook has.

The screen — the one that sparked so many controversial POVs: I like it, although I have not yet tried it in daylight. May change my point of view then, but right now, in the evening, sitting in a dimly lit room I don’t get any glare from anywhere. (UPDATE: I have now seen the glare, although one needs to be sitting in such a way that there's a lot of light coming on to th screen, e.g. from behind. I doubt, however, that a non-glare screen manages considerably better in such condition). I’ll have to run a very subjective visual comparison (once I’ve gone with iKlear over PowerBook’s LCD) once I get home.

Battery life is better than on my PowerBook at present — although it is not that better than what battery life used to be when I had a new battery. It does take quite a bit of time to load the battery, especially while working. Power adapter also heats up quite a bit in the process.

What else is there to note? MacBook has a CD hatch on a side — small difference from where it is on a PowerBook (is it there on an iBook? I don’t know). iSight is fun, although I, for one, could live without it. Two-finger scrolling that is available as a hacked kernel module for my PowerBook comes as a standard here and is very nice. As an added feature you could also two-finger click to emulate a secondary button.

Preloaded

My MacBook came with a few preloaded titles — aside from iLife ’06 there’s also iWork ’06, a customarily Office for Mac Test Drive from a Redmond company, a bunch of board games from Big Bang (instead of a 3D flying Nanosaur I got with iMac), a copy of OmniOutliner (too bad no OmniGraffle), and Comic Life. It is clear that this setup is aimed more at a lighter home use, some entertainment — as opposed to PowerBook (and I suspect MacBook Pro) being targeted at a more professional segment. As all iSighted Macs, there are Front Row and Photo Booth applications that let you either sit back and enjoy a movie, or sit back and create a little cult of yourself using a peep hole of a camera.

Net-net

Overall, I think I like this little beast. It is a solid laptop in a very nice package. It is solid in and out — thanks to Apple engineering efforts. I wish this were our corporate standard...

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May 20, 2006

Throw No Stones


Throw No Stones
Originally uploaded by jurvetson.
This is unbelievable -- can anyone imagine anything like this coming out of Redmond?

May 5, 2006

Creationism is not Cristianity

Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer:

Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.

This is the best statement of how/if science and religion can coexist. This also puts an interesting spin on Christianity vs. Creationism & "Intelligent Design" — it has been mentioned before that Vatican does not support it.

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