Sep 29, 2007

iNewton or iPad next year?

There are more rumors around the net about a possibility that Apple will introduce a "new Newton." This bides well with what I mentioned in my post on iPod Touch being "origami Mac".

Mike Elgan's article in Computerworld is very interesting in that respect.

Events in the past 30 days lead me to conclude something unthinkable just one month ago: Apple -- yeah, I said it -- Apple! will ship the first ever successful small computer. Call it the Newton on Crack (or, more accurately, on Mac).

What he mentions is that there are moves into the "small computer" market being made by several companies (Palm, Nokia, UMPC makers), but that only Apple seems to have the right experience and a good feature mix in the iPhone/iPod Touch lineup that can allow to essentially dominate this newly established market.

If Apple ships an iPod Touch, but with good PIM (personal information manager) functionality, an optional wireless keyboard and good battery life for under $1,000, they win.

iPad (or iNewton?) would be a nice addition to Apple's line-up, will also do one-up against both Palm (that is selling itself off to Redmond like there's no tomorrow) and UMPC offerings (that have been unable to deliver anything worth while since the platform has been introduced). And judging by a few other patent application and pieces of news that were surfacing in the past 2-3 years, an Apple handheld may combine some features of Windows tablet (like synching with a desktop once near) and generic PDA (storing your PIM data, providing email/web browsing capabilities).

Much of it is already in iPod Touch, the only few things missing are a larger size for more comfortable operation and a few distinct features that make iPad similar yet different from the rest of i* family.

Stay tuned.

Sep 22, 2007

Common Lisp tutorial

Common Lisp tutorial
If you also think Lisp might be better served if PCL was at least one of the results returned to a would-be Lisper searching for a Lisp tutorial you can help out: if you have a web page where it would be reasonable to do so, consider linking to the url http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/ with a link text of “lisp tutorial” or “common lisp tutorial”. Yes, I’m asking you to participate in a Google bombing. But it’s for a good cause. Think of the children.

The cause is certainly a good one and I really wish Peter Seibel's Practical Common LISP tops the scores of Google for both "lisp book" and "lisp tutorial."

Sep 15, 2007

Eureka moments

I am pretty sure that this won't be an eye-opener for many, but I just had my eureka moment with XPath. I have been playing with XML config file for a light-weight survey module for our intranet and has been banging my head against Perl XML::Simple module. After a lot of sweat and tears, mismatches between hash and array return values I thought of XPath (probably thanks to SteveY's post) -- and I was amazed how much simpler things became!

Instead of custom-building querying logic, all I now need to do to fetch a survey question or any of survey answers is:

use XML::XPath;
use XML::XPath::XMLParser;
my $xp = XML::XPath->new(filename => 'survey.xml');
# first survey description
print
  $xp->getvalue('/surveys/survey[1]/description'),"\n";
# second question of the third survey
print
  $xp->getvalue('/surveys/survey[3]/questions/q[2]'),"\n";
# fourth answer to that
print
  $xp->getvalue('/surveys/survey[3]/answers/for[@qid=2]/a[4]'),"\n";

I am sure that XML::Simple has its uses as well -- but certainly for querying data XML::XPath just soooo much easier!

Sep 10, 2007

Rubbish day

Early Friday night over at The Leicester Arms pub was slowly getting crowded and noisy. Being close to Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street is a guarantee for high traffic — tourists, business people on the run from nearby offices, buddies striking a quick one to start the evening before going off to clubs or restaurants. We were just that sort of traffic — get there, get a beer, drink it and get out.

We took turns for getting beers at the bar, then exchanging a few stories and discussing a bunch of little office related gossips and rumors. It was my turn to fetch a couple the beers.

‘Two pints Guiness, please, mate.’

‘Is Guiness any good in London?’ — asked a blond woman next to me waiting for the bartender to total up her purchase. An office worker — white blouse and pants, a big purse on a shoulder, blond hair in a pony-tail. Eyes totally sad, voice lost and unsure.

‘I don’t think it’s bad’ — replied I.

‘Guiness is good only over in Ireland. It hates being transported.’

‘Well, I’d love to be over in Ireland right now, but it’s hardly possible, I think’ — replied I. ‘That does not look like much of a drink, by the way’ — I pointed at a tall glass full of ice, a slice of lime and some transparent liquid at the bottom of it.

‘That’s vodka. Pathetic, isn’t it? It has been a rubbish day and a rubbish week.‘

‘There is not much left of it,’ tried to cheer I, ‘And there will be a new day and a new week.’

‘It will all be just same rubbish.’

‘Well, you’re right, it’ll be the same rubbish, but at least a day will be different.’

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘Have a good evening.’ And left to sit alone at a corner of already occupied table with a bunch of youngsters cheering and drinking beer.

I watched her sit and consume the drink, which she has diluted with some water or coda. Still transparent and looking very cold and sad, just like her. A small island of total isolation and pity in the middle of a crowded bar.

She drank and left, hurrying up to the tube station, to live through the rest of a rubbish evening, not looking much for the rubbish weekend ahead, followed by another set of rubbish-full workdays... Ad infinitum...

And I sat there and thought, why have I not walked over and really tried to cheer her, instead of stupidly rephrasing a “same shit, different day” saying.

Sep 9, 2007

iPod touch – an Origami Mac?

Here's just a quick thought: Apple's new iPod touch is Apple's measured response to Microsoft's UMPC, a.k.a. Origami PCs. A similar sentiment seems to be ringing over at C|Net — although their post is a speculation before the iPod event of Sep. 5.

True, the primary purpose of iPod touch is still music playing. It will do that nicely, just as well as Classic, Nano and Shuffle varieties from the same family. But with WiFi and pretty much full power of Mac OSX behind it (and assuming that current iPhone hacks still work) it can be made to be much more than a music player/portable web browser.

A small totally non-scientific Apples to oran^H^H^H^H oops HTC Advantage comparison:

iPod touch HTC Advantage
Screen 3.5", 480x320 5", 800x600
Memory 16GB 8GB + Mini-SD
Weight 120g 359g
Battery 22h audio / 5h video 5-6h talk time, 300h standby

Conclusion: iPod is three times lighter and can likely be made to be able to handle many things HTC Advantage does.

Ok, that part above is a troll, sure. But the point is that as before, by making a few measured steps, Apple may well be entering Microsoft's turf — and it'll likely be able to bit it there, if it sees a potential.