RT @monochroma: I just came across a Japanese tweet that was really sweet. That the iPhone 4S really stands for 'iPhone for Steve'
My current kit is my venerable 2006 MacBook Pro, a newer Mac Pro, a ThinkPad X40 “netbook”, a homebrew C2D desktop, an iPhone 4, a Nikon D60, and a Unicomp bucking spring keyboard!
RT @monochroma: I just came across a Japanese tweet that was really sweet. That the iPhone 4S really stands for 'iPhone for Steve'
While the iPhone 4S is intriguing, I was most excited to get my hands on the newly announced iPod nano 1.2 firmware which includes fourteen more watch faces, for a total of sixteen. Clearly enough people are using their nanos as watches as I am!
In typical Apple style, all the new font faces are absolutely gorgeous. I feel like it's my birthday all over again!
It's even worse than it looks >_<.
After several years of faithful service, we bid farewell to my Compaq Armada M300 subnotebook. I picked it up second hand from my father's business back in April 2008, and was quick to load FreeBSD onto it. While it was understandably a little slow, I dubbed it the "Armadair" due to its svelte size and excellent battery life.
It spent a month in a drawer where obviously the battery exploded, and sent acid throughout the frame and display, completely destroying the unit. I'll be harvesting as many parts as I can (wearing gloves) then sending it off to that big cloud in the sky where old computers go.
Throughout my life, international and domestic moves have always destroyed electronics, regardless of how well I pack things. This is the first writeoff due to battery leakage, though I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. Lesson learned: don't just remove AA batteries from remote controls, remove batteries from computers as well.
Where's my supercapacitor?
The iconic Starbucks logo is reimagined by designer and 2008 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Alexander Wang on a soft knit tee. The exclusive style was designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the iconic coffee company.
The only catch: it's AU$91. I suppose its true what they say, Starbucks coffee is good, though a little overpriced ;). Still, a brilliant design, and I'd also feel less conspicuous if I spilled coffee on it in public.
Last night Asia/Pacific time, Amazon released their much anticipated Kindle Fire tablet. Allow me to pontificate!
Looking at the machine, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the price. The iPad took what was essentially a dead market segment thanks to Microsoft's Windows Tablet PC initiative and reduced the price significantly, so much so that Android tablet makers have found it hard to compete on this metric at all. Amazon has reduced the price with the same order of magnitude.
One expects Amazon to be selling these as a loss leader in the hopes people will buy enough content from them to make up the difference. With the exception of Nintendo of late, most console manufacturers have been doing this for years, with mixed results.
If anything this serves to highlight the difference between the three companies. Google gives Android away to sell you to advertisers. Apple provides a media store to sell you hardware. Amazon provides the hardware to sell you media. Three entirely different business models, the latter of which I have to say excites me the most to be honest ^_^.
The Kindle Fire is based on Android, but with a completely different UI. While other OEMs have installed their own interfaces on Android to address some of the platform's usability issues and to differentiate their products from the hurd (sorry, bad joke even by my standards), Amazon have taken it one step further and created their own system with Android as a buried base, rather than a front-row-centre feature.
This means no Google Marketplace, their own browser and an entirely different interface written for content consumption. While I'm sure Google is pleased insofar that their software is being used on such a potentially lucrative device, you've got to think they're a little wary not getting a cut of any of the sales of media on the device, and no advertising revenue. To Google, this might be just as bad as companies taking Android and replacing all the Google branded products with Chanandler Bing.
Still, I suppose we can assume Amazon is one of the companies that's given access to the closed Android source thesedays, now that the platform doesn't even conform to Google's own definition of open. That's okay though, because they're not Apple.
Rather than taking on the Swiss Army Knife iPad which no manufacturer has been able to do without misrepresenting their sales numbers and "brazenly copying" the interface, Amazon has once again made a product that fits a specific niche. The Kindle did this with books; while the iPad can be used in this capacity the Kindle's eInk display arguably provided enough of a superior experience that they were able to sell well even when the iPad was introduced.
The question becomes whether their colour tablet will also fill enough of a perceived niche to compete with the iPad. The price already makes it far more attractive than the iPad if the device does all you need it to, and if Amazon can use some of their secret sauce to make it an ultimate media consumption device, potentially this could also be a hit.
That is, of course, if the creaky old publishing business doesn't get in the way, and they expand outside their core markets. There's no point selling a loss leading device in markets where they can't buy your content!
As for me, I'm more interested in getting one of their new non-touch eInk Kindles when they reach us here in Australia. As much as I've tried reading the epic Peter Hamilton and Michael McCollum on my iTelephone in bed, I just can't!
Got a new router today! ^_^
Ever since I connected two of our home computers together with a D-Link 5-port 10/100 hub, I'd been under the impression well known brands like Linksys, Netgear and D-Link were the way to go. Which is to say, they were the only brands I'd ever heard of. This all changed when I met Eugene Li in Singapore, and Andrew Cox in Adelaide who shared knowledge of an infinitely better mob.
MikroTik are a company out of Latvia of all places that (I've been informed) produce the most sophisticated, robust and flexible networking hardware on the market, so when we'd finally grown tired of our bargain basement Netgear modem/router we'd got for free from Optus, I knew who to investigate.
As with our EPSON GT-S50 document scanner, the RouterBOARD 750GL comes in a relatively nondescript box, presumably because only those who've done their research are aware of them, and their customers don't need to be told what a router is! Buying from a local distributor, I was also given an Australian power supply unit in the box instead of a regular European PSU.
Compared to the large switches with lots of unnecessary plastic I'm used to buying from generic consumer brands, the device itself is tiny and rather svelte, and it's a fully featured router! It was also cheaper than most of the consumer grade networking hardware I'd bought, and having had it running for several hours now it also runs cooler than any networking hardware I've bought before.
After years of putting up with combined devices that don't do any of their tasks very well and that burn carpet and table surfaces, I've realised my dream of having a separate modem and router. My TP-Link 8840 (another Andrew Cox recommendation) that I got for peanuts which I'll be using in bridge mode should be arriving in the next couple of days, and I'll finally be able to retire our current creaky setup.
I can't wait to put it to the test: seeing how it can handle two concurrent, always on VPNs, dozens of torrents from several different machines (ahem), multiple Skype connections and enough Vimeo/YouTube to substitute not having terrestrial TV. Because we don't.
For the sake of disclosure, yes I'm aware there's an anime fig in my pictures here. For several years Yuki has been featured in posts whenever I buy new computer hardware; considering her character in the anime series it made sense!
I just wish her skirt were a little bit longer, often times I have to take pictures again because she ends up showing a little more than perhaps she'd like. Which is a shame, because I got a great picture of her that looked as though she was wearing the router as a rocket pack. Yes, I put my new devices through strenuous testing!
And finally for all my Latvian friends out there, all two of you!
Two unrelated IKEA stories so far this weekend, and as someone obsessed with IKEA I felt I had little choice but to comment.
Found via Slashdot, this article on NeoAcademic was a fascinating look into the so called IKEA Effect where you tend to love things you build yourself.
The IKEA Effect refers to the tendency for people to value things they have created/built themselves more than if made by someone else – in fact, nearly as much as if an expert had created the same item.
I can absolutely relate. I love assembling IKEA furniture for the thrill of having an excuse to use "grown ups Lego", right down to the similar instructions and Allen key infused building blocks, but I also derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction from having furniture in my home I've built myself.
I think the argument can also be extended to include computers. Despite using Apple Macs for a significant portion of my day, I still build and maintain my own computers I build myself. While I appreciate all the care and love that has painstakingly been applied to all my Apple hardware, there's also something -- dare I say, magical -- about putting together a computer yourself from parts and having it power up. On an IKEA table I built, no less!
Of far more interest on the Interwebs lately has been the introduction of the Manland amusement area for men at IKEA here in The Sydney. From Ekstra Bladet:
Der er ikke meget, der kan flå energien ud af en mand, som en shoppetur med den bedre halvdel. Til gengæld er der heller ikke noget, der kan stoppe piveriet og genoplade batterierne som lidt sport på tv og konsolspil.
Det har de erkendt hos Ikea i Sydney, hvor de har oprettet et pasningsområde, eller fristed om man vil, hvor mænd kan slappe af med lidt elektronisk underholdning, mens kvinderne går på jagt efter nyt køkkengrej (som de alligevel ikke mangler).
'Manland' er indrettet som en dagligstue med Ikea-møbler, selvfølgelig, hvorefter det hele er blevet piftet op med fladskærme fyldt med sport, bordfodbold, pinball-maskiner, Xbox 360 og ... gratis hotdogs.
This would have been funnier had it been in Swedish not Danish.
Still, while I object to the stereotypical treatment of men as a bunch of shop-hating, sports watching, Xbox 360 players, my primary concern stems from the fact that IKEA is such an engaging and fascinating place to wander around in and of itself, and that such efforts are completely unnecessary. I suppose they've done their market research that shows real men don't like shopping at IKEA, or thought they could get some free publicity from doing this. Touché.
In either case, another blow to my already tenuous masculinity.
From the University of Technology Sydney Open Day this week. The robots were manufactured by Aldebaran in France, and programmed by Benjamin Johnston at the Magic Lab. Wish I could have been there that day to see it!
So HP are doing another run of TouchPad hardware. Was this all an elaborate marketing stunt?
In macroeconomic terms, dumping refers to when a company floods a new market with products at unprofitable prices in order to establish a presence. Foreign companies flush with cash are able to sustain this long enough to drive local businesses bankrupt, and are then able to own the market and set the prices. Most free market economists consider dumping to be the only valid reason for protectionism, unless they're Libertarian.
While it's tempting to think HP have done this with the TouchPad, it fails on three counts. No wait, four counts, I'm not Discovery News!
Despite the firesale of devices, TouchPads still only count for a tiny fraction of the tablet market. Granted people who own Palm devices give the brand exposure, but there simply isn't enough of them for it to be considered a "flooding".
While it would be a masterful stroke of genius to let people think a product is dying only to have it brought back with artificially increased marketshare, we've seen no evidence that HP's marketing departments are savvy enough to have created the concept and pulled it off.
There's also no evidence to suggest HP's revolving door executives are creative or forward thinking enough to have instigated such a plan. Mr Apotheker was the former CEO of SAP, so we know where he stands on consumer devices.
I've read reports the reason why they're manufacturing more devices is due to their hardware suppliers having quotas or obligations to fill, or they have excess inventory. I'm not entirely sure that makes sense either, but it seems more likely than HP suddenly learning how to do marketing.
While I'm all for looking deeper into the meaning behind corporate decisions and doublespeak, in this case I really am willing to believe HP retired Palm hardware due to a lack of sales. I've lamented this many times here given my belief webOS was the best mobile OS ever developed.
"Looks like another Apple employee left an iPhone prototype in a bar. [..] Once might be an accident, but two unreleased iPhones lost in bars starts to look like a strategy" ~ Slashdot
Makes sense, Apple are unable to generate hype or buzz any other way.
Pinch and a punch too, while we're here!