Qchat phones announced

You know, it’s taken Sprint 2 years to put qchat into production and in that time the cost of talk minutes have dropped enormously and text messaging uptake has grown significantly. Frankly, I haven’t heard the annoying chirp of the PTT feature in over 18 months except for the two dweebs I used to live next to. They were city workers who drive big trucks, go poaching, and basically were kids playing CB with one another. That’s not really something to dump a large amount of capital into, IMHO.

Tag onto that the fact that the construction industry is absolutely annihilated by the sub-prime market and what you have here is a product looking for a market, 2 years too late. Anyhow, Sprint recently announced the phones that will support this service and phonescoop covered it here.

Sprint to upgrade Windows Mobile 6.0 phones to 6.1 – THREADED TEXTING!

Phone Scoop covers this here a little bit.   The smack talking in the messages are actually a bit more funny than the post.

New 6.1 features:

Zoom out(useful, possibly, I need hands on to know)

Threaded text conversations(THIS IS A BIG DEAL.  If you’ve never used a threaded text messenger you have no idea how useful this is and network vendors love it because it really drives up text messaging usage.)

A better review with screencaps of the new features can be found here.

DIY Electric Bike = 70MPH for $3k

I was happy when I wrote this cool article about the 300MPG electric motorbike a guy built from parts on craigslist, but I was really happy to find Gizmodo linking to an instructable to make one for myself.  This may be on my horizon in about 6 months or so!  Oh wait, only a 10 mile range.  Well, it would be fun for the neighborhood, but it would be better off invested in a DIY electric station wagon that I really want.

Vista’s single redeeming feature

Vista has a feature that bugs you every single time you ask for an escalated action to occur. It’s called User Access Control. Ars Technica revealed, in this article, that in fact Microsoft designed it specifically for two purposes a) to help prevent damage to the system and annoy the user and b) to urge developers to stop running all their code as a super-user.

If Vista wasn’t such a bloated disgusting piece of crap and XP wasn’t so damn stable, supportable, affordable, eminently usable and hackable then perhaps this would be a great thing. Because this could be the end of malware. It would take time, but developers will get tired of users complaining about all the stupid pop-ups, so they’d start developing in a more secure manner. Then the only things that would be popping up these UAC prompts would be serious geek tools and malware.

Gizmodo covered this feature here, but the commenter’s don’t seem very convinced.

Ars Technica launches a mid-range focused forum

Dell is funding one of my my favorite websites, Ars Technica, so that they can launch a new forum that will focus on the server room.  I’ve always liked Ars but they were a bit more engineering and gaming focused than I ever was.  They had a linux forum, but it was mostly guys just playing around with small boxes for projects.

Hopefully this launch will help bring more people up to speed on what many businesses in America really need, good system administration, network design, open discussion, etc.  In fact, it may be one of the initiatives that address my concerns about the future of IT in America.  I just hope that Dell doesn’t overwhelm the environment that Ars has put together.

I’ve always liked forums that award titles for participation.  Ars did this in the past but it was just based off of your number of posts.  But it did also mention how long the users had been a member of the forums.  The number of posts thing used to really upset a roommate of mine as he thought seniority or GPA or IQ or some other metric should be how everyone is measured.  But then again, he only worked for about 5 months of the year and never seemed to get along with anyone.

I tend to prefer forums more like HPs ITRC where you are awarded points by other members based on how useful your participation was.  Slashdot, perlmonks and kuro5hin have the same sort of structure.  I prefer these arrangements because they allow you to gauge how likely a person is to have the right answer to your questions.

Expert-exchange had something similar, but now they’ve taken years of good natured people exchanging information and now force people to pay in order to look through the results.  Needless to say, I’m pretty disappointed with their decision.  It’s only abated by the fact that if you click on the “cached” web page in your google results, you can still view the information.

Anyhow, hopefully Ars and Dell will have a happy engagement/marriage/partnership/whatever.

Movida MVNO bails

and it partially blamed it on Sprint being too costly to work with.  Article is here.  The same thing happened with ESPN but they also chose a highly complex configuration that made troubleshooting very difficult and time consuming.

They weren’t as bad as Disney’s MVNO integration, which was insanely complex, but at least ESPN charged enough for it to be profitable or not very quickly.  Disney and Movida held on longer, charged less, and I suspect lost a great deal more before they realized that just skinning interfaces would make more sense.

That said, Disney of course has deep pockets and can afford taking risks like this.  I don’t know enough about Movida other than it was a Spanish speaking, Mexico American border demographic focused MVNO.  It does make me not feel so bad for trying to get some of the local jobs with Movida when I left Sprint.

I actually made the decision because it would have been a violation of Sprint’s operation conditions for working with other companies, but the fact that ESPN had failed and I wasn’t impressed with the other integrations that added to it.  But you always hope that perhaps you would be hired in, be heard and perhaps manage to make a change.

Another strike against Microsoft, but no credit for the few things they do well

Gartner analysts recently spoke in Las Vegas at a conference and made some valid points.

But I think some of the advice/opinions are a bit contradictory. They assert that many users today are looking for a version of Windows that will run on “low priced and low power hardware” but then they predict that the next road Redmond should consider is virtualization. Specifically they recommend that a hypervisor be implemented.

Now I am a fan of virtualization in some markets, but on the home PC, hell no. I have a hard enough time trying to help people understand their computers now. People have been able to dual-boot for 7 years now and it’s still an unnecessary pain for most users. Now, I fully understand that dual-booting isn’t the same things as a hypervisor. Dual-boot is a fork in the logic. You boot and at the point of boot you say, I want to run Ubuntu or I want to run XP. A Hypervisor allows you to possibly run two operating systems at the same time. Wikipedia explains it pretty well here, but basically it’s products like Parallels.

If you’re going to bother using one operating system, why not just learn to use that OS to the best of it’s abilities, accept it’s limitations and move on. There are a few, highly unique positions that are different, like graphic designers who spend all day on OSX but may be forced to do some communication in Microsoft Office. Here’s my thing about that. If hardware is so cheap, why not just buy this guy another low-end system that just does his Office work? You’ve already paid the most expensive part, the licensing of XP, anti-virus stuff, the support staff to make it all work for him. What is $200 more of hardware? Yes, you can’t cut and paste from OSX to XP, but honestly that never really seems to work very well half of the time. To make the argument even sillier, Parallels runs about $80 for each instance. So 40% of that $200 is already defrayed.

Now the Gartner analysts definitely have a point when they criticize the size of Microsoft’s codebase. Vista was supposed to be a huge improvement, but it is a fact that many of those were eventually thrown out because the project was falling years behind schedule. The only way they even launched Vista was to drop back to an earlier codebase, Server 2003, and then attempt to merge their new features into it. But we all know Vista sucks, not a big surprise there.

I actually don’t think they’re giving Windows enough credit for how good Windows Mobile has become for enterprise users. I’ll post more about it in the future. Yes, I think the iPhone is nice, but it’s riding on a slow ass, over-burdened network. And while the tap screen is pretty and dynamically useful for some interfaces, if I just want to tap out a text message or an email to a co-worker I really prefer an actual keypad.

Plus, Windows Mobile’s over the air interface into the calendar, global address book and email is an absolute god-send for IT workers. The only problem with it is that it’s not stupid enough to lure away crackberry users. But crackberry users aren’t lured to the iPhone either. Honestly, the crackberry is essentially mobile email for marketing and HR types who only understand email. “Synchronization of calendars, what is this syncopated god of time you speak of?”

Being business analysts they emplored Microsoft to add MORE modularity to Windows. I think this is an awful idea. XP home and XP pro was enough modularity. Beyond that they’re really confusing the customers and the idiots who do desktop support. The last thing we need is people ordering Windows like they order Coffee at the local starbucks. “Yes, I’d like Vista Basic with Office Lite, Decaf Soy, no Whip”

And finally, they’re really giving no credit whatsoever to the extremely profitable plan that Windows used to acquire a ton of game design companies and having them work on releases for XP, Xbox and Xbox360. Now, it was a really mean acquisition, but it did work.

Anyhow, I for one will probably never run Vista for an extended period. No reason to really. XP suits my business needs and in the meanwhile Ubuntu has finally produced a quite nice linux desktop that is actually useful. I plan on running it on the side for a year or so, learning it’s in and outs and then migrating off of XP and Microsoft desktops for anything but games for good.

On a side note, thanks to Steve White for pointing out the Gartner article.

Tibetan Freedom Protest and Activist Packs

I attended the first Tibetan Freedom Festival in 1996 on the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Bridge Park.  I was training in Russian at the Defense Language Institute and we rented a van, caravaned up there, partied, slept in the van and then partied again on Sunday.  It was great.  Rage Against The Machine, The Fugees, Beastie Boys, Chilli Peppers and unfortunately Yoko Ono performed and spoke.  They had a massage and misting tent.  They gave away free earplugs to anyone who needed them and encouraged parents to please use them on their kids.

It really was an amazing experience.

Today, reading, in news.com, about how people used textmarks.com and twitter to make the protest against China’s Olympic Torch Run more effective reminded me of the festival.  I love these open sites and networks but I would really like to see someone put together a sort of activisit pac.  Kind of like MojoPac.  Well not exactly.  What I’d like to see is a package that activists can deploy quickly on a server.  So that they could set up something twitter like, and an apache install with wordpress stacked on it, and a small mail server, and forums.  Yes, I know a good geek can roll all this stuff in a few hours, but not the average activist. And oh yeah, also a small tor network of some sort.  And a wikipedia instance, prepopulated with knowledge of common protest techniques.  Anti-G8 activists run camps where they teach people how to react to crowd control techniques, but wouldn’t it be easier to watch a bunch of videos on it if you’re stuck in an oppressed society?

The idea of this is so that people cold dynamically set this stuff up.  Twitter is good in the US, but if you’re in another country, you’re not going to be able to get to twitter.  but maybe you could get to torchruntwitter.com.  Plus, if the state owns the mobile phone carrier, perhaps you can’t send pictures to someone else.  But you could run a small java app that could shoot pics over a stunnel to this server.  Then an app on the server could immediately start torrenting it out, or posting to newsgroups, or posting to free bogs.  Basically blast the info to the net.  Widecast it or something.