Archive for the ‘Tech News’ category

Schmidt leaves Apple (finally)

August 3, 2009

Some people are calling this a surprise.  I don’t really see why.  There were multiple conflicts of interest.  And as to why it didn’t happen sooner – it’s a corporation.  Things move slowly sometimes.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/03/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-resigns-from-apple-board-surprised/

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Mono and C# so whats the big deal?

July 23, 2009

There has been a controversy brewing for quite some time in the Open Source world. I’ve sort of stayed out of it because I didn’t fully understand exactly what was happening, and I wasn’t sure that I cared. Still there is good reasons if you are a programmer looking to do anything in the non-MS world with C# to at least be aware of this. I currently don’t have any C# training, but I am scheduled to take a class on it in the Spring. Finally I found an explanation that didn’t resort to needless flame wars. I think it is fair and balanced. Please click through, but I’ll post a few highlights. So you know mono is an open source project that ports .net framework to Linux and Mac. So this is where the controversy lies. It is porting over a Microsoft technology, and MS does not have a good track record with Linux or open source. Also, by way of background, there are a few very notable programs that are written with mono and are being considered as default programs in Linux distributions (tomboy, banshee, fspot, and gome-do).

Mono, the free software implementation of .NET (C#), has been the subject of bitter debate for eight years. Yesterday, that debate ended — or at least shifted to another level — with Microsoft’s announcement that it was extending its Community Promise to include the patents that left Mono possibly encumbered.

The greatest fear has been that Mono-based programs like GNOME’s Tomboy or F-Spot could be the source of a patent violation case by Microsoft against some or all of the community.

In 2001, Microsoft released a letter to ECMA in which it promised that use of the patents involved would be available on request on a “royalty free and otherwise RAND ‘Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory’ basis.”

However, as Miguel de Izaca, the founder of Mono and a Novell vice president, points out, “The problem with ‘RAND’ is that it doesn’t say what ‘reasonable’ means. It has to be reasonable, but it doesn’t have to be free. Microsoft stated publicly and on the ECMA committee that nobody had to pay, but they never actually went and published the license.”

And there is the problem. While C# looks like a great language with awesome capabilities the fact that MS holds patents and is a commercial entity leaves the door wide open to forcing Linux users to pay up.

As described on his blog, de Izaca plans to divided Mono source code into two repositories. One will include the ECMA-covered libraries, and the other Mono’s implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and Winforms. By making this division, de Icaza presumably hopes to make clear to developers at a glance what code they are working with.

I’m excited to learn C# and really have every intention to use it, but this does give me pause especially if I were starting a large project that needed mono (i.e for any platform other than Windows).

HTC is a friend of Android

June 25, 2009

HTC the cell phone maker was the first company to come out with an Android phone with the G1. They now have two more announced. This latest one has no certain date in North America, but it looks good. I think I might want one.

The specifications look good:

Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
3.5 mm audio jack
5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus
Talk time:

*
Up to 420 minutes for WCDMA
*
Up to 470 minutes for GSM

Standby time:

*
Up to 750 hours for WCDMA
*
Up to 440 hours for GSM
microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)

This is certainly going to be a compelling phone. It is no secret that I like Android. This added to the their previous phone leads me to believe that Android could take Apple’s iPhoneOS to task. I’m thinking about jumping into mobile development and Android is looking way better than Apple right now to me.

Should Apple worry about iPhone competition?

June 3, 2009

Wired ran this story, “Why Apple Can Afford to Phone It In With the Next iPhone.” It basically reads that the next iPhone, expected to be announced next week, will likely be a minor upgrade. Of course this is all based upon rumors, but as much as Apple tries to be secret typically the rumors aren’t that far off. Aside from the fact that this is all based upon rumors I am inclined to agree with the analysis with one word of caution.

Recently I have been writing about the Android rumors. I really am excited about it, but I have mentioned that my excitement is when they mature and that this is a good indication of what will be when my current iPhone contract runs out. Let me back up. When the iPhone first released the blogs were all abuzz and people lined up for days to get their hands on the first, worthless IMO, iPhone iteration. I largely ignored the first iPhone, not because I didn’t see the bright future, exactly the opposite, but because I knew the future held much more promise than their first release. Apple tested the waters and they were good. So good that they quickly released the iPhone 3g. It was at that point that the hardware was complete enough, though they could have done much better, and the software was complete enough, app store anyone, to grab my attention. Indeed, with that launch Apple sealed their prominence that every other hardware maker aspires to have now. But what this shows is that everyone must go through the growing pains. When Apple released the original iPhone they probably never imagined that the app store would take off like it did. They may not have imagined how people would eventually use or want to use the hardware. The initial released was the baby stage for what would blossom into a powerful teenager. It was and is at this point that I decided it was ready for my use, and it has proven up to the task. With the release of version 3.0 of the software Apple will finally mature the iPhone into adulthood. Where we are now with all other smart phones (Palm pre, G1, Android, Storm) is still infancy. It took Apple over a year for each stage to mature so it only makes sense that all others would follow a similar path to maturity if not slower. So as I see it Apple owns the smart phone market. All other competitors fail on multiple levels, but not for lack of trying. In this way the Wired author is correct. Apple can release a minor upgrade to the iPhone and not worry about losing market prominence or superiority.

With all that said my word of caution is this. Now that Apple is an adult it stands out from the rest, but it is now perched on a ledge waiting to be pushed off. Like I said all the other competitors are still in infancy, but they are showing good signs for quick maturation. For Android there is already a robust API it just needs better hardware. Palm Pre could shake up the industry, but as of yet hasn’t launched, and will likely face problems being tethered to Sprint. The Storm with all of its hardware advantages loses on apps and development platform. These are the same problems Apple faced and overcame. They may have made it look easy, but soon enough competitors will figure things out. Just give them time. Apple may not need to launch a hot new iPhone this time around, but they better have something good coming or else they may find themselves mediocre, compared to the competition, in the not so distant future.

This is why I am so optimistic. There are so many uses for smart phones. I don’t know that I could ever go back, but I am not sold on Apple or the iPhone. Right now I think I purchased the best there is, but the horizon looks good for some serious competition once it is time to upgrade.

Android news

June 1, 2009

This would be quite welcomed by me. Ars is reporting that up to 20 Android phones may be released by the end of the year. I am a huge fan of Android…at least I want it to succeed. Currently I am an iPhone owner, but honestly if the G1 had been a little compelling at the time I might have switched. I am hoping that as more Android phones are released more developers will create compelling apps for the system. There is no word on the “who, what, when, or where,” just yet. The article seems to suggest at the end that this may be more over in Europe with the America following next year:

He also pointed out that, because of the highly competitive handset market in the US, carriers here wouldn’t be as likely as those in Europe to jump on the new devices unless they are distinctive. That means Android fans in the US who aren’t keen on switching to T-Mobile for the G1 may have to wait a little longer than our friends on the other side of the pond, but if Google is on a roll with its distribution agreements, it undoubtedly won’t be long before more phones pop up.

I think it is a bit of a misnomer to say that we have a “highly competitive handset market.” Mainly because that would suggest that other economies don’t. The reality is that we have a highly competitive service provider market who artificially create scarcities to try to lure customers to their service. ATT makes pennies off of the sale of an iPhone, but the data charges and 2 year contract mixed with the sexy appeal of being the only iPhone provider give it a competitive advantage. There are people who would die to get an iPhone but won’t touch ATT. In other countries, particularly Asia, you purchase your phone first and get a service provider second. I think it is fair to say that they have a much more competitive handset market where we have a “highly competitive” service provider market. in Asia the handset makers actually have to do marketing work to lure you into a purchase. Personally I like the Asian way. Back when cell phones were brand new technology it made sense to subsidize phones based upon a 2 year contract. People were skeptical of the service already fearing high prices, and cell phones that comparatively do little cost exorbitant amounts of money. At this point, however, I would be more than willing to purchase a phone outright to avoid a contract. In theory this is possible (though not with an iPhone), but in practicality it isn’t. Given the two major carriers, verizon and ATT, a phone purchased for one would not necessarily transfer to the other giving little reason not to subsidize your phone.

So other than that slight tangent I believe this is good news. I think my timing will work out just right that when my iPhone contract ends I’ll have a couple of compelling choices to choose from as an alternative.

MSI’s new bling

May 28, 2009

Wired has a good run down of the new MSI X340. They are calling it the MSI’s Macbook Air and for good reason. Take a look at the pics on Newegg. Now I haven’t gotten my hands on one of these just yet, but it looks rather compelling. It would seem that MSI fixed all of the shortcomings of the Apple Macbook Air, namely two USB ports plus built in Ethernet. Oh don’t forget the SD card, vga and hdmi slots. Oh and most importantly it comes in at half the price. I’d say the chief advantage the Air has is OSX, but I bet the X340 will run Linux pretty well.

Really if you are in the netbook market and are looking for something a little bigger (screen size is 13 inches) and looks good than this is the machine for you. I like a good looking machine. I don’t think you have to sacrifice style for price or size and the MSI proves that.

Android on Linux

May 26, 2009

I haven’t had too much experience with the G1 and I thought it was a little bit of a dude, but I am still very excited about the Android project. The potential is there and if someone could pair a good phone with the nice OS I think the market would boom. I do, however, think this latest bit of news is rather exciting. Ars is reporting that Canonical developers aim to make Android apps run on Ubuntu. From the article:

Canonical is building an Android execution environment that will make it possible for Android applications to run on Ubuntu and potentially other conventional Linux distributions. The effort will open the door for bringing Android’s growing ecosystem of third-party software to the desktop.

Google’s Linux-based Android platform is attracting a lot of attention. The new version significantly improves the platform’s reliability and could make it look a lot more appealing to carriers and handset makers. The availability of an experimental x86 port has caused some people to speculate that Android might have a place in the netbook market.

Count me in. This is exciting news. Hopefully we’ll see Android take off. I know I am rooting for it.