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About Flash on small devices

Adobe is obviously annoyed at the “no flash here” broken plugin icons on the iPad. And people are pointing out Flash is a huge, bloated, crashy pig on the desktop.

Guess what, Flash is a huge, bloated, crashy pig on mobile too! My N900 has flash 9.0. It can play YouTube. But most of the time, guess what, I avoid it. I know you’re trying Adobe but the experience is just pain, pain, pain and then more pain.
And to sum it up the single greatest improvement in Fennec 1.0RC3 over RC2 was disabling Flash by default. And guess what, it got snappier.

Yeah, my N900 has Flash but for some reason the first extension I installed was AdBlock …

/tech | edited on 2010/01/29 -- permalink, click to comment

The iPad in evil review

Everybody’s calmer and most of the giddiness has passed so now it’s time for the evil review.

  • The UI is lukewarm. Everybody was expecting something new and brilliant in terms of interface. Turns out it’s a huge iPod. Same homescreen and all. And the onscreen keyboard is a dream to type on ? Really ? Didn’t hear anything about haptic feedback so it looks a lot like drumming your fingers on a glass table. And it basically fails for one hand input. Decent enough to type a quick email ? Sure. Dream to type on ? I’m sure Jobs had to force this words out of his mouth.

  • Did it have to be microsim ? Everybody else does really well with “regular” sims, even the people doing tiny phones. Were those extra couple of cubic mm really needed for something else ? The truth is obviously no, that tiny extra space could be sacrificed for compatibility. The real reason is appeasing the carriers. It’s unlocked, but they can control the deployment on their network by supplying (or not) the microsims. And since nothing else uses the microsims they’re also a price point tool, carriers can create special iPad packages, cheaper or premium. Yesterday I wrote I’d probably get the 3G version. That was obviously a mistake. Not with microsims and $130 premium, there’s a wonderful world of Joikuspots out there that manage to bridge that gap.

  • No DisplayPort ? No USB. For something that’s supposed to be nearer a computer than an iPod the connectivity looks pretty ipodish. And most of all, no front facing camera ? Just imagine Steve doing iChat AV on stage with the Pad, that would’ve blown everybody away. I’m also told college kids really like videochating hotties. Forcing people to see my ugly mug isn’t high on my list but it will probably hurt on the college market next September.

  • This thing has iPhone 3-year plan written all over it. It’s not like I can see into the future but I can see a 3rd gen iPad a couple of years from now with front facing camera and USB and regular sim slot. This isn’t exactly a cheap toy so people might just hold out for the next model, the one that’s really great.

  • And the elephant in the room is, this isn’t 3 years ago. 3 years ago the iPad would reign supreme and the closest “competition” would be from an HTC or HP “slate” running Vista (Intel, 2h of battery) or WinMo5 (350MHz ARM, 4h of battery) and it would be utterly irrelevant. Now, however, I’d be holding out for the snapdragon powered Android “pad” someone (my money is on Asus) someone is going to release in the not so distant future. It won’t be aluminum, the screen won’t be as stunning and it probably won’t be glass. But it will have a front facing camera, it will have have USB and 3G people can actually use. And it will be in the same class as the iPad.

/tech | edited on 2010/01/28 -- permalink, click to comment

The iPad in review

And Jobs came forth and gave us the Pad . The good names like Tablet and Slate were already taken and Pad fits in the iP theme so cutting a long story short, iPad it is. In the usual list style:

  • It’s big. It’s carry in a bag big. The screen is nearly 10” and there’s a bit of border so it’s about the size of a big netbook. It’s clearly designed to be much closer to a macbook than an ipod despite the fact it’s an overgrown iPod. The screen is IPS which I never seen upclose but I’m told is brilliant and has excellent colour accuracy. That means it’s perfect for delivering digital versions of high quality, glossy magazines. And that’s obviously part of the plan as are books which might not work so well. The buying experience is itunes simple but the price point seems higher than amazon and the screen might not be easy on eyes for long reading periods. In the end it might just be down to Apple’s ability to negotiate price and DRM.

  • This truly the best “handheld” Internet experience simply for sheer screen quality. And the builtin apps, from Mail to iPhoto seem great but if Apple wants to the iPad to muscle out netbooks it needs to be much less controlling about apps than it is on the iPhone. The first step is there, the 3G version is carrier unlocked and the fact Apple got a prepaid (and unsubsidized) data plan from AT&T (which by the way is not cheap, is just normal Europe rates) is a first great step towards a less restrictive approach to apps. Communication apps like Skype or Fring (or Google Voice) shouldn’t have any issue going into the iPad. Of course the lack of a front facing camera will always hurt on that side (it will never get a videocall button like my N900 has) and Apple’s bold (and strategic) stand against Flash will kill some of the market (no Farmville for you!) but in the end the overall experience will probably come out ahead.

  • The iWork version actually looks useful which is much more than I expected. And each app is $10. And you have VGA out via the dock connector. That adds up to a clear and bullseye shot on Microsoft’s cash cow. If you’re a sales guy doing a pitch at a client you better show up with an iPad and a micro projector. Only losers use Toshibas and PowerPoint. And you better use the stunning Keynote transitions instead of the crappy PowerPoint animations too. All the cool kids are doing it!

  • No business guy will use an iPad as primary computer. College students on the other hand will. Why should you carry around a bunch of huge books when you can have them all inside less than 1kg ? And the PadWork (that’s what I call iWork on the iPad) is probably GoodEnough. The case and keyboard dock look custom made for this market and the fact is good deal cheaper than a MacBook doesn’t hurt either. What might hurt on this market is the lack of Flash and videoconferencing. There seems to be USB host “connection kit” so there might be a webcam dock in the not so distant future.

Will I get one right away ? Definitely not. Will I get one when the netbook we use around the house kicks the bucket ? Depends if the wife kicked the Farmville habit or not. Will it be the 3G version ? Most certainly yes!

/tech | edited on 2010/01/27 -- permalink, click to comment

The demise of the desktop

The desktop is going down. It happened before, it will happen again.

The few of us that actually used campus networks with thin clients know it beats the hell out of carrying a laptop around. You sit in a terminal anywhere in the campus and bam, that was your computer, with your environment and your files. Campus had 10Mbps local networks and LAN interconnects exceding 100Mbps. It was pretty wild.
Sadly the 1990s world at large didn’t have 100Mbps interconnects or anything remotly like that. In the world at large we were stuck in local computers, direly underconnected and not all that powerfull. For a number of reasons the 90s sucked.

By the end of the 90’s Oracle figured out the network would be the computer. A number of people got onboard but the technology wasn’t there yet, lets just say a lot of Java and dialup was involved, and it all failed. Then laptops started getting better and you could lug around an underpowered portable version of your unexciting, underconnected personal computer. It still sucked, only slighty less. Meanwhile, techies (as the journalism punditry likes to call us), tryed to pull together the tatters of connectivity, a open wifi here, a dsl there, into something ressembling the ubiquous campus network. IMAP servers, webviews of documents, IRC networks, all slow, all bleak, all cobbled together with ductape, spit and servers living beneath the raised floor of some datacenter or other.

And at some point the pundits (with the help of the industry of course) discovered The Cloud. It’s always on, it’s great, all your stuff is there. It’s great for individuals cause the cloud is gmail. It’s great for companies cause it’s outsourcing (ASP and SaaS never quite took did they) and virtualization (we already established virtualization is good). Everybody’s happy!
Everybody, except Microsoft of course. Microsoft spent a good deal of resources making sure email meant outlook and corporate “web interfaces” meant internet explorer. Now people are using linux powererd netbooks to access gmail using firefox. And there’s gmail for enterprises too. How the hell did that happen ? People were buying cheap computers just to check email, browse and play farmville around the house. The GoodEnough culture on which Microsoft had thrived and made billions had just turned against them. The netbook was good enough.

Meanwhile small, low powered devices were getting less low powered. Nowadays the Cortexs and Snapdragons are standing just at the other side of the bridge netbooks built and they’re good enough. Some are even really good. Today we’re at 840x480 beatifull OLED screens powered by 1GHz CPUs with hardware accelerated HD decoding and that’s not only better than what we had when Oracle tried but it’s also inside our pocket and always connected to the Internet at 10 to 100 times the speed we had then. Going forward the unicorn apple tablet and the new Android devices will probably make the experience even more seamless and use more obiquous. As capable devices trickle down the price points more and more people will transition to mobile from aging desktops, not to mention the billions who never seen used a desktop and will jump right into gmail and ovi.

And thus, the desktop will become irrelevant.

/tech | edited on 2010/01/27 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 3W2010

/wir | edited on 2010/01/25 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 2W2010

/wir | edited on 2010/01/18 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 1W2010

/wir | edited on 2010/01/11 -- permalink, click to comment

The Explorer insalubrity

I am aware Microsoft Internet Explorer can’t render chbm.net. That shouldn’t affect you unless you either don’t know the Web can actually look good or want it to look donkey behind.

In case you didn’t know the Web can actually look and generally not suck here’s my gift to you: the choice of Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari. Firefox is the most extensible, Chrome is the most googley and Safari is not very Windows native but if you have iTunes installed odds are you already have it.

If you chose your Web to look like it does in Internet Explorer then chbm.net caters to you brilliantly. There’s no concessions or work arounds. The fact IE8 basically has the same box model errors IE6 had is laid bare here. Positioning, paddings and margins are consistently wrong in IE and 8 still not knowing how to render a table cell or position a float (that’s why the warning label at the top shows only in IE - in correct browsers it’s rendered offscreen) should fill the Microsoft IE team with shame. It’s also the reason why you need to scroll down to get to the content. The only visible advance is position fixed finally working in IE8. I don’t use position fixed on chbm.net.
I won’t even discuss why you don’t like nice details like transparencies or rounded corners. You’re probably from 1999 or something.

/tech | edited on 2010/01/07 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 53W2009

/wir | edited on 2010/01/04 -- permalink, click to comment
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