Month: May 2004

  • Longhorn’s My.Computer.Network

    Over at the Early Adopter weblog, they’re taking a look at new bits included in the latest preview release of Longhorn.  There are some really amazing bits in there.  Things like your machine name, connection status, your IP addresses and your domain information.  It also allows you to easily ping another IP or download/upload files.

    Bits like this make coding a breeze, but it also facilitates things like disabling the firewall with 3 lines of VBScript.

    Double edged sword, that.

  • Mobile Linkdump

    We had quite the linkfest in #mobitopia today.  After Martin and the other Euros went to bed, I scared up quite a decent collection of mobile links.  Here they are for your enjoyjment:

    There are other link gems hidden among the 130 or so links from today.  Keep digging!

  • Supercharged Series 60

    Wireless Developer Network:

    MALMO, Sweden, May 13, 2004 — Teleca announced today it will supply leading Symbian OS and Series 60 support for the Intel(R) PXA27x family of processors aimed at customers developing mobile phones, PDA’s and other wireless devices.

    To most people, PXA27x is just a random alphanumeric phrase.  I assure you that it’s a ton more than that, and bringing Symbian/Series 60 to that platform is going to be big.  Really big.

    Luckily the announcement of the PXA27x family flew by my radar the other day.  Take a look at a few monster specs and you’ll know why I’m excited to see Symbian/Series 60 on this platform:

    • Scales to 624MHz.  That’s like a PII/PIII running Symbian/Series 60.
    • Lots of memory, up to 64 megs.
    • Speedstep in your pocket.  Here’s hoping for lots of power and long battery life.
    • Lots of connectivity options.  Series 60 Wi-Fi anyone?
    • It has a really nice mobile co-processor with a lot of really good codecs

    Now don’t expect to see this tech in your Series 60 phone any time soon.  Teleca just got approval to start working on this stuff, and for the near future will only be working on reference designs and concepts.  For all we know, this project could be shelved in six months.  I hope that it ends up in our pockets instead.

  • Enterprise SNAP?

    Following the announcement of SNAP, and the fact that it will first be ready for Series 60 MIDP 2.0, the question is out there in plain sight: What about Enterprise SNAP?

    No really, I’m serious.  Why not use SNAP as a platform for enterprise apps?  With MIDP 2.0 you’ve already got an extremely easy form-based user interface.  Writing a basic MIDP 2.0 form is just above the complexity level of creating a VB form.  Really, it’s simple.

    How much of a gaming framework can be used in the enterprise?  Quite a bit actually.

    The presence info could be killer.

    “Where’s Johson?”
    “One second, let me check.” <our geek hero glances at his 6600> “He’s online, I’ll have him call in.”

    After that, our geek hero can send Johnson a quick message using SNAP’s instant messaging API.

    SNAP may be a useful extension to traditional J2ME->J2EE enterprise solutions, or it might just be useful for some enterprise hacks.  Either way, I can’t wait to take a look at it.

  • Nokia’s Smart Move: Scalable Network Application Package

    From a Nokia press release (emphasis mine):

    Los Angeles, California. May 12, 2004 – Nokia today premiered the first multiplayer Java games based on its SNAP Mobile solution at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Developed together with Sega Mobile, the SNAP Mobile demonstration features multiplayer gaming for Java games, in addition to key community features such as friends lists, presence, and instant messaging. The Sega Mobile game demos are the first example of how SNAP Mobile brings the technology utilized in the N-Gage Arena gaming community to mass market Java terminals.

    SNAP is going to blow the lid off of J2ME MIDP 2.0 development.  Not only are mobile game developers going to be able to easily create several different types of multiplayer networked games (ranking, freestyle, challenge, etc), but we’re going to be able to take advantage of all of the extra bits that come with the platform.

    Here’s another choice snippet (emphasis mine again):

    The first demonstrations of SNAP Mobile will be implemented in MIDP 2.0 on Series 60, and support for other platforms will follow. The SNAP Mobile client development kit is expected to be made available for Java game developers free of charge in the third quarter of 2004. The server components can be licensed by mobile operators and other interested service providers or they can opt for a hosted community service. With either option, service providers will be able to create, build and brand their mobile gaming communities and drive data revenues and customer loyalty.

    Hey Nokia: Smartest. Move. Evar!  It sounds like they’re going to release the libraries and API docs on Forum Nokia and let ideas flourish rather than try to keep them locked down.  It’s a perfect strategy too: a small mobile gaming startup creates a killer game.  It includes some multiplayer aspects that require the Nokia server components.  All of a sudden they’ve got to license the server side stuff directly from Nokia or make a deal with a carrier.  Everyone is free to create a killer game, but if you need the server side stuff, Nokia’s going to be making a buck one way or another.

    I look forward to taking a look at SNAP sometime in Q3.  I know that it has me excited, and I’m pretty sure that Nokia has the ear of a lot of J2ME developers.


    Note above that they are planning to roll out SNAP first on Series 60 MIDP 2.0.  That means that they see the big picture.  If they were planning on keeping SNAP on the N-Gage they would have not mentioned which platform they would deploy on first.  What does this mean?  It means that when released, SNAP should work on pretty much any S60 that has MIDP 2.0.  That means that a 6600 or a 7610 should be able to run SNAP out of the box.

    But wait, does that mean that initial versions of SNAP will not work on the N-Gage or N-Gage QD?  Yep.  They’re MIDP 1.0, which lacks things like a Bluetooth API, decent socket support, and has a whole lot of limitations that are going to make backporting SNAP a pain in the butt, if not impossible if they want to keep it feature complete.  Of course the Bluetooth API is optional, but can be found in all Series 60 MIDP 2.0 devices to date.

    Does anyone else smell an N-Gage 2 featuring S60 v2.0 and MIDP 2.0 coming in the next few months?  I think I do.  Jim at All About N-Gage thinks it might be a possibility too.

  • What is Really Holding Tablet PCs Back?

    Scoble is defending the Tablet PC team from an article at Microsoft Watch.  I wish that there wasn’t so much to defend.  Tablets are one of those things that I’ve wanted to see take off since the 486 Fujitsu days.  Every few years someone has a go at it, and Microsoft (along with their hardware partners) have a better shot at it than anyone before them.

    But there are problems.

    Price is probably the number one factor that is keeping the Tablet PC install base down.  I’ve looked at a few TabletPC models at my local Micro Center, which usually has a few in stock, and their sales guys know much more than your standard CompUSA or Best Buy.  I played with a Tablet PC.  It was a compelling experience.  Unfortunately it wasn’t two grand compelling.  It wasn’t twice as much as I ended up paying for a higher spec’d but bigger (and non-tablet) laptop that I ended up getting.

    Twice the price is no big deal if the price itself does not concern the buyer.  Unfortunately we don’t all drive 7 series BMW’s and we can’t all write it off as a business expense.  I could quite easily pick up a well endowed mid-range budget notebook (like the $1000 HPs, Compaqs, E-Machines, etc) plus a good desktop and a LCD panel for the price of one of the Tablet PCs that was on display.

    I know that Tablet PCs are different.  They’ve got to be a little lighter, they’ve got to have a detachable keyboard or that cool little rotating double swinging hinge thing that rocks so much.  That’s more expensive.  They also tend to use the (more expensive) little low-powered chips from Intel.  I know that all of the more expensive components combined with a big R&D bill equals a higher price tag.

    But dude, we can’t afford it.

    If there had been a $1000 Tablet PC right next to a $1000 laptop, I’d pick up the Tablet PC, hands down.  I’ve never seen such a thing in the flesh though.  I would so rock a Tablet PC.  It’d be with me ready to whip out at a moments notice.  Tablets promote casual everyday use that you just can’t do with a laptop.  You can cradle the tablet in your arm while scribbling, while I can assure you that balancing a laptop and typing while moving is no easy task.

    The moral of the story: make these things cheap.  It’s the only way you’re going to get market share.  There are lots of people that would buy a Tablet PC in an instant, they just can’t afford the tablet tax.

  • Long Time, No Linkdump

    • OSDir pointed to a new and improved Markup Validation Service at the w3c.
    • Jeremy pointed to these Pine first use statistics and thinks that we can extrapolate the adoption rate of Unix-like systems from it.
    • I’ve subscribed to the official Google blog.  I’m pretty sure that the version of Rawdog that I’m running can handle it.  Also of note is the recent Blogger relaunch.
    • I just installed the latest version of PmWiki.  I’m still really impressed with the quality of this wiki.  It reminds me a lot of JSPWiki but it’s extremely lightweight (no database requirements)
    • Mobiletracker points to a news story about a Sony Ericsson phone that is 9 cm tall, 3.9 cm wide, and 1.9 cm thick.  That’s a small phone.  It weighs about 69 grams.  NEC also has a slightly larger but much thicker camera phone.
    • FreeCache is the poor man’s Akamai.  More cool stuff brought to you by The Internet Archive.
    • Slashdot carries the news of the first BMW-numbered Pentium M: the M755.  It’s nice to see Intel bit by The Megahertz Myth.
    • Wireless DevNet reports that RenderWare is coming to the N-Gage platform.
    • Michael Yuan has the skinny on the J2ME MultiMedia API on the Nokia 6600 and 6230.
    • The Symbian Q1 2004 results look good.  Very good.
    • Gizmodo links to an article at USA Today.  Will the real Nintendo DS please stand up?
  • TechTV: Rest in Peace

    Last week we all found out that Comcast is firing 285 TechTV workers.  Today Slashdot linked to and a FAQ.  I have problems with the purchase and the merger on so many levels.  It looks like Leo will be out of the picture entirely, as Call for Help was not picked up on the new network.  I have no idea what The Screen Savers is going to look like when the new channel goes live on May 28.

    I used to catch TechTV in the background over satellite and cable years ago, and it’s been a part of my geeky existance off and on ever since.  I’ll have The Screen Savers from last night on while I’m getting ready for work today.

    I’ve always had a bit of a problem with G4.  They have a few solid hours of programming each day, but their filler far outweighs their content.  That’s not to say that TechTV doesn’t have its fair share of filler, but most of the time it’s half way decent.  I guess that I’m just not a hardcore enough gamer to watch the same old filler.

    I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to watch the new network once it goes live later this month.  The Screen Savers is already loosing my attention now that Leo has left.  If he leaves the network completely, my motivation level will lower further.  I may stop watching completely out of disgust.  I’ll definitely have to send a complaint on to

  • Disconnectivity

    I apologize for the lack of updates.  It took me longer than it should have to troubleshoot and resolve connectivity issues at the house.  I’m back though, with a bit of a blog backlog.

  • Howard County Library Moves to Linux


    Over the past year, the Howard County (Md.) Public Library has migrated more than 200 public PCs from Windows 98 and Windows NT to Linux. These PCs are used both to surf the Internet and to access the library’s catalogues. NewsForge recently spoke with Brian Auger, associate director of the library, and the IT team responsible for the migration. We wanted to learn more about why and how it was accomplished, and how pleased they are with the results.

    Wow, that’s surreal.  I’m in Howard County right now.  They chose an interesting route: Linux from Scratch + Gnome, Mozilla, and  A cron script is run twice a day to see if there are any updates to be downloaded from a master server.

    More information, including some screenshots can be found at LuMiXtech.

    Way to go, Howard County!  Stories like this and the library behind White Box Enterprise Linux give my warm fuzzy penguin feelings.

  • WS-WTF? (Devices Profile for Web Services)

    Infoworld notes that Microsoft and Intel have released a Devices Profile for Web services.  It builds on WS-Discovery and will allow enterprise level peripheral connectivity.

    Tying devices together today is too complicated

    Ahh yes, adding another layer of complexity on top is going to help.  Really!

    Furthermore, UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) 1.x used today is not enterprise ready, according to Allchin.

    My dream enterprise class peripheral connectivity platform would be built on top of Rendezvous/Zeroconf, would involve XML over HTTP (or something like that), and might even involve a little RDF.  It sure would not involve WS-anything and under no circumstances would UPnP be allowed to play.

    I’m sure that Microsoft and Intel want to make our lives easier, but WS-this on top of WS-that is getting on my WS-nerves.

  • Geronimo!

    Via Matthew, OETrends takes a look at the current state of Apache Geronimo, as well as what to expect in the future.  It looks like things are progressing quickly.  Congrats to the Geronimo team!

  • Wikis Help in a Pinch


    For about six hours yesterday, the staff of was treated to a lesson in emergency improvisation. But thanks to 123 lines of Python code, running on a $7-a-month personal Web site on an Apache Web server somewhere in California, you probably didn’t notice.

    This is an excellent story of improvisation at its finest.

  • Tapwave Update

    There is a new version (1.1) of the Tapwave SDK available to registered developers.  They will also be at E3 next week, showing off their wares and they are also eager to speak to game developers.

    The Tapwave Zodiac is a really slick Palm-based gaming platform, though I’m sure they haven’t sold as many units as they would have liked to at this point.

  • Tribes and Tribes 2 for Free

    As I mentioned last month, Starsiege: Tribes and Tribes 2 are available for free.  I may pick up Computer Gaming World just to save the download time.

    Just in case I’m 364th among 585 people in the queue.

  • Knoppix 3.4 Fresh from the Oven

    Via Slashdot, Knoppix 3.4 is fresh and hot.  I’m currently torrenting the 3.4 release, though it seems to have stalled out on me.  If I ever get it down, I’ll do my duty and leave the torrent open  You might also try your luck with one of the mirrors.  A quick peek at the package list is impressive for a live Linux distro, but I don’t see any Earth shattering changes.

    I feel like a bandwidth hog.  I just downloaded a 3.3 build yesterday.

  • Limited Unlimited Strikes Again

    The Wireless Development Weblog points to an article at Smartphone Thoughts about the limited nature of AT&T Wireless’ $49.99 Mobile Internet Unlimited PDA Plan:

    “AT&T Wireless further reserves the right to move a subscriber from the Mobile Internet Unlimited PDA Plan to the standard $79.99 monthly unlimited Mobile Internet Data Plan, without notice, if the subscriber uses more than 100 megabytes of data in each of two consecutive months.”

    Where am I, the UK?

  • Netstumbler 0.4

    I must have not been looking.  A new version of Netstumbler came out late last month.  The 0.4 release sports a help file and compatability with more cards.  There is also a new release of Ministumbler (for Pocket PC) out.  Thanks to a series of semi-dark tips on yesterdays The Screen Savers (which makes great background at 8am) for the heads up.

    On *nixen, Kismet is the wiffy sniffer of choice.  Kismac is supposed to be a really pretty but functional GUI interface for OSX.

  • Thunderbird 0.6

    Even though it’s old news for those that live on GMT, a slashdot story prompted me to download Thunderbird 0.6.  I’ve been using 0.5 since it came out, and I’d have to say that overall I love it.  IMAP support in Thunderbird has been great, and I’m hoping that things are just a little bit more refined in the new release.  The new logo is slick, and the upgrade seems to have gone over smoothly.  Time to poke around…

    Update: The junk mail filtering in 0.6 seems to be significantly improved.  It looks like passive junk identification is enabled by default (good) and I haven’t seen any false positives yet.  I tried to train 0.5 unsuccessfully but it either missed spam or produced false positives.

  • BeOS, Python, VB, and Worms

    Here are a few links for a lazy Sunday afternoon: