Month: July 2004

  • via LifeBlogger

  • via LifeBlogger

  • via LifeBlogger

  • Novell Ditches SuSE Cert

    Linux Today links to a CertCities article about the abrupt certification change that Novell has made since aquiring SuSE.  They’re dropping the SuSE Certified Linux Professional exam completely and replacing it with a Novell Certified Linux Professional certification.  This new cert will be based more on simulation than on answering questions, and drops the Linux Professional Institute prerequisite.

    The new exam will set you back $195, which isn’t all that bad.

    I’m really glad that I decided to go for the Sun Certified Java Programmer cert and not the SuSE cert.

  • Impressive Little Digital Cameras

    I had the chance to play with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P100 today.  It is a 5.1 megapixel camera with a 3x Zeiss lens.  The LCD screen on the back is big and bright.  The camera is very compact while not being too small to use.  It’s bigger than my DSC-U20 but smaller than my Nokia 3650.  The picture quality is just drop dead gorgeous.  Street price on this bad boy is about $399 right now.  It takes Memory Stick Pro.

    It’s an impressive little camera with a lot of rez.  I think it brings a lot of value to the table for $399.


    Talk about timing.  CNet has just reported that Sony has announced a sub-$500 7.2 megapixel consumer oriented camera.  It sounds like the DSC-P150 will have a similar form factor as the P100.

    I thought the megapixel war was over.  Aparently not.

  • Open Source Wi-Fi Analysis pointed to a great roundup of open source WLAN analyzers this morning.  If you’re looking to do some access point sniffing, rouge AP hunting, or just a general security check, this collection of tools is great.

  • Rendezvous to be Renamed OpenTalk?


    Back in August, Slashdot covered Tibco suing Apple over the Rendezvous trademark. AppleInsider now reports that the lawsuit has been settled and Rendezvous’ new name will be OpenTalk.

    Ouch.  If this is true it’s going to be a major setback for Apple’s Muticast DNS (which is already known as both Rendezvous and Zeroconf).  The timing could also not be much worse.  Rendezvous/Zeroconf is poised to find its way in to daily use across platforms.  Apple recently released a technology preview of Rendezvous on Windows, re-released Rendezvous for Linux, and made awesome use of Rendezvous in their Airport Express with Airtunes product.

    This will be a major blow to a technology that already has confusing dual-branding.  I do like the retro throwback reference to Appletalk though.

  • Making 3G Affordable is the Key

    The thing that excites me most about this announcement by AT&T Wireless is not the fact that they’ve launched UMTS/W-CDMA in four cities but this:

    The company’s wireless broadband service is available to consumers and businesses through a variety of distribution channels or by calling 1-800-844-4813 or visiting Customers can select from any of AT&T Wireless GSM calling plans for voice services and can receive a monthly unlimited enhanced mMode plan for $24.99. Businesses can purchase unlimited data access for $79.99 monthly.

    Dude.  Unlimited 220-330 kilobit wireless broadband for $25 a month?  Bring it on!

    Having bleeding edge 3G services in place is not enough.  You’ve got to make it affordable enough for actual human users to be able to afford it.  AT&T: this is awesome, keep it up.  I’ve been ragging on them for some time now because their unlimited EDGE plans were hovering around $80 a month or so, and that’s just plain too high.  $25 a month for regular old consumers is perfect.

    I’m not sure if AT&T is using the US or UK definition of unlimited.  That remains to be seen.  Even if they cap their unlimited users to a reasonable amount of bandwidth a month, it would be worth every penny of that $25.


    Russ clarifies that teathered usage via Bluetooth or a cable will be metered at $0.001/Kb, or about a buck a meg.  Still quite reasonable.  I wonder how they know if you’re teathered or not.  I’m sure Russ will find out in a month.

    Another Update:

    It appears that Unlimited is a lot more limited than I first thought.  Engadget brings us the sad news:

    First, you can only use it if you’re in one of four cities. Next, you can only browse mMode sites. You can’t connect to any other device, you can’t remove your SIM, and you can’t use your SIM in any other device or you will be charged $0.001/KB. Finally and best, you can’t use the service for audio/video content, games, or any other downloads or there will be an additional charge.

    The four cities part is a bit “duh” if you had read any of the announcement.  It’s only available in four cities.  The rest of the news is a bit dissapointing.  All of that video conferencing that Russ wants to do is going to cost him a buck a meg.  Connecting via bluetooth is going to cost him a buck a meg.

    A buck a meg isn’t really that bad (on par with European GPRS), but you’re going to chew up a lot of megs if you’re connecting your laptop and doing extensive videoconferencing.  If video calling uses the same amount of bandwidth as 3gp video files, it’s probably not going to be that bad.

    Still, really unlimited unlimited would have been much better.  AT&T Wireless has slightly less of a clue than I had hoped, though a buck a meg is a step in the right direction.

  • Monday Morning Roundup

    Here are some of the links that I have been harvesting and cultivating over the weekend.  Depending on how things go today, I may append some more links later.

    Here’s that update I promised:

  • clevercactus pro Beta Redux

    Diego Doval:

    <victory-dance>With this post on the cactuslog, clevercactus pro is officially re-released. And within the timeframe I mentioned last week, no less!</victory-dance>

    Congrats Diego!  He popped on #mobitopia last night and it was great to see him again.  He used to be a #mobi fixture, but he’s been so busy lately that we’ve not seen him much.  He did pull a bit of a timewarp on me last night while I was catching up on the cactuslog: it’s been almost two years since spaces was born.  It’s hard to believe that so much time has flown by since Diego started seeding the first pre-release pre-alpha versions.

  • Picasa from Google

    Google is wasting no time on their purchase:

    Free! Organize your digital photos. Download Picasa from Google.

    The main Picasa page complies with google’s non-evil policies:

    The download itself contains only the Picasa software. Picasa will not uninstall other programs or add any non-Picasa programs or files to your computer.

    I would be interested to see a diff between the pre-google and post-google version of their terms and conditions page and their privacy policy.  Conspiracy theorists would look for something sneaky, though I’m more curious than anything else.

    I like the interface at a first glance.  I’s a little overdone in that sort of retro sci-fi UI way, but it could be much worse.  I’m much more impressed after playing with it for a few minutes.  The timeline view is nice, the fades in slideshow mode are clean but nice.  The little things are just right too

    It will be interesting to see how this product matures under the guidance of google.

  • WCDMA, Baby!

    Yesterday Wi-Fi Net News and others reported on the announcement that AT&T is expecting to launch WCDMA-based 3g tech in four markets next week.  The DC Metro area already has 1xEV-DO coverage, but we will not be seeing WCDMA anytime soon.  I really hope that this Reuters article is correct:

    The company will offer the data service at a fixed all-you-can-use rate of about $25 a month to consumers and $80 a month to corporate customers, one of the sources said.

    If that source is correct, AT&T is going to see TONS of wireless data uptake.  Current EDGE plans are far from affordable.  Expect the big but cute Moto A845 and perhaps a WCDMA Nokia model at launch, tho Nokia is keeping their lips zipped about it.  How does the 6630 sound?  That would rock.

  • Don’t Expect Automatic Upgrades with Mobile Devices

    Engadget is running a story today about good and bad news for Windows Mobile devices.  The good news is a new version of Microsoft Reader with memory leak fixes and support for landscape mode in Windows Mobile 2003 SE models.

    I’m a little dissapointed at their reporting of the bad news though:

     And that brings us to the bad news, clearly a sign of the end of the line for PDAs (well, not really, but hey, everyone is saying it)— According to InfoSync World, Dell and HP are not going to have WindowsMobile 2003 Second Edition updates for their devices. This is of course crummy news, in fact, the only way to get it might be to buy a new device. We understand there is some low-level stuff going on in WindowsMobile 2003 SE, like rotating the screen, and Dell and HP needs to sell some new devices, but this might be the last dance if people think they can never upgrade.

    Would you expect the manufacturer of your desktop or laptop to send you a copy of Longhorn when it comes out?  Of course not.  I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.  I’m not exactly expecting a free upgrade to Windows Mobile Next (whatever the next version of Windows Mobile based on CE 5.0 is) for my X30.

    Things are a bit quirky in the handheld device market, and a device that you buy today is in no way guaranteed to work with future operating systems for future devices.  It’s sort of a known unknown.  I’m sure that if it were feasable in both an economic and technical sense to offer free or for-cost upgrades to Windows Mobile 2003 devices they would have done it.  But it’s not, so they can’t.  Yes, it’s unfortunate, but it’s in no way unexpected.


    I don’t know about the X3 and X5, but Dell has been supporting the Windows Mobile 2003 SE-based X30 quite well.  Just a few days ago I spoke about the X30 ROM update.  It works great and I’m pretty sure has ironed out some weirdness in Wi-Fi with WPA that was bugging me.

  • Thursday Linkdump

    I’m clearing out the tabs this morning.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • PHP5

    The big news this evening is the release of PHP5. The nitty gritty details are in the changelog, but this is a huge release. PHP5 bings los of OOPish goodness to the table and promises to rock.

  • Dell Axim X30 ROM Update

    Erik pointed me to a Pocket PC Thoughts article yesterday that mentioned a new ROM update.  I downloaded the new ROM from Dell’s support page, saved my originial ROM, and updated to the new one.  It looks like just a minor update:

    Enhance your PDA with wireless security feature. (The enhancement is only for 624MHz & 312MHz integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth model)
    Enhance SDIO bus driver.

    At first glance my wireless connection (using WPA) seems to be a bit more stable, but I haven’t been using it long enough to tell for sure.  Nothing broke, though I had to re-sync my data and still have to re-install some programs.

  • Dell Axim X30 Thoughts

    I’ve had my Dell Axim X30 (312MHz, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) for about a week now and I think that now is the time to share my thoughts on it.  The Axim X30 runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which translates to it’s a little bit cooler than your standard Windows Mobile 2003 PDA.


    This is not my first PDA.  I started out with a 2MB Palm III when it was bleeding edge.  The original Palm Pilot was still the most widely deployed Palm device.  After using that for a year or so it was stolen and I replaced it a bit later with a Palm IIIxe.  Same great Palm taste, blazing 16MHz processor with 8 megs of memory.  I ended up snagging a 56k modem and the Palm folding keyboard for this bad boy.  The X30 is not my first PocketPC device.  I still have a running UR There @migo, which is a cool little (big) device from a company that no longer exists.  Besides being ka-huge, it takes PCMCIA cards.  I’ve been able to get a WPC11 Wi-Fi card working on it once or twice.  The poor thing is just too big to actually carry around with you.

    Which Model?

    There are currently three trim levels of the Axim X30: 312MHz wireless-less, 312MHz with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and 624MHz with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.  I own the 312MHz model with wireless fun.  I would love to have picked up the 624MHz version, but last month when I wanted to order it there was a 20+ day build time.  Right now there is still a 15 day build time.  I’m just not that patient and didn’t want to have to pay for something that I wasn’t going to see for a month.  You’re probably best off spending a little bit more for the faster model as long as they’re in stock.

    Why the Axim?

    I’ve been scoping out the Palm/Pocket PC arena lately and honestly the Axim X30 has the best bang/buck ratio at the moment.  For $250 it has a latest gen 312MHz XScale processor, has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and runs Windows Mobile 2003 SE.  There really isn’t anything else in that price range that can touch the specs of the Axim.  The HP iPaq h4155 is a great device and considerably more compact, but also more expensive.  The h1945 lacks Wi-Fi and has a slower processor and costs $30 more.  I’ve never been able to get excited about the Toshiba models that are on the market.  I wouldn’t be caught dead with an ugly Windows Mobile mobile phone even if they were affordable.  When I boiled it down, the Axim was the only device that made sense.

    What’s it Like?

    It’s pretty cool.  Microsoft has come a long way from the early days of Windows CE.  Back then it was prettier than Palm but sucked.  Today it’s almost like XP in my pocket.  It is similar to yet more refined than Pocket PC 2002, which is what my upgraded @migo ran.  It’s pretty yet functional.  The today screen does a great job at giving me a heads up view as to what’s going on.  My appointments, messages and tasks are right there in front of me, and I can drill down as neccesary with a quick tap.  It’s a solid PDA, which is good.  There’s tight Outlook synchronization of course, which is also good.

    Wireless Connectivity

    The wireless support in the Axim is not perfect.  I was hoping that it would be, just as I do every time I buy a new gadget.  I always manage to stay just close enough to the bleeding edge that things are not as refined as they could be.  The Axim sometimes has difficulty connecting to my 802.11g access point.  Sometimes it takes tinkering with the settings 2 or 3 times in order to get it online.  I can’t completely blame the Axim though, it’s probably some weirdness of my WRT54G running in legacy mode.

    The Axim does handle WPA though, which is a neccesity for me.  Two nice wardriving bonuses include a netstumbler-like ‘Site Monitor’ utility that does a great job at sniffing out APs, but does not give as much information as ministrumbler.  It’s great to have it baked in though, ready to sniff in just a few taps.  There is also a link test utility which is good for taking a look at the details of signal strength and throughput.  Another bonus is the ability to set up a VPN connection over whichever connection you choose.  The Axim seems to get better than average reception, trouncing the built in Wi-Fi of my laptop but also outsniffing my WPC11 PCMCIA card.

    The messaging app that allows you to read your Outlook email also allows you to connect to a POP/IMAP email account while on the go.  I don’t check my main email account using any of my phones or this PDA, but each phone has its own email address, and I’ve set up a new email address for my X30.  I usually set the reply-to to my main email address if I’m sending any outgoign email, but I mostly use mobile email connectivity for moblogging or as a quick way to copy apps/installers to my mobile devices.


    Here’s one of the annoying bits of a Windows Mobile device.  There are about 3.4 bajillion apps out there.  Most of them fall in to the following categories:

    • so old that they don’t work
    • so new that they don’t work or require you to install a version of the .net compact framwork that breaks everything else on your device
    • suck

    I have found several apps that I can’t seem to live without, but I’ll leave that for another post.  Right now my overall feeling toward software is *ugh*.


    I’ve been forcing myself to use the ink-like transcriber as much as possible because it seems to be the most natural way of doing input on a PDA.  It’s been hard not tapping away at the virutal keyboard, but I know doing that is just going to slow me down in the long run.


    ActiveSync rocks, has rocked for some time, and will hopefully continue to rock.  It gets the job done but doesn’t try to get in your way.  Outlook handles all of the calendaring, tasking, contacts, and stuff like that.  It’s quite cool actually.  I guess I’m stuck with a dedicated Windows box for some time still.

    Storage and Mobile Bloat

    My X30 came with 64 megs of ROM and 64 megs of RAM.  It takes SD cards, so I’ve slapped a 256MB card in there for storage on the go.  The memory and the processing power sounded reasonable to me, however while I wasn’t looking the Windows Mobile world suffered another round of mobile bloat.  I should have expected it, I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t  Shame on me.  Nothing seems to run blazingly fast, though everything so far has run acceptably fast.  I’ve already seen some apps (like Skype for Pocket PC) that has a 400MHz minimum system requirement.  My guess is that it’ll run on my 312MHz XScale, but if they do manual checking during the installation process, I’m hosed.

    I do like the fact that there’s a vast framework already installed on my device which allows me to code up quick hacks in Visual Studio and play with them on a real device.  It’s a shame that the Axim doesn’t ship with a KVM/JVM, so there’s no Java love.  Not that I was expecting any.  There are some third party JVMs/KVMs available, but that’s another post.


    My suggestion is to pony up the extra $30 for the charging cradle.  I skimped and went with cord/charger method, and it’s quite painful.  The connection on the bottom reminds me of a PCMCIA ethernet card with a dongle.  You know, the one that was always broken?  If you want to sync the device, you have to plug the AC adapter in to the cord, and then plug the double headed cord in to the bottom of the PDA.  It’s just awkward.  The charging cradle is definitely worth the money, and I’ll be picking that up at some point down the road.

    Eventually I’d love to pick up a keyboard.  Dell makes one that looks pretty good that connects via the charging/docking connection at the bottom.  Ideally I’d like to find a Bluetooth keyboard that works with the X30 so that I’m not tied to one configuration.  A Bluetooth keyboard would also allow me to set the X30 to landscape mode which would be nice for editing documents and stuff like that.

    You might want to look in to one of those multifunction pen/pencil/stylus/laser pointer things, as the X30 stylus is kinda lame.

    The X30 ships with a slip in case that isn’t too shabby.  I ordered their plain fold out leather case but am sending it back.  The X30 itself is pretty thin, but the leather case made it way too thick to be all that portable.  I’ve settled on the Rhino Skin case for the X30.  It’s lightweight but hard, has two spots to hold SD/MMC cards on the inside of the case, and allows me access to all of the external buttons, holes, and controls.  It does not protect the wireless bulge at the top right of the device, but I’m not too worried about it.


    I can’t say enough that the Axim X30 is in my opinion the best bang for the buck in the Pocket PC world right now.  In an ideal world it would also include a camera, but you can’t have everything you will ever need in one device.  Besides if I’m really desperate, I can pick up an SDIO camera attachment or just transfer a photo via Bluetooth from my 3650.

    It’s a solid buy folks, though it’s not perfect.  I’ll post more about it as soon as I can.

  • Java Certified Codemonkey

    Well, not quite, though I did pass my Java Certified Programmer exam this afternoon.  I’ve spent a fair amount of my free time over the last month studying with this book by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates.  I picked it up from bookpool at a great price in early June but put the afterburners on in the past week or two.  The tone of the book got to me at times, but what can I say, it allowed me to fill in the gaps and pass the test.

  • The Day that Started it All: The Nokia 7650

    Exactly two years ago today I wrote:

    In morning news linkage: genetic algorithms evolved a guy’s keyboard layout, the Simputer is coming, and Nokia has a cel phone with an integrated digital camera.

    I caught this a week or so ago when I was checking the date of my first entry at postneo and it’s been hard to keep this inside since then.  Can you imagine.  Nokia shipped the 7650.  Two years ago.  Today.  I linked to a post about a cel mobile phone with a camera in it.  I didn’t mention Series 60, I didn’t know a whole lot about it until much later.  The article that I pointed to didn’t even mention Series 60.  The big thing then was “oh my goodness, this mobile phone has a camera!”

    Russ played with one in Madrid on July 24, 2002, a few weeks after it came out.

    Now, two years later, I have a Series 60 phone in my pocket every day.  I use its built-in camera almost daily, though I tend to use email to post to my moblog.  I only use MMS to send a picture to another mobile phone once every week or two.  It is however a mobile development platform for me.

    The number of Series 60 devices on the market has skyrocketed.  The number of Series 60 devices waiting behind the curtain is unknown but tantalizing.  My phone now has an interactive Python interpreter.  It can also speak Symbian C++, Java, and OPL.  I stay up until 4am trying to catch a Nokia press conference in Finland.  Two years ago the 7650 was just an afterthought in a couple of links.  “Oh, here’s a cameraphone.  Neat.”  Today I know that the platform is more important than any single feature.  Sure the cameraphone is still a killer app.  But the platform, man.  You’ve got to see the big picture.  It’s beautiful.

    Series 60.  What comes next?  What about after that?  Oh man, I can’t wait.  I can only imagine what I’m going to be talking about two years from today.

  • Single Handedly Propping up the PDA Market

    Over the past few days I have been single-handedly (okay, my wife had something to do with it too) propping up the ailing PDA market.  Last week we ordered a Dell Axim X30 with Wi-Fi (I’m told it does WPA) and Bluetooth.  Today we picked up a Pa1mOne Tungsten E for her.

    I have a Smartphone, and yes it does a wonderful job at being a smartphone.  I have a laptop that does a wonderful job of being a laptop, but I don’t have it powered up with me everywhere I go.  I also have a Daytimers organizer that has been working wonderfully, except that it doesn’t pop stuff up in my face to remind me.  I decided that perhaps I needed a PDA when I missed a vet appointment for our cats a few weeks ago.

    It is time again for a PDA.  I had a Palm III (with a whopping 2MB) years ago and replaced it with a Palm IIIxe after it was stolen.  I also have a URThere @migo which is one of the few Pocket PC devices out there that has a full PCMCIA card.  It’s nice and all, but sheesh the thing is huge.

    My X30 is due in tomorrow, and you can be sure that I will write up my experiences with it.  I won’t be able to say much about the Tungsten E because my wife will be too busy playing with it.