Monday, January 29, 2007

People, ideas and hardware (in this order)

This was the name of Nicolas Jodal's keynote at the XVI a International Meeting in the XVI GeneXus International Users Meeting.

In 2004 and 2005 it took me several months, probably close to a year to make total sense of Nicolas' conferences (both the technical and the more philosophical ones). I had no idea about some of the things he mentioned and I needed to have some practical experiences over time that brought out total meaning to his presentations. In 2006 I decided I'd be ahead, I'll study his sources and I'll understand his conference right on the spot. So I attended the conference all prepared, and when he finished I thought: I did it this time! Great! All the things he mentioned I knew, not many websites to check out or acronyms to figure out, only a few googles later it was all out there ... or so I thought ...

This week we were showing someone our top secret project (with some Russian mafia involved if there were to be a leak ;) when he made some comments about the hardware being just a small part of the product and how much vital software was in today's world. Then it hit me, it reminded me of what Jodal was talking about: People, Ideas and Hardware. It sure got handy for my own little presentation that I had next day. I mentioned "People, Ideas and Hardware" and it worked out great as we are a hardware company with gaming software and an online community on top of that.

Back to the title, this time it got me only four months to totally get it, I only needed more insight on the first and last ppts of one of the conferences, so, yeahh I'm catching up ;)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Browser sessions in a tabbed world

Tabs are one browser feature that I'm super loving.
It's one of these things that I personally didn't ask for but now that I started using them I can't live without. Even more, there are features that I'd ask for now as a consequence of having used tabs. Since I use tabs what tends to happen is that I have multiple tabbed browser windows opened (can't help being a windows opener freak, although I've seen worst). At the beginning I remember it was like a bit of a conscious effort to find the right organization for my windows and tabs. Then, little by little sort of a methodology emerged (thanks but not only to the right-click open link in new tab). Common sense, each browser window is an independent thematic unit and tabs are all the involved pages with the browser window subject. It all works pretty well until the moment you need to shut or leave the computer ... that's what made me a big fan of hibernating. If the computer needs to get restarted then I'm out of luck, most probably all those interesting things I was researching or planning to research later are gone. Of course they can be bookmarked ... who has time to go back to look into bookmarks like that?
So, basically, the new feature that since I'm using tabs I'd like to have are web browser sessions. I need a way to name and save each browser session and be able to restore it completely when I'm back ideally in the same or different computer. The idea would be to login to a browser with my OpenID and that would get me to my "open web sessions" such as "work project A", "work project B", "home", "personal", "blogs", "travel", "news", etc. It does have some similarity with folder based bookmarks I guess but it would be like alive bookmarks in a way, specially if there is some type of nice graphic user interface that is showing the sessions and their relationships (graphs?).
I was looking at a post mentioning the upcoming features of Mozilla with some level of hope but really the only related feature that seems to be coming is the OpenID thing, which will be cool but it's not exactly this.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mac notebook?

It's been more than 13 years since I switched from my last Mac PowerBook to windows PCs. I didn't miss the little bomb screens that much ;) I remember I had some type of relief when I switched to windows as it really gave me as a developer a sensation of being much more on control of the computer. I understand the user perspective is totally the opposite, that's why users love it!
Now it seems to be time to consider Mac when I shop around for my next notebook. I am more of an end user now, the web changed a lot the way we do stuff, plus it's been many years for them to evolve as well, so I'd expect my experience now to be very different. Couple co-workers have already switched to Mac notebooks already half an year ago and are loving them. There's good windows emulators to use GeneXus and other apps that are windows only.
I'll wait til I find some strategy to go client-less (web) with my email/calendar and other productivity tools before I switch to a mac notebook but the decision is almost taken. Also, I have the best Dell monitor's resolution ever in my current laptop and it'll be hard to overcome that ...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Microsoft has ADD

1. Web platform
In 2006 they "decided" to go all the way Web when everybody knew that zillions of years ago.

2. Web search
They considered joining Yahoo to beat Google but now, there are many rumors of google+apple+yahoo coming together. They seem to be arriving late for this one too ...

3. Web browser "war".
So many years with no competing software gave IE practically no noticeable evolution. They ended up doing the little jump behind Mozilla. The browser is the doorstep for the Web, there are so many things that could be changing the web radically from the browser (session handling is just a good example), but no ... just the same copying of the competitors even if they had years ahead of them in this particular case.

4. Zune, they come up with a device that is slightly smarter than an iPod, years later, when Apple is thinking ahead and coming up with their iPhone. Microsoft had a great opportunity on the cell phone market, they got windows mobile. A natural step for anybody that ever used Windows on a PC to continue using it in a cell phone/PDA. They need to compete with the iPod and they have the perfect platform to do it: windows mobile. Did they come up with any type of creativity? Did they change any of the interfaces to make it more usable on the little box? Nop. The same model of launching the late copycat with just adding the communication layer. That worked for them ok with Xbox but evidently is not going to make it with Zune (good luck for Microsoft that Apple did not get into the gaming industry yet, although digital convergence might bring Sony and Apple together eventually).

I guess robotics is one area they seem to be ahead of the game, but maybe it's a little too early for that, so, we'll see.
My conclusion is that MS seems to have serious ADD problems.

Update: ctrl-s publishes a blog ;)
Update2: I have ADD too ...

iPhone: Now we're talking!

Steve Job unveiled the new iPhone in his MacWorld keynote today.
Funny, couple days ago I was wondering about why Apple wouldn't do a smarter device than the iPod ... it looks like they did!
Apparently Cingular will have it on June, I can't wait to try the newer interface that they patented for this product and hope that Verizon gets it too.

Monday, January 08, 2007

My dog got a microchip before I did

I always said I'd be the first in the family to get a microchip implanted, but my dog beated me!
Last trip to the veterinary he got a sub-cutaneous microchip with an RFID transmitter implanted. They just injected the thing on her neck.
Not much changes for stolen dogs, but the times of lost dogs changed for ever. No more signs posted on the corner columns and holding to a dog in the hope they will (or will not) come get it soon. Now, when you find a lost dog you can just carry them to the veterinarian's place and have them scanned, most probably they'll get an ID.
I'll guess I'll be next, just a matter of time ...
(I want mine with GPS and some other smart features though)

Does technology push human ethics evolution?

I believe it does.
I think technology today exposes us much more, and because of this it makes us be better persons. Since cell phones have been out there, people started needing to be more careful with the conversations they have. Anybody that's been around a cell phone long enough probably had themselves or someone around them some call accidentally or inadvertently triggered that went live with some kind of funny consequences to say the least. I personally learned the hard way to keep the cellphone well protected when in my early twenties when dating a new boyfriend (actually my husband today) my cellphone dialed into my ex boyfriend's cell and a whole conversation got saved into his voice mail. They guy wasn't happy I tell you that ...
Same thing with emails. I know of two cases of co-workers, different companies, that were saying something in emails that a customer should never ever read, but oops, the email went out and somehow the customer was right there in the email's To or Cc. In my opinion, this kind of "accidents" tell people a message. They and the rest of us that know of the event, will be much more careful when saying something inconvenient about someone else. Eventually the effort and paranoia of saying something you know you don't want other people to hear ends up being so much, that we might think twice about doing it.
There are better and public examples since phone cams become highly available in addition with the high adoption of video web sites that expose the most popular videos. Politics losing elections due to racist declarations like in the Macaca case or actors ridiculing themselves because of racists jokes out of place, are sending a message to all of us: if you insist on being racist, just try to keep it to yourself, otherwise, the world will know and it might be painful.
I believe this kind of public episodes hopefully impose healthier habits among us, and that's how humanity evolves after all, when some things like this extended social carefulness become part of the newer standard.
Technology is criticized a lot, that's why I like to point out to some things that technology might be bringing into human ethics that seems positive.
Webcams will just become better and everywhere, so, be careful, let's become better persons, even if it is for the sake of saving us some uncomfortable situations anyway ;)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

iPods versus Cell Phones

Why am I comparing those two?
Basically because I'm an optimizer and a minimalist in some sense, can't help it, so I'd select very well which gadgets I carry around.
If you're going to carry out an iPod around, what is it giving to you? I believe nothing compared with a PDA enabled cellphone other than the slick design and the great standardarized hardware additions.
Cell phones are a platform that everybody is investing on big time, there's a huge bet on this market as a cell phone today has multiple advantages over any other portable gadget:
1. people have it with them everywhere, as the phone feature is essential to everybody.
2. they allow cheap messaging, quiet messaging and they're great for young markets or markets where the phone service is too expensive.
3. they have cameras and SD cards for extra memory and content portability.
4. it has internet connectivity, this is what is making it a huge opportunity. You can query the web, get news, instant messaging. As device screens and keyboards become better and web interfaces customized for phone access the usage is just going to explote. It might be the number one device for internet needs for a big amount of users.
5. they soon will have GPS as a standard. Huge opportunities again, specially when connected with web access.
6. music? you can download to your PDA phone any music you want from other devices or the web, listen to radios online, no problem.
7. synchronized calendar, contacts, emails, documents, files. Also, there will be more phone speciallized online services such as gmail.
8. you can load them with all sorts of applications, maps, utilities, games, custom software, there are nice developer sdks and it's getting more standarized.

To me it's a no brainer. There is a great opportunity in the cell phones market and the iPod should evolve soon or it will be history. I know I'm being harsh ... But I believe a lot of people will soon find out that with their PDA phones they can do all they can with an iPod and more and they might stop carrying the slick dumb device around.