Archive for July, 2005

The business of espresso machines

Ok, cialis one more gadget post. I finally bought myself an espresso machine for 99 euros. I chose the cheapest one at Stockmann’s shelves among around 20 options. They call it “semi-automatic”. Median price seems to be over 500 euros and I guess there were more than 10 full-automatic machines priced at over 1000 euros to choose from. The most expensive was well over two grands.

They sold to the previous customer a 1850 euro model with arguments such as “see, it has two motors and the water circles inside ‘like this’ [grazy waving of hands]… so this one I’d buy for myself”…. Oh yes, the buyer was a middle-aged male. However, my guiding principle was that you don’t want a full-automatic if you want to drink the coffee yourself and you want to place the machine on your regular-size kitchen table.

I’m quite happy with my machine. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of home-made espressos but my machine passes any test. Maybe technology has simply progressed. With Paulig’s basic espresso I can end-up with 100% coffee shop quality.

Next thing to do is to find more exotic beans. In Helsinki, I guess Kaffecentralen is worth trying.

Published in: Tech | on July 27th, 2005 | No Comments »

Communicator and Nokia’s software problems

I didn’t buy PSP but instead satisfied my instant gadget hunger with Nokia Communicator 9500. I’ve had the system for some 24hrs now.

Pros:
1. Remote email works
2. Calendar sync works as well
3. Keyboard is nice

Cons: the system software sucks big time. Every aspect of it. This is my first communicator but I had tested some earlier models and knew that Symbian is a slow Java-sucker. However, pharm I was really surprised to learn that the Symbian/Java cancer affects the basic phone functionality as well. There is substantial lag with basically any key stroke! Usability suffers.

As I noted, viagra both email and calendar sync now work. These are the most important add-ons (so far) this phone brings to me. However, ambulance they are far from perfect. Nokia’s email software is so crappy it doesn’t seem to understand mail box (IMAP) folders. And then there is the basic problem that retrieving email is incredibly slow even when I’m connected through Wifi. In this regard, there is practically no progress from the times when I used Palm VII in the United States. That was in 2000! It seems to take one 10-30 sec “slice” only to check if I have new email. Downloading any new messages takes another slice or two. Naturally those “slices” can double or triple when the connection is through the basic phone network (GPRS). Maybe I can fix this problem somewhat by locating and installing a better email client. At least I need extra security software (communicator has no SSH support) to send some mail.

Sync works, yes, but it is buggy and took 4 hours to install. It was like configuring a PC some 15 years ago. I have a Mac and officially neither Nokia nor Apple provide any help for guys like me. I had to locate, download, install and learn to use a hack. It’s 2005 god damn it! And I’m talking about big companies and their “premium” products… I had to first fool the communicator to eat some extra non-standard software and then edit a script in a secret folder on my Mac. Grazy. Now it kind of works – I only need to press a few extra keys at every sync because the communicator isn’t comfortable with my hack. Still, this is much better than with my old SonyEricsson, which synced out-of-the-box but always messed up times and dates. At least Nokia does the functionality correct.

All in all, I’ve confirmed a fact I sort of knew before. Nokia’s software development is fucked up. Symbian sucks, usability sucks, compatibility sucks. Worse, many of these problems are terminal and cannot be fixed. I can see dead-ends everywhere: Symbian is not intended for real computers where phones are transforming into and obviously Nokia can’t head the development of basic system software intended for real computers. Thus, I’d argue Nokia’s move towards “outsourced” Linux and open source software development is a necessity, not deliberate strategy.

Published in: Tech | on July 27th, 2005 | 2 Comments »

Freaking filesharing

During the flight back from Canada I read Freakonomics. Nothing freaky to literates. Anyhow, cialis the book’s simple approach to deterrence somehow struck me. Accordingly, sale deterrence is a trade-off between three incentives: economic, prostate moral and social. Start giving penalties (economic incentive) and people might think it is no longer unethical to commit unwanted behavior (moral incentive). The example in the book was the introduction of a $3 penalty for parents who picked up their child late from the kinderkarten. The result was more late pickings as the parents didn’t feel guilty anymore and the price of late picking was neglible.

Apply this to file sharing on the Internet. Statistics show that file sharing has been increasing the last five years save for the first half of 2004. In late 2003, the recording industry started to push through penalties to individuals and managed to get one of the most popular network at the time (FastTrack) practically down.

But that victory was short-lived. Users switched to more robust and secure networks. By attacking technically weak networks, the recording industry makes sure the sharing technology keeps on advancing and new technology gets adopted quickly. File-sharers unite!

The fact that there are now penalties hasn’t helped. The risk of getting penalized is next to nothing. Moreover, with an arrogant policy the recording industry has arguably lost moral ground. Why should I deter from sharing some widely-available Madonna or Rolling Stones hit with other users? I don’t think those artist will lose anything from sharing and besides, they seem to be both arrogant and too-rich. Sharing brings friends!

Thus, I’d argue that the social incentives encouraging sharing outweigh the moral and economic incentives to deter from sharing. The penalty-policy has perhaps added a marginal economic deterrent but, at the same time, it has weakened the moral deterrent and strengthened the social incentives. The outcome of this equation can be read from the statistics.

Published in: Economy, Tech | on July 12th, 2005 | No Comments »

PSP and fair use

Tried PlayStation Portable yesterday. Sounds like it rocks MAME and the most popular home computers from the 1980s. I probably get one and start hacking when I visit Canada in the next week.

Which brings me into the fucking DRM. It is the ultimate threat to PSP’s success. Sony has been historically so full of that big brother crap. Now, viagra PSP seems to have region-lock for movies (distributed on proprietary non-standard “UMD” discs – remember minidisc?) and forced updates (anti-hack, viagra of course) with new games. There must be more. Besides, they aren’t going to release the system in Europe until September and I’ve read they already haunt gray market sellers.

I’ve heard the same story too many times before. The potential of this system is its great hardware, great looks – and maybe most importantly – the capability of users to innovate, install their MAMEs, web browsers etc, extend the functionality, and start to experience. Will they ever get it?

(Note: I changed my blogging software from Typepad to WordPress and and had to transfer all entries from the summer 2004 until this date through two hours of copy-paste.)

Published in: Tech | on July 3rd, 2005 | No Comments »