Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy

Sunday, June 29, 2008

80% of US Businesses using Macs

NomadicRider points to a yankee group report and has a nice post with his views on his blog. Tuaw also has an analysis of the post over here.

Read on for some interesting views.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What does China want from the world ?

I'm sure everyone has by now heard about the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. The Prime minister of Poland has even announced that he would not be attending the Olympic games inauguration ceremony if the crackdown doesn't stop. George Bush has phoned Hu Jintao and expressed that he is worried over the situation in Tibet. India has long maintained a silence on the issue and Tibetans all over the world are up in arms against the Chinese rule. Where does this end ? Is China listening to the world ?

I don't think so.

China has never bowed to pressure from outside and will not do this time also. China is a rogue nation which doesn't care about anyone but themselves. Look at the way they are trying to control the weather just so that they don't get rain during the olympic games. They absolutely don't care about the fact that they would actually be harming the environment for the rest of the world by doing so.

China's stance on Tibet has absolutely no base. China has more or less been able to capture the norther provinces and now wants Taiwan and Tibet too. I have no clue where will they head next. India ? Pakistan ? They have tried waging a war with India once and I wouldn't be surprised if they try that again.

China should be declared a rogue nation and dealt with as one. As soon as possible.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

iPhone SDK and the aftermath

I don't own an iPhone or have any affiliations with Apple, except that I own an iBook and an iPod. I am not a Mac OS developer and have no intentions (yet) of developing for the iPhone. The following rant is a result of what I've been reading on various forums and mailing lists around the internet.

Apple released the iPhone SDK last week and definitely delivered more than it promised. Along with the SDK were announcements for enabling Microsoft's Activesync on iPhones, the iTunes apps store and the (now infamous) $99 charge for the developers to post their applications to iTunes, even if they don't want to.

With Activesync the iPhone will finally be able to compete with the Blackberries of the world. The iphone will get push email, contacts, calender integration and remote mail wipe (!!) which should make the IT managers happy too. This post is not about Activesync, though.

This post is about the SDK and the choices Apple had to make to get it to the public. While no one ever thought that Apple would be able to please everyone with the SDK, but atleast the developers thought they'd get a better deal than they did. Steve jobs has always maintained that getting the SDK out will be a lot of work and that they will be restricting what the developers can do with it, but the developers were still hopeful. They don't sound very amused now :-)

Apple has decreed that all iPhone applications will be sold via the iTunes store and that the developers will not be able to host their applications themselves. Further, to post applications to the iTunes store, the developers have the pay a one time charge of $99 and if they do manage to sell any apps, they will have to give 30% of their income to Apple. This 30% charge, apple claims, goes towards maintaining the web presence, hosting their applications and the credit card transaction charges. Apple also gets to approve the applications before they can be sold on iTunes. Apple has also stated that they will not allow VOIP applications on the cellular network but will allow VOIP while on WIFI.

While this might not be an issue for the larger developers, the smaller, independent developers are not happy with the situation they are in. The $99 charge is nominal and most people are willing to pay that, what people are not happy with is the iTunes exclusive distribution model and the 30% that apple will charge for this exclusivity, which people never wanted in the first place. This is understandable. Apple will allow the developers to sell free applications and on those it will not levy the 30% charge. Thank you Apple.

While this is, arguably, a good thing for the users who will now have a one stop shop for all iTunes applications, I can understand why the developers are not happy with Apple trying to play the gatekeeper. The iTunes apps store is a good idea and will probably also bring lots more audience and eyeballs for most developers, but the exclusivity is not. Charging a certain percentage for hosting and providing support on applications sold via the iTunes store is a good idea, but charging 30% for a service which no one wants in the first place, is a bad thing.

Why exclusivity is a bad idea was proven recently when apple emailed (and rejected) developer applications for hundreds of developers who applied as soon as the SDK was launched. And without this, the developers can't even test their applications on a physical device. Till apple approves their applications, they only have the iPhone emulator to develop and test on.

I personally don't think exclusivity is a good thing in this case and the developers did get a raw deal. I also don't blame Apple for trying to control (and nurture) the iPhone platform at the same time. What I do blame them for is trying to earn money whichever way possible. They are becoming more and more like the other Operating Systems Giant ;). Apple has got a lot of things right and I just hope they do something to get out of this SDK mess.

Update: I have ordered an iPhone and should be getting my hands on it in a couple of days. I'll post a review once I'd had time to play with it a bit. I'll run it jailbroken since the iPhone is still not officially available in India.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Ubuntu Doesn't work for me ... yet !

To put things into perspective, I am a fairly advanced Linux user, having started using Linux around 10 years back. I started with RedHat, moved on to Slackware, Redhat again, Fedora, Debian (stabl and sid) and finally Ubuntu. Since I don't live on Mars, I still have had to use Windows occasionally. I started with Windows 3.0, moved to 3.1, NT, Windows 95, 98 (or whatever they called it), ME, 2000 and XP and probably used some other versions in between. I have also owned (used to ... until the motherboard failed on me after three years of hard usage) an Apple iBook running Mac OS X.3 and later on X.4. I use an iMac running X.5 at work and dabble a bit in freeBSD and Solaris from time to time. Phew !

With that introduction out of the way, I'll come to the real point of this post. Why doesn't Ubuntu work for me ... yet.

I've been using Ubuntu on a desktop connected to a wired network at work and it has been given me a good time. I've had times when Ubuntu failed on me after an upgrade but nothing too serious. Thanks to the wired network and links/lynx I've managed to come out triumphant each time Ubuntu decided to play tough. And since the desktop was pretty much switched on 24x7, I really haven't had any serious issues.

All this time, I've been running Mac OS X on my iBook and using that as my primary machine at home connected to my WPA2 WIFI network. One fine day the thought of ditching OS X came to my mind and I installed Ubuntu on this laptop. Dual boot, of course since I wasn't ready to give up on OS X just yet. I spent about 20 minutes installing Ubuntu, so far so good. And then I spent the next two days trying to make it work with my wifi network. I did get WPA2 working with it, but then an ubuntu update came through the wire and all hell broke lose ! I was without wifi access again. I would have again spent the next two days configuring wifi on my notebook if canonical hadn't decided to take away Ubuntu's support for powerpc machines and so I ditched ubuntu and installed Debian ... for a day. The very thought of spending another two days to get networking working again on this thing put me off it. As you might have noticed, I don't take notes ... never needed to and probably never will. I was back to OS X on my beautiful white notebook and life was good all again. Never had a problem with OS X on this machine.

All this time while I was fiddling around with Ubuntu on my notebook, I had another notebook, with Windows XP installed, behaving like a good citizen should with my network. I was lucky I atleast had another machine to troll the web for likely solutions to my problems.

I'm not so lucky this time around. I have a new job, this one gave me an iMac for the office, and a Dell machine with Windows XP for lugging around. Windows has been behaving quite well but I'm adventurous. I can't help it. I just cannot see computer running well. I have to fiddle with it. So off I went, got myself the latest shiny ISO and installed Ubuntu 8.04 on the dell. So far so good, the wifi of-course didn't work but I wasn't expecting it to anyway. I was willing to spend the next two days figuring it out ... but I didn't have to. A couple of packages came down the wire and I installed those and voila, I had a working wifi connection with wpa2 security out of the box ! This was a first for me. Life is pure bliss. Or so I thought.

Since, this is a beta version of Ubuntu, I was willing to take the risks and upgraded yet again to whatever packages Ubuntu sent for me. And that was when wifi stopped working for me. And hasn't been working ever since. The friendly wifi indicator on my notebook is also not glowing indicating that the wifi radio might have been switched off somehow and I just can't get it to work. I haven't had to use a real physical LAN cable at home since quite some time but I had one lying around so I took it out and plugged it in to the notebook and searched online for some solutions. Tried a few of them which didn't work.

And I'm back to Windows typing this post. What went wrong this time. Nothing ! I can't blame Ubuntu for my troubles since I was clearly using software not certified for production use. But, I've been using Debian Sid, aka unstable, on my machines for quite some time and never had a problem. Maybe its just me but I've been unlucky with Ubuntu. Since this is a Debian derivative we're talking about here, as a long time debian user, that is what I'm comparing Ubuntu with. And I don't like what I'm seeing. Ubuntu is slower to boot, load and use than Debian and sucks far more than Debian ever did. Debian, by the way, also sucks. It just sucks less and as a Debian unstable user, I'm willing to pay the price. Not so with Ubuntu. This was a distribution which was supposed to just work. This was supposed to be Linux for human beings or some such thing. Well, it isn't anymore. Unless human beings these days like to wait longer for their desktops to load and get some kind of kinky pleasure when they cannot get any work done just because an update broke their network.

I switched to Debian when Redhat forked into Fedora and ruined a perfectly working distribution. Debian was a pleasure to use after redhat and moved on to the unstable bits pretty soon. Contrary to what the name suggests, I never had a problem with Debian unstable. I moved to Ubuntu only to scratch an itch and the itch was to try out what everyone around me was claiming to be the solution to all of mankind's miseries. Well, I guess what works for the rest, just doesn't work for me.

I'll be installing Debian first thing in the morning and will stick with it this time. I know that means a fair bit of work trying to get everything working but I'm willing to spend that time because I know the next time I upgrade my distribution, everything will still work the way I left it. Debian will lead me to my desktop faster, will make better use of my machine's resources and will definitely suck lesser than the alternatives. Thank you Debian.

Moral of the story: Stick with OS X on notebooks, Ubuntu doesn't work for me, Windows sucks (I love it the way one can end all posts with Windows sucks as if thats the one universal truth ;) ).

Update: This post hasn't even begun to describe the problems I've had with screen resolution, suspend/resume, hibernate etc. Just to clarify, I still love Linux and will continue using it ... I'm just not coming back to Ubuntu for a while.

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