Where is my tablet?

The coming of the Tablet has been predicted for years, after the failure of Microsoft Tablet XP, in part a technology problem in part a marketing problem, we have seen very little in terms of new product. It is rumored that Apple is going to make one, but the fact that there are no announcement yet and that Apple doesn't seem to be doing a big event in January, which is a terrible time to announce new products unless they are months away anyway, makes me think that's still a year off. The CrunchPad sounded like a great product, but it hasn't appear and the rumor is that it never will, it is much more expensive than they thought at first. Typical hardware trick. They tell you it is going to be worth X to build, get you committed and as production gets close to start they say Ops! it will be 2X. So far, the only real tablet is the Archos 5 with Android , and that is a Nerdy product at best. Why is that better than a Phone? only a few inches of screen and a whole lot of pain. Is this going to be like the JetPack? Did the future fooled us again?


The Web is Broken: We'll never feel secure

I've been thinking about the security of different OS and I think we have reach a very interesting point in the development of computer systems. If you use a modern Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6, Linux (a recent version like Ubuntu 9.04 or later), or even Windows 7 (or Vista), you'll be reasonably secure without installing anything extra. Yes, I said it, even with Windows 7 you don't have to install an antivirus program, my advice is don't use Internet Explorer, version 8 seems secure but there is no reason to take chances. There are still dangers, phishing scams and malware, you have to be careful with what you install, but the three modern OS ask your permission before installing something, so provided you are careful with what you install and what you click on emails, you are going to be ok. Furthermore, there is no software solution for phishing or for malware that requires installation, so you have to learn this things to be secure anyway.

So, if while the situation is good, the ecosystem and financial motivations are completely wrong for security. Antivirus company and security experts have a vested interest in tell you that there are threats and problems everywhere! Otherwise, you won't need them. Imagine if we did the same in our houses as we do with software. Those Windows? Any kid can broke them with a rock! Those locks? They are trivial to pick! Anyone can get in your house if they want, why do you feel secure? Because security doesn't depend on theoretical vulnerabilities, it depends on experience on real events. When was the last time that there was a big virus contamination? It was years ago! Yes, there are botnets that produce spam, but those are running Windows XP. We have to get rid of XP, but we won't make it, because everybody is going to slam Windows 7 like they did Vista. Specially, those security experts... They can't risk people discovering there are no real world problems anymore.


The Web is Broken: The World is Flat... Except for Copyright

For years we have heard of Globalization, we see the G20 summit protest and we think we know who the friends and enemies of globalization are. But we are wrong. Since they could, massive copyright holders have tried to divide and fraction the world to make it hard to globalize their product. From region coded games and DVDs, to IP controlling.

Take the international Kindle, it is a kludge of fees, so complicated I haven't seen anyone describe it correctly. They charge more for books if you have a non-US Kindle, and the selection is not as big, due to copyright restrictions. They also charge extra network charges (5$ weekly if you want to suscribe to magazines), on top of a 2$ per connection when you are roaming. Part of this issue is Amazon's decision not to do a Wi-Fi Kindle, but instead going to a Mobile Wireless model. The pricing of Mobile Wireless is a mess. But the books are not the same, because copyright is not a global process. So, the same book, in the same language, has different "owners" and fees depending on where you sell it. This is not something the authors want. They would love to have their book available the world over in its original edition for a prize, of which they get the same cut. I understand when you have to translate a book, that involves and added value that you have to cover. But why is a book published in the US forbidden to be sold in the UK? To break the web.

The second example is Netflix. It is a great service. You get one DVD see it and return it. On the mean time you can stream movies from the web. But if you travel you can no longer stream those movies. They check your IP and copyright prevents them to let you see it. Same with Hulu. And the Xbox. Curiously, Amazon and Apple, at least when they sell music, look at the street address of your credit card, instead of your IP, to decide what they can sell you. But most use the IP, in order to break the Web.

You see, the web is different if you live in the US (you get Hulu, Netflix, and a bunch of others), but not Spotify. You only get Spotify in the European web (some restrictions apply). In the rest of the world, what do you get? Mostly piracy. Because despite the false mountains they create the world wide web is still flat and once a content is digital it is easy to copy, and it will get everywhere. If the massive copyright owners don't make it accessible to everyone, somebody else will. For free or cheap in the form of piracy. Is it that the massive copyright holders are stupid or they push for piracy? I already have my answer.


The Web is Broken: Phishing for Gmail

While the Spam problem is pretty much solved by filtering that allows a spam or two a day at the most, phishing is an intractable problem, as this attack on Gmail shows. The reason is that the web is broken. We have three problems: Links that die, lack of a real authentication mechanism for websites, and twitter. The first problem makes it hard to see a coherent history of issues, that is we lack context. The second problem is a real technical problem, we lack context! we could solve this, but I do not think we have the will. Twitter, and other social media, create the lack of will. They make lacking context standar, normal, common. But without context we have nowhere to go, because we don't really know where we are.

Is not that individual technical prowess has diminished, is that the collective will has given out and, with social media being so prevalent, even the loners think they have a social life. I wasted this phrase in twitter long ago: "Social Media is the sad realization that what geeks really wanted was to be liked by jocks and cheerleaders."


Windows 7 Personality test

Image This is lame! And you can do it here


I can't wait!




Apple is AT&T's Bitch

So, the only good thing of the lackluster presentation by Apple is that Steve Jobs is recuperating from his illness. Pity that the company isn't. They finally said that the new Shuffle is it, putting colors and eliminating the old one. I guess they want statistics on how many assholes use computers and listen to music. They put a camera on the Nano, but not on the touch. Why? Because it would need a microphone. Now I am convinced that in the initial deal between AT&T and Apple they agreed that Apple would not produce an iPhone without the phone part and specifically prevents Apple to put a microphone on a product like the touch. So instead of having a great music player with GPS, VOIP, camera etc, we have a NIntendo DSi, wait, make that a dumbed down Nintendo DSi, after all the DSi has two cameras and a microphone.

Apple is AT&T's Bitch, that much is clear to me, but it may also explain why the top Nokia phones are never picked up by US Carriers. Nokia makes a tablet that runs Skype. It has a microphone (and a camera) and they intend to keep making such devices. So, Nokia refuses to put out and the US carriers are trying to strangle it. Apple puts out, plenty.


The Flying Spaghetti Monster is Everywhere!

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I know His Great Lordship is Everywhere, but what is it with the Rubik like Cube?


Foucault's Pendulum



Foucault showed that the earth rotated with a very public experiment in the Pantheon, he hung a huge Pendulum and showed that it moves laterally during the day. In the video you can see the pendulum at the Musee des Arts et Metiers (one of the greatest science museums in the World) pushing a metal rod as it move with earth's rotation. There is also a short video with the Pantheon current pendulum at the end.


Apple does right by me... With a lot of help from my friend.

So, as I told you before, Apple refused to honor the AppleCare Warranty on my Air with the Hinge problem. After publishing that story I got some advice. Some thought I should go to an authorized dealer in Venezuela and ask them to do it. Another advice sounded weird, but interesting to me. @cgranier recommended to just taking it to another Apple Store. I didn't have time so I asked my friend to do it.
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(no, she didn't go to the Apple Store in a bikini)
Turned out she went all Social Engineer on them. Told them she was thinking of buying one and I was against it, so I loan her mine and see what happened! Hinge problem! She also mentioned how good of an Apple client I was... Who knows if it was her looks, the story, my buying history (he did check), or simply that she stumbled upon a great Apple employee, but my machine is fixed and I am happy. More with my friend than with Apple.


Pau, France

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Licensing My Money

I've decided to stop buying things, or rather to stop paying for them. From now on when I hand money to someone, I am just licensing my money. The money is still mine and I hold the copyright to it (I'll draw a cartoon in each bill to make this all legal). If you accept the money you accept the licensing conditions, they are in my wallet and you can demand to see it, I call it a wallet-wrapped license. I think this is an appropriate solution to today's world.


My Appleless Future

Last week I brought my broken MacBook Air to a Genius. The hinge had broken, this is a common problem as reported by by engadget. I got a chance to see what Apple's policy really is. They know it is a problem, but will repair it under Apple Care only if the machine looks pristine. A single scratch or a mark may make it impossible for the Genius to help you. End result? I've been traveling all over the US with a broken machine. I've had conversations with at least three people that were thinking of buying a Mac laptop and I've told them don't do it unless you have to.

I've bought 25 Macs in my life. Used to be I bought a Mac pretty much every year for a member of my family. The last Mac I bought was this Air a year and a half ago. My wife got her job to buy her a MacBook Pro 15' and I may get my job to get me a 13'. I will also attempt to hackintosh a Dell. From a loving relation with Apple I am now in a confrontational one. They'll win but they will not get my money as much as they used to. I will still use their products, because I have them, but I will think very hard about alternatives when I need to replace them. The hardest thing to replace is the iPods. I don't know of any other Mp3 player that works like the iPod with podcasts and with Linux. I may end up getting a Pre if they go GSM at some point unless Microsoft, makes the Zune Mac OS X and Linux compatible!).

I will use my broken MacBook Air for traveling a 2000$ machine is now worthless except as advertisement against Apple.


An Epiphany about Piracy

Today I had an epiphany about piracy. I've always said that piracy in the sense of copyright infringement, is always discussed in terms of moral and laws, when it is really an economic issue. Someone asks me why it was discussed in terms of moral and laws and I started thinking: "Who Wins?". Who wins with RIIA lawsuits, who wins with having pirate CDs sell for a pittance in China and all over the third world? It sounded like I was heading to a complicated argument when it hit me: The enternteinment companies win. First, they make money from first world people to maintain their businesses, then they give their product away to the people that have no means and that way they avoid something they are really afraid of: Competition. By giving away their product for free or cheap, they are impeding the creation of companies that do the same for less than they do. If the logical, economics thing, prices would have gone down and competition would have increased. Creating the possibility in the future that foreign enternteinment companies making money in the first world.

Now, before I star to get nonsense comments, let me be clear. No, I do not think this is planned. This is what happens naturally. People do what is better for them, what makes them progress and survive. They do not need to reason it out or understanding. Economic laws work like physical laws, they don't care if the subject understand them, they are just laws. This is also the reason enternteinment companies have gotten in bed with media and news media companies. Because that way they get protection for their stupid racket.


Yep, Nokia is doomed

Yesterday, news circulated that Nokia would make an Android phone, my heart fluttered with excitement. I love my G1, but the hardware is lacking in a way that Nokia has never been, since my accidental falling in love with the N-Gage. I bought that N-Gage in an emergency when my Visor Phone broke entering a mall. The N-Gage was the only GSM phone that was unlocked. I thought I would get another phone and sell the N-Gage, but I liked it way too much for that. Since then I almost owned a 6600 (My wife kept it after using it for a couple of weeks), a 7610, N80, N710, N800, N95, N82, loved them all. Unfortunately, Nokia denied the rumor of Android, and with that Nokia is indeed doomed. They are travelling the road that Motorola traveled. After making a ton of different phones, having smashing success, they no longer have innovation in their blood. Furthermore, they have so many people set in their ways that I see little chance of change until they get to the desperate stage. As Sun and Palm show, at that stage change is very hard to do well. I really think Nokia could have made it and I am really sad they won't.


New TSA Procedures



I really support the Human Upper-body Grab of the Jihadist Elimination Worker in order to prevent terrorist attacks.


Apple learns to hear... Somethings

So, Apple learns somethings and returns Firewire to the MacBook 13' (nee MacBook Pro 13'), and I assume that means that target disk mode is back and they drop the prices to a point where they are just more expensive instead of hugely more expensive. And the price of Leopard presents a huge problem for Microsoft, they will have to give away Windows 7 just to look good. Of course, they don't learn about everything, the iPhone is still locked and the Shuffle still sucks, but now it's clear, we just have to insist.




Who said that?

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.


The Companies I Love to hate

In my years writing this blog I have talked about a lot of companies. Some of them have been a constant fodder for my acute wit and cynicism. A few days ago a friend told me I have become a hater and that I should forgive some of those companies I have put on the you are dead to me list. This post is an effort to start that process and see if it is possible to forgive and forget the pass... Click more if you want to get into it...

[ more.. ]


Two Geeky Books Recomendations

I have two books with a Geek bent to recommend. The first is Daemon by Daniel Suarez. It's a thriller with a heavy technology bent. It was published in January and I read it soon thereafter. I just reread it and its sequel should be coming in a few months. What is interesting is that the technological description are very accurate, maybe not easy to understand, but right on the money. It is a great book. The second book was published this week, it is called The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive by John Graham-Cumming. It is a description of a 128 places to visit with geek content. It is a great book and a great guide book. I am going to use it this summer and go to some of the places described there. Enjoy!


Why Venezuela is a backward country



Because our leaders do not even understand that the last five hundred years of progress have been fueled by basic science research. If they don't like science let them live without TV, Internet, Cars, etc. They are hypocrites. I am thinking of resending this article of mine to publish in El Nacional. They published it already 10 years ago, but it is as relevant today as then, how sad. I could dedicated to IVIC in its 50th anniversary...


Somebody is still lying...

A few months ago Apple was selling more phones than RIM and I was saying that somebody was lying. By using an invalid and artificial breakdown of the cell phone market into smartphones and dumbphones, they got incredible numbers for Apple. Everybody got on my case about how it was me who was confusing the numbers (which indeed I was), but I am still suspicious about that distinction and about the numbers that get handed out. The latest is this report which states that the Blackberry Curve is the best selling smartphone this quarter, while the iPhone is the second one. That I believe. But then it goes to point out that the Storm beats the Pearl (all models!) for third place while the G1 comes in in fifth. If that is the case, where are all the storms? Everything I read about the phone is bad and negative. Do people really have it out there? Is it really more common than the Bold? Is the G1? Really? This is in the US... By the way with these numbers RIM must be beating the pants out of Apple... Somebody is lying.


Seven Deadly Sins in the US

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When I was in Las Vegas last year I was disappointed that in a place where gambling and prostitution were legal I found a lot more gambling than prostitution. That and the amount and attitude of minors was really sad, actually, I didn't see a single person happy in Las Vegas. The reason may be that the Deadly Sins are not well distributed in the US. A study by the Kansas State University may have the answer. The Seven deadly sins by state and county, and Clark County, where Las Vegas is, doesn't do bad enough. Actually, Lust is only bad enough in a few small places. How sad...


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