Friday, January 30, 2009

DropBox etc.

For once I find myself only somewhat excited for anther big google announcement. The 'GDrive' Project is imminent and what it is supposed to mean is data accessible from anywhere the net is available.

Now I love the idea of Cloud Computing, that no matter where I am or what computer I'm on my bookmarks, email, photos and documents are online.

For years the two I've most wanted have eluded me, music and files. Not that there aren't plenty of sites, like, that you can upload your files too or even registering for website to access my files and perhaps stream my music from. What I wanted though was a bit more cultured, I wanted to be able to stream my music straight through the music player on my comp or phone and for files I wanted them available not just online but offline on whatever computer I use.

So the impending GDrive annoucement should tickle my fancy but I've gotten my wish there with DropBox, which allows file syncing across multiple platforms, so when I create a document on my work laptop it is automatically uploaded to the net and when my desktop is turned on it is automatically downloaded. If I make further changes on my desktop to that file the updated file automatically goes out to the web and then automatically gets updated on my laptop.

What is more useful is that if I am away from a designated PC I can log into the web interface and perfrom a one-time download of the file in question and then manually upload. I can even share this folder with other dropbox users. Simple, practical and brilliant. My only compliant is that it is 2GB free or 50GB for $100US a year. I could go for 10GB for 30 or 4oUS but I just don't need 50GB.

With services like iMeem and already available and the Zune music store being an all you can download buffet for $15US a month, its not long before a GPRS/EDGE/3G & Wifi enabled phone/mp3 player gets a service where you pay $X a month can play w/e the service has available on demand completely eliminating the need for exesive storoage on the phone.

Did I mention this thing runs on windows, linux and mac? MADNESS

Anyway, shameless plug

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Text Messaging is 20x the cost of email (at least in Barbados)

This was brought to my attention by a friend. So a character (or one letter) is about 8 bits. 8 bits make 1 byte and 1024 bytes make 1 kilobyte. So 1 character is 1 byte. A text, message is 160 characters of body. There must be 22 characters (+12345678910) for the number sending and the number receiving (probably in a header of some kind) so thats 182 characters, at least in Barbados. Call it 190 to be safe. 190 characters or 190 bytes is 20c bds (whether you use 25 or all 190). That's about $1 a kilobyte vs 1c per 1kb for data. Therefore an email that contains 200 characters (including the header) costs 1c since thats not one whole kilobyte but a text message which is of comparable size is 20c so text messaging is about 20 times as expensive as sending an email AND the charge is flat not per kb. wtf!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quickoffice for Android?

Jeez, every time I tap market its like Christmas. Today I go pop on, the market can be viewed online at, and there is a new app "QO Test". It had less than 50 downloads and no comments so I said I'd try it later.

I go back on later and see its been rated and has some comments when I glance up that there it is, the devs name is "Quickoffice". For some fairly odd reason they have up an app which doesn't do anything, perhaps they are testing the market functionality in general? I'm not screwing with my phone to find out but if this is legit QO could becoming soon Which is downright awesome, their free version is on my old E-series Nokia and its  works really well.

My fingers are firmly crossed, also read a blog today that said the Cupcake update could come as early as this Friday. I doubt it but I can cross my fingers a bit tighter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh I'm loving this

New app on the android market today "a-Blogger" now I can blog straight from my phone anywhere there is wifi. :-)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Skype Lite (Beta) on Android

Skype on Android? WOW call the dogs and we the fire this hunt is over! This is part of the reason I invested in the Android platform, particularly the G1.

Wait...what's that you say? Doesn't use VOIP directy? Doesn't use data (wifi or gprs/edge/3G) to make calls? Wait, WHAT???? When people skype-to-skype call me it uses MY skype credit?

That is essentially the coversation that went on in my head after downloading and subsequently being very underwhelmed by Skype lite.

How it works? There is a ton of explanations on the web but Skype's is fairly comprehensive and easy to understand (see the "how much does it cost" diagram). Hmm I can't resist the urge to summarize:

Calling is done like iSkoot or Pennytalk, a number is dialed (automatically unlike pennytalk) and then from that number your skype account is used to complete the call. The number is local to one of the regions skype lists, receiving skype-to-skype eats your skype cred and chatting is over data.

Don't get me wrong, if you live in one of the regions that is supported ( United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Brazil (Rio and Sao Paolo), Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand) and have alot of bundled minutes (or unlimited local calling) then it is a great service. It even lets you register numbers outside of those regions so skype buddies can use up your credit!

I don't get the feeling they plan on doing this right either otherwise they would've made some attempt in this beta to work out the kinks.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that Fring comes along and does a good job or maybe I'll regret going Android sell my G1 and get a E71 or N97 *shrug*.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mozilla Songbird

As there are Browser and OS wars so too are there Media Player wars. In the video arena is VLC Player, Windows Media Player and Quicktime that pretty much rule my roost. Qt and MP for their respective formats and VLC for every thing else but it isn't really necessary to manage video because I don't particularly need them organized. Music is a different kettle of fish, I want genre's and if I ever find the time tempo information in the tracks I want to sort by artists, year and album so I can find them easily once I get that done I want simple ways to get them onto something portable.

So its kinda obvious to me managing music media matters to me and Media Monkey is my app of choice the free version great and there is a paid version with alot of great features but most pretty unnecessary if you have some extra time. On linux there is no media monkey though and in comes Amarok which is better than Media Monkey's free version and still free.

These are all great apps but something new has caught my eye by the name of Songbird, its made by Mozilla the same people that brought us Firefox (and Thunderbird and Sunbird). It is still very rough around the edges and missing a lot of the polished features in MM and Amarok such as monitoring folders (well MM Gold), can't rip CDs, can't normalize tracks etc. but these are all in the roadmap.
The two things that make me think this is one for the future are:
  • Cross-Platform Operation
  • Browser Integration
Media Monkey is windows only and while there is an Amarok version for Windows it isn't officially supported at the time of writing this. Songbird however is build to bridge across Mac OS, Linux and Windows. I like changing my OS and being able to expect the same functionality (or there about) and a similar interface. I hate having to not get feature X on Windows and then go to Linux and not get feature Y, I'd just prefer to say ok I can live without X and not get it on either but get Y.

The other point is browser integration, no no it doesn't try assimilate your existing browser, it is a browser. Now at first this seemed kinda ludicrous but the truth is sometimes having to switch to a browser where your media controls disappear kinda breaks the experience. Its like tabbed browsing, sometimes I don't want person stuff in the same window as work stuff as it is a distraction so I keep two separate browsers one with tabs related to a topic.
With this all the music related stuff stays put and it has built in support to get you to an artists wiki or Myspace page. Toss in the fact that is essentially Firefox under there and you get the same plug-in extensibility and can add plugins that let you find concert tickets (I pray for the day this will be useful in the Caribbean).

Long and short Songbird has alot of promise and I'm excited about what it could do in the future.

FC Barcelona

Its Saturday and my irregular sleep pattern has me up late and feeling quite out of it. Checked the calendar and look at that, Barca vs Mallorca today at 3pm.

The season for Barca has been going really well and I am fully enjoying it for various reasons. The most important is the new coach, who's attitude seems to have permeated through the team "one game at a time". The attitude is one that finds it way onto the pitch, game after game there is entertainment from back to front and Goals goals and more goals I love it.

Hopefully this entertaining complete brand of football can find its way to the Champions League finals.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Future of Logins

So I often say "wow, how did people survive before *insert modern amenity*". Today I re-discovered openid and then facebook connect, two services which seek to give you one online presence but access to multiple sites. In theory this sounds fantastic but immediately a problem arises: I already have a login for most of the major sites I use. Then after checking the list of sites compatible with both services I let out a sigh and gave up on the idea. Essentially these services are useless, for all the google services I use I have one login and that works well gets me into blogger, gmail, docs etc. and connects the majority of these services to my G1. If the whole web worked like that would a place it would be; rather than signing up for a drop box account I simply add dropbox to my list of services and off I go. In 5yrs I hope I can look back and ask how I lived with having to remember 20 passwords! I came out of hibernation just to say this and Happy New Year.

Update: 28-Feb-2021
So about 12 years later, my despair was misplaced. Lots of sites support logging in with Google, Facebook etc. now and it's better than I hoped because many of those services support 2FA. The password management space is also a lot better and with options like Fido2 maybe I'll be back in another 10+ years to say I don't even use passwords anymore! For now though I have upwards of 200 passwords but I know it could be a little worse without being able to use OpenID.