Saturday, June 30, 2012

Apple wakens the sleeping Android giant - Google

After years of Apple taking legal potshots at various Android device manufacturers for specific devices, they have finally landed a legal success against the mothership Google.  Google is now prevented from selling their very own Android phone (Galaxy Nexus) for the specific reason of having a unified search experience!  No less than a couple of days from their annual marketing blitz surrounding the device and the ecosystem.   Undoubtedly this is going to finally trigger a return fire.

What can Google return fire with?  Plenty.  For instance they acquired Motorolla Mobility which holds a bunch of very important mobile device patents that Apple has initially been found to be violating.   Google will be forced to become a legal expert now and Im sure this and many future filings from them will sting Apple at its core revenue stream this summer / fall. 

If Google cannot sell their Android appliances, it will hurt their ego but not dent their revenue.  If Apple cannot sell their iOS devices, they lose almost everything.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface PC announced... A third time?

Yesterday Microsoft announced its new Tablet Surface PC!   Looks pretty nice  and has some interesting input / navigation opportunities.  Havent we seen this before?

So I have some trivia for you.   What do the following years have in common; 1992, 2002, 2012?   10years?  Not the answer I was looking for....   It is the years in which Microsoft tried pitching the Tablet PC!

Will the third round be successful this time?  It seems this concept is as tired as the look on Blamer's face introducing it.   If Microsoft pitches the productivity market again it will likely suffer the fate of its two predecessors.  I still firmly believe tablets are only ideal for consumption and Apple currently owns that domain, so this will be a tough market for them yet again.



Change any setting for Mouse / Touchpad / Pointstick / Keyboard in Ubuntu

For the last couple of years I have been using an IBM Ultranav Keyboard, Logitech Mouse with a laptop that itself has a touchpad / pointstick.  This poses quite a bit of a headache as Ubuntu's gnome settings doesnt quite handle settings for multiple input devices (2 keyboards, 2 pointsticks, 2 touchpads, 1 mouse)

Here is how to configure any input device in X windows from command line:
  • Get a list of input devices and their ID's:
    • $ xinput list
  • See all of the properties available to a particular device ID
    • $ xinput list-props 14
  • Set property of device by ID (disable input device entirely)
    • $ xinput set-prop 14 'Device Enabled' 0
And that is all!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

First Foray into Balloon Photography

With the help of my daughter, we managed to build and fly our first photography balloon! 

I got the idea from reading an blog post months ago about people using balloons to get aerial pictures to enhance maps.  My daughter and I put our heads together and came up with a simple prototype with the materials we had on hand.  I have since found this site that gives a really good overview of a design:

From the prototype we flew today we discovered the following issues and thus our next design changes:

  • Wind drag - Reduce to just one large balloon as the two were catching turbulence from each other as well as from the wind.   The balloon didnt make it all that high due to it being constantly pushed away from us.
  • Stability issues - Follow the design from the Public Laboratory link to add stability arms and a better center of gravity.
  • String Management - Using a simple spool made it difficult to deploy / retrieve.  Definition going to get a hold of a cable reel.
  • Height - Definitely need more than 200 ft of string to get a better angle on the ground

Friday, June 8, 2012

Is this the beginning of the end for the iPhone Fad?

When it comes to usability, generally everyone would agree Apple has always been the king ranging all the way back to the early 80's.  The iPod turned cellphone -- iPhone seemed to de-throne the Palm Treo as the new king of the smartphone world shortly after its introduction.

But does usability carry a product long-term for Apple?  The AppleII series, Lisa, Macintosh,  Newton, PowerBook, Quadra, QuickTime, AppleDesktopBus, all products that made a lot of noise when released, some were quite successful, most now hold a minority marketshare if any.

Now I read that Samsung has now shipped more smartphones than Apple this past quarter, evidence of a profound change in mobile computing again.  Human beings now choose Samsung over Apple smartphones.  Do people really prefer functionality over form long-term?

Using Apple's product history as a guide, once they lose top marketshare has any Apple products recovered dominance?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Capturing Firewire 1394 camcorder MiniDV in Ubuntu 12.04

How to transfer MiniDV Camcorder footage digitally via Firewire 1394 to your Ubuntu 12.04 computer:

I have a bunch of old (>10 year) MiniDV tapes laying around that I wanted to transfer to my Smugmug account online.  Mainly because I am concerned about losing the content due to decaying magnetic tape and partly because I am organizing the last bit of imagery I have onto the cloud for easy access across all of my devices.

Once upon a time circa Ubuntu 8.04 I was able to plug in the firewire cable into the back of my PC and into my Panasonic MiniDV Camcorder, load Kino, and everything worked.   This time, it wasnt so obvious.

The problem:
  • Kino reports "WARNING: raw1394 kernel module not loaded or failure to read/write /dev/raw1394!"
  • The newest Firewire driver does not create the raw1394 device node
  • Permissions are not setup to allow for general user access on the /dev/fw0 node
  • Bug Report here:
The fix:
  • Create a link to the newer /dev/fw0 node
    • $ sudo ln /dev/fw0 /dev/raw1394
  • Run Kino as superuser
    • $ gksu kino
Hope this helps someone else out there as it took me a good 3-4 hours of searching the net and trying different drivers to come up with this simple solution.