There's this great Pixies song going through my head right now with the refrain: "Where is my mind?". Clearly my blog has lacked focus for a while. I have a tendency to rant sometimes about the world. But that's not very interesting to most others and often gets me in a lot of trouble.. this is partly why I took a long hiatus when the war broke out because I knew if I was tempted enough I would spew about it and get myself into more controversy. And then there have been so many other things happening in my life that the whole Internet seems totally irrelevant to me now. I've been happily ignoring blogs and wondering if this whole experience was just a passing phase. I haven't looked but is this sort of a wider phenomenon? When I look for some of the blogs I used to read a lot of them are dead.
Its summer. I'm working hard. I have lots of exciting plans for GWS and we're working on the next version in earnest. It has been incredible being a part of this project and watching it make its way in the world. Building v1.0 of GWS was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my professional career. Thanks again everyone for the encouragement and support. Its only going to get better from here!
And this blog? Don't expect too much. Time to keep my mouth shut for a while (kind of funny if you look at my current blog motto). I'm considering resurrecting it in some other form someday, hoping to separate out the technology and work pieces from the personal and political stuff. Not a whole lot of extra time to devote to it these days.
Friday, July 18, 2003
Fight the power..
I'm now living with no land line phone. My cell phone is all. I have AT&T and an older Nokia phone. A few months ago my service quality got suddenly worse. I can rarely place a call, and I can rarely get a strong signal. So I thought about upgrading to a new phone. AT&T has some nice new phones and a support engineer told me that phones with an external antena are much better. But then I find that buying a new phone will cost me over $200 more than signing up as a new customer. And I can't cancel my current phone for another 6 months or $175.
Spoke with AT&T about this at great length yesterday. They offered to drop me to a less expensive plan and riding that out would cost me $120. So I could do that, and then get a second phone at $49, total cost is now $169 instead of $249. What baffles me is that this company is willing to play that scenario out and lose me as a customer forever (I would buy the new phone from someone else). The only incentive they are giving me for staying with them is that I wouldn't have to change my phone number, which I don't really care about anyway. The customer agreement clearly states that there is an early termination fee. And it clearly states that they don't guarantee service. So it would appear that I'm stuck.
When I dug deeper I learned (from AT&T) that they are in the process of upgrading to GSM and are replacing TDMA towers which would adversly effect my service quality on my older phone. And somehow this is my fault and I have to pay for it. They were very good at covering their ass and not letting me get out of this termination fee. It sounded like a lot of people have been unhappy with this because they certainly had their scripts ready. But it does seem unjust. Here is sort of how it looks from my perspective:
1. I sign up for service and find that there is an early termination fee. But I can cancel within 30 days.
2. I get my phone and use it everywhere and its great and I'm happy. Years go by.
3. Suddenly the quality drops significantly and the phone becomes essentially unusable for me.
4. AT&T admits that this is because they are taking down TDMA towers in my area and now my coverage isn't as good.
5. AT&T claims, "hey, we don't guarantee service and you're outside the 30 day period so tough luck".
Is it me, or does this seem gross? They are willing to take $120 and then lose me as a customer forever, rather than make me happy and keep me as a customer for oh, say, hopefully around 40-50 more years. I just don't get it. A quick search on the web revealed that all of these wireless providers have more or less the exact same policy, however many people have succesffuly fought and won a waiver of the early cancellation fee. Unfortunately I don't have the time and energy to do this and $120 hardly seems worth a big fight. They still suck though.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Ray has certainly been inspired lately. He also has occassion to lust after new computer toys. Here is a long and thoughtful piece called "Extreme Mobility". After breaking down various architectures, Ray shows how Groove covers three of them, including the "Smart Client, Web Services" category. It certainly makes me excited to consider using GWS to build smart client applications on devices like PocketPC, or even a Brew phone or something.
And following my quest yesterday into a small enough laptop, it was good to read about where that scenario fits in a world of wireless devices and distributed software. I think I'm realizing that I'm a laptop guy and not a PDA guy. I need to be able to type quickly and I just can't get data into a PDA fast enough.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
I've been looking for a replacement for my Thinkpad T20. First of all, I love my T20. I have done so much work with this machine. But its getting old, has some quirks, and the current plan is to bike to work as much as possible. To that end I've been searching around for the ultimate teeny tiny laptop. So far I have not found the ultimate machine - though some are tempting!
1. Sharp Actius. 2.1 lbs. This is a Curusoe 1GHz chip running Windows XP Home edition. The form factor is awesome. Took me a while to get used to typing on the keyboard but after trying for a few minutes I got pretty fast. It can do 1024x768 resolution on a 10.4" screen. Around $1,400
2. Sony Vaio TR Series. Cool looking form factor. A bit heavier than the Actius at 3.11 lbs. Sony is already sold out so this must be a hot item. Can't even find a price but I think they are over $2000. Runs a Centrino 900 MHz chip. Also comes with built-in camera.
3. Fujitsu Lifebook P5000. Successor to the 2000 (3.4 lbs) model. A beefier CPU (900 MHz Centrino), can run XP Pro. Has a 60GB disk, 512MB ram and its $2000 (configured as I would want). "Under 4 lbs.".
5. And then there is the Thinkpad X Series. A stoked 1.4 GHz with 512 MB Ram at 3.6 lbs. $1904.00. The new T40 is around 4.5 lbs.
6. Dell as the X200, which is 2.9 lbs and run a PIII 933 MHz chip, and with 512MB would be around $1900.
So nothing is ideal. I love the super small Actius. Its the lightest that I've seen, and its not the most expensive. But it would have to be resigned to email, text editing, and Groove. Remote Desktop for software development would be reasonable too. For around $2000 there are a lot of choices in the mid 3 lbs range, some of which look like they are powerful enough to do real software development work. But that's $600 and they still aren't that fast. Over 4 lbs isn't going to cut it in a backpack on my bike.
Small, cheap, fast. Pick two.
Right now I'm leaning toward the lightest possible system, being the Actius, but I want to know if I really shouldn't run XP Pro on it..
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Dennis J. Kucinich: There is nothing patriotic about the loss of our civil liberties.
This is pretty much why I had to get out of the computer game industry.
The ESRB defines "intense violence" as bloody, gory and realistic-looking depictions of human injury or death, while "sexual violence" covers the depiction of rape.
That's a good one: " Warning - this product contains rape. "
Friday, June 27, 2003
I just got some spam from Earthlink telling me about a new spam filtering tool. Ok, fine, I have Earthlink, so I probably have to find the check box to opt out of these things. I thought they had something called "spaminator" or some such, which I have enabled on my account. Its great because I hardly get any email anymore. I'm sure its eating lots of mail, like all the stuff I'm trying to buy and sell on eBay for example. So about 2 minutes after getting this announcement for "spamblocker" I was suddenly inundated with spam! I haven't seen one piece of junk email in months and now my inbox is being pumelled. Coincidence? My paranoid and delusional mind doesn't think so.