Monday, April 30, 2007


tons of fun

It took me a while, but I finally got myself a new HTC TyTN smartphone.

It is an amazing piece of engineering - the sheer amount of functionality is amazing, and the cool sliding keyboard is a huge plus.

I love this tiny machine. It does just about everything, all wrapped into a not-too-large phone form factor.

Except it sucks.

I've been a loyal NOKIA user for many many years. Probably over 10 years by now. And since day 1, I've always appreciated the effort the NOKIA folks put into making their phones usable. The big things and the small things.

Like maintaining "shortcuts" across versions in a consistent manner.

Like the fact that the green and the buttons always do what I expect them to do - in every scenario, the green means the same - "Comeon, do that default thing that I probably want to do here and skip all the prompts", while the red one consistently bails me out of whatever prompt I am at.

And the keypad, while only a keypad and not a full size keyboard, works right. It automatically switches between numeric and alphanumeric modes exactly when I expect it to.

Using a NOKIA phone as an alarm clock "just works". I can set the alarm with my eyes closed, with a few keystrokes. And it will go off, even if the phone is in "silent" mode - in fact, even if the phone is turned off. It's been like that since my first NOKIA phone, and it stayed that way through the various operating system upgrades and form factor changes. Because it makes sense.

Now contrast that with the HTC TyTN.

The TyTN also has a key that lets you exit the current screen without making any changes. On the PC, this key is called "Escape". In Windows, you also have the "Cancel" button in most dialogs. On NOKIA, it conveniently maps to the Red key.

On the TyTN, the button that cancels the current screen is called "Ok". Which the exact name of the standard Windows button that performs the exact opposite function.

Plus, in many screens on the TyTN you get a visual "OK" button at the top right of the screen. Whose function is identical to the Windows OK button, but the reverse of the hardware OK button.

So when you'd like to tell someone using the TyTN to close a screen without making any changes, you should tell them "Use the OK button. NOT the one on the screen! The other OK!".


The TyTN also has an actual "confirm and do the default" button, which works sometimes, and has no name. It's that key in the middle of the navigation pad, or a click on the scrollwheel.


The scrollwheel is of course conveniently placed opposite from where it is on the Blackberry. And its placement is designed thoughtfully, so that its nearly impossible to push it down it without accidentally also pushing the machine "Power" button.

Which, quite naturally, doesn't really turn it off. It just turns off the screen.

I could go on and on about how hard it is to actually place a call using the impossible-to-navigate contacts list, the mostly-useless yet dominating hardware video call button, the impossible-to-find camera shutter button, and much more. But you get my drift :)

Of course, many of the issues stem from the underlying Windows Mobile 5 operating system. Windows Mobile 6 promises to fix some of these issues.

Naturally, being the technophile that I am, I will upgrade to Windows Mobile 6. But then, I've been using Windows Mobile since the CE 1.0 days, and I've hated each and every version, so I'm not really holding my breath.

P.S. If you insist on using a Windows Mobile device, do yourself a favor and get the Spb Phone Suite, it makes the pain almost bearable.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

To Photo Splice or not to Photo Splice

These are some seriously red times.

There is a button on the page! and when there is a button, well, you know, some people just have to press it. Just to see what it does :)

So, I clicked Photo Splicer on FeedBurner, just to see what it does. And then I left it on.

You see, FeedBurner (FeedBurner rocks!) Photo Splicer pushes the stuff I post on Flickr into this blog RSS feed. I guess you could call it "an identity merger" - Deb would love this.

But Idan doesn't. In fact, he took the time to complain about it. So I turned it off.

So long Photo Splicer. Welcome back split identity.

Speaking of split identities, shush... don't tell anyone yet. Still too busy to complete the move. Maybe in a few days.


Technorati tags: , ,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Meet Gillette, your new government agency


Got to love the TSA (<-- link love!).

I am on my way to Web2Expo. In the spirit of the Butterfly Effect, a car crashing into an aircraft in Paris delayed all flights from Israel to NY. That's a good start.

Spent hours on the phone, got on standby, bla bla, made it to an alternate flight (no, it wasn't easy), missed the connection to SF by 15 minutes, bla bla, new connection delayed by 1.5 hours (and still counting). But the real highlight so far was the TSA supervisor.

Following the New and Advanced "3-1-1" branded TSA rules about clear, 3 oz bottles, I did exactly that - got several clear 3oz bottles, and put the stuff that I need to take with me when I travel in them. And this was fine with the TSA during the last 3 or 4 trips.

But today, they realized that actually, since these bottles do not have a commercial company label attached to them, they don't know what its inside and therefore cannot allow them.

You have to ponder. Now, if I wanted to do evil, how hard would it be for me to take a commercial bottle with a nice label, empty it and fill it with a malicious substance?

And is Gillette now a government agency, in charge of approving liquid substances on board?

And by how much exactly did the cosmetics companies profits increase as a result of these amazingly smart decisions by the TSA?

Technorati tags: , ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

FoxyTunes Planet is awesome!

FoxyTunes opened up FoxyTunes Planet, which has been in a private beta for a while.

Check it out, it's pretty amazing.

When I first heard about it, I thought it'd be a complementary service to their popular browser add-on. Turned out it's actually a full featured, rich, personalized all-in-one standalone music portal.

I love the implementation. Again, when I saw the earlier versions I thought it's too much. But looking at the final result, it's slick, clean, well thought of. Kudos to Alex Sirota and the team!


Technorati tags: , ,

From Manhattan to London, The Google Way

Would you like to get from Manhattan to London? Check out the route suggested by Google Maps:

In case the drawing isn't clear, check out step 14 in the instructions:

That's right. Have a good swim!

(Courtesy of Gilad Judes)

Technorati tags:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Mega-Crawler for the rest of us

web crawlerDo you get this urge sometimes, to query the entire web for something?

Do you wish you had your own Mega-Crawler?

I mean, it's not like you can go to Google and type in some box

WHERE DOMAIN(PAGE-URL) IS IN  "domain1, domain2, domain3"

Lunch took a long time today, so Eran and myself had some time to brainstorm a bit about a crawler-for-the-rest-of-us:

  • Crawler code would be hosted on Amazon's EC2
  • The data would be stored on Amazon's S3
  • Anyone can add "post-crawl-processors" which will post-process crawled pages (build a full text index, extract microformats, calculate rank...). The persistent data generated by the post-processors will also be hosted on S3.
  • Anyone can submit URLs to be crawled. The system will automatically fork from these URLs to any other discovered URL. Eventually, the entire web will be crawled.
  • API for querying the crawl data, or the data generated by the post-crawl-processors.

Who will pay for this? Companies and organizations who wish to use this data:

  • The basic crawling code will be divided among the "subscribers". Initially, small database, low costs. Later, larger database, more subscribers, costs (hopefully) remain low.
  • The cost of a post-processor (CPU, storage) is divided by the number of subscribers the post-processor has. The more useful it is, the more subscribers will use it, and the less each will pay. If it's a proprietary post-processor, no need to share it, but it will naturally cost more (being used by only 1 subscriber).
  • Retrieving query result will cost by bandwidth.

The general idea is pay-as-you-use, with prices going down as more subscribers use the service. No one makes money (well, except for Amazon of course), everyone sharing costs, IP (post-processors) can be shared or protected. The more you consume, the more you pay. The more you share, the less you pay.

This is very rough of course. But what do you think? Is it feasable? Is it interesting?