Economics of computing devices

I have been observing that as smartphones are becoming smarter, they are also becoming more expensive, there have been a segment that have also entered the market once fill by feature, or dumb phones, but they are almost designed to entice you upgrade to the more expensive and glamorious models.

At the same time, laptops, particularly ChromeBooks are now dropping below the price of the average smart phone. Add in the increasing use of pads, especially Android pads and you have to imagine that MicroSoft should be getting very worried.

Desktop computers, PC’s, are almost non-exsistent these days, traditional laptops are in decline and the base for an exclusive Microsoft Windows empire is crumbling before our eyes.

Aren’t we glad that Bill Gates is still the richest (published) man in the world.

And to put another nail in the bed Microsoft sleeps in, no one wants Windows 8.0 or 8.1! Why not just rename Windows 7 to Windows 9 and go on from there? Windows 8 market share stalls, XP at record low

The Nokia N900 To HTC Desire X

HTC_Desire_X

Well The end of my Nokia N900 did not come with a bang, but a bonus, a Christmas bonus gift card from my current employer. And and even though the N900 was still pulling it’s weight, it wasn’t current technology. The choosen replacement is not a top-of-the-line, it was priced to matched the value of the gift card and the mininum hardware specs I applied to make it useful. Hence the HTC Desire X, a relative new dual core Snapdragon S4 with version 4.0.4 Android.

HTC_Desire_X

And it is in White, Another irony as my laptop went from Apple MacBook white to Clevo Black, now my phone from Black to White.

So far I’m happy with the choice, but I’ve only had it a few days, and while I think it’s already a better phone than the N900, it will never replace the the N900 as a computer.

Oh, and one other thing, it doesn’t look like an iPhone.

UPDATE: I just got the Android 4.1.1 upgrade, Thanks HTC

The end is near, for my Nokia N900

Screenshot-1

No, the USB connector is not loose, in fact everything is working fine. Well maybe the battery runs down and the tiny magnet on the prop went missing (fixed), It was the dissapearance of the Nokia catalog from the apt repository that has signaled the closing of the timeline of this product. Not of my choosing as the selections of Android, IOS, and others is just getting interesting. Some new and amazing mobile phone are on the verge of release there is almost no time to read about one then another announces something better.

In any case the Nokia N900, is very long in the tooth, being 3 years old this month. Still, I can sill do things with it that are not duplicated on any other phone, when was the last time you were controlling your (IR) Television, of opening an X-Term? Those days are long gone, and maybe not to be missed either, except by some of us geeks.

Now to choose…..

Kindle as the fire of Fahrenheit 451

In the science fiction book Fahrenheit 451 I often wondered what the catalyst was. In the current age, that has become apparent, control, with government leaders demanding ‘controls’ over the Internet, and most other communications media the books presented in the Novel are information. However, there is another aspect of books which in this age of electronic books (eBook) presents itself as a missing element in control.

While experimenting with the Kindle on Android I found that the Android Pad I was using, while reading a Kindle book was in constant communication with Amazon Books. Almost every page turn was being recorded and sent to Amazon, even the location of where I was reading them was a requirement during the reading of the eBook.

I discovered that if you turn off location features in your pad, or Android Phone, the kindle software will prevent you from reading a downloaded book. If you can not communicate with Amazon via WiFI or other wireless channel, you can’t open your books, even if they were previously downloaded.

Sometime back Amazon became embroiled in a controversy over publishing rights to a book, and directly removed it from peoples ebook readers, without the consent of the user.

Amazon/Kindle does not allow the loaning of books to others, even if they have been paid for. The owner just doesn’t have that right anymore.

All of these elements add up to the same thing, printed books are ‘out of control’ they can be read by anyone, loaned to anyone, and their content is not subject to change once printed. These are things that Amazon eBooks can do. Change content, disappear, track readers, prevent distribution and dissemination of content.

Not to get too scary, but fundamentally the loss of printed books marks a point where knowledge has peaked, and the end of freedom of thought. No longer will information be available freely. The internet will be throttled, bottled, canned and banned to suit the requirements of the controlling society. Books will be available, eBooks, with controlled revisable content, restricted to cleared and sanctioned readers from known locations. And every word will be monitored as it is read.

The CnM Touchpad II – as a practical Pad

In my previous posting, I mentioned all the things this pad can’t or rather doesn’t do. To make this all balanced, I will put what it can do, into perspective.

For Instance, at a cost approximately the same as a Amazon Kindle You still get The Kindle eBook market.
… but then you get;

You can even play Games on it, who would have thought. And it has not added a single pence to my credit card. But I still don’t have the the ‘Google Market’ even though the calendar, contacts and Gmail still sync up with Google.

Geeks and their toys

A couple of weeks ago a friend from work was clearing out their place, I assume that his wife was involved, but in any case my collection of computers grew a bit when he offered to gift them to me. So now I own a Sun SPARCstation 5 and a Sun SparcStation IPX along with other bits and bobs. My wife was thrilled, as you can well imagine. Now as a rule I only take systems that work, and they do, however the passwords have been lost in the annals of time.

So I was left with a marginal SparcStation 5 with a missing CD drive, which booted to Solaris 2.7, but no further. But I’m a geek, and undaunted by this minor setback, I set out looking for a workaround. The googling net is full of solutions for password recovery … if you have a bootable cd (yes CD not DVD), Ok, next does eBay still have Solaris stuff that old … not cheaply, so what next.

While googling, OpenBSD presented itself, and I downloaded and burned some generic ISO’s of version 4.8. and then to solve the other hardware issue, the Sun IPX was delivered with a cartridge loading CD, but the IPX drive was housed in an external SCSI 1 case, and the SS5 was wired with a SCSI II system externally. so I dismantled the CD drive and searched for a CD cartridge carrier which as any self-respecting Geek, I had stashed away for a rainy day. Then armed with the hardware I jumpered the SCSI CD drive into the SS5 chassis, and bingo a complete and bootable SS5.

Now attempting to boot the OpenBSD was no problem, which surprised me to no end. But then I attempted a password recovery on the Solaris disk and no joy. but I did manage to mount it, and more or less destroy it (latter I found a way to fix it) and determined to go ahead and install the full OpenBSD system. Which more or less worked, there were issues with the X-Fonts archive but I found the tarball contained another version, which worked. It now booted on the internal disk, but I had to add and modify the XF86Config file to find the display, mouse and keyboard. My result does not match the examples of this file you might find on the net. So if you are interested, contact me, the Sun GB keyboard was hell to make work. but TADA:


And I even now have a browser in the form of Links

However, while it can compile most anything, there isn’t much left on the 1GB disk to compile TO. So unless I find some pre-compiled SMALL binaries, or a very cheap internal SCSI Disk to upgrade with, I’m stuck.

There may be more coming for this toy but just to make a comparison with modern hardware;

SparcStation 5 Nokia N900 smartphone
Screen 1024 x 768 (9 screens) 800 x 480 (4 screens)
Memory 64 MBytes 256 MBytes
CPU Freq 110 Mhz 600 Mhz
Storage 1 GByte 32 Gbyte
Price (new) 8,000.00$ to 10,000.00$ ~500.00$

UPDATE: I found amongst the archives another external 1.2GB SCSI disk, which fits nicely in the same connector that the CD-Drive was in, so now the SS5 is without the CD-Drive but has a massive 2.2GB of disks, Impressive :-)

Internet freedom of speech and Irish Neutrality.

While reading this article 5 Reasons Why Online Freedom of Speech Does Not Exist I was encouraged that a person of Arabic decent wrote it. And is spot on about the real lack of freedom on the internet.

And a thought came to mind that what Irelands ‘Smart Economy’ ought to be, is to create a genuine open internet connection to the world. An Internet free of ALL censorship, blocking, filtering and snooping both into and out to the rest of the internet. Even so much as establishing free VPN connections into the country for people living in internet ‘oppressed’ world areas thus giving an open gateway into a free, and (as) open as anyone could make, Internet. It would not prevent countries from blocking export of banned information into Ireland, but Ireland would not add any blockages. And it would not prevent information from Ireland into censored countries. but it would create a cloud of truly free internet.

I think this could foster an internet ‘Switzerland’ much like Switzerland is to banking. Businesses like Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Skype would find this an attractive country to expand and centralize in. It would make Ireland an Internet sanctuary for complete and open exchange of ideas and communications.

Google begins to crumble

With all the press at MWC and for that matter, everyplace else, Google is King of the internet. But it’s crumbling. Right in front of everyone, their entire infrastructure is beginning to fail. Not in the obvious way like a server outage or service unavailability. It’s the control structure.

I’ve never been a big user of Google, I only really got a Google Mail account when I started searching for a smartphone, which may have been an Android model. I had heard that this gmail account was needed to be set up in advance to load contacts and what not. But then the office IT manager thought Google Wave was a great way to keep all our remote activities documented, in other words, a tool to herd cats. Then he discovered Google Docs and gee isn’t that a great way to share document creation. Now there’s Google Buzz …. and then … and then. Google just can’t stop, and beyond that, they can’t integrate either. All these systems seem disjointed to the point I can’t even sign on and get to them, they must each be logged on to, no single sign-on. THE single most important step in services, and they can’t seem to make it work. It’s quite apparent that there is no single share point in the login process where all the services can be accessed, in a way, Google is competing against itself. And to quote verse:

‘A house divided, cannot stand’

Google is crumbling.

They have grown so fast and so broad, they have not built out the infrastructure required to support the entire breadth of their development groups. Which from empirical evidence, seems to need some method of communication, not currently visible to the outside world. To quote again;

The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing

Google is stumbling

Watching fall will not be pretty.

Internet Privacy myths

One of the enduring myths of the internet is the one involving privacy. This article on CNN titled U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google takes umbrage at the notion that everyones email is secret and private. And while this myth might comfort many, the truth is that email was NEVER private. Every email host, every email relay was able, and in fact, completely open to reading, scanning and snooping, by man-in-the-middle processes and furthermore always has been since the beginning of the internet. And even if everyone was using https or ssh with their email clients while connected to their mail server, it did not encrypt the contents of the email. It may have minimized the likelihood of it being read in the data stream, but unless you were in the habit of encrypting your email with PGP or some other cypher your email and hence your ‘Privacy’ is negligible, hence, the privacy myth.

And while on the CNN article the discussions brought up the same old saw that governments HAD to have backdoors to snoop on email communications to prevent crime and terrorism without the concern that at no time has it proved itself in practice. Anyone wishing to sent communication, and have it stay private can do so, even in the face of a dedicated snoop. Anyone who had even browsed an encryption textbook can create a completely uncrackable code, and I mean uncrackable by anyone, by any means and present their messages in plain text in emails. Hacking them by any government is merely security theater and fundamentally has NO value.

If you seek ‘privacy’ stop sending anything through the internet unless it is encrypted by at least PGP (if not something more substantial). The only thing Google has lost in this privacy issue is the trust of their users to protect their email ‘publications’ on the internet. Now everyone will know that they have another recipient to all their emails, in other words, all the other governments, hackers, scammers and spammers in the internet.

Baidu Spider is MIA

Is it me, or my sites, that the www.baidu.com spider is no longer scanning? I have normally been scanned several times a day by that Chinese Search engine, but they all stopped yesterday? Perhaps a crackdown? Who knows, but there is a missing element now in the internet.