Lessons Learned


Everyone is raving about the new Palms, most notably the Palm/Zire/72. I won't bore you with a bunch of links to reviews (Engadget is gathering those, if you must read them all), but to me it shows that Palm has learned a few important lessons over the past few years:

  • Colour matters, both in terms of screen and packaging. It's not blue by accident - colored gadgets are trendy again - and I don't expect it to be just blue in the future.
  • Connectivity is more important - but ease of use of said connectivity is paramount. Witness the inclusion of Bluetooth on a consumer model, and dropping the proprietary connector in favour of USB (since most active people prefer laptops to desktops, the usual PDA "docks" are progressively being shunned). I, for one, am glad they didn't include Wi-Fi - it's pretty much useless on any PDA with such a small screen.
  • Mobility is the future, indeed. And the inclusion of SMS and MMS clients (besides the usual mail/web fare) denotes Palm's concern of closely tying its handhelds to mobile services.
  • Internal RAM doesn't matter (it's mostly workspace) - but SD storage does. I can't fault this reasoning considering the way Palm OS uses RAM, but I expect them to get some flak from bigger-numbers-are-better analysts.
  • Palm Desktop has effectively lost out to Outlook (to the chagrin of Mac users). Despite the updates, the fact that all PIM applications have been adjusted to be more Outlook-friendly shows that Palm's customers just want to sync with Outlook and little else. Palm also made the smart move of including Documents to Go for reading Office documents off the SD card.
  • And, last but not least, the fun factor. The new (albeit still rather poor) camera, MP3 player and MMS functionality are nice reasons to get one if you're in the market for a new PDA.

Still, it's not a Tungsten (the Tungsten's distinction factor from here on will most likely be a bigger screen and new OS features). But people who need a relatively cheap, general-purpose PDA to carry around for both business and leisure will be hard pressed to find better right now.

New iTunes 4.5 - it also breaks daapd

OK. So Apple has broken daapd by doing some changes to DAAP in iTunes 4.5, and my HOWTO was just updated to cover the new version released today. Damn. Just when I had finished ripping and filing my jazz collection, I have to recompile stuff to listen to it.

No rest for the geeked, I guess.

Hmmm. So we got WMA-to-AAC conversion support, huh? Maybe it's an offshoot from the HP iPod deal. The rest (music videos, store features, publishing playlists, etc.) is mere icing, but the cake's composition is subtly different. The new lossless encoder looks very promising for audio nerds, and there are slight DRM changes (playlists can now be burned 7 times, and 5 machines can play purchased music - in line with Apple's 5-seat licensing). These are hints to some fine-tuning of Apple's strategy to please record labels.

Which is a natural reaction, considering that there are only 21 tunes sold for every iPod (I love the "what do you think?" hint on that site).

Still, the best thing I've read in a while on DRM and copyright-related issues is Jack Valenti's Interview to the MIT Student Paper. Simply hilarious, in that tongue-in-cheek way I used to employ to harass my own teachers in college, more than a decade ago...