Idle Musings By The Beach

If you came here looking for more on the eBay/Skype thing, Cringely has the last word on it, and a set of reasonable assumptions as to why eBay did it.

Okay, I'm not exactly at the beach - it's too hot to be in the sun right now, so I'm inside cooling off and checking the news...

A word of caution: if you want to provide Internet access to your guests, avoid Telepac ADSL. The hotel's connection has been out since early Monday morning, and despite the friendliness and concern of the folk at the reception desk, they are clearly helpless where it regards service availability - i.e., the service is down, and nobody seems to be able to provide them with an indication of when it will be fixed.

The reason I mention this is that one of the reasons I picked this particular hotel is that it provides Internet access, and that would enable me to relax, grab my news and whatnot off the grid - sure, I have UMTS connectivity, but being on vacation I wanted to leave my phone off most of the time.

Now I find myself using it as a nearly-always-on Bluetooth access point, and although there haven't been many calls (and most of the SMS messages were of the chatty kind), I would love to avoid having it on (for the curious among you, I'm using a V600i and it works wonderfully).

Ear Wax

In the meantime, I have succumbed to the lure of podcasts, but for the sole purpose of keeping my brain occupied when the sun makes it impossible for normal reading. The only things on my (vintage 20GB) iPod at the moment are IT Conversations, and my preferences go towards presentations and lectures (straightforward interviews are a bit daft, and have that "talk show" feeling that I loathe in regular podcasts, whereas lectures tend to be a lot more instructive by their very structure).

In that spirit, I would heartily recommend that any Open Source zealots out there listen to r0ml's presentation (which is pretty ancient, having been done at OSCON 2003) on why telco billing systems are "cool". It will at least give you some hint as to why Linux will never conquer the enterprise, at least not in telcos.

Not to mention that it will probably give you a hint of precisely why I am very skeptical of Open Source for real engineering tasks...

Next Up, The iPod Tera

The nano is probably still very far away from Portugal, but my vintage 20GB is looking old, and even though it's reassuringly robust, I should probably get it replaced on Xmas (hint, hint) - assuming, of course, that there are any in stores by then.

In the meantime, and while fresh rumors abound of the iTunes Music Store going video, allow me to start a fresh new rumor -

Apple will soon launch the iPod Tera, that will allow you to store and playback every single piece of multimedia you and your immediate descendants are likely to purchase in an intuitive and exciting fashion. Priced at US$1999, the iPod Tera will include a widescreen 12" display for DVD-quality video playback and still be thinner than the nano. Available only in black at the Lisbon Apple store.

It will, of course, include EU-sanctioned DRM.

Aqua Eye For The Microsoft Guy

Having had the time to read through BusinessWeek's pieces on Microsoft defections, I should probably say that it's not really news - the defections are a cyclic phenomena every time a new startup comes into town, older than (and well characterized in) Microserfs.

I would be much more worried about the shift to web applications, for instance, and Google's ability to garner vast amounts of market share with simpler (but much better executed) solutions. Who uses anyway? Have you noticed how long it takes to even load?

Their tendency to "borrow" Apple UI design is probably even older, but that doesn't stop Office 12 from looking incredibly ugly. Which reminds me, where is Office 2005 for the Mac? Do we get universal binaries for it already?

Addictive Gems

After all the hoopla about Mint (and the realization that the best bits on it were the interface), someone in the Ruby community decided to, well... get some weed and run Rails atop it.

It's not as pretty as Mint, but it's every bit as Ajaxy and I think that better looks will be only a matter of time.

Portable, But Useless

I've been considering grabbing a PSP to idle away the time when I'm not out on the beach reading, going about looking for interesting things to photograph or sleeping, and every time I pick one up I end up cursing Sony for being so dim-witted as to not having included decent on-board storage and Bluetooth - which means I invariably put it back on the shelf.

Yes, I know it's a kids' device, but it seems like such a waste to have all that CPU power and display real estate prevented from surfing the web (via UMTS, of course - you think Wi-Fi grows on trees?) and acting as a decent media player.

I have half a mind to get one and see if it will work with Darwin Streaming Server or VideoLAN, for old times' sake (I used to experiment with streaming media atop ISDN back when we designed ISDN cards, hence my interest in codecs and other intricacies of digital media...).

More after the next pool break.