Saturday, March 21, 2009

My latest addiction - twitter

Back in.... I'd say.. 2003/2004, blogging started to take off. There was much hype around blogging since almost everyone started doing it. It allowed even the small guys to express their thoughts and feelings in a professional manner.

Someone like me, who was very much in love with technology, and only wanted to code for the rest of their life, could finally apply things learnt from all those English classes in elementary in high school. I realized how important it was have the ability to write. You could write tutorials to teach, you could write journals to discuss things in your daily life, you could write rants about things you'd like improved....... the list goes on. A blog represented a person's ability to communicate effectively (and still does).

For me, whenever I write a blog post, I feel the need to cover everything about a certain topic in as much detail as possible. This meant I had to find the time to sit down in front of a desktop/laptop machine, write, add pictures, videos and links, when needed. I have many unpublished blog posts saved in blogspot on interesting topics, but I felt that they weren't cooked well enough for me to publish. It felt like a chore - a chore that I very much enjoyed, but didn't get the opportunity to execute on, as much as I would have liked to. I was not always on a desktop/laptop machine, and I rarely had the time to blog when I was still busy studying in university.

But now, there's a new "blogging" service. It's called twitter. twitter (spelt with a small 't') is for "micro-blogging", and it's a really neat idea - you can still speak your mind, but it's encouraged to do so in small doses, more often. With the every increasing presence of mobile devices and platforms, we'll be spending a lot more time on these mobile devices, and a lot less time on desktops/laptops. You now have the ability to speak your mind with a lot more convenience.

Unlike facebook, twitter is social networking that doesn't require an account for the audience. I was never a big fan of facebook because I've witnessed many social networking website before facebook rise to extreme heights, only to crumble because they got too complex - AsianAvenue, hi5, Friendster. They were quickly and easily taken over by something much more simple. If I had to guess, I'd say that facebook will face this eventual demise as well, being replaced by something simpler.

twitter is simple, fast, and clean. It needs to grow in the right direction, and have strong integration with other services and clients apps, which is already the case - there's already a plethora of twitter apps, many of which don't even run on desktops/laptops, many of which support twitpic, and URL shortening . facebook even wanted to buy twitter because they recognized that users like to tweet more than they like logging into facebook and updating their status.

Many news channels even recognize twitter as a compelling form of new media. They've created twitter accounts, and people follow them for news updates. These news orgs even take comments about particular news topics and broadcast them on TV.

Am I "addicted"? Depends on your definition of addicted. I just really like clean, fast and simple new technology - technology that shows great potential. I can still execute my daily tasks without loss in performance, of course, while still speaking my mind at

If you thought that this blog post was way too long for you to read (it exceeds twitter's 140 character limit by a lot, which discourages the audience from reading at all), here's a video that attempts to explain (and poke fun at) what all the hype behind twitter is all about. From the same guys who brought you the Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates video:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CES '09 Palm Keynote

Now that the world is sinking into a recession, I assumed that CES wouldn't have been as exciting, so I didn't pay attention to any CES related post. Of course, I would never miss a Macworld keynote even with Steve Jobs missing, but since Bill Gates is left CES (and MS) last year, I'll have to admit that my interest in CES died a little.

I was browsing Gizmodo late one night and saw that Palm Keynote in high res. is available for download. How convenient. Why not watch it? While everyone thinks that Palm is dying a sure death, I might as well see what they're up to and see if I can come to the same conclusion since I have never owned a Palm device and know almost nothing about the company.

My first impression is that they're really trying to copy the Macworld wow factor with all the polish in the presentation. They then introduce the Pre, and bring up a lot of references to Apple and responses to Apple's previous negative comments. Long into the presentation, it seems that the Pre is a really compelling competitor to the iPhone. I 'want' to say that the Pre seems like a *very official* counterfeit version of the iPhone because they ensured that the Pre had to do many things that the iPhone can, but I have to give them credit for their "human centric designed philosphy" and new UI navigation techniques.

I also have to give them a lot of credit for the slick, smooth UI. I'm a HUGE fan of my iPod Touch's UI eye-candy-ish navigation. Unlike the BlackBerries where everything is pretty much Java (which is slower), their new "Web OS" platform seems to be able to satisfy the eye-candy hungry geeks like me.

Hm... the Pre will be released in the first half of 2009. It'll be exclusive to Sprint, so again, only available in the US (as like the iPhone originally). Sprint is relatively far behind in market share compared to Verizon and AT&T I believe, so I think that may be somewhat of a mistake on Palm's part in terms of choosing a carrier partner, but I supposed they had no choice since AT&T already had the iPhone and the Bold, and Verizon already had the Storm for a touchscreen smartphone. Another interesting thing to note is that Palm possibly chose Sprint because CDMA (and thus EVDO) coverage is massive as compared to.. say AT&T whose network is probably burning down from all those jailbroken iPhones tethering to latops on unlimited data plans.

The mobile industry is really starting to heat up. I'm quite impressed and excited. Maybe palm isn't as dead as everyone thought. It was definitely an interesting watch, especially since I must be mindful of the fact I just started a new-grad position at RIM.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What If The TTC Just Disappeared?

Well, it did.
It's quite ironic that TTC would post a video like this:

They explain how the world would basically end:
-We would need 8 new lanes to the DVP
-We need 3 CN-Tower-like parking garages
-Jobs would be lost
-Congestion would skyrocket
-More transit means more pollution
-Air, soil and water would be fouled
-More people dying from smog-related illness
-More traffic means more car crashes

So even though the TTC encourages us to take public transit, they want the world to end by leaving people out in the cold on a Friday night by striking.

What could be better than living longer, breathing easier, saving money, saving the planet?
I don't know - if the TTC actually ran? ? How about

Monday, December 10, 2007

A New World

Back in May 2007, I finally made to switch to a Mac. I had decided a few months earlier that I must absolutely make the Macbook my laptop of choice. I had an iPod Nano at the time already so I knew of all the hype Apple's GUIs were getting. They had also made the switch to Intel processors so even if I didn't like Mac OSX, I could install windows on it - no big deal.

Little did I know, I had officially joined a cult. I mean this in a good way. The saying is true: Once you go Mac, you'll never go back! I thought that it would take some time for me to "learn" how to do everything I wanted to do on a Mac. Things that I was accustomed to doing in windows would no longer apply, so I should start investing the time to understand OSX. The truth is that everything that's different in OSX compared to windows is different in a good way. Here is a short list:

1) Installing programs:
Windows: run .exe, select continue to nag screen, choose install settings, choose path to install to, watch it slowly unpack files, watch it apply registry settings, force you to restart.

Mac OSX: mount .dmg, drag application icon to applications folder, watch it copy in less than 5 seconds, done.

2) Uninstalling programs:
Windows: start, control panel, add remove programs, look for program, select it, click remove. It will then ask you if you want to remove or repair it, you select remove, it will tell you that some .dll files are shared between applications and that removing it would adversely affect the behavior of other programs, are you sure you want to remove it? Obviously you want to say no, so why did it bother asking in the first place?? (continue multiple .dll questions), finally, force you to restart. Registry keys for that application may still reside in memory, gumming up your machine, so after a while, you must download a 3rd party registry cleaner.

Mac OSX: Open Finder (equivalent to Windows Explorer), click Applications (the same place you go to launch programs), instead of double clicking it to run it, just drag it to the trash. Done. No registry to worry about.

3) Unmounting USB drives:
Windows: Double click the tiny little icon that might be hidden in the bottom right corner of the taskbar, select the drive to unmount, click remove/unmount, it will then ask you which 'drive' you wish to remove/unmount, finally, unmount. A message menu will pop-up, telling you that it's unmounted. You must click okay on the pop-up, and then close on the "remove devices" window. Remove USB drive.

Mac OSX: Open Finder. Point mouse to eject button, located beside USB drive icon. Click eject. Remove USB drive.

As you can see, there isn't much "learning" required to use a Mac. If you want to do something in OSX, you just do it. Things are a lot more intuitive and elegant on a Mac. If you're a perfectionist or a neat-freak, make the switch today, you won't regret. Instead, you'll be asking yourself why you never made the switch earlier and realize that you spent much of your computing days frustrated using windows. Even Bill Gates says Macs are cool. Yes, I know that these are from many decades ago, but it's still interesting to see Bill gates praising the Mac and Steve Jobs bashing Microsoft.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The History of My ISPs: Part 2

After confirming that Bell doesn't have policies that would kick you off if you "downloaded too much while using unlimited Internet", I signed up, for a 1 year contract. There was a promotion at the time were the first 3 months were only $25. When I was still with Rogers, the download speed was 1.5 mbps. It was fast, but not super fast. Once the equipment for Sympatico came in the mail, I did a speed test and realized it was 3mbps!! Wait there's more!! When I still had Rogers, I would share the Internet to my brother's computer using Windows Internet Connection Sharing since I had 2 NICs, which means for my brother to have Internet, my computer would have to be turned on (well, it 'is' on all the time) but if I had to restart my computer, my brother would lose connection - what a hassle. With Sympatico, I had a hub, and you could make multiple PPPoE logins! That means my brother wouldn't have to depend on my computer anymore, something that would not have been possible with the cable modem. Could I have asked for more? I was really happy. The ping times were low and reaching the max speed was quick. The only issues I had with DSL at the beginning were that installing filters for a first time user like me was a bit of a hassle and once you do install filters on all lines, you could still hear a quiet buzz and/or ring of the DSL modem while you're talking on the phone. Luckily, I found out that you could just simply add more filters on the line to completely filter out the noise. On a side note, I read that a DSL modem (of which you're not supposed to filter) could still operate with a filter on it's line, but the connection speed would be dumbed down. Whenever I'd have a tech question, I'd simply call 310-SURF and wouldn't have to wait in a queue. Someone (knowledgeable) would just answer and not have the long, formal and unnecessary greeting and goodbyes, just straight to the point. I stuck with Sympatico for a long time, I never really had issues with the service for years. Then came the time for me to leave home for a 16 month internship.. I changed the service to Sympatico lite for 12 months since I know that my brother wouldn't need to speed or exceed the 2GB cap. Now it's time for me to come back home, and Sympatico is not the same Sympatico that I knew many years ago when I signed up.. All the tech support is outsourced. This is partly to blame on the fact that Rogers has stolen much of Bell's customers and is dominating the ISP, wireless (cell phone) and television spaces, and is now making it's move onto the home phone space. On top of the outsourcing, Bell has made many deals with Microsoft - , the Xbox 360 Christmas bundle, and the thing that really pissed me off was the push on selling MSN Premium to a tech-savvy person like me. I called tech support just so I could have the password for my online Sympatico account (where I could see billing and usage stats) reset. I'm sure it doesn't take long to reset the password, but the tech support rep (who was in India) was asking me about the snow in Canada, while the "system was loading", and then went on to sell me MSN Premium.
Sir, we have something called MSN Premium, it contains a virus scanner, anti-spyware software, junkmail filter software, and pop up blocker! Would you like to sign up for this service for a low monthly price of $6.95?
No thanks. I think I can manage without those things.
Sir, I highly suggest you sign up for this service, it is really good! All that software for just a low montly included on top of your Sympatico bill.
Um.. no, I really don't need it.
..Sir.. I think you should sign up for this deal. It is very useful! I use it myself and I know it is really good to have this. Antivirus, antispyware, junkmail filter and a popup ad blocker!
NO, I absolutely DO NOT need it...!!!!!!
That got me a little worked up. When they finally reset my password, it was all the mumbo jumbo - "Thank you for using Sympatico". The next few times I called back to possibly renew and upgrade my service back to Sympatico High Speed, there were disagreements as to what my contract end dates were and the possible pricing. Different reps gave me different attitudes and different deals and different dates. I asked for a supervisor or manager and was put on hold indefinitely..... great service! (/sarcasm). Since Sympatico wasn't giving me good service and not giving me a good price on 5mbps internet, I decided that I'd just sign up to Teksavvy. I heard really great things about them on DSLreports/BroadbandReports. On top of that, there was the Nortel discount that I could apply since I still work for Nortel. 5mbps broadband Internet for less than $30 after taxes? How could I say no? So far the service is great. Calling them for anything is simply calling them, and talking to someone. The rep handles tech support 'and' sales/billing questions. When you call them, they pick up, you tell them their problem and they fix it. Unlike Rogers and Bell where you'd call a number, go through and automated phone service, get in queue, get told how how long you'll have to wait, have them read you a script like "did u try unplugging it and plugging it back in?", etc etc, and then having them tell you that they'll open a ticket for you. Hopefully I'll stick with Teksavvy and I won't have to switch again in the future, but I think it's only a matter of time before WiMAX becomes affordable and attractive enough for everyone to switch/upgrade, but that'll be after I get a WiMAX enabled laptop.

The History of My ISPs: Part 1

This is the 2nd time I had to leave a broadband Internet Service Provider. At first I had Shaw/Rogers cable, back in the mid 90s. They were nice enough to do all the installation: Drill holes at the side of my house and string the coaxial cable from my basement, out the side of my house, and then in to the side of my house into my room. This got me cable TV into my room which was an awesome bonus. This was way back when broadband cable internet was first introduced and there was no such thing as a speed or bandwidth cap, because the adoption rate was still slow and they figured that no user could possibly hog all the bandwidth just by browsing. Most people still lived with dial-up instead of paying $20 more for broadband. There were no (manually imposed) limits, other than the limits of the technology. I remember watching a download of Netscape, about 40mb. I went as high as 1000 kBytes/sec, which, at that time, could have been the limit of the entire neighborhood "server". I started logging into BBSes less often.. I was really happy with the service, up until I started getting really horrible ping times, which affected my ARC games. There was not enough bandwidth to go around for everyone in the neigborhood, even with an imposed 1.5mbps speed cap for all users. Everytime I'd call Rogers, a TSR would just be reading a script to me. "Did you plug in the power?" "Is the cable connected?" "Is the modem connected to your PC?" "Can you power cycle the modem?" "Still not working? I'll have to open a ticket for you..".. I noticed that I'd get different answers and different viewpoints from reps every time I called, and that's when I noticed the big flaw that all big corporations face - with more people in the company, the percentage of tech-savvy representatives drops. Those who absolutely knew the technology inside out and knew the truth of what exactly the problem is.. If I was lucky when I called, I'd get to talk to these guys, who diagnosed everything, on my side and on their side, and knew that something had to be done - Rogers had to upgrade their hardware to eliminate the strain. If I was unlucky, I'd get one who say the problem was that the game servers I'm playing on were giving me the bad ping times and that Rogers does not provide support for games so they wouldn't be able to help me with my problem at all. After several weeks of my bickering, they upgraded their hardware and had reps check the connection in my house. Finally, they did something right. My internet was fast again and the ping times were less than 100 - good enough to play ARC properly!! It wasn't over though - a few months passed, and got an e-mail telling me that I was flagged as one who is "downloading too much" and that I'd better stop download or they'll cut my service. Absurd! I'm paying for unlimited internet usage. What kind of a corporation sells an unlimited internet services, yet limits their users to how much they can use? I called them and asked. They explain that unlimited is defined as "unlimited to the point where you don't disrupt the browsing experience of others". That's bull, and Roger's problem, not mine. Apparently I was not the only one and there was some media coverage over the issue. Ted Rogers marked us as "some kind of terrorist, thief or at the very least a 'system abuser' and 'bandwidth hog' who is threatening the peaceful internet usage of all Canadians." I did limit my downloading a bit, but not enough for them to be happy. They cut my service and I was really pissed. I decided that Rogers was not the type of corporation that deserves my money, so I switched to Bell Sympatico.

The History of My ISPs: Part 0

Before there was the Internet, there were BBSes. Those were really fun and exciting times. Everything was text based - the navigation, the text messaging and even the login and logout screens were coloured ASCII pictures of dragons, skulls, flames, etc. You could still download files of course, text documents, pictures, midi songs, and downloading an mp3 song was as big and massive tasks as it is downloading a high def rip of a movie today. Once you start downloading, you couldn't do anything else, except wait and watch the lights on your (external) modem flash. You would pray that the download would stay at the max possible speed all the way through (14 400 bps) so that the download would in fact finish in 15 minutes and no longer. When the Internet finally started becoming more mainstream, my official first dial-up ISP was outer-net. It's really good to see that they're still in business. I still recognize their logo as well. Most of the time, you would still get more optimal speeds from BBSes than from the Internet - navigating and loading times were a lot more favourable on BBSes since everything was text based. After outer-net, I moved onto FREE AOL accounts. There was a hack that allowed those 30 day AOL accounts to last forever... Hm..... ya, those were really exciting times. Then came cable broadband Internet..