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Smart Phones

Early last month Sprint shipped a 4G Android based smart phone made by HTC — it sold out; they receive more from HTC — they sold out; they can’t keep them on the self.

Late last month Apple shipped the iPhone 4 (not a 4G phone), and AT&T sold out the first day in many metropolitan areas.

The day before Apple shipped the iPhone 4, Motorola shipped a new Android based smart phone — sales were brisk.

I’ve had a smart phone for many, many years — and frankly I’ve been amazed at how many people have been buying them in the last few years, so I did a little research.

I figured a good place to start would be to see what kind of applications people where downloading for the iPhone — well I was totally shocked.  On almost every list I could find the top applications were games (and people were paying for them).

I’m not even going to waste my time writing what I think this says about Americans (and we probably shouldn’t limit it to just Americans)… obviously the economy must be doing fine if people have several hundred dollars to throw away on a cellular handset to just enable them to play games — and have a fashion accessory (which must be meant to indicate that they have money to throw away).

I always considered my smart phone a tool; but I guess in the age of PSP and Wii it’s just another electronic toy to keep mindless people entranced so they don’t need to think or pay attention to their surroundings.

Almost enough to make me toss my smart phone in a trash can and get rid of my unlimited data plan.

iPhone on Verizon

Today Apple and Verizon announce the availability of the iPhone 4 for Verizon (CDMA upgradable to LTE)…

AT&T will attempt to point out to people that their network is faster than Verizon’s for data; though they are going to leave out that in major metropolitan areas there network is severely over-subscribed, and effectively much slower… and they will leave out that Verizon is actively deploying a 4G LTE network that is substantially faster than AT&T’s network.

Analysts are already indicating that AT&T profits are going to be down, and that Verizon is likely to make even more money.

I don’t get why anyone cares about the iPhone; but then again, I’m not sure I understand why people waste money on overpriced fashion accessories.

iPhone no longer #2

Well, in my opinion iPhones are definitely #2 (and I’m not talking second in sales)…

Market researchers are now indicating that Android based handsets have over taken the iPhone for second place in the smart phone race, Blackberry (RIM) are first in sales with about 35% of the market (though Blackberry owners indicate, by far and large, that they are not likely to purchase another Blackberry device).

It seems that Android in a very short time has been able to soar past Windows Mobile and iPhone handsets — hard to image what a “finished” phone operating system from Google might do.

Perhaps Apple made a fatal mistake not releasing the Verizon iPhone before Android over took them in sales — we’ll have to wait until early next year to see how the retail holiday sales go — but I’m betting this might mark the fall of the iPhone; but nothing will ever humble Steve Jobs.

evo

Leaks

Wikileaks is at it again, they’re going to publish communications from the US Department of State.

I’m outraged…

No, no, I’m not the least bit outraged at Wikileaks; I’m outraged at the childish actions by governments around the world.

In the United States, we have a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people” which I read as any and every piece of information possessed by the United States government belongs to me, and I have a right to unfettered access.

How can citizens of the United States be expected to make good decisions in choosing those who will lead them if they’re not given access to all the information they desire?

It’s a travesty that our government conducts covert operations against not only perceived threats, but against it’s own people.

The time has come to make major changes… the time has come that the governments of the world stop hiding their lies behind the veil of “national security” and begin to act like responsible adults instead of childish bullies.

Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell

It appears that the United States will reconsider the “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” policy that prevents gay and lesbians from openly serving in the military.

President Barrack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen have both supported the change but caution against moving too quickly…

It seems though that law makers are in a hurry to repeal the 17 year old law rather than wait 6 more months for a report due from the Pentagon.

I personally see no reason we would discriminate on the basis of sex, creed, color, age, or sexual orientation in any facet of federal policy; but then again, the defense department has a history of “separate but equal” treatment of race (though World War II) and sex (doesn’t seem to be any changes in that one on the horizon) , creed (take a look at the Army Chaplain Corps if you have any questions about a clear Judeo-Christian bias), and age (take a look at the maximum age for enlistees) so why it seems fairly clear that talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk just isn’t a core value of the US military.

Be only what we want you to be!

P2P

First let me open by saying I do not condon copyright infringement or theft.  Companies and individuals are entitled to fair and just compensation for their work; however, US Copyright laws entitle you to backups for personal use, and there are a number of indisputably legal uses for P2P file sharing.

I recommend you check out Shareaza (DO NOT USE shareaza.com — that’s a SCAM site — use the Source Forge link below).  Shareaza is a multi-protocol P2P file sharing client; it does Gnutella, Gnuetella2 (G2), EDonkey2000, and BitTorrent.  It also includes the ability to search for files.

If you’re just interest in exchanging files via BitTorrent then uTorrent is by far the best client.  BitTorrent has a search tool built in, and you can certainly use other sources for torrents as well.

Reguardless of the client you choose, you should consider running PeerGuardian 2 fro Phoenix Labs (you can read all about it on their site).

And I recommend you consider running your P2P client in a virtual machine.

Sold: Amityville Horror House

by Sarah Mcbride

Trying to sell a house in today’s lackluster real-estate market?

Maybe you just need a good story behind the property. That may have helped homeowner Brian Wilson, who just sold his place at 108 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, NY. The house inspired the bestselling book and movie “The Amityville Horror” after the 1974 murders that took place there.

The five bedroom Dutch-colonial style dwelling was listed in May for $1.15 million. It sold for an undisclosed price, the New York Daily News reported.

After the murders of the DeFeo family, the property sold to George and Kathleen Lutz, who said the house was haunted and moved out shortly after buying it. Their experiences provided the basis for a bestselling book and movie.

A bank foreclosed on the house, and it was sold in 1977 to James Cromarty, who lived there ten years and told Newsday in May that “nothing weird ever happened there.” He sold it to another couple that also lived there ten years. It last sold in 1997 for $310,000.

The murderer, family member Robert DeFeo Jr., is still incarcerated.

Amityville Horror House

The house in 1974
Richard Drew/AP

Original Story on NPR.org

AT&T, the company we love to hate.

On May 2nd AT&T will implement usage caps for all their DSL and U-Verse.

ADSL customer will be allowed 150GB per month, and VDSL (U-Verse) customer will be allowed 250GB per month. There’s vague language about exceeding the caps incurring a $10 fee for every additional 50GB used. And I say vague because it seems somewhat discretionary.

AT&T stated that only 2% of their customer would be effected by the changed in the terms of service imposing the new caps (that seems to be what AT&T always says, but if only 2% are effected it would seem that they are going to a great deal of trouble to address a non-issue).

AT&T will provide tools for monitoring usage, as well as pro-actively alert customers when there usage approaches the caps.

Using a notification structure similar to our new wireless data plans, we’ll proactively notify customers when they exceed 65%, 90% and 100% of the monthly usage allowance.

We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers. We will communicate early and often with these customers so they are well aware of their options before they incur any additional usage charges. Importantly, we are not reducing the speeds, terminating service or limiting available data like some others in the industry.

And while AT&T insists that this change is only to deter the bandwidth hogs — one has to ask the question, what about people who just want to watch Netflix (or other streaming video) every night… are they “hogs” or just using their internet service in a manner that AT&T originally committed to them they would be able to.

To me this is yet another case of bait and switch where American big-business does as they want.

I certainly have no love or allegiance to AT&T — and I will be happy to jump ship the moment something better comes along; and something better always comes along.

Office Applications for Windows 7

Microsoft has announced the release of Office 2010 first quarter of next year available in both 32-bit and 64-bit; and I’m sure it will be a fine application suite; I’m sure it will also be expensive.

I tried Office 2007 when I first moved to Windows Vista, but I found it very difficult to figure out how to do even simple tasks; so I stuck with Office 2003.

Now I’m at the point that I’m reconsidering my needs in an office suite, and I’m finding that I really only use very basic features, and I value a consistent, simple interface over most anything else (well, that’s assuming that the software works).

A good friend of mine has been using OpenOffice for quite sometime now, and he’s been extremely happy with it.

I’d looked at OpenOffice a few years ago, but I’ve never really been a fan of any software written in Java that requires the JRE (I’ve always found it to be sluggish).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

I downloaded OpenOffice (for Windows) and installed it on my work station.

My initial test was to open up some of the more complicated documents I had; not that I really have any documents that are that complicated.  It worked, it worked well, and it was fast.

I played with it a little more, and then I decided to take a look at how much disk space it consumed… it was tiny compared to Office 2003.

Then I decide to create a few new documents and spreadsheets with it — no problem, it seemed to do everything I needed.

WOW.

I just don’t know what else to say… why would I pay Microsoft for a huge suite of office applications that I rarely use; and use only a small fraction of the features???

OpenOffice is available for a number of operating systems, and works fine on Windows 7.

A good way to save some money on your computer needs is switch over to OpenOffice when you upgrade to Windows 7.

OpenOffice.org

VirtualBox on OS-X

After the extremely poor experience with my upgrade to vmware Fusion 2.0.1 I can certainly tell you that VirtualBox was a totally satisfying experience.

First, VirtualBox doesn’t have all the whizzy features that vmware Fusion has; but the only thing I really care about is being able to reliably run a virtual machine.  I don’t need all the features that I don’t use and don’t ever work right — all I really care about is reliability.

The user interface for VirtualBox is clean and simple (though I would recommend you spend a little time looking at all the options for VirtualBox and the settings for virtual machines before you get too carried away).

The documentation and FAQs are excellent.  They cover almost every question that came to my mind before I started (including how you could move a vmware machine to VirtualBox if you wanted to).

Since VirtualBox emulates an Intel SATA AHCI controller, it’s very simple to install XP or 2003 (I actually did both) using IDE drives and then switch over to SATA AHCI (which improves performance).  In fact, all you need to is enable the SATA controller in the machine configuration, start the machine, install the Intel Matrix drivers, shut down the machine, change the connection of the drive from IDE to SATA channel 0, and start the machine… couldn’t be easier.

The only feature I would like to see in VirtualBox is support for more than one processor.  And I guess it would also be nice to see 64-bit support on the Mac (but I don’t use 64-bit virtual machines right now, and that’s something that’s already support by other hosts, so it isn’t far off).

And the only gripe I have with VirtualBox thus far is there doesn’t seem to be a good way to share virtual machine configuration files (well — a soft link would do it).  I guess this isn’t a huge issue since it’s not something that most people would probably want to do (but I do).

At the price (FREE) you just can’t beat it.  VirtualBox works, and it seems to work well.

With vmware releasing code that isn’t fit to be taken out of a garbage can; Microsoft chipping away at the high end of vmware’s market; and everyone giving away virtualization software for the desktop you’ve got to wonder how long vmware can survive.  And frankly, I don’t care — I’ve tossed my copy of Fusion away just like I did my copy of VMware Workstation.  Microsoft provides me with perfectly function virtualization hosting software on all versions of Windows; Xen provides it on *nix; and VirtualBox provides me with a reasonable solution on OS-X (and I’m betting on Apple incorporating Xen or something like soon).

My next task is copying my machines from my MacBook (where I tested VirtualBox) to my two Mac Minis and my Mac Pro… looks straight forward.