Posts Tagged ‘news’

Netbooks go bye-bye

02.01.2013 14:58

In more recent tech news, it has been predicted that netbooks (amongst other things) won’t last through this coming year. And honestly, I can’t say I’m very surprised.

In case you haven’t noticed, a “netbook” is a small laptop PC (usually with a 10 inch screen) with a complete operating system (usually Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter or some Linux variant), aimed at those who don’t want a “complete” laptop PC, yet still want most features of such a laptop.

As I saw it when they came on the market, they filled a temporary need for something more portable that a regular laptop, and might be good enough when on vacation (or other travels) for quick-and-easy Internet access on the go. This market need was replaced soon after with tablets, such as Galaxy Tab and iPad, since they were even more portable, and had the same type of operating system as several brands of smartphones. And with the growth of cloud storage services (Dropbox, Box, and later, iCloud, SkyDrive, Google Drive, and others), you can have access to all your files from anywhere, across all devices.

At first, I saw these netbooks as an alternative to bringing my larger laptop while on vacation, but I held off on purchasing one until it was actually time to go on vacation. Eventually, when that time came, I decided against purchasing one, as I would only need it once a year (on my annual vacation trip), and it’d be left unused the rest of the year. Basically, it was an unnecessary investment in my case. And given the fact that it had a full-featured operating system, you’d have to go through a complete start-up sequence every time you were going to use it.

With the introduction of tablet computers, where iPad and Galaxy Tab have become the most successful ones, you could be always-on, with no long boot sequence necessary before using it. Just unlock the screen and start using it right away. This was something that I could use when on vacation, and still be able to use the rest of the year (or not – if that’s what I wanted).

I had also held off on getting a tablet myself, since I had a quite advanced smartphone at this point (HTC HD2 aka. HTC Leo, which was a Windows-based phone). Later, I switched to an Android device – HTC Desire HD (aka. HTC Ace) – which was also one of the most advanced smartphones at the time.

Then, at the end of 2011, I got an iPad 2 (with 64 GB storage and 3G network) from work, as a “thank you for the hard effort” from earlier that year, and I’ve been using this quite often this past year. I’ve divided my time spent on both my iPad and my smartphone quite a bit, where I previously only used my smartphone. The iPad comes in handy when doing longer visits to one or more websites, searching for something on Google and viewing videos, compared to the smartphone screen, and I’d have to admit I’m quite happy with my iPad, even though some of the limitations annoy me at times. Granted, if I had to buy a tablet with my own money, I might’ve gone for a Galaxy Tab instead, but since it was my employer’s money (and he was the one who wanted to get me an iPad, and the most feature-complete version, including mobile broadband paid for by my employer), I accepted the iPad.

On my last vacation, the only computer devices I had with me, were my iPad and my Galaxy S III smartphone, and this went as smoothly as expected (even though I realized I should’ve brought along more than one charger plug, so I could charge more than one device at a time).

All in all, I don’t think we’ll miss netbooks that much. Basically, if you want something small for some basic web surfing and e-mail reading, you can get a tablet device. Or if you want a full-featured laptop that’s light-weight and designed for travels (either on business or vacation travels), you can get an ultrabook (which is a smaller laptop, without comprimising on performance, which netbooks often did).

Or, just stick to a cheap and basic laptop.

The history of instant messaging

06.11.2012 14:55

Some of the more perceptive of you may have caught the news that Microsoft bought Skype last year, and today, it became clear that Windows Live Messenger will be phased out in favor of Skype. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me, and it rather seems like a logical choice when thinking about it.  I use Skype as an instant messaging service on a daily basis, and in my opinion, Skype has a far more superior and secure instant messaging system than Live Messenger.

My instant messaging days started over 10 years ago, when I started using something called ICQ (I’m guessing early 2001, without being entirely sure). I later signed up for Yahoo! Messenger to be on more than one instant messaging network, and I also signed up for AOL Instant Messanger (AIM) as well. At some point, I used my Microsoft Passport account (as it was known back then – now known as “Windows Live”) for my Hotmail address to sign up for MSN Messenger (yes, I’m that old). When I started on my current job, I also registered a second MSN Messenger account on a different e-mail address, just to make sure I had a different MSN Messenger ID just for work-related purposes. Later, some time in 2004, I also signed up for Skype, which at that time was still an independent company.

Since then, Skype was bought by eBay, and later by Microsoft.

I still connect to my old instant messaging accounts (ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM and secondary Windows Live Messenger account) using a multi-protocol client called Trillian, just in case someone on those networks still wants to get in touch with me.

I’ve been riding along with several instant messaging for a long time now, and it’s nice to see that my favorite (Skype) is being preferred, even by “competing” services.

What was the first instant messaging service you used? And do you still have or use that account?

Back from Berlin

01.11.2012 12:29

Hi, everybody! I’m finally back from Berlin, and I’m barely getting settled in to normal life again. I hope those who live on the east coast of USA are safe and have started to recover from hurricane Sandy. I’ve been watching the news here from Norway, and it’s a crazy sight to see.

I’ve previously detailed what I did on my vacations from day to day (and I’m still kinda stuck in the middle of my vacation summary from last year’s trip to New York – I hope I’ll get it posted one of these days), but I think it would be enough to just point out a few of the highlights.

First of all, all of my flights went smoothly, which was pretty nice. My flight from Copenhagen to Ålesund (the last leg of my journey back home) was delayed about 15 minutes (which I was notified of in advance), but that didn’t affect anything, since I didn’t have to catch anything after that. When I got home, I heard about the chaos at Gardermoen (Oslo airport), and I was grateful that I was on a direct flight from Copenhagen to Ålesund, and avoided that chaos completely.

Second, I tried something new in Berlin: I went on a sightseeing trip on bike! I wasn’t too sure about it at first, given that I’m still rather overweight, and I haven’t ridden an bike in over 10 years, but it came out pretty nicely, I think. I went on the All-In-One City Tour from Fat Tire Bike Tours, just to get a look at, well, almost everything in Berlin. Our tour guide Kate had a special (and fun) way of telling the history about the sights of Berlin as we stopped in front of them, and had some fun anecdotes spread throughout. At the end of the trip, when it was time to pay for the tour, I almost felt a little bad for using my discount from my Berlin WelcomeCard – the tour was definitely worth the money. Next time I go to Berlin, and have time for a sightseeing trip, I’m definitely going with these guys again (and taking one of their other tours – hopefully with Kate again).

I also went for a balloon ride on a captive balloon called the HiFlyer. That was an amazing view from 150 meters up (or 450 feet for those of you who are stuck in the imperial system), and I recommend everyone to do this at least once in their lives.

It was nice to see the view from Fernsehturm (the TV tower) and Panoramapunkt at Potsdamer Platz as well, but I must say the balloon has a slightly better view of the city.

I managed to fit in a trip to the Madame Tussauds museum in Berlin, too. It was a tiny bit smaller than the one I went to in New York, but absolutely worth the trip.

And last, but not least, the main reason for my trip to Berlin: the Blue Man Group fan event in Berlin. First of all, the weather during the fan event weekend was amazing – around 18-20 degrees C and sunny (or roughly 64-68 degrees F for your other guys). Second, it was fun to get a backstage tour (with visits to the storage room, practice room, prop kitchen, one of the band lofts), and be around for the soundcheck before heading out to Tony Roma’s next door for our dinner together. After dinner, it was time for the show, along with a private meet-and-greet for us fans. We also headed out to a local bar to grab a beer (or something) and chat together for an hour or two. The next day, it was time for our little Catch & Throw contest, where we would catch balls in our mouth, just like the Blue Man does in the show. The 4 winners (with the highest scores) would get to do their own spin art with actual official paint balls from Blue Man Group. (If you’ve seen the show, you may know what “spin art” is.) I came last with 3 catches out of 20 throws, but at least I had fun participating. Afterwards, it was time to head back into the theater’s private lobby for a little Q&A session, along with a raffle. I didn’t win anything here, either, but it was fun nonetheless.

In my two weeks in Berlin, I managed to catch 7 shows in all, bringing my total number of Blue Man Group shows up to 27 (Copenhagen, Las Vegas, Orlando, Stockholm, New York, and now, Berlin).

And now that I’ve seen most of Berlin, for next year’s fan event in Berlin, I think I’ll make do with just an extended weekend (using Friday and Monday as travel days). That is, unless someone wants me to catch some specific sight or event while I’m already in Berlin (if that’s the case, I might extend the trip up to a full week).

Although the weather for the fan event weekend was amazing, it got colder in the week that followed, with night frost in the last few days of my stay. Actually, comparing Berlin on the day before I left with yesterday’s walk-around in Ålesund, it was actually slightly warmer here in Ålesund in the middle of the day. Weather changes quickly, huh?

Anyway, that’s it from me for now. I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween last night.

Browser IQ

29.08.2011 17:47

Last month, several news media (even the reputable ones) reported that a study claiming that Internet Explorer users had lower IQ than users of other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), and that users of Opera and Camino browsers had “exceptionally higher” IQ levels. I primarily use Opera myself, but since I was on vacation at the time, and wasn’t that much online, the story never caught my eye until the aftermath earlier this month.

Just about every news media took the bait, never researching further into the story, which shows how strong the inclination of Microsoft-hate has become – a claim that users of Microsoft’s already-controversy-filled browser seemed likely to those who are against Microsoft on some level or another. I’m not too keen on either Microsoft or Apple, but I do see good market areas for their products – it’s like that quote about religion; “I’ve got nothing against God, it’s his fanclub I can’t stand” – it’s the herd of almost-religious followers of either side I’m very much against. I’m also kind of glad I was playing the high-resolution offline game (aka. “real life”) at the time, or I would most likely have been suckered in as well.

What annoys me the most about the story, is the follow-up by the joker who published the false study in the first place, trying to set people straight. In the aftermath, he had released at least two articles – “How the hoax started and propagated” and “Tell-Tale signs that should have uncovered the hoax in less than 5 minutes” (I have saved a cached version of these for your viewing pleasure, since the original site has been taken down and only redirects to some price-comparison site) – and the latter one seems rather arrogant towards researchers and those who believed the story in the first place. I’d like to point out flaws with each of the eight so-called “tell-tale signs” for you.

1. The domain was registered on July 14th 2011.

Sure, this might have revealed that the so-called research bureau hadn’t been in business longer than a week or two, but who does this as their first step towards confirming the truthfulness of a published study? For all we know, the new name/domain might have been a recent change, as companies all over the world change names all the time.

2. The test that was mentioned in the report, “Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test” is a copyrighted test and cannot be administered online.

Who knows these things? Sure, the test is probably under some level of copyright, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be administered online. There are several tests that are administered this way. For instance, most Cisco certifications (such as CCNA) is administered partially online. Granted, they are administered in a secured environment certified by their test delivery partner Pearson VUE, but they are nevertheless able to administer some of the exams online.

3. The phone number listed on the report and the press release is the same listed on the press releases/whois of my other websites. A google search reveals this.

Granted, the researchers with the news media might have tried calling the phone number listed in the report and press release, but there’s usually no need for this, unless they want to request additional information not already addressed in the press release or the report itself.

Also, you may want to look into what’s known as “call centers” (for incoming use).

4. The address listed on the report does not exist.

Unless you went to the address yourself (or live in the nearby area of the proposed address), used Google Maps/Streetview, or tried sending a letter to that address, how would you know? There are also streets that are small enough to not appear on larger map services, you know. (Especially streets that only have one or two street numbers assigned to them.)

Also, changes in street names or numbers are usually transparent to most people – just because a street changes its name doesn’t mean the address never existed in the first place. For all we know, the analytics bureau hadn’t updated their marketing materials for some time (or had overlooked that particular marketing template), which might have listed an older address.

5. All the material on my website was not original.

The researchers were addressing the received study, not going into detailed scrutiny of the website it was linked to. If you’re receiving financial advice from someone, do you audit their entire financial background before you act on the advice?

6.  The website is made in WordPress. Come on now!

Just because someone’s website is made in WordPress, doesn’t mean that it’s not reputable. Network Solutions, Samsung, TechCrunch, Forbes, Ford, Rackspace, Spotify, eBay, Ben & Jerry’s, CNN’s Business 360, GE, Pepsi, OnStar, Best Buy, Fisher Price, and even Wall Street Journal, all use WordPress for some section of their websites (if not all), just to mention a few. Just the fact that they trust the WordPress publishing platform for a part of their business areas elevates the trustworthiness of WordPress, as far as I can tell, not the other way around. I mean, something like that doesn’t pull the trustworthiness of those companies downwards, does it?

7. I am sure, my haphazardly put together report had more than one grammatical mistakes.

Typos can happen to anyone. If you have someone who doesn’t have English as their first language (such as myself), grammatical errors are bound to happen at any time. Even if the domain WHOIS record for currently lists “Tarandeep Singh Gill” (a foreign-to-America-sounding name, even for Canada) at the top of the registrant’s record, you don’t expect perfect grammar for any news source.

8. There is a link to our website in the footer.

I’m sure this guy has never heard of sponsorships. Even an analytics bureau has to have income from somewhere – a business not related to the type of studies released by said bureau may just reveal where they get their money from.

And from what I could tell, is a price comparison search engine, which has nothing to do with browser user analytics. For all we know, that site might’ve even assisted in reeling in users/participants for the study.


As I mentioned earlier, a simple phone call or two might have debunked the so-called study at an earlier point, but I feel the reasons for discovering the validity listed by the original prankster in themselves are just a tad off.