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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Especially adequate uses for an iPad mini:

1 - Light. Good for reading. Especially on the go. News. Web articles. Magazines. eBooks. PDFs
Even some writting.

2 - Awesome in car GPS:



3 - Proper dual handed, gyro enabled gaming. Not too big and heavy, not too small.



I guess I was wrong. 7'(ish) tablets can be quite fit and useful. If this thin, light and fast.

Apple just needs to add some retina in the next one.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I hate this movie...


Current status on Android:

- Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE: Waiting for ICS
- Asus TF700 LTE: Waiting for JB
- Galaxy Nexus S: Waiting for JB 4.2
- HTC One X: Waiting for JB


(to be honest, I haven't even seen the thing...)



Thursday, November 22, 2012

The "touch" screen rant... #jolla #bb10



So it's been a few years since proper, affordable capacitive displays have been out. But every OS interface is pretty lame and boring. Especially the main contenders.

Apple has integrated "ape" gestures into the iPad. And Google... one finger zoom? Seriously, I feel neanderthalish using 4 or 5 fingers, and one finger... well it's as useful as LTE or NFC. Or a 3rd nut.

There have been 2 (two!) interesting approaches to the subject of touch interface, mainly using simple swipes. The BlackBerry Playbook (yes, seriously) and the Nokia N9.

Now Win8 has some of it (a swipe from outside mostly) but not in WP8. Just a 3rd lame touch option then.

BB10 however is pretty seriously getting into it.


But the most expected "revolutionary" and inovative will be Jolla. The creators of the N9 are building not just a new platform/operating system, but they are betting heavily on what made the N9 such a brilliant device. Simplicity and originality.

The simplicity is probably a bit hard to grasp. The new UI is full of new touch and swipe or slide gestures. Many new movements no one had ever seen or experimented. So first reaction? It's weird, it's complicated, it's not user friendly.

Well allow me to say that's where you're completely wrong. If you manage to get your hands on something like this, and actually use it and for more than some 20 seconds, your brain will quickly adapt and you'll soon find yourself using these new "moves" instinctively. And mostly, don't form an opinion just by watching a video, it is a TOUCH interface.



The future of mobile touch interfaces will lay in individual, application, general UI and icon taps/swipes/moves as demoed above. Some will be cross platform (as the "swipe in" seems to have become), other will be specific. But trust me on one thing. Your brain will memorize them faster than the freaking path (or 10) to some obscure settings menu. That is how I ended up double tapping every smartphone to wake it (obviously unsuccessfully, N9 heritage).

And the newer generation will assimilate it and use it so well, you'll look like your parents trying to use a mouse on a computer for the first time.

Of course, it won't be "awesome" until Apple implements it's vision of it, nor "cool" until Android releases it on a new Nexus. Then fragments it across some devices. One region/device/model/type/operator at a time.

But then again, this will only work with "real" multitasking and proper running memory/resources management. Guess Apple and Google respectively will have to solve those 'minor' issues first.

Go @jollamobile and BB10 !

I for one can wait to get out of the stone age of touch we're currently stuck in.




Monday, November 12, 2012

Congratz Marc Marquez!



I started ou by not liking his overly agressive style and the way he took other riders out, or got in their way, intentionally or not. He's been involved in several incidents this year, and this last race there was another one.

Now, I honestly don't think he had any reason to be punished this time... it was a free practice and he tried a move on the S, one that he repeatedly made in the race and nothing happened:


Marc Marquez tira a Simone Corsi durante la FP2... por Alfonso_SomozaMrquez

However I'm glad he was. This allowed him to finish the championship in the most brilliant display of speed and control, on wet conditions moreover. From last to first, with 2 laps to spare...



This not the first time. At Motegi a couple races back, he forgot to put it in gear and was passed by virtually everyone. He still won the race there as well.

One of the best racing videos I've ever seen:


Marc Márquez Motegi Onboard 2012 - Lap 1 por Alfonso_SomozaMrquez

Well done Marc! You've won me...



Friday, November 2, 2012

The Nissan Delta Wing Rant


Click for official site to read and see all about it.

My rant is simple today. Why can't the DeltaWing officially race?

Racing was supposed to be the test bed for new solutions. That is the main "excuse" everyone keeps using. For racing and for wasting more and more money every year in racing development, new composite materials, incredible aerodynamics (that mostly ruined many racing series in the last years, but that'd be another rant) and so on. But it really isn't, is it? Racing is all winning at all costs. It's about publicity, notoriety from racing results. And when participating is not providing as much return, manufacturers retire. Even when winning and dominating a series for years.

Let the DeltaWing race. For real. Not as a favor.




Some fun facts that make it awesome (most are in the video)

My first car was lightweight at 700kg. My current one (MPV) is 1800kg and it's not "that" heavy.
This is really lightweight at 475 kg (1,047 pounds)

Engine is a Nissan DIG-T 1.6 L with around 320hp. Considering the light weight... it's a lot.

Front wheels are the same size as a Citroën 2CV orr a space saver spare wheel. It still turns. Actually there is basically no under-steer. The reduced drag from the smaller tyres needed helps in acceleration and top speed.

Front suspension "practically a mountain bike", no power steering, none needed.

Rear, brilliant suspension, and no wing. The car itself is the wing. Actually, the aerodynamic is so brilliant it can pull high G forces when turning, but still attain incredible top speeds, faster that most (if not all) LMP type cars, and brake hard, mainly in the rear wheels without a problem.

All that, with incredible fuel mileage and low tyre wear.



But who would want that... a faster, more effective, efficient race car, that would lead to better road cars?



PS: (long) it's not a trike, it has 4 wheels. It rolls, yes. But just like a 4 wheel car can.



Even a heavy V8 Supercar can roll when tagged in the rear:



Or hits another car the right way (ffw to 18m31s):

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Windows 8 "suite" (not rant).

Following the current decay of the Playstation scene at my home, with the lack of proper and affordable new gaming (GT5 seasonal events can only endure so far...) I've been think of moving the Xbox into the number one spot. The living room (*).

That, recent Xbox updates and the need to catch up on it's most famous and best titles I've never gotten around to play, are weighing in very heavily.


New Xbox Dashboard

I've also been very eager to get my hands on a Surface tablet. To work on a company that relies on a Windows network, Operating System and Office suite, and to play at home also on a windows "server" and "network".


  



Now WP8 phones look very interesting as well (still fugly UI). Again, for work and play. There's some serious gaming coming. And apparently with confirmed cloud sync between devices, and with some developers, even cross-platform sync. And some expected to be free or a steal  (see that Sony? Heresy in your book).





I'm not totally convinced on the desktop front, since mine is basically a server and I need nothing more than what I've got at the moment.

But the possibility of keeping everything synced in what I expect to be a "natural" Windows way across any and every device (screw iTunes!) I'm sure to give it a go. Already have a license for it. And you don't even need this app to manage anything:




I guess eventually I'll be going for the "full experience", and I'm not sure I'll return any time soon.

Microsoft is coming in last, slowly but steadily and as strong and deadly as hurricane Sandy (**).

This is gonna make a serious dent in the market in my opinion. It can't do more than bite a little bit off of the Apple, but others must be (and are) seriously concerned. Especially on the tablet side... Hence yesterday's news from Google. Excellent work from The Verge covering it by the way, you can read it all here or watch the video below (if you haven't yet).




Thing is, even if people are mostly using tablets for internet access these days, and performing most of their  daily tasks on them or on their Smartphones, usually there's an aggregator machine at home, at work or both. A safe place to store you stuff, and to "really" work with a keyboard and a mouse (those are not gonna die off that easy...). That is still the anchor.

So unless 2013 is the year of the linux chromium desktop, I don't see them succeeding. Even with their outstanding "cloud" services. I'm a fan of them. But they've been making a bit of a mess of their integration, renaming, consolidating efforts, and the cloud can only go "so far".

Now... to start, where to get the whole Halo and Forza suites for the xBox?

Know any good used game stores or sites?




(*)  I bought it to be used as an ipTv STB in another room, it's mostly and seldom used, especially in the winter.
(**) hey, it's trending... I had to fit it in here somehow...

Friday, October 26, 2012

PlayStation rant MDXLC... the PS3 Hack


Apparently the PS3 is definitely and permanently hacked.




Why should you care?

1 - As a matter of principle.

The PS3 was sold with "optional linux booting", so you could in fact run a media server (or whatever) on it. Later Sony removed that option on a FW (firmware) upgrade.

But to lock out "jailbreakers" (= pirates to them), the last available FW is always mandatory for online use (and honestly playing offline was only ok in the '80s). So that left users with a dead software version with no more updates so they could run linux, or if they had already upgraded, no downgrade option.

Solution? Sony offered money back. Kind of a "play by our rules, or don't play at all".

This is the kind of arrogant behavior that (when consistently repeated) makes giants fall. And Sony has a very poor record at this. Considering their media pricing, distribution model, and general copyright stances you see a max profit organization that tries to "milk" the market with little regard for it's evolution, users convenience, preference, or requests.

I'm all for profit, mind you. But not at all costs. Not by shaping the market to the company "needs" instead of shaping itself to the market/consumers "needs".


2 - Piracy.

This will (eventually) bring people the possibility of running pirated software copies. But you don't fight piracy with locks. You fight it with fair, viable "real market" prices.

"Hacking" has always existed. For fun, as a challenge, the forbidden fruit. And it will always exist... And after it comes "piracy". Selling those hacking solutions or illegally copying software.

But piracy only succeeds and becomes a serious issue in a market where people say "too expensive", and companies instead of lowering profits and prices, waste away more than what they'd loose with that on locks, DRM and other anti-piracy systems.





Anyway, I'm not inclined to mess with my hardware... there aren't many (if any) of those expensive tittles I'd like to play "for free", and my PS3 running PS3 MediaServer is enough for my media needs.

In other words, most current console games I wouldn't buy them for €1 or I already own them, and I have no use for Linux on it.

But it's good to know I'm now able to tinker with MY stuff again.

More:
Sophos
PlaystaionLife
Eurogamer

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour

Great cars, great roads, great soundtrack, great video from Porsche...



The event included many of the famous closed-road Targa stages, good food and wine, and the famous Porsche camaraderie.

Envy...



Again with the white...

Chris Harris and Drive provided us with another interesting video. Where a "proper" drivers car gets picked over a much safer, faster, more expensive one.

There's just one thing. They are both white, with black plastics, and... freakin' 2 tone silver mirrors.


The white in the Audi actually enhances the imposing front. But then, moving around the car, it gets duller and duller. White also enhances that.

In the Beemer... well it just looks like a Bad Piggy from Angry Birds from the front, and the rear looks dated. Like real old. White? It just enhances all that as well.

But mostly, WHAT'S WITH THE SILVER MIRRORS?

Seriously...


Oh, and I obviously agree with Chris' choice.





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The (new) PlayStation Store rant...

Well, here it is...

Besides the refresh, Sony added a new tab to their online software store. Mobile.

Quite simply, there is so little stuff  in there for me, I couldn't care less about the refresh. Generally my opinion is, why should I buy a downloadable version of something I can get in hard-copy with art, manual etc for the same price? It takes up space on the drive/card and those are not exactly inexpensive.

Then there's the free stuff. Or the lack of it in this case. Again Sony is looking at what people are doing, how costumers are reacting, and then trying to limit their options to force a purchase. The only good thing are the few decent game demos. Unfortunately, their notion of freemium is still very far of from reality. If you try a piece of software and buy the full version, you expect exactly that. The same game, but complete. Not a (from slightly to very) different version of the demo.

Only add-ons for the PS3 games are done right I guess... even if again a bit on the expensive.

But Vita games are still expensive, as are proprietary memory cards, and there are no free "mobile" apps and only one freemium. Guess they missed this:



Via: AppAnnie

I have to admit that after trying to force "users" to download everything on the PSP-Go (and failing miserably)



they have gone back a step or two, but apparently are still failing. I am not surprised.




That's what happens when you try to shape the market instead of adapting to it... Scott Adams has a Dilbert on it that illustrates this perfectly:



White cars rant...

Let's get this in the open. I hate white cars in general.

But (there is actually a saying that says) "realy elegant and beautiful cars look good even in white".

Fact is, white enhances the lines of any car. If they are pure, fluid, in a world if the car is elegant, it'll show. If it is not, it'll suck.

Perfect examples of this are the Toyota 2000GT or the Datsun 240Z (Fairlady) and more modern ones like the NSX-R (or most Type R Civics). Or the hyper modern Nissan GT-R. Their unique original lines shine brighter in white.






So traditionally they were either that awesome, or vans...

But now? Anything comes in white! I don't know if it's an Apple thing or not.

I can get that some manufacturers were trying to impress people, maybe even deliberately thinking "here look, even in white, it's beautiful!".

Fisrt one I recall was the BMW X6 M. And I remember thinking just that... "That's bold. And kinda looks good. Very different from an X5 or X3 (don't even get me started on the X1). Those could never look like this. Well played!" (still wouldn't get one in white...).

Then suddenly I look closer and it wasn't the first:



I mean, really? White for me shows me the exact point where the designer pulled a line to slice and stretch the top up on a 5, 3 or 1 series. And the squared wheel arches and those bumpers? It looks terrible to me...


Audi too. R8 looks decent. But SUV's?




"Exotics" always had some white optional colors and Lamborghini had a lot of white Countachs'.



And this white Aventador it's not realy white, or it'd suck...




A white GT-R? Sick. A plain white Juke-R??? Sickening.




And Porsche, the RS 4.0 looks stuning in white. But Panamera? Cayene??




I get the White is the new black – for cars that is. But if that was the purpose, it's dead now.

Seriously, when a Renault Megane Estate is 'allowed' to come in white, with silver plastic roof bars, black window frames and door protections (those huge stumps at the bottom) with silver door handles, silver plastic in the fog light hub siding the black grill, silver and black mirrors, and a silver "extractor" in the rear...

White is only enhancing how drunk the design team was when they were doing their color coordinations for that catalogue.

Seriously, look close at that for a few minutes. Look at the mess of colours and contrasts:


And this is a good press photo! The best it can look, almost acceptable. The one I saw live was nauseating to look at. If you see one of these, take good long look and then tell me if you (still?) like it.

Pretty sure somewhere someone got promoted or is getting credit for the sales these are getting. And it looks terrible. It's only selling cause white is "trending".

But anyway, ultimately it's the buyers fault. I would never be caught in any of these white cars. They either look terrible and the white enhances it, or convey the message "look at me, I'm in a white fashion car!".

Me, I'll stick to the shadow in my usual discrete metallic grey...



Thursday, September 13, 2012

the iPhone 5 rant...


So yes. Yet another one came out.


And no, it was not radically new. Haters will use that cause, well it's what they do... Fanboys will say it's "evolution" and "the best iPhone ever".

I personally was not surprised with a said "lack" (?) of features or specs. What fanboys and haters alike must understand, is that this is a standard Apple product now. You will get a new one every year. You will pay premium for it, even if it only gets you minimum spec upgrades and new features that mostly should've already been there long ago. What you get since the iPhone 3G is a new year/model device with upgraded specs and OS. Like on the MAC computer lineup. The biggest "surprise" for me was the fact that they still labeled it as the "5" and not the "new iPhone". I was really sure the number was gonna get dropped until I saw the invitation with the 5 shadow on the 12.






The design is along the lines of the previous model, and it has to. It works, and it was expected. People (real buying people) like it like that, and you need people to know that it's an iPhone. And I like the new one.

And not even the OS is that remarkably different, not even iOS5 was. It can't be. You can not reinvent the wheel every year.



About the "lacking" features. I have access to several NFC enabled devices. I use an N9 or HTC One X and my Blackberry has it as well. For what? Nothing. Apple had no real need to sport NFC on the new iPhone, unless to say "me to".

Better camera, more storage etc... Well I guess it would be nice, but at what cost?

All together I think this an almost perfect update to the iPhone, as a single mobile device from Apple. And for once since the original one, it actually looks good.

The one issue I still have with it is video. Although having (finally!) a 16/9 display it hasn't got 720 lines and that is a bit frustrating for me. This will (continue to) force software (iTunes) conversion, or use hardware downscaling via any 3rd party app video player. Now I do loath iTunes itself, on top of the concept of libraries and syncing to start with, so the first one is out of the question. And playing 720p directly will push the hardware a bit more than necessary incurring in slightly higher temperatures and heavier battery drainage. But I'm nitpicking here.

So if this is my biggest issue, then this is a good phone, right? Well we have to see about that because as a "phone" it always sucked. Radio performance was never good on an iPhone (more than occasional speech cuts, dropped calls, unavailability...) and whether that has been solved or not, remains to be seen. But I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, my personal view still is:

a) if you want a tablet/smartphone set of devices for your personal use, get an iPad and a "decent" phone. That is why I use the Nokia N9 mainly.

b) if you have no use (or budget) for an iPad + a smartphone, then do get the iPhone. The later the model the better. Even with some network/radio issues. You just can't beat the user experience and the gazillion apps on iOS.

I don't think you should or need to have everything running iOS. If you do have all things iOS/Apple, you will be voluntarily (and stupidly IMO) missing lots of very good stuff from other platforms.

Besides you'll look like a "fanboy"!





Wednesday, August 29, 2012

the "post-playstation" rant

Hey, remember that "playstation rant"? And how I ended with the complete loss of Sony on the mobile gaming industry and what would be next? NO? Then go read it now...

Ok, now look at this. This is what's next for mobile gaming, coming in to compete with the already winning smatphones and tablets (via engadget): 


See the price?
See the amount of games (and apps) you can get?
See the decent pricing? Some (God forbid) even for free?
See the standard microSD expansion NOT locked to anything?
See how I can log on on the browser and push games into the console? See where you're going to fail next Sony?

Of course not...

Well I can see... mysleft. And my kids. And everyone:

Killing zombies for free with physical buttons instead of touch:



...burning rubber for €0.79...



...or for free :o



or even both, and for free!



or... well, you get the picture, right?




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the PlayStation rant...



Well, I've been away from the consoles for a while now, and today I decided to get the Vita from work and update it to see all the new goodness of 1.80 fw. The cross-play games and the PSOne games and what not.

Well, I was surprised. But with myself mostly. That I had believed there was anything good, new or in any way interesting in there that would justify wasting the time I did with this pile of dump of a platform ecosystem Playstation has become.



Some background:

Let's go back in time for a bit... I'm a guy that started gaming on PC. Nothing as cheesy as this though...

Diablo



Had I the time and income to do so and I'd still be one. I would not be playing GranTurismo on PS3, I'd play real real-driving-simulators or flying simulators for instance.

(image found on "console vs pc gaming" forum thread, click for it)




N64
Thing is, the Playstation brought me affordable, accessible, stable, reliable, good quality gaming. Consoles were no longer bits and pixels and (barely more than) midi tunes. The Playstation for me marks the beginning or "proper" consoles.

Don't get me wrong, I like the classics, I had a Spectrum, respect the N64, my kids still use the GBAs and I often play retro gaming on emulators etc.


But for the first time for me, the Playstation was close enough to the PC while being a no-constant-hardware-upgrading-needing easy-to-boot-and-play-in-any-Tv 3D gaming platform (that or it was just Gran Turismo addiction).

So what went wrong?



The good times:

For years, mostly because of GranTurismo, I played on the Playstation daily. I have a PSOne, a PS2 and a PS3. When I look back, I don't own many games. A few shooters, the Burnout and the GT "collections" and not much more. On "hacked" consoles, I tried many games, but they where never "that" good, and the original was usually easy to get 6 months to a year later at a nice price, and I never longed for any game or a hacked console to play ALL THE GAMES. For years, it worked very well. Prices where almost acceptable at launch, there were good titles and the base was always the same. Hardware, firmware and software.


psOne
PS2
Those were good times.



Good stuff done wrong is bad:



PS3
But now? With the PS3 when I turn the console on or start a game, "new software found, you must download before... bla, bla, bla". And if you don't, you get locked off line... and let's face it, playing a game without online features nowadays is eating only half the cake. Online IS good. Even if you're not going on a multiplayer shooter battle or race, it's cool to see your scores and trophies and how you stack up against your friends, the "news" that get pushed and other added content like the GT5 seasonal events.

But Sony PSN and Playstation, allegedly "because piracy", ruined their platform gaming experience. There is no patience for the constant need to upgrade FW or SW. Wanna lock hacked consoles from online? No argument here... Force a FW / SW update if you want to play a game on online multiplayer? Cool... But why force the rest of the upgrades? Why am I be forced to update FW so it can support some new feature in GT5, what if I didn't want to play GT5 at the moment? Why would I want to update a game before I run it, if I only want to quick check some online feature, like my B-Spec racing? Sony PSN Playstation turned their biggest asset into a nuisance.  I feel like I spend more time looking at this than playing:

yet another f****** upgrade



Ecosystem vs platform:

And the there's the fact that it's not actually one platform. Technically it's a freaking fragmented mess of an ecosystem that makes Android look good. There's PSOne, PS2, PSP, PSP GO (big WTF there) PSVita...





...and then, because that's not enough, there are 4 different regions, separated and locked of course, with DRM, different prices, content, add-ons, etc. And for no discernible good reason 99% of the time. The worst thing Sony has, the distribution model, is really messing this up. The real reason? Same as music and video. Greed. Maximize sales. Prevent people from getting too much stuff for "free" or at a reasonable price, build hype on regional exclusives etc. But there's basically no free content in ANY PSN Store, prices are stupidly high. Like PSOne Tomb Raider games ranging between €2.50 and $9.90? Even if I own the original disk? You must be daft... Of course they are coherent with the rest of the "milking strategy" and dying console gaming prices, which makes sense in a suicidal stupid manner I guess. You do know games are apps, and apps are not coffee or food, right?

And "stuff" is not interactive, backwards compatible, etc. And worst, that has been promised hinted or expected. Waaaay back, there was talk of using the PSP to interact with PS3 and their games. Like here and here. So today, I though, well maybe... but nah...


UPDATE: Wait! There's more in v 1.80... More stupidity and locking, that is:
http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/08/vita-update-memory-cards/




I've been lured and sold out to "true" mobile:

I've been thinking "I have not time to play" was what drew me away from consoles. But today it sunk in. It was the exact same thing that attracted me in the first place, that stopped and appealed to me somewhere else. I have and use a no-constant-upgrading-needed easy-to-boot-and-play-anywhere system. It's in my hands or pocket every day, all day. I still play every day, just not Playstation. I started playing on the move with the PSP but know I don't. I no longer sit "in private" with the PSP, and it's not because "it's real gaming" that I have to dedicate time to. It's cause now I have tons of free or cheap, quality stuff to play on my mobile. Phone or Tablet. Apple or Android device. Single or multiplayer.

MotoHeroz

And it's not a freaking "ecosystem", it's a unique platform (or 2). It has free stuff, daily promos, and decent prices. I only realized that I I'm still a heavy gamer. I just play differently. And the thing is, my gaming progress on the iPhone, translates via cloud to the iPad in some games. Hell, in some games it even syncs across both mobile platforms.

like for example: "Dead Trigger"

And I'm not "afraid" to turn it on and be greeted with a FW upgrade, SW upgrade, Server Unavailable, Unable to Connect to Server or whatever message is thrown at me much too often on the PS3.


The future:

There is cheaper, as good as or even better gaming elsewhere. More rewarding, less frustrating, no broken-promise disappointing gaming, on mobile devices. And just slapping a SIM slot on a PSVita and adding social apps and features is not what's gonna get mobile gaming back to Playstation. You have to find other revenue sources. Which I'm afraid you don't really know how, and since you won't tread this path, the only option that remains is Sony Mobile. But selling "power houses" with exclusive content? Not sure yet if your efforts on this are worth it.




Although the price, for once, looks to be about right! At least when compared with the PS One prices.
Lara Croft: Guardian of Light ($1.29) [Google Play]




(I know... it's not "their" game, it's not their channel, so it's not their price, I'm being ironic...)


Anyway, this is is a shame cause I much prefer the hardware and form factor of a Playstation, than a touch device. Oh wait...




Today I though "hum interesting, maybe some free/cheap PSOne games, decent cross-gaming and I'll start using at least that"... but sadly no.

To end, (since my kid saw the Vita and now wants to play with it, lets see for how long...)
I'm gonna direct you to Chris Kohler (wired.com) who I think nailed this one very nicely:




/end rant




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