Review: Safari 2 Go (for iPad)

2011/05/15 07:24:06
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A friend excitedly told me about Safari 2 Go (S2G) for iPad. Having an interest in the technical books Safari offers, I chose to try and download a book right then and there, on 3G. S2G refuses to let you log in at all, unless you have wifi.

Later, on my wifi network, I started the download of a book. It took 10 minutes. I’ve noticed that books in the Amazon Kindle app and iBooks generally take about 5 minutes to download, over 3G. I was quite disappointed with the Safari download speed.

Also, the first attempt was unsuccessful, for the iPad’s desire to sleep during inactivity had forced me to “babysit” the iPad, occasionally touching it to ensure that S2G didn’t terminate the download. Other iPad apps are able to override this inactivity setting so they can finish their downloads without issue, even finishing the download while the user is running other apps (you know, that whole multitasking thing that’s sweeping the nation).

Once I did get the book to download, the resulting product wasn’t fully available.

Some of the pages in the resulting book vanish when you try to read them. They’re quite the tease. It might be related to a watermark that vanishes after a picture is loaded. If you do a quick print screen you might be able to capture the missing page. :)

All in all, it’s not a pleasant experience.

The Safari web site works fine, but I was looking forward to the offline storage for when I didn’t have or want to use an internet connection.

At the moment S2G sucks. What the hell were they thinking releasing it like this?

Update (2011/06/08): The updates haven’t helped, crashing often and appearing to fix none of these issues. In fact, the latest version doesn’t even load, presenting the user with a black screen and no functionality.

A memo on Open Source

2010/06/10 03:34:13
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In light of the arrival of the iPhone 4, I’ve been confronted with an age-old question:  what is the current state of open source?

Apple is ruling the future of the phone market with iPhone.  Android is the up-and-coming competitor.  Google is betting on their Linux phone, and betting hard.  Google’s goal is to make money with their ads.  I figured it would work, until I saw that Apple had iAds, something far more media-rich than Google Ads.

Apple is creating the tablet market with the iPad.  Some manufacturers have been working on Android tablets, but they will be late to the game.

Apple is moving into the mobile gaming market with the iPhone/iPod/iPad.  Android hasn’t really started to achieve the level of choice available in the Apple App Store.

Microsoft is continuing to hold onto its desktop OS market.  OS X is making inroads into this market because of Microsoft’s failure to get wide adoption of Windows Vista.  It remains to be seen if Windows 7 can recoup those losses.  Desktop Linux failed on many fronts for many reasons.  OS X and Windows have something Linux lacked, a consistent interface for applications.  Ubuntu is the most promising Desktop Linux available for the average user, but it can’t overcome the inconsistency across the UIs of the thousands of applications it supports.

Microsoft is continuing the hold onto its business server market.  This is the market of file sharing and directory services.  Neither Apple nor the Open Source world have been able to offer an alternative in these areas that has the level of adoption as Windows Servers.

Linux seems to be best suited for appliances, like wireless routers, but it remains to be seen how many hardware manufacturers see it as beneficial to continue to use Linux rather than implementing their own OS and utilities.

Linux seems to be the platform of choice for hosting application servers, like JBoss.  Unfortunately for Linux, most (all?) of these application servers can also be easily run on Windows or OS X.

Linux seems to be the platform of choice for web servers.  This is largely because Linux is inexpensive and IIS is not as feature-rich as Apache.  Apache can be easily run on Windows or OS X.

So, where does Open Source fit into this new world order?

There are several options for the Open Source developer (not in any particular order):

  1. Write applications in Java, Scala, or some other language that is platform independent, in hopes that it will be available on the largest number of platforms.  This will not help you on iOS, where you are stuck with Apple’s API and Apple’s implementation of Objective-C.
  2. Continue to develop applications for the LAMP platform.  As most of the these apps only need the AMP without the Linux, get used to the idea that folks might run it on Windows or OS X.
  3. Write some libraries that can be incorporated into iOS apps.  This may violate Apple’s terms of use, so be careful.
  4. Continue to write desktop applications that only run on Linux.
  5. Android.  Google is actually achieving some consistency for apps on its Linux platform, but not to the degree that Apple’s draconian tactics have achieved.
  6. Make something NEW.  Actually innovate in a way that forces the Apples and the Microsofts of the world to fear, and, eventually copy, the idea/concept/software.  This is an area where open source once shined.

Problem solved: WordPress install generates a blank screen

2009/04/05 22:24:00
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I smacked my head on this one, seeing as one of my previous posts had the same solution.

CentOS 5 does not install php-mysql by default. When the WordPress installation runs, it disables error reporting for certain functions, presumably so that they can be dealt with later.

Unfortunately, this error reporting doesn’t get dealt with correctly, and instead the end user is presented with a blank page instead of a message telling them that the mysql functions don’t exist.

I’ve got a patch ready for the WordPress folks, but I’m still waiting for my login to their bug reporting system so I can submit it.

I hope this helps someone else.

In short, if you see a blank screen after putting in your database information during install, make sure that the php-mysql package is installed on CentOS. I spent hours trying to figure out why this wasn’t working right.

Everything Google?

2009/01/07 11:48:00
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So, now that I’ve got everything on Google (and I mean everything), and have embraced cloud computing wholeheartedly, my Palm Treo 755p is no longer a sufficiently capable smartphone for my needs.

I’ve been getting frustrated with Palm over the past year.

Because the included web browser (Blazer) was so feature poor, I wanted to use Opera mini, but can’t. Palm no longer distributes IBM’s Java Virtual Machine for Palm OS, required to run Opera.

Because Palm offers no native way of synching calendar, tasks, and contacts with the Internet, I wanted to use Funambol, but can’t. Support for the Sync4j client on PalmOS is nonexistent, probably because the j in Sync4j stands for Java (see above note about the discontinued IBM JVM on Palm OS).

Palm, the once proud leader in mobile personal information managers has fallen far from grace.

So, of course, I’m looking for a replacement, and now Google Apps has put new requirements into my hands.

A year or more ago, I remember reading somewhere that Google was working on an environment for cell phones. So, I started checking up on Android, Google’s cell phone environment. T-Mobile offers the G1, but I hear it doesn’t have all of the kinks worked out and
I’m also a Sprint user.

A look at the Google Apps web site reveals an application called Sync which is designed to work with Blackberry smart phones. That indicates that Blackberry is also an option.

Switching to Verizon for an Android phone doesn’t seem to be an option, as Ars Technica reports they’ve ditched Android for LiMO.

So, I appear to have the following options so far:

  1. Wait for Sprint to have a decent Android phone, which looks to be available from HTC sometime in the summer of 2009.
  2. Get a nice existing Blackberry from Sprint.
  3. Change to Verizon and get my hands on the Blackberry Storm, which I hear is the first touchscreen Blackberry and hence has bugs that RIM hasn’t worked out yet.

I’m attempting to make an informed decision and don’t want my impatience to get the best of me. Any suggestions?

More information:

Little Projects on Blogger

2009/01/05 21:52:00
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In my effort to deal with the economic crisis, I’ve began looking at lower cost alternatives to renting my own server. I would like to affirm that eSecureData is an excellent hosting service that has given me far more than I could have expected. Their prices and hardware offerings definitely eclipsed those of Layered Tech.

At this point, though, with the availability of services like flickr and Picasa, I no longer need the disc space for my photos that pushed me to begin renting a server. Also, with the services and amount of space available on Gmail, I no longer need a server for my mail either.

So, I’ve gotten myself a Google Apps Account and am moving items over to Blogger as you read this. I’ve been running Gmail, as part of Google Apps For Your Domain, for more than two weeks now and am quite happy with the results.

This will save me roughly $65 per month on server rentals and free my time up a bit. If you need a simple web hosting service with email, I heavily suggest Google Apps.