A new project

I’ve started up a new blog. It’s not meant to replace this one – I plan to continue posting to both. But it is a new direction. I’m trying something a little more professional rather than whatever you might categorize this blog as. The new blog is about ebooks and ebook readers, and my intention is to see if I like writing something that’s a little more journalistic and a little less whining about parking in DC. So, go check it out. Let me know what you think. Seriously, I’d love feedback. Is it mind-numbing? Do you want to punch me in the face? If you were in the market for an ebook reader, would you care what I had to say?

Both better and worse than I thought

So, I got the partitioning right. And I cleaned out the old version of Ubuntu.&nbsp_place_holder; Except that I installed OpenSUSE on top of my new version of Ubuntu, and didn’t clean out the GRUB entries from my old install.&nbsp_place_holder; So now I can run OpenSUSE (Which doesn’t recognize my wireless card) and that’s it. It got late last night and I didn’t try installing again, but maybe tonight.&nbsp_place_holder; I have to look up how to clean out old entries from GRUB. I think maybe I can just delete the whole thing, and it will be remade when I reinstall Ubuntu, but I’m not totally sure. My initial impression of OpenSUSE is good, although I think I’m going to download 11.1. I got 11.0 back in June and never installed it, and now the next version is out.&nbsp_place_holder; It looks like the graphical installer got some major upgrades, so I think I will take advantage. That is something that Ubuntu needs to work on – I gave up on their graphical installer after three straight versions refused to play nice with my video card. Anyway, now I’m stuck at work and can’t do anything fun, but I hope to have both operating systems up and running by tomorrow. I’ll post a comparison eventually.

Linux geekery – Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex

I just installed the latest version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I totally botched my partitioning – I meant to install to a 20 GB partition with another 20 GB partition available for installing other Linux distributions (I’m going to start with OpenSUSE) just for fun, and then use whatever’s leftover for shared files. I also want to clean out the old version of Ubuntu, since I won’t be using it again. It looks like I did neither of those, so I’m going to have to try again. However, on booting up Intrepid Ibex for the first time, I noticed the Bluetooth icon. The last version of Ubuntu didn’t recognize the Bluetooth adapter in my laptop. It took me less than 30 seconds to hook up my laptop to my cell phone, something that I spent an hour trying to do on Windows XP and never really got to work properly. The process on Ubuntu was flawless and simple. Nice job, Ubuntu. Anyway, I’m off to try again. Or maybe I’m off to bed and will try again in the morning.

The first Google phone launches today

Unless you live under a rock (or don’t pay as much attention to gadget websites as I do), you probably know that TMobile is launching the first cell phone running Google’s Android operating system today. This is what open-source techno-hippies like me wish the iPhone was. Instead of a closed, proprietary system controlled by one company that hates you, it’s a totally open system, designed to run anything on any hardware, “controlled” by a company that loves making money (And only wants to own all your personal information in return). You won’t see any exclusivity contracts from Google, so it’s likely that Android will arrive on carriers that don’t suck soon. It looks like work is not going to buy me a Blackberry (jerks), which may end up being good for me, as I’d rather have an Android phone. Suggestions for convincing the wife that I need one are welcome. You will, however, see things like the Amazon MP3 store pre-loaded.

Amazon.com said this morning that its MP3 music store will be pre-loaded on the T-Mobile G1, the first phone to be powered by Android.

A baby present for me

Originally uploaded by thetejon

I’ve been talking about this forever, and with birthday money from my grandmother burning a hole in my savings account an unexpected bonus from work, plus the imminent arrival of the new baby, I could no longer resist. To top it all off, it was on sale at Penn Camera through tomorrow. And the whole operation is wife-approved because she wants to steal the old camera. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

Go check out Mozilla Ubiquity

Yesterday, Mozilla Labs introduced Ubiquity, “An experiment in connecting the web with language”. It’s a lot like Launchy or Gnome-Do, except different. Install Ubiquity into Firefox and then hit the shortcut keys to launch Ubiquity, and then start typing. You can search Google, post to Twitter, send an email – all through an intuitive command-line interface. It’s not for everyone – if you spend all your time pointing and clicking, you may not like using the keyboard this way. But for those of you who use the mouse only when you really need it, this may revolutionize the way you use your browser. Remember, the browser knows a lot about you. If you’re signed in to Gmail, for example, and you find a great webpage you want to share with your friend, you don’t have to know your friend’s email. Just type, “email ” and then your friend’s name – Gmail will find the address, and copy the url for the page into a new email to your friend. And this is just the beginning – there are already tons of user-created scripts available, and it’s pretty easy to create your own. There’s even a tutorial. And lest you think I forgot to get in a dig on Microsoft, ye of little faith, let me remind you that this is the sort of functionality that will be in Internet Explorer 17, due to be released around the time your great-great-grandchildren are colonizing Mars. If you’re in Firefox now, install Ubiquity now. If you aren’t, get Firefox first, then install Ubiquity. And if you find or write any really cool scripts for it, be sure to let me know.

Just because HDTVs are cheap now doesn’t mean your child needs one

Have you ever ridden in an elevator with a little TV screen provided by The Captivate Network? There’s one in the elevator at my office. I like to watch because it makes me forget that I’m in an elevator (As faithful readers know, I hate elevators). It also occasionally has some interesting things, like little news tidbits and weather. Today, I was coming back from lunch, and the screen showed a “gadget review”. They mentioned a 32″ Samsung HD TV. They mentioned that it was perfect for any dorm room. At the bottom was the price. $850. What college student could possibly need an $850 television in his/her dorm? Do you know how big the TV was in my college dorm? 13 inches. And I turned out just fine. Seriously, parents, if you buy your college student an $850 TV, you are a bad parent. College is about being poor and trying to hook up with as many people as possible. If you’re spending a lot of time in your room watching a huge TV, you’re doing it wrong.

Blackberry research and crazy Verizon saleschatters

Since our webmail got blocked, I’ve been hoping that work would provide me an alternative internet connection. The best solution from my perspective would be if they would pay the difference between my cell phone plan now and a Blackberry that can be used as a modem for my laptop. So, I was doing some research at Verizon’s website, and a helpful salesperson popped up and offered to assist me. Here’s the transcript of the chat. My comments are in red.

Chat InformationPlease wait for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience! Chat InformationA Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with Elisha Definitely picturing this Elisha Elisha: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today? You: I have a couple questions You: first, is there a way to make this chat window pop up whenever I want? Elisha: How can I help you with your order? Elisha: Yes, by going to contact us. That is a dirty lie. I tried that. I wish you weren’t a liar, Elisha. You: is it only available certain hours of the day? Elisha: The sales chats are open 8 am to 11 pm. Elisha: How can I help you with your order? You: what’s the difference in the two data plans listed with the Blackberry Curve? Elisha: The $ 29.99 only give you unlimited access to the web and access to personal emails. Elisha: The $ 44.99 gives you unlimited access to the web and unlimited access to business/personal emails. Plus it comes with the tether feature where you can use the phone as a modem. Elisha: Which is best for you? You: so for 29.99 you can’t use it as a modem? What needs to be included in order for that to work? Elisha: Yes, that is correct. Elisha: You can hook the phone up to the laptop to use the phone as a modem. That doesn’t really answer my question, Elisha. Elisha: What key features in a cell phone are most important to you? I already told you I wanted the Curve (Although I really want the Bold, but it’s not out yet) You: I’m curious why I can’t use the phone as a modem on the 29.99 plan. You: it seems to me that bandwidth is bandwidth, and Verizon shouldn’t care what I do with it Elisha: You can’t , you are not paying for that feature with the $ 29.99. Elisha: I am sorry the feature alone is $ 15.00. Elisha: That is the way that the plan is set. Elisha: I am sorry. Elisha: Are you looking to order online today? You: well, I’m sure it’s not your fault You: no, I’m trying to get work to approve the upgrade Elisha: Yes, thanks for understanding. Elisha: Okay. Elisha: I understand, are you sure you don’t want to take advantage of our free shipping and instant online discounts today? You’re starting to sound like a used car salesman here, Elisha You: no, thanks. You: you’ve answered all my questions, thank very much Elisha: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day! Thanks for kicking me off the chat as soon as it became clear you weren’t getting a commission! Elisha: You are very welcome!

Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous that I can’t use the phone as a modem without paying the extra $15. If I pay for the bandwidth, why does it matter if I’m using the phone itself, or my laptop through the phone? I know, Verizon has a right to charge me whatever they want. I’m not arguing that they can’t charge me, I’m arguing that it makes them big fat jerks. And Elisha was pretty annoying. I went to her to find an answer to a question that I couldn’t find anywhere on the website. When I didn’t want to buy today, she blew me off. This is a bad salesperson. And I will probably buy through a Verizon brick and mortar store because of my experience. Take that, Verizon’s website!

From the mouth of Jobs himself

Steve Jobs has reiterated that you’re renting all $30 million worth of iPhone apps you’ve purchased. Engagdet says,

[he] confirmed the controversial iPhone application kill switch in the event that Apple inadvertently approves a malicious program for distribution. Jobs said, “hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull.”

He went on to say, “We know you all love to buy anything with our name on it, though, so you should be happy to repurchase anything we decide we don’t want you to have anymore”.

I love to hate the iPhone

I know my opinion on Apple and the iPhone differs from many of my readers, but this is worrisome if you’ve bought an iPhone and mistakenly think you’ve bought an app from the App Store. Engadget | iPhone hacker says the device ‘calls home’ to Apple, allows apps to be remotely disabled

the suggestion that a process of the OS would actively monitor, report on, and possibly deactivate your device’s software is unreasonable, and clearly presents an issue that the company will have to deal with sooner or later.

If you buy something, and the seller can take it back at any time for any reason and not give back your money, you are renting, not buying. Because of the closed and proprietary nature of Apple’s world, if you buy into it, you’re stuck with whatever they want to do to you. Updated to add: Engadget says that the iPhone probably isn’t calling home to disable your apps after all. I still don’t like Apple, and I still don’t trust them any more than I trust Microsoft. But it doesn’t seem like they’re doing anything objectionable here.