Did we learn nothing?

I have to admit that I watch very little TV these days. What I do watch is usually through our Roku, which I love. But I can’t help seeing these articles on putting Roku hardware into tvs, I can’t help thinking about TVs with built in VHS. Media players are always obsolete faster than TVs. Even the whole concept of a “smart TV” is kind of silly. I get it from a marketing perspective, but I really can’t understand what consumer would want this.

What a glorious world we live in

No, not the election yesterday, though that certainly was glorious. I don’t have time to do justice to the election, so I will just say that I have never seen people dancing in the streets over a President, and I’m looking forward to the coming years. The glorious thing I’m talking about is the search box in Firefox 3. I was making a dumb joke in my novel about Keira Knightley. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know how to spell her name. So I went to the search box with its awesome autocomplete. By the time I had typed “kie”, which is not how you spell her name, the first result was her name, spelled correctly. Now, keep in mind, I didn’t actually perform the search, I just looked at the suggestions that Firefox gives for what I might want to search for. Actually, I did do the search, but just to verify that I had the correct spelling. I did. Can you imagine this sort of information so readily available even five years ago? Sure, it wouldn’t have been hard for me to find out how to spell her name. But the only way it would have been easier this time is if the Open Office standard dictionary was hooked up to some online dictionary that was constantly updated. So maybe someone should get on that.

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.

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.

What would happen if the airline industry failed?

I’ve often wondered if we wouldn’t be better off in the long run if a significant chunk of the airlines went out of business. It would suck for a while, but it would really open up the market for innovation and new ideas. Today, Techdirt wonders the same thing.

. . . people seem to take for granted what cheap and readily available air travel allows. It touches on so many different businesses that it’s hard to fathom how deep the eventual impact would be if air travel needs to be significantly curtailed in the future.

The whole flying experience is pretty unpleasant these days. And a lot of that is TSA’s fault, and I’m hoping that maybe a new President might come in and remind TSA that the enemy is actually people trying to hijack or blow up planes, not people with unfortunate names, liquids, and underwire bras. But a lot of it is the airlines’ fault, too. The incessant nickel-and-dime charges are pretty annoying. Customer service is often lacking, like when I was told they would hold our connecting flight, even though I knew I would miss it, and we ended up staying at a hotel at the airport in Milwaukee instead of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the night. Some new airline innovation would be really nice. But in order to get there, it may take a few years of transportation (and shipping) misery first. As an aside – could someone please comment on a post? Any post? The total number of comments for the site right now is 666, and that’s just bad karma.

Experimental new stuff from Mozilla

Remember when Internet Explorer was pretty much the only browser out there? Yeah, me neither. IE has always sucked, and IE7, touted as competing with the newer browsers, is really just playing catch-up. And not actually ever catching up. Over at the Mozilla Labs Blog, they have a little video about experimental browser changes for Firefox. The idea is to anticipate your actions in the browser and offer no-cost assistance. That is, when I open a new tab, if my browser could offer me options, like a search bar, instead of a blank page, there is no cost to me, and it may streamline my browsing experience. Anyway, it’s a cool video, and it demonstrates one more time how far Microsoft has fallen in terms of innovation.

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.

Blackberries are the devil

Sonda lik wrong file FRM svn Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

That’s an email I got from my boss this afternoon. I probably didn’t have to put that second line there – you knew it was from a Blackberry as soon as you read the first line. Now, I’m not bashing my boss. He’s a good guy, and I actually do know what he means by that. His spelling isn’t that great even when he’s got a full size keyboard. And it actually did answer the question I asked. I know everyone bashes the Blackberry. I do, too, although I also really want one. And they can be used for good – I borrowed a friend’s at a bar once to make sure I didn’t have a job interview the next day. That was before I got my current job. Anyway, the problem is that people are lazy. I’ve always found it, not amusing, but interesting that my mom uses complete sentences, proper capitalization, and proper punctuation in ALL instant messages. No one does that. Well, maybe your mom does, I don’t know. I don’t have her on my buddy list. But Blackberries are like the opposite of my mom. Because you’re “on the go”, you can’t spend thirty seconds actually typing out a sentence. It doesn’t take that long. So, next time you send an email, Blackberry or otherwise, take a moment to think. Are you responding to the email, or just making a written record of having received it? If you’re not responding, then don’t bother.

Unfortunate name, interesting product

Tobias Buckell Online | Blews

I’m quite intrigued, as I’m always trying tools that will blunt any attempt by myself to surround myself and read only people who think exactly like I do. I think of all the outraged liberals in ‘04 who thought there was no possible way Bush could win because they didn’t know of anyone who was going to vote for him. Or conservative friends who still think Bush has been the greatest president evar!

I keep hearing about this Microsoft Blews thing, and, as Buckell says, this could be the coolest thing Microsoft has ever done. I’d add “since Windows 3.1” to his statement, but whatever. I have mentioned before that I’d like a nice unbiased news source that leans in the direction of exactly none of the political parties. I’ve tried foreign publications, since they probably lean towards parties I’ve never heard of, and I figure that’s better than ones I have heard of. But foreign news always seems to have this undercurrent of, “Oh, jeez, look what the Americans did now”. Maybe that’s just me – I do have a not-entirely-irrational fear that the entire world laughs at us all the time. Anyway, the one thing that I don’t see anywhere is whether it’s a website or a desktop application. If this is going after Google Reader or some other web-based news aggregator (My Firefox dictionary doesn’t have “aggregator”?), then I think it could be very successful. However, if this is some desktop application (Windows only == fail), then I’m getting interested for nothing. Desktop applications are best suited for things that are too resource-intensive to be done in your browser. Consuming news articles through a desktop application is only a half-step above (shudder) reading a newspaper.