New Nokia E70

I’ve had my Nokia E70 for about a month now.  Here are some thoughts on the phone …

  • It is slow.  Period.  This phone has now taught me that hardware vendors are trying to push far too much software and functionality at the limited processors in these devices.  I find myself constantly waiting for the phone … waiting for menus … waiting for the applications to load and be usable.  This phone is noticeably impacting my productivity in a negative way.
  • The phone is not reliable.  Right now, my key problem is around the bluetooth connection to my Jabra BT250v headset.  Once or twice a day now my headset connectivity stops working.  I go through the menus on my E70, turn off the bluetooth, then turn it back on, and re-connect my BT250v and it’s back working.  But this is like having to re-boot my phone once or twice a day.  C’mon Nokia … can’t you create a reliable product?
  • The task list is too limited.  I had bought the phone hoping that I could replace my Palm Tungsten E2 … and it’s close … but the Task/ToDo list application on the E70 is just too limited.  I use 15 different ToDo lists on my Palm to organize my life.  The E70 doesn’t include the ability to create multiple lists … it’s all dropped into one big list.  Bummer.
  • I do like the browser.  I have to admit that it has been fun just opening up my phone, and cruising the Internet every now and then.  The browser is small, but well designed, and very usable.  I’m able to read the news and do searches, etc.

These are just a few quick thoughts off the top of my head … I’m still glad I bought it … maybe I’ll have to keep checking for firmware updates to see if anything gets fixed.  I am impressed at where these devices have got to … I can only imagine what the next generation of phones will be like next year …

Virtualization … a whole new level of abstraction

I love to think about the future, and how it is going be for my 4 year old son. As I consider the models of “how things are”, I keep wanting to explore the “edges” more and think about what things are going to be like 10 years from now … or 20!

Virtualization is one of those technologies that is just beginning to alter how we look at hardware and software.  The hardware that we are buying is now so powerful, that we can emulate whole PCs on our PCs.  On a daily basis I am running Linux on my laptop … in a window, on Windows, using Microsoft Virtual PC.  I am also running Windows XP and Windows 2000 in Virtual PC on my desktop at work for testing purposes.  What is fun is that I now have a library of “machines” that I have created in Virtual PC, and I carry these on my 80GB pocket USB hard disk.  Windows (various versions), Linux (numerous distros), OpenSolaris, OpenDarwin … even a CP/M hack.  When I set up my new desktop machine I simply copied my “test machines” onto the new hard disk, and immediately booted them in my free Virtual PC that I downloaded and installed.

What I found last week – and predicted years ago – is that “virtual hard disks” are now being distributed by Microsoft.  Do you want to check out Windows Server?  Exchange Server?  SQL Server?  Instead of installing all of that software, simply download the pre-configured Virtual Hard Disk and boot it in Virtual Server!  You are instantly up and running with a machine ready to go!

What is facinating to me, is that I start to see this as a whole new level of software distribution.  Instead of downloading ISOs images of CDs and DVDs … just download the vitual hard disk and boot it!  Why download the software to run on yor machine … when you can download the machine!?!?!  I can begin to see a future where people are running numerous virtual machines on their desktop or laptop … just as we run applications on our OS today.

There are already tools like WinImage that can read and write the .vhd (virtual hard disk) file format, and Microsoft has opened up the specification for others to use this format.  What this means is that we are watching the first moves to create a “standard” format for passing virtual machines around on the Internet.

I’m curious when we’ll see the first Linux distros that realize that offering their installed solution as a .vhd might get them some real traction with Windows users who want to experiment with Linux?  I’m also watching to see what Internet web site becomes the defacto palce to download *any* .vhd that you might want?  Who will become the one-stop-shop for grabbing a VM?  I can see whole libraries of VMs being developed and made available … all in the not too distant future!

Oh yeah … and my son?  I can already see that he won’t be into “file sharing” on the Internet … he’ll probably be into “machine sharing” or “VM sharing” … or what ever comes after that.

Where is the Ultra Mobile PC?

With all of my disappointment with cell phones lately, I started to wonder where is the Microsoft Ultra Mobile PC?  I saw the one Samsung Q1 unit … but are there others that are shipping?  I see the Asus unit on the web site … but is it out there?

I still have to say that I was left slightly disappointed by the current generations of Tablet PCs … I really like the concept, but the hardware specs of the available Tablet PCs are just too far behind my current Dell Laptop.  The one key feature for me was the screen resolution … I must have more than 1024×768 pixels to view!

I’m now in the market for a new laptop … I’m having a hard time nailing down what I want to buy … a new Dell, a MacBook Pro, or a new Tablet PC.

Oh, and the Ultra Mobile PC?  I’m looking at that for my son.  He’s four years old now and I’m thinking that might be a good Christmas present for him …  🙂

Telcos and Cellcos continue to lag …

While down at the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas, I saw some very nice demos of Flash Lite v2.1 … a version of Flash for mobile devices and cell phones.  It was interesting to see that both Verizon and Qualcomm were on hand to talk about the immediate availability for developers.  As I just bought my new Nokia E70 phone (which I’m slowly getting used to!) I thought this would be great!  I’m doing some Flash development … and now I can write apps for my phone with it!

Well … then reality set in.  I went to the Adobe Flash Lite booth, where I was told that my phone ships with Flash Lite v1.1 … an archaic version with severe limitations.  Ok … so when can I get the upgrade?  Well, go ask the Nokia folks.  It was nice that Nokia had a booth at the show … I simply strolled across the room to ask!  When I got to the booth, one of the Nokia reps even had a E70 in his hand!  Woohoo!

As we discussed the wonders of Flash Lite v2.1, I finally asked “When will I get my update?”  Long silent pause.  “Well, at this time I don’t know if we’ll support Flash Lite v2.1 on our 3rd Edition Phones.” was the answer.  Uh … I just bought this thing … I asked “What is a 3rd Edition Phone?”  The response was something like “Everything on the market is 3rd Edition or less.  The 4th Edition Phones are already being developed.”  So the bottom line that I learned is that Nokia probably will never support Flash Lite v2.1 on any phone in the market.  Yes … there is a possibility asa a developer you can get your hands on a version that will work on your phone … but the end-user community will not get it.  What the heck are they thinking?  The answer seemed to be that they did not want to go back and test and recertify the phones in the market.  Bummer.  Strike One for the Telcos and Cellcos.

The next step was to ask Adobe for the latest development tool that would allow me to create Flash Lite v1.1 applications!  The answer was Flash Professional 8 … a $700 tool.  On top of this, the development paradigm used by this tool was completely foreign to me … although I had been warned about the “timeline” model.  When I got the developer demo, I quickly realized that this was not going to work for me.  Bummer.  Strike Two for the Telcos and Cellcos.

Before giving up completely, I then began to explore a conversation about some possible applications that I had thought of.  Things got even worse.  I really wanted to have some applications do some cool things with the camera, and SMS services.  It turns out that the Telcos and Cellcos have prevented the Flash Lite applications from directly working with the Camera or SMS capabilities of the phones.  So I can’t have my application take photos, or send photos, or send/receive SMS text messages.  Bummer.  Strike Three for the Telcos and Cellcos.

It was amazing to me that after years of waiting for the cell phone to catch up and be a real player in the Internet age, it’s still handcuffed and locked up by the Telcos and Cellcos.  Yes … I know that you can still do *some* things with these devices … but they are far from being free, and a truly open and mobile platform for applications.

Travellers Wireless Solution … Access Point and Router

While down here at Adobe MAX, we wanted to get some work done after dinner. We realized that we hadn’t brought ethernet cables, and chose to run to Fry’s in Las Vegas … we also had a Fry’s virgin with us, and it’s always fun to introduce a geek to the Fry’s experience.

While wandering through the wireless section at Fry’s, I chose to look for a new portable wireless access point that I could take on trips with me. I used to carry a Lucent RG-1000 with me everywhere that I went. It was an amazing box for the time … it provided Ethernet and Dial-up capabilities, and was a router with DHCP and NAT built in. I could go into any place with a phone line, and create a shared wireless network … uh … sharing a 56kbps dial-up link. Not the best speeds, but it worked.

Well, I have now found my modern replacement … and it’s very cool.  I’m impressed.  The Linksys WTR54GS is now going to be travelling with me.  This compact little unit appears to have two wireless radios, and two ethernet ports.  It is able to be a complete wireless router, with either wired or wireless connection to the Internet, and then both a ethernet and/or wireless access point functionality for clients.  Amazing.  So, for example, I had it connect as a wireless client bridge to the hotel wireless network, and then was able to connect to it’s wireless access point and have multiple machines share that single connection.  So it was an active wireless client, and wireless access point at the same time … complete with NAT, firewall, and even MAC Address cloning.

All of this in a compact little unit, with a retractable power connector, that fits into a small zippered carrying case.  And the price?  Fry’s had it for $79 …. I’m sure that you might find it cheaper elsewhere.  I’m sure that I’ll blog more about it if it continues to live up to the experience that I’ve had this week.

More storage coming … cheap.

For those people who just don’t seem to think it can get better, consider that within a few years you’ll be able to head to Costco and pick up your 2TB and 2.5TB hard disks for your personal computers.  This article outlines the announcements from Seagate and Hitachi announcing record densities in magnetic media … and the fact that the 1TB drives will be in our hands by this coming summer.

So when will the 4TB and 5TB disks be here?  2010?  Sooner?

Seagate, Hitachi up density in hard drive material. Blog: Seagate and Hitachi celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the hard drive by announcing two records in areal density, or the amount… [CNET]

Where to get Cat5e Cables … Home Depot?

Last month I was working on rewiring my data center rack to install a
slew of new machines. It was on a Sunday afternoon, and I had to
run and pick up some CAT5e patch cables … but where was i going to
get them on a Sunday?

I had a few other things to pick up from Home Depot, and so I went back
to their electrical section and looked around … sure enough they sell
3′, 7′, 15′, 25′, and 50′ pre-made patch cables. Even multiple
colors! I didn’t even want to look at the price.

I was shocked … but in the good way! When I looked at the prices they were just under
$1/foot! I couldn’t believe it. A 3′ patch cable for ~$2.98
… the 25′ was $24.95. I bought enough for my rack, and some

Yesterday I walked into CompUSA to buy a video card … something that
I don’t think Home Depot would have. While there I figured I
would check to see what CompUSA charges for CAT5e patch cables.
This time I was SHOCKED … in a bad way! CompUSA was charging $14.95 for a 7 foot cable in the store!

We have reached an interesting tipping point in computer technology
when I can run down to the local hardware store (Ok … the local Home
Depot!) and pick up a CAT5e patch cable … at a good price.
Technology is continuing to weave itself into our lives … becoming a
more and more natural extension of our lives … leading towards the
inevitable substrate transition …

Technological life getting biological implants?

I like this one even better.  So what we seem to be doing is
planning for the future, when technological life has taken over. 
In this future, entities that have come from the technologic substrate
will be able to have biological implants!

Ok … all kidding aside … this is till pretty cool stuff. 
We’re making huge advances in the merging of biological and
technological life!

Scientists Couple Nerve Tissues With Computer Chip.


RFID Implants … do it yourself?

When I read this article I immediately began to think about all of the
science fiction movies where the various characters are always trying
to REMOVE tracking devices from themselves.  I can remember the image of Arnold pulling the giant round tracking module from his nasal cavity in Total Recall.

This article, however, is about a growing number of people who are now
inserting RFID tags into themselves!  Well … in some cases they
are having doctors do it … but the one web page referenced includes
the list of items to do it at home!

Of course this links me back to Pete Ashdown‘s comments last night about integrity
… we spoke about this breifly after the Utah Bloggers conference had
ended.  It’s cool to see people who are ok with being tracked …
and aren’t afraid of anything that might be gathered about them. 
They are ok with where they go, and what they do.

I’m going to keep thinking about this one.  I have been thinking
that with the younger generations adopting lifestyles where ‘body
modification’ is becoming the norm, they will be more and more open to
technological implants.  If you are willing to get tattoos, and
have piercings, then when might you go for subdermal animated LED
impants, or RFID tags?

Social Consequences and Effects of RFID Implants?.


More molecular assembly …

Ok … this is my day for finding interesting articles on molecular
manufacturing.  I really like this one … a MIT team using
genetically modified viruses to manufacture.

Battery electrodes self-assembled by viruses. Genetically modified viruses that assemble into electrodes could one day revolutionize battery manufacturing.

The MIT team genetically modified viruses to create the electrodes.
They introduced snippets of single-stranded DNA that caused the
virus… [ Accelerating Intelligence News]