Tag Archives: software

Hit and Run: Windows Mobile Emergency

I had to call the police recently. A combination of laziness and problem urgency led to me dialing 911 on my Windows Mobile-powered cell phone.

When you dial 911, Windows mobile flips the FUCK out. Despite the Vibrate setting, my phone begins a very loud and very noticeable series of beeps as it enters “Emergency Mode”. In this mode, you cannot dial any numbers that are not emergency numbers, apparently. What programmer was sitting in front of Visual Studio, mashing away, thinking, “I’m saving lives here guys, with these beeps, these loud beeps.” Woe to the bank teller or kidnappee who tries to get wise. Here’s some wisdom: anything not Microsoft.

Sent from my iPhone


^ not really; do you think I’m made of money and data plans? Also, the thing that pushed me over the edge in writing this post is the fact that my phone has not rung since this. I just miss the call. Yes, I restarted it several times.

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Hit and Run: Google Android

Google is awesome and Android is a great concept: a really lofty ideal that pretty much only a giant like Google could have a hope of realizing. When mobile Linux didn’t take off on its own and it started to become clear that there wasn’t going to be a large scale open-source mobile platform, they acted with insight and decisiveness, announcing Android in 2007, and first releasing it in 2008. Now here’s why I think they’re going to blow it.

I recently sat down with the 'droid for some hard-hitting back-and-forth (forever)

I recently sat down with the 'droid for some hard-hitting back-and-forth (forever)

Android is an operating system, but not generally used by manufacturers in unmodified form. That’s because manufacturers want to differentiate their hardware and first-party software offerings. If they want to compete, they pretty much have to. I would say this is akin to Linux splintering off into a million flavors; each flavor has its own App Store equivalent and its own community for making sure that App Store works. Gentoo doesn’t readily work with apt or yum, but the Gentoo community keeps Portage working. Same goes for Ubuntu or whatever. Developers don’t worry about their package working on bizarre distros because there’s a community for that.

Manufacturers mess it all up by making their own flavor and expecting developers to support it. They’ll tweak or leave out functionality and still call it an Android phone. Google wants Android to get popular like Linux (moreso, probably), but it won’t happen because everyone keeps passing the buck on keeping software running seamlessly across hardware. I don’t see how Google can regulate, or how developers can keep up, so it comes back to the manufacturers. Remember manufacturers are the ones who couldn’t afford to develop a decent operating system of their own in the first place; they’re inherently greedy and they suck at software. I foresee a rough road for our boy Android.

Cloudkick is awesome

Cloudkick LogoOh man, cloud computing. It gets talked about a lot, and usually in a really fluffy, “it’s-the-future” sort of way. I’m not sure if we’re all going to have a unified online OS by 2011, but cloud computing is serious business for Internet startups. The ability to lease and scale in smaller and smaller units means a lot for reducing initial costs and maintaining a high level of service for your growing product.

Of course, using cloud-hosting services like Amazon EC2 leads to a different flavor of complexity compared to a considerably more traditional/less scalable/more expensive solution like a dedicated server. So, what can one do to keep it simple while taking advantage of the features offered by cloud computing?

If you haven’t seen it on TechCrunch already, Cloudkick is a free service that can help you do just that. I got a chance to use it a bit during private beta and was very impressed. Alex Polvi and friends at y-combinator have put together a very simple, responsive, and aesthetically pleasing way to monitor and manage all manner of nodes, all from within your browser. Really, some of the stuff these guys do with JavaScript is amazing. (It’s got a sweet in-browser console and it introduced me to the Orbited JavaScript networking library.)

Anyway, if you’ve already got some nodes of your own, or even if you’re just a startup hopeful like myself, I recommend letting the site speak for itself. It’s free, it’s public now, and it’s growing fast.

Is Gentoo dying?

gentoo_logoI started using Gentoo linux for a few reasons:

  1. To learn the inner workings of linux, as opposed to glossing over them with ubuntu or some other “user-friendly” distro.
  2. To learn more about the software I use. Gentoo really lets you configure all the various features of the software that I use. Hooray configurability!
  3. Because it had great documentation, like the Gentoo wiki. I was using OpenSuSE at the time and I kept finding myself reading HOWTOs about Gentoo and applying them to OpenSuSE .

Anyway, now there’s all sorts of ruckus about the Gentoo Foundation being leaderless and maybe I’m just not paying attention, but I haven’t heard anything promising about that situation in a while. Also, the Gentoo wiki had a massive data loss due to an unexpected data center closure, and it hasn’t recovered since (it’s been a while now).

As for the other benefits of Gentoo, well, there are other power-user distros, even some that give you good package management that does its best to stay close to the source. I’m looking at Arch Linux at the moment. Arch Linux also does a ton of bleeding-edge software stuff, which I find myself doing a lot on Gentoo nowadays.

On that note I should mention very subjectively that recently in order to upgrade I’ve had to blindly work around a lot more issues than when I started out. One could argue that it’s something about KDE 4.2, but there’s something else going on here as well. There’s way too much unmasking and way too much manual dependency resolving for the type of basic stuff I’m trying to do, stuff that I’ve seen portage do the equivalent of in the past. And I’m doing it during a major documentation shortage, one that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end.

Well, if I switch, you can be sure I’ll post my whinings about my next distro right here.