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April 30, 2005

Next Killer Cellphone App?

When clicking around I found this blurb [linuxdevices.com] about TV as the next killer app to cellphones. I can't think that this is even remotely true or a possibility in the near future. At least the researchers realize that there will be significant problems, specifically:

  • People won't watch video on the go
  • The screen is too small
  • No one wants to watch a half-hour program on a cell phone
  • The cell phone battery will run down too quickly
  • Implementing mobile TV is too expensive and doesn't offer a business case for operators.

Probably the most significant of these are the second and fourth. I mean come on, I don't even want to watch TV on a 5-inch LCD, some 7-inchers look OK, but a 2-inch cellphone screen? I don't care what the resolution is, it's just too small. Also, I can go 2-3 days before I recharge my phone, if I want to watch a 1/2 hour show on the metro every morning I would have to charge my phone every night. Call me lazy, but I don't want to recharge every night.

These problems could be addressed, but I don't see their solutions arriving anytime soon. The first problem (screen size) might be addressed by some personal-space technologies like a personal screen. I've seen some really dumb implementations of this, such as a device that you have to hold up to your face and peer into. It reminded me of the red binocular-like things that provided minutes of excite when clicking the pictures forward. Another device I tested was a pair of glasses that had a virtual VGA (640x480) screen. It was a little difficult to focus, but it had potential. The other problem, power, might be addressed by alternative power sources that could be easily replaced by a trip to the 7-11 or *gasp* more power efficient electronics components like OLEDs. What do you think?

Posted by Guy at 10:26 PM | Permalink

April 28, 2005

Final Final Final (really) Fantasy

So, Square-Enix released a press announcement [square-enix.com] on the 25th of April letting people know what they were "announcing" for E3. This is kind of frustrating because they had announced the release of Kingdom Hearts 2 last year and I thought they gave a release date of Fall 2005, but in their press release they said that they weren't giving a release date during E3. Anyone else confused?

Also, it looks like their releasing another Final Fantasy for the PS2 dubbed Final Fantasy XII. Don't know much about this one. And a complete surprise (at least to me) was the announcement of Dirge Of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII. From the text it looks like another PS2 title taking off from the original PlayStation title. I remember playing FFVII for hours on end, I think it was my first multi-disc RPG. Ah memories...

Anyway, I'll keep my eyes open for more info. Hopefully these announcements won't lead to a long release cycle and we'll get some great games for the '05 holiday season.

Posted by Guy at 5:17 PM | Permalink

Cool (?) Book

So I found this book Geek My Ride [amazon.com] when browsing through my local readings and it looks quite interesting. Of course, Amazon says it was published on the 25th of April, but it's not yet released. I thought that was what a publication date meant. Silly me.

Posted by Guy at 2:05 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2005

Stupidity (aka Script Kiddie mantra)

Man, this guy was dumb. I found this IRC transcript [jellyslab.com] and immediately thought of some kids that I went to college with. They were almost as incompetent as this guy, but not quite.

However, I did get a sad feeling when this guy was trying to be malicious and calling himself a hacker. Unfortunately lots of people, the fright-inspiring media especially, confuse what a hacker really is. I mean there's hackers, crackers, phreakers and script kiddies just to name a few of the subcultures associated with computers. Each brings something different to the table, but by far the worst are the script kiddies. I can't stand these people! I don't know if they realize that their actions however "kewl" they think they are do nothing but hurt the image af real hackers and feed the media with the crap that they then sell to the public.

Posted by Guy at 7:38 AM | Permalink

April 25, 2005

Funny Nets and Interesting Interfaces

Something seems funny with the network interface on the Mini-ITX when restoring from hibernate. It looks like everything starts up (net.eth0 and sshd) but I can't connect from another machine. More checking needed.

In evaluating alternative interfaces I ran across xiron [sourceforge.net] which led me to oxine [sourceforge.net]. This led me to thinking that maybe I don't need a full up interface but something that would ride on xine. We'll see.

Posted by Guy at 8:17 PM | Permalink

April 24, 2005

Graphical Interface

I'm still unsettled about what to use for the main interface of the multimedia system. I thought about using PyGame [pygame.org], but I really don't know much about Python. I've taken a quick look at it and it seems a really simple structured language, but I think I want something I'm more familiar with. Also, something that has a little more flexibility.

Assuming that PyGame is not being used then I might as well use SDL [libsdl.org]. This is what PyGame uses under the covers and I've played with it in the past. I did find something interesting when creating some test programs. Under Gentoo (at least the invarnation I'm running) you must initialize the Event Thread by passing in SDL_INIT_EVENTTHREAD to SDL_Init. When I checked the docs there was no real mention of this flag except that it didn't work under Win32 (I think).

Well, back to creating graphics and testing SDL functionality.

Posted by Guy at 4:09 PM | Permalink

April 23, 2005

Fat Cat

I found this picture in one of my latest magazines and compared it to my fattest cat, Ophelia. This one was a little bigger than her, but not that much. Anyways, this made me laugh. Who doesn't enjoy laughing at a fat cat?

Posted by Guy at 7:11 PM | Permalink

DVD Playback

I tested some DVD playback today and the CPU was running in between 32% and 78% under Xine. I'm not quite sure why this was so high. I thought that using XvMC playback was only supposed to consume 20% to 30%. I checked Xine's settings and changed the video to explicitly use XvMC with the same crappy results. So, more testing tomorrow.

Posted by Guy at 7:03 PM | Permalink

April 21, 2005

Playing Movies

So I got avi, mp4 and DVDs playing through Xine. It looks great, sound is great (at least through the headphones) and CPU utilization looks good. I'm using the drivers for X.org from the Unichrome Project [Sourceforge.net] and the DRM modules from the DRI Project [freedesktop.org]. All this running under a non-standard install of Gentoo on kernel 2.6.11.7. The Gentoo install is non-standard because I built and installed some packages myself and injected them into portage. I also use a patched version of the kernel allowing me to use Suspend2 [Suspend2.net] and the VT1211 sensors.

Suspend2 looks like it's working fine, even under X, but I haven't tried the sensor stuff yet. I also haven't tried the TVOut yet. The first time I tried using TVOut it didn't work out so well. I think X was trying to find modeline settings that would work for both the CRT and TV...I still don't know, but we'll see later this week. After I get the TV working I think I'll start on some kind of UI for the system.

Posted by Guy at 7:35 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2005

Google AdSense

Oooohhh, aaaahhh. Shiny new Google Adsense on the right. Am I a real blog now?

Posted by Guy at 3:24 PM | Permalink

April 19, 2005

Hello

I've been in the industry in one capacity or another since about 1996. I started out as a technician, went to College, did some stuff and now I work for Intelligent Software Solutions. I live in Maryland, a relatively new transplant. Before this I lived in upstate New York in such austere places as Rochester and Marcy. For fun I program (mostly in Java nowadays), work on my EPIA and read up on the world. My favorite news sites are Slashdot.org, OSNews.com and the gadget twins Gizmodo and Engadget. Don't get me wrong, there are lots more sites that I regularly visit, but those are the ones that I check regularly.

The EPIA that I have is eventually intended to be a CarPC, but right now I'm just trying to get all my research done and an initial system built. The initial system should have the ability to play movies, music and DVDs. So far I've got it playing movies (without sound) and I have yet to test the DVD functionality. I'll post more on my EPIA adventures later.

So, that's me in a nutshell. Hi.

-Guy

Posted by Guy at 4:57 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2005

Cheap Laptops

I know that I'm supposed to start with a here's who I am, here's what I'm blogging about, but I'm just going to jump in and procrastinate the initial entry until later.

Lot's of people ask me "What kind of computer/laptop should I buy?". Well, I just saw a blob on Newsforge about Walmart's Linspired Laptop. I haven't read the article yet, but I jumped over to Walmart.com and searched for their laptop listings. I was amazed that they offered so many! Of interest were the Balance (VIA) and the Balance (Athlon) models. I think that the Athlon version has it all over the VIA. It's got a bigger hard drive, a DVD drive and a faster processor (albeit not much faster) for only $50 more.

Of course, the memory is lacking in both, only 128MB. But a quick upgrade could pump this up to 640MB. Memory prices being what they are today it's probably best to just upgrade it to that. Other than that it looks pretty good. I can't really vouch for the stability, but I haven't hear of any outstanding problems or a large number of returns. So, outwardly it looks like a good deal for about $500 to $550.

Posted by Guy at 8:02 PM | Permalink