iPhone reloaded

Got my hands on the iPhone today and successfully unlocked it, thanks to DVD Jon. My feeling is that in term of user interface, there was the world before, and there is the world after. I’m impressed. Safari sucks a bit though. Note to all non-US users: you can’t use YouTube with the iPhone, but DailyMotion seems to work well. Now why can’t I scroll the screen on my lap with… just my finger?

The iPhone wild ride

Despite their excellent brand image, Apple is truly a close-source minded company. We all know about iTunes and the use of DRM, now it’s the iPhone turn: if you purchase an iPhone, good luck to use it with another phone operator than AT&T, or even use for its basic features (camera, wifi…). If you are outside the USA, it’s still worse: while you can easily order an iPhone on eBay, you have to wait they decide that European people can enjoy the iPhone too. The good news, is that smart people are working legitimately to circumvent these awful practises. As a result, “DVD Jon” already posted how to unlock the iPhone and use its basic capabilities (such as Wifi access and iPod player). Others are already providing ways to access the iPhone and modify it (and they need help!). The next step is to get support for any SIM card, which will let iPhone owners to just… use the iPhone as a cell-phone! And don’t forget the Nokia N95.

Is it still worth going to school?

I first wondered about this question considering my personal case: since I was young, at least since 8 years old, I have been attracted by computers and software. I learned by myself a lot, mostly in books and magazines, but at this time there was still no Internet, no Wikipedia, so you couldn’t learn everything. When I went to college and passed my “baccalaureat” (this is the exam you pass in France when you are 18, just before going to University), I had always the maximum note in computer sciences because it was so… simple. Then I went to Uni and had still to study physics, chemistry and mathematics for 2 years before specializing in computer sciences and software engineering. During this period, I (and all others) became a kind of specialist of n-dimension spaces, vectorial spaces, Schrödinger and Maxwell equations, orbitals, neutrophil and electrophil molecule sites, pKa, pKb and a mountain of things that were very interesting and exciting. But for computers sciences, I only got 2hours a week + a specialization in OO programming. Serious things only started the next three years when I was able to end (totally) with Physics, Chemistry and Maths, and focus on software development and related. At this stage I was 21. I really started to study computers sciences and learn something about it at 21! Of course, I started to learn a lot by myself on the net too (and still doing!), but I had to start doing something in my life. It’s already been a long time I wanted to start a software project/company and at 25 years old I was able to do so. I really think I could have started sooner. I like Physics, Maths and others, but really, I was in computer sciences since 1982, and couldn’t participate sooner while I’d had loved to do so. Now with Ulteo I’m meeting software developers who, at 18 or 20, have the same or better programming skills of people who, in the past, usually had to wait to complete their cursus and be 24 or 25 and acquire some experience for several years in real situation. These young guys I’m meeting (and trying to hire!) have been into software development for years, learned everything on the Internet (and also learning with others on Internet). They are going to school at the same time, because here, you have to get your exams and diplomas or your salary will be miserable. They are just going to school to have the University or school diploma and get a good position. Is it serious? The only benefit they get by continuing to go to school is to learn something else than computer sciences, just for their personal benefit.

D.A.N.C.E. – a rocket!

Yesterday, while driving my car and listening to the radio, I was thinking that I hadn’t heard anything exciting for a long time. And boom! I listened to this Paris-based band called “Justice” (what an odd name for a band), and their latest single “D.A.N.C.E.”. Thirty years of club music revisited in four minutes, with awesome vocals. I bet you’ll love it.

Note: this streamed version from radioblogbluc.com was probably recorded from Radio 1 (BBC Radio1 I guess) so sometimes you can hear the DJ speaking over the song. Pretty bad, but enough to discover the song.

The benefits of green walls

That’s still an “underground hype”, but green walls are catching up attention from many people in Europe who see them as a real way to improve our environment, especially within towns and surbubs. The principle is to cover a building wall with a substrate where moss and various plants can take roots, grow up naturally and cover the entire surface of the wall. Expected benefits include: thermal isolation, phonic isolation (up to 16dbA), aesthetic and… depollution, including absorption of air’s CO2.  The best green walls benefit from the ambiant air’s humidity and are self-maintaining! More sophisticated ones require a regulated water and nutritive contribution system. Several technical options for the initial structure are available, from steel grids that encapsulate the substrate, to affordable cut felt!  Read the Wikipedia entry in English  (quite short though) or better the French Wikipedia entry

Green Wall at Quai Branly museum, Paris.

pre-history (Jobs vs Gates)

The former is certainly a visionary, he has started Apple, NeXT (besides other companies), and more recently has launched the iPod and iTunes, making Apple back to success. The latter has built Microsoft and he certainly knows how to make business. Both of them are very rich, and are 50 or so. While I’ve always been fascinated by Jobs and what he’s done, I’ve never liked Gates that much since the first time I heard from him in 1983. Anyway, for me both of them represent the past of the computing industry. We can love them or not, that’s not the question. They are unlikely to spark any new technology revolution but they certainly can be respected for what they have done (in good or… bad!), which is basically: bring computers and software to the masses. Will you like it or not, they recently met in a show and where asked some question between their relationship since… 1977. Interesting links also include: the full transcript and video extracts of older Jobs/Gates meetings.

Favorite PDA?

110119011023.jpgRecently, I have been looking around for a PDA. Not that I really need it: it’s been so many years I’ve kept on using paper for my agenda, or to take notes and maitain my todo list… Anyway, although I never had a PDA so far, I always loved them. So I started to wonder why I don’t a PDA yet, and while at the same time I love them!? I think I love them because it’s kind of an ideal device. It brings the concept of *personal* computer to its highest. You can bring a PDA everywhere you go, and now it’s even supposed to have the capability to communicate with the rest of the computer world. So why the hell I still don’t have a PDA!!? Actually, I think I had already two “ideal PDAs”… Once was a Toshiba Libretto 100CT that I used at the early Mandrakesoft times, because I spent much time travelling on train between my home and Mandrakesoft’s headquarters. The 100CT is a marvelous machine, very outdate though. I could run Mandrake Linux on it, and catch emails (and even browse the web a little) by connecting it to my cell-phone. It was very small so I could just put it inside my document bag. But I had to abandon it because it was too limited in performance and it’s been harder and harder to load it with an up to date Linux system. One year ago, I  was eventually seduced by a small “ultra-portable” ASUS laptop that I can still carry with me everywhere I have to go to meet people for the Ulteo project. It’s very nice, has wifi and is very fast. I couldn’t find an easy way to connect it to the net through my cell though. Which is kind a regression compared to my Tosh. But still it is not *really* what I would imagine as an ideal  Personal Digital Assistant. So I started to look around for an ideal PDA. And I discovered a strange world where I couldn’t really find what I need. First deception was that most of these PDAs are now provided with the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS, which is something I obviously can’t support. Some others are provided by other proprietary OSes but seem to rather limited as well (or did I miss something?).  I could find a few appliances that run Linux (such as a Nokia…) but as far as I understand, most of the time it is loaded with a limited version of Linux that can run their exotic processor. Of course I heard of the Yopy a few years ago, and I put great hopes in it. But it turned to be rather deceptive. Another aspect of the PDA world is that nowadays the frontier is thin between the ones that do only agenda, the ones that are a real PC, the ones that can communicate through wifi and or gsm/gprs/umts, the ones that provide a GPS and a map, the ones that can take pictures or videos. Sometimes they provide several of these options at the same time, but I’m not sure I even saw any that offers *all* the options at the same time. So I’m really stuck at a point where I couldn’t choose what fits my needs: a PDA that would be not too big (I could bring it in my coat), that would offer a small keyboard (or virtual keyboard on the screen), that would offer wifi access, that could connect to gsm/gprs(/umts) directly or through a cell-phone, that would have a camera, and that would offer me a real (preferably Linux) OS where I could run a real webbrowser (even with java plugin), a VNC viewer and a ssh client.  And that could play ogg/mp3 files of course. So if you have a PDA to recommend or share you experience with a Linux PDA, just tell me! 🙂