I’ve read Joel on Software for a long while now, and while I’ve never read *everything* he has done, I’ve read enough to be quite a fan of his writing, and clear explanations and lucid, pragmatic views. A resource every software developer should read.
But his latest is simply outstanding. In Martian Headsets, he explains about web standards in a way that’s understandable, exact, balanced, and above all, entertaining. Lays out the reason why IE8, the next version of the predominant web browser in the world, is in a unique position to change the world (and I’m only slightly exaggerating), what issues confront the browser development team and why no matter what it does, it may not be able to correct the flaws compounded upon in years and years of web development.
At the heart, it discusses the decision that every developers will face at one point or another in their career: to do the right thing, or to make it work.
It’s fascinating reading, and may be the single best piece of technical exposition I have ever read on any subject in IT, much less web standards. Even if you’re not technically inclined, I’d recommend a read: you’ll learn about web standard, if nothing else.


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It’s articles like these that make me really excited about the future. I’m a huge proponent of mobile technology, about how the latest and greatest in the tech world will make us more connected, more enabled, but without the bulk that today’s laptops impose on us.
This article by Computerworld focuses on some concept notebooks, which is touch screen, soft keys, and light. I don’t think there will be a one device that does everything anytime soon, especially if we’re talking about the amalgamation of notebook and mobile phones, for instance, but the convergence continues to happen at a frantic pace. It will soon be silly to own a desktop computer – everything that stays in the house would be more like a server, and connected and controlled via the TV set in a home media setup. Actual computing work? On a laptop, of course!
Very interesting look in the future.


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I had planned to write a dazzling defense of ebooks for years now, but had never had the chance to really sit down to get it done (I know exactly how long I’ve been meaning to do it because I keep track of almost everything in my organizer).
I’ll get to it, as I’ve picked up the writing again recently, what with the recent surge of interest in debating about ebooks with the release of Amazon’s Kindle. I’ll post my thoughts on ebooks readers later, but a quick sideswipe is I think the Sony Reader looks much better than the Kindle, although feature-wise it does lose out to Amazon’s device. I’ll get to them later.
But most of all, I’m just wondering why ebook readers are not really sold here. Ever since the Rocket e-Book Reader was announced oh-so-long ago, I’ve been pining for one, but being in an out-of-the-way country does hinder shipping and handling. I want to see it in a store. I want to hold it, be impressed, be blown out of the water, be simply mesmerized by the physical presence. I can order it online, but then there’s this agonizing wait, and the hope that the shipping doesn’t shatter the precious cargo. Then of course there’s the issue of being able to buy ebooks for these devices from outside of the States. I’ve not hopped over to Amazon yet, but like iTunes Store, the Sony eBook Store doesn’t cater to us over here.
This is like opening a can of worms, I had intended only to write a little, but here I am being compelled to ensure there’s no confusion on the technologies.
I must clarify that for these dedicated ebook readers, the users are typically forced to go to the respective vendor’s ebook stores to purchase their ebooks, which is in a proprietary format that will only play on that particular device (i.e. Kindle only reads ebooks purchased from Amazon’s ebook store, Sony’s only from their store, and they are *not* interchangeable). For generic ebook reader software, however, such as those which can be installed on devices such as PDAs (for example Microsoft Reader, Palm Reader or Acrobat Reader), then the ebooks may be purchased from any vendor that peddles in these respective formats. This is precisely the reason that if you purchase a Sony Reader here, you’ll have problems getting ebooks because the Sony eBook Store, which is your sole avenue for ebook purchasing, doesn’t sell to those outside of the States.
As it stands right now, I’m pretty satisfied with my current ebook reader, my Dopod 838Pro aka HTC TyTN. It’s small, and I carry dozens of books with me as long as I have my mobile. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do for now.
I’ll be back with the whole ebook mess.


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By no means breaking news, but Google’s foray into the mobile platform is as exciting as opening a pack of potato chips and finding out there are more than 6 chips inside (okay, more exciting than that).
Android has the backing of a gigantic brand name that has the potential of bringing solidarity to the industry that even Windows Mobile, Symbian and Blackberry couldn’t achieve. Add to that that the carrot that Google has devised – a 10 million bucks developer challenge to develop exciting new applications for Android.
This is level opportunity for anyone with brilliant ideas to step forward and stake a claim in the mobile arena. That’s what I really love about the Internet, those who can see the opportunities can seize them and make of them what they will, regardless of where in the world they might be.
So, an opportunity to develop for Android, and to win large doughs of cash. I have ideas, but do not have the primary resource for the endeavor, the most precious commodity of them all: time. I’m eager to learn up the platform, and I think it’s an extremely interesting opportunity. This is akin to the new beginnings of the Web, where people can build the anything remotely useful (and doesn’t suck), and pretty much gain a huge chunk of the market share simply by virtue of being the first.
Microsoft has an exciting development environment and platform in Windows Mobile. But Microsoft doesn’t have the same sort of clout (for the lack of a better word) to generate the same excitement that Google can. The notion that Google can do no wrong and their tendency to open up previously closed platforms makes Android look like a double-layered chocolate moist cake with caramel top – extremely tempting.
Personally, even evaluating the platform against other mobile platforms would be educational – sometimes even ten millions dollars cannot guarantee mass migration of developers from established players.
So I’m excited, and although my chances of winning the $10M is as remote as Michael Jackson turning black again, I think the journey would be interesting. Do you think a calculator with coloured keys be a $10M-winning candidate?


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I wanted to write about the little episode concerning Ursula Le Guin’s little outburst on the internet over her little piece in Ansible. Unfortunately, a little jaunt to an Apple store after dinner brought my attention to a tiny little thing called iPod Touch.
If you don’t really follow the endless rollouts of consumer electronics and geeky gadgets, you may not have heard that Apple released a phone called iPhone. This little thing has been greeted by the general gadget/techy public as the best thing since someone dared to split open and tasted durians However, due to partner deals and other business shenanigans, this baby is not available outside of the US (for now).
However, Apple has seen fit to revamp its generation of iPods, and have introduced what is really the iPhone without the phone – called the iPod Touch. And this had no trouble reaching our shores.
And I got to play with it today.
Initial impression: breathtaking! I won’t show you any pictures (I didn’t take any, and I didn’t feel like pissing people off by image linking them here), but I will direct you to Apple’s home page and the pictures in Engadget here to see for yourself what I’m talking about.
Slimmer than a catwalk model who eats once a week, more stylish than Gwen Stefani ever could be, sexier than [insert whatever turns you on], it’s a lovely lovely piece of technology.
However, I’ve always stated that I will not buy iPods, and this guy does nothing to sway me (although it came pretty damn close). It’s still too expensive. We can’t use iTunes here, which takes away a lot of the functionality that it otherwise will give to iPod owners. I can get similarly spec’ed media players for a much lesser price. There are more than a couple of things that I can nitpick about this device – it’s not perfect!
However, there is nothing out there like its user interface, which is beautiful. it is more than the sum of its parts. I suppose for a fellow with loads of cash to spare, and is looking for something that will literally turn people’s heads, you cannot go wrong with the iPod Touch.


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Did I mention I was blown away with the iPhone by Apple? The design was astounding, with functionality in a lovely form factor.
Here comes another upstart to the throne: Upstage by Samsung. Dual sided beauty offering similar features to the iPhone, including the form factor. And it comes earlier too.
We do love it when companies keep one-upping each other to seduce the consumers. It is during times like these that I keep thinking how left out we are over here when the big guns over there flaunt their toys while the rest of us here drool.
Ah well. Good things come to those who wait.
Personally, I’m simply waiting for the same wow-like form factor design applied to a useable PDA phone device. I really really like to do whatever I want with a phone, including email and reading ebooks.


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