Wednesday
Mar192003

iSiloX Beta Adds Scheduling!

iSiloX AutomatedExcellent news! I received an announcement last night that iSiloX is getting automated scheduling added to the desktop tool. The beta preview of iSiloX 3.35b is available for Mac OS X and Windows.

I've only briefly experimented with the new feature in the beta, and so far it looks good. However, each channel must be set up for a schedule individually. While that's great for flexibility, I'd really love to see a feature that would let me apply a schedule globally to all channels as well as individual channels, so I don't have to manually fiddle with every channel if I want to make a global change.

Still, even this fist step is welcomed. Even better would be an iSilo conduit that would work much like AvantGo's conduit, but I suspect that's either a long way off or wishful thinking on my part. Still, here's to hoping. :-)

Tuesday
Mar182003

Why PalmSource Should Remain Independent

Sony and PalmSourceI came across this interesting Q&A with PalmSource's David Nagel at InternetNews.com. Most interesting to me was how Nagel called Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei's interest in buying PalmSource old news.

Regarding Sony or for that matter, any other licensee buying PalmSource -- I hope it never comes to pass.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I love my Sony Clie N610C and think Sony is doing a fabulous job building innovative Palm handhelds. In fact, I believe Sony saved the Palm economy at its lowest point. Just think back to those low-point days, when Palm dealt out their the dull-screened and pre-hyped m505 after many months of speculation (stranding thousands of Palm Vx devices in warehouses and on store shelves). Remember how scarce color Palm handhelds were while black and white Pocket PC devices were all but extinct?

Sony's entry into the Palm handheld market truly invigorated the Palm community and challenged other licensees (and even Pocket PC makers) to match their innovations. Sony has maintained their "new handheld every quarter" approach (thrilling some, driving others crazy), has established 320 x 320 hi-res and 320 x 480 hi-res+ screens and Sony was the first Palm OS licensee to introduce MP3 playback capabilities built into stock Palm handhelds.

So why would I not want Sony to own PalmSource if I think they've been such a saving grace to the Palm economy and Palm community?

First off, I believe the Palm OS would become much less attractive to licensees if Sony controlled PalmSource and the Palm OS. One of the biggest reasons PalmSource was legally separated from the hardware-oriented Palm SG (Solutions Group) was to reassure Palm OS licensees that PalmSource would be equally helpful toward all licensees, without any special favoritism toward Palm SG.

If Sony were to buy PalmSource, this would resurrect the very problem Palm SG and PalmSource have worked so hard to eliminate by splitting. Even if Sony could keep their fingers out of PalmSource after a purchase, the perception of favoritism would still exist. Licensees would likely see Sony gaining 'extra benefit' from being the owner of PalmSource. This could even cause a slow defection from the Palm OS, which would be a huge negative for the Palm economy and Palm community.

One of the unique features the Palm OS platform offers over the Pocket PC platform is a true diversity of products. While Pocket PCs are great devices for various purposes, manufacturers must closely follow Microsoft's strict specifications. This means differentiation between Pocket PC devices is limited to cosmetic appearance, processor speed, RAM size and how many removable media slots are offered. This makes comparison between devices much easier but it severely limits a licensee's freedom to innovate or to dream up wild new devices.

PalmSource has taken a completely different approach, by adopting an attitude of device diversity, which allows licensees get creative with hardware implementation. This is why the most diverse PDA devices, like the AlphaSmart Dana, Garmin iQue and the Fossil WristPDA Watch are all running Palm OS.

Now there are some drawbacks to this approach, mainly for developers who must deal with multiple versions of applications, each compiled for a different screen size, resolution or processor. To minimize this, PalmSource must remain an active caretaker of the OS. They must encourage development of innovative new features by licensees and then incorporate those new features into the OS as soon as reasonably possible. However, PalmSource must also maintain firm control over licensees who want to reinvent features similar to those already present in the OS.

I'm pleased that PalmSource is an independent company. Licensees should be given the freedom to explore diverse approaches to integrating the Palm OS into handhelds and other mobile devices without a highly constricting hardware spec sheet. I believe PalmSource's Unity through Diversity approach encourages Palm licensees develop many more cool, useful products, and that's a good thing! Long live PalmSource!

Friday
Mar142003

Nathan at 4 Months

Nathan 4 months oldMy little son Nathan just hit the BIG 4 month mark yesterday, in case you were curious. We held back and didn't have the 4 Month Mongo Birthday Bash we had planned. The Russian acrobats and Guido's Troupe of Dancing Elephants were a bit disappointed, but those are the breaks. Oh well. :-)

Fatherhood is a wonderful thing! It's great fun seeing my son growing up and learning in leaps and bounds. Lately he's been exercising his vocal skills in Baby Jibberish, often quite loudly! He's mimicking our modulated speech, shaping his mouth and even using facial expressions. Amazing.

Nathan's hand-eye coordination has also greatly improved in the past 4 weeks. He's been able to grasp things on his own and hold them long enough to shake them around a bit. He's also got powerful legs for a little spud -- what a kick!

But the most fun of all is seeing Nathan becoming aware of his surroundings. He's now much more aware of people and can respond in kind to their smiles. He seems to understand the tone of voices and is reacting to noises he hears. He's also more aware of shapes, colors and other bits of the environment he's found himself in.

It's amazing to think that this tiny little boy has come as far as he has in only 4 months. His growth excites me, since I'm privileged to see, first hand, just how he continues to adapt, learn and grow. Lucky me!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday
Mar132003

McWireless: Would You Like Wi-Fi with That?

No, seriously! McDonald's is actually planning on offering an hour of free wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) in their restaurants in three US cities, according to this story on Yahoo! News. The free one hour of Wi-Fi deal will come with an extra value meal; additional hours can be had for $3 each.

I think this move by McDonald's is very interesting. If successful, this could turn McDonald's into a place where laptop and PDA users know they can go for a quick fix of Wi-Fi and something to eat. I imagine if the service proves popular, McDonalds may even sell Wi-Fi access sans the food requirement, banking on the scent of freshly cooked french fries wafting past visitor's noses as they surf.

Less than a year ago, I was a kinda skeptical about Wi-Fi. I thought it a frivolous nicety I'd never really use. Surprisingly, I became an enthusiastic Wi-Fi proponent after getting our two Mac PowerBooks wirelessly connected to each other and to the Internet through a Netgear Wi-Fi router. Now I enjoy the freedom of Wi-Fi net access all over our house. Our little Wi-Fi network has proven more useful than I'd imagined. With a new son to spend time with, it's great to access the net or our Mac network wherever Nathan is, rather than being chained to a computer in the basement.

I'm happy to see companies like McDonalds, Starbucks and Schlotzky's Deli all offering Wi-Fi "Hot Spots" in their establishments across the US. Soon, I can imagine a myriad of eateries, bookstores, malls, hotels and airports all offering inexpensive Wi-Fi access to their customers.... that would be cool by me. :-)

Wednesday
Mar122003

Blogging Gone Mainstream?

Today I read an interesting article at CNN, talking about blogging going mainstream. More of these kinds of articles seem to be appearing lately, following Google's recent purchase of Blogger.com (Blogger is a company which is popular for its free and paid blog services).

I find it intriguing that a phenomenon like blogging can be happening below the radar for quite some time, until a singular event (like Google buying Blogger) brings it to the attention of the media and general public. This process seems similar to the way musical acts are "discovered" even though they've been doing local or national tours for years and years.

I had a friend ask me what I thought the real deal with blogs was. He wanted to know if I thought were they just a fad like pet rocks, or if I felt there was something of substance to them. My answer was both.

Blogs do seem to have a momentary faddish aspect to them. In fact, many are starting blogs with great enthusiasm that will probably stop posting once they discover nobody is reading their work. As an example, check out this Wired article about weblogs abandoned by their owners.

On the other hand, there are many useful blogs that provide journalistic-level coverage on current events, some that specialize in research on very specific topics, and still others updated by developers, who share details of their development process with users and colleagues.

I think just as email, web browsing and chatting have all grown up and settled into a groove, blogging will settle into its own niche too. Once the fad has run its course, blogs will find their place in the web and become another staple for those who use and enjoy them.

I think the biggest problem facing a world of blogs is the sheer number and variety of them. There are just so many resources out there, no one reader will be able to see them all. Over time I think the better, more dedicated and more focused bloggers will prosper while bloggers who lose interest in blogging will falter. This is the normal way of things -- the best naturally rise to the top.