Skip navigation

Category Archives: life

The non-smart-phone world seems so distant now after being connected to The Hive<tm> around the clock for a little more than a year with the HTC Dream/Android G1. It’s not the best of phones, but it was the first and I can’t really say any other Android-based phone has impressed me much. There is some hope for the rumored Motorola Shadow but nevermind, this post is about the applications I’ve grown to love.

There are a couple of applications in my daily life, but some applications stand out more than others.

  1. ConnectBot
    This is hands down the best SSH-client on-the-go that I’ve ever used. It supports keys, multiple concurrent sessions, it hooks up one of the hardware buttons to switch between the windows in GNU Screen. Gesture support involves scrolling Up/Down in the buffer or sending Page Up/Down depending on if you touch the left or right part of the screen. The trackball is Ctrl which makes using a shell with high latency a breeze. There are bookmarks, and you can even tunnel ports to the phone which is really nice if you have some web-page hidden inside some network or something. Simply put, pure awesomeness. It’s not uncommon I start my work day on the bus with this application.
  2. Google Listen
    I never really cared about podcasts before, but this completly changed when I found this wonderful application. With flat rate data subscription, and the podcasts being downloaded to the phone, or streamed as you listen, this sweet application makes podcasts really accessible. The only annoying thing is that it continues to play new podcasts in queue with no way of stopping after only one, which causes me to wake up with strange voices in my head in the middle of the night. Another feature some iPhone fanboy friends of mine have in their podcast clients is the ability to increase speed, which would be very nice when listening to The Economist podcast. My current list of poison can be found here.
  3. Twidroid
    I wasn’t really into twitter until I found this application. Haven’t tried many other as I don’t feel limited with this one. It’s not mega awesome, but it’s well written and does its job well. It supports all the features you’d expect, it updates tweets in the background, it supports URL shortening services, photo sharing services, it hooks into the Share-feature in Android etc.
  4. Google Sky Map
    Using the accelerometer to navigate, GPS to fetch your position, it presents to you with a 3D map of the universe around you. As a typical Swede I could only spot the Big Dipper and perhaps Orion’s Belt so for me this app is a big +1. A dark night last summer I found myself amazed by having augmented my reality with the ability to see the stars that were right under me, only visible from other parts of earth. A must see at least.
  5. FxCamera
    A pretty simple but neat camera application that applies some fancy filters to your otherwise crappy photos. It’s a nice addition when you snap a photo and upload it to Facebook or Twitter directly from your phone. Features Toy Camera, Polaroid etc.
  6. Google Reader
    Ok, not really an Android application, but it is a custom version for mobile use, and I use it a lot while I travel by bus, or just being too lazy to grab my laptop. Very effective way of getting your daily dose of from The Hive<tm>.

So with the mentioned applications I’m pretty satisfied with the whole Android experience. The only area that’s currently lacking is in Tower Defense games, but that’s probably just a matter of time, and it’s probably good that there aren’t any worth playing yet ;).

As for firmware customizations I’ve done some experimentation. At first I used the JesusFreke firmware, which got discontinued, next up was CyanogenMod which was all the rage the whole autumn, and I recently switched to OpenEclair which is a rock solid Android 2.1 version for the G1 that I’m really satisfied with.

It’s nice to see that such a large community of hackers have spawned around the Android project and I hope it grows even more. I haven’t had the time to get involved myself yet, except for some half-assed attempt to play with Scala, and a small XMMS2 client just to get the feel for the API. Hopefully time permits future adventures into Android-hacking, I still have hopes, and it looks like Android is here to stay.

So to sum it up, I’m really satisfied with Android, although I find it a bit sad that no manufacturer have yet to come even close to the iPhone touchscreen performance  (although S-E X10 Mini is pretty close, unfortunatly with a molested UI).

In 2006 my girlfriend bought herself a MacBook, one of those white ones, pretty, easy to use, and all was well. About two years later the laptop started acting weird. I shut down even though there was still a lot of charge left in the battery and other strange symptoms. A call to Apple and a quick battery check in the store and she got a new battery thanks to the battery exchange program they had running back then, almost no questions asked, and all was well again.

A while ago the battery started acting up again. We came home from a short vacation and the battery icon had a cross over it and the battery didn’t charge. I got on the phone with Apple and they of course answered that I was SOL, but after refusing to accept that they told me to go to an Apple Support store to test if the battery was depleted, or defect. Needless to say it was defect, it had gone from acceptable performance to no performance in the blink of an eye.

Ok, so with the blessing of an Apple technician I called Apple again and now things started to get strange. The support now told me batteries were something you used up and that this battery too was used up even though the technician said otherwise. After a while I had the support guy accept that Apple didn’t manufacture their batteries to suddenly die after a years usage, but rather become less and less able to hold the charge. Based on this acceptance I tried pointing out that Konsumentköplagen (law to protect consumers here in Sweden) protected me from manufactoring errors, and as we both agreed that the battery was incorrectly manufactured, as determined by their party, this would give me the right, and according to me, right to a new battery.

This convincing had taken a while and the support guy was definatly not interested in Konsumentköplagen nor talking with me, so he redirected me up one level after he had explained the case to the next guy.

The next guy had been told by his managers that batteries were something you used up, and thus the Konsumentköplagen didn’t apply, but when asking for a legal reference to his statement that batteries was specifically not covered by the Konsumentköplagen he got a bit defensive, specially after me pointing out that the first hit on Google has the title ”Apple doesn’t care about Konsumentköpslagen”. After a short battle he sent me one step up to something he explained to be their office for more law-related questions.

This time a Danish girl answered and the conversation continued in english and she didn’t seem to have ever heared of the Konsumentköplagen, but was kind enough to give me a 30% discount code on a new battery from Apple Store. I accepted this as the alternative according to her was to talk to their lawyers, and that seemed like a too big effort considering the price of a new battery.

I’m still not completly sure who was right in this case, they never explicitly said that I was wrong. The Konsumentköplagen says that’s it up to the consumer to prove the manufactoring error, but as their technician had determined this already I belive that I was right, and I have still not found any explaination to the relation between Konsumentköplagen and batteries.

Installed the Last.FM player on my Android yesterday and I suddenly knew that I had just taken a leap into the future.

The days of myPod‘s and other digital music players are reaching their end. I realise that while writing this, millions of people sit in front of their computers pushing music into their little gadgets before heading out in the street or whatever, and you know what…

<blink>THEY’RE DOING IT WRONG!</blink>

What they should do is to get themselves an Android or iPhone, install the Last.FM app, just head outside and click the ”xxxx’s Library” station and enjoy song after song they probably just want to hear right now, for free! The whole world of music instantly available from that Internet enabled device in their pocket.

<blink>THIS IS THE FUTURE! IT’S HERE!</blink>

It’s has also revolutionized my use of Last.FM. As I’m using it on the go I’m not really doing anything other than listening to music so it brings me closer to the music in a whole new way.

If I hear a song it’s really easy to just pick up the phone from my pocket and press the ❤ button, maybe skip to the next song if the current one doesn’t fit my mood, or if the song reminds me of someone, the share button is just a click away, both share to email from the android contacts list, or to my friends at Last.FM.

I haven’t been this excited about a piece of software since I first started using Xbox Media Center, this IS the best thing since sliced bread (or XBMC in this case).

It was some time between Christmas and New Years last year I carried my Technics SL-1200MK2 home in my arms. Now a year later I can say that it’s hands down one of my best investments ever, I mean.. just look at it..

The first 6 months it wasn’t used more than perhaps once a week, but when moving to my new apartment it was the easiest source of music for a long time due to the caos of getting things to their proper place. When finally getting the apartment into order the habit was already there. I’ve listened to almost no digital source of music for the past 6 months when being at home, and my collection is close to filling my first box. When spending most of my awake time in front of a computer it feels very relaxing to kick back in the sofa to a really great analog music experience.

Here’s the list of my current albums, with albums I’ve listened to the most marked as bold:

  • Metallica
    • Ride the Lightning
    • …and Justice for All
    • Kill ’em All
    • Master of Puppets
  • The Beatles
    • Abbey Read
    • White Album
    • Sgt Pepper
    • Magical Mystery Tour
  • Peps Persson
    • Rotrock
    • Persson sjonger Persson
  • Bob Marley
    • Kaya
    • Uprising
  • Jimi Hendrix
    • Band of Gypsys
    • Electric Ladyland
  • Jim Morrison
    • An American Prayer
  • The Doors
    • The Soft Parade
    • Absolutely Live
    • Waiting for the Sun
    • LA Woman
  • Glen Miller
    • Story
    • A Memorial 1944-1969
  • U2
    • Under the Joshua Tree
  • Nirvana
    • Nevermind
  • Mikael Wiehe
    • Kråksånger
  • The Human League
    • Reproduction
  • Plasticman
    • Sheet One
    • Closer
    • Musik
  • Black Sabbath
    • Black Sabbath
    • Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
    • Paranoid
  • Pink Floyd
    • The Wall
    • Dark Side of the Moon
    • Atom Heart Mother
    • Wish You Were Here
    • A Saucerful of Secrets
    • Animals
  • Front 242
    • Tyrrany For You
  • Kraftwerk
    • Autobahn
    • The Man Machine
    • Radio-Activity
  • Bo Hansson
    • Ur Trollkarlens Hatt
    • Sagan om Ringen
    • El-ahrairah
    • Mellanväsen
  • The Stooges
    • No Fun

If you’re thinking about getting a vinyl player but haven’t made the final decision yet, then doit! You will not regret it.

Two weeks ago it happened again. The annual synth music festival in Malmö, electricXmas. The evening started with some boozing up at the office with a crowd of 10 persons or so, lots of nice music and chattering before we hit the club. This years lineup was pretty nice: Biomekkanik, Autodafeh, Agonize, Interlace and Welle:Erdball. I wasn’t really interested in anything other than Interlace and Welle:Erdball, but these two artists had each really great sets.

Also.. Welle:Erdball also threw out their instrument of choice into my drunk arms:

C64

Unfortunatly it doesn’t seem to work properly after that crazy night, or I’ve failed to tune in the TV correctly (although I can easily find my other C64 on this TV). Next up is probably to switch over my other C64 into this new and signed chassi and get it to actually play some Welle:Erdball sids. Pretty nice to have a dedicated Welle:Erdball-computer 🙂

Right, and I at least requested vinyl versions of all of Interlace’s albums, the answer was that it was interesting, and that it might happen. Enough for me to keep on hoping.

Update:
I just ordered a 1541 Ultimate so in a not too far future there will be Welle:Erdball playing on the real shit!

It’s time again for the annual Hackaton where a heap of creative people meat up and bash their heads against their keyboards until something cool comes out. Be there, write the code, spread the source…

Details can be found at the official page here.

Got a new laptop at work yesterday, the long awaited ThinkPad X200.

Hands down best laptop ever. Everyone should throw away their old crappy laptops and get this one, or the X200s. I’ve started writing a page over at ThinkWiki on how to install Debian on it.

After reading an article over at wired.com earlier this week I wondered how fast I typed these days. The girl in the article managed to type 120 words per minute, and I know I was pretty fast in school when we worked on type writers, so up to the test.

First I tried copying a Swedish text from paper while a friend was standing next to me with a stop watch, the result measured around 80 wpm (although I think I could write a bit faster if I’d tried a couple of more times).

Second up was finding a program on the computer that just gave me random words and performed the same measurement. After a quick search with apt I found the package ‘typespeed’ and gave it a spin. A couple of tries later I didn’t even manage to get past 52 words per minute, but this test was in english, and there were some words I hadn’t heared of before, but still, both 80 and 52 are WAY less than 120.

Ok.. so finally time to get to the point. This ReCaptcha thing has been around for a while now. For those of you who haven’t heared about this wonderful project, here comes a short resume: ReCaptcha is like regular Captcha, but with two words, one known word, and one word that a computer has failed to interpret while digitalizing a book. So each time you solve a Captcha, you help opening up the world of cyberspace to a dear old book. Each word will be sent out to a lot of Captchas thus providing a kind of voting mechanism that filters out the typos.

Ok.. so finally time to get to the point (really). It would be pretty damn neat if you had a typespeed program that fed you a specified ratio of unknown words for you to train up your fingers with. This would ofc not distort the actual word before displaying it like done with Captchas. Unfortunatly I guess it’s a bit more common with people having to fill in captchas for blogs etc, than people trying to improve their writing speed using some silly program.

Anyways, way past bedtime (perhaps the reason for the idea in the first place), so good night intarweb, see you tomorrow!

In January this year I rearranged my living room. After the furniture were in position and cables were starting to find their new routes, I realized that my TV-antenna cable was too short.

At the time it wasn’t unusual for me to get cought in front of the TV, zapping channels, watching random crap, and by doing so I also polluted my brain with those evil commercials that NOBODY wants to watch, but most of us watch anyway.

Instead of going out to buy a new one (so that I could continue to destroy my brain, bit by bit) I decided to simply ditch oldschool TV, and consume all content on demand.

Most series I follow were already available for download from great websites that really understands how to treat a consumer. The missing piece was my absolute favorite TV-station, Swedish Television, that has given me hours of interesting content since I was a kid.

At the time Swedish Television was accessible only through the webbrowser, by Real Media, or Microsoft Media Player, but after browsing some HTML source I managed to grab the URL to the Windows Media stream, and was able to play it successfully with Xbox Media Center. By using the python scripting interface to XBMC I could replicate the web interface as a browsable directory tree with all content Swedish Television decided to put online (which is quite a lot of material). I eventually released the script on the XBMC scripts portal for others to download and it seemed like others liked the idea too. To this day I’ve had 16804 downloads, and lots of positive emails that made it all even more worthwhile.

I’ve been free from commercials for almost a year now, and I must say it feels great. Visiting friends who still watch oldschool TV feels like walking through a time portal, and it’s kind of scary to watch commercials when you’re not used to them, they feel pretty offensive (which of course is the purpose).

Ok, so the year of 2007 has been a great year, but what about 2008? The future of Swedish Television on the web is uncertain. This weekend I had to update the script because the short news clips are now distributed using Macromedia Flash. Luckily the url to the .flv-files could be found in the HTML-source, and XBMC can play all formats known to man, so I still have access to all content I’m interested in. But using Macromedia Flash isn’t the only new addition to the webportal. A couple of months ago Swedish Television started to distribute some content with Move Media Player that would allow for higher quality streams, but required the consumer to install additional software on their competers. When I saw the news I did a little digging to see if I could access the stream, unfortunatly without much luck (may still be possible to find out where to reach them). During the digging I found out a bit more about Move Media Player and it seems to be using the VP7 codec which FFMPEG currently doesn’t suppor (but hopefully will soon). So using VP7 on the Xbox is a no go, for now at least.

FFMPEG not supporting VP7 isn’t that big of a deal. The frustration lies in that Swedish Television is produced by tax-money, and obligatory TV-licence that you must pay if you have a TV or a computer with a TV-card and you live in Sweden. We fund the production of their content, and they repay us with restrictions on the content by using proprietary and patent damaged solutions.

This is NOT ok!

Swedish Television put pride in their claim to be Free as in Freedom. I fully agree to this when applied to their content, but by locking that Free as in Freedom content into proprietary and patent damaged distribution forms they completly invalidate their claim.

Their locked down agenda also stretches outside their own web portal. In an attempt to gain more publicity in the younger crowd of Internet-addicted kids they started to publish some of their content on YouTube which offers really crappy video quality, and uses the non-Free Macromedia Flash format for distributing its content. I can see why they do this as a LOT of people use YouTube, by creating a link between YouTube and their own web portal they are likely to get more publicity, at least to some degree.

However, YouTube isn’t the only external site with damaged distribution forms they’ve looked at. The latest way to gain more viewers has been to establish a relationship with a new site called Joost. This site is run by the founder of Skype, and is even more closed down by requiring you to create an account to watch the TV programs that the population of Sweden has collectively funded. Sorry, I don’t see the public interest in associating a person with a tv program, maybe someone can enlighten me? I haven’t verified what codec Joost uses, but as Skype uses VP7, that is probably a good bet. But to play content from Joost, you have to blindly implement their P2P technology too which most likely will never happen.

I wonder how much money has poured into the pockets of Microsoft, Real Media and Move Media for providing the current solutions, and Joost for the new sidetrack, and the project of uploading their content to YouTube. I wonder how many hours of developer time those price tags could have translated to if Swedish Television had hired a group of good programmers to write the necessary tools and modifications to get a Free solution using Theora or Dirac up and running.

So, in my eyes the future of video on demand from Swedish Television using Free software without steping on patents is in grave danger, specially when (and it’s probably just a question of when) EU opens its arms for US patents. For those who agree with me I strongly suggest you sign this petition in hope of seeing the Free as in Freedom content using Free as in Freedom distribution forms:

http://www.namninsamling.se/index.php?sida=2&nid=1120

Update:
The Xbox Media Center script, Sveriges Television 0.94, can be found here.

Been looking for a new bag for the past months due to my old one having a non-padded laptop compartment, and was above all starting to get pretty worn out after the 7-8 years it had served me. I went to the common stores downtown, I went to Apple store, I browsed the net, I asked people what bags they had, and finally I got a tip from Per at work of a San Francisco based company by the name Timbuk2. I knew I wanted a vertical messenger bag this time, and that limited my choice to more or less two models, Blogger or Hacker. After having read a review at Laughing Squid I decided to go with the Hacker model.

Timbuk2 Hacker

 

By now it’s filled up with my accessories and I’ve been using it for the first day. I must say I’m very satisfied, definatly should have bought it months back. The laptop compartment is well padded (woho!) and it’s roomy enough for my needs, and of course it looks good too! Without doubt the best bag I’ve ever had, and I haven’t even tried out the backpack mode for real yet, more love ahead I suspect.