Friday, September 29, 2006

Where is all the software developer

I met a sales executive in a dinner. He told me he has been doing sales job for about four years, surprisingly, he was a programmer before he changed to sales line.

I ask him, what make him decided to give up programmer life? He told me, programmer life have to work till late night, is just to difficult for him. Yes, is true, not everyone can go through a programmer life.

Malaysia don't treat programmer (or software developer) well, low pay, long working hours, and always under pressure. There are a lot of fresh graduates work as a programmer every year, they need more training, but before they can go through the tough life, most of them had given out.

Obviously Malaysia is still lack of experience software developers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

iMac Intel with core 2 duo

I didn’t notice until I read Jason’s blog, Apple computer slash the iMac G5 Intel price to as low as RM3999 (17” model, America selling at USD999. It came with the new Intel Core 2 duo CPU, a 64bit, much more advance CPU than the earlier Core duo CPU (without the ‘2’) used in mac mini. The iMac 17” model came with combo drive (DVD+CD-RW) and not super drive (DVD-RW).

Even though I stop recommend other people to buy Apple notebook for the overheated and battery problem, but that’s for notebook. For those who considering to upgrade their computer to a Core duo now, I think this is a good deal.

A few good apple products

iPod Shuffle . This 2nd generation iPod shuffle, is smaller and lighter, with 1GB memory. It doesn’t come with USB adaptor interface, you need a dock connector to charge and sync the device.

iPod Shuffle 2
iPod Shuffle, 2nd generation

iPod nano . This 2nd generation iPod nano designed like a iPod mini, but smaller in size. It came with 5 colors, maximum capacity is 8GB version, which is blank in color.

iPod nano 2
iPod nano, 2nd generation

USB power adapter. I never notice there is such a product, it can charge you iPod device (through USB cable) while you are on traveling.

USB power adapter
USB power adapter, charge your iPod

These days many electronic gadgets charge through USB, like Motorola V3 series phones, Palm PDA, is good to have a standard charger for all your electronic portable devices, so you don’t have to bring so many power adapter with you while traveling. Like Nokia mobile phones, all use standard power adapter, it is an important feature.

AirPort express . I am wandering what is this device. It is a wireless hub but not able to dial up to the internet, it built in with AirTunes, allow you to stream iTunes music to audio system through wireless, but I think plug in iPod device directly to the audio system could be easier.

AirPort Express
AirPort Express, wireless base station

This device is small and portable, palm-size, just like a power adapter. You can plug it into an existing network to enable the wireless network capability. You can use it as a wireless router to extend WiFi coverage, but it is not so straight forward especially with WEP encryption on.

Hack in the box 2006

HITB (Hack In The Box) is a security conference since 2003.

Capture the flag, is a hacking competition. There are 10 teams (or may be 9?) in the competition, take place in Westin Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

When I read the result, I got a shock.

First place : dokdo-kor (South Korea)
Second : zone-h (Italy)
Third : Qb1t (Singapore)

Anyway I think this is a good event.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

winmail from outlook email client

Sometimes I received attachments with a name winmail.dat, which was not able to be read by webmail or some email client. If you use the unix file utility to check it:

$ file winmail.dat
winmail.dat: Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format
The attachment was send by Outlook email client. You can use a tnef program to extract out the content. The tnef program is a open source program which runs on unix operating system, is very easy to compile:-

$ cd tnef-1.4.3
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr
$ make

$ src/tnef -f winmail.dat
( this will extract the winmail file content to current directory )

For OS X users, try tnef's enough.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

bsod on os x

BSOD (blue screen of death, not BSD!) on Mac OS X.

kernel panic
Mac OS X kernel panic

I have seen this once, I though is a hardware failure, actually is kernel panic, and I have forgotten how it happened. My friend told me, he encounter quite a few times.

It can be customize, read here.

Macbook is a laptop

Earlier when I complain the overheated Apple notebook (my post), I mention about a blog post, and I have found it, is here, but in chinese.

The story is, a lot of customers complain about overheated Apple notebook, so the customer service says, “The MacBook is a notebook, not a laptop, refer to your user manual.” (refer here)

Someone found the picture here:-

apple ads

(If you can't see the picture, click here for the original post)

The original picture, is still at this Apple site. I find it interesting, so share with you all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Which gcc version?

I have been doing a lot of software development job on unix platform using C programming language. Normally I work on Linux and very old version of SUN Solaris system. How old? Is Solaris 2.5, which was release more than 10 years ago (1992). I use some old gcc compiler as well, don't be surprised if is as old as gcc 2.8.

There are a few version of gcc available, choosing a right version which suit your need is very important. Not all gcc version are (fully) compatible, I just share my gcc experience here:-

gcc 2.8.1. I like this very old version of gcc, is classic. It is small in size (binary), just about 3 to 5 megabytes, you can bring it along with you easily and install on many machine, I use it to compile the later version on target machine. The gcc itself is very easy to compile. I don't suggest anything earlier than 2.8, but I use gcc 2.7 once to compile an old linux kernel (2.0.x).

gcc 2.9x. gcc 2.8 doesn't work well with some new version of open souce software, you need a newer version compiler to do the compilation work. gcc 2.9x is not an offical release from free software foundation, users are waited too long until the next official release, so these people put in a lot of new functioin, and fork out the gcc 2.9x from the offical release. They do it so well that make most people forgotten the official release. If you are late 90s user, you should be familiar with this version.

A lot of the cross-compiler, tool-chain or ARM target binary compiler are base on this version.

gcc 3. Most people upgate from 2.9x to version 3.x without much problem, because they don't write program, especially C++ program, they hardly compily any open source software too. gcc 3 is not compatible with gcc 2.9x, gcc 3 is an official release, but gcc 2.9x is not.

One of common problem when user upgrade Java version or Mozilla/Firefox, and found out that the java plugins is not working anymore. This is cause by the in-compatibility of gcc binaries, browser and java plugins compile by a different version of gcc. eg. browser compile by gcc 3, but java plugins compile by gcc 2.9x. Normally the java plugins provide 2 binaries, one compiled by gcc 3, and another compiled by gcc 2.9x.

These days, not much people care about java plugins problem. They use firefox browser on Windows operating system, for unix users, most of them move to gcc 3. The most important thing is, they hardly need java plugins for website.

gcc 4. gcc has moved to version 4 for quite some time, I have no experience on using it.

Newer doen't mean better, just choose something which suit you best will do.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ACM 2006

I just went to ACM expo in the afternoon.

I know why I prefer ACM expo than PC Fair, is not so crowded. May be most of the people go to Microsoft Tech Ed 2006.

Many exhibitors doesn't know how to make use of this "golden opportunity" to promote their company and products. Just hire some pretty girls, stand there and do nothing (Ok. You can ask them to distribute some leaflet), like Kasturi Technology

If you need them to talk to the customer, make sure they know the product well. Some promoter from Maxis and DiGi, don't even know the detail of the package. These information was shown to the public everyday, sometimes customer knows it better.

Free gift like pen or paper bags, with the company or product name printed on it, is good advertisement, just distributed to the visitors as much as you can.

Some companies just a have a small booth, put some brochure there, simply ask any staff sitting there. I saw some them almost fall asleep while sitting there. Please don't blame on them, no one can sit there and do nothing for the hold day.

Don't expect people came all the way from their office, take the brochure and walk away, most visitors want better interactive session. Put up a multimedia video, or self-running slides will be good.

Make sure your marketing and sales don't simple bluff, visitors will know. If you want to have technical session, make sure the technical people can talk like Steve Jobs, or visitors will just walk away before they finish.

Some exhibitors get a large booth, like Macro Kiosk. I look around, everything look nice. The problem is, other than the smart car, I don't know what they want to show to the visitors (like last year). I am sure Micro Kiosk sell nothing related to the smart. I saw a few of their (marketing?) people, just group together and talking non stop (within themselves and not to the visitors).

iNavigate have a small booth under MDEC, they have a product call mEye, allow your mobile phones to monitor your home or office, quite interesting. I didn't notice N2N there.

Acer is there. Acer always show up in ACM. Last few years, they show their latest notebook tablet. This time I don't know what they want to show. They have a few handsome guy, dress up with coat nicely, but hardly say any words. I though they were hired as bodyguard.

Skype phone! Finally I saw someone promoting skype phone, I think is from Avantech(?). Sorry I am not so interested with hardware company.

I think RedTone people are force to stand by at the ACM exhibition, because they leave the exhibition before anyone else leaving. If they want to avoid the traffic, may be they should use Maxis' traffic monitoring system. I have invested in RedTone shares, so I really hope they can do better.

Maxis is promoting their phone book backup services, RM2 per month, but these people can't explain well how these things will work, just ask me to access their website. Their 3G still can't display a smooth streaming video, after one year time.

After criticize about so many things, I saw some exhibitors are very hard working, keep doing demo non stop, like EP-Tech. They have a scratch board device, you can just draw on the projector screen using electronic pen or your finger tip. The system is running on Windows operating system.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

ACM 2006 coming soon

I attended the ACM (ASEAN Communications Expo & Forum) expo for the pass few years. I prefer this expo than the PC Fair or Microfest every year. PC Fair and Microsfest are for normal consumer, is just like an IT mega sales.

ACM 2006
at KLCC Convention Center

ACM is more focus on telecommunication, company like Maxis, DiGi, TM (Telekom Malaysia) will be there, few years back I saw RedTone and Green Packet. Not so much of pretty show girls around, and I don’t really learn new things all the time there, but is something different.

There is a few mobile and telco related company will be there this year, eg. iWOW, MacroKiosk (they were there last year), Mobile 365.

Normally the expo is at Mines Exhibition Center, but this year they are in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), you can pre-register through their website.

5th to 7th September (10am to 5.30pm)
8th (10am to 4pm)

Is weekdays, but if you have time, don’t miss it.

Picaseweb experience

Yesterday night, my friend show me some photos uploaded to Google Picasaweb. Picasa website is available to the public testing for quite some time, but this the first time I browse through the photo site.

When Google acquire Picasa photo management software, I am wandering, how could Google miss out flickr, and let Yahoo grep it. I know Google always like to use their own technology, and I believe Google apply similar technology in Google Earth to Picasaweb.

Many online photo site allow user to upload and display the original digital photo which as large as 1600x1200 pixels. Is nothing wrong to upload a high resolution photo, but display a high resolution photo (around 1M) on the web page, that will be wrong. User will click the close button before the photo is loaded completely.

High resolution photos are for hard copy print out. For a web page display, photo need to be resized in both resolution and capacity. Don’t hope the broadband network will solve the problem, because bandwidth is always limited. Most screen display are set to 1024x768 or even smaller in size, photo resolution which is higher than this will be resize for a better display, so is just wasted.

Browse through Google Picasaweb is a different experience from flickr, even it is not so much fun as flickr, but Picasaweb is fast. Other than a wider bandwidth and higher server load capacity, there are software technology behind the scene. The Picasaweb first deliver a ‘blur’ image, which is smaller size (so it loaded and display faster), and load the other detail of the image at the background, just like what Google Earth is doing.

Ofoto, the very first online photo album that I know, acquire by Kodak in June 2001.
Sony ImageStation, official online photo sharing website.
Yahoo photo, Yahoo is a portal, they almost have everything.
flickr, now you know why Yahoo want to acquire another online photo album.

Bandwidth is always limited

Not just about bandwidth, resources are always limited.

Ten years ago, when people start talking about Java technology, people are so excited about it. Java is cross-platform, write once and run everywhere, but Java is slow, so my friend told me not to worry, because CPU getting faster and faster. This is true, but not all the truth.

If you notice these days, website use a lot of Macromedia flash technology, and not java applet. There are many reasons why people doing so, eg. development tools, easy to use, compatibility (with earlier version), browser plug-ins available etc. Most important is the user experience, flash is fast.

The most popular short video website—YouTube, use Macromedia flash to playback videos, not Java applet, not Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Window Media Player. Even though we have broadband of 1M (or more), compare with the dial-up 56.6K is a lot of improvement, user still find that the internet connection is slow. User can’t wait forever until the video downloaded. Flash is light weight, it satisfied the users need.

Ajax technology is so popular today, because it improved the performance and user experience of web application.

There is a lot of potential for flash technology, is a right move for Adobe to acquire Macromedia flash.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Carolyn, you're fired!

Side dishes.

The lady appears in "The Apprentice" show, Carolyn Kepcher has left Donald Trump's Company, reported in many website news today. Carolyn became popular, as appear in "The Apprentice" show. She help Trump to monitor the "apprentice" team progress, help Trump to identify who to be fired.

Carolyn Kepcher

After Carolyn became popular, she is busy writing book and giving speech, could hardly focus on the business. That could be the main reason why Carolyn left Trump’s Company.

Carolyn has her own website