Monday, May 30, 2005

Software Commoditization .

Ive just read Ian Murdoch(from the Debian fame)'s blog about Open source and the commoditization of software and am intruiged by the parallels he draws up between hardware and software "openness" and the way standardization and market forces leads to commodity products.

From Sun, Apple, IBM, Dell, Microsoft and RedHat he illustrates the different choices these companies made between open and proprietary solutions, and the effect they have on their customers, and ultimately what effect it has on these companies.
"... commoditization does not equate to certain death to the established firms, if they have the vision to see beyond the disruptive events that may befall them in the short term and can adapt themselves to the new commodity environment."

It is interesting to note that all the companies above bar one have embraced OpenSource as they recognise the value they can derive from FOSS.
" ... commoditization is a natural, and unstoppable, force that is good for everyone involved"

My feel is that this article was good, but more could be said about how these companies reacted to the needs of customers wanting the choice. I also felt that he was really having a go at RedHat at their attempts to decommoditize Linux with their "loophole" license.
"... if Linux users wanted access to the applications and hardware certified to Red Hat’s platform, they had to run Enterprise Linux. To run Enterprise Linux, they had to acquire it from Red Hat via the new subscription model, which entailed signing a subscription agreement that forbade them from redistributing it."


A good read, thanks obiwan.

Blindness

I just read in the news today that FDA Probing Possible Link Between Viagra, Blindness. After gathering myself up from falling on the floor laughing, I figured out why this is so "newsworthy"...

The only reason why this report is making headlines around the world is because it is so close to this myth and all the editors worldwide could not resist the wry humour they could propagate.

I think its darn funny...

Anyway, here's a very well researched report on the same subject. Experts skeptical about Viagra-blindness

Friday, May 27, 2005

My Mono bug has finally been fixed!

Ah, after over 1 year of waiting, a bug I found in mono has finally been fixed!
I cant really complain because:
1) I didnt even attempt to fix it myself
2) Its a very cosmetic bug, not important at all.

So Im very pleased that its done, and I dont have to write anymore work-arounds to my code.

Here's the full description and the banter between the developers.
Mono bug: 54928 - implicit operator cannot convert from struct to decimal

So thats my small contribution to OSS: a good bug report ;-)

I noticed that nothing was done to this report until Miguel assigned it to Raja Harinath in 16th April 2005 and thats when a small discussion appeared. Cool.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Nokia is Finnish, after all...

Check out this new product:


It looks really nice, and seems quite useful. Whats really interesting is that Nokia is not using Symbian as its OS but Linux! I thought it was really strange considering the amount of investment they have pumped into the development of Symbian. However, after reading their site, Im pleasantly surprised to discover that they have contributed a whole load to the FOSS community.



Unfortunately this device is NOT a phone: it needs another bluetoothed phone to dial to the net... so thats rather frustrating. I wouldnt mind lugging that around if it had a phone built in as well: else, not another device to maintain!

I got this link from Miguel's blog Nokia and Gnome as he is thrilled that gtk will now be used by the 'mass-market'

[Update]

Wow, I just saw this rather non-trivial HowTo on porting a Gtk app to Maemo, and its really interesting. They ported GAIM, and it looks good.



Porting an existing Gtk Application

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ye Maties!

I just read the BSA report on The Second Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study and am enthralled with with their methodologies.

Here's how the maths work out:

# Software Units Installed = Hardware Units * Software Load
# Software Units Sold = Software Market Revenue % Average System Value

Work out the difference, and you will find their metric of Software Units PIRATED.

Reading the explanations, Hardware Units and Software Market Revenue figures can be easily and accurately derived from research and their member sales figures. However there is a huge question mark on Software Load and Average System Value. Those figures are fudgy to say the least and may not be representative of what piracy may be.

Software Load they say is:
"... the number of software units installed and/or pre-installed (OEM) on PCs during the year. To obtain the number of software units for each type of hardware platform, in 2003, we surveyed consumers and businesses in 15 countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Romania, Spain, Taiwan and the United States. The results of these surveys were used to populate IDC’s input models for the other countries. For 2004, IDC updated its models based on local country research and interviews with users and the channels."

Is it strange that they only had numbers for 15 countries? why not all 65? More importantly, bar USA, why are they all developing (read: "high piracy rate") countries? Is it because where countries where piracy is more rampant, they tend to 'load-up' their computers more, thus inflating the #SW Units Installed?

What may be interesting is that this calculation methodology does not reflect how the BSA would 'value' Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Yes, they have a little note which says:
"Within the software load, IDC accounted for: - Software obtained for free as shareware or open source"
but what really does that mean? Did they reduce the load of that PC? I wouldnt think so as the usage of FOSS like OpenOffice is so low accounting for it would be too much of a problem.

However as FOSS gains popularity, these reports will reflect the uptake of FOSS as piracy rather than legitimate usage of software, as Loads will remain the same and yet Sales will decline! I guess this will just make the BSA's cause in the World that ever more important then ;-)

Got this link from On the problem of software piracy - brandnewmalaysian blog.

Solid State Hardisks...

Think of what we can do with this!



Samsung ready to release 16GB solid state hard drives


16GB at a 10% of the power of current harddisks! Now this is a killer product for iPods, Mars Rovers, Laptops, pocket hard disks, Embedded devices ... wow, the mind boggles at the possible applications.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Smashing Great Time

There we were, travelling along the Kesas Highway heading for Sunway Pyramid to go to the Borland seminar which would showcase Delphi 2005's new features. I was really geared up to see John Kasters for the first time, and since Delphi 7, see the whats new in the Delphi world.

I wasnt driving particularly fast as I was just tagging behind this really aggressive driver who did his duty by getting rid of the darn slow coaches who love driving on the fast lane.

Then it happened: There was a sound of a sharp crack, and I could actually feel a shockwave hit my face. I blinked, and I could see flakes of tiny shiny bits in the air. Then I realised that my vision was being obscured by veins of twisting cracks on my windshield.

Great, I thought, I wonder how long more I can drive, as it wasnt too bad. The central area of the windscreen was still relatively clear, and I could easily make out where I was driving. But while navigating to the slower lanes, there was a constant cracking sound, like the sound of corals you hear while scuba diving in the sea. So slowly but surely, my vision through the screen got more and more obscured.

Time to pull over then.

So I found a nice flyover, and parked under its shade. What do we do? I called up AAM, to find out if they had suggestions on what to do when a windshield shatters along the road. They said that nope, they cant help me, as the AAM service only covers mechanical car failures. Windscreen is out. So I called my insurance person just to make sure that the windshield is covered, and yes, I had RM1000 coverage. Just make sure I took pictures.



So the next thing to do is to clear up the glass. Nick, who was unfortunate enough to be travelling with me helped a whole load, I held solid Kinokuniya paper bag underneath while he peeled away at the glass. So after two hours of this cleaning up, and after many tiny scratches and cuts, we got the car relatively clear of the glass fragments and could turn back home.

For those who need to know, the maximum speed you can drive without a windscreen is ... any speed you want! after all, Michael Schumacher drives without a hood! I tried 120kmh and it was fine. Just make sure that the side windows are wound up, or youll get too much air blowing past you.

Anyway, sent the car to the service centre, got home and found out that the power in the kitchen to the fridge was out... what else can go wrong in a day?!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Union's GlobeTrotter Fusion 3G/GPRS/GSM/WLAN Card - On loan from Maxis

Woohoo!

I have been testing this product out today, and I can wholeheartedly give it a big thumbs up!

GlobeTrotter Fusion... good stuff!

Ive been out of the office, and since we are not in a very well connected area, wifi spots are virtually non-existant, and we need internet access. Fortunately for us, Maxis had loaned us this 3G/GPRS device for us to try out to find applications for our employees. Although 3G is not available outside the Klang Valley, we still could connect with GPRS, and its quite a relief to online withdrawal symptoms.

Installation was pretty painless, the only annoyances was the required reboot for WinXP after the installation of the drivers, and the fact that when you plug in the device for the first time, it sets itself to "Airplane Mode" and setting it too airplane unfriendly is not obvious.

The utility to manage the connections and all the little features is well done: easy to use! Although they could have done without the silly fade in when the app starts. Ah well, thats what you get when you give programmers the ability to make windows transparent...


Mobility Manager: Good Connection Utility...

Connecting to GPRS was easy, however speeds are limited to 56kbps. Brings back experiences of yesteryears: the dialup days... But performance was slow and steady. The traffic was very consistent, and the Utility reported the realtime download and upload speeds, which was very reassuring.

So after enabling TCP/IP forwarding and allowing my laptop to be a gateway, I plugged my machine to the WAN port of a wifi AP, and suddenly the entire room had internet access. So these busy executives could read their emails while pretending to be concentrating.

Of course if I were a real guru, I would have been able to use my built in wifi to create an ad-hoc network for them, but WinXPs pointy clicky didnt allow me to do that. Pity.

Curious to know if this device was supported by the Union for linux, I browsed their website and was dissapointed that its not. However they gave kudos to Paul Hardwick and his experiences with linux and 3G. He has written an Unofficial GlobeTrotter Linux HowTo. I havent tried it out yet, it looks simple enough, and will confirm it works in Malaysia's Maxis when I have the time...

Now, where can I try out 3G again?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Storage World Conference 2005

We were invited by one of our 'Disaster Recovery' vendors to visit the Storage World Conference 2005 this summer. Yes, free tickets to attend but definitely no free flight tickets to go there ;-) so we politely declined. Anyway, its not really our cup of tea.
The vendor was saying that it would be interesting because its held at Long Beach California, and it would be a nice place hang out too. Then of course the topic of Arnold the Governator came up and there was speculation on him officiating the event...
Of course I couldnt resist in suggesting that and the end of his speech, he may just say:
"I'll be backup"

*groan*

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Getting the SD Card Reader to work on the X1000

Finally I managed to get the SD Card reader to work on my Compaq X1000.
The 2.6.11 kernel already has the ability to use it, I just needed to enable it in as a module.

==== my .config file ====
#
# MMC/SD Card support
#
#
CONFIG_MMC=m
# CONFIG_MMC_DEBUG is not set
CONFIG_MMC_BLOCK=m
CONFIG_MMC_WBSD=m

=====

Now refering to this file:
How to use the Winbond W83L518D or W83L519D based builtin cardreader in some Laptop models with your Linux

Ive written a little script which does it all:

===== mntmmc.sh =====
echo "Mounting the SD Card reader with the WinBond module"
modprobe wbsd
modprobe mmc-block
mknod /dev/mmcblk0 b 254 0
mknod /dev/mmcblk0p1 b 254 1
mount -o sync /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt/mmc
echo "Done: /mnt/mmc"
ls -la /mnt/mmc
======

And I get to access the device like any other directory at /mnt/mmc.
The reason why this is important is because more and more devices like cameras, PDAs, mobile phones, are using the SD MMC, and I find inserting it directly into my laptop far more easier than digging up the cables, attaching the device and then transferring the files over, hoping that there is enough batteries in the devices to complete the transfer. Plugging in the card direct removes all this hassles, and I am free to let the transfer occur over lunch or something without having to babysit the device and turn it off.

Compiling my first gtk-sharp app in Mono

Started dabbling with mono and gtk-sharp,
and here is a simple app which works.



// project created on 5/11/2005 at 3:37 PM
// 050511 yky Copied and modified from: http://gtk-sharp.sourceforge.net/button.png

using System;
using Gtk;
using GtkSharp;

class MainClass
{
public static void Main(string[] args)
{
Application.Init ();
Window win = new Window( WindowType.Toplevel );
win.Title = "Hello";
win.DeleteEvent += new DeleteEventHandler( Window_Delete );
Button btn = new Button("Click Here");
btn.Clicked += new EventHandler( btn_click );
win.Add( btn );
//win.EmitAdd( btn );
win.ShowAll();
Application.Run ();
}

static void btn_click ( object obj, EventArgs args )
{
Console.WriteLine( "Button Clicked" );
(obj as Button).Label = DateTime.Now.ToString();
}

static void Window_Delete( object obj, EventArgs args)
{
//SignalArgs sa = (SignalArgs) args; // 050511 yky Doesnt work with my ver of mono. 1.1.6
Application.Quit();
//sa.RetVal = true;
}
}



And compiled with this:

mcs Main.cs -pkg:gtk-sharp

wowee..

The Horror of British Telecoms

The Horror of British Telecoms

Ah well, looks like its a worldwide phenomena when it comes to pseudo-privatised telecom companies.
Its like a horrible case of catch-22.
" I spent explaining to the BT operator how poor the service was. The BT lady, of course, being skilled in such matters, refused to allow me to file a complaint. Ah, the power of the monopoly!"
Here's another one:
Thats Bad? Try NTL!

This guy is just complaining about how to get access to the 'net. Im getting billed for services which I havent used. He waits around 57 minutes on the phone. I wait around 20+ days for an email response. He gets passed around from department to department, I get to speak to 4 different people on email every other response.

why?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

You're Fired

I finished watching the Apprentice 2 on TV3 a few weeks ago,
when I realised that Trump has it all wrong!
You know, they keep going on about the grueling 15 week interview,
blah blah blah, and that at the end of it they stand a chance
to win a million dollar job, etc. In the meantime, one by one, each contestant
gets kicked off the show with The Donald pursing his lips and saying:

"You're Fired"

Cue Taxi scene and end credits...

Whats wrong here is that, If its a 15 week interview, and these are
candidates vying to be Donalds sidekicks, shouldnt they need to be
Hired First before getting 'Fired?'

Ah well, I guess

"You're Not Hired"

doesnt have the same ring to it ...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

TMNet Horror 1.10.1 - Love Letters

Guess what?
Today I opened my (snail) mail, and I found a love letter from TMNet. All nice and pink. It stated that they have sent me 2 email warnings (I received neither) about non payment of RM490 or so, and that my account will be suspended in no time.

I feel so honoured and special. Its like Im their favourite customer!

Oh can this ever get better?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

TMNet Horror 1.10 - Gimme Gimme Gimme!

So Ive finally posted all my correspondence on this blog, just to make sure that I dont lose the gems of "How to piss off your customers". Im very happy with gmail on that it stored all my emails in a threaded view and blogger with the interface and the ability to alter the blog dates so that I can see things chronologically.

Anyway, as I now have a platform to gripe publicly, here is my latest email back at the evil enterprise.

From: Yoon Kit Yong
Reply-To: Yoon Kit Yong
To: TM Net Customer Care Support
Cc: yoonkit@streamyx.com, shahrir@cfm.org.my, fomca@fomca.org.my, suganthi@cfm.org.my
Date: May 3, 2005 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: Rebate Request
Hello G Pragash,

It is a shame that it has come to a point where
dealing with TMNet has become so frustrating that Im going public about it.
As little as this may have an effect or not, it is now available on my blog.

You can help your company redeem yourselves and do what is right
in meeting my very simple requests.
Remember, it is very simple to make things right.
I already have made very reasonable conditions.

> The sum RM 422.71 is the amount that was suggested
> by the Information Technology (IT) department of TM Net.
> They have done a through investigation regarding this case
> and accordingly upon careful investigation,
> we found that all the other usages from your account are valid.
> Therefore, we are not able to proceed with your rebate request.

Is this department the same department who was so sure that the original
RM422.71 was my modems fault and not their systems fault?

Remember this?

http://yoonkit.blogspot.com/2005/04/tmnet-horror-17-victory.html

>> However, regarding to your request for waiver for your Streamyx account,
>> kindly be informed that upon further checking with the related department,
>> we found that there was a system error.
>> Therefore, we have suggest a rebate of RM422.71
>> (ref. bill dated 24th December 2005) will be given.

So I suggest you check with this department again and make sure that
the other requests I have are not the fault of their systems?

Please read these requests, and answer me point by point
and show why I have to pay the extra charges.

> 1) The 422.71 which you are reimbursing me is only the December bill.
> 2) In November 2004, there is an overcharge of RM30.13
> 3) In January 2005 there is also an overcharge of RM177.21
> 4) although I paid for March access for RM44, I could not log in because my
> account was suspended over no fault of mine.
> 5) There seems to be a RM63 extra charge in September, but I cannot confirm
> because your accounts at tmbill.tm.net.my doesnt
> go back that far. Can you please check that its because I didnt pay my 44
> subscription or because of aditional charges?
> 6) Please let us not mention the inconvenience caused over the past 4 months.
>
> So can you consider rebating me a total of at least RM674.05
> as that is the total amount of money demanded by your
> accounting system which you have identified with a system error?

I have also been denied access in April, so the total increases by RM44
to at least RM718.05

So please, respond soon and favourably.

Regards,

Yoon Kit.


I hope the team at TMNets "Customer Service" departments gets to see their name on the net so that others can "evaluate" their customer service skills.

Now we wait... guess how long?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

TMNet Horror 1.9 - Other Rebates denied

And here is the unfavourable reply...
total time I had to wait was a mere week, not bad comparitively,
but still ...

From: TM Net Customer Care Support
To: yoonkit@gmail.com
Cc: yoonkit@streamyx.com, shahrir@cfm.org.my, fomca@fomca.org.my, suganthi@cfm.org.my
Date: May 1, 2005 7:50 PM
Subject: Rebate Request
Dear Mr. Yong Yoon Kit,

Thank you for e-mailing TM Net. Firstly, we apologise for the late reply.

Kindly be informed that we are unable to process further with regards to your rebate request. The sum RM 422.71 is the amount that was suggested by the Information Technology (IT) department of TM Net.

They have done a through investigation regarding this case and accordingly upon careful investigation, we found that all the other usages from your account are valid. Therefore, we are not able to proceed with your rebate request. On behalf of TM Net, we apologise for the inconveniences caused. Your understanding is highly appreciated.

Should you require any further assistance, please feel free to contact us at streamyx@tm.net.my or call us at 1-300-88-9515 (from 8:00 am to 12:00 am ~ daily).
Thank you for your support.

Best Regards,
G Pragash
Customer Care Support, CRM
TM Net Sdn. Bhd.


So yet another change in Customer Service personnel, Im sure it would be far more efficient for them if one support staff catered to each issue until the very end, so that they dont have to reread the case files which go back 6 months.

But that is besides the point.

They have done a through investigation regarding this case and accordingly upon careful investigation, we found that all the other usages from your account are valid.

Yeah, like they were so sure about my usage for November 04 which they have since admitted that it was their systems fault. If they can make the mistake in November, they can make the same mistake in other months.

The other issues I had are not due to their system, rather than the downtime and HARDSHIP I have faced since.

frustration.