Category: "Net usage"

2013 and still no usable WiFi hotspots

2013 and still no usable WiFi hotspots

I travelled from Paris to Amsterdam this week... (for a business conference).

I took the Thalys speed train. They offer WiFi on board... supposedly via satellite with fallback to multilink 3G when necessary. The reality is it works only 50% of the time. It especially doesn't work every time the train is stopped in a station with a roof. It's almost a joke. They claim offering internet access at hight speed is a technical challenge... yeah well... I almost believed that until I set up my iPhone for tethering and got a better connection through my phone than through the train's WiFi. It costs some data fees, but on the other hand, I don't have to go through the annoying WiFi login screens.

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What's MISSING in the MacBook Air...

Once again, Steve Jobs gave one of his legendary keynote addresses and once again he announced a lot a nice to breathtaking products and enhancements.

But once again, he left out quite a few details...

And once again, I am going to point them out! Yes, just because I can! :p

Note: don't get me wrong, I love that stuff, I buy it all. I just wish the right stuff released in the right order..

Half baked iPhone enhancements

OK, nice software updates, but:

  • Still no copy & paste! Can you believe that? ... but we have wiggling icons now :-/
  • Still no video capture. The hardware is there... but apparently marketing has decided you cannot use it.
  • Still no podcast update "over the air"... but who cares, as long as the keynote is dubbed "Something in the air".
  • Still no games (not that I personally care... but still)

Basically, this looked more like a $20 software release for the iPod touch (which is good, even if you need to pay) than an iPhone event. My bet is they're holding back some more about the iPhone. As Steve says at the end of the keynote: this is what they announced in the first 2 weeks of 2007. There are still 50 weeks to go! (Hint: the iPhone SDK is to be released at the end of February...)

Movie rentals

That was long anticipated. It's nice to have it, but:

  • Movies start after 30 seconds and you can watch them almost live... right... if you have an exceptional broadband connection and you are downloading a standard def movie... no way is this going to happen for mere mortals ordering HD...
  • Now if an HD movie ends up taking 10 hours to download... and you only have 24 hours to watch it, after you initially realized you only had 3 seconds to watch after 30 seconds... there's gonna be a problem. Let alone if you watch one evening and you get interrupted, you may not be able to watch the end before the next evening... more than 24 hours later. Bummer.
  • Release dates are 1 month after DVD releases. So how long is this after you can get the DVD from NetFlix?
  • OK, so I get the DVD from NetFlix... how do I insert that DVD into my Apple TV? I don't right? I need a separate DVD player... how convenient... Oh wait, I could use a Mac Mini instead of an Apple TV. Cool? No, not cool: how do I get the Apple TV software to install on the Mac Mini? Front Row there has barely been updated in years... |-|

Btw, there's a lot more reasons to get a Mac Mini instead of an Apple TV: it gives you access to media that you can't get through Apple! Let's say Joost for starters...

Then Steve also said they asked users and they told him they didn't want music rentals... Why didn't he ask me? I still wish there was a monthly plan where you get unlimited music at 128 kbps (that you can only listen to as long as you're subscribed). That would still let Apple sell me the high quality 256 kbps versions of the songs I like the most.

MacBook Air

That one really kills the Sony TZ... but again:

  • No Ethernet port!! Hello?? Yes I get the 802.11n pink tinted glasses moment... but what if you're in an hotel room that only has wired internet? It's only 2/3rds of the hotels out there... :crazy:
  • Why does Steve sounds so bored (if not evasive) when mentioning the environmental issues addressed in the making of the MacBook Air? Are those few extra dollars in production cost really bugging him that much?

Anyway... despite all this... I'm pretty excited to get my hands on all this stuff. The Time Capsule + Time Machine is brilliant integration! :)

OK, back to playing with my upgraded iPod Touch... ;)

Apple Mighty Mouse goes wireless... but how far away?

Wireless Mighty Mouse
Wireless Mighty Mouse

Until now, Apple had a cool mouse called the Mighty Mouse with all the advanced features you'd expect from a mouse (right click, scroll weel... even better: multidirectional scrolling ball)... it just wasn't wireless.

Apple also had a Wireless mouse... but it had only one button! :(

Today, you can finally get the best of both worlds! The mighty mouse with all it's buttons becomes wireless! Apple has even improved the pointing technology which is now a laser instead of an LED. This should allow for smoother movement on more surfaces...

...except this one little detail: the problem with the Apple wireless mice is not the pointing technology... it is the bluetooth technology! Apple bluetooth is just not reliable any more if you get more than 2 meters away from your Mac. (Home entertainement use... Of course you have less issues on a desktop... but do you really need a wireless mouse on a desktop?)

It seems that the mouse can operate on either one or two batteries. So you might expect it to have more power and greater operating range when you insert a second battery. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that will be the case. The "old" wireless mouse had 2 batteries already... :-/

Ironically... I think I'll buy it anyway... yeah, even at 69 €... I just want that thing in my living room! :P

IM sucks... (and so does email)

Over the last 6 months I have refrained as much as possible from using Instant Messaging, if it was not for scheduled conversations. I mean, IM is cool in a "netmeeting" kind of way. But having an IRC/MSN/Yahoo/ICQ/Whatever Messenger open all day, poping up alerts every 10 to 20 minutes, is definitely a major disturbance!

I got into arguments about this with friends. They were arguing that "you don't have to answer if you don't want to" and I was arguing that "you cannot focus on what you're constantly evaluating whether or not you're gonna reply to the latest interruption".

It's been hard to come to an agreement... but now... I have scientific evidence to back up my position! :>> You think you're too smart to be subject to attention disorder? Check those out:

Those actually articles talk about email, but email is only the ancient, slow, lightweight form of the Instant Messaging disturbance! ;)

I do actually tend to close my email client as well when I need concentration. I try to only open it every 2 to 3 hours or so. And even if I leave it open: I have turned of new mail alerts and sounds! You oughta try that someday ;) You wouldn't believe how much better you'll be able to focus!

Now, I still need to deal with that pesky phone which always rings at a bad time... and maybe I'll eventually get my work environment optimized for efficiency!

Video conferencing: future is now!

Okay now, sometimes I really feel stuck in south of France when I need to be working with people in Paris! Phone + email was cool until my phone bills rocketed in the past few months... :-/

Recently, I decided, with a couple of business partners, to give internet video conferencing a shot! Guess what my biggest surprise was?

It actually works! And pretty well!

Not only could we see each other while talking but it was even better than the real thing: sound quality outstrips mobile phones! Especially when compared to SFR (the crappiest - but very common - network we have in France).

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