Monday, November 27, 2006

Stop making crap

Andy Ihnatko is merciless in his Chicago Sun-Times review of Microsoft's Zune player:
Avoid the loony Zune
If you (or anyone else you know) are contemplating the Zune, you need to read this review. The Zune may be the most anti-consumer player ever sold. As a bonus, this is probably the most entertaining product review I've read this year.

Photo: John Froschauer / AP

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Sony defects

As if they don't have enough QC problems. Sony has said it will recall eight models of its Cyber-shot digital cameras after finding a defect in the LCD screen. It is apparently caused by condensation. The screens might not display images correctly, images could be distorted or cameras might not take photos at all, Sony Corp said in a statement.

The affected models are DSC-F88, DSC-M1, DSC-T1, DSC-T11, DSC-T3, DSC-T33, DSC-U40 and DSC-U50. Between September 2003 and January 2005 over 1 million of these cameras were sold worldwide, but Sony believes only 4,000 will need repair, however. For more details try Sony's Electronics Support website.

For news stories, Try searching Google News for "sony cyber-shot problems" (without the quotes).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Malaysia Bodoh

Since the govt is so concerned about "gwailo opinion", maybe it should listen to this guy:

While Malaysia fiddles, its opportunities are running dry
Michael Backman in The Age

In this column, he blasts Malaysia's grossly inflated sense of its place in the world, its preoccupation with Malay vs. Chinese wealth, its wasteful megaprojects, and other missed opportunities. He concludes the column with a memorable phrase:
That's not Malaysia "boleh", that's Malaysia "bodoh" (stupid).

Malaysia Bodoh!
I can't think of a more appropriate slogan for this country.

In case the link disappears, a few copies of the column have been posted on Usenet. Try searching Google Groups for "Malaysia fiddles" (with the quotes).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Malaysia's broadband

In the Nov 16 issue of In.Tech I took a look at Malaysia's consumer broadband situation. Bottom line: About 700,000 broadband users in Malaysia, and more ISP choices now but coverage still mainly around the Klang Valley.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just a SOCKS puppet

I was looking for a free SOCKS server for testing, and discovered there aren't many around any more, at least not for Windows. Does anyone even use SOCKS any more? I downloaded Antinat, but never got around to running it. It uses XML-based config files and looks too formidable to set up.

Next I tried FreeProxy, but just couldn't get it to work. One thing I don't like about FreeProxy is, while it does have a nice GUI for settings, the actual proxy itself is just a command-line program.
This must be the second or third time I've downloaded FreeProxy; I keep forgetting that I've never gotten it to work. Nothing personal against the author; I'm probably just not smart enough to configure it correctly.

Then I remembered an old standby - AnalogX Proxy. It just happens to have a SOCKS server. I had previously used its web, NNTP and SMTP proxies, but never the SOCKS proxy. So this was a good time to test it. After some quick configuration - it only has "proxy binding" and "logging" sections - I got it running and it works as expected. So yes, AnalogX Proxy also works great as a SOCKS proxy.

update: turns out there is an actual product called Socks Puppet. It's described as "a multithreaded socks 5 server for Windows NT/2000/XP/98/ME." I haven't actually used it though.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cellphone as tracking device

From the AP:
Atlanta’s horrendous traffic has inspired two companies that are looking to monitor many more roads and highways than is done today and at a much lower cost. Their approach: Track the signals of cell phones that happen to be inside cars. By using anonymous data from wireless providers to mark how fast cell-phone handsets are moving - and overlaying that information with location data and maps - IntelliOne and AirSage hope to offer more detailed information and pragmatic advice than other firms that monitor traffic through radar, helicopters or cameras. But some critics aren’t so sure the benefits outweigh the potential privacy risks.
Privacy advocates are predictably up in arms over this. But they, and other cellphone users may not have realised that the tracking feature is a fundamental feature of cellular phone networks; they need to know where you are located (or rather, where your cellphone is located) to ensure handoff between base stations. This is why you can continue chatting on your phone even when travelling in a car. This system has been in place since the early days of cellphones!

Those who worry that the "govt is tracking me" seem a bit paranoid, or even "perasan" (filled with self-importance) - as if anyone wants to know that you go to KFC every Tuesday between 1:30 and 2:30pm.

Tracking people via cellphones also has some important uses. A system called Wireless Enhanced 911 is already in place in the US which helps emergency services pinpoint the location of cellphone callers who cannot give directions to where they are.
For example, the "help I'm being kidnapped and I'm in a car boot!" scenario.
I think traffic-tracking is a useful and legitimate use of this built-in feature.
So, if you're really paranoid, try wrapping your cellphone in aluminium foil, or put it in one of those X-Ray film protecter bags which are lead-lined. ;-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Minimum speed limit for safety

I fully support a poster on The Star's Citizen's Blog who called for a minimum speed limit, especially on our highways. This system has long been in place in developed countries like the US, where you can even get a ticket for driving too slowly on a highway.

Some drivers in Malaysia seem to operate with the faulty logic that "if speed kills, then slower must be safer." Such drivers not only impede traffic but they also pose a serious danger to other drivers, simply because they do not understand the concept of relative speed.

Assume, for example, that one driver decides to drive at 30kph on the North-South highway, while everyone else is driving close to the speed limit of 110kph. Then the relative speed of the slow and fast cars is 80kph (110-30 = 80).

Now imagine if you were driving at 80kph and you suddenly spot a car parked (stationary) right in the middle of the highway. How fast do you think you can react to this sudden threat? That is is exactly the danger which slow drivers pose to those who are driving faster. Mind you, the faster drivers are not "speeders" or "racers", if they keep within the 110kph limit.

Worse, it can be difficult to judge a speed of another car while it is moving (even at 30kph), so the other drivers may have even less time to react. Plus, one would (reasonably) assume that cars would not be moving so slowly on a highway.

So all you "Lembu" (slowpoke) drivers out there, keep off the highway for your own safety, and that of others!

image courtesy of U.S. Metric Association