HiTek Review

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Category Archives: Opinions

Quick update – DST issue on cellphones

Those are a real pain
Have you ever got to work one hour late, or worse, early because you forgot to set the DST on your alarm? Yeah, me too. That’s why most of us uses our cellphone as our welcoming-back-to-reality alarm in the morning. They all set their time automatically according to a time server, just like our computers, and are always right… right? Well no, the protocol used to update the time over the air on cellphones is horrible. It have no confirmation bit which means nothing certifies you that your phone will update to the right DST settings.

I had a really nice bad luck, and it happened on both my iPhone and iPad. All my friends phones where all right and searching on Google shown that only a few number of people had the same problem.

Workaround
So I’ve figured out a workaround if you are using an iPhone or iPad. Most cellphone carrier will tell you to shutdown the device or to turn airplane mode on. It will not work on iDevices. If you happen to have this problem, the only way to solve it is to remove your sim card and to put it back in. That will trigger a time update and should fix your issue.

About the next post
I’m pretty busy right now, so I still didn’t had the time to write that post about protecting your iDevices yet. But rejoice as it gave me a lot of time to test a bunch of different solutions for both iPads and iPhones and I think I’ve found exactly what you want. Stay tuned for a new update.

WordPress switch
Switching over to WordPress was the best thing that could happen for me. It is so much more easier to manage posts, pages, media and everything that I don’t even know why I stayed with Bloggers for that long. But, I’d like to know it the switch has been smooth with you, readers. So, for those of you how followed me since the Bloggers days, I’d like to know how you like the new layout. Is it good enough? Is it worth paying the CSS edit upgrade and customize it a little? Would you add more stuff to it?

Understanding flash on OS X

First of all
No, I am not dead. I just don’t like to say stuff that no body want to read anyway so I kept my mouth (keyboard?) shut for a little while.

Second
Next review will be about whatever thing I’ll buy next. It will probably be an iPad or the new rumoured MacBook Pros. I can’t promise anything about this though.

Third, the reason of my post…
As many of you probably heard of already, iPhone OS 4 is coming soon and some of us, like me, already have the beta installed on their phones. Seriously, it is the best operating system I even seen on a phone since smartphone are in the market. There’s a lot of stuff in it that apple didn’t told you which can theoretically bring iPhone OS 4.0 up to par with any DESKTOP operating system out there. That’s just how great it is.

Unfortunately, all that we seem to ear about it these days are bad stuff… which is kind-off strange actually. A big majority wanted multi-tasking. Now that they’ve got it, all that we can read is stuff like: “I don’t really care about it, I would have preferred Flash that this.” Yes, this article is dedicated to you, people that doesn’t have any sense of mobile device logic.

Flash, a plague to avoid
The first reason why anybody would want to avoid Flash like a plague is about stability issue. Here’s a nice one, while I’ve been writing this article, look what popped on my screen!

See, it managed to crash while doing nothing! That little thing made me wonder so I started to investigate on was could be the reason of this crash. After running a little software called Shark, a performance analyzer tool that come with Xcode, I discovered somethings that should have remained buried. What it does it that is detect cache miss (moments when requested data is not available in cache and need to be pulled from an other cache level) in the L2 processor cache and list them.

I have exported the report to a text file and I’m providing it for you to read on this link. It is very easy to understand. The numbers to the left are the numbers of call to a function, the gibberish in the middle is the memory emplacement of the function and the text at the right is the name of the library that provided the function. Now keep in mind that this report was requested during a normal writing session. I have music playing in iTunes and a couple of software is running. Notice anything strange here? First process in the list is the mack kernel (or the OS X subsystems if you prefer). It represent roughly 14.2% of the entire cache misses which is normal. The second one though… I expected it to be iTunes since it is doing realtime audio playback and require frequent access to the processor cache but… no…

In fact, Flash Player represent 51.7% of all the cache miss that happened during this session. Basically, it means that half of the calls that the required my computer to access the RAM during the 10 seconds of profiling happened because of the Adobe Flash library. This is a very good reason to consider it like a plague as it use as much CPU time as a virus! In fact, flash player used 1 minutes 32.24 seconds of CPU time in 4 hours of not using it. As a little comparison note, iTunes only caused 4.4% of the misses and used 9 minutes 23 seconds of CPU time in constant playback during the last 4 hours.

So, what does it mean? It means that Flash is not only very hungry CPU wise but also memory wise. It also show us that it is not optimized at all and keep on doing more and more request to the system memory.

Touch is the future
Based on what we can see today, people consider touch screen devices as the way of the future. It does have a little futuristic sense to it but believe me there’s nothing impressive in them as they were in use since a good 10 to 20 years! Why am I talking about this? Because Flash is the complete opposite! Flash applications are generally built with a point-and-click interface so around 90% of them doesn’t work at all on a touch based device like the iPhone. There’s no way to access the various menus of the interface because you need to point at them and not click or tap on them. As a result even if you could run Flash on a touch based device like an iPhone, you would not be able of using it as it was not designed for this kind of usage.

Some websites like LinkedIn doesn’t use Flash and still have some compatibility issues with a touch based interface because they try to limit their content to the size of the screen and use scrollbars to let you access the rest of it instead of thrusting the web browser and letting it do it’s job.

Flash on the iPhone?
No way! Never! Not because it sucks performance wise and would drain your battery faster than light, but for the same reason I don’t want an HP Slate. It was not designed to be used with touch in the first place.

Pleasant deception

Apple event
Well. Like I thought, the last Apple keynote was indeed a very interesting one. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t bring me the new MacBook Pro’s that I expected which means that I’ll have to wait a bit more to get my hand on those magnificent new laptops. On the other side, you might remember that I said a while ago that I was planing on buying a Netbook to fill the gap between my MacBook Pro and my iPhone. I am not anymore and I’m pretty sure you know why.

iPad, the hidden capabilities.
When Apple presented the iPad, they said that it has to excel at some key points to be useful and gain market share. They so much focused on them that the keynote even got a little long at some points. What really interested me in the iPad is what they didn’t told us. For instance, how many of you heard of the Optimus Maximus keyboard? Well probably not much. Here’s little link to present the product. The company that make it also have a concept called the Optimus Tactus. By now, you should have spotted the price of the Maximus which is 2 000 USD. Now guess how much the Tactus would cost! Exactly! Too much for anyone to buy! NOT! In fact, anyone can buy it! You just need to get an iPad and install a simple application.

This is how it works, this iPad isn’t about replacing a Netbook. It’s about a whole new bunch of possibilities. I’m planing to get the 64 GB wifi model. I don’t need 3G because I have my iPhone for that, same for the GPS. I’ll buy the two docks. One for my desktop to hold it close to my monitors, and the second one will always be in my backpack. With this setup, I have an awesome student notebook and a nice third monitor for my desktop. As a little plus, I also get an environment friendly and very capable device on the go.

The iPad is all about finding your way to use it. You might buy a 16 GB WiFi model and stuck it to your fridge. That way you always have your recipes, phonebook, morning journal, weather, etc. close to you. Try to tell me that you never dreamt of that. I’ll never believe you.

Conclusion
Where everyone see an oversized iPod Touch or a device that can’t compete with a laptop, I see a lots of possibilities, fun and futuristic setups. On that word, I’ll return to my hometree.

Kìyevame ulte Eywa ngahu

Every one apart me is a bloke

And you can’t argue with it!
No! You can’t argue with me about it and even if you want to try, and the only reason why you would want to do such a thing is that you don’t have a clue what a bloke is, then first go to this link to learn what it really means.

Now more seriously. Here’s the little backstory about it. I own a company based in Québec named “Centre de Solutions Informatiques Inc.” or C.S.I. for short. Our team is based on developers and hardware crack that follows 63 technology related RSS feeds that publish around 1 280 news a day. We are basically pure and polished specialist in computers and we’re endlessly learning and improving ourselves. Technology is everything we like, everything we do and everything we live for. We’re so enthusiast that, as I said, we’ve started a company. Yes! That’s how bad we are infected.

We’ve taken a big time looking at the market and I can assure you that in our current service zone, there is just no one that will do a better job than us for better pricing and better time. To do this analysis, we used the latest technology in marketing which is… ours beloved clients! We actually used feedbacks from our clients to build our price tags. Anyway, enough advertising and here comes the story.

One bloke in the see
I (not we) currently deserve personalized services to 2 company and around 25 persons. That’s in fact rather good. But in the end, every single one of my clients keep on… deserting me! Yes! I have absolutely no idea why, but every time they’ve got a problem, they first call me, I then friendly give them consulting and they finally go off like they suddenly knows anything about the computer world, which they obviously don’t, and make an ash of it.

This annoy me so much that it made me write this post just so that I could cool down instead of bashing through the head of one of them that did it an other time just a day before I’m writing this. I will not go into the details to respect his privacy but, he actually made Windows XP installed on an Intel Core i7 computer! Now, if you’re a bloke about computers, which I’m not, you’ll already scream at him because you know that Windows XP just can’t handle a dual core correctly. And this is not a dual core, it’s a quad with hyper-threading which make it even more difficult. You need at least Windows Vista or Windows 7 to handle all of that power correctly but WAIT! Their’s more! This computer is actually… the latest iMac.

I’m not joking. This is true, I swear that this is true! Now I’ll show you an other time that I’m not a bloke in this kind of stuff. You see, Windows XP has horrible power saving features. In fact, it doesn’t support half the the power saving features that are on that brand new computer. Now you’re probably already laughing at me saying that this is a desktop computer and that it doesn’t need power saving features! WRONG! Let me show you my point with a simple table:

Component Avg. consumption
CPU 85 watt
Memory 25 watt
Motherboard 15 watt
Graphic card 135 watt
Hard drive 5 watt
Monitor 50 watt
Total 315 watt

Now that look pretty normal, isn’t it? Nop; This is enormous! I have a server which has a very similar configuration to that and it’s doing 80. My Mac Pro is averaging 145 watts and it has 10 GB or HUNGRY fully buffered DDR2 memory and two old and not very economical Xeon 5400 series CPUs. That’s without counting the supercharged 8800 GT that benchmark like a 9800 GTX!

So, not only does he’s iMac now require a nuclear power plant to run, it also require an earth-sized power supply; which it hasn’t. The 2009 iMac has only a 365 watt power supply. Now you’re still laughing at me saying that 315 is smaller that 365. Well… Yes it is… But, this PSU only has 85% efficiency which move its maximum output to 5 watt less that the average needed. This could cause a problem.

Windows XP will basically kills my client’s computer. That’s how simple it is. By the way, if you’re interested, putting Windows Vista in it would decrease the consumption to 175 watt which is 45% less. That’s without saying that the performance would increase as Windows Vista is much better at handling multiple CPU cores.

The result
Not only this guy had an horrible services that will rot is computer on the mid/long run. It will also cost him 100 $ more to run his computer at the end of the year that it costed him if he installed Windows Vista in the first place. And here’s the interesting part: I didn’t even mentioned OS X yet. And here’s why: I’m not talking about dual booting or anything. The guy actually removed OS X 10.6 and put Windows XP in place claiming that it was a much lighter and faster operating system!

That basically means that my client, who decided to bought a Mac to give it a try, will not even see what OS X look like. Not to mention that OS X has even better power management capabilities than even Windows 7. Running Slow Leopard, that computer actually get down to 95 watt on average use which would save him 160 $ a year just in electricity.

The point
Every single one of my clients do that every single time. They always end up in my office begging for help to solve the issues that caused the idiot that they went to in the first place. And they do that, even when they are old friend of mine. I have absolutely nothing agains competition, in fact I even found it sporty, but when all the competition there is is that… I’d prefer to kick them in the face with a very, very big hammer.

Conclusion
That’s exactly why me and two of my friends started this company. We are so sure about this that we’re planing, building… no… it became hand-crafting, swinging and then throwing that hammer to their faces ourselves the best we can possibly do. We believe that average computer knowledge here in Québec sucks and we think we might just be what the province need to get up on its feet an finally learn how to appreciate that latest gadget that came out without having to ask the vendor how to turn it on.

MSN is CRAP

Windows Live Messenger is CRAP!
You got it? Ok here’s why.

Closed
MSN is a closed and proprietary protocol. As a result, you can’t use an other client than the official one without getting various issue. For instance, no third-party client will offer audio or video chat. They can also experience “network outage” because of an update on the servers that render them incompatible.

Official is bad
Even the Windows Live Messenger client is badly done. It can eat up 80 MB or memory without any reasons, it’s full of ads and worst than all, is not even cross-platform yet! Ho yes, there is a Messenger:mac client which doesn’t support audio and video chat and use a incredible 250 MB or RAM! An other thing, since it’s widely use, there’s viruses for it. Did you never received strange message from an other contact? Now you’re starting to see the wide picture.

Privacy free
Most people believe that the MSN network is secure and censor free. This is a very wrong belief. First of all, if you want to talk securely you need encryption which is only supported on third-party MSN client. Since over 80% of the MSN users depend on the official client, they simply can’t use encryption. And to add up to the so called privacy, every thing is monitored. Yes it is just software but we don’t know if the servers write communications logs. And one this is certain: there is a software that read every message sent since they are censored! Try to send a link with download.php in it. You’ll find it very difficult. did you ever saw something like “There was a problem in delivering the last message.”? That’s probably our censor friend working.

Never trust those who you don’t know
Here’s a little solution, if you can live without audio chat and video chat then third-party clients is the way to go. If you miss them too much, then be prepared to live with a RAM eater, a privacy sniffer and a virus friend. Or not? There is other solutions out there. MSN is not the only IM network out there. I’d recommend AIM since it’s probably the only one which is at complete opposite from MSN. It is an open source 100% cross-platform protocol with very light weight clients which doesn’t censor its users. And an other time, there’s nothing that force you to use the official client.

I hope some people will do the switch for their own benefit. Have a nice week.

iPhone 3GS upgrade in Canada

The iPhone 3GS pricing just went live
Today, Rogers and Fido announced their pricing for the new iPhone 3GS. They will cost 199 CAD for the 16 GB version and 299 CAD for the 32 GB version. Or, are they? That’s if you’re ready to get involved in a pretty big adventure since those come not with 2 years contract but 3 years contract! Well… Ok… It’s not that bad if you really think about it since you’ll obviously be able to upgrade next year to the newer version. Well… Kinda… What they don’t tell you is that it’s not because you pay 125 CAD a month to get a basic plan that they will do you some favors.

This is the exact situation I am with my iPhone 3G right now. I have a plan that I consider basic when compared to our USA counterpart (details follow) and they are asking me to pay the full price to get a 3GS! What does that tell? Well it make me feel just as someone who didn’t gave them just about 1 500 bucks during the last and want an iPhone. That’s it! I have to pay the same price as someone who want an iPhone 3GS without any plan, no 3 years engagement, ANYTHING!

This is just outrageous!
Why the heck would I have to pay 800 CAD for an iPhone 3GS where you can get the same damn thing for 500 USD just 200 km south! It just doesn’t make sense. And on top of that, Canadian buyers need to endure a three year contract with a company that will do anything to suck up you money. We already have to pay close to 3 times more than in the US to get a plan that is close to interesting. This is just outrageous!

My iPhone 3G
This is my actual situation. I’m stuck in a 3 year engagement (about 1 year done) and paying roughly 124.67 CAD each month for this plan :

Call time (day) 300 minutes 45.00 $
Call time (evening) unlimited
Call time (weekend) unlimited
Call time (incoming) unlimited
Call time (waiting) 2 000 minutes
Data Plan 6 GB* 30.00 $
Visual Voicemail yes 8.00 $
SMS 2 500 20.00 $
Show called ID yes
MMS none 1.50 $ per messages
Network Access fee yes 6.95 $

*: This plan was only available for 3 month after the release of the iPhone 3G.

What do you think?
Do you think, just like me, than Rogers and Fido should not have to right to do this kind of thing? That what they are doing is just like big gas companies? I want to hear you opinion and even more if you think you might have a solution to this plague we are suffering.

Update 2009-06-17 20:43
I just talked to a fido representative and she said that even if Fido’s offer look final, it is not. They still haven decided on an upgrade pricing so they prefer to do not talk about it right now. She also said to ask an other time next week for further information.

Update 2009-06-27 14:21
Well, Rogers are offering them at the same price I stated earlier but Fido stuck with a very uninteresting pricing. They give us a 100 CAD rebate which is nice but still pretty low. Anyway, I decided to get my hand on an iPhone 3G S 32GB for review on this blog. It should get here in about 1-2 weeks.