blarg?

Modern Babysitting, Episode 3

You don’t want to let your TV raise your children, but I propose that it’s OK if your Gameboy helps to put them to bed. You can’t really see it, but that’s Electroplankton, the experimental music game, running on my DS and doing a much better job of lulling her to sleep than anything else in the house. Some nice calm music, a little bit of illumination… works like a charm. She falls asleep watching me play with it.

Not a day goes by that I don’t see something like this and think, “that’s my girl.”

What Are Those Things Anyway

Turns out the world is full of surprises.

Debris

Bad: Amazon’s Kindle is wrapped up in DRM, meaning the books you bought can be deleted arbitrarily and remotely without your intervention or consent.

Very Bad: Amazon does just that to thousands of people.

Where It Gets Awesome: The book they delete? It’s George Orwell’s “1984”. And not by accident, either. On purpose. 1984 and Animal Farm.

As usual, DRM means never knowing for sure and piracy continues to be the only way to guarantee you actually own something. Congratulations, Amazon; you have burned your customers on the finest altar available.

I’ve been pretty heavy on the snark lately, for which I apologize. At some point I’ll have more to say about why, but for the moment I need to let that ride. But in the meantime, despite my complaints, take a look at what I go home to.

Napping

Have I mentioned that it’s pretty good to be me?

Forward Motion

The Telegraph takes a survey, and finds out that life is a lot like XKCD:

“In a survey, which reveals “deeply worrying” levels of ignorance about the Apollo space programme, which sent three men to the moon forty years ago this month, 11 out of 1009 people surveyed thought Buzz Lightyear was the first person to step onto the moon. A further 8 people thought it was Louis Armstrong, with less than three-quarters correctly answering that it was Neil Armstrong.

But 75% seems pretty good to me, considering the entire Apollo program started in 1960 and ended before I suspect most of the respondents were born. I mean, throw in a few question about Vostok-1 or the Messerschmitt ME 262, and watch what happens to those numbers when your history lesson has to cross a few borders.

But it occurred to me to look something up when I read that, and I realized that the last manned moon landing was in 1975, a bare five months after I was born. I knew this somehow, viscerally, but…

The last one. The last one, possibly the last one ever. Forty years later, we sit in the bottom of our gravity well and peer out at the universe through one decent orbital telescope (and peering back down with hundreds, I might add) and sending up camcorders on wheels to report back in black and white.

This sort of thing makes me want to cry.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
– JFK, 1960.

And then, as a followup, nothing. Screw you, baby boomers. Your generation has been a blight on every facet of the landscape, and you owe me a rocketship future.

A Grate

I had this (lightly edited) conversation yesterday:

15:30 < gnomon> On that note, though, what did you mean about Windows Mobile having the only open ecosystem?

15:38 < mhoye> Current mobile OSes are: WinMo, WebOS, iPhoneOS, Symbian, Android, PalmOS, RimOS

15:38 < mhoye> And a couple of irrelevant stragglers.

15:38 < mhoye> I don't think I've missed anything there?

15:41 < mhoye> Of that list: PalmOS is dead technology. Android, iPhoneOS, RimOS and WebOS are walled-garden, gated-community development environments.

15:43 < mhoye> Symbian and (forgot to add) Maemo _might_ be relevant, except there's zero business model associated with apps for Maemo and nobody is developing for Symbian in any quantity now that those other competitors are in place. Which leaves Windows Mobile, which despite its closed-sourcedness has always had an open, marketable development environment.

15:44 < mhoye> Unlike, say, WebOS or Android, which are built entirely on top of free software and are still entirely closed.

15:45 < mhoye> Java, which by rights should be completely obsolete by now, is still well alive because even if java-the-language sucks, java-the-sandbox and java-the-security-model are alive and well in the portable space.

15:45 < mhoye> Symbian ships, to my knowledge, only on Nokia products, and the overwhelming majority of them are non-smartphones. Maemo doesn't currently ship on anything.

15:46 < mhoye> Some thing are open, and some have an ecosystem. The only place that has both is the second-worst product of the bunch (WinMo, the worst clearly being Symbian)

15:50 < mhoye> And unless Windows Mobile 7 is at least as good as iPhone OS 1, then the walled-garden fuck-you-and-your-freedom model wins. Which makes me really sad, because the alternatives to the Microsoft approach right now are way, way worse.

15:52 < mhoye> The two bright light possibilities here are Palm and Nokia, but they need to ship a development kit and a competing product, respectively.

15:53 < basilisk> To illustrate that point:  There are at least 4 mature GPS Flight Navigation packages for WinMo, and an immature one for Maemo. None for Android, WebOS, iPhoneOSX, Symbian.

15:54 < basilisk> No Symbian device had a screen worthy of use, and all the other APIs couldn't provide the necessary functionality

15:55 < basilisk> The developers of the Maemo Cumulus package are excited about the Qt Maemo thingy, so they may be able to easily port to Symbian in the future

15:55 < mhoye> And this leaves me, as much as it galls me, with a MacBook and an iPhone.

15:56 < basilisk> There's Free GPL OSS GPS Flight Navigation software for WinMo, fer chrissakes, since no other platform could support them

15:56 < mhoye> Because at least while I'm fighting a running battle to jailbreak my phone and keep up with MacPorts, now I have hardware that works right.

16:32 < mhoye> (since you asked.)

Have I mentioned how much it galls me that stuff built on free software is being used to restrict what I can actually do with the technology that I own? Most HDTVs run Linux, albeit just enough to bootstrap the proprietary goop that decodes HDMI. You can develop for Android however you like, provided you do it with Java and run it in their little sandbox, which is precisely as much freedom as being allowed to choose what colour of straightjacket they’ll be putting you in.

It feels so wierd to be rooting for Microsoft to carry the day in the name of software freedom, but since they’ve become so chronically inept at shipping anything that anyone actually wants (and yet shockingly effective at cannibalizing their own success, rewarding billions of dollars worth of failure and screwing their brand and their customers while blundering around the technology landscape like a dumb animal) that it still kind of feels like rooting for the underdog. But as far as I can tell, actual Free Software in the portable space has either been co-opted or failed.

It’s hard to count them out; they’re huge, they have a ton of money and these three glorious near-monopolies (Office, Windows and Exchange) that keep them alive, and if they did nothing but sit in a drum circle chanting about Sharepoint for a decade, they’d still be a force to be reckoned with. But since they replaced Gates with somebody with an MBA and rabies, I don’t think they have the taste or vision to make that work.

I hope Palm ships a really good SDK. And that Nokia ships… God, something. Anything. Anything that isn’t their Ovi store, at least, because jeebus. But mostly, I don’t want to be right back where we were ten years ago, fighting this fight all over again, and losing again.

At First I Was All

Let’s say somebody has a really adorable kid that they’re really proud of.

Just for argument’s sake, we’ll call that person “me”. And let’s say “me” is showing somebody else, we’ll call them “you”, pictures of their adorable kid.

Now, this is an edge case I’m sure, but yet another good reason that your personal and professional lives should not overlap is so that when your husband comes by when you’re looking at my adorable kid, and your reaction is “Oh my god look at this cute baby we should have cute babies oh my god cute babies!” and the sound of your ticking uterus fills the room, that your husband won’t glare at me for the rest of the week as though I, personally, have ruined his life.

Now you know!