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Thursday, March 29, 2007

CeBIT v 1.5 - the good stuff

The second day was a lot of running around. As I was not looking for something specific nor shopping for new technology I was looking at everything available. If normally I would say that window shopping is not hard, well this time I was really mistaken. 27 halls full of technology makes a techhy feel like a kid in a candy shop :)

Ok, the short version of the long story is - there were no big surprises in new technology. Don't get me wrong, its one thing to know the background info and pictures from the Internet and another thing is to see and touch a physical object.

The first thing that comes to my mind is 3D TV. Well it really isn't 3D as you really cant see it from all around the TV. Its a normal LCD TV with a extra layer of film that generates 3D like picture when looked at a correct angle. All the TV's and monitors I saw were quite crude, but promising. I'm guessing that the viewing angle is around 10+/-5 degrees vertical and horizontal, so it has a long way to go. Most of the sets were around 40'', so when the object moved from one end of the screen to the other the picture went foggy and you would have to look for a new spot where the picture became 3D. I would say that this technology has potential, but it could take up to 5 years until its production ready - I for one could not imagine watching a 3D movie while running around the room like crazy. So until the viewing angle is at least 90 degrees or more its not worth for a release. In one box I found a "medical" monitor that was around 15..17''. This could be usable much sooner as the display area is smaller and finding the focal point more easy as the user would be sitting in more or less constant position. Tho the chair would have to be really comfortable as sitting in a constant position gets really hard - maybe a new design would be needed to accommodate it.

Second big thing were flash HDD's. I know its not a big thing for most ppl, but for me it is. I have 7 comps running several apps for me and 4 of them run 24/7 so the HDD noise get irritating some times. Flash based drives have one more advantage compared to the normal drives - they consume around 75% less energy and therefore generate less heat witch also means lower rpm fans or maybe even peso/pelter based cooling for the whole case. This is if the CPU makers lower this TDP to around 30W (the current mobile/laptop CPU's fall to this range). One more good thing is maximum sustained transfer rate of around 30MB/s read/write and seek time of 2ms, so they are fast compared to the current best HDD's 5.4ms seek. And now for the bad things - the firs generation will use normal NAND flash cells, so the write cycle count is limited to 10..20k guaranteed write cycles per memory slot. This is extremely low compared to the standard DIE HDD's 100...300M write cycles, so the first users will probably be big enterprises that use LARGE databases for read only access. The first generation has been around for a year now with sizes of up to 32GB and I know that at least 1 company is using it for that purpose - NY Stock Exchange. I talked with 3 manufacturers who promised 128GB 1. generation flash drives by the end of the year with a price tag estimate of 1k USD/peace. Tho the price seems kinda high I suspect that this is just a manufacturing price not retail price. The bright side is that 2 of the sale persons revealed that their developers are working on a new technology to make the write count grow to the level of normal HDD's (100M write cycles). Hers a link to all the new flash memory technologies for extended reading.

Third big thing for me was WiMAX. The dreaded IEEE 802.16 has so much potential, but is dieing so fast as the final draft is still not ready after 5 years of research and standardization. As far the manufacturers we ready to comment was that the beta generation is working and running pretty well. So far the manufacturers are shipping out only as much hardware as is are telecoms ready to experiment. Since the v2.0 daft was sent to the IEEE council for reading the first generation wont be 100% compatible with the v2 draft as the transceivers are not capable to use all the frequency ranges that are allowed to use in v2. This is not all bad, as if the draft gets standardized, some have built their chips on a wide band transceivers so they can make small changes with only firmware upgrades, but the old generation is hardware based and therefore not compatible. The suspected v3 draft of the protocol should be ready at the end of next year, and that should be the final version. The changes planned on v3 are minimal protocol optimizations, so they should not pose any incompatibility problems. So at the end of the year there should be publicly available both AP's and cards that support the normal wifi and also wimax - next summer I can sit at my yard and watch HD videos without any problems, from my laptop while sitting outside next to a pool :D

Hmm - this reminds me that I did not see any BluRay not HDDVD products at CeBIT. I guess I missed them by accident, but still...

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another bank scam on the wild...

Great... When you usually get spam about fake Rolex's, lottery winnings and some other crap then now I'm getting spammed by Nordea Bank. Hmm, how come they send me a mail that links to an Hong Kong site??? What can I say - poor outlook users. One click and your harvested at best, lost all your money at worst. I don't get what good does it do to send out such crap. It does even look like a real email from a bank.

Ok, I can understand that the first half of the mail could be considered as a similar looking then wtf is the second part? Looks like random gibberish. Eee.. if few years ago there was kinda non written "code of conduct" then looking at this it looks like well... I don't know what. If you want to send SPAM then do it elegantly, make it interesting or just don't send it. I understand that there are FTTP but why the hell do you send it so much??? If it does not work the first time then it wont work on the 100-th time.

So if you want to send spam, first learn the language, secondly do your homework, thirdly get a better job and for forth DON'T SEND SPAM!

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CeBIT v 1.0

Ha - I finally made it. I'm in Hanover in almost 1 peace. why in almost one peace - well about 10k of my braincells went out of order, when we landed in Copenhagen. Oh well I'm ahead of my time - lets start from the beginning.

The Day begin normally - had all things packed and ready to go. After getting to Tallinn the weather changed. It started snowing again. I'm no big fan of flying, but i tolerate it quite well. Well today looking out of the window of the terminal was totally frightening. around 15m/s winds, snow and blister. All the flights were delayed. Our flight was delayed around 30 minutes and boarding took place on the airfield instead of the terminal. This was a new experience - going from a warm terminal to a blister storm was interesting, also boarding with blister storm is not common for me. I thought it was the worst part, but i was mistaken. The landing in Copenhagen was much worse. The pilot flew by the landing strip at least 3 times thanks to around 20..30m/s side winds. Its interesting to watch the plain acting like bird - flapping its wings like crazy... Going though that was not the end tho - the flight was totally late around 2 hours. After landing we ran to the terminal where the Hanover flight was supposed to go from, and again nearly made it. the flight was worse as I have gotten used to - flying with turbo jets - not the old fashioned propeller plains. Everything was shaking badly. Oh almost forgot to mention that our pilot was Yuri Gagarin - hmm who isn't familiar with Russian space program, he was an astronaut. Well I guess any other pilot would have not landed that well, so nice job Yuri :)

From the airport to the hotel we had to take the suburban train and metro. The central train/metro hub was bigger than I expected. I have never seen a central hub that runs on 3 level: top level for trains, middle level, for taxi and buses, with lots of shops and of the subterranean level for metro. Its an interestingly simple and efficient solution - why anybody here in Estonia haven't thought about it. The hotel was around 800m from the central hub and walking there was also interesting experience. All the drivers were obnoxiously polite. Right that does not sound like a really good comparison, but here you can practically get run over when trying to cross over street - there they did what ever possible to stop the car to let you get over the street. It isn't bad, its just weird... Also the bicycle culture is on the rise there - that cant be a good side. In Copenhagen I saw where the road would go - streets full of hotshot bicycler's, streets full of old/broken/broken bicycles. I hope the government wont let this to happen here...

The Internet in the hotel was really expensive - even for European prices 14e/hour. My monthly DSL cost around 2 hours of hotel Internet, so thats why I didn't blog there... The room was comfy but minimalistic - the interesting thing was the balcony. The view was nice - supposedly it was to an old cemetery. Well seems it was around 300 years old cemetery turned into a park or vice versa - a park wit a cemetery look - ether ways it was nice.

This is a rewrite of my first day writing - Ill try to continue tomorrow night..

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

CeBIT v 0.9

Well, bags are almost packed, money changed and tickets and passport ready. If I have Internet in the hotel Ill post updates on what I find and see, but if not well... the next post will be in 4 days.

Goodbye cruel world - hello IT heaven :)

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

I HATE Firefox...

Todays topic is Firefox and how it su**s. Normally I would not say such a thing, and always recommend it. But not today - today I'm totally furious about it. The thing, that drives me mad about Firefox is its api. When mozilla suite was split up, it wasn't done evenly. Thunderbird got one part and Firefox the other - so far Firebox drew the shorter straw. I have done some work with mozilla api/xul before, but twice I have ran into big problems with it. The problem I have is that I need to install 3 CA certs for our internal CA to about 1000 workstations. Maybe in the future it will be 4 times the count.

So the first thing I thought up was to use an extension to do the installation. Everything worked fine, if any cert needs to be upgraded it will be put into the extension and the extension version will be upgraded and the new cert will be installed if newer extension is available. The user will be prompted to install xx times to install the certificate, or notified that a certificate is installed - not a perfect solution, but it works. So far so good. Everything worked fine, up to a point where the extension will be packaged and installed globally. Now the first time the user starts Firefox the users profile will be generated and since the extension is installed globally Firefox thinks it is already installed and it will not run the install script. So the only way to make it run the cert installations is when its updated. GREAT!!! The reason the extension was packaged is to enforce the security policy that users cant install their own extensions.

OK, so i feel really stupid and try to think up a way to make it work. After some digging in I end in a nsIX509CertDB interface (the point I started from). The thin I need to do is every time Firefox is started so I could check if the cert with the correct CN is in the database. If it is I can check the serial number for example, but as usual I ran into the problems. So I started digging deeper into the guts of the api.There were 2 interesting functions: findCertByNickname and findCertByEmailAddress. I started messing with the nickname, since it usually is different for each CA subtree. As you can see the interface takes in an "AString" type string. Well I could not find type definition for it so I thought it was just a string with a different typedef. Well, nothing worked. When tried with the email it worked nicely, but then again they are CA certs ffs, they have the same email and the function only can return ONE certificate. Seems I cant run the check through a while cycle.

So for corporate purposes Firefox is pretty much useless. I have some suggestions, but considering that probably no one at the mozilla team will ever see this blog Ill make it short. Fix the frigging LDAP support and enable it on Firefox, add type converter, and implement certificate search through nickname (*char), full DN certificate serial, and search with multiple certificates as a result and thats just for starters.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

New TV is here...

Well I finally got some time to write a little about it.

I have been searching for a perfect "Full HD" TV for about 2 years now. Naturally CRTs are out since they normally don't provide higher resolution than 1024x768 (and thats the highest I have found so far) normally the resolution is 640x480. Also the length of the tube in CRTs is against them - a 40'' has a depth of around 40..80cm and they are damn expensive also.

The next step was to research into Plasma technology. Its promising with its high contrast ratio, but it also has some major drawbacks. First is the resolution - normally its 1024x1024 or 1024x768 - considering that the "FULL HD" is 1920x1080 the plasma has to interlease to picture down to its native resolution. Some picture engines do it nicely by compensating it with contrast, the picture still isn't the same. Second major drawback is that when you get a "dead pixel" in plasma it usually means you get a dead stripe - this isn't a problem when its stripe next to a frame but if its in the middle of the screen it really annoying and really degrades the picture. The third drawback is that plasmas lifetime around 1..2 years. after that time the picture starts to get foggy and burnt in artifacts start to show. For example we have a TV channel called TV3 witch has a bright silver symbol that I have seen burned in on several plasmas. The forth and a neglectful one is that sometimes plasmas explode leaving behind a totally repainted room - its rare but it happens, so...

Naturally the next step is LCD TV-s. Lately the prices have dropped a lot on big screens - also the amount of models and manufacturers has risen a lot. So i started researching into them - the first thing to look at is if its "Full HD" or "HD Ready". HD Ready usually means panel with resolution 1280x768 or 1366x768. There are also some TV's that have panel resolution of 1024x640 and claim to have resolution of 1366x768 - this is achieved by interleaseing the input resolution down to the panel resolution - I cant comment on this much more as I have read it in forums by people claiming to be professionals, so... As I have been looking for Full HD, I wont comment on the normal panels much.

There are 2 types of Full HD: First is 1080p, witch is the real 1920x1080 resolution and second is 1080i which can mean 2 things. 1. the input is 1080p and the panel resolution is 720p - heres more info about HD resolutions. At the beginning I was fascinated about Acer's AT3705-MGW, for the sole purpose it was running Linux. Well it was a big surprise for me that Acer has a export policy - it only sells some products by a region ( no big deal most big dealers have it), but the thing that blew me away was that that policy gets violated by splitting the areas to countries and splitting the products by country also. Wellllll... this means Estonia ins in West Europe are with Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania. The TV is only sold in Sweden and Latvia. After some talks with the Acer direct contact in Estonia I could forget the Acer TV, so FU Acer you lost my respect for your products and I'm not recommending your products any more! Next came Phillips 37PF9731D - it has a Full HD panel, but has low contrast of 800:1. Its not that big of a problem, but when you compare it to a tv with hight contrast the picture looks kind of pale. After few weeks of digging in different models documentations I found a interesting fact. Phillips HD tv's support computer resolution of 1280x768. BLING BLING BLING. Well now I was confused. You can buy a Full HD tv with a hefty price tag and you cant use the panel in its native resolution??? Crazy.... So now I'm just surfing around searching all kinds of so called "Full HD " TVs, reading heir specs and looking at theirs manuals. Most of the have limitations similar to this. What it means is that 1080p is only available with HDMI. Good that I dint jump the gun, huh... So after some searching I found my baby. Samsung LE40F71BX - it isn't perfect, but contrast of 6000 just blew me away... It isn't perfect but I had to compromise - it does not have digital audio out, but thats not really a problem. Most devices that have HDMI also support digital audio output also so I can split the video and audio signals. A friend of mine also commented that running digital audio through hes TV deteriorated the audio signal, so he also connects devices directly to receiver. I cant see many minuses to give to this TV maybe that the built in speakers are kinda weak, but a nice receiver will compensate for it :)

Next step - buy a receiver :)

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Friday, March 2, 2007

Cebit v 0.4

Since there was no blog at the time I was asked if I wanted to go to CeBIT i will have to write a little on the background.

One day (around a month ago) I was asked if I would like to go to CeBIT - well what could I say. Sure! So I let my name to be put to the list of interested parties. Around 2 weeks ago I got a confirmation that I was selected to go there. Weehaaa! I have been thinking of going to CeBIT by my self for the last 4 years, but something has always come up to trash the idea.

Well today my travel package arrived - now its official, I'm going! :) I didn't have time to dig into the package at the work, so I opened it at home. All seems to be in order, well one thing is bothering me tho. The flight is with re seating in Copenhagen. Don't get me wrong - Copenhagen was great, but the last time a flight was late and they changed the terminal from C40 to A17 (thats about 1...2km apart) and the notice was for 5 minutes before the departure. 20 people running like crazy - that was not a pretty sight. Hope it won't happen to us. If everything goes as planned I can enjoy a nice glass of Tuborg in the airport! Cheers Mates.

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Templates... Oh the pain and agony...

For the last week or so I have been messing with the default template. i know graphics is not my strongest side, but this template drove me crazy... Tried even writing a new template but got too depressed with the CSS - tho I might do it sometime in the future. Well at least the text isn't so retro any more and should be readable cross platform and cross browsers. Next step apply the same template to the Linux blog and finally start blogging :)

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