Benoît Mandelbrot

I was sorry to see that Benoît Mandelbrot passed away recently. I have always had a soft spot for the Mandelbrot set, in fact the first C program I wrote was to draw the the Mandelbrot set. I used Turbo-C for that and the result was rendered on a VGA display. I believe the computer was a 386 with 32K of cache because I worked hard to make sure the program was less than 32K in size so it would fit in the cache.




How to Botch Trial Software

How to botch trial software:

  • Insist on offering the Windows version even though the user is on Mac.
  • Forget to put a link to the Mac version of the software on the download page.
  • Require Java to be present and running in the browser but forget to put up a warning when it is not.
  • Have a System Preferences pane with a product logo and single button which says “Uninstall …” but which does nothing when clicked.
  • Force the user to use the Activity Monitor to kill off the running product (which failed to be stopped by the “Uninstall …” button.
  • Finally force the user to have to manually remove the software from the various system folders.


Banning Competitors’ Products

I have always thought that looking at your competitor’s products to be great idea, especially when they outsell you 10 to1, at least.

Sony Gear

John Gruber of Daring Fireball has this little gem on the tracks of Sony’s Google TV product.

I have to admit, I am no longer a fan of Sony gear, the last (and it will be the last) piece of gear I got from there is a BluRay player. I bought it for two things. One because it can play BluRay discs and Two because it can stream movies from Netflix.

I spent two hours messing with the machine and never got the connection to Netflix to work. For some reason which was never made clear to me I had to create some sort of account with Sony in order to get access to Netflix. I also called tech support and spent over an hour on hold. At which point I gave up.

And playing BluRay discs means being forced to watch previews for 5-10 minutes before getting to the movie. Yes, I get that BluRay movies are much nicer, but upscaled DVDs look pretty much the same to me from where I sit.

Finally whenever I switch on my BluRay player, I am greeted with a list of services I don’t want to access (no way to turn them off.)

Contrast this with getting a movies on the iTunes movie store which takes two steps, One select the movie, Two press play when the movie is ready to play (usually 30 seconds).

It feels like Sony has forgotten who the customer is here. Which is a shame because I will be replacing my TV in the next year or so.

AppleInsider | Apple exploring dual-mode screens with ‘display’ and ‘touch’ settings

This is interesting, I was working with a colleague recently and we were looking at something on my laptop and I instinctively reached for the screen and tried to drag something across it and wondered why it was not moving.

AppleInsider | Apple exploring dual-mode screens with ‘display’ and ‘touch’ settings: “Future Apple products could have screens that users could switch between unique modes for ‘display’ and ‘touch,’ allowing a transition between traditional computing and multi-touch interaction.”

That’s Strong Coffee

This has little to do with technology, but it was funny to me and the Economist very seldom contains typos. Actually there may be a technology angle here which is that you should not alway trust your auto-correct which is what may have gone wrong here.

So this quote comes from an article in the Economist about the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The article makes a reference to the French nuclear deterrent:

In France, the nuclear power closest to Britain in outlook, the force de frappé is widely seen as an untouchable symbol of prestige and independence.

Actually the French nuclear deterrent is called Force de Frappe, frappé refers to a method of making coffee. My guess is that the auto-correct went a little funny, or maybe the correspondent’s coffee was really, really strong that morning.



Up-Ending the Airport Extreme

Had an interesting experience with my Airport Extreme yesterday. Throughput was really slow for some reason so I turned it 90˚ setting it on its side and I got a 2-fold increase. Curiosity got the better of me and I tried the other two sides too. Turns out that I get the best throughput when it is on its side with it’s bottom facing the device it is talking to (in this case an AppleTV).