The All-In-One Amazon Logo

Jeff Bezos’ presentation introducing Amazon’s new Kindle Fire reinforced the cornucopia of product lines under the Amazon brand.  Without further ado, how about this for their new logo: Amazon kindle fire cloud drive video on demand appstore developer portal prime fresh mp3 web services and you're done.

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Renderings of the New Apple Store at 340 University Ave. in Palo Alto, CA

The Palo Alto Weekly’s web site published nice renderings of the new Apple Store to be built on the former site of Z-Gallerie at 340 University Ave.

Plans for Apple’s new glass-fronted and topped retail store at 340 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto are edging closer to final approval.  The existing Apple Store is just to the left.

A new Apple retail store is planned for 340 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto, the former Z Gallerie.

This view of the new building shows what a pedestrian would see from the sidewalk.

Existing (2011) Apple Store across the street.

Existing (2011) Apple Store across the street.

Even More Details About Apple’s Grand Central Store

Rendering of the Apple Grand Central store proposal looking from the northeast balcony toward the east balcony.

More detail behind the WSJ's rendering of Apple's Grand Central store. View from the NE balcony area toward the E balcony. Credit: Rob Bennett for WSJ.

Mr. Grossman’s Wall Street Journal blog entry about Apple’s new Grand Central Terminal store provides great visuals for the new space.  Their proposal began as a response to the MTA’s May 23, 2011 Grand Central Terminal Request for Proposal and that RFP contains quite detailed floor plans, elevations, sign locations and mechanicals for the areas that Apple has proposed to occupy (see pg 32 of 61 for instance).

In RFP Addendum 2, Apple’s questions provide even more suggestions about their proposed modifications.  Enjoy!

The new Apple Store turned out just like the renderings!

Update 2: Apple’s store in Grand Central Terminal opened to the public on December 9, 2011 just in time for the holiday shopping season and it looks just like the renderings.  Happy Holidays!

Update:  Appendix 4 of the RFP links to an entire folder full of architectural, electrical  and construction plans.

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Sprint TV Streams ESPN World Cup for Free

My new favorite feature on the Sprint Palm Pre has to be the free, live stream of ESPN World Cup coverage included with Sprint TV. Past favorite features include:

Sprint’s Plan

  • The rest of Sprint TV’s line up
  • Unlimited data
  • Free calls to any mobile number (any carrier, not just Sprint!)
  • Sprint Navigation included for free (it’s better than TomTom, Garmin or Magellan)
    • Palm’s Hardware

      • Superb form factor that fit’s great in the hand and pocket (the iPhone, Droid, Evo, etc… are all too big for a regular man’s pocket)
      • A swappable battery for essentially unlimited talk time
      • A physical keyboard
      • Touchstone wireless charging

      Palm’s webOS Software

      • PalmOS emulator to run all of my favorite PalmOS apps (Handy Shopper, Planetarium and more)
      • The global search box that covers contacts, apps, web addresses, Google, Google Maps and Wikipedia
      • Synergy which unifies PIM data (email, contacts and calendars) from all of my sources (Outlook, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and more).
      • Bash shell as root without jailbreaking
      • True multi-tasking (e.g. Pandora in the background has been there from the start)
      • Tethering over USB, WiFi and Bluetooth
      • Mojo development environment (including the Ares online development system)
      • Over The Air updates (no need to tether the Palm Pre to a computer for updates)
      • Automatic, free nightly backups over the air.
      • Free remote-wipe for lost phones

      iOS4 (nee iPhoneOS4) addresses some of these competitive challenges, but for now, webOS remains in the lead. The webOS App catalog isn’t yet as full as Apple’s, however, waiving the first year’s fee for developers should help that problem too.

Fixing HotSync Manager 6410 Error – Connection Lost

Fossil Abacus AU5005 Wrist PDA with Palm OS Black

While reviving my long idle Wrist PDA, I ran into HotSync error 6410 – connection lost. Palm’s knowledge base had some suggestions, however, none of their workarounds resolved my problem.  Instead, the problem went away by enabling just the “Local USB” connection (and disabling the other “Local”, “Modem”, and “Network” connection types by right clicking on the HotSync menu in the System tray).

Posted in Fun, Palm OS. 1 Comment »

Why the iPad Succeeds Where Others Failed…

When Apple announced their iPad in January, my initial reaction was skepticism.  Why would the iPad succeed where other tablets have failed for the past twenty years?   After trying one out, the answer turns out to lie in the iPad operating system named “iPhone OS” “iOS”.¹ iOS elegantly solves two critical problems that have plagued past tablets:

First, poor on-screen input has kept tablet computers cornered into niche “stand-up” computing markets where people have to tolerate difficult touchscreen input because they have no place to sit down to use a keyboard.  Success for tablets was restricted to workplaces such as package delivery, patient care, and inventory management. The iPhone’s on-screen keyboard, however, finally conquered the touchscreen input problem and obsoleted physical keyboards on app-phones.   Apple’s expansion of their on-screen keyboard solution to the larger iPad frees it from the first deficiency of the tablet world.

Hardware solves the second problem. Tablets must remain compact and lightweight for portability, respond quickly to dynamic inputs, and provide long battery life for folks in the field all day.  Moore’s Law has annually doubled hardware capacity for over forty years and so you might reasonably expect that today’s computers would be blindingly fast and run on sunshine.  Today’s CPUs are exponentially faster; for example, my first tablet computer, built nearly two decades ago sported a paltry 0.02 GHz “i386 SL microprocessor which [was then] several generations ahead”, but it still starts up and runs about as fast as modern hardware running Microsoft Vista. What happened to all of that computer power from Moore’s law advances!? It turns out that the coercive monopoly software vendor has continuously squandered that wealth of capacity on bloat-ware and left the end-user experience wallowing along at “sluggish”.

Apple’s iPad resolved the hardware problem by exploiting this bloat-ware gap. By rigorously keeping iOS lean, they unleash the hardware’s real capacity to deliver a superb UI.  While Apple’s hardware team delivered relatively standard hardware components, that standard hardware in 2010 is several thousand times faster than my original tablet and new lithium polymer batteries hold four to six times the energy of their older NiMH and NiCAD brethren.  With a great battery life and decades of Moore’s law advances to spend,  the software team under Scott Forstall erased the bloat and delivered an OS where less (code) truly is more (usable).  The iPad user experience is astonishingly engaging and a quantum leap ahead of anything else in the market.  Even the fastest x86 computers, oozing GHz and dimming the lights for miles around, cannot throw off the shackles of traditional software to deliver the iPad’s user experience.   The larger screen on the iPad delivers a substantively expanded experience beyond its app-phone predecessors.

Apple’s latest offering, using only modest hardware, leaps at your touch and then quickly gets out of the way allowing you to engage directly with your content.  Comparing the iPad UI with other tablets is like comparing the experience of picking up a toy with your own hand versus using The Claw to snatch that toy from a vending machine.   Your own hand’s motion barely registers in your consciousness; you just have the toy and using the iPad feels the same way.  “The Claw” UI from other OS’s, in contrast, occupies your consciousness so completely that your content gets forgotten altogether.  The iPad readily evokes comparison with Stephenson’s  A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer or perhaps it’s actually one of Roddenberry’s Star Trek PADDs that was misdelivered a century too early and on the other side of San Francisco.  Hopefully other vendors will get the message.  The iPad cold boots in under 20 seconds, starts apps seemingly instantly and has access to the largest set of online books (iBooks, Kindle App, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Wikipedia, etc…) and movies (iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, etc…) ever assembled in on a single device. Oh, and if you need to get some work done, there’s an app for that too. Multitasking arrivesd this fall

Watch out horse and buggy monopolies, the automobile has arrived!

1. Update: Apple has rechristened “iPhone OS” to “iOS” and delivered multitasking APIs.

Netflix Movie Player Keyboard Shortcuts

Netflix The Netflix movie player (Silverlight desktop version) has the following keyboard shortcuts:

Space – Toggle Play/Pause
Enter – Toggle Play/Pause
PgUp – Play
PgDn – Pause
F – Full-screen
Esc – Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow – Rewind
Shift+Right arrow – Fast Forward
Up arrow – Volume Up
Down arrow – Volume Down
M – Mute toggle

In full-screen mode:

Ctrl+space – Frame forward/backward mode. Ctrl+space pauses the movie and enters key frame mode (aka intra-frame or i-frame mode). The right and left arrow keys then move between key frames.

The following Ctrl+Shift+Alt+* shortcuts (Ctrl+Shift+Option+* in Mac OS X)  toggle information displays on/off when the player is NOT in full-screen mode. The displays will remain on, however, if full-screen mode is activated.

Ctrl+Shift+Alt+M – Menu;  includes loading custom .dfxp sub-title files.
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+C – Codes; frame rate plus other (unknown to me) info. Also makes the other overlays green.
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+D – Display A/V Stats on-screen
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+L – Logging window
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+P – Player info
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+R – toggle color Rotation for overlays in Chrome; probably a debugging feature.
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S – current Streaming bit-rate and manual bit-rate selection

While Netflix’ player implements the above keyboard shortcuts; unfortunately, the desktop version doesn’t yet respond to Microsoft Windows Media Center remote control events.  The netflixhotkeys Auto Hot Key (AHK) script can add more shortcuts if needed, however, AHK doesn’t easily handle all of the MCE events either.   If you are, or know, a Netflix developer, native MCE event support would be really cool (sample code).

2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Per Capita

Many Olympic events highlight the accomplishments of an individual athlete and so it seemed only fair to recalculate the “medal count” rankings to account for each nation’s population. The top five are Norway, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland and, without further ado, here are the remaining per capita stats:

Country 	Rank	Gold	Silver	Bronze	Total	Population	Medals per 10M
NORWAY		1	9	8	6	23	  4,769,274	48.23
AUSTRIA		2	4	6	6	16	  8,344,319	19.17
SLOVENIA	3	0	2	1	3	  2,039,400	14.71
SWEDEN		4	5	2	4	11	  9,220,986	11.93
SWITZERLAND	4	6	0	3	9	  7,630,605	11.79
FINLAND		6	0	1	4	5	  5,312,800	 9.41
LATVIA		7	0	2	0	2	  2,266,013	 8.83
CANADA		8	14	7	5	26	 33,311,389	 7.81
ESTONIA		9	0	1	0	1	  1,340,638	 7.46
CZECH REPUBLIC	10	2	0	4	6	  8,344,319	 7.19
CROATIA		11	0	2	1	3	  4,434,189	 6.77
SLOVAKIA	12	1	1	1	3	  5,406,030	 5.55
NETHERLANDS	13	4	1	3	8	 16,443,269	 4.87
GERMANY		14	10	13	7	30	 82,140,043	 3.65
BELARUS		15	1	1	1	3	  9,680,850	 3.10
KOREA		16	6	6	2	14	 48,607,000	 2.88
FRANCE		17	2	3	6	11	 62,048,473	 1.77
POLAND		18	1	3	2	6	 38,122,972	 1.57
AUSTRALIA	19	2	1	0	3	 21,374,000	 1.40
UNITED STATES	20	9	15	13	37	304,059,724	 1.22
RUSSIAN FEDERATION 21	3	5	7	15	141,800,000	 1.06
ITALY		22	1	1	3	5	 59,854,860	 0.84
KAZAKHSTAN	23	0	1	0	1	 15,674,833	 0.64
JAPAN		24	0	3	2	5	127,704,000	 0.39
GREAT BRITAIN	25	1	0	0	1	 61,399,118	 0.16
CHINA		26	5	2	4	11    1,325,639,982	 0.08

(Other formats: html, .csv)

Posted in Fun. 3 Comments »

How to Backup and Restore a Palm Desktop User Data Folder

During my umpteenth Palm upgrade, I created the following file right inside of my Palm Desktop User Data folder to remind myself of the simple way to backup and restore a Palm Desktop User Data folder (aka Palm OS Desktop) . Hopefully those wiser than I will leave comments explaining problems and improvements in the process below. Helphand’s Not So FAQ’s for the Palm offers very detailed information about reading the individual files within a Palm User Data folder, however, that’s not quite what I want.

restore_instructions.txt (save this file into your Palm User folder):

------->8 <snip> 8<--------

To backup this Palm User folder simply copy it to backup media somewhere. If Windows file encryption was used, export your public and private keys as well!! Start, Run, Certmgr.msc, Personal, Certificates, right click on cert, All Tasks, Export…, “Yes, export the private key”.

To restore from backup, read through and then follow these steps:

1) Restore this directory from backup. Make sure the
restored files are read-write (especially those in the MemoPad\
directory, such as memopad.dat, otherwise Palm Desktop will default
to creating a new, empty db instead of importing the old data!!).

2) Make a copy of the restored users.dat file from this directory; step 3)
is going to overwrite the one here. (This directory might already
contain a backup of users.dat, but it might be out of date; make
another backup just to be safe).

3) Uninstall and then re-install Palm Desktop selecting the “Custom”
installation type if necessary to point the install to any
non-standard User Data location. The installation will overwrite the
users.dat file in the User Data location. Pre-6 versions of Palm Desktop don’t have an option for a “custom” User Data location. Instead, update HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\U.S. Robotics\Pilot Desktop\Core\Path after the installation.

4) Finish the installation skipping the request for an initial device

5) Right click on Hotsync in the system tray and exit (it holds onto a copy of users.dat too).

6) Replace users.dat with the backup from step 2).

7) Start Palm Desktop to confirm the data has been restored.

------->8 </snip> 8<--------

Educate Afghanistan!

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child, recently presented the U.S. Senate with a brilliantly simple way to help resolve the conflict in Afghanistan — educate the population! Giving all 5 million children in Afghanistan ages 6 through 12 an OLPC XO-1 laptop would cost around US$750 million. Given the river of money flowing to Afghanistan, this is a only a small amount of the budgetary bucket. It would, however, be an tidal change in the perception of the US military.

One Laptop Per Child already has the lesson plans, software and the laptops as well as active  pilot projects up and running in Afghanistan. These laptops are expertly designed specifically to deliver elementary education in remote areas; while the XO-1 laptops cost under $200 each, they include technology not yet available in any other laptop at any price. Their rugged design, low power consumption, battery longevity, wireless capabilities and ease-of-use surpass all other laptops on the market. Children teach themselves to use the XO-1 on their own using the built-in collaboration tools and intuitive software. The laptop teaches the children how to teach themselves.

The US military has the supply infrastructure throughout Afghanistan to deliver the laptops, provide them power and supply the data communication backhaul to connect to the rest of the world. The US Census Int’l Database shows there are 5 million children ages 6-12 (1st through 6th grade) in Afghanistan; giving each of them a laptop would cost $750 million and would do more to advance the US desire for a peaceful, stable nation than all of the other military spending combined.

Write your congressional delegation and ask them to budget the funds. Educate Afghanistan and empower them to help us all end the turmoil plaguing the region.

there are 5 million children ages 5-10 (kindergarten through 5th grade) in Afghanistan; giving each of them a laptop would cost only $160 million and would do more to advance the US desire for a peaceful, stable nation than all of the remaining military spending combined.

[Update: Donations to Greg Mortenson’s non-profit Central Asia Institute also promote an excellent educational opportunity in Afghanistan.]