Google reaches for the next media it has no place in: the TV

It seems Google wants to compete with Apple everywhere it can. Quite some time after Apple decided to release the AppleTV (which more or less sucks if you are no iTunes maniac) Google now also wants to release a set top box you can connect to your TV. It will be Android based and contain a chrome browser for your web based needs.

The target of this box is to integrate the web into the living room. I think it will be tied heavily into Googles several services like GMail, Buzz, YouTube and what else. It most certainly will be another way for Google to collect data about your everyday life so it can benefit from it in some way (unfortunately the very fitting Google Home View Video is in German). I also don’t think it will be more successful than the AppleTV because it misses a few very important points.

1. in most „modern“ countries of the world the TV is a place primarily for video content. There is room for music, pictures and games but thats as far as it goes. I’ll take a jump here and claim that nobody wants to read mail on a TV or surf in other ways. Regular webbrowsing will most certainly fail because the content just isn’t prepared for TV. Ever connected a PC with your TV and tried to work with that from the couch? Doesn’t work, for the same reason that web browsing won’t work. The dimensions just don’t fit. And on top of that TVs are not made for text. Reading on a TV in the regular scale won’t work.

2. very few people I know would want something hooked up to the TV that can exclusively show content from the web or streamed from other devices. The future for video and music may lie in digital distribution, but it is a very long way till we get there. Until then, a device with no optical media support stands a very bad chance of succeeding for the masses. Today such a device should have an integrated Blu Ray drive.

3. there are quite some open source projects that work in getting media content on the TV and they do a pretty good job at it (take a look at XBMC and its many forks like Plex or Boxee). There is little need for a commercial project that has no former expertise and has to be seen as an experiment. I myself tried to get a good media center for quite some years now and finally got something together that I personally really like (you’ll see that in other posts in the future).

In my opinion projects of the larger companies that target only web/streaming content and on top of that only try to enlarge their user base are set to fail from the beginning. The future of TV is about the freedom of the user to choose what they want to see in their own kind of way, free from source and codec boundaries. Apple failed mainly because of the strong tieing between AppleTV and iTunes, if Google didn’t learn from that mistake they are destined to fail too and of lately they have shown quite some resistance against learning from competitors (remember the Buzz debacle a few weeks/months back). Let’s see what’s ahead.

Source: gizmodo

iPad makes the crowd go crazy…

… and I just don’t get it. Quite nothing I’ve seen so far on this topic made me jump and scream „OMG WANT WANT WANT“. The iPad is nothing other already available tablets are. Quite the opposite I think. It is a „larger“ iPhone which might work nice for small devices, but for a device settled between mobile phones and real computers it is way too closed and restricted in its usage. I just can’t see myself sitting with this thing on the couch and use it the way I’d like to use a portable computer in that size.

What is the expected usage of this thing? Here are a few options reports point out on a regular basis:

Reading eBooks: Using an active display with background lighting results in eyestrain when using it for a longer period of time, I guess everyone felt like that at some point sitting in front of the computer. I surely did. So while it might be good for a quick readout of newspapers in the bus or train it surely is unsuitable for reading books. Thats why there are „real“ eBook readers with ePaper _without_ background lighting. They consume way less power and are more friendly to the eye, it almost seems like reading a real book. So for eBook it’s a NO GO.

Listening to music: The integrated music player surely is nice. Let’s remember apple has a long history of portable media players. While the software may be great, let’s also remember the size of this thing. Nearly 25cm in height and 19cm in width. Not exactly nice for a portable music player? It is a nice addition as you will be able to listen music while doing something else, but for the sole purpose of listening music go get a real portable media player.

Watching videos/movies: That aspect ratio of the iPad isn’t really suitable for watching videos, but if you can live with black borders around the picture that might work nicely. The screen is supposed to have a perfect view so I guess that might work, but you will have to decide what you wan’t to be able to see on the road as the storage sizes aren’t that big and the greater sizes are also a bit more expensive and you might to recode your videos to be able to watch them on the iPad (just like iPhone/iPod touch), or you buy them on iTunes.

Playing games: It is said that every software that runs on the iPhone/iPod touch will also run on the iPad. That also include a load of games. Now remember the size again and the fact that you only can control your games through the touchscreen. Can you imagine holding such a monster as a gaming console in your hand and play? I can’t. Imagine it laying flat on the table and you control with both hands on the touchscreen? Watching straight down all the time? There is no integrated stand, so if you want a more convenient position for the iPad you’d need to buy a extra stand. I’m not quite sure how configurable that would be, but it would be an in house solution only, so not very „portable“. So gaming might work at home, but not on the road.

Surfing the net: That would run nicely I guess. The screen is adequately big, the touchscreen will be comparable to the iPhone which is excellent, so surfing and working on web pages will work OK. Future will tell if writing on this thing will be comfortable as you probably need to use both hands so there is the stand problem again.

Office use: There will be iWork for the iPad. I don’t know what you use for writing, but I just can’t get to terms with Pages. So I can only talk about Keynote which I really like. Now what is the use of a tablet for work, especially with a presentation tool, if I can’t natively attach it to something I can present the presentation with. The iPad has only ONE connector to connect ANY device to it. It is a proprietary connector, so you’ll have to buy way overpriced adapters to connect anything to the iPad. Additionally as far as I know in the near future there will be no adapter to connect any display device to the iPad. So no presentations with the use of the iPad. DUH! So work is better suited with a real computer, so better go for a laptop here.

So much for the basic usage that is talked about elsewhere. What about extended usage?

Developing iPad Apps: So you might want to develop for the iPad. There are a few restrictions for doing this.
1. You can’t develop on the device it self. You only can develop on a real computer.
2. You can’t develop on windows although you can USE the iPad with Windows through iTunes for Windows. You can ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY develop for the iPad on Mac OS X just like developing for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
3. You can’t just put your newly developed App into the world by setting it for Download on your private or companies Website. You absolutely need to use the iTunes Store, where Apple dictates which Apps it will allow to be sold or distributed for free and which not. So even if you put a lot of effort into developing a nice App that may be useful or just funny you have no chance of knowing if your App will ever make it out into the public. There are many sides to view here, and most of them have been discussed already. There will be another post sometime later where I discuss my personal feelings regarding developing and distributing the apple way so thats it on this mater for the moment.

Developing other things on the iPad: While the size and the controls itself seem nice for developing i.e. web pages or web apps on the fly when beeing on the road or visiting a customer I just don’t see it happening. Firstly there would be needed a software todo so. Secondly I don’t see uploading changed code on the road. As I understand it you would be required to sync the changed files through iTunes to a computer and upload it from there. So whatever you do, you absolutely still need a computer to develop for the Web. For everything else: well you won’t be able to run the writen code on the iPad, so you can’t test what you did.
Result: Developing is a NO GO!

Now I ask what is left? Absolutely only surfing the net (and may be listening to music while you do that). The only thing really usable about the iPad is webbrowser. So this thing is a portable webbrowser for >=500$. Is that really worth it? It seems that many people think so as I’ve read reports that preorders go into hundrets of thousands already. And I still don’t get it 🙁

I won’t tell you if you should buy it or not, but do me and yourself a favor: Before you jump and preorder PLEASE wait until that thing is out in the open and look out for reviews of people that really use it. If you have the opportunity go into an apple store and try it out. Don’t buy it just because it is an apple device and the commercials look so nice! Take a look at alternatives before you buy as Apple is really not the first to release a tablet! My personal preference lies with the archos product line at the moment (take a look at the Archos 9 PC-Tablet or the Archos 7).

Regarding the „surfing“ there is also the huge setback: the iPad does not and for the near future will not support flash! So no streaming video!

Technology Review: „Können wir die Erde zerstören?“

Unsere Umwelt und unser Umgang mit selbiger ist ein sehr spannendes Thema. Es gibt viele Leute die der ganzen Thematik überdrüssig sind, und auch viele Leute die mit fanatischen oder fatalen Ansichten an das Thema herangehen.
Da freut es wenn man das Interview des Technology Review mit dem chemiker James Lovelock liest. Das Interview beschäftigt sich in der Hauptsache mit den Themen Gaiatheorie, Treibhauseffekt und Atomstrom. Es werden sehr interessante Vergleiche gezogen und häufige Irrtümer aufgezeigt.

Sehr empfehlenswert und interessant!

Technology Review: Können wir die Erde zerstören?

permanently adding network mounts to the finders sidebar

So, you have a little network with some shares you frequently mount, i.e. you have a „Music“-Share on your home-server. You connect, you drag the newly mounted share to the „Devices“ section, some time later you restart your computer, and when reconnecting to your share the mount does not reappear unter „Devices“. Damn, again dragging the share, and again, and again, and again. Sounds familiar? Here’s how you fix that. Continue reading

EU gegen Microsoft: Windows 7 ohne IE

So haben sich unsere großartigen Wettbewerbshüter ihre Entscheidungen wohl nicht vorgestellt. Ich persönlich finde es erstaunlich, dass man diesen logischen Schritt nicht vorrausgesehen hat. Der Wunsch Microsoft würde mit einer Windowsinstallation Produkte seiner Konkurenten anbieten ist mehr als realitätsfern. Der Schritt das nächste Windows ohne Browser anzubieten um es als separates Paket zur verfügung zu stellen war der einzig gehbare. Korrekterweise müsste MS den IE sogar ganz von dem Installationsdatenträger verbannen und damit hätte sich die EU richtig ins Fleisch geschnitten. Man denke sich ein Betriebssystem ohne Browser. Als normaler Nutzer ist man damit quasi vom Internet abgeschnitten sofern man nicht über ein Zweitgerät mit installiertem Browser besitzt oder bekannte hat die einem den bevorzugten Browser besorgen. Das mag heutzutage kein Problem mehr darstellen, aber es ist nicht benutzerfreundlich. Bravo EU, bravo Opera ihr habt es dem Nutzer wieder ein Stück unangenehmer gemacht einen Rechner neu einzurichten, zufrieden?

In Zukunft liebe Alternativbrowserhersteller: macht eure Produkte für den Nutzer angenehmer und zeigt euren Mehrwert deutlicher, dann installieren die Nutzer eure Produkte auch OHNE dass ihr weinend zu onkel EU rennt… (und sind euch hinterher nicht mal böse)

Winnenden und „Killerspiele“

Ein paar Tage sind seit dem Amoklauf in Winnenden vergangen und schon geht die alte Leier wieder los. Trotz Aussagen der Polizei, dass auf dem PC keine „ungewöhnlichen Gewaltspiele“ gefunden wurden und es keinen offensichtlichen Zusammenhang gäbe, fetzen sich die Politiker wieder ob des Themas „Killerspiele“ und man schreit nach Verbot. Es ist immer das gleiche, keiner kann sagen was „Killerspiele“ eigentlich sind, aber sie sind ganz böse und gehören verboten. Obwohl sie es seit der letzten Überarbeitung der Jugendschutzregelungen tatsächlich sind, ist das Gesetz dort nicht restriktiv nicht genug, die Auflagen für den Waffenbesitz aber sind natürlich vollkommen ausreichend.

Wie kommt es eigentlich, dass hierzulande über einen möglicherweise bestehenden (und meines Wissens nirgendwo bewiesenen) Einfluss von Computerspielen auf das Verhalten der Jugendlichen so stark debatiert und diskutiert wird, der imens leichte Erhalt der Mittel um solche Bluttaten zu begehen aber nur mit Randbemerkungen bedacht wird? Wie kann es sein, dass Computerspiele gefährlicher eingeschätzt werden als ein Waffenarsenal in Wohnung und Keller des Elternhauses? Ich denke hier versuchen wieder irgendwelche Politiker sich falsch zu profilieren. Nicht die Computerspiele gehören verboten sondern der Waffenbesitz. Ich denke Schützenvereine sollten wie auch die Bundeswehr es schon tut Waffenregistrierungen vornehmen, die Anzahl der erlaubten Waffen pro Person muss limitiert werden, und die Lagerung sollte in den unbewohnten Vereinsräumen durchgeführt werden. In normalen bewohnten Gegenden hat niemand eine Waffe zu tragen ausser Polizei und Militär.

Der junge Täter kam ohne Schwierigkeiten an eine große Anzahl von Waffen und Munition, die Mittel zur Tat wurden ihm quasi in die Hände gelegt, aber Schuld sind die Computerspiele? Nicht die Waffen müssen unter Verschluss kommen sondern die Computerspiele? Wer kann da noch guten Gewissens von Logik sprechen?

„Videospiele-Branche fordert sachliche Debatte über Amoklauf von Winnenden“ – heise (ct)
Diskussion über Gewalt-Computerspiele nach Amoklauf von Winnenden
Zwei Tage später: Das große Gerede

UpdatePanel and CssClass

I never really understood why the UpdatePanel was derived from Control instead of WebControl. It obviously represents a more or less visible web element but lacks the possibility to add class or style tags from codebehind. Maybe it is due to the updateable nature of the control, I don’t know. The only thing I now right now is that I want a CssClass property on my UpdatePanel. Thankfully thats an easy task, just create a new Control that derives from the UpdatePanel, add a „CssClass“ Property and add the contents to the attribute collection in the render method. This is how the class would look like (note that I use ASP.NET 3.X notation):

public class CustomUpdatePanel : System.Web.UI.UpdatePanel
    public string CssClass

    protected override void Render(HtmlTextWriter writer)
        if (CssClass != string.Empty)
            writer.AddAttribute(HtmlTextWriterAttribute.Class, CssClass);


I like it 😉 and it also comes really handy for UpdateProgress.

DataGrid und private klassen.

Dass Fehlermeldungen in Silverlight manchmal kryptisch sind ist ja nix neues. Nun fand sich aber ein beispielloser Fall nichtsaussagender Fehlermeldung überhaupt.

Ich habe für die Anzeige in einem DataGrid ein paar Daten aufbereitet. Dazu habe ich in meinem Control eine innere Klasse erstellt die meine Daten wrapt, in einer Methode zum Abfüllen einen IEnumberable<T> dieses Typs zusammengestellt und ihn an das DataGrid gebunden. Während der Ausführung bekam ich dann beim binden der Daten diese Fehlermeldung präsentiert: „Error HRESULT E_FAIL has been returned from a call to a COM component.“ Der StackTrace gab zu erkennen, dass der Fehler in der „Measure()“ Methode des DataGrids auftrat als eine neue Zeile hinzugefügt wurde.

Der Fehler an sich ist ja schon einmal nichtssagend, da die Fehlermeldung von Measure() geworfen wird könnte man jetz annehmen, dass es irgendein Problem mit der Größenberechnung aufgrund der Daten gibt. Nichts dergleichen. Nachdem ich ein wenig mit den Spaltendefinitionen rumgespielt habe kam ich irgendwann zu dem Schluss dass es irgendwas mit meiner Klasse zu tun haben muss, es blieb einfach nichts anderes mehr übrig da ich die Definitionen soweit gekürzt habe, dass sie auf einem Stand waren an dem es vorher mit einer anderen Klasse funktionierte.

Das Problem liegt dann auch ganz einfach an der Sichtbarkeit: die innere Klasse darf nicht private sein! Danke für die Hilfreiche Fehlermeldung MS…