Archive for March 18th, 2006

Installing Opera Mini on a Palm

Now that I have a PDA that can do WiFi, I’ve started paying attention to ‘net software for PalmOS. Palm packages a surprisingly good web browser, Blazer, but it has one crucial flaw: it’s too good at rendering a web page! If a page is set up to display at 800×600, Blazer faithfully tries to render it as such. On a screen that’s just a bit above 420×300, that leads to a whole lotta scrolling.

So my first mission was to find a web browser that could actually render a page for the size of screen I was using, as opposed to the size of a screen the developer was aiming for. And I stumbled across Opera Mini. Opera, my second-favorite browser, has a version specifically for devices with small screens, such as PDAs and cell phones. Opera Mini renders for these small screens, but tries not to lose too much from the original document.

And installing Opera Mini on a Palm is amazingly easy:

Step 1) You need to have the correct Java environment on your Palm. You can pick this up from WebSphere. Hotsync this to to your Palm in the usual way. This installs the IBM Java VM app. You also get preferences in the standard ‘preferences’ Palm interface. Install the Java VM via a hot sync.

Step 2) Then go to http://mini.opera.com and follow the download wizard instructions. Direct link for Palm devices.

The end result is a very pleasing browsing experience.

Find Music You’ll Love – Pandora

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. I coulda sworn that I posted a recommendation for Pandora’s music service a long time ago. But I can’t find an entry for it, so I’d better write something now. Pandora is a combination of a flash-based streaming music player and a collaborative rating system:

Those questions often evolved into great conversations. Each friend told us their favorite artists and songs, explored the music we suggested, gave us feedback, and we in turn made new suggestions. Everybody started joking that we were now their personal DJs.

We created Pandora so that we can have that same kind of conversation with you.

Basically, you tell Pandora an artist or song, and it starts up a streaming playlist of other artists/songs that you’ll probably like based on your initial entry. As songs play, you indicate whether or not you liked the song. This helps Pandora determine that, for example, someone who likes Jack Johnson will also probably like the song “Man With Money” by Jorma Whittaker. As more people use the system, Pandora’s results become more accurate.

It’s a very good system, and it’s recommendations run anywhere from good to “Oh my god, how did you know that I’d love this song?” And, since the player is Flash-based, Pandora works on most any system (as long as there’s a Flash player for that system).

Bill Gates just doesn’t get it…

More proof that Bill Gates is completely out of touch with the rest of the world: he actually dared to mock the “One Laptop Per Child” project!

“The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk … and with a tiny little screen,” Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington.”Hardware is a small part of the cost” of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support.

Before his critique, Gates showed off a new “ultra-mobile computer” which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) touch screen.

Those machines are expected to sell for between $599 and $999, Microsoft said at the product launch last week.

“If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type,” Gates said.

There are so many different ways to respond to Gates’s uninformed mocking… That these laptops are meant for children in developing nations, where the infrastructure might not provide electricity, let alone broadband. That the idea is to make something that’s functional and dirt cheap, so it can be provided to children who’d have no other means to use a computer. That $599 is far too expensive for this type of device in this situation.

Instead, I reckon I’ll just shake my head in disbelief.

Profile picI am a 40-ish uber-geek, Daoist and family man. Blessed to have one incredible wife and three wonderful kiddos. Dao has been kind to me.

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