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Friday, March 20, 2009

Movie Watch: Revolver

You might think that with Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie driving the movie, you'd know where all the corners would be ... but Revolver is Ritchie's attempt at a Lynchian style film, even if it is still a gangster film at heart. That's not to say that it's bad, it is actually very entertaining for much of the film and the odd surrealism gives it a boost in places your normal flick wouldn't get any, but just don't expect much to make sense in the end, even when they start rolling quotes from eggheads during the credits.

Somewhat recommended, but best to know what you're getting into.

For Sunday: Battlestar Galactica At The United Nations

Enjoy the finale tonight, folks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

TV Watch: Lost, Namaste

I almost forgot to put this post up because, well, there just wasn't much to the episode. It's not that it was bad, it's just, well, it was kind of a "getting the bad back together" sort of hour. It was almost like a fan service episode, with tons of in-show references and a bit of time travelling goodness, but not much real meat on the bones.

So I'd grade it a bit of a ... meh?

TV Watch: How To Get Drunk Quick

I've invented the world's worst drinking game.

While watching TV, if a commercial makes an overt reference to the state of the economy, take a shot. I promise you'll sleep soundly tonight.

To be specific, don't mince around. So if a commercial notes that "stocks are dropping", then that's a shot. But if it just "you'll appreciate our low prices", that's not. But "with less money in your wallet, you'll appreciate our low prices" - shot.

And if the entire ad is about the economy, like "no really, it's a good time to buy a house" from some trade organization that is selling on nothing but that concept, finish your drink.

Pac Man ... In Spain

Dude gets around...

iPhone: On the other hand, In App Purchasing is pretty good.

Let's get specific and say that I don't exactly agree with some of the doom and gloom about downloadable content. All jokes about horse armor aside, DLC hasn't resulted in a glut of worthless content foisted on users, nor has any developer been dumb enough to nickel and dime users just to actually play the game properly. Nor has it stopped some developers and publishers from continuing to offer free downloads and updates.

If we use either the console or PC market as an example, DLC has been more or less a boon for gamers. On the PlayStation 3, PAIN is a brilliant example. It's a low cost game with low cost DLC that lets user try the game out in phases and pay out as they feel like it. We're big fans of the game, and honestly the model works great.

More to the point, DLC gives developers an option (at least, I think it does - I haven't played with the SDK yet) to offer a demo version of their software and unlock the full version without forcing the user to download a new version and delete the old one. "Try to buy" options have been woefully lacking on the platform, and this seems like a pretty mature response from Apple to alleviate the situation.

Apple's MMS Radio Claim: Dubious At Best, Outright Lying At Worst

While there were some pretty interesting bits about the preview of the iPhone's upcoming 3.0 OS, there was one bit that really set me off. Apple claims that they can deliver MMS for 3G phones, but not first gen phones, because:

"Q: Is there a physical hardware problem on the first-gen iPhone that prevents it from doing MMS?

A: It’s a different radio, so it is a physical issue."

Which would be a pretty convenient explanation, because it would mean that Apple isn't playing the bad guy here - they just made a major design blunder in the first place by not introducing some hardware, right? So maybe they're stupid - but surely not evil.

Well, the problem with this claim is ... if it's true then how is it a jailbroken app can get MMS on a first gen? I quoteth again:

Hi everyone,

I own a 1st gen Iphone, and I have been fortunate to have swirly up and running. Currently I’m working on getting my friend’s 1st gen to work, however my method of calling up ATT and demaning to have MMS added to the account won’t work anymore.

Isn't that curious? And the mumblevine tells me that by "radio", we shouldn't necessarily think of a specific wire shoved into the case, but rather a combination of hardware and firmware, with the later almost certainly being flashable.

So Apple claims they can't get first gens to work, although jailbroken apps can. Or could. I haven't tried myself, since I don't want to jailbreak my phone, but I find the statement "however my method of calling up ATT and demaning to have MMS added to the account won’t work anymore", very curious.

Let's pose the question for a moment - why wouldn't the first gen iPhones have supported MMS in the first place?. It's a very basic feature of cell phones, extremely common - to the point where it never actually occurred to me that my phone didn't support it until I tried to get a message from The Girl one day, and ran afoul of the extremely poor

Remember that the first gen iPhone offered a $99 unlimited data plan, which was rather unique at the time. Remember that the iPhone 3G has a completely different data plan, which is more expensive to let AT&T recoup all that subsidized hardware in a matter of a couple of years.

Well, what happens when people start sending messages of their cats to each other all day long? Bandwidth costs rise, and suddenly that $99 plan doesn't look so good to AT&T. Emails, sure they can suck up bandwidth - but most people will prefer to use WiFi for those anyway. MMS is all cell, all the time.

The smoking gun here is, clearly a byproduct of AT&T design shoved onto the original iPhone to save AT&T money. It's an embarrassingly bad implementation, buggy and user unfriendly.

And Apple just told first gen users that they can suck it, they're stuck with it.

And I'm guessing the real incompatibility is contractual, not technical. I challenge anyone to offer concrete proof to the contrary.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No MMS For iPhone 2G???

Are god damn kidding me, Apple? Not buying it.

My iPhone 3.0 Wishlist

The 3.0 OS coming out (for developers at least) today is a great welcome home present. Here's what I'd like to see:

- Proper MMS support. I still think this is an almost disturbingly user unfriendly aspect of the current phone and one we keep running into it.

- Power saving modes. I don't why this doesn't come up more, but maybe it is because I travel so much that I'm constantly fiddling with my settings for better conservation. But if instead of just "Airplane" I could also do "Battery Saving", "Performance", etc., it would be quicker than adjusting WiFi, brightness, etc...

- Cut and paste. This wasn't nearly as I high on my list until I ran into some hitches with an app I was working with ... now I'd really like to see it.

- Bluetooth data tethering and the SDK support to handle it. Forcing everyone to use WiFi to do wireless transfers is a burden.

- SDK access to calendar. There is already access to contacts, and there's nothing more evil I can do to your cal that I can do with your address book.

- SDK access to music. Apple needs to ease off that people are going to stop using the iPod program. Pay attention to other gaming platforms that allow you to use your own soundtrack.

I could probably keep going, but I'll hope for these for now...

Home Invasion

We've returned stateside after a highly picturesque and overall very successful trip to Spain (Majorica, to be specific). Flickr feed to follow.

Still getting a bit accustomed to the time zone, but normal posting should commence shortly.