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Monday, November 29, 2010

Options (As Far As Your Computer Goes)

     So, I'm getting ready to try out the Meego variant of netbook operating system today.  This got me to thinking.  There are a lot of options out there for your computer these days.
     There are the standard classes;  Mac, Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, and true Unix.  But within each of these groups there are a slue of choices as well.  For Mac, you've got either OSX or iOS.  Recently within windows you've got XP, Vista, and Win7.  Linux, well, I'll just list my favorites: Ubuntu, Moblin, Meego, Red Hat, Mint, Suse, Debian, Android, etc.  (Way too many options for Linux.)  Solaris you can either pay for or download OpenSolaris(for now).  BSD is like Linux, everyone has their own flavor.  And Unix has all but disappeared from the main stream, but there are still places that have a copy of some type of UNIX.
     So, with all of these options, which one is the best?  None, really.  There is so much variation within the computing world that you really can't claim one is better than the other.  Each serves it's specific purpose.
     But, with this list, I can start to show a bigger picture of what niche each system fills.
     Lets start with Mac.  Of its two major variations on the market currently, iOS is easier to explain, so I will start there.
     iOS is for those of you who want a mobile device that is stable and supported.  I know there are Android fans who will argue this to the sun and back, but in an honest and unbiased view, iOS is more stable, and more supported.  It has a central company behind the reins and they manage their products very well.  Plus, iOS devices are sleek and stylish, if that is one of your major concerns as far as computing goes.
     Next, Mac OSX.  This system really works well for people who need to work with computers but don't really want to deal with computers.  If you need to connect to the internet, do business online, or manage a professional career in graphic design, a Mac computer is probably the system for you.  These computers come at a higher price tag, but for the most part come with everything right out of the box.  Don't believe me, go to your local software supplier and look at the software title offerings available.  The Mac section may take up one eighth of what's offered, but will only contain programs for professional careers, or small business applications, and the occasional Windows crossover program.  If you want a well supported system, with lots of software available right off the bat, this is where you want to look.
     Next, the Windows empire.  This series of operating systems is treated as just such a thing, on more in long running line of previous OS's.  Where it lacks in out-of-the-box luster, Windows makes up for in shear volume.  Anything and everything you could ever want to do with a computer is supported and possible in a windows environment.  Plus, it is the most widely supported OS in the world.  If you know your way around the computer a little bit, and you want to use your computer for whatever you come up with, a Windows PC is probably your greatest friend.  Also, THERE IS NO OTHER PLATFORM FOR PC GAMING!  I have had discussions with people that you can get Linux to play anything a Windows PC can, or that you can play plenty of games on a Mac, but honestly, I've known people who've had to give up their spendy MacBook or give up on their moral code of only using open source, just so that they can play the latest RTS or first person shooter.  If you're into gaming, don't bother with other systems yet, they haven't gotten to the point of being useful.
     And now for the largest section in this review, the Linux base.  Because there are so many different variations that can do so many different things, I'm focusing on two variants in this article, Ubuntu and Moblin, because these are the two variants Digital Fruit supports.
     Now, you usually run a Linux box for only a hand full of reasons.  You are either a more experienced computer user who has a moral or personal objection over paying gobs of money to Microsoft for the same old thing year after year, your a cost conscious business that can hire a full time administrator, or you are a web host that really really needs stable servers.  But for a budding group of people you use Linux because its cheap, and its convenient.
     The last group of Linux users are people who've found out about Linux distributions like Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is a Linux distro designed for people who know very little about the internal operations of Linux, but don't really feel like paying for new software just because a business decides you haven't given them enough money so they are going to drop support for your product.  Easy enough for people without experience to use, Ubuntu gives you a great computing experience on a budget.  Downsides:  though this all may sound magical and make you wonder why the world hasn't switched over to Ubuntu, there are some downsides.  There is a huge lack of support over Linux in general, and Ubuntu is only one of thousands of versions of Linux.  So, if your computer breaks, there are very few people trained to fix it.  Also, I have yet to find a distribution of Linux that didn't have a moral goal behind it.  As admirable as this is, operating systems and computers in general are tools, to be used by people for whatever purposes they may imagine, so to build one on a specific moral pillar may cause problems down the road. 
     Then there are distributions like Moblin.  Moblin has a moral point, as well, but its kind of a funny one.  Moblin aims to be the best Netbook operating system ever, or at least the best one you'll ever see.  The problem this creates is that it is only usable on netbooks or nettop devices.  These tiny computers are meant to be companion devices, or access terminals for web-based use.  This makes this OS centered around a busy lifestyle, and if that describes you, I'd give it a shot.  If every there were an OS to describe abstractly, I'd have to call Moblin energetic and bouncy.  Though maybe not geared to the more mature generation, I can see Moblin take a hold in the mobile teen generation.  The only retail outlet pre-loading Moblin that I've seen, though, is us, Digital Fruit.  So if you'd like to see a demo, drop on by and we'll be happy to show you, or you can just check out the video shown in this post on the blog.
    Well, with out going into too much detail, this has been a quick over-view of Operating Systems currently out on the market.  Digital Fruit has always believed that the best buying decisions are made when a customer is informed about the subject.  If you have any other questions concerning these or any other operating systems, head on over to, or just call us at (360) 593-6082.  We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oops I Did It Again

     Sorry for the horrible Britney Spears ripoff, but I felt it best illustrated how dumb I think this latest Square-Enix development is.
     I'm talking about Final Fantasy 14.  I've been a long standing fan of the Final Fantasy series, starting off with the original game on the NES, but I've been worried lately about the health of the series.  All the way up to the ninth installment of the series, things seemed to be going golden, everything the square team touched was magical (at least to my young eyes), and each game far surpassed the last, in technical achievement, game play, and graphics.  And the later games had magnificent story lines.
     But Final Fantasy 14 seems to be attempting to re-attempt a previous campaign.  A campaign that failed horribly.  Does anyone reading this blog really remember the story of Final Fantasy 11?  No?  I didn't think so.  A brilliant design team wasted years of development to come up with a game that lost its audience in a matter of months.  No one I know played the game for more than six months.  And only the devoted fans of Final Fantasy lasted that long.  The game supposedly had everything to make a great MMORPG, graphics, great character design, unique lifestyle and combat system.  But the most important part of any artwork was missing.  This great master piece of visual achievement had an almost none-existent story.  None of it seemed believable.  You weren't really sucked into the game at all.
     After Final Fantasy 12 made the leap back to single player console, and shocked the world with a gripping story of the effect of the ravages of war, I, as a die-hard fan of Final Fantasy, I slept easier knowing that the beautiful tales of Final Fantasy were something that would remain where they belong, on the single player systems.  Final Fantasy 13 didn't upset this balance either.
     So, imagine my dismay then, when walking through Wal-Mart today, to turn and see a case I didn't recognize, bearing a name I did.  But the number wasn't one I was familiar with.  I had heard rumors of Square Enix working on 14, but nothing solid had really materialized.  Then suddenly, sitting in with PC games of all things, there is FF14.  I thought to myself, 'No, it can't be.  They didn't really try it all over again, did they?  But sure enough, there it was on the synopsis on the back.  Online.  And my spirits fell. 
     And as to the title of this post, I am terribly disappointed with Square Enix for trying to push through something that already failed so miserably the first time.  I had hoped that they would have learned not to dabble into areas where they are not wanted.  The problem with the world of gaming is that as much as the critics want it to push the boundaries of new,  their artistic and cultural value dictates that they remain rooted in tradition.  These games have become our means of chronicling the values and desirable attributes of our society.  More than books, more than movies, more than even the spoken word.  Video games are our cultural center, and we must not forget that people find comfort in the familiar.

Google Blog SEO tip

     I'm learning the hard way that Google SEO is not an easy task when you write a blog.  With links numbering in the thousands, and plenty of keywords and HTML modifications, nothing seems to be coming about on the blog.  The only people who seem to be coming to the site are people who already know it is here.
     But I have noticed one thing with the eleven months of blog posting, that the number of hits to the site seems to correlate directly to the amount of content I post on the blog.  The more often I post, the higher the numbers seem to be.  This leads me to the conclusion that frequency of content is more important to the blog's SEO than any other tool.
     Hopefully armed with this, all you other neonate bloggers will be able to use to bring your blog into a greater light.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Moblin Mobile OS

Well, its not that often anymore that something genuinely surprises me in the technology world.  Tablet PC…eh, seen that.  Windows alternatives…eh, played with those.  Fancy new game console…yawn.  They all seem to run in the same direction, and they just force me to get newer and newer hardware just to keep up.

     Today, though, I got one of those genuine surprises, with Moblin OS.  Not necessarily because of its innovative design, or the way things just flow, but because I actually had to down-grade my computer to get the OS to work.  When was the last time you had to dumb down a computer to get it to run something cool and new?  I can’t even think of a time.  And usually it isn’t a good indicator either.  But after a few hours using Moblin, I found I was really impressed with its performance.  It really just seemed to work well, even with limited graphics capabilities.  Which is what really surprised me.  Here I was, using a computer that didn’t really have a lot of power behind it, and it was out performing more powerhouse systems.

     But this OS isn’t without its limits.  There’s one major draw back.  Its proprietary.  It only works on Intel Atom based processors, or processors compatible with that architecture.  I’m working on setting up a retail line of these PC’s, making inexpensive computing available to everyone, but these really aren’t for everyone.  They are meant for people really into the social scene, people who are media centered, and people who are on the go.  And I mean really on the go.

     Here is the intro video of Moblin v2.0, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Moblin, or installing it on their netbook or net-top device, visit, call us at (360) 593-6082, or visit

Moblin v2.0 intro video

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Problems in Digital Land

     Well, they say that a good thing can't last forever, and I'm not sure which is failing faster, the government or the internet.  Now, I'm not a person who's into the whole "Big Brother is watching you" scenario, nor do I dislike the United States, but some of the actions our congressmen are participating in just worry me.
     Todays worry comes from a little side article I read in this months Maximum PC magazine(Holiday 2010, pg 12).  It isn't available on-line yet, but when it does, read the monthly on tech law.  This one is a killer.
     An act sitting before congress even as I type, titled The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, is trying to limit our freedom to view content on-line.
     The way that the bill works is this:

"The bill creates two blacklists of Internet domain names. The first can be added to by a court, the second by the Attorney General. Internet service providers (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity for blocking domains on the second list." (quote found here)
      This horrifies me.  This is the kind of strict regiment communist China takes to control their people.  I'm not sure I like idea of a judge deciding I can't view a website because some one, some where on the sight uploaded a picture or video that had copyright under someone else's name.  This kind of legislation could be used to block you from ever viewing YouTube, or FaceBook, or even Blogger!  This is preposterous, and I believe this needs to be dealt with.  Head over to if this is something you don't feel is right, and help to stop our country escape from limitations of freedom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

App Glitch trouble

     As if daylight savings time isn’t trouble enough, now the iPhone alarm clock app has a glitch with repeating alarms.  If you had an alarm set for something it was ringing an hour late.

     I’m wondering how in the world a problem like this ended up happening.  From what the reports say, the actual clock rolled forward, the alarms just didn’t go off on time.

     As a programmer, I can think of only a couple of scenarios that would create this situation.  First one, that the iOS doesn’t really change for daylight savings time, some coder just wrote a couple of lines of code that make the clock display one hour more than before when the country is on standard time.   Then, when the app sets alarms, it sets them not according to the time being displayed, but the actual internal clock time.  This is just bad coding, something that could have been prevented if QA had just double checked the code.

     The second option is more worrisome.  The only other possibility I can see is that for some stupid reason, the iPhone and related devices all have a second internal clock, one that follows DST, the other that follows UTC, resulting in the possibility of setting your programs clock settings to the wrong clock.  This would be a major engineering oversight, and would throw another wrench in the already shaky reputation the iPhone 4 has. 

     But in the end, what’s done is done.  If you’re looking for the solution that Apple came up with for this problem, its here, but they say the problem should have been fixed on the 7th.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Microsoft Kinect Finally Arrived     So, the Kinect is finally on the seen, and the reviews are in.  Unforeseen downside, lack of playable space.  From every review I've even glanced at, the least of the Kinects problems stem from having to be at least 5-6 feet away from the camera(CNet).
     Television size seems to be a problem, too.  If your TV isn't big enough, the system won't work.
     But back on the space issue, even articles with a positive slant towards the Kinect have nothing positive to say about the space limitations.  Like this article from the Seattle Times tech columnist Brier Dudley:
The biggest concern in my older Seattle house was making room to play Kinect games, which require at least 6 feet of clear space in front of the TV, where the Kinect sensor sits. Moving a coffee table barely created enough space in my living room. Executives I talked to were sensitive about the space issue, saying they tested Kinect to be sure it worked in small homes in Japan and New York City, but the ideal setting is clearly a big, suburban rec room.
     I'm sorry, but to me, this seems a serious issue that should have been better handled at development time, not written off as something that the consumer will just have to deal with.  Video game history is rife with failed input devices, (The DK Bongos for the Nintendo Gamecube come to mind.), and the failings always come from design.  And honestly, the problems with design don't end with space requirements.
     Apparently anything else that moves within the range of the camera sensor may end up detected and assumed to be the player.  Which means anyone who wanders behind, or, heaven forbid, in front of the player while they are playing, creates the possibility of misfired motions that could end in the tragic loss of a players lives (once again, see CNet article for details).  The system even requires you to move stationary objects like furniture out of the way so it can properly identify you.
     And on the note of identifying, this system may even have problems identifying dark-skinned races.  Game Politics is even going so far as to label the system racist.  Though I'm sure it wasn't intentional, are there not enough African-American employees up in Redmond to properly quality control this device?  The fact that two out of three darker-skinned employees couldn't log in to the system properly under perfect lab conditions, this project really needed more work before seeing the public. (Game Spot article here.)
     All in all, I'm not expecting the outrageous numbers Microsoft plans on by the end of the year.  5 Million units by January?  Not happening, and if they claim it does, the numbers are doctored, just like most of the comments posted within two hours of the devices release claiming it is the 'Next evolution of gaming'.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Verdict: Win 7

So, I decided to finally sit down and write a post about my opinion of Windows 7, now that I’ve had a computer with it installed for over a month now.  And to be fair, I’m even writing this post from a Win 7 computer.  And to be blunt, I’m not impressed.

As much as everyone keeps ranting that this new version of Windows is the greatest thing since sliced bread(Win XP), I’m disappointed.  All of the hype, and this system still seems to be as clunky and backwards as most people found Vista to be.  Sure, I’ve seen some improvements, but over all, the design seems stunted.

Like when I go to download a file.  Windows 7 can not figure out what to do with it.  it doesn’t know if it goes in the downloads folder, the pictures folder, or the documents folder.  It just seems to play musical chairs with the file and then randomly pick a location where to save it.  And before I get people scolding me because ‘I just don’t know how to use my computer’, remember that the reason you now have a devoted downloads folder is because Microsoft is trying to build a system that just knows what you want.  You want to download a file?  We know where it goes!  Only they don’t.  I’ve tried downloading audio files from download sites like Amazon mp3 and from my Ubuntu One account, and podcasts from podcast sites, and three out of three sites, Windows tries to download the file to a different folder each time.  Then I have to go through and select the right folder for the download.  Little conveniences are only convenient if they work.

Next, the start menu.  I’m really getting tired of Microsoft’s automatic detection software trying to figure out what I use on a regular basis.  I have at this moment five applications listed in the start menu’s auto-detect list that I have used only once, and have never opened again.  But four different applications that I use regularly on this computer are not listed.  Great example is the program I’m using to write this blog post, Live Writer.  A very nice third party application for writing up blog posts, but I have to keep digging through the annoying depths of my start menu to get to it.  And this is one of the programs I use the most on this Windows 7 PC.

I guess what I’m trying to get at with this post is that despite the fact that this operating system is built on firm foundation of security,  it tends to annoy more than satisfy.  And I really hate having to re-learn the locations of systems settings that really have no need to be put into a new location just because Microsoft is trying to make their new operating system different then their last.  Its annoying.