Cloud services

What is this new fangled cloud services? Nothing new I will tell you, its been around since the start of computer networks, just in various incarnations.

Remember dial-up bulletin board service or BBS?  You dial up to a particular BBS to play games, chat and download ‘free’ software, usually games etc.  All this stuff is done ‘online’ by another computer with a bunch of phone lines somewhere.  Fast forward a few years to 1996 where two guys decided to a provide a free email to anyone! All you need is a web browser, usually Internet Explorer or Netscape, you get your mail on any computer.  This mail service is powered in the background by a bunch of servers.

Later on others jumped in, eg Yahoo etc.  These websites at that time were called web portals.  They provide Software running somewhere a service to you.  We now call this Cloud services.  A new technology, virtualization, made computer hardware virtual.  Soon another service called Infrastructure As A Service. You don’t need to buy real servers, just virtual servers on the Internet.  You can then remote desktop in to configure and install.  This is no different from the computer room down the hall or in a co-located data center in another country.  It just not right there next to you.

Soon other forms of services started, file storage, photo storage where you can share your holiday pics and print them (at the same time killing Kodak) etc.

It comes to a point, you have to decide, why store anything on your hard drive?  After three hard disk crashes, I don’t.  But remember in IT, backup is king.  Even Cloud Services screw up too. link link link link

Remember in the end it is somebody else’s servers.

Read more about Cloud Services in here.


Review of Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich CM 9

I am not going to give a screen by screen or feature by feature review.  There are plenty of websites out on the Internet that have this.  Instead, I will show you some of the things not covered.  This is based on the Cyanogenmod 9’s Ice Cream Sandwich on a Samsung Galaxy SII.

1. Responsiveness. The Android OS feels snappier, responses faster. Not too sure if it is a psychological effect from the new phone syndrome. Screens comes up faster. I wonder if I am paying for it with battery life.
2. Photo Gallery
The makeover includes giving edge to edge thumbnails. No more borders! The result is each thumbnail is bigger.
3. Notification drawer
You can individually remove those that you are not interested and leave those that you want.
4. Ringtones and notifications
The number of really cool sounding, at least to me, ring tones is staggering.
5. USB access.
Previously I can’t access my Galaxy on my old XP machine. It requires the installation of .NET and KIES. Now on ICS, you can access the phone just like any USB drive.
6. Calendar alarm bug.
In the GingerBread version, the Calendar alarm sometimes mysteriously never rings. This seems to be fixed.
7.  Voice dial by Vlingo.  This is part of the Touchwiz.  It works if you are using the speakerphone.  Not so when you are using a BlueTooth headset.  I always have problems with the audio after call connection.  It goes nowhere! I can’t hear it on my headset,  or on the phone.  Now on the Voice Dialer on CM9 just works.

What you will miss
1. Dialler log
Swipe left to message and swipe right to dial is gone. Samsung feature.
2. Speed dial
No more speed dial. (Press 2 for office, 3 for spouse, 4 grandparents). Seriously, how are the kids or the old folks going to use this? The new way is to create dial shortcuts on the home screen or use an app, eg Dialler One.
3. Reorder Home screens
This is where the application shortcuts reside. Previously you can pinch zoom to swap the home screens order any way you want. This has been removed or I could not find it.
4. Alarm
Samsung’s stock version comes with a morning mode. It slooowwly coos you awake. CM 9 alarm is a basic alarm found in most dumb phones. Painful to use, even more painful to look at, but it works.
5. Apollo Music Player.
For some strange reason, it is not possible to share your music file with this app. I resort to the ES File Manager to do this.  Strange.
6. Android Keyboard
The smart spell check prompt does not always work.

A few words about the UI, there are too many setting screens.  The location of the icons are not consistent, eg Contacts and Message

In summary, ICS is usable, ableit rough around the edges compared to the original GingerBread with Samsung’s TouchWiz.

Anyone ready for Project Butter?

Curiosity has landed… on Mars

Curiosity (hmm American spelling) a Mars rover has successfully landed on Mars on 6 Aug 12.  The video of the landing is here.


Note the whole package traveled for 8 months to reach Mars and radio signals takes ~15 minutes to arrive at Earth.

The cameras on the rover took still photos as it landed.  Below is a composite video of the stills.