Category Archives: Misc

Initial experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S II and Android

A few days ago, on May 11th, I received my new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S II. This is one of the first dual core phones runnning gingerbread. After a few days of working with it, I must say I am truly impressed with it. On the software side, the phone is rock-solid, really loads better then my previous Nokia N97 and (the absolutely terrible) Sony Ericsson P990i (it used to reset ‘to improve system performance’ in standby mode in the initial software version). It is nice to use a phone that just works. I haven’t even discovered a single glitch. Nokia and Sony Ericsson should take note here.

Even making calls is better than on the N97. On that phone you lose control completely everytime someone else hangs up: the screen would go black and you would not be able to do anything on it for the next 10 seconds. It is also nice to have a music application that actually performs.

It’s too early to say anything about battery life as my use of the phone has been extreme for the past days, which included continuous downloading over wifi for hours on end and almost continuous use.

The phone feels really solid and looks great. Performance is excellent. With this phone I have the feeling that finally we have similar performance and usability again as with the good old Palm from approx. 6 years ago. It is also nice to know that the phone has Gorilla glass and uses the latest Sirf Star IV chip for GPS. All in all a quality product.

Looking at Android and in particular the Android market I am also impressed. The quality of the applications that I tried is quite good. One such application is a tuner (for tuning musical instruments). In the past it was difficult to find good applications for this. On Palm I used phontuner for instance but all the other applications sucked and I haven’t been able to find a suitable application on Symbian at all. On Android I have tried two which both worked quite well. The review system on the market makes it relatively easy to find good applications and saves a lot of time dealing with the bad ones. Buying stuff is also easy and fast.

Posted in Misc, Software | 2 Comments

Countdown has started again!

Yes folks! The countdown timer has been started again. This time I decided to renew it a bit and use a bit of javascript with jQuery instead of the good ‘ole java applet.

It is an important occasion for me this time. Basically it is the closure of a long period starting in 1998 that is now over. It is exciting to start something new again!

Posted in Fun, Java, Misc | 1 Comment

Bad quality scales superlinearly

Take any given production process and assume it is not producing good enough quality let’s call it ‘crap’ to make it a bit more expressive. Now, ask yourself what happens if you scale this process by adding more workers and machines/material. Well? Continue reading

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Looking back on the Nokia N97

I went to the phone shop today to get ale newer SIM card because it could have been the cause for my reception problems in Switzerland some time ago (so customer service told me). So I told the guy in the shop about this and after taking a short look at my phone he said: “well, I think it might just as well been the phone itself”. I asked “really?” and he said “Well, name me one problem and the Nokia N97 has it, these phones are really problematic.”.

And come to think of it, I think he is right about this. Just listing the problems I had with the phone produces an impressive list:

  • Reception problems: Other phones (also other Nokias) have reception while the N97 has lost it.
  • Poor keyboard: Indeed the keyboard took a lot of getting used to.
  • Unusable GPS reception: GPS reception quality was bad enough to be unusable for car navigation (even after the hardware fix).
  • Scratching lens: The lens has tendency to scratch easily because of the lid.
  • Battery life and life span: The battery often dies during one day of use. Also, I am now at my third battery.
  • Slow operating system: The N97 just gets slower and slower over time (unacceptable as I know that OSes exist that in fact get faster the longer you have them turned on).
  • Outlook incompatibility: Some repeating appointments in outlook can simply not be entered in the calendar application.
  • Bad screen connector: After 1.5 years the connector got unreliable. I am now using scotch tape to make sure I cannot open the phone in an attempt to keep it working a bit. Now using google calender to enter most of my appointments.
  • Unusable as a phone: After ending a call, you always lose control over it because the screen goes black and the phone doesn’t respond to anything for at least 10 seconds.

So indeed a big list. Now what should I do with the my N97 once I get my new phone? Please leave a comment on this post. I will then film the winning suggestion with my new phone and post the result on youtube.

Posted in Fun, Misc | 1 Comment

Productivity and Workplace Design

If you are working at a company where cost savings are really really important, then chances are that after reducing cost factor number 1 (wages, i.e. headcount and hourly rate), cost factor number 2 is up. And that is office space.

However, there is a lot of evidence that a correct office workplace is one of the most important factors in productivity, as DeMarco and Lister put it in “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams”:

Police-mentality planners design workplaces the way
they would design prisons: optimized for containment
at minimal cost. We have unthinkingly yielded to
them on the subject of workplace design, yet for most
organizations with productivity problems, there is no
more fruitful area for improvement than the work-

As long as workers are crowded into noisy, sterile, dis-
ruptive space, it’s not worth improving anything but
the workplace.

A factor of 2-3 can be reached compared to an open office or cubicle workspace by following one basic principle of somehow putting the team together in one location and limiting outside interference. Ed Yourdon mentions a few methods for achieving this in his “Death March” book:

  • Frontal attack: Convince a project owner such as a high-level manager to put the team into an effective work environment.
  • Skunk works mystique: Isolate the team in a separate location isolated from the rest.
  • Squatter’s rights: Commandeer existing empty office space.
  • Telecommute: Tell everyone to work from home an meet regularly at a location outside of the office.  “As an additional diversion, you can put scarecrow-style dummies at the desks normally occupied by the project team; management will have a hard time distinguishing them from the other zombies in the office.”
  • Graveyard shift: Shift working times to the night shift.
  • Barricades and buffers: In an open office space locate the team together and put up barricades such as cupboards.
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