Self-Driving Golf

Another proof for the saying that AI (Artificial Intelligence) never works: because when it works, it stops being AI. Just look at this self-driving Golf GTI! Not a word about AI in the article. But I have to admit that they actually refer to the car’s brain!

Online vs. Offline

Here‘s some interesting stuff in the offline vs. online debate (that is, is the online AJAX experience enough?). I guess that you already know that Google‘s bought Writely.

Joel was Right about Design After All

I’ve finally read Joel’s article "What Makes It Great?", and realized that I was a little premature in my criticism of his article "What is Design?". I was after the "Great Design", and so was he, but he hadn’t got there yet. Sorry, Joel!

Going Deep

Now, there is an index of the complete Microsoft Channel 9 "Going Deep" series: look here. I don’t know if it existed when I wrote this post, but anyway, now we’ve got it.

Qtek 9100 Drawbacks Fixed

I’ve been annoyed by several things recently on my Qtek 9100 (alias HTC Wizard):

  • There’s no letter recognition in the Swedish ROM.
  • The device is sometimes very, very slow. It couldn’t run Skype properly, and gets very sluggish when I’ve got lots of tasks in my list (means around 500 tasks).
  • I couldn’t change the text color of the "Today" page, so that I can have a bright background picture.
  • I had to go to the "Settings -> System -> Memory" tab to change to another application. It wasn’t sufficient to start "Tasks" again, because my filter settings disappeared every time.

Well, I’ve fixed them all now, so I’m quite happy! 🙂
What, you want to know how? OK, then:

  • The letter recognition feature can be enabled by some registry hacking. (Yes, there’s a registry on the device!) First, you need to install a .cab file, however. Look here for instructions.
  • You can overclock the thing to 240 MHz! Just get the "OMAPclock" utility, add a command line "-clock 240" to it (yes, you need to rename the .lnk file to a .txt file to do that), and there you go. Skype can actually be used now, and the device isn’t at all that painful to use any more. The instructions are here. (Use it at your own risk.)
  • Changing the text color of the Today page is easy, when you’ve got a registry editor. By the way, Total Commander is a good one. It’s free. Here are the instructions.
  • How to change applications in a simple way was actually the easiest one, even if I chose the wrong appplication for that, initially, which made the device reboot at least once a day (it’s called vBar; no link to that one!). Now, I’ve found the "Magic Button", which works perfectly. Just install and use. And it’s free, too.

There seem to be a lot of things that you can do with this device when you look under the hood. I haven’t come as far as changing my ROM yet, but I guess I’m going to do that sooner or later. I’d prefer to have an English ROM instead of a Swedish one.

Joel on Designing a Trash Can

Joel Spolsky writes on "What is design?":

Ok, light, heavy, big, and small. What else. It should be closed on the
top, so rubbish doesn’t fly away in the wind. It should be open on the
top, so it’s easy to throw things away.

Reminds us a lot about requirements for a software development project, right? Joel’s thesis is that design is all about making tradeoffs, and has nothing whatsoever to do with art.

Even if I believe that such a view is very productive, I’m afraid I don’t agree with him: even if the design space is very constrained, there’s still room for artistic freedom that can make a thing feel just right. Or, we’re probably talking about different things here; if you read Joel’s article carefully, I get to the conclusion that he believes that art is the same as decoration. Which is doubtful, to say the least.

Look at music, for instance. In the Baroque period, one of the stricter forms you could compose in was the fugue. There’s a framework of constraints on how you could construct a fugue, with lots of tradeoffs. So within such a framework of constraints, did Bach design his fugues, to which he added some decoration, just to make it (musical) art? Nope, his fugues are definitely solid pieces of art. But of course, we can see that there are definitely many elements of design in them.

On the other hand, if you listen to modern classical music, you can hear that many of those composers don’t have to obey any constraints at all when they write music. And maybe that’s when art becomes just "decoration"?

And I’m sure you can make a mobile phone with all the tradeoffs done right, but which noone would want to buy because it’s just too ugly.

Qtek 9100

Just before Christmas, I got my Qtek 9100, a Windows powered smartphone. A really nice gadget!
It runs on Windows Mobile 2005, so of course you need to be kind to it, and avoid doing stupid things. Before I realized that, I had to perform one "hard reset", erasing everything I had installed so far (except for what was on the storage card), but after that, everything has been working just fine.
At first, I had some problems with ActiveSync synchronizing tasks incorrectly, but I think that problem finally corrected itself (or it’ll show up later, we’ll see!).
So far, I’ve installed and run Skype, VNC, Pocket PuTTY and .NET Compact Framework 2.0, without any problems.
The most stupid thing I’ve done with it so far is to try to use it for my shopping list. It took me twice as long to get what I wanted, because the list went in alphabetical order instead of in the order of where things are placed in the supermarket. And holding the Qtek with one hand while trying to put apples in a plastic bag isn’t exactly easy (the stylus and the apple in the same hand, of course). Not recommended!

[Update, 29th of December] Well, I’ve installed Skype, but it doesn’t work very well. I think that the CPU frequency of the Qtek is too low, actually, just 200 MHz. We’ll see if there’ll be a Skype update optimized for the Qtek. Let’s hope!