Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Evil Møøse Pays Back For Years of Abuse With a Sharpened Stick

BBC News is reporting a very curious story today: 
A Swedish man who was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife has been cleared, after police decided she was probably killed by an elk.

The Møøse's lawyer had this to say about his claim that the Møøse is innocent:

No realli! She was karving her initials on the møøse
with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given
her by Svenge - her brother-in-law - an Oslo dentist and
star of many Norwegian møvies: "The Høt Hands of an Oslo
Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Mølars of Horst
 The Møøse's defence might be complicated by the fact that, according to the prosecution, the murder was committed in the state of alcohol intoxication:
The European elk, or moose, is usually considered to be shy and will normally run away from humans. But Swedish Radio International says the animals can become aggressive after eating fermented fallen apples in gardens.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blackberry Internet Server Infrastructure Down Across North America (again)

For about two hours I thought I was going crazy when the application I was debugging stopped loading data from the servers. It just so happened that today is the second day after the rollout of the app onto Blackberry App World, and the user comments started flowing in about being unable to load data.

Turns out, after testing app and BB browser on 5 devices (3 local, 2 remote), and numerous timeouts in BB AppWorld client, that we're dealing with another North America-wide BIS infrastructure failure.

There are numerous confirmations on the twittosphere, and online magazines and websites are starting to pick it up (here's one). Last two such outages seem to have happened on Sep 9th and 22nd of this year, according to the same resource.

This is just mind-blowing. Not the fact that the failure occured, but the fact that in this day and age RIM continues to support the BIS system, which effectively routes the vast majority of browser and 3rd party app traffic on Blackberry through Waterloo.

Just mind-blowing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Testing solutions for BlackBerry and other mobile devices

It's interesting that quite a few sponsors of this year's BlackBerry Developer Conference had something to do with testing solutions. Now, it's a very interesting and practical topic, and something that I get asked a lot by clients — so here's a quick survey of the companies that had a presence at the conference and have interesting solutions to offer.
  • DeviceAnywhere is the one solution that's probably most well-known. They provide remote access to a bunch of physical devices on a variety of carriers that are physically located in the US, Europe, Asia, and have a pretty robust solution with client that works on both Windows and OSX. Many people have found their solution very useful.
  • Perfecto Mobile is a competitor of DeviceAnywhere and provides a similar remote-access solution. They are based in Israel and less known around these parts, but a quick look at their website shows that the scale of their operation and range of devices/networks is very similar. They, like DeviceAnywhere, have a set of automation features, which they claim are more advanced than DA's. One significant difference between them and DA is, according to the rep I talked to, that their way of capturing screen and injecting keypresses/etc is non-intrusive and thus they can more quickly swap devices in and out, and, importantly, give developers easy access to pre-launched handsets. If that is true, that's a big advantage, because I have stumbled into issues of DA not providing access to new devices quickly enough. Definitely worth checking out.
  • bsquare is in a different niche. Their solution provides QA depts with a way to automate testing on real devices — once you hook a device up to the Windows machine running their product, you have the ability to create automatic test cases that include the information on both how to execute a test scenario and how to validate that a test has passed. Their solution seems very flexible and powerful. The $10K per-seat price tag seems fair, but it also means that their customers are going to be either enterprise app developers or bigger consumer app developers who have the money to make the investment (Google is reportedly one of their clients). They might do well to offer their technology to the pay-per-use solution providers like the two above, or offer their technology on a subscription license.
  • Intertek is a large global company that provides testing services in many industries, and the people at the conf presented the mobile branch. Quoting their rep, "our prices per hour are similar to DeviceAnywhere, except we actually do the testing". The price, of course, I presume, varies wildly depending on whether you choose to do testing in India (overnight, too!) or in Europe or US. You might presumably choose to use the Indian resources while having them use DeviceAnywhere or competitors to access the US devices.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Breaking news almost live from BlackBerry Developer Conference Keynote

Breaking news! Only 7 hours late!
  • OpenGL ES and 5.0 widgets were impressive, but most impressive of all...
  • They showed a jaw-dropping demo of reloading an application in the simulator without restarting the simulator and waiting for ages for the bloody thing to start up! Good morning freedom!
  • Another demo from RIM research dungeons: a too-good-to-be-true demo of a completely Java-based simulator, and they teased all of us poor souls with a screenshot of it running on Mac OS X. Now, of course, my gut feeling is it's not going to be available for at least half a year — but at least they are moving in the right direction.
  • New Eclipse 1.1 plugin looks spiffy. I just might start running Eclipse in parallel with my beloved IntelliJ Idea, an IDE of unparalleled beauty and power. Still better than running JDE on VmWare in parallel with IntelliJ Idea on OSX. And now for some delusionary dreaming: now that Idea is open-source, how about a full-scaled BlackBerry™ plugin for Idea? Pretty please?
  • First glance at visual editor for GUI in Eclipse plugin: I'm looking forward to how badly it's going to screw up when faced with manual edits to its generated code and slightly-more-complex-than-trivial layouts.
  • Flash, Webkit: right direction, but meh for now: mention it when you actually have something to show.
  • Payment system and ads: huge in impact, but of course in no way innovative. Still a welcome addition.
  • Triangulation-based location failover: nice, but again, RIM is catching up here.
  • Overall: lots of nice incremental changes, right attitude towards developers. But I should've gotten more than 3 hours of sleep before that keynote.
Obligatory sarcastic remark:
  • Java 1.5 language support: nowhere in sight.

Childbirth and social responsibility

Having children is such an emotional issue that we will never have the majority voluntarily start thinking about personally challenging their gut feeling about having kids (which is to have them). Only when we get much farther, after the first-world country isolation barrier is no longer able to buffer us here from the real effects of overpopulation, and the misery and effects of resource wars hit home, will we have the by-then police states of western countries step in and impose seemingly draconian restrictions. And everybody will feel bad. That's the human way. (Hopefully countries like China will keep being smarter than the hypocritic first-world and will keep gently revving up the already existing policies)

Take a look at the comment trails here and here.

And finally, a relevant comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.