Skype 5 for Mac

Lukas Mathis at ignore the code:

At work, we use Skype to communicate. A lot of the people here use Windows computers. More than once, a Windows user walked by my Mac, saw my version of Skype, and said something to the effect of «wow, this looks so much better than the horrible mess we have on Windows!» It seems Skype has noticed that there is a discrepancy in quality between the two versions, and has decided to make the two versions more similar to each other. Unfortunately, instead of making the Windows version of Skype better, they’ve decided to fix the discrepancy by making the Mac version of Skype more like the Windows version.

Skype neutered version 5 for Mac. I recommend you skip 5 and wait for the next one. I’m sticking with 2.8.

Google to Profile Gmail Users for Advertisers

The Telegraph:

A new system will read emails to learn about what users are interested in and what their priorities are, based on “signals” such as what they receive the most email about, which emails they read and reply to, and the identity of their most regular contacts.

Google’s plan will make significantly more use of users’ private data to target advertising on Gmail: until now, it has served up sponsored links based on the contents of individual emails, rather than a detailed, stored profile of the recipient.

I use Gmail and for the most part I think it’s the best free email service out there. But this news about Gmail user profiling is making me uncomfortable. What is the end game for Google? To know as much as possible about me, to deliver the most targeted ads to me, and to make a ton of money from advertisers. That’s okay. What happens when, not if, all this data about me gets leaked?

Is it time to change the setting to POP3, download all the emails, burn it unto a DVD and start looking for an alternative?

Nintendo 3DS: One Reason Not To Buy

John Biggs at CrunchGear:

The (non-professional) jury is still out on 3D’s health effects. When I spoke to an ophthalmologist for my original review he noted that there is no way to damage your eyes permanently by looking at the 3DS’ screen. That’s all well and good, but in today’s litigious and hysterical parenting atmosphere, we are sure to find a few screamers claiming that the 3DS struck their little Rupert blind. If you’re worried, don’t get the 3DS for your kids. It’s as simple as that.

I believe doctors endorsed smoking when smoking was thought to be safe.

Masayoshi Son Offers Help to Nuclear Victims in Takeo

Richard Lai at Engadget:

Back in the country, one such generous person is [none] other than Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, who’s recently visited Tamura, one of the cities most affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. During that trip, Son announced that Softbank will cover a year’s worth of living costs (commute and food) and provide job positions for the 1,200 people to be relocated to Takeo in Saga, the prefecture where Son originated.

Masayoshi Son will also pay phone bills for earthquake orphans on other networks.

Dell: iPad Not So Great For Enterprise

Andy Lark, global head of marketing for large enterprises and public organizations at Dell, via CIO:

I couldn’t be happier that Apple has created a market and built up enthusiasm but longer term, open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary. [Apple has] done a really nice job, they’ve got a great product, but the challenge they’ve got is that already Android is outpacing them. Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex.

According to Justin Williams at carpeaqua the total number of apps for Google’s Honeycomb tablet operating system is 20. Not 20 thousand, just one more than 19.

Open? According to James Cushing at The Gadgets:

To the dismay of Android developers everywhere, Google’s Android team has announced that they will withhold the tablet OS Honeycomb’s, source code for an indefinite period of time.

I wouldn’t consider that open, would you? Enterprise? Here’s what John Paczkowski at All Things Digital has to say about the iPad and the enterprise:

Though there’s no dedicated salesforce selling it in the enterprise market, Apple’s iPad has gained significant traction there. Since its debut, more than 65 percent of the Fortune 100 have deployed or piloted the device. This despite Apple’s continued focus on the consumer market.

That’s 65 Fortune 100 companies, which I would guess have complex needs. Simple things don’t become quite complex; non-focused decision-making folks make simple things quite complex. Simple things are simply simple things, and the iPad is simple. So I take it Dell doesn’t want to sell to folks with a lot of money who live on islands?

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Review by Engadget

Vlad Savov at Engadget:

When viewed head-on, the Arc’s display is actually above average in terms of contrast and color saturation, but we found ourselves getting annoyed with its dull appearance while looking at it lying on our desk. Viewing comfort at oblique angles hasn’t tended to be a pain point for smartphones so far, but as they grow increasingly larger and fancier, it’s becoming more important.

Sony Ericsson calls this so-so 4.2-inch 16:9 display the Reality Display. Maybe a bit too much reality? The 854×480 pixel format is good enough for a resolution of 233 PPI, but poor off-axis viewing angles just doesn’t cut it in this competitive smartphone industry filled with excellent displays.

Samsung Illegally Installs Keyloggers on Notebooks

Mohamed Hassan via CrunchGear:

The supervisor who spoke with me was not sure how this software ended up in the new laptop thus put me on hold. He confirmed that yes, Samsung did knowingly put this software on the laptop to, as he put it, “monitor the performance of the machine and to find out how it is being used.”

This software that Hassan is referring to is Star Logger located in C:\Windows\SL. Hassan found it in both the R525 and R540 notebook PCs. Star Logger is a malicious keylogger that records every key you press including usernames, passwords, social security numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, etc. If you own a Samsung computer check the directory, run a anti-malware program, and most of all be careful.

Update Samsung Tomorrow via CrunchGear:

The company states that the VIPRE security software used by the original whistleblower mistakenly reports the Microsoft Slovene language folder (c:\windows\SL) as the commercially available Starlogger keylogger.

GFI Labs, the maker of Anti-Spyware, which is the software Hassan used, apologies on its blog:

A Slovenian language directory for Windows Live is causing us considerable headaches this morning, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

That settles it then: no keyloggers on Samsung notebooks.

Dump These Gadgets

According to the The New York Times these are the gadgets you can dump for sure: desktop computer, point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, USB thumb drive, digital music player, and GPS unit.

Simplifying the number of gadgets can be a good thing. You have less things to break, to upgrade, to recharge, etc. I’ve been on a mini-quest to find the simplest, most efficient way of getting work done, communicating, and on occasion play. My iPhone 4 works as a point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, digital music player, and GPS unit. But thanks to the generous companies at conferences over the years I’ve amassed many USB thumb drives. I guess it’s time I pass them on.

I enjoy taking photographs and had the pleasure of owning big SLRs (both analog and digital) with even bigger lenses. The photos turn out really nice, but the old axiom, “The best camera is the one that’s with you,” rings true every time you get pissed you didn’t bring that honkin’ camera and instead grab your quite-capable smartphone to take a picture. Another advantage of the iPhone and other app phones is the plethora of photo apps that let you easily process your photos almost anyway you’d like. Oh, and there’s another benefit: you can share with your friends and family right there and then. Sure the photos taken by a smartphone aren’t as good as a dedicated point-and-shoot, a mirror-less, or DSLR but they are much better than nothing at all.

The desktop computer isn’t necessary for a great many of us because notebooks and sometimes mere tablets are powerful and capable enough. But I do have to mention my Mac mini. The little bugger has served us well and probably will continue to for quite some time. It takes up very little space, sips power, and generally sits there quietly working away at whatever we throw at it. I’m considering replacing the little 80GB hard drive with a SSD. I recently experimented with a SSD and I must say the little mini behaved not-so-mini.

There was one ‘maybe’ in the list: cable TV. I have two TVs but neither are connected to any TV source except for a DVD player. I think TV whether over-the-air or subscription is a waste of time and money. If you really have to follow a particular show consider Hulu, like I do. I’ve been enjoying Glee on Hulu for quite some time but I think I might need to stop the habit. The only show left is Lie To Me, but I haven’t seen a new episode in ages.

Finally there were three “keep its”: high-speed Internet at home, alarm clock, and books. Although I understand Sam Grobart’s reasons for keeping a high-speed Internet connection at home, namely unlimited data and reliability compared to other options, I think there are some points to consider. Unlimited data sounds good but it also allows us to engage the Internet in an unlimited way. Grobart:

That would work — provided that you get a strong data signal where you live; that you never intend to stream video from Netflix, YouTube or Hulu; and that you have an unlimited data plan from your wireless provider. Given all these caveats, it probably makes more sense to stick with your I.S.P.

If I dropped my ISP and relied only on the two smartphones in our home we would be forced to stream only a few videos from YouTube because of the speed and data limits. Where we live AT&T 3G signals are terrible and watching YouTube with a 2G connection is pain. Not watching YouTube videos might actually turn out to be a good thing as well as not being on tied to the Internet. ISPs will start capping data but the limits are so high for most users you’re still effectively unlimited.

The alarm clock can go, too, in my opinion. Any smartphone can work as an alarm clark even with some of the recent snafus with daylight savings time changes. By the way, can we get rid of this productivity-sapping ridiculousness called daylight savings time?

Windows Phone 7 to Capture 25% Market Share by 2015

IDC via Engadget:

In just four years’ time, says the data, Windows Phone 7 (or whatever version it reaches by then) will have ascended to occupy a fifth of the market and second spot overall behind Android, whose leading position is expected to stabilize somewhere around the 45 percent mark.

The close relationship between Microsoft and Nokia should not be underestimated. Nokia is one helluva smartphone hardware manufacturer and Microsoft has got something quite unique in WP7. I appreciate the generous use of beautiful typography in the UI.

The key to success for any smartphone is the complete package, the complete experience from a tight integration of hardware, OS, and apps. Android will be like Windows with the most deployments but not necessarily with the best experience. WP7 will depend largely on how intimately Microsoft and Nokia play together.

The forecast by IDC is quite optimistic in my opinion but it is anyone’s guess as to what might happen four years from now, and usually these guesses turn out to be thoroughly wrong.

Fluorescent OLED External Quantum Efficiencies

On blue fluorescent OLED EQE I wrote:

Professor John Kieffer and graduate student Changgua Zhen doubled the external quantum efficiency of blue OLEDs from 5% to 10%.

I pinged Mark Fihn owner of Veritas et Visus about external quantum efficiencies of fluorescent OLED materials after ending up with not-so-definitive answers googling. This is what Mark said about EQEs:

The best external quantum efficiency for a green fluorescent OLED that we’ve published in our “Flexible Substrate” newsletter is 19.3%, (experimental work done out of the University of Minnesota). Red fluorescent material should yield about the same results. That said, it seems that most commercially available fluorescent OLEDs are at less than 10% in terms of external quantum efficiency. Phosphorescent OLEDs have been demonstrated at much higher external quantum efficiencies, (more than 50%).

So if professor John Kieffer and graduate student Changgua Zhen at the University of Michigan can work to commercialize 10% EQE blue fluorescent OLEDs, one major hurdle (differential aging) will be overcome and should lead to more adoption of OLED display technology.

Here’s what Ross Young, SVP, Displays, LEDs and Lighting at IMS Research has to say about Veritas et Visus:

Veritas et Visus offers the best value proposition in the industry. Nothing compares to what you are offering…

I highly recommend Mark’s Flexible Substrate newsletter as it is the best value in the business at US$47.99 for 10 issues.