Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


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New Palm

Palm has introduced two new Palm’s. The most intresting in my opinion is the Palm TX. This new Palm is a successor of the Tungsten T5. Some sites call it a ‘reduced T5’, but on that point I disagree. The TX has only one major improvement, and that is the integration of WiFi. The specifications are not ‘suprising’ because there were rumours about this Palm which were very accurate. The processor of the TX is 316MHz, which is 84MHz slower than the T5, but this doesn’t mean that this Palm is slower. My Palm Tunsten E2 is almost as fast as the Tungsten T5 of my father, but only has a 200MHz processor (the Tungsten T5 has 400MHz processor. The amount of available memory is also a little bit lower than with the Tungsten T5, but this can easily be upgraded with SD cards or MMC cards. The TX has a screenresolution of 320×480.
Palm has also introduced a new low-end Palm for first time users. This is the Zire 22, which probably replaces the Zire 21. The Zire 22 has a colour screen with a resolution of 160×160 and 20MB of available memory for the user. It is not possible to extend this amount of memory with cards.

Palm Z22 and TX

Left the Z22 and the TX on the right.

Apple updates

As expected Apple today unveiled a bunch of new products. As most newssites expected, the company launched a successor of the ‘normal’ iPod. The new iPod has a 30GB or 60GB harddisk and a 2.5″ color LCD-screen, which enables users to view photos and album covers, but also (and that is the ‘most exciting part’) video’s. This step is not very suprising, because it was already possible for a while to download music video’s from Apples iTunes Music Store. Apart from downloading videoclips, the IMS now offers also ‘popular’ series, such as ‘Desperate housewifes’ and ‘Lost’ (according to the press release from Apple 🙂 ).
Speaking of iTunes, along with the new iPod the company decided to introduce a new version of this piece of software as well. Remembering the introduction of iTunes 5 only a month ago, this means that in a little more than one month Apple upgrades iTunes 4 via iTunes 5 to iTunes 6.

new Apple iPod

But that’s not all. To my surprise Apple today also introduced a new iMac G5. I personally expected that Apple would introduce a new Powermac with dual-core G5 processor, but that was appearantly not the case. The new iMac G5 doesn’t offer a dual-core processor (that was what I first expected when I read that Apple introduced a new iMac), but has only relatively small improvements. The ‘home Mac’ is slowly moving to the Apple equivalent of the Windows XP Media Center Edition Intel pc. The new iMac standard comes with a remote control with only six buttons (according to Apple a typical Windows MCE computer has a remote with over 40 buttons). The new iMac has a build-in iSight (the webcam from Apple) and that’s all. Only some minor hardware upgrades, such as a faster processor (1.9 or 2.1GHz G5), 512MB 533MHz DDR2 memory and ATi X600 videocard with 128MB memory. The iMac is available with a 17″ or 20″ LCD screen and has default Bluetooth 2.0, Airport Extreme (WLAN) and a dual-layer capable Superdrive (DVD-burner).

new Apple iMac

New Novell-projects

While some people are very reserved regarding the Linux activities of Novell, one can impossibly deny that the company has a lot of ‘new’ projects for the Linux community. Unfortunately for a lot of people, most of these projects are developed in the controversial programming language Mono.
This week, the company has introduced three new projects. The first one can be found at the URL and is a repository of videos of usability tests on several programs. These videos are accompanied with analysis papers of what one can see.
The second project is called Tango and the URL of this site is (currently the site seems to be unavailable). This project aims to create a uniform look-and-feel across the several desktop environments and programs which are used on a typical Linux desktop. In reality this means that they aim to create a uniform iconset and themes for KDE and Gnome. The final project is Banshee which is another musiclibrary manager, very similar to Rhythmbox, but probably developed in Mono. Probably it is less buggy than Rhythmbox and has some interesting features.

Managing life

For a very long time I have difficulties to finish things on time and starting to work on things. I know it is a common problem because when you search on the internet you find stories of a lot of other people who has the same problem, and I also know some people in real life who struggle with this.
There are complete books on how one can manage personal projects and work. While I think I’m not a very worse at it (because when I HAVE to finish stuff, I get is usually done on time), but improvement in my productivity and motivation is required in my opinion. After reading an article in the latest issue of the magazine Linux Journal about managing todo-lists using open-source and free software, I decided to improve my managing of todo-lists. While I had a todo list, I didn’t check it regularly and also didn’t update it when it was necessary. Since last week I decided to manage my todo list only using my recently bought PalmOne Tungsten E2 PDA. I put small ‘tasks’ in it instead of ‘large’ tasks which are difficult to start working on.

This forced me to rewrite my entire todo list. I have now a few larger tasks an a lot of small, managable tasks. When I have some spare time I start working on such a small tasks. When I have finished a lot of these tasks on a day (which is easy to do) I’ve a very satisfied feeling. It requires some discipline to update my todo list everytime, but after a week I get used to this. I hope I will able to keep this habit because I do a lot more each day, while I have the feeling I have more sparetime (which is good).


Today I came across this article on SlashDot about a framework called TurboGears. It is based on Python and seems to be inspired by the currently ‘hyped’ Ruby on Rails. There is a 20 minute long screencast tutorial (.mov) of TurboGears which shows the possibilities of the framework. Based on this screencast I think it is an pretty impressive framework. Maybe I give it a try. Currently I only know PHP well enough to do some serious webdevelopment in it, but for a larger projects this language can hardly be taken serious without using several additions such as template engines and database abstraction layers. TurboGears has all these things by default and also an part which almost entirely abstracts the database part of a webapplications simarly to Hibernate for Java.

On another news, this week there will be a new version of the popular distribution Ubunty. The new version is called Breezy Breezer. I will definately tinstall the new version on my laptop when it is available. Currently I don’t know what the improvements are in the new Ubuntu, but I will figure that out this week, because I’m planning to write an article about it for Today I noticed that Mark Shuttleworth, the initiater of Ubuntu and multi-milionair and former austronaut, also do some development himself. Thus far I thought he only financed the development of Ubuntu and had no influence on the technical part of the distro, but that seems to be incorrectly.

Apple product announcement

After the recently introduced iPod nano, which was quite a shock for a few mp3 playcer manufacturers, Apple probably will introduce new products on the 12th of october. There are a lot of rumours about what Apple will introduce during the press event, which will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose. Because the press invitation shows a red curtain on the background, there are speculations about a iPod video which will be introduced. This is certainly an option, but on the other hand, Steve Jobs said several times that few people would like to view movies on a small screen on such a small device. It may be possible that the iPod video is not meant to be used as stand alone video player, but should be used in combination with a television or beamer. The storage capacity, which will probably be 40 or 80GB, allows one to store high quality movies on the device. It would be nice if you’re able to not only play movies from the iPod video, but also record tv-shows… but hey… the iPod video with such possibilities already has a lot of the possibilities the so-called Home Theatre System… According to some sources, it is therefore not unlikely that Apple will introduce such a device.

But when you look at the text on the invitation, which says ‘one more thing’ (a phrase which is used a lot by Jobs in press events to announce a important product), it is also not impossible that it has nothing to do with the iPod (some sites seems to forgot that Apple produces more than iPods). Personally I think Apple will introduce new computer systems during the event (mainly because the iPod nano was introduced very recently). It is almost certain that Apple will introduce sometimes new PowerMacs with dual-core G5 processors. Also there are rumours about new PowerBooks, maybe even with the new power efficient G5 – which would be very nice. Some people say that it is unlikely that Apple will introduce new PowerMacs and PowerBooks, because all engineers of the company are working on the new Intel systems. But that would mean that there will no new high-end systems of the company for at least 9 months (but possably more). The first Intel-based Apple systems will be introduce in june 2006, but Apple has stated very frequently that at first only the low-end systems of the company will use Intel processors. Not introducing high-end systems for at least 9 months would mean a serious loss of customers – something the company probably won’t risk. So I bet my money on new PowerMacs and PowerBooks.
Other posible products are a PDA or a Phone, but I doubt that.

Apple invitation

New prosumer cams

I know I’m a little bit slow (but that’s not uncommon for me), but I read today about a new prosumer digital camera of Sony, the DSC-R1. This camera has a 10MPixel CCD (which is not very interesting, because 8MPixels is already an awful lot). The innovative part of this compact camera is the size of the CCD, which is 21,5×14,4mm (the predecesor of this DSC-R1, the DSC-F828 has only 8,8×6,6mm which is the same as my Canon PowerShot Pro1 sensor). Most people now probably think: ‘so what?’. But the size of the sensor is one of the main differences between a digital compact camera and a dSLR (apart from the changable lens and ‘real’ viewfinder which a dSLR has). The cropfactor of the sensors which are used in most digital compact camera is very big. Old anlogue camera’s used 35mm film. The cropfactor is the number of times a CCD-lens in a digital camera is smaller than the 35mm format.
The result of such small sensors is that the Depth of Field is very large in current digital camera’s. For beginning photographers, this is actually a good thing, because it is almost impossible to make a bad photo because the object you want to photograph is unsharp. For more experienced photographers, however, it is almost impossible to take a nice portret picture where the background is a little unsharp while the person you want to photograph remains sharp. A larger CCD-sensor enables more possibilties to make ‘creative’ pictures. Additional, the larger CCD suffer less from color noise. The very small high-resolution (5Mpixel and higher) sensors, suffer from very much noise when used at higher ISO values. Therefore most compact digital camera’s are not usable with an ISO-value of more than 100 ISO. The new sensor in the Sony DSC-R1 is (according to the specifications) usable at ISO values of 1600 and even 3200 which is comparable with most digital SLR camera’s.
The DSC-R1 has a number of more interesting features. The lens is a Carl Zeiss lens with a range of 24-125mm. The 24mm is pretty wide for a compact camera (my PowerShot Pro1 has 28mm, which is already pretty good, because most other camera’s starts at 35mm). The tele range is a little dissapointing, but it is possible to buy teleconvertors, which extends the range to 200mm. Also the LCD and EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) has a resolution of 235.000 pixels, which is not exeptional, but pretty good. The lens has a mechanical zoom-ring which is also a pro. Only the fact that I own my PowerShot Pro1 only a few months, and the DSC-R1 is quite expensive with approximately 1000 dollar keeps me from buying this camera.

Sony DSC-R1

On the other hand, there are rumours that Canon is about to introduce a succesor of the PowerShot Pro1. If that camera also features the very good lens of the Pro1 and has a large CCD (for example from the dSLR 350D) I’m not sure if I’m able to keep myself from buying that camera. I like the possibilities of a dSLR, especially the possibilities to shoot in low-light conditions and the portraits you can shoot with it, which is not possible with my prosumer camera. But the cost and size of the lenses of dSLR made me decide to not buy a dSLR.


I have decided that I want to become a better photographer. In order to achieve this goal, I started practising. Yesterday I tried to make some shots of riding cars using a technique called ‘panning’. This means that you have to follow the car with your camera. The results which should be achieved shows the car ‘sharp’ while the background is blurred.

Today I tried to experiment with the ability of my camera to shoot in RAW mode. RAW files are also called ‘digital negatives’. Normal when you shoot your pictures, the camera applies some filters and algorithms on the picture in order to correct the white balance, brightness, contrast, etc. When you use the RAW fileformat, the raw data from the camera sensor is stored. When you get the pictures from your memory card onto your computer, you can apply the filters and algorithms on the computer, where you have a lot more control on the used settings. This way you can achieve interesting results. I made two pictures, one of the trees in front of our house and one of the sky with a beautiful sunset.


Weekend off

Last weekend we had a fun weekend with all the people of my work. We went to a vacation parc of Center Parcs where we had a cocktail party at friday evenening, games on the beach on saturday and saturday evening there was a barbeque party. The weekend ended with a terrific brunch on sunday. Fortunately the weather was great saturday, so it was a lot of fun on the beach. The absolute highlight of the weekend was the speedboat (see picture). Because I work at a website, most of the people who were at the ‘party’ are technically enthousiastic. A lot of people therefore had a digital SLR camera, which resulted in an incredible amount of pictures (currently there are about 1000 pictures on the internet, but there were more pictures taken). Because most of the people are very concerned about there privacy, I cannot put a lot of pictures here, because there is a big chance someone is on it who doesn’t want to see his picture on the internet. The three pictures here are pretty safe I think (because on most of them nobody is recognizable). The first picture shows one of the games we did during the afternoon on saturday. We had to build a catapult of a few given materials which was able to shoot the ball about 10 metres, the group which was the fastest in building a working catapult won (our group was the fastes \o/ ). Other games we did were beachvolleyball, a variation on hockey, building sand castles, etc.


This picture shows the boat in which we sailed through the waves.

This last photo shows the entire group (I think… probably there are a few missing).


While browsing the internet this evening, I came across a site with a few photos of streetpainting art. The artist who made this stuff has also a site of his own. I think it is very impressive. Especially the VAIO-drawing is very nice I think.

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