Tue, 30 Jan 2007

N800 ordering from NokiaUSA.com

Got my discount code (thanks, Nokia!) and immediately ordered it from Nokia USA. I gather that some people had trouble entering the discount code, but I didn't. Order went through, credit card got charged, everything looked fine. However, on the trackit page they gave me in the confirmation email, I had "Order status:" followed by whitespace. I was patient, but to no avail. The order got stuck somewhere in the process. I had to call NokiaUSA at 1-866-596-6542 option 5. The call center staff gave it a "kill -HUP" and now it's been shipped. Just FYI in case this happens to you.

Posted [13:41] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Fri, 26 Jan 2007

French Military Victories

Fair or not, French Military Victories is funny. For the maximum effect, type it into a Google search box and hit "I'm feeling lucky".

Then again, the funniest jokes are never fair.

Posted [13:04] [Filed in: life] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Thu, 25 Jan 2007

Minimum Wage as a cause of injustice

Nearly everyone in the USA agrees with the 5th Amendment's prohibition on the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. Yet a very large percentage of people in the USA want a higher minimum wage. What about the people whose private jobs are taken for public use? Where is their compensation?

Nobody seriously believes that you can raise the price of something, and everybody will buy just as much as before. Nothing is completely insensitive to price. So what of the people whose labor is worth less than the minimum wage? Of course the minimum wage helps people who remain employed. It harms people who lose their jobs. Some people say "Well, the people who are helped are helped much more than those who are harmed, so it's okay." You could say the same thing if the government was to simply confiscate property in the way of a road. Yet nobody in the USA speaks in favor of that. Why do they speak in favor of confiscating somebody's job so that others may be paid more?

Posted [02:29] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Mon, 22 Jan 2007

Deflation

UPDATE: followup at Deflation 2.

I keep seeing this fear of deflation everywhere. I don't know where it comes from. Deflation is the natural consequence of free trade with a fixed amount of currency. Consider this: If you have eggs to sell, and want to buy plums, let's sake that you'll take an even trade. A dozen plums for a dozen eggs. Of course, you want the plums more than the eggs, so once you get the dozen plums, you would only be willing to give up 11 plums to get back the dozen eggs.

Now imagine that your country uses plums as money. You're willing to pay 12 plums for a dozen eggs. You like those plums, so you'll only pay 11 for the dozen eggs. The plums are the same, and so are the eggs. What's the difference? Why have the plums deflated? The answer is that the trade has pleased you. You are wealthier, so you value your money more.

As long as the number of plums is fixed, this process will go on forever. Plums will become more and more valuable, as each trade makes people more content. If you see deflation as a reflection of increasing contentment, then you, like me, will wonder why people don't like deflation.

Posted [03:05] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Sun, 21 Jan 2007

Hireling priests

In my religion (Quakerism), we have no hired professional priests. The problem with hired priests is that their job gets mutated from one of helping the flock struggle with the burden of discerning Gods will, into one of keeping their job. The fire gets lost.

I think that Nokia has a similar problem with the 770. When you have a large full-time staff, they lose their fire. And yet, what else is Nokia to do? If they are going to build hardware, it needs software, and they surely cannot rely on the goodness of strangers for their software, can they? And that is exactly what they are already doing, by using the Linux kernel.

So lets explore this fantasy, wherein Nokia builds hardware and the rest of us write the software. I am firmly of the opinion that open source solves some problems poorly. The work that Tigert does (art and design) is not done well by the ordinary developer. If left to their own devices, they will also neglect usability.

There is definitely room for a paid staff. But I think that if you want to write the best software, most of it has to be written by the people who will be using it. Of course, that leaves Nokia with a chicken and egg problem. With a new product like the 770, how do they have users without any initial software?

Like all open source projects, you need to prime the pump. That is best done through contractors. Pay them to write the initial build, and then get out of the way. If the spec that they build to is fux0red in the usual way that most software designs are, it will get fixed. But in the meantime, users will at least have something which is minimally usable.

Nokia can get developer attention just as they did -- through subsidised hardware. They would also have gotten developers involved sooner, just as the OLPC has done. If you are building a really cool product, people will be lining up for early hardware. And, if they do not, then maybe the product is not as wonderful as initially conceived?

Nokia will probably not take this advice, but if they do not, I fear that they will continue to publish software that sucks.

Posted [15:08] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Fortification

I dislike the use of war metaphors in economic thinking, because economic exchange is not warlike; it is peaceful. In this case, however, I think it's apt. The principle is simple: when you build a fort, it can be taken from you, and used against you. Thus, when people think that government legislation protects them against corporations, they are sadly misguided. Some might .... but it's not a given. Posted [15:04] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Wed, 10 Jan 2007

N800 Speakers

The N800 has stereo speakers, in comparison to the N770's mono speaker. That alone should make them sound better. But Nokia has done something even more clever. If you look at the position of the speakers, you can see that they're at the bottom of the device, unlike the N770's speaker at the top. A speaker works by moving air. If you can reduce the amount of air that needs to be moved, you'll get better bass response from your speakers. With the integral stand on the N800, and speakers at the bottom, when you place it on any hard surface, you reduce the amount of air by half, and double the bass response.

You can see this for yourself now if you have a N770. Play some music and hold the 770 in free space with the button end down. Now lower it until it's sitting on your desk. Instant big-boy speakers! Well, okay, I exaggerate, but the bass sounds better, doesn't it?

Posted [08:19] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Mon, 08 Jan 2007

N800 is out!

The blogosphere has been ringing with the news. The question in my head is: "Will there be developer discounts?"

UPDATE: The answer seems to be yes, but there are not details on how to apply yet. UPDATE: no applying needed. My guess is that Nokia feels comfortable enough with the developer community to do their own selection now.

Posted [00:59] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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