Skip to content


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana

Wow, it’s been over a year since I posted here. I guess Twitter, Facebook, Quora and life are taking up all of my time. I used to worry that a blog post a day wasn’t frequent enough. Now a post a year?

Posted in Blog.


That Sound from the Prometheus Trailer

If you’ve watched the trailers for Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus, you’ve probably noticed the jarring sound that’s played over and over at the end. It’s a disturbing mix of a scream and an alarm.

Where have I heard that before? It’s not from any of the other Alien films. It was in the trailer for the original Alien film (also directed by Ridley Scott):

It’s a cool sound, maybe cool enough to be a ringtone?

Posted in Movies.


WordPress iPad app

Trying this out.

Posted in Blog.


Where In The World Is Bob?

There’s been quite a lot of press coverage about an undisclosed feature in iOS 4 to track the location of an iPhone or iPad on an ongoing basis, storing the data to a hidden file in the form of latitude and longitude and a timestamp for each point. Apparently Android stores the same type of location information, but, unlike iOS, Android’s cache only contains recent entries. So maybe this is just an iOS bug.

I’ve had an iPhone since last July and was curious to see what location information it had recorded. So I downloaded Peter Warden’s iPhoneTracker app. Here are the results:

No big surprises. Since last July when I got the phone I’ve spent most of my time in the Seattle area. I also traveled to Florida, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. All of these trip show up on the map as well as Dallas where we stopped over on our way to Florida.

Zooming into the Seattle area, I recognize trips that we took to the Oregon Coast, Portland., Whidbey Island and Snoqualmie.

I’ve been able to account for all of the locations that appear except for this cluster of points from last August:
That’s weird. I don’t remember being in Cupertino last year. Since Apple is based in Cupertino it seems like an odd coincidence that my only unaccounted-for location data is in Cupertino. The plot thickens…

Posted in Apple, Gadgets, Life.


Android Impressions

I’ve been looking to play around with an Android device but didn’t want to buy a new phone with a contract (and I’m happy with my iPhone 4). What I wanted was a device that was like the iPod touch but ran Android. There doesn’t seem to be anything like this on the market. And most tablets running Android are too expensive and/or require service contracts. All except the new Barnes and Noble Nook Color (aka NC). At $249, it’s reasonably priced. Especially for a tablet that runs Android 2.1, has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen display, expansion via microSD card, etc. And no service contract.

Coincidently Christmas was coming up and I wanted to buy a new gadget for my wife. So I bought her a Nook Color for Christmas. Last year she got a Amazon Kindle which we ended up returning. She liked reading books on the Kindle but found the Kindle UI clunky and slow and wanted a device that could do more than just read books.

Right out of the box, the NC is pretty nice. The NC software is quite useable for reading books, browsing the web, playing videos, listening to music, etc. And Barnes and Noble offer incentives if you bring your NC into a B&N store: discounts, free books, etc. I was originally skeptical of the Nook but it seems like B&N has built a nice device and figured out how to integrate it with their retail stores.

If you’re willing to root the NC, it can do a lot more. Once rooted, you can install third-party Android apps (Android Market, Gmail, Google Maps, Youtube, Angry Birds, etc.) including, ironically, Amazon Kindle for Android. As a result, my wife has been able to read the books that she had bought for the Kindle on her Nook.

How does the Nook Color compare to the iPad? The NC hardware is solid but not quite as nice as the iPad. On the software side, I definitely prefer iOS over Android. And Apple’s App Store, despite some issues, is easier to navigate than Android Market and contains a lot more quality apps. And the overall quality of iOS apps is still much better than Android apps.

On the plus side, the NC is half the price of the least expensive iPad and storage can be inexpensively expanded using a microSD card. It’s more portable than the iPad. The size makes it easy to do things one-handed. And I prefer the way that Android handles notifications; definitely better than iOS. Also B&N has announced that in the near term they’ll provide an upgrade the NC to Android 2.2 and will build their own app market. So it seems like they plan to be in the e-Reader/tablet business for the long haul.

Posted in Gadgets.


Complexity Kills

Don Ferguson, the “father” of IBM WebSphere was recently interviewed by the BBC:

What’s the biggest technology mistake you ever made – either at work or in your own life?
When I was at IBM, I started a product called Websphere [which helps companies to operate and integrate business applications across multiple computing platforms]. Because I had come from working on big mission-critical systems, I thought it needs to be scalable, reliable, have a single point of control

I tried to build something like a mainframe, a system that was capable of doing anything, that would be able to do what might be needed in five years. I call it the endgame fallacy. It was too complex for people to master. I overdesigned it. Because we were IBM, we survived it, but if we’d been a start-up, we’d have gone to the wall.

Too complex and overdesigned. Check. Since I worked with WebSphere during the days of IBM Workplace, I didn’t need Don’s explanation but it’s good to finally hear confirmation that WebSphere was a mistake.

But it didn’t really end with WebSphere. IBM WebSphere Portal was built on top of WebSphere and added its own layers of complexity and overdesign. And IBM Workplace was built on top of WebSphere Portal. Adding yet more layers to this house of cards.

In some respects, the worst thing that could have happened would have been for IBM Workplace to have been successful. The project was doomed from the start; built on faulty foundation.

Posted in Programming, Work.


WordPress iPhone app

Trying out WordPress app for iPhone. Seems to work pretty well.

Posted in Apple, Blog.


Tiger Oil Memos

The Tiger Oil Memos:

From the offices of the now-defunct but at one time Houston-based Tiger Oil Company come a total of 22 enormously entertaining memos; all sent by, or on behalf of, the firm’s incredibly amusing, painfully tactless, and seemingly constantly angry CEO – Edward ‘Tiger Mike’ Davis – to his staff.

What a hoot!

Posted in Humor.


WP Super Cache

WordPress is pretty easy to set up and administer but WordPress-powered sites aren’t particularly fast since WordPress dynamically generates pages as they’re requested. I don’t ever expect to get much traffic on this blog but just in case, I followed Matt Brown’s advice and installed the WP Super Cache plug-in to convert WP content into a set of static HTML pages. Pretty simple. And if I ever get more than a few pages views per day, my blog is all set to handle the extra load :-)

Posted in Blog, WordPress.


I could tell you but I’d have to kill you

A cocky line by Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun that’s been used again, and again, and again. If you feel yourself about to say it, stifle the thought.

Posted in Movies.




bob congdon is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache