# Monday, 30 October 2006

There are certain times where the job as an ISV just makes you want to rip your hair out and strangle the customer for their inadequet understanding of their IT systems. And here's one of them.

So... we made this Flash heavy website for a client, and recently after we changed the content of one of the files, the client came back to us and said we hadn't perform our changes. Upon closer inspection we realized something... the client's proxy server was CACHING the Flash file, and upon seeing that the filename was the same decided that the file was unchanged and thus didn't load the new file from the server.

So we tell the client about this and.... they blame it on us!!! They say that we need to solve this problem cause they don't expect all their other users behind proxies to have to clear their proxies whenever there are file changes.

I have yet to take a close look at the server settings (the client is running a JSP server not a MS server) But if nothing can be done on the server side, then the problem is the proxy server and well... they're current still holding that there's nothing wrong with their proxy server.

Well I guess I understand why they'd say that, there is technically nothing wrong with their proxy server. I'd think that a typical proxy/cache server would classify Flash files as uncommonly updated files and thus would cache them down for a longer period if no ChangedDate was supplied to the server for a given file.

Problems problems...

Monday, 30 October 2006 22:43:24 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [2]  | 

The problem with video is that... how do you deliver it to your friends to watch? Video is inherently bigger... and requires more space to be stored. YouTube is a solution but requires that everyone who wants to watch it to have a YouTube account so you can limit the private access.

I guess a direct upload to your personal website works better, that is IF you have one. Then you need to properly tweak the encoder profile so you still have some detail and the file isn't too big. Then you end up with something like this.

No.. that is not my baby.. mine still in the wife. :P Note the complete lack of knowledge about my camera's specifications in the video clip the background noise was loud and deafening hence the "There's no way I can record any audio here" quote. I forgot I was testing the reduced mic sensitivity mode. :P

Monday, 30 October 2006 09:52:35 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Wednesday, 25 October 2006

One of the most trustworthy online shops which I've been getting my games from, Lik Sang has just been sued by SONY till they have to close shop. Sony's saying that it is illegal for Lik Sang to sell non Europe PSPs to European contries and that Lik-Sang infringed its trade marks, copyright and registered design rights by selling Sony PSP consoles from Asia to European customers! Infringing copyrigth just by selling stuff!

Great... what's next oh great Sony, you're gonna get PlayAsia shutdown as well? Gheeezz.. this really isn't gonna get you on the gamer's side Sony!

Wednesday, 25 October 2006 01:03:28 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 23 October 2006

This sucks... after a lightning strike my MCE unit's hard disk is failing to be detected!!!! AAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAaaa!!!!!!! Shit shit shit!!! Damn damn Damn!!! Just my luck!!

Monday, 23 October 2006 23:21:55 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

It just HAS to happen now, eve of a 2 day public holiday and my net connection is constantly reconnecting.. Of course calling StreamyX support would probably just give me the standard "we're upgrading the service line" Which is helpful beyond belief!

Monday, 23 October 2006 21:49:36 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

Here we go.. first post accompanied by a recorded video, how fitting that it is about gadgets that play video.

I have a few devices that are quite capable at playing video files, first of all I have my phone that Dopod 838 Pocket PC Phone, which is able to play moderate bitrate MPEG4 files, then there's the Creative Zen Vision media player which is quite capable at playing any MPEG4 video file, as long as it only has an MP3 audio stream. Then lastly there's the Nintendo DS with the Play Yan media player add on, this thing plays a very specifically encoded MPEG4 video file.

Of all these, the only thing I use for playing videos on the go is the Zen Vision. Why? Cause it was MEANT to play videos, also it plays almost everything that I throw at it without having to go through the hassle of reencoding the video.

I don't use my phone for video because first of all, it's very likely I'd have to reencode the video before it can be played on the device and more importantly I don't want to waste my battery power on it.

I don't use my Nintendo DS for videos because I use it for games instead, the Play Yan is used only in a pinch if I know I want to have a video fix cause first of all I have to reencode the videos before I can use it on the Play Yan and secondly I don't have that big an SD card!

Monday, 23 October 2006 21:31:41 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 22 October 2006

For years I have used many gadgets and the like, but there was always one piece of equipment which I never got... A video camera! I never found one to my liking, primarily because the act of getting video to a usable form on the PC was pretty pain staking, transfering it usually took as long as the video itself.

Then came the DVD-R recorders, which sort of solved the problem of transfering videos, but the videos were in a DVD VOB format, which makes manipulating them a little problematic. Also... writing to a DVD takes a LOT of battery power, something which I'm all too familiar from being a user of a first generation CDR Digital Camera.

Then came the HDD video cameras, which usually saved files in a proper file that you can just copy off the camera, also running a hard disk uses less power than a DVD drive. But the problem with the initial HDD cameras were that they recorded at a fixed bit rate which gave them bad video quality at times, or just plain wasted the high bitrate.

My wife has been making me promise to get a video camera to be used for my child, and I have been holding out on getting one, until I saw this little guy just now.

The Sony DCR-SR60 It's a HDD cam, but with a few differences from the current HDD cameras (then again I haven't been keeping up to date on these things so I wouldn't know how new this is!) First thing about this camera that caught my eye was that on the brochure it very explicitly went through the troubleto mention that it DOES indeed uses Variable Bit Rate encoding for it's recording to ensure that disc space is used efficiently and also video quality doesn't suffer too.

Unlike most of the other HDD video cameras I've checked out in the past, it doesn't just use a Compact Flash type II slot and then use a micro drive in it. This camera's hard disk is mounted in the camera.

The obvious advantage of having a permanently built in hard disk is that all sorts of anti shock, anti vibration, etc. etc. systems can be applied to it so that the fragile nature of using a hard disk in a piece of mobile equipment can be overcome. Of course... all over the packaging, and in the instruction manual they'll keep mentioning that you shouldn't drop, shake, or subject the camera to vibration during operation...

The obvious disadvantage of a permanently built in hard disk is that.. well, it's permanent.. so if you're going to use it on a trip you either need to have a backup device like a notebook or something, or use the recording settings to get the most out of your space. This particular camera I've got has a 30GB hard disk, and according to the specs, in it's lowest quality mode it is able to record about 21 hours of video.

Since it's a Sony camera it has the usual Handycam features such as.. having a touchscreen for most of it's controls.

Which my wife comments that "Great, don't have to remember which button does what!" to which I answer Great... there's only ONE button on the camera to fail! But the touch screen does have a lot of cool features, you can customize the menus for quick access to your commonly used functions, use it to focus on a specific spot of the image you're capturing. All in all.. good shit.

Another Sony feature that I like is the inclusion of an EASY mode, just like what my camera has. Bascially once you're in this EASY mode.. you just go ahead and record your video, all the advance stuff like exposure, white balance, etc. etc. everything will be taken care of for you.

Initial tests of the files that the camera produces are good, according to the documents it's using MPEG2 for it's compression and I can just play them in WMP once I copy them over to my PC since for some reason playing them off the camera... it doesn't seem to work too well.

Windows Movie Maker is able to edit the files after stalling for a while so editing the files shouldn't be a problem. I'm gonna need to fiddle with this some more before I'm able to say wheter this camera was a good buy or not. So far I'm leaning towards good.

One caveat which I didn't notice until I paid for the camera which would have affected my purchase decision is that.. there's no viewfinder! the only way to see what you're doing is through the big side screen, which from experience is the single most power hungry thing on a camera. But.. again.. from experience I know that technology advancements have made screens much more power efficient but I would have still loved being able to make the choice of NOT using the big power hungry screen.

Stay tuned for some video goodness soon!

Sunday, 22 October 2006 19:08:01 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, 19 October 2006

So.. you made a good application, won the local leg of the Imagine cup, had Bill Gates deliver you your prize, which in effect was a prize itself as well. So how did a bright, aspring programmer go from representing her country (scroll to the bottom)..

To becoming part of a pirated DVD distribution site?

I wonder if the media exagerated their income? RM1 Million made from selling pirated DVDs for a year? Hmmm.. usually the media, or companies like to place the sticker price based on what the authentic product would cost, then multiply it by number of pirated units sold to get said price.. still... RM1 million, that's a lot of pirated DVDs.

I showed this news to my colleagues, some of them said well.. maybe she has reasons we don't know of, like she needs the money to take care of a sick mother, or maybe the boy friend coaxed her into doing it.

I don't agree with those reasons, for one thing.. IT'S ILLEGAL!! Another thing is that why sell pirated DVDs? The MPAA has enough combined money and iffluence to come after you wherever you are. Could have tried selling some other fake stuff like rolexes or something. And I'm sure there are other better cons that you could have thought of.

Well.. now she might end up in jail.. a perfect example of how you can go from the top of the world to rockbottom. There's only one thing that she can do when she comes out of all this... Write a book about her experiences, how when at first she was just skeptical about the whole deal, then as the money started rolling in how she start being more and more afraid that one day the authorities are gonna come aknocking. Yup.. the first great Malaysian cyber story!!

Thursday, 19 October 2006 01:43:24 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 15 October 2006

Is a sign like this a good or bad thing? Does it make the customer feel safe that they can get a one on one exchange if the thing fails? Or worry that because the things has a history of failing and hence the company needs to keep the customer's mind at ease and give them the one on one policy.

Sunday, 15 October 2006 01:31:19 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 07 October 2006

Sometimes it's tough being an ISV, sure the job is great in the sense that since you're not tied to any one company you'll be building apps for various customers and usually in various different industries. But the biggest headache that I always face is what to do when the client obviously wants something that's bad for his company?

I have a customer that essentially wants me to build what is a light spyware application, I totally disagree with the features he wants. But the app is part of a bigger project that is already ongoing. I've tried to make the customer see the errors of his ways but still he wants the feature to go in.

Aaaarrrggg... Well, everyone's got a mortgage to pay!

Saturday, 07 October 2006 00:57:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Monday, 02 October 2006

When I go travelling I carry quite a few gadgets with me. My Pocket PC phone, the Creative Zen Vision, Bluetooth GPS unit and a Nintendo DS Lite.

Some people wonder why I just don't get a powerful, GPS capable Pocket PC phone and thus elminate the need to carry around so many other doodads. Well there's a simple answer to that question.

Battery Life, the phone when in use has about 3~4 hours of continous ON time, meaning backlight on and I'm doing something with it. Like a notebook the actual time depends on what I do with it. The Zen Vision also lasts about the same time, the GPS lasts about 10 hours, but I never tested it before. And the DS Lite lasts about 5 hours.

Now... if I only used the Pocket PC for all my entertainment purposes, within 3 hours I'd be without a phone. Which is definetly not a situation anyone wants to be in. But with seperate devices I don't have to worry about the dependencies on one battery, I can keep watching movies on my Vision till the batteries run out, play my DS lite till it goes flat and still my phone has enough juice to get through the day.

Monday, 02 October 2006 01:20:23 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |