Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Guy

The iPods have to be physically taken apart for JTAG debugger contacts to be attached, after which they no longer close. As you can imagine (or have seen in one of the numerous dissect-an-iPod websites), the components inside are connected by thin ribbon cables and other delicate attachments. When I handed one such iPod to a colleague, he chuckled and said: "You're new here. You're still careful."

Competition Looms

The mobile space is about to get interesting. Access - maker of the NetFront mobile browser - recently bought PalmSource and Palm OS. They could just be after the experienced embedded systems engineers, but as Access is based in Japan, a US-based off-shore development center really doesn't make that much sense. More likely, the intention is to combine the two products into a complete mobile phone application suite.

Today, Opera announced that the desktop version of their browser will be free. This suggests a new focus, likely in the mobile space, and possibly even a contract with Nokia to become Symbian's default browser. Opera alone is still a small player in the space, but if they get on a good number of Nokia GSM handsets we're talking some real numbers.

What's Openwave going to do? The company still puts its browser on hundreds of millions of phones each year, but customers have not embraced V7 as quickly or as much as it has hoped. The new browser, internally codenamed "Hikoki", will probably determine the company's stance in the next several years. Hikoki was a lot of fun to work on, and I hope it holds up in the face of competition.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Leaving New Orleans?

The debate at hand has now moved to whether New Orleans should be rebuilt in place. On the one hand, the historical and sentimental ties to the land are important, but on the other the threats against future safety are also important.

In this day and age, we need to consider not only another hurricane as powerful or more powerful than Katrina, but also malevolent humans. The resulting damage from the levee breaks, not to mention the disruption to rescue efforts caused by a few snipers, is practically a road map to terrorists. I've never been to New Orleans, but as far as I can tell from photographs, the levees are right next to roads and neighborhoods, and seem difficult to defend against a truck bomb.

People like to compare New Orleans with San Francisco, but there is one important difference: the terrorists don't have a way of triggering an earthquake. Blowing up dams and levees, on the other hand, is neither rocket science nor nuclear engineering.