Year of the Ox

2009 is the Year of the Ox, and I was a little surprised (but actually, more disappointed) that Google, usually celebrating a lot of birthdays with special logos, only displayed this cute image on the Google Malaysia page. In case you missed it, Happy Chinese New Year.

More than 1 billion people online worldwide

Comscore just released a report announcing that the global population online surpassed 1 billion people, with China as the country with the highest online adoption (in absolute numbers). Of course, I'm a little proud that Germany is number four (after China, the US and Japan). Go Internet!

Inaugural Words in a visual tag cloud: 1789 to the Present

Speeches

The NY Times has an amazing interactive feature showing the most used words of an all inauguration speeches from Obama's back to George Washington's first speech.

The Re-Invention of Polaroid Film

The Impossible Project

This is to charming to be true: A group of Polaroid lovers bought the last Polaroid production factory after it got closed (in the Netherlands). Their goal is to re-start the production of Analog Integral Film  for vintage Polaroid cameras.

Even if you're not a fan of Polaroid: their website looks fantastic and has a bunch of pictures from the factory in Enschede that look like relicts from the old DDR.

The Impossible Project: The Re-Invention of Instant Film

History of the Internet


History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

"History of the Internet" is an animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to filesharing, from Arpanet to Internet.
The history is told using the PICOL icons on www.picol.org , which are available for download soon. On http://blog.picol.org you can get news about this project.

You can see the credits for this movie on
http://www.lonja.de/motion/mo_history_internet.html

Other works done by me can be seen on
http://www.lonja.de or http://www.lonja.de/diploma

Google's New Browser Icon: From Bad To Worse

Quick post as I coulnd't believe that Google changed their browser icon again. As I just returned from Barcelona, I am instantly reminded of the Miro museum when I see Google's new icon:

Google Browser Icon

Sorry Google, but this seems to be the one thing you're not getting right.

Internet Explorer share drops below 70%

Finally, less and less people are using Internet Explorer. According to a report from Net Applications, only 69.77% of Internet users use Internet Explorer, while Firefox crosses the 20% mark. (http://www.netapplications.com/newsarticle.aspx?nid=45).

Browser Market Share December 2008

As a software developer who's dealing with cross-browser CSS issues, this makes me happy. With three Internet Explorer version (IE6, IE7 and IE8) that are being used concurrently, it is just a pain to create separate rules: All three versions have their own unique way of interpreting style sheets. Go Firefox!

The Real Cost of Text Messages

On one of my many flights between New York, Barcelona and Stuttgart, I lost my iPod (sad). Trying to stay positive, I considered finally getting an iPhone, which is technically also an iPod.

With AT&T still being the only carrier for the iPhone, I started comparing prices to my current T-Mobile plan. All of the AT&T plans require an unlimited data rate plan, which made sense to me. Sort of. But wait: There was another table that I didn't factor in: Text Messages. I'm an avid texter and currently use an unlimited plan. AT&T also offers such an unlimited plan, for an additional $20 a month.

AT&T Text Message Plans

That got me thinking, again, about the nastyness of cell phone carriers. As described in this NY Times story (What Carriers Aren’t Eager to Tell You About Texting), the bandwidth required for a text message isn't only minimal, it is non-existing from an economical standpoint. Text messages can be exact 160 bytes, hence the limitation to 160 characters. Those 160 bytes are part of a service bandwith that every cellphone transmission has by default.

TechCrunch made an interesting calculation about the cost of text messages, in Mega Bytes. According to this article (AT&T’s text messages cost $1,310 per megabyte), one MB of text messages costs $1310 with 20 Cents / text message.

That calculation makes AT&T's $20 offer sound much better. But if you think about it twice, AT&T doesn't have any additional cost, if you send 1 or 1000 text messages. After thinking about all these costs, I was really happy when the airport called me to let me know they found my iPod.

A letter to Steve

Dear Steve,

I recently purchased a MacBook pro online, and was real excited about it. When I first got it, the display was defect, so after calling Apple via the phone, waiting 5 days for an appointment and visiting the local Apple store, I packed a box with my broken MacBook Pro and sent it back to Asia.

10 days later, I got my new MacBook Pro and was real excited about it, once again. After working with it for a couple of days, my left command key fell off the keyboard. So I called Apple again via the phone, waited a couple of days for an appointment, walked back to my Apple store, and got a new key.

Today, I got an email in the mail saying my 90 day complimentary warranty was about to expire, so I should think about purchasing one as it's my "Pride and Joy, and I should protect it". My MacBook Pro, that is. I had that thought even before your CMS sent me this nice reminder, and I was surprised to get it as I had purchased an Apple Care plan when I ordered my computer online in the first place.

So I went online and checked the warranty of my current MacBook Pro, using the serial number, and found that the warranty was ninety days. Then, I checked the serial number of the broken MacBook Pro I had received initially, and that's where my warranty was. With a computer that was probably lying around in parts in a production plant somewhere in Asia.

I went back to apple.com, hoping that one of the online chat guys was going to hit me up while I was browsing the apple site, but this time, no one wanted to talk to me. Not a problem, I though, as there has to be an email address that allows me to contact Apple asking them to update my AppleCare plan to the correct MacBook Pro and serial number.

After browsing apple.com for about an hour searching for an email address, I think there is just none. There is no customerservice@apple.com, no email forms with categories to select and no chat representative when you need one.

That's why, Steve, I thought I'll just write a quick note to you, as you always seem to have an open ear for the issues of the people. I know that I can update my AppleCare status myself by scanning in all my receipts and sending them to Apple. However, I am on vacation in Europe for three weeks and neither brought all my receipts, nor did I bring my scanner to scan them in.

So steve: my Apple ID is hanold@gmx.net, and all I purchased so far is an AppleCare program and a MacBook Pro. Do you think you can fix this for me?

With high hopes and the headaches of a, so far, unhappy Apple customer,
Daniel Hanold

P.S.: The main reason why I need the AppleCare plan is my harddrive, which makes crackling sounds every 10-15 seconds. Should I be worried?

Transferring all your emails, contacts, and calendar entries from PC to Mac

I've recently purchased a new Mac Book Pro and am totally in love with it. Installing programs is real easy, working with it is a pleasure. The one area that is giving me a headache is to transfer my most personal files to the Mac: Thousands of emails, contacts and calendar entries. On my good-old IBM T43 Laptop, I was using Outlook (2007) for all of the above, having a love-hate relationship with a piece of software that has the best feature set and, at the same time, made my laptop half as fast.

PC to Mac

On my new Mac, I now have three different programs: Mail, Address Book and iCal. It took me several days of research to find the best ways to migrate everything over, so here's the results:

1. E-Mails
My email provider is Gmail, so I was lucky enough to have IMAP. It basically synchs all your local mailboxes with your online "master" mailbox (in this instance, Gmail). Which means that everytime I do something in my local mail program, it is automatically reflected on my Gmail account and vice versa. Now, there's two ways to get ALL your local mail from your PC into your Gmail account.

If you have a regular Gmail account (which means it's not a Google Apps account), then this is the tutorial for you: http://betapundit.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-to-import-archived-outlook-em.... If you happen to have a Google Apps account, Gmail makes it even easier, as it provides a nice little program that uploads your mail directly from Outlook into Gmail: http://code.google.com/p/google-email-uploader/. This neat tool will upload all your emails and preserve the folder structure. That being said, it took a full 2 days until all my emails (~30000 emails) were completed.

Google Email Uploader

2. Contacts
For this, I've tried a number of different approaches, including using Gmail as the intermediary. I decided against using Gmail as it wasn't able to import addresses correctly and often times duplicated the address entries within a contact. The absolute easiest solution was Thunderbird, Firefox' little brother. Thunderbird is the open-source email client created by the same guys that gave us Firefox (the Mozilla Foundation). The advantage of Thunderbird over Outlook iteslf is the usage of standards instead of proprietary formats.
The steps to get your Outlook contacts show up in Address Book are the following:

  1. Download Thunderbird: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/ and install
  2. Import all your contacts into Thunderbird: Find Tools -> Import. Then, select Addres Book, click Next, and select Outlook.
  3. Export to LDIF: After your import is done, select all contacts in Thunderbird and choose "Tools -> Export". Save this file and send it to your Mac
  4. In the Mac Address Book Application, select File -> Import -> LDIF and find the file you just sent to yourself

3. Calendar
Surprisingly, this was the easiest part. Using Outlook 2007, go to your Calendar View, click on File -> Save As. In the following dialogue, click on "More Options", and select "Whole Calendar" in Date Range and "Full Details" in Detail. Then, export that file and send it to your Mac. On your Mac, open iCal and select "File -> Import".

A couple of notes:

Ideally, I'd like to sync as much as possible with Gmail automatically. Mac's Address Book has an option to do that, but only if your're an iPhone or iPod Touch user (see this article for more information: http://lifehacker.com/393810/mac-os-xs-address-book-can-now-sync-google-...). That limitation doesn't make sense to me at all.

I'm a Blackberry user, and Blackberry offers a free tool called "PocketMac" (http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/mac.jsp). Sadly, this tool is not yet compatible with the Aluminum Mac Book Pro that was releases in October 2008. I'll keep my fingers crossed they come up with a solution for that soon.