Bits & bites, 2

The menu for this week consists in: an appetizer of iPhone OS 3.0 and iPhone development ethics coming from unsustainable sources, and some slices of funny spam which may produce you constipation, a main dish based in Opera Unite topped with a little bit of failure from Microsoft (to give a bit of a sour taste), and for a sweet and fragrant dessert, PyGTK. There's an optional disgustingly sour liquor for whoever which dares to try, made with proprietary software being used in a new installation in a school.

On iPhone OS 3.0 and iPhone development ethics

From day one, I have disliked the absolutism that Apple have decided to impose in their platform (note the emphasis), but I had just recently read a post by Marco Arment that had completely convinced me of not doing any iPhone development at all. So, in short, an iPhone developers are surrounded by NDA's and have not the certainty of going to earn a single dollar at any point, since they are totally subject to Apple's arbitrary will. I personally have seen people asking questions about OpenGL-ES in Apple's OpenGL list, only to be immediately told to shut up because they were under an NDA and couldn't discuss anything iPhone in public.

It seems to me like Apple has forgotten the message from 1984. But anyway, there I was exposing why it didn't seem ethical to contribute to Apple's model of development and distribution, just to find out that the person I was talking to had already updated their iPod to the famous iPhone OS 3.0 - famous because it allows you to... copy and paste? Uh, right.

So what do people think? Would you code stuff for iPhone only because it's a cool device? (like Marco justifies in the follow up post), or do iPhone devs do it just because they have the hope of making an indecent amount of money at the end? Also, do you think it's acceptable to sign up NDA's and all that even if you're not guaranteed that an awesome sum of money will end up in your bank account?

Spam induced constipation

Has anybody seen the new trend in spam messages? The title warns you of what will happen if you don't pay attention to them:

Open it or get constipation!

I must confess I opened it, wondering whether the new star product wasn't meant to improve male dysfunctions but to get everybody visiting the loo more often. I was wrong, it was just the usual random crap from China.

Ready? Steady... Unite!

Opera is a strange company for me. I don't completely like their desktop browser, but I really like the mobile version. This week they released something interesting and, for once, original, in the browsers' field: Opera Unite.

I don't think I'm going to use it in the near future, but I quite liked the way they integrate several useful features that in my opinion, should be basic in any computer already. Particularly, the file sharing service is ace. Although I wonder if they have thought much about the security implications. I'm already foreseeing a javascript exploit that runs only when you're logged in My Opera and shares all your files without you knowing it.

I also wonder why are they assuming that people are going to share things they shouldn't be sharing, when reading the Note: Please respect artists. Only share content if you have the right to do so. recommendation which shows up in several of their services. And if they are assuming so, how do they plan to fight back when they get sued by the RIAA for providing a way for people to illegally distribute protected content.

Microsoft, on being a lonely nerd who tries to impose his rules to his could-be friends

Microsoft launched an IE8 campaign in Australia with the most possible tacky and distasteful design ever and with several buzzwords as well, such as twitter, followers, clues and whatnot.

It didn't look good aesthetically speaking, but once you passed it through the W3C validator, it had 20 errors and 19 warnings yesterday, whereas today it exhibits an incredible amount of 48 errors and 20 warnings. It seems errors are multiplying! I would expect exactly the opposite, but you know, it's Microsoft!

They have also updated the text. Yesterday, it made explicit mention to my old actual browser (Firefox), exhorting me to ditch it and replace it with shiny IE8, "best ever MS's Browser". But today it's a bit more austere and they have toned down their words, and also reduced the number of required steps. Compare the first version (which you can see here):

We've buried $10,000 somewhere on the internet and if you're the first one to find it, you get to keep it. But you'll never find it using old Firefox. (So get rid of it, or get lost.) If you want a serious shot at the ten grand, upgrade your browser to Windows Internet Explorer 8 now. Then follow @tengrand_IE8 on Twitter for daily clues that point you to the buried loot.
  1. Ditch the web browser you're using. If you try to find the $10,000 with Firefox, you'll get nowhere
  2. Download Microsoft's best ever browser, Internet Explorer 8. It's the only browser capable of cracking all the clues.
  3. Follow @tengrand_IE8 on Twitter for the daily clues. Clues will be released at random times from Friday 19th June.
  4. Use the clues and your brilliance to deduce where the $10,000 is hidden

with the current one:

Want a shot at scoring ten grand? We've buried $10,000 somewhere on the internet and the first one to find it, gets to keep it. Those who have Internet Explorer 8 can follow @tengrand_IE8 on Twitter and for daily clues that point you to the buried loot.
  1. Follow @tengrand_IE8 on Twitter for the daily clues. Clues will be released at random times from Friday 19th June.
  2. Use the clues and your brilliance to deduce where the $10,000 is hidden

So not only are they presumptuous but they are implicitly saying they, as usual, don't give a f*** about standards, since the clues can only be "cracked" using IE. Which sounds like: we are using some new proprietary stuff that no other browser can make sense of.

Nothing new or surprising.


I wanted to make a little interface for an application I'm working in and for some strange reason, I thought of giving a go to PyGTK, since the widgets are nice enough* and it uses Python (as you could deduct from the name), which makes things very easy and fast to program.

In a question of a couple of hours, I had my little front-end up and running, thanks to the tutorial and a little bit of experimentation, helped by the nice documentation.

I haven't polished things enough yet for posting the code, but will probably do it next week. I can meanwhile recommend PyGTK if you want to do some GUI programming without damaging your brain.

  • They are nice enough when used under a GNOME desktop, at least. I guess if they are used in a Windows or Mac OS port they might look a bit odd, but honestly, I don't care much about those systems at this point :-P

Proprietary software on a school

I happened to find the school I attended had upgraded their website and now they were being a little more modern and open about their processes. They were so open, that they spoke about the details of the IT system they had installed recently. When I read them, I was dismayed. They had chosen Windows 2003 server, for a machine to act as DHCP and DNS server, Active Directory and Samba. That was an amazing opportunity to use Linux! And it's not like our local government hasn't spent a single euro promoting Linux in Valencian schools. To make it even worse, they had installed Windows XP in all the other computers that hadn't it installed yet.

I remember when I was there, virus were a rampant recurrent issue, and there were only a few optional computing lessons after school. Maybe a total of 30 kids could have accessed the computers at the end of the week. But nowadays, with computing being a mandatory subject, Windows and the computers being connected to the Net? It just sounds irresponsible, apart from expensive, on the short and long term (i.e. maintenance). I don't know exactly how licenses work (these pages aren't helpful either) but we could assume something like $999 + 20 x $100 = approximately $3000 which they could have spent in improving the equipment, for example.

I'm not going to tell you which school it was, I'll let you try to find it, if you feel like doing it. And you don't need any special browser for cracking the clues though ;)