Digital Convergence

In recent years we see many manufactures attempt to come up with the ultimate (“Killer”) product for the inevitable “digital convergence” age.

A few years ago we saw Handspring with their PDA/Phone, which was a case where a company tried to add features and capabilities of a phone into a PDA. In 2003, Palm Inc. either realized they could not do as well or just wanted to be in control, bought Handspring and now Palm combined both companies products under the moniker “Treo”.

Before Handspring Nokia and the alike (Motorola) tried to do what Handspring did, but their own area of expertise. Nokia had their Communicator products, which they still “insist” on selling an updated version of, is a mobile phone with a physical size dating back to the 80s when most people didn’t mind carrying a small paperback size mobile phone.

Both of these manufactures [Nokia and Handspring] wet their feet in “digital convergence” but did not follow the design principle of most successful manufactures who create great products. That is to “step back and look at the problem at hand” before designing.

Later the term “Smartphone” was coined with devices running different mobile OSes (Operating Systems) from competing and non-compatible manufactures: Microsoft (Windows Mobile OS), Symbian (Symbian OS) and Linux. The Symbian OS gained the most acceptance by the mobile phone handset manufactures: Nokia and Sony Ericsson, with Motorola going with Microsoft. Which Motorola later found out the hard way that Microsoft is never the right company to bet on when you want ease of use and good design.

The success of the Symbian OS is again the way in which Symbian followed the simple principle of “stepping back and looking at the problem at hand”. They took the functionalities of a mobile phone and a PDA (in particular the PIM, Personal Information Management) and then come up with the best way to integrate them into a cohesive and integrated platform.

Even with a well designed OS and platform it still requires the handset manufacture to execute it correctly and Nokia again fell short with their device, fortunately Sony Ericsson came with a successful execution in the form of their Smartphone P800 in 2002, and has since enhanced it again and again up to just last year.

Now one of Sony Ericsson’s two partner companies is trying again, after failing, to take back control of the mobile music market from the likes of Apple Computers Inc., Sony has released yet another online music store to allow its PSP to download and listen to music on their PSP game console. I do not see success in Sony’s latest attempts since I do share the believes that gamers who purchase the PSP console will likely take the time to download music onto the device or to listen to songs while they play games on the PSP console.

Another manufacture who recently joins the many who attempt to exploit their strength to move into the age of Digital Convergence is Olympus, the company who has been most successful in the digital camera market. They released a product called “m:robe MR-500i”, which is a device with a 20GB hard drive that plays MP3 and WMA music, but with Olympus’ background they also included a 1.2 Megapixel digital camera and a 3.7″ colour (VGA) LCD display.

All in all with so many companies trying their hands in Digital Convergence, making the mistakes as they do, eventually they will figure this out and the ultimate benefactor will be the end users of these devices. Until then you and I will have to suffer through these mediocre devices.

Although I for one will not give much time and most importantly my money to any that I do not feel have a good enough design or user interface.

So buyers beware!

Audio Blogging


Most of you by now have heard of blogs & weblogs; the one you’re reading is my own “Blog”.

Now Adam Curry had created “audio blogging”. From his web site you can find numerous feeds. Curry has now coin the word “Podcasting” for this new form of blog feeds. Podcasting is based on the RSS 2.0 and enclosures technologies.

Imagine getting your daily dose of BBC on your iPod downloaded automatically. That can be the case if BBC catch on about Podcasting. So if any of you readers are affiliated with either BBC, CBC, CNN, CNBC or Bloomberg, may be you should take note and be the first among these competitors to announce your support for Podcasting.

You can find software on Curry’s site, but locating this link may be difficult, so just click on hyperlink I’ve provided.

Discovery of Gundam

Believe it or not. It was only a week ago that I got hooked on Gundam. I am still learning about this, so any mistakes please forgive me.

Gundam is a Japanese cartoon of “Mecha”. In the cartoon each of these Mechas are driven by an individual. There are both good and bad ones, from different cartoon series.

What I got hooked on are the models for this Mecha. There are basically three different grades of models available: High Grade, Master Grade and Perfect Grade. The latter being the highest grrade. The difference being the details of the model and the number of parts required to put together a complete model. Aside from grades there are also different scale models the most popular being the 1:144 and 1:100. I believe the Master Grade is only available in scale of 1:100 and above.

I am fortunate to live in Hong Kong where these models are readily available and like most other things in Hong Kong, the stores are all concentrated in the same general area (“Mong Kok”). Of course there is always “Toys R Us”, but then I later found out is the most expensive place in Hong Kong to get them.

You can see my first collection in my Flickr photo album

Commenting on a Forbes.Com Article

Below is a letter to Mr. Arik Hesseldahl regarding his article, “Apple’s Tiger Has A Powerful Nose” on Forbes.Com.

Dear Mr. Arik Hesseldahl,

I think your requested feature of allowing Mac users using Spotlight to search based on Application is the wrong analogy to the way people work.

What Apple and many of the more visionary technologist are trying to do, is to hide the complexity of computing from end-users and to make their technologies behave and understand terminologies in the context of the end-users’ environment.

Referring to an application is too computer focused and legacy (Windows) thinking. For example, if you’re looking for a letter you wrote, you would not first think about which type or brand of pen you used to write that letter, but rather you would think about the letter’s context.

This is why the new Spotlight feature is allowing for terms like “Images”, “CMYK”, “RGB”, “document”, “Movies”, “Presentations”, etc. as filters for the search. These are the terms that the respective end-users (in their industry) will be used to plus it is tool agnostic.

There are some fairly good directions in Spotlight, which Apple is promoting, in terms of Usability. Why didn’t you mention that? For example, the ability to use Windows terminologies as keywords in the Finder implementation of Spotlight.

Are we Homophobic by nature?

In Asia one will see females holding hands or walking around with their arms around each other, but most of these people are not homosexuals. They are used to expressing friendship by this method. In North American standards this behaviour would be labeled homosexual behaviour.

Is this because North Americans are too conservative or Asians more open mined?

This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit

To Remember

Again it has been a while since I made an entry into this weblog.

Holocaust like the one that happened to the Jews is something that should never happen again.

Almost everyone agrees with the above statement, but we still see it in Eastern Europe, Middle East and ASEAN countries.

Why is there so much hatred in the world?

To ignore is to condone. To be ignorant is to allow our mistakes to be repeated.


Ever wonder what the world would be like without inventors who created products for our every day problems?

For example, take the lids on disposable soft drink cups. I remember the days when I ordered a soft drink from a fast food restaurant, they would mark the lids of the cups with either a “D” or “R” for “Diet” and “Root Beer” respectively. Now they just push down on the little plastic bubble on the lid to indicate the kind of soft drink inside.

How about the bendable straws? Before this invention, patients in hospitals would frequently spill their drinks while drinking in bed. Now with the bendable straw this is no longer a problem.

These are all simple solutions to problems. I believe the best solutions are the ones that are simple, and the best candidates for innovative solutions are those everyday problems that people constantly take for granted.

So, if you’re a closet inventor, pay attention to those every day things you take for granted. Some of them may turn into great inventions.

Technology As The Solution

I was forwarded an article (“How has information technology changed your life?“) from the BBC.Com web site a few days ago.

The following is a quote from the article

Technology can improve the lives of millions of the Earth’s poorest people, according to UN chief Kofi Annan

Sometimes people do not understand that technology are not always appropriate and it is not the solution to all problems. Being a futurist/technologist, you must be surprise to hear me say that. Although, in my opinion, knowing this fact is the first step of being a good technologist.

Indeed information is one way to empower individuals who may not know better; case in point the many of the people in the rural area of China. These information may not need to be delivered using technology at all. There is also the issue with government policies in these countries which prevents the free flow of information. It is in the advantage of the individuals in power to keep their people (citizens) in the dark; one way to keep control. The are also many human rights violations and massive disease control problems at these countries that the article is referring to.

The UN and the various [technology] companies who want to help; if that is what they really want to do, should gather together and focus on these issues first, before shoving new technology down the throats of the “so-called poor people of the world”.

This sort of approach is very common among Asian companies, from my experience. They would come up with the products or services first and sell (market) them to the people (in the best of cases; the “target audience”), instead of figuring out what the “people (the target audience)” really need.