The Mobile Web: Information Indigestion

BucketWhilst recently trapped in a private hospital room with my two-year-old son for 10 days I was provided the opportunity to experiment with the mobile web. That is, rather, I was forced to endure the eye-aching limits of the tiny screen on my Treo smartphone and the painfully lethargic data transfer rates of Bell’s 1X network just to get my daily fix of the web.

This was something of a novelty for me as, living in the Yukon, I don’t have access to an internet-capable digital cell network.

(Apparently, according to a variety of sales people I’ve quizzed at the Bell Store in Whitehorse over the last few years, a local 1X network is “coming soon” and “they’re working on it.” And if you check Bell’s web site, according to the coverage map, it’s here already. All the same, I won’t hold my breath.)

So my entrapment in a medical facility located within a 1X area, as unfortunate as the circumstances were, gave me ample excuse to indulge.

Or maybe “indulge” is the wrong word…
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India Rejects MIT’s “One Laptop per Child”

eBookDemonstrating similar logic to that of my earlier Geek Love column, India has opted out of Nicholas Negroponte’s crazy “One Laptop per Child” scheme.

India’s Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee stated that, “We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools.” Now if that isn’t common sense, what is?

Mr. Banerjee went on to describe the project as, “pedagogically suspect”. Nicely put, sir.

ZDNet UK has some great insight on the matter.

Way to go, India!

Apple’s Lemon

MacBook ProI recently became a recipient of an Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer thought indirect means (long story). After using the unit for about a month or two I’m astonished by the poor build quality of the product and the ongoing hardware failures I’ve experienced with it. In particular, I’ve had the following problems:

  1. Battery doesn’t sit firmly in place, it jiggles and knocks about while in transport and shifts while working;
  2. Magsafe power adapter does not connect easily or consistently, often losing connection and failing to charge without any movement or disruption (at this writing it took me a full five minutes to force it into place enough to charge a dead battery);
  3. Left “Shift” key fails consistently. It was reseated at NYC Soho genuis bar shortly after purchase but the problem persists;
  4. Latch consistently fails to release lid of laptop and I must often pry open the lid;
  5. Surface of the laptop’s body is coming apart from base (there’s 1 mm space at left end);
  6. The trackpad is consistently non-responsive for 1-2 seconds after using the keyboard;
  7. Video periodically fails, displaying “checkerboard” effect for 5-10 seconds (click to view photograph). Shortly thereafter the computer sleeps and will not wake again (the screen is visible, it seems like the backlight is just off) without a hard reboot using the power button.

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Waiting for a Seizure

I’m sitting here late at night in an Edmonton hospital room watching the lines of an EEG dance across a small monitor perched on the wall above my son’s bed. There’s a live video of him in a small window in the middle of the screen. He’s sleeping peacefully now. I’m waiting for him to have a seizure.

Earlier today I helped a nurse hold him down on a bed for about an hour while an EEG technician glued electrodes onto his head. I was in his face for most of the time, my full weight on his body as he kicked and bucked forcefully. As I fed him constant words of reassurance and support he screamed for mercy, asking me to “help him”, “let him go”, and “get off me, Daddy!”

Both of us exited that room mentally wounded, having been so ruthlessly pitted against one another. At least he received a new hairdo – a sort of sloppy Buckwheat – from all the glue; all I got was another notch on the rod of parental guilt.
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Can I Have Some Ice with that Web Site?

Chairman Mao is the red sun of our heartsCan you afford to fly business class?

Not many people can.

It sure looks nice up there. But it’s questionable whether the big seats, free booze and gourmet grub are really worth the expense. Those folks sure seem to enjoy themselves, though, while my legs cramp up and my stomach grumbles back here with the rest of the cattle.

There aren’t many places in the modern world you can still find people so distinctly segregated. It’s likely, though, that soon we’ll soon have a similar situation online.

Many internet providers around the world are promoting the idea of a “two tiered” internet. This means that some information providers would pay a premium to reach users more quickly and effectively while unsubsidized information would take much longer to download.

Possibly some information wouldn’t be available at all.
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