Defcon Kekekekekakl (blog)

21May/100

Palm, carriers and HP

Back quite some years ago, various vendors and manufacturers were coming out with this new kind of device. They initially came under one of two names, "HPC" short for hand-held personal computer, and "PDA", the personal digital assistant. I had just gotten into computers and communication, and at the time I was just getting into gadgets. I really could not get a grasp on what good one of these PDA devices was supposed to be. But I decided the only way to find out was to shell out the money and buy one. Seeing as US Robotics (the modem-makers) had been one of the first on the market with one of these, and was still considered the best option when not counting the Apple Newton, I went with a US Robotics Palm Pilot (Personal, I believe).

This was my first ever portable computing platform. And I really could not figure out what I needed it for, even after getting it. But gradually I started using it more an more for the calendaring functions. And then one day, I found the true killer app in my view, an application that allowed me to read books on the PDA! That said, books is stretching it, the app for the early Palm Pilots was basically a "souped up" text-file viewer. However, this was enough of a killer that I bought the 3Com Palm III not long after 3Com acquired US Robotics and took over production.

Two years later, around 2000, the company Palm inc. was created, and the Palm-device-related activities spun off from 3Com. This new company did a lot of things right, things that kept me using, promoting and buying new Palm devices. Firstly, they realized that a strong foothold in the world of application developers was essentials. So they created accessible SDK's, published API specifications, gave out device emulators, made an adapted CodeWeaver IDE available, and made it fully possible to start Palm software development with no lead cost apart from the need to own a device (to be allowd the use of ROM images for the emulators). This acknowledgement of the developers, and the strong support made available to them was one of the strong sides of Palm inc, and for a good while also for the spring-off, PalmSource. Unfortunately, PalmSource took way too long focusing on the development of the "Next generation PalmOS". In the time spent developing Palm OS 6, the traditional PalmOS was showing age, and devices coming out were cautiously build to "old spec", in wait on the new OS. PalmSource almost folded, and became a part of ACCESS, while Palm inc moved on to using MS Windows CE/PocketPC as they no longer could wait for the new OS to become usable. PalmOS 5 was used for "legacy" and "entry" products like the Centro, while the "high-end" and "modern" devices like Treo ended up as Windows-based devices. And with that, the developer-support faded. Drastically.

The second important factor that kept me into Palm devices, was that they up to around 2006 had practically simultaneous international launch of any new product. If a new Palm device was announced to arrive "early next year" at CES or CeBIT, that would be fact, no matter where in the world you were, as long as Palm's were sold at all in the country. On the devices with cellular or other telephony functions there was naturally differing models for different types of communication networks. But the devices were still launched as close to simultaneous as possible.

Now, this long and convoluted lead brings me to todays situation and frustration with Palm. Some time back the company stood on the verge of coming back to life, and conquer the world of personal data and communication devices. Palm inc had once more started doing software development themselves, and announced to the world the webOS. This was very fresh approach to an operating system for what I will keep calling PDCD's. User interaction was quite different from other offerings, and the development model was heavily centered around presentation-oriented coding, using XHTML and a JavaScript framework (mojo). The look and feel of the operating system took the gadget-nerd-world by storm, actually silencing all mention of the iPhone and Android for a good length of time (apart for mentions of reference). And Palm said they were coming out with the operating system on a brand new hardware platform, the Palm Pre. The Pre was reviewed as, and on images is, a really beautiful piece of communication device, and with the correct launch, this was destined to be huge!

While I, and a very large portion of fellow gadget-hungry people around the world, were eagerly awaiting the launch of the Palm Pre, the company came through and proved true to their roots.e SDK was made freely available to registered developers (registration free of charge and obligation), an emulator was made available, and community support was strong. But the wait was long.

And, personally I am still waiting. Palm failed. They failed miserably, The launch of the device was an absolute disaster. Why? When the device was finally made available, it was only available for sale from one single cellphone carrier in the USA. Exclusively. When you have thousands upon thousands of willing customers waiting for your product, what better way of devastating sales than not making the product available to them? As if that disaster was not enough, Palm had the messed-up idea that the rest of the world operates like the USA, where communication devices are sold by the carriers, and that carriers demand exclusivity in the product! When the half-year-after-us-launch wait for a GSM version was starting to come to an end, the Pre was not coming up for sale. It was coming as a tie-in to a very select few carriers in the UK, Spain and Germany. Still no product available to their actual customers! I will dabble a bit in speculation, but I dread that the reason the GSM Pre was made available on O2 was because Telefónica/O2 was the only carrier outside the USA that behaves like an american carrier.

Which brings me to the topic of carrier tie-in and exclusivity. As a Norwegian, this concept is weird to me. And wrong. Yes, we have subsidized communication devices in Norway. We even have vendor/carrier branded devices. But not being able to purchase a device off contract, and the concept of carrier exclusivity is absolutely unheard of. I really cannot see how such a screwed up market model has any benefits at all. Yes, I see that a carrier may use a product under exclusivity as a teaser to pull in customers. But by limiting the use, the availability of contract options, and the possibility of switching carriers on existing devices are really limiting the scope of the customer base. And for the device manufacturers, I cannot see this as anything other than a disaster! Talk about limiting the options and scope! The practice that I am used to, and one that is very common in Europe at least, is that devices are freely available for purchase off contract, but also as subsidized when tied to a contract from a carrier. The subsidized device will commonly be carrier-locked for a year-or-so. This way the customers get the freedom to choose, and great availability, while at the same time the carriers get lead-in advantages and customer tie-in.

Carrier exclusivity can be somehow justified based on business-to-business advertisement relations, and to a degree the concern of distribution. A carrier having exclusivity will most likely pour bucketloads of money into the advertisement of the product, allowing the manufacturer to reduce its marketing budget. And thanks to the american system of selling communication devices, it is cheaper and easier to let the carrier handle physical distribution of products than it would be to set up a distribution network. The first, advertisement, is a valid concern. The second however, distribution, is absolutely counter to how any other product is being distributed. Why are phones and other communication devices distributed by the manufacturer or the carrier, when the successful model for any other product is to let the dealerships, outlets, sales chains and direct-to-customer vendors handle the issue of distribution and distribution cost? It honestly makes no sense at all, and I believe it is a direct effect of the carrier-lock-in principle of the USA.

After this rant about my view on carrier exclusivity, let me get back to Palm. I honestly believe that the reason Palm inc. quite nearly folded completely and went out with a silent puff, was their inability to bring their new product, the Pre, to the market. True, they put the device up for sale through Sprint in the USA. But by doing so, they completely missed their market! It is not a natural conclusion that all their economic issues had been resolved if they had done an open, cross-carrier, available-to-all launch of the product. But it is safe to conclude that the problems would not have been as prominent. Palm would have had more time, and most likely a bigger economic play if they had been able to actually get the product out to the customers.

We gadget-freaks are impatient people. If we can't have the product now, we get frustrated, and then loose interest. Having to wait for ages for a product to be launched through a limited set of channels is not a good route. The only product ever to be successful using this approach was the iPhone. The reason this approach worked for the iPhone, is because it is an iProduct, and iCustomers are used to, half expecting, this kind of customer abuse. And the iCustomers bought the iPhone in such masses that it reached critical mass, and other, regular customers saw the quality and functionality of the iProduct, and thus saw justification of the customer abuse.

But, the gadget customer in general is not an iCustomer. So other gadgets need a more open, non-abusive approach to their customers to be able to get their initial momentum going. Not acknowledging this leads to product failure. And if your business relies on that product, it leads to business failure. Just look at Palm.

Recently, Hewlett Packard won the bid to purchase the faltering Palm. This is a good thing, a really good one. You see, HP used to be an engineering company, and has retained a good bit of their roots. This means that they know the value of keeping good relations with developers. They even know the importance of a good Open Source presence. Which lets me believe that HP will be able to keep the openness and developer support that has been a trait of the old Palm. HP also has a history of high quality mobility products, originally from the name Compaq. Just look at the C-series handheld MIPS-PC's and the iPaq series of devices, that defined the industry standard for Windows CE based PDA's.

I will close off with my call to HP. Please bring the Palm products to market! Please do not shut them in in a walled garden, out of reach of your customers. With the Palm Pre plus and Palm Pixi plus in your possession, HP now has (just like Palm did) the opportunity to get back into the market of PCDC's! What they need to do is: GET THEM INTO THE MARKET, AND TO THE CUSTOMER.

20May/100

Migrating defcon.no

The pages hosted here at defcon.no have until now been published using a home-brew blog engine and a collection of bad-hack like wrappers. It has for a long time been time to move into the "now" with my web-presence, and I have not seen it as an alternative to update my old custom-made tailored-to-noone blogengine I started back in 2001. The last two major overhauls on the engine were in 2003 and 2005, so with nine years on its back, and five since the last update, the engine is really really outdated.

So, I have ported the main content over to WordPress, and moved a lot of the "non-blog" stuff out to static-content directories and resource domains. The port of the blog itself was surprisingly easy, the "Import from RSS" tool worked wonders and magic, and imported all my old elements reasonably cleanly, and the nodes were given predictable ID's. I have tried my very best to keep compatibility with my old URL's and URI's through Apache Rewrite's and wrapper-code. Naturally, I haven't kept all the old content. Pages and resources that haven't had a single hit in a year, and I deemed outdated, irrelevant or not-easily-ported has been scrapped. If you miss any of that stuff, tell me, and I'll look into getting it back online.

To clearly mark the move, both the blog here, and the Wiki at http://wiki.defcon.no have been given a fresh new look. For WordPress, I have modified the Lightword theme by Andrei Luca to fit my use. For DokuWiki, I have heavily modified Riccardo Govoni's battlehorse template. Both of these may be later published under the name "SlightWord" if anyone expresses interest in that. The theme/template is absolutely not guaranteed to be bug/flaw/inconsistency free. Any feedback is appreciated.

Oh. And. I have noticed that lately, I have been writing most of my write-ups, be it in the wiki, on the blog, or otherwise, I have been writing in (pidgin-norw-)English. So, it is safe to assume I will keep doing English as my language for posts/publications. It is also safe to assume that the blog will be low-volume...

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25Oct/090

OpenBSD SMTPd released with OpenBSD 4.6

As of version 4.6 of OpenBSD, a new alternative MTA is available. The new smtpd daemon is named according to the simple naming scheme of most other OpenBSD packages; it's name is simply 'smtpd'.

Assuming this will be ported to other *nixes like so many other OpenBSD projects, this will probably in time also be know under the name OpenSMTPd.

What fascinated me about this new MTA, and made me want to try it out, is its relatively simple, and very much OpenBSD-like configuration syntax. Stealing the first example config from the man-page of smtpd.conf, it may look somewhat similar to:

listen on lo0
accept for local deliver to mbox
accept for domain "example.org" relay via "mx1.example.org"
accept for domain "example.net" relay

This kind of syntax should be really familiar to people having touched pf.conf, snmpd.conf, ntpd.conf and other OpenBSD BNF-based config files.

The documentation is at the moment slightly less-than-optimal in my personal view. smtpd is currently still getting new features added, and code is still maturing, so it is not unexpected, and documentation will most likely improve as the project matures. I am willing to accept the lack of early documentation, and dive in nonetheless.

Read more, and see my setup in my wiki

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12Aug/090

HAR2009 statusrapport…

Etter mange timer kjøring, kom vi frem til HAR2009 i går (tirsdag) ca
kl 16:00. Ikke lenge etter bloggposting om såførbytte tirsdag morgen
stoppet vi for frokost/lunch rett etter passering av Hamburg. Betjeningen
insisterte på å snakke tysk, som tyskere pleier å gjøre. Null stress
allikevel, trekløveret som ikke kjenner språket i hele tatt brukte
engelsk og peking for å få mat, og fikk ;) Jeg prøvde meg med det lille
jeg kan, og fikk akkurat det jeg ville ha. Gemuseschnitzel med Käsekroketten
kan anbefales. Ikke så mye på grunn av grønnsakspanetten, men absolutt på
grunn av fritert ost i krokett-form!

Lollemusa fikk akkurat den effekten jeg var redd for . Rett før Bremen
våknet jeg av at Halvor satte ned tempoet på Lollemusa. Når jeg tittet ut
vinduet var det første jeg så en Polizei-bil med blinkelamper på taket
trille rolig forbi på høyre side. Resultat, vi ble vinket inn på første og
beste rasteplass. Pass- og registreringskontroll, med et snev av teknisk
kontoll påfulgte fra et par medet unge og hyggelige politimenn, som var
solid nysgjerrige på hvor vi var på veg. Inntrykk av tysk politi langs
motorveg: A+, will stop again ;)

Straka vegen videre til Nunspeet, deretter kjøring mot Vierhouten. Vi
var fortt vekk en dag for tidlig ute til camp-start med følgende resultat:
Null skilting eller info ellers! Selvfølgelig kjørte vi oss godt bort...
Denne delen av Nederland har overraskende mye skog. Det kan selvfølgelig
være fordi vi befinner oss ca midt i en av de to skogene som finnes .
Vi klarte å finne frem til rett sted, tilslutt. Veifinning frem er _ikke_
enkelt, De Paashuevel (campingplassen) ligger ut en sideveg av en sideveg
utenfor et bittelite tettsted som er lang utti skauen... MEN! Vi fikk
lov til å parkere på "buildup"-parkeringen, som ligger ca en km nærere
enn den parkeringen folk blir sendt til i dag! OG, vi ble informert om
"bakvegen" til parkeringen, slik at vi kan fortsette å stå der videre.

Vel fremme lempet vi litt stash, fikk opp sentral-teltet og en liten
knippe telt, og gikk etter mat. Sultne ulver endte opp på en av Vierhoutens
ca 1337 spisesteder, og fikk servert genial kjøttmat med latterlig godt
drekke til bittelitt penger. Helt genialt! 350g kjøtt fordelt over biff,.
kalv, svin og kylling, med solide mengder tilbehør. Ron Miel er en drikke
som SKAL oppdrives i butikk! Rom brygget på honning var latterlig godt!
Latterlig godt var det også å komme seg inn i teltet og sove ca 23:00.

Village:Norwegian Embassy er nå stort sett bygget opp, og fungerer som
en magnet for Skandinaver på camp. Vi har dansker og svensker rundt oss på
det som err av flatmark utenfor plassen vi har reservert til de norske og
finske teltene. Næreste nabo til teltet mitt er en data-dass, og næreste
nabo til Halvor er en strømfordeling. "Center" for HAR, med bar,
forelesningshaller og mat ligger rett på andre siten av bakkekammen vi har
plassert vårt sentrale partytelt mot. Stort mer perfekt tror jeg ikke
vi kunne plassert oss. Flagget har også sørget for at vi fikk besøk av en
energisk og supertrivelig Tysk tøs som flytter til Oslo uken etter HAR :)
Hun var superhappy (og litt nervøs) for å få lov til å snakke Norsk med
nordmenn for første gang i sitt liv, og imponerte solid.

I dag har vi ferdigstilt camp-bygging og handling, og fått opp nett.
Til slutt. Jeg har tatt med meg et 3Com Superstack 3 4400 48 port switch.
Som ikke virker. TYPISK. Seriekonsollet fungerer på ingen måte, og
ved sjekk av VLAN-fordeling i lagret config, har vi i praksis fått med
oss 24 stykker 2-ports switcher. To og to porter parvis kommuniserer
med hverandre, men ingen av disse parene kommuniserer med hverandre.
Switchen har ikke fungerende nettverkstilgjengelig management på noen
av portene, og L2 3Com attack fungerte heller ikke (MAC-flooding, påfulgt
av en ARP-targeted telnet-flood gir login-prompt...). Så. Vi røsket frem
WLAN-AP'et som ble brukt i bilen, og har nett. Forhåpentligvis kommer
kablet nett via en 24-port switch i morgen sammen med resten av V:N.A...

Nederlandske butikker. Jeez. Ingen av de har hørt om Visa eller kredittkort.
Den eneste betalingsmiddel i form av kort som godtas er Nederlandske
debetkort og MaestroCard. Ergo, med norske kort er man f*ckd.

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11Aug/090

Fjo, sjåførbytte!

I natt, med stopp i Udevalla, ca ved midnatt tok jeg over førersetet i Lollemusa retning Malmø og grensa til Danmark. Neste sjåførbytte skulle vise seg å bli nå, rett før halv ti, på en rasteplass ca 5 mil nord for Hamburg.

Lettere sliten nå, men godt fornøyd med å ha gjennomført full gjennomkjøring av Danmark med kun ett stopp, for frokost og drivstoff.

Været... har vært... bedrøvelig. Veldig. Først trodde jeg noen hadde ødelagt sparedusj-hodet på regnværet. Jeg tok feil. Det var bare oppvarming til høyttrykkspylingen som kom senere. Heldigvis regnet det ikke i mer enn seks av de 9+ timene jeg kjørte...

Jeg har også innsett hvorfor tyskere og lignende turister i Norge er så imponert over den storslagne Naturen. Dette er mest sannsynlig fordi man
i Norge faktisk kan se naturen fra "motorvegen". Svenske, Danske og Tyske motorveger er akkurat like. Og da mener jeg akkurat. Du ser i bunn og grunn det samme foran deg mil etter mil etter mil, og til sidene.... er det enten skog helt inn til vegen, eller flate jorder. Et og annet avvik er det selvfølgelig, men altså, som avvik...

Stort mer er det ikke å melde. Å kjøre natt, med tre sovende passasjerer
i bilen fører ikke til nevneverdig mye å meddele. Heldigvis.

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10Aug/090

On our way to HAR2009

Poster fra internett-gateway'en i bilen, som nå holder 98km/t i retning svenskegrensa. All is good, har fått plukket opp alt som skal med, og Senilix er plassert som sjåfør på første etappe.

Mine oppgaver hittil har vært å

  • Få bilen til Oslo
  • Få plukket opp folk og stash
  • Finne ut hvem som skulle kjøre etappe en, og gi instrukser for bilen :P
  • Få opp 3G/GPRS forbindelse
  • Få opp DHCP-server og routing
  • Verifisere at folk har intarweb-kobling via WiFi i bilen
  • Lista over er ferdigstilt, og videre nedover kommer jeg til å sitte og
    kontrollere at vi har intarweb-kobling operativ, slik at folka i baksetet ikke klager for mye, og forberede meg på å ta over kjøringa om en liten haug timer...

    Bottom line. Vi er på veg! CAMP HERE WE COME.

    Og ja, L2-Castle og Sakarias har fortvekk både Twittret og Facebook'et dette ;)

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31Jul/090

Tweet…

Twitter caution

Stolen from the Joy of Tech

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31Oct/080

A time for celebrations!

First, some pretext:

The Irish word Samhain is derived from the Old Irish samain, samuin, or samfuin, all referring to 1 November (latha na samna: 'samhain day'), and the festival and royal assembly held on that date in medieval Ireland (oenaig na samna: 'samhain assembly'). Its meaning is glossed as 'summer's end', and the frequent spelling with f suggests analysis by popular etymology as sam ('summer') and fuin ('sunset', 'end'). The Old Irish sam ('summer') is from Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) *semo-; cognates are Welsh haf, Breton hañv, English summer and Old Norse language sumar, all meaning 'summer', and the Sanskrit sáma ("season").


The Gaulish calendar appears to have divided the year into two halves: the 'dark' half, beginning with the month Samonios (the October/November lunation), and the 'light' half, beginning with the month Giamonios (the April/May lunation). The entire year may have been considered as beginning with the 'dark' half, so that the beginning of Samonios may be considered the Celtic New Year's day. The celebration of New Year itself may have taken place during the 'three nights of Samonios' (Gaulish trinux[tion] samo[nii]), the beginning of the lunar cycle which fell nearest to the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

Thus, without futher ado, I propose you join me in these days of celebration of the year's turning, and the start of a new cycle!

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12Oct/080

Jeg har gitt etter for fjas….

Screenshot of Facebook profile

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15Sep/080




And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do; I don't mind.

Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it—

you've gotta go sometime.

The Great Gig In The Sky

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