Adobe experience

Web designers are frequently among the most irritating persons in all of the “computer experience”. And among these, i specially have an issue with Adobe related ones.

I mean, not just those that use Flash for everything, including showing titles phrases (something i can’t possibly understand), but those guys that make the Adobe website. Which is a confusion statement on his own.

I know the few times i consulted the site i usually went back and forth trying to find whatever I was looking for, but what seemed was always on the next link I’d press, wasn’t.

Suppose that you would like to download the next flash player, or simply check if there was updates (as long as you have to use Flash, is always a vert good idea to maintain it as updated as possible). You write and there you go. And then to the Get Flash Player Downolad Page. OK. Fine so far. But now the web page tells you that the new version is 10.0.1234567 ?! Err… and that means what? Not a single indication of when was this version released or any indication that is “new”.

And now to my favourite part. You assume, correctly, that Adobe is likely to be able to know what version you have. And you look for it on the download page. I mean, that is undoubtedly the best place to put that info right? “The new version is 10.0.12345 and you have 10.0.12333” Seems a reasonable info to look for, right? But no. No siree! No option to look that.

And now you look at the links they provide below the download button. And none provides that info, nor indicate in anyway that it might contain that info. And you click on the first one that takes you to the Product info. Lot of seller’s talk. But not the info you are looking for. The second indicates all of the system requirements that you must need. And the third point out to something about wanting to redistribute the Flash player.

I’ll spare you the details but if you pressed any of this links and look for it, you wouldn’t get to the Flash Info page that finally tells you what version you have and what are the latest releases. I’ll usually just give up and look for it on Google.

Most browsers also give you the info on what version you have but either is not easy to get there or they are somewhere buried in a sub-sub menu that you wouldn’t remember to look. ((on Safari is on Help/Installed Plugins. Why it is not in Preferences/Extensions or similar beats me. I had to google to find out about this also because i would never guess that it was in the Help menu that is, you know, for help!))

And why this random rant about a small and trivial thing? Well, because yesterday i’ve read that Adobe had released a new flash player, with less hardware consumption and better security. So i went to the website to download it. And found this:

Screen shot 2011-02-10 at 11.14.58.png

Well, i know Chrome has its own Flash player but i happen to have other browsers on my computer (Safari, Firefox & Opera) and at least Firefox i use frequently as my “work” browser. And i would really like to update those now that i know that a new major version has been launched. I understand the info about Chrome not needing it, but let’s just assume for a moment that i know what i am doing and even so i would like to download it anyway. Nops. No luck. You can’t. At least using Chrome. The nice folks that do this website know better than you. A simple link below giving the option to download the damn file would be too complicated. Or something else. Beats me. It’s a Adobe experience. Should have known.


“Watching” the HP presentation (here and here) and you can already check out the new Palm products at their site. I might say, looking pretty good. Specially the new Veer. And the Touchpad also. Looks like the iPad might have competition at last.

Let’s just wait for the price tag and European availability…

Universal Charger

My prayers have been answered. But the add is one of the most inappropriate videos i have seen, and could easily be used to propose the other way around.   


Listening music from our iTunes Library is a great aid for work. However, it has the typical downside that you find yourself listening to the same musics over and over, even if you have a 90 GB library. Humans tend to fall back on known patterns.

Many times i consider buying a small radio to put on my office. However, either by the expense alone either by the fact that i anticipated the predictable discussion with my “office-mates”  regarding the station and volume it should set on, i’ve never actually seriously considered the purchase. Until now.

I’ve discovered this little app, Radium, that allows me to tune in and listen to endless internet radios. It’s light, clean and functional. And i love it. I’m now going through the trial period, considering if it is worth the slight high price for a app of this kind (25€). I would consider half of that a much fairer price. But i have to admit that i actually like the application allot!

I know iTunes already has a internet radio section, but in a typical Apple style, it only has some selected radios, the vast majority of them American, and i can’t figure out how a simple way (or any way whatsoever) to add my own favorite radios.

Also the sheer difference in resource consumption between Radium and iTunes justifies it. I like to keep my mac lean and fit. I hate over consumption of resources, whatever they are. And iTunes always consumes over 100 Mb of memory. Just for listening to music. Radium is a stable ~30 Mb.

So now i can listen to my hometown radio all day, even when i’m 200 km away. Local politics here i come!

Skype 5

I’ve tried the last Skype 5. It took me as long to try it as the beta, back in November or so. 30 minutes. I then reverted back to the previous version.

It’s beyond description what they have done to the User Interface. It’s huge, disproportionate, confuse, it has contacts in CoverFlow (Seriously? why would i want that???), i can’t hide offline contacts, i can’t understand how to close individual chats (without going to the menu bar) and they just accumulate on the sidebar, etc, etc.  It’s an über-mess.

What’s even more amazing is that they had exactly the same type of feedback on the Beta, yet managed to make no major corrections whatsoever. Sometimes i really don’t understand what’s going on in some companies.

The quest

I’ve been looking around these last two weeks for a new mobile phone, to replace my old one who had a unfortunately screen collapse. And it’s been a very elucidative experience.

For once, i looked on the iPhone obviously, but my previous idea still holds. It’s very nice. Well built. And i wouldn’t mind at all of having one. But no way that i will spend almost 500€ to have one! That’s basically half of my monthly PhD Governmental Scholarship! And if i actually had that much money laying around, do i really need this phone?

It’s always a good idea to clarify what you need, what you want and what you would like to have. It’s also very useful to clarify what you really don’t want or what is a deal breaker. I usually just start looking around, with illusions of grandness until i realize the dark dark world, and reposition my expectations to a better level of adequacy. And this means avoiding 500€ phones and start looking at those under 150€, preferably 100€. I refuse to give more than this for a phone. (My relatives and friends would gladly explain to you that i have serious issues with the omnipresence of phones and their control over our lives…)

So i decided what I really really demanded for my new phone:

  • Ability to synchronize contacts and Calendar with my Mac. (iSync or other). I’m tired of loosing contacts, having multiple versions of it on the computer and phone and backups, and copying them by hand when i change phones. (which happened just a couple of times but even so…)
  • Ability to charge through a USB port. As i explained before, i find the idea of carrying around a phone charger something completely absurd and anachronistic.

Then i found out what i would like to have from a phone:

  • Easy, functional email ability, a la Blackberry.
  • Wifi, for the email functionality. I don’t want to spend money on a data plan when i have wifi all around me.
  • Some Application ability, so that i can install some sort of WordPress blogging application and blog ideas and photos from my phone. (Granted this can be done from email, but i would prefer a isolated application).

And, then  what i would like to have but wouldn’t spent more than and additional 25€ to get:

  • Some useful browsing ability, that isn’t terribly handicapped like the blackberry, or the regular “feature phones”.

Armed with these solid, thought up requirements, i started looking the online stores of  my  carrier and other specialized sellers.  And it’s been a blast…


First: As i stated before, Nokia have stranded themselves in the XX Century. Their phones are now subpar on OS technology,  subpar on hardware features and I won’t even begin to mention the decline in build quality that’s been noticed in the last years.

Second: Blackberrys are a no go also. I’ve looked them again and discovered that you actually don’t need a Blackberry data plan to use them as smart phones, but just the alternative email application on the Blackberry App Store is another 25€, adding to the phone price. Just turned red on my book.

Third: Android phones, although much inline with the pricing i want, seem to combine the mess of  the non-polished non-user friendly Linux Distros (which are unfortunately the vast majority of the Linux distros out there) with the “crapware experience” you get when you buy a Windows laptop utterly messed up by its maker with “free software demos”. (kind of a Sony Vaio, but even worse)

The phone that first caught my eye, a rebranded ZTE Blade ((Also known as Orange San Francisco)) as Sapo A5, has an Android market & a Carrier Market. A Gmail Maps & a carrier maps &  a GPS program with some more maps. An animated background screen showing battery info, which i’m sure will help allot the battery life, in conjunction  with a animated weather widgets.  At least, this is what i’ve seen on its pictures , as the first batch sold was quickly withdrawn from the market with several manufacturer defects. I’ve also seen other phones but they are the same stuff, but with different carrier apps. They have so many duplicate apps and other random stuff i can’t identify in the app screen, that it is perfectly possible that a brand new phone on the shop has 3 “screens” full of app icons. It took me a couple of minutes just to find the SMS app.

Then i started looking around in forums, always a good source of “Common Joe” experience, and went to my favorite portuguese speaking forum. And then i really really noticed the difference between iOS and Android. In the iOS sub-forum, you have a couple of active threads, with topic subjects on some slight user difficulties, useful tips, and some discussions regarding pricing and purchasing options. On the Android sub-forum, you have topic threads of over 200 pages just for each single cell phone model and brand, discussions on tens of modified roms as the carrier or maker never updates soon enough, modified applications, several ways of installing and several third parties applications that do something as simple 3G data measure, tons of “rooting your android phone” tutorials, background screen and widget customization and “let’s turn your cell phone in a carnival fair” contests, and above all else, endless errors and app crash complaints. Oh, and battery consumption in less than a day too. Just what i wanted. A phone that would make me be his servant.

So, I’m back at square one. Need to buy a cell phone and feel “orphan”. What i want  seemed simple for me. A not very pricey phone, which would let me play around a bit, and install some apps of my choosing (you heard that Steve? MY CHOOSING!) and worked without any hiccups. It didn’t have to be a top of the line phone, neither having tons of disk space and processing power. Just enough to browse a couple of simple websites, consult my email and consult some news sites apps. In a way, a slightly evolved and “liberated” Blackberry.

If nothing else appears i will eventually end up with an Android phone, even if only convinced by its price. But i long to hear what HP has done with it’s WebOS system and can’t wait for the 9th. Maybe they have a significant third way for the market.

Oh, and i also looked up Windows Phone 7, as i actually liked the metro user interface i’ve seen on pictures, but they cost the same or more than an iPhone. And an iPhone can sync properly with a Mac without extra applications or cost.