The amazing power of Comcast

A week ago or so I received a robo call from Comcast/Xfinity saying that my current cable modem as too old and it will not support the speed improvements that they were doing with their network. But I was eligible for a free upgrade and I had to reply to some mail that I was going to receive or go to some website for more information.

When you receive a message implying that my internet could be faster, of course I complied and requested a new cable modem. And that cable modem arrived yesterday.

Before I installed it, I decided to do a speed check and then compare with the speed of the new modem. Surprise: nothing changed! I still have 30Mbps down and 6Mbps up after installing the new modem (which, by the way, is about double the size of the old one). So, besides the size, what is new? A couple of "Trojan Horse" things:

  1. Support for their phone service: if I decide to use the Xfinity phone service, I don't need a new box, they just need to activate it and I connect a phone to the back of it and I'm good to go.
  2. Expansion of their "free" WiFi system: basically everybody that has their router receive the ability to have an "xfinitywifi" network. I actually don't care too much about it. I do believe that they could have gotten the technology right and create an isolated network that does not use the same IP that I have and will not affect my bandwidth much. My concern with it is:
    1. It adds even more WiFi networks around me - see the list below
    2. It's not trivial to turn it off. I can't even turn off the WiFi that comes with it to use internally. I already have WiFi at home and I spent a lot of time having to expand my network to put the WiFi in a place that the whole house is able to work, and that's not anywhere close to where the cable modem is.
IMG_0763.PNG

Thanks, Comcast...

Got my Poppy today

And it's pretty cool! What is it? Ah, well, let's start with their website:

http://www.poppy3d.com/

It's basically an adapter to the iPhone to allow it to shoot and view 3D videos & pictures through image splitting. Basically they split the camera into a left and right, and then split the screen between a left and right and the device has a viewfinder that makes you see each eye separately. It's pretty ingeniously simple. No electronic parts, just plastic, mirrors and lenses.

So what is interesting about 3D pictures/videos anyway? 3D on TVs is pretty much dead. Sorry for you people out there that bought one and now are dealing with the dropoff on new content for it. It's still an interesting technology, but it's just hard to convince people that watching TV is "serious" enough that it's worth getting special glasses and paying attention in a certain way. For those active glasses you need to make sure the battery is charged, and pay $20-$50 for a new pair to let more people watch your content. It's a pretty steep convenience fee.

So if I'm so down on 3D technologies that are not convenient, why am I so excited about Poppy? Not an easy answer here. First, I'm still interested about the technology and what 3D data can add to a scene. It's odd that if you look at each image individually, it doesn't seem to have as much quality of details as you can see on the combined 3D image. It's all perception. And perception is everything when talking about vision.

It's not the best thing since my first DSLR, for sure. It's bulky, not the most comfortable viewfinder, having to remove the phone from the device to unlock it is problematic. But it requires no batteries, no new place to store my pictures (even though looking at the pictures without their app is a little "boring"), and, hey, I helped them launch! I was even an early bird backer!

Anyway, here is an example of a picture taken with Poppy:

poppy_photo.JPG

As I said, it doesn't look that clear. But if you had a way to see it split into two eyes you'd suddenly notice the details.

Anyway, there it is and I'm excited about it. Will let you know if I find some way for other people to see it. They said that I can build wigglegifs, but I cannot find how to do it in their app yet. Maybe it's a beta feature that hasn't been approved by Apple yet. Will post it when available.

Doubly secure Windows Store

I was looking around the Windows 8 App Store just to consider whether I was going to upgrade to 8.1, and then I came across this very strange "security" category

win_store_security.png

See that all other categories seem to highlight 2 (and sometimes even 5) different programs? Well, what it looks like is that security is "locked" and I can't add any security apps to my computer. Isn't this strange? Yes, it's Windows...

A variant on multiple choice answers...

One in which you can only choose one choice at a time through Javascript:

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 9.19.44 AM.png

What you can't really see here is that if you choose "None of the above" it will make "enterprise" grayed out and unselect it if you had selected it. So, yes, it uses checkboxes to allow for multiple answers, but semantically it really only allows one answer right now (I think somebody was lazy and forgot to fill the list of the major car rental companies there).

Is my HTML experience ruined?

When I joined Amazon, working in the catalog world, it made my life shopping at Amazon hard. I'd see all the possible catalog mistakes and it's would drive me crazy.

Now that I worked with an HTML5 platform at Amazon, now I'm feeling like my HTML experience in general is getting ruined, because I'm doing the same thing with web pages. For example, this is what I saw today when I opened twitter on Chrome:

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 7.05.14 AM.png

Pretty broken, right? Well, so I had to go and open it on Firefox and see what a different engine does with it:

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 7.04.46 AM.png

Less broken, but still not optimal. I tried to look at the markup itself and it seems to be some very strange unicode character that is causing it. Oddly, when I look at the inspector things look much more like what it looks on Firefox. I don't know what is causing Chrome to rotate those dots and then get confused about the text width and not know how to build that div. 

But let's put blame on the right place. I decided to open it on Safari then, which is also a WebKit browser. And see what happens...

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 7.13.16 AM.png
Fascinating... The font issue is the same, but it can figure out the right size for that div! Ah, HTML... 3 browsers, 3 different results!