Monday, December 21, 2009

Mini-Review: Fun Beat EM270 MP3 Player

I recently bought this MP3 player which boasts "70 hours of battery life" and other interesting features for rather nice price (I bought 8 GB version). The reason was that I needed some player for my father to listen to classical music in his bed and I figured I could give him my older Sansa Clip and I'll keep EM270 for myself (because it seemed to be slightly more advanced).

Pluses: The packaging actually contains not only the player itself but also earbuds, wall charger, USB cable, holding strap and rubber cover! Also, the device looks quite stylish, although not as stylish as this CG render suggests:

(Image stolen from

I'm afraid it's strictly downhill from here on.

When I copied about 6 GB of music to the device, the start-up took about 50 seconds! I thought this was because the device indexed my music and cached the song data somewhere but no such luck. The delay is the same for each and every start-up! EM270 also supports microSDHC cards up to 32GB for potentially 40 GB of total storage which could mean several minutes of start-up time each and every time (in theory - I haven't tried it).

All of my music contains ID3 v2.3 tags with artist, track number, genre, album and track names. EM270 allows to me to select music using these tags (meaning the songs actually are indexed using these data). However, when I actually start playing the tracks, only their filenames are displayed. Nothing else. Not even the playing time. This means that when I randomly skip between 500 music tracks, there is no way to see the album and composer details for currently playing song! If your files are named "01.mp3", "02.mp3" etc. then tough luck, you have no way of knowing which song is currently playing.

Setting play method to "Shuffle" means that tracks are played in random order, with no regard to what was already played during this session. That means you can shuffle through 20 track album and hear track #13 four times before you hear track #7 for the first time, for example.

The manual is godawful. It's in Czech and English. The Czech version is briefer and totally omits some menu items while the English version is almost incomprehensible and all screenshots are in Chinese! I was able to discover most of the functionality by trial and error. However, there is an item called "JumpSetting" with different time values in the Settings and I have no idea what it is supposed to be doing. The manual actually contains the following gem:

"This user manual can give you some useful information. Hope it will help you to operate the player well when you are using it. If there is any mistake on this manual, you are welcome to figure it out."

Obviously, I didn't try out all the functionality but from what I've seen it was quite clear to me I don't want to use EM270 for my music playing needs. Some UI choices were very bizarre, for example holding down the Play/Pause button started changing the dozen or so equalizer settings very quickly (i.e. 10 times a second), resulting in a game of roulette of sorts.

If I bought this player for myself, I'd be rather pissed off. However, it will be OK for my father and I'll keep my trusty Sansa Clip. Fun Beat actually seems to be Czech company but their firmware and documentation resembles the worst Chinese crap.

And remember: "Our company remained the final right how to explain for the manual, warranty and some related information."

P.S: This mini-review is based on latest available firmware.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Buzz! Quiz World - Czech Translation

I purchased Buzz! Quiz World game for PS3. This is a TV-Show style quiz game which has the distinction of being fully localized to Czech language. Not only translated, but there are also many questions about Czech TV shows, Czech sports etc! There are supposed to be over 5000 questions in total, some with audio and / or images.

I only played one game so far and it was excellent fun although I only found ONE online opponent (you are matched only with Czech players and the game is brand new over here) so we only played one-on-one instead of up to eight players which this game supports (online or locally).

I am rather sceptical about the quality of Czech game translations and I was nervous about this game because, in this case, bad translation could easily ruin the whole experience. Thankfully, the translation (and localization) is rather good, although not perfect.

For example, the announcer calls you by your name (provided you have some sort of "regular" Czech name). Unfortunately, instead of "Františku", the announcer called me "Františ..." the whole time, with abrupt fade-out on the last syllable. Perfect example of less-than-stellar localization quality control.

I won my first game because I was able to choose the category "Movie Quotes", where I trounced my opponent (he trounced me in "Current TV"). And out of the 10 questions in this category, two of them were not exactly right.

The first question was about the quote "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn". In Czech, this quote was written as "Vážený, to je mi jedno", which means "Dear SIR, I don't care", although this is said TO A WOMAN in "Gone with the Wind". Although the title of the movie was translated correctly as "Jih proti Severu" ("South vs. North") - yes, that's official Czech title. It's clear the translator didn't know the correct context for this scene and it's also quite clear most of the quotes were translated differently than in the the actual Czech versions of these movies.

The funniest "glitch" was the question about the quote "May the Force be with us" with "Armageddon" and "Star Wars" being offered as possible answers. Obviously, the correct answer is "Star Wars" but my opponent has chosen "Armageddon" and lost. The funny part is that in Czech versions of these movies, this phrase ("Ať nás provází Síla") actually appears in both "Armageddon" and "Star Wars"! And the funniest part is that it's because of me - I used "May the Force be with us" as a substitute for "Beam me up, Scotty" when I translated Armageddon many years ago (Star Trek - especially the original series - being virtually unknown in our country back then). This "error" is obviously almost impossible to discover and fix before the game's release but it certainly made my day.

As I already said, I had great fun playing the game and I cannot wait to try it with more people. And the Czech version does not suck. This is definitely perfect party game, even for non-geek people who usually wouldn't touch videogame controller.

P.S: Four "buzzers" (special controllers) are included with the game and I see no reason why I have to buy more buzzers for more players and why I cannot use standard PS3 controllers for players 5 and 6, for example...?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Panasonic Lumix GF1 Camera

This is Albert, the Zen master:


I bought myself Panasonic Lumix GF1 camera (with small pancake lens) which - at least to me - is a breakthrough piece of hardware. It shoots almost as well as DSLR, however it's very compact (slightly larger than Canon Powershot G series including the lens). That means I can carry it with me fairly easily in the belt pouch wherever I go and use it for guerrilla-style photography (i.e. "shoot lots of trash, pick 5% of interesting stuff from it"). I just have to find the right pouch, the current one is too big.

GF1 is fairly expensive but the quality of images is noticeably better than the best digital compacts (I had Canon Powershot G10 until now). For example the above photo is very small crop from large image, basically pixel-per-pixel resolution. And that's not even RAW, just plain old JPEG on full automatic. The level of detail is excellent and exposures are much shorter meaning there is less blur.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Windows 7 is here and it shows you who is the boss

Even the Japanese are powerless agains the mighty power of Windows 7. I guess I'll stay with Ubuntu, thank you...

Even after they get it to work, it feels definitely unresponsive and sluggish, considering this is carefully prepared one-time demo on "optimal hardware":

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Probably the most wonderful ad campaign ever!

This sounds like some bizarre joke from Mike Judge or Sacha Baron Cohen but it's real.

"Měl jsem se líp učit" -

Today, on the Wenceslas Square (the most frequented place in the center of Prague), I saw diggers working. If I was racist and elitist, I'd probably say they were "illiterate minimum wage Gypsy diggers". And most of them wore bright yellow shirt with the slogan "Měl jsem se líp učit", meaning "I should've been studying harder" and a link to - which seems to be some sort of private school portal run by British Company (International Education Society Ltd., 92 Belgrave Road, London).

I think there is no way to beat this.

"Měl jsem se líp učit" -

(Click the images to see larger versions)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oldskool Amusement

I always liked amusement park attractions and I had some rather disturbing memories of Budapest's "Vidam Park" which I visited when I was very small (about 10 years old).

Last week, I visited it again, and it was even more bizarre than I remembered it.

There are some rather recent rides, well known from European amusement parks. But let's forget about these and get nostalgic:

There is an operational wooden roller coaster built in the year 1922!!!


The cars look like something from children's railroad and the track itself is constructed from what looks like standard rails. There is no drive mechanism on the passenger platform (the train moves here because the track is slightly sloped) and passengers often embark and disembark without the train even stopping. There are no safety features, hydraulics or electronics at all.

The ride is very bumpy, of course, and the train has a driver who hand brakes during the whole ride, otherwise the train would go too fast and crash. I cannot decide if this is the best or the worst job in the world, riding on the roller coaster all day. It's certainly very important job, because if he got sick and lost consciousness, for example, everyone in the train would probably die. Now this is hardcore!


There are other ancient rides which look and operate like something from Fallout, but the most terrifying of them is an automated boat ride for kids.

You get in the boat and you ride it in a narrow canal, watching the scenes from popular fairy tales. Again, there is no motor or electronics, the boat moves simply because the water is flowing, and often crashes into the walls.

All of this takes place inside artificial cave, mostly in total darkness and total silence. The fairy tales are represented by scary plastic figurines (who don't move at all, of course) placed behind scary bars (probably to prevent kids from stealing them). The original idea probably was to create something like Disneyland's "It's a Small World After All" but the execution is creepy beyond belief. Watch the video:

No wonder I had nightmares about this for the last 30 years...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Custom Alert Sounds On HTC Hero Phone

I am posting this chiefly so that other people with the same problem can find the easy solution here:

HTC Hero mobile phone offers custom ringtones. It lets you use any MP3 file anywhere on your memory card as a ringtone (you don't have to install any special software).

However, this is not the case with alert tones (the sounds that sound when calendar alert is triggered). The phone only offers some short predefined wimpy sounds which definitely cannot wake me up.

I tried installing "Rings Extended" (an app which provides extended ringtone functionality for other Android phones) but it didn't work on HTC Hero.

However, the solution is really simple!

Just create a directory called /media/audio/notifications/ on your memory card and put your MP3s in it (and maybe restart the phone). After that, the sounds in this directory will be automatically offered to you when choosing notification sounds (I am using this one).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Have To Squat If You Want To Relieve Yourself

Today, I went to look at the another attempt to evict squatters from the Milada squat in Holesovice, Prague.


When I was taking pictures, one of them, a young girl in black tank top, rather nice except the large amount of facial hair, approached me:

Suspected Terrorist: "Can you please don't take photo?" (sic!)

Me: "I'm in a public place, and I am not photographing you personally."

Suspected Terrorist: "This is a political action and I don't want my photo in police database."

Me: "What's political about it and why should it matter if it's political action or not?"

Suspected Terrorist: "You cannot photograph me if I don't want it, that's illegal."

Me: "No it's not. This is a public event and I will report from it."

Suspected Terrorist: "You are lucky you are from here, otherwise I'd take your camera and throw it in the river"

Me: "And that's legal? If you think I am doing anything illegal, go tell it to the policeman over there."

Suspected Terrorist: "The police is illegal!"

And so on... That sums up the most bizarre thing about these guys quite nicely. They willfully break the law, they are above it and they are proud of it, and at the same time, they are very quick to point out to you that you are doing something they consider illegal.

By the way, afterwards I discovered she is already in the international police database and the image matches exactly:

Suspected Terrorist from Milada Squat

The definition of "squatting", as far as I know, is "Using a building and/or land which belongs to someone else". There is no question that the land Milada is standing on belongs to SOMEONE (either some individual or the state). Saying that "The house should have been demolished long time ago so it's OK for us to live in it" is of course entirely stupid. It seems nice when an owner of some building lets squatters live in his building and I have absolutely nothing against it. However, it's still his building and he can do whatever is legal with it. One of the things anyone can definitely do with his building is "deciding he doesn't want anyone living in it anymore". When I decide I don't want anyone living in the building/land I own, I specifically don't have to:
  • Explain to anyone why I don't want him to live there
  • Care about where he will live after the eviction (unless I have some sort of legal agreement with him, which contradicts the definition of "squatting")
  • Enter into any sort of "constructive dialogue" with him (the only constructive dialogue I can have with him can be "No, you can't, now GTFO")
There are some other things that can be considered in this case, for example:
  • Is anyone writing any petitions and/or demonstrating?
  • Are the squatters noisy / filthy?
  • Do they take drugs and abuse animals?
  • Are their actions culturally relevant?
However these things don't change anything about the fact that I can do whatever I want with my property - including completely neglecting it and not letting anyone inside. And if someone prevents me from doing this with my property, it's my right to to use any means necessary to stop him from doing it.

If you don't agree with the above that means you don't agree with the basic principles of property ownership. (In this context, it's rather funny the squatters object to "police destroying their personal property in Milada".) In this case, be advised that you are bound by the laws of the country you currently live in and if you ignore those laws, the legal system and the police will make your life problematic. Don't act surprised afterwards. And it's perfectly OK that the police is being paid from everyone's taxes (except yours) to do this. If you don't like it, change the system. But of course you don't want to do that because Anarchy only works when the Anarchists are in the minority.

I remember going to anti-communist demonstrations in the 80s. Not because I was an activist but because it was thrilling, being chased by the police. Back then, if you approached a policeman and looked at him menacingly, you usually ended up in jail. If you touched the policeman or threw anything at him, you mostly ended up missing some teeth. The police did things that clearly were not legal. And yet, I don't remember anyone starting fights with the police or throwing things at them. Back then, the protesters (those that weren't in it just for the thrills like I was) just wanted to exercise their legal right to make their opinions known.

In contrast, today's protesters (I specifically mean Anarchists, Squatters, Anti-IMF, Anti-Globalization etc.) are pussies who want to start the conflict with the police because otherwise everyone would just ignore them. Note the fundamental difference. If they just wanted to tell the world what they think, they could easily do that. But they didn't want that. Unless they wanted to tell the world that "Michael is dead, Milada lives"...


They hoped the police would try to take them down from the roof and they hoped someone would get hurt or killed so that they can blame the police afterwards. Just think about it. I refuse to leave the roof of house that isn't mine. I'm told repeatedly to do so and I can do this anytime. The police tries to remove me. I fall down and get hurt. And I blame the police because if they didn't try to remove me, I would't have fallen. By the same logic I could blame my parents for my fall because if they didn't have sex, I'd never have fallen from that roof. You see, cause and effect...

As I wrote above, you can only be Anarchist if you are in the minority. If everone was Anarchist, no one would have anything to eat, you'd freeze (because you couldn't illegally connect to electrical grid), you couldn't call your friends on your Nokia mobile phone and you couldn't twitter about police brutality because there would be no Internet.

And, please, if you are against globalization, and you REALLY have to use mobile phones and Internet, at least don't use languages you are not really comfortable using.

"It's time you vandalism"

"It's time you vandalism!"

UPDATE: According to the comments, that penultimate word could actually be "for". I am no longer sure unless I have a photo from better angle, but when I first saw the words, it never occured to me it could be anything else than "you". This if course doesn't change anything about the quality of protesters' English vocabulary...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Official T-Mobile Repair Center "Repairs" G1 Android Phone by Installing Windows Mobile On It

My friend bought T-Mobile G1 Android mobile phone from T-Mobile Czech Republic (i.e. standard, non-rooted, white version).

My friend had problems with the phone. It locked up without reason, repeatedly. He went back to T-Mobile and the phone (still under warranty) was sent to the repair shop.

After one day in the repair shop, it was back, supposedly "repaired", with the following priceless explanation from the repair technician:

"Malfunction acknowledged. The phone uses highly unstable Android system. Repaired by completely re-installing Windows Mobile. Restored factory settings and tested in GSM network."

Note that this was done by official T-Mobile repair service! Below is the scan of the actual service report (click for large):

"Závada byla odstraněna kompletní reinstalací Windows mobile"

However, it seems the service technician overestimated his haxx0r sk1llz. When my friend tried to turn the phone on, it just cycled between "T-Mobile" and "Android" logos ad infinitum, without booting. So they took the phone back again, noting that it was probably "not fixed".

Maybe they will now give him a new G1 phone but personally, I'd wait first, to see if they will be able to install iPhone OS on it...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Teddybear!

Tomorrow is "Children's Day". To commemorate it, offers webhosting for all children's project for free. Excellent. They even have cute little bear on their homepage, saying "Special offer for Children's Day!" (Click to see large screenshot.)

Speciální nabídka ke dni dětí....

Have you seen it? What are your feelings right now?
  1. You are laughing very hard.
  2. You are offended and are writing nasty letter to that company right now.
  3. You have no idea WTF is going on.
If 3) applies to you, google for "pedobear".

This is excellent. No matter how this came to be, no matter if the responsible person knew what that bear is, this is absolutely excellent. And very human. Our Slovak brothers rule.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Japanese Win

As someone wrote below this ad for the new Nintendo Wii game: "Ok guys, looks like the Japanese win. Let's all just pack up and go home."

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Geek's Guide to Tokyo - Preparations

Let's assume you are not exactly rich and you are - more or less - an ignorant geek. And you want to go to Tokyo. Here are some pointers:

When (not) to go

I was never in Tokyo during Winter, but I was there at various times of year, from March to October, and the most important thing I can tell you is: Don't go during the summer! During July - August, the temperatures can be up to 40 degrees Celsius (which is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). No matter when you go, the weather can change very rapidly and there are often short bursts of rain. During the hot summer months the rain doesn't help very much because it's warm and unpleasant.

If you want to see sakuras blooming, you should go at the end of March / beginning of April, but the exact time is different each year and different for each area of Japan.


Where to Stay

I have a very specific tip for you: Hotel Shinjuku Sunlite. There are several things that make it ideal for me (I stayed there twice):
  • Room for two for less than JPY 10,000 per night (per room, not per person!)
  • Own bathroom with towels and soap, clean bedsheets every day, TV with many free channels (Japanese only), writing desk, etc... This is not a hostel, this is real hotel.
  • Excellent location:
    • Literally three minutes walk to many Shinjuku shopping / entertainment centers / restaurants / convenience shops
    • Five minutes walk to nearest Metro Station
    • Ten minutes walk to Shinjuku railway station which is probably the main transportation hub of the whole Tokyo (Metro, trains, buses)
    • Ten minutes walk to Shinjuku skyscraper district, 20 minutes to the new Town Hall observatory
    • 10 - 15 minutes walk to two beautiful (and large) parks
    • And yet rather quiet
  • Small fridge in your room (useful for storing food/drinks you bought)
  • Free LAN Internet connection in your room, public Internet computers in the lobby
All rooms are smoking by default. If you hate cigarette smoke, be sure to indicate it when booking the room and they will try to "ionize the room" or whatever

You'll see later why exactly I think Shinjuku is the best part of Tokyo to stay - it offers everything Tokyo has to offer.


It might be surprising but even in the most technologically advanced city of the world, the international credit / debit cards are often not accepted. Don't get this wrong, Japanese use cards all the time, but they are local Japanese cards! Of course, large department stores / restaurants will usually accept your card, but there are places where you are out of luck with your international Visa / Mastercard:
  • Smaller shops
  • Cheaper restaurants, especially non-international
  • Most of public transit
  • ATMs!!!!!!
The last item is super-important. It's very hard to get cash in Japan because the only international ATMs I have ever seen are at the airport and at the post offices (they take major international cards and offer English interface). This means that if you run out of cash in Tokyo on Saturday, you are pretty much screwed and your shopping / eating / transportation options are suddenly very limited.

Note: The Japanese coin which has no Arabic numerals on it at all is worth 5 JPY.

Language: All Our Base Are Belong To Them

Most Japanese don't understand English at all. Curiously, at the same time, most of them think English is really cool language and use it in ads and product names, often with hilarious results. Even shop assistants in expensive international stores or people behind information desks at the airport (!!!) are often completely unable to speak or understand English. Your best chance is to try to mutilate the English words and grammar in a way similar to theirs and hoping they understand you ("Prease - Give - One - Orangeu - Juiceu").

How is the box lunch!!

Beware: The Japanese are polite and they will often smile and bow while you are speaking to them, without indicating they don't understant a single word of what you are saying!

Japanese language is extremely complex (and I am saying that as a Czech speaker, Czech language being extremely complex compared to English). Forget about learning any usable spoken Japanese apart from "arigato domo gozaimas" or how the hell is that spelled. However, there is one thing which can make you stay in Japan much, much easier:

Learn to read Katakana!

Yes, really. Katakana consists of 40 or so characters and it's used to phonetically represent foreign words, of which there is a lot in contemporary Japanese, taken mostly from English.

Before you leave for Japan, learn Katakana characters (to distinguish them from Kanji and Hiragana - they are often mixed in single sentence), then start browsing some Japanese websites, trying to say the characters aloud, optionally using Google Translate to check your attempts. After a while, you'll get used to the way the English words are represented in Katakana (where there is no "L" or "V" so "R" and "B" are used as a replacement). For example, have a look at the title of this page. If you know Katakana, you'll immediately see the characters are "chi - wa - wa - waaa - ru - do". What's that? "Chihuahua World", of course!

Believe me, after a few days of practice (and learning some special, often used mutations, like "terebi" - "television"), you'll be surprised how much "Japanese" you can understand. If you already understand English, you can spend one week learning and practicing Katakana and after that you'll understand significant portion of contemporary real-life written Japanese, especially shop signs, product names and food menus! This is invaluable because then you can just show the menu item to the waiter, for example.

Maps and Public Transit

It's not easy getting around Tokyo. You cannot read or pronounce street names (and most of the streets don't have names, instead the city blocks are numbered) and you are getting lost in transit all the time.

Google Maps in your mobile phone help but you often cannot get GPS fix between the skyscrapers and online mobile maps from Google are currently Japanese only. You can buy this unique city atlas which has all the names in both English and Japanese, which is extremely useful.

As for the transit: You definitely need MetrO mobile application (with up-to-date Tokyo database) which automatically calculates routes in Tokyo Metro and railroads. After you get to grips with the basic transport structure, you can get more adventurous and look at the exact locations of stations on the map. You can often save time by traveling to nearby station which is part of the other line and then walking 100 or 200 meters. Metro stations are often very close to each other.

Fortunately, you can now travel on all lines (including changes) using the same ticket. But there is a better solution: You can buy Suica card which you simly swipe at the entrance and exit and the cost of ticket is automatically deducted from your balance. You can recharge Suica in most stations but only using cash (see the "Money" section, above). During my two last visits (when Suica was available), I didn't need anything else to pay for travels in and around Tokyo (including hour-long train trips from Tokyo).

Extra tip: When you arrive at Narita airport, there is Japan Rail office in the basement (before you enter the train station) and here you can buy pre-charged Suica together with Narita Express ticket (which goes straight to Shinjuku) at advantageous price.


There are several large chains of convenience stores (Seven Eleven, Lawson, AM/PM, Sunkus, Family Mart...) which offer various food (including salads, sushi, sandwiches), beverages and snacks at reasonable prices and are open 24/7. Many of them also offer hot food. The important thing is that you can have a close look at what you are buying before you buy it.

Unfortunately, the restaurants with legible English menus are either extremely expensive or have bad food and exist solely to rip off the tourists.

If you want "traditional Japanese", there is of course sushi, which is - unsurprisingly - quite cheaper here than in the rest of the world. I prefer conveyor belt sushi where you can see up close what you are eating before you choose. You can expect to pay 200 - 400 JPY for one Sushi plate but I have one special tip for you: This sushi joint is situated just between Shinjuku central station and Shinjuku Sunlite Hotel (you see why it is such a great choice?) and its prices are 105 - 210 JPY pre plate, including free green tea (or bring your own beverage). There is also a sushi chain advertising prices "from 100 JPY per plate" but their sushi is not very good and most of it is costs more than 100 JPY anyway...

If you want to visit "real Japanese restaurant with real Japanese people", you are pretty much out of luck (apart from conveyor belt sushi) because you will not understand what's on menu and how much it costs (traditional restaurants don't even use Arabic numerals). There are often plastic models of food in front of the restaurant but they usually don't give you any idea about how the food actually tastes.

If you know someone in Tokyo, ask him to take you to this eatery which has several branches around Tokyo. It offers very cheap food which tastes very good and portions are very small, so you can taste 5-10 different foods in one sitting (and the menu has pictures). Unfortunately, you really need to communicate in Japanese when you visit this joint.

It's not expected to give tips in restaurants! In fact, they usually don't understand what "tip" is and insist on giving you the exact change.

... To be continued (I hope) ...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Google Latitude Public Badge

Look at the right column ("Where Am I"). Anyone can now see where you are. Ideal for those who don't give a shit about their privacy, like me!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tokyo: Still Crazy!

I'm back from Tokyo (for the fourth time)! You know the drill: The photos (about 900 of them) are here. There are also some videos on Youtube (more to come).

The Matrix Has Been Entered

Maybe this time I'll finally write something longer. Or not...

Monday, April 06, 2009

OMG We Are Dooooomed! (Japan EPIC WIN)

This is what I've been waiting for for the last 20 years. I give Western civilization two years max (to iron out the small kinks like the ability to move)!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Let me Express...

Welcome to my city, Mr. President. Let me SERVE YOU!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prague Airport "Worst in the World" According to Businessweek

I already wrote about the excellent quality of recent Onion material but this is absolutely priceless...

(The video is slightly cropped when embedded, click the link below the video to view it in full size)

Prague's Franz Kafka International Named World's Most Alienating Airport

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fast and Furious Translation Job

This is just too weird and wonderful to ignore.

The movie The Fast And The Furious was called Rychle a zběsile, which means "Quickly and Furiously" in Czech.

The recent sequel, whose original title is Fast and Furious, is being titled Rychlí a zběsilí. That actually means "The Fast And The Furious" in Czech.

(To be fair, the new title was selected by different people than the original title and they probably knew the original people screwed up).

By the way, from now on I'll post some translation tidbits on this blog, instead of adding them to this page about erroneous translations.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Google Android: Perfect For Some People

I've been using Google Android phone (Developer Phone 1, not the white stock model sold in Czech shops) for more than a month and I am now - after many, many years of desperation - almost happy with my phone.

I wouldn't dare to write that "Android is the best phone in existence" because that's extremely subjective statement. In fact, that sentence is completely wrong because Android is not a phone but G1 phone's operating system by Google which will be soon (and I mean in a matter of weeks) implemented on many other commercially available devices devices (not only phones). The interesting fact is that the whole operating system in open-source and you can officially download the full source code, modify it and build it on your bizarre device (and then manufacture and sell that device without paying Google anyting).

(Please note that "full Android source code" doesn't necessarily mean "full source code of everything that's installed on G1 phone when you buy it".)

The OS is Linux-based and standard applications are stored in bytecode interpreted by Dalvik virtual machine. The bytecode is usually generated by running almost-standard Java sources through Google's compiler and re-compiler (those are also open-source and freely available, including the emulator). My personal problem is that I absolutely hate Java and refuse to do anything meaningful in it. That's why I won't be developing in Adroid any time soon, at least unless someone releases Dalvik compilers for different languages. Of course, you can even recompile the kernel and create Android applications in any damn language you want, but then it's not easy to distribute these applications to normal (non-hax0r) users across different Android platforms.

Me = haXx0r!

However, the ability to hack my phone into oblivion isn't the main reason why I like Android (at least for now). For now, I am happy because Android seamlessly (almost) brings my Google Accound into the palm of my hand. GMail, Contacts, Calendar, everything is transparently synced. You don't have to connect any cables, you don't have to install any software on your PC - you don't even need a PC although it's useful. It's a bliss to organize your contacts in GMail and see those changes automagically propagating into the phone in a matter of minutes. (Android also supports Google Apps For Domains accounts.)

(BTW, the stock G1 phone cannot be rooted by simply issuing the "su" command as on the Developer Phone but it's not very hard to do it.)

And this is the "subjective" part: If you - for example - use Outlook or Lotus Notes, you could say that there is no simple way to sync your data with Android, I think. Of course, if you never touched Outlook in your life (like me) and have hundreds of contacts neatly organized in GMail and all your schedules in Google Calendar, the situation is completely different.

Also, the first Android Phone (G1) is positively ugly, the software on the early models was almost beta-quality and you are lucky if you get 24 hours of life from the phone's battery (because the phone is online almost 100% of the uptime, unless you specifically tell it to be offline). Again, this doesn't matter too much for me. I don't care about the elegance factor, there are updates available (plus many excellent applications for free) and when the more advanced model will be released, I will just sign-in to my account and most of my data automatically appears on it...

As for the applications: The framework is designed in such a way that any application can do almost anything (including changing the dialing method, for example) and cooperate with other applications (from different developers) - without any ugly hacks and exploiting of undocumented features. When you install applications, you get warnings about what permissions this application needs. If you download something called "Funny ringtones" from unknown developer and it warns you that "This application needs online access / access to your private data / access to roaming" and yet you click on "Install", it's then your fault when you find 30 seconds later that your phone is 0wn3d. I much prefer this free distribution model to tightly controlled iPhone application market.

Another interesting thing is that there's no such thing as "application launching" in Android. All applications are basically running all the time (of course most of them are "waiting" most of the time) and you just switch between them. The upside is that you don't run out of memory if you work with several applications at the same time (unless they generate lots of runtime data). The downside is that you cannot "install" applications on the SD card and run them from there.

Why I wrote all of this? To tell you that Android phone is fundamentally different and fresh. It reminds me of the original PalmOS (v4) before it died horrible death.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Face to Face

Chucky and an Asian cook are eyeing each other with suspicion... (Click for large)

Chucky face to face with chinese cook

Monday, January 26, 2009

Songsmith OMG WTF OLOL ROFL (Part 2 - The End)

Of course, the best usage of Microsoft Songsmith is to feed it isolated vocals of famous singers (and not singers):

This is the day the music died...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OMG WTF Songsmith?!

I'm putting this video here for two reasons:
  1. The technology itself looks like it could be basis for something interesting (in this implementation, it's clear the chord progressions must become repetitive sooner rather than later).
  2. This is another proof that Microsoft marketing department is absolutely batshit crazy and/or on drugs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No, I Am Not Your Facebook Friend

A long time ago, I registered myself on several social sites (Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo etc...).

Recently, Facebook was "discovered" by Czech users which means that I am now getting about 30 Facebook notifications in e-mail daily, most of which look like this:

"Honza added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Honza in order for you to be friends on Facebook. To confirm this friend request, follow the link below."

When I go to, often I have no idea who that person is. Sometimes I know that person but - and this is the important bit - this doesn't mean the person is my friend.

Facebook seems to imply that knowing someone automatically means I am friends with him. That's certainly not true. There are dozens of people I know, I don't hate them, I don't think they are stupid, I'd even lend them money under some specific circumstances, but that doesn't mean they are my friends. If this feature was called "My contacts", I'd have no problems with it.

There are also people who I am friends with "virtually", over the net. Of course, I have no way of knowing that "Honza" is in fact "" who I am communicating with daily over Jabber.

Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is the fact that becoming friends with someone automatically makes me part of bizarre activities:

The thing on the right is a small part of what I see every day on Facebook (incidentally, these people are my real friends). I'd probably like to know details about why Robert Rameš loves me, because I always thought he was hetero, but when I click on "Click here", I must "Allow this application to access all your private data" and only after that I am allowed to see the whole truth (I quote):

"Fatal error: Uncaught exception 'FacebookRestClientException' with message 'Notifications are disabled for this application.' in /home/www/ Stack trace: #0 /home/www/ FacebookRestClient->call_method ('facebook.notifi...', Array) #1 /home/www/ FacebookRestClient->notifications_send(Array, '/home/www/ on line 2403"

Tragic love, indeed.

When I want to know what the hell is this "I love you" application, the only working link leads to Facebook discussion page with "I love you" and "This is spam" messages, all from people I don't know.

Facebook is fast becoming the new MySpace, with people "adding", "tagging", "making friends" and "subscribing to apps" only in order to have some sense of achievement from the fact that they have the most firends/apps/feeds. Soon, all of this will be automated a everyone will become everyone's friend automatically, without having to ever visit Internet. And there will be worldwide peace.

Certainly there are interesting apps and interesting uses of Facebook. Unfortunately, they are being buried under enormous heaps of digital waste and thinly veiled spam. I hope I won't have to completely delete my profile (as I did on MySpace) but meanwhile, I am disabling all my Facebook e-mail notifications. Because my friends know how to contact me and make me part of their activities.