Archive for the ‘Rants’ Tag

The 3G-4G confusion..

I’ve been hearing this confusion for many days, and decided this needs to be addressed.

What’s this 3G/4G that we keep hearing about everywhere, what does that mean to me??

The main reason for the confusion is the completely illogical and confusing naming convention and ‘branding’ (it sounds almost dirty) used by all the telcos and manufacturers.

Let’s go back to the basics..

1G. When mobile telecommunication started off, it was analogue. All communication between the phone and the tower was just a analogue modulated signal of the speech. This is called 1G. The standards used during these times were, NMT · AMPS · ETACS etc.

2G. With the digital age, this communication also became digital. The voice was digitized and transmitted to the tower as a stream of ‘1’s and ‘0’s .The main advantages of the 2G systems were that they were encrypted (kinda) so you couldn’t listen to other people’s conversations by just catching their signals using an antenna. The digital systems were more efficient (allowed more people to talk at the same time), and they were extensible (we’ll come back to this). Some of the famous 2G standards are GSM, CDMA(IS-95), iDEN. GSM was a part of a standards group called 3GPP and CDMA was part of something called 3GPP2 (Yes, I know it’s not exactly this, but this makes it easier.)

Since they were digital, many of these standards also allowed other digital data to be sent over these mechanism. That’s how they started to send SMS over these networks. That was 2G.

2.5G. A ‘half-step’ towards the next generation wireless telecommunication standards was the more generalized data-network (not restricted to SMS, etc). This brought GPRS (on 3GPP side) and CDMA2000 1xRTT(on 3GPP2 side), which are both data standards for 2G based networks.

2.75G. The 3GPP side decide to improve the data standards on their side of the ground by introducing EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution). This improved the data rates and speeds of the existing GPRS networks.

3G. This was the 3rd iteration of the mobile telecommunication standards. Now this is where it get’s messy. To have any standard qualify to be ‘3G’, it had to pass some regulations set by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). But that’s ofcourse not how the telco advertise it.

So both the groups evolved their standards to quality for the new requirements. the 3GPP side came up with UMTS(W-CDMA). The W-CDMA here refers to the technology used, nothing to do with the CDMA standard from 2G. And the 3GPP2 side came up with CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, widely known as EV-DO.

3.5G Ofcourse, we can’t stop at 3G, so there was enhancement to the standards. The 3GPP moved to HSPA(HSDPA and HSUPA), while 3GPP2 side went with EV-DO RevA. These were mainly just speed bumps. Confused?? The guys at commandN did a nice table for everything until 3.5G.

3.75G We can’t stop here either. Even more speed 3GPP – HSPA+ ; 3GPP2 – EV-DO RevB.

3.9G (pre-4G) Now this is where the fun starts, ITU has come up with requirements for 4G. However, the two main standards (WiMAX and LTE) gunning for this can’t make it as of their current versions. But since everyone wants them to be commercialized and available, they decided to release the current versions.

WiMAX is an IEEE standard. The current version IEEE 802.16e-2005 can’t be officially called 3G, but it’s just one step before the next version IEEE 802.16m which should be called 4G.

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the 3GPP groups version of next generation standard. Once again it can’t perform to the requirements of ITU and hence it’s considered 3.9G. The next version LTE-Advanced should be called 4G.

So what does it mean to you??

1. Anyone selling you anything which is ‘4G’ is fooling you.. None of the 4G standards are matured and surely none have been commercialized. But, many telcos are bringing out LTE and WiMAX 802.16e and touting it to be ‘4G’. Or ‘4G-ready’. It’s not true.

2. You will have to change hardware. Yes. None of these technologies are interoperable. Just like GSM/CDMA, the phones and modes supporting these standards will be completely different (might even have very different mechanisms of authentications, for eg, SIM card). And most of the devices you have now that can do 3.5G/3.75G won’t be able to support 3.9G, but the reverse might be possible.

3. Faster mobile telephony coming soon. Yup! This is a given, going forward we’ll surely be seeing more and more devices supporting these new standards. Be careful what you buy. While most will support the fastest networks available currently, you don’t want to be left behind when the next changes comes.

P.S. To learn more about these standards, wikipedia any of these names.

I am out of Tech65..

Btw, this was a failed attempt at April Fool’s prank.. 


Since Daniel has already made the annoucement on Tech65, I guess I have to set things straight here. I joined Tech65 almost 2 years ago, when I met Jerrick and Daniel at the E-Life Starbucks. I thought they were a really great team, and had the potential of  becoming the Rev3 of Singapore.

However in the recent days things took a turn for the worse, and there have been many disagreements between me and the rest of the Tech65 crew. Thus, for the following reasons I have decided to leave Tech65.

1. Too much Social Media content. I am sick of people ranting and raving about Social Networking and Social Media. Tech65 was supposed to do Tech Podcasts and not discuss Marketting and PR strategies. I cannot be a part of a team who desecrate the ideaology and purity of Technology with things like Social Media, PR and Marketting. And it doesn’t help when one sees such updates to the team and promises for such kind of content.

2. No respect for Creative Commons and Open Source Content. When I initially joined Tech65, I pushed for our content to be made Creative Commons and Open. I believe in these things more than XKCD, and I finally managed to convince the crew last year. However, in the recent few weeks, un-beknowest to me, they decide to change that and got only the audio and video part of our content published as Creative Commons (you can see it on the website). I find this disgusting. Not only do I believe that we should pay forward the good will and the help we’re getting from everyone, but it’s just disrespectful to change things back without my knowledge.

3. The Tech65’s upper managment’s attitude with respect to finance was the last straw. While it’s great to have an organization which is based of volunteerism and individual interest and passion. But it just sucks when you find out that it’s all a lie. I always believed that Tech65 was running as non-profit organisation. But recently, I have noticed a lot of plugging going on in the content. I got suspicious when the same party was plugged recurrently, for no obvious reason. I am sure Hisham will agree with me on this. More investigation revealed that Tech65 was being paid for plugs!! Obvious question of jounalistic integrity aside, I found it hard that while the upper management was making a great deal of bananas (and I will say it’s a sweet deal for this kind of economy), we were getting paid only peanuts!! Even the weekly coffee at GT, is out of my own pocket..

And thus I have deicided that I will leave Tech65 and let this joke of a Tech Podcasting group be.

I am still devoted to provide great commentry and analysis about new an upcoming technologies and hence will be starting a new project in the near future. Stay tuned on this blog to hear more about it.

A reason for the silence…

Bored of seeing the same post on the top of this blog every time you come to check?? So am I… (Although, you should be using feed readers…)

Anyway, so I am in a nice little fix here..

The nature of my job doesn’t allow me to blog too much about it… That is if I want to keep it.. Which I do… So there goes a huge source of blogging content…

Most of my friends are either bloggers, or have completely no internet life. And hence, posts about events I attend are either posted before I even get to reach home.. or well.. nobody cares if I blogged about certain events…

All my thoughts and ideas about technology are presented on 65Bits.. or other Tech65 content… and it’s really lame to repeat there in a blog post.. So there goes another huge part of my blogging content..

I am also very busy these days with Tech65 and other projects…. And hence to time to bicker about the smallest things in life… not to mention no time to feel all emo and sad…

Adding the convenience of twitter to this, with the ability to quickly publish single sentence thoughts, doesn’t help at all…

So all in all.. the only thing I am finding this blog useful for is publishing clips of my recordings… that is until I find a Creative Commons site to upload whole audio tracks..

Really… I should close down my blog…. I am just too damn lazy…

Creative!! Not again!

I am going to sound like a Creative hater, but this HAS to be said. While enough has been said about the software issues in Creative software, I want to rant about the hardware, the Creative Zen Vision:M

The Zen Vision:M supports video output through it dock. The nice thing is that it’s over a standard A/V stereo-to-composite cable. But, Creative has made it proprietary by switching a few of the contacts in the cable. Anythingbutipod has a nice guide about this.

So if you want to use the video out, you are now forced to purchase a $35 video cable from Creative, instead for a $12 standard A/V Cable.

This is very bad marketting strategy. While I do agree that it does make the customer spend more money on Creative, its just sad that a company like Creative is sponging money off its customers using such tactics. For goodness sake, you are Creative, not some crappy mp4 player manufacturer from China.

And Creative already rips off people for the “custom” interface for the dock, which does not have any active or passive components. So its just how the connections are routed. And it costs $35 too.

I will surely think twice before getting another Creative product.

iPhone.. The Jack of all trades….

Yay!! Bangwagon.. Let me jump on..

So the long awaited iPhone is out. The last post will give you a clue as to how I found out about it. Let me start by saying, I was only reading the Engadget coverage, and boy was I excited!!!! Apple knows how to create that insane excitement among people.

After a detailed second look at the specs, and long chat with some geeky colleagues, here are my thoughts about the iPhone. I think the iPhone is a Jack… (Oh No! Its gonna be a flame bait..)

Jobs started by saying that its a iPod, a cellphone and a PDA in one. And it is exactly that. While he did say, that the iPhone would be able to seamlessly integrate all three into one device, I am not impressed. The reason being, it takes the basic versions of each of the 3 devices and merges into one. Thus, a Jack.

It has 4/8GB flash storage. That’s like an iPod Nano. OK. So… it can show photos and play videos on the obscenely large screen, but how much can you fit in 4GB? I mean the whole of my music collection is close to 6GB. I am not even going into videos.

The cellphone part is also really the basic stuff. Quad-band GSM and EDGE. No mention of the ‘advanced’ cellphone features like MMS or J2ME support. Hey, even the cheapest of all cellphones these days have MMS. And no mention of J2ME!! Come on Apple!

The PDA part is also not complete. While Jobs compared the iPhone with a Crack-Berry, they don’t support what is the most popular form of email on such PDAs, Exchange! Yes, Yahoo is providing a push email service etc.. but iPhone won’t be supporting the most popular corporate email service. And there is no way corporate users will switch if they don’t get their daily dose of emails. It does support Exchange.. Ooops..

It doesn’t end here. First Apple surprised me by saying the iPhone will run OS X. For one, there is no way it can run the “Mac OS X as it is” on the iPhone (RTOS considerations… yada yada yada). Furthermore, Jobs did not mention anything about any SDK or any way of making/using user created applications. Where is the fun in that? And without J2ME support, the SW in the iPhone is basically frozen to what Apple will release.

Having said all that, I admit I am impressed by the UI. In true Apple fashion, its vibrant, simple and “wickedly cool“. All the features do seem intersting, but I need to try it out. And, with a large touch screen, there are 2 enemies that needs to be addressed. Smudges and scratches.. Wonder what Apple is doing about that.

And no mention about battery management! I don’t want to watch videos on that untill my battery is flat, and realise that both my iPod and my phone are flat…

There is still some time and Apple can, and probably will, change some specs. While it is truely a cool device, no one can tell, untill we have it in our own hands…

Where Creative fails…

I have always been a fan of Creative Labs. They have come up with great audio related products aimed at the general consumer, and at very affordable prices. I have always owned Creative sound cards and other PC sound stuff and recently added the Zen Vision:M.

Now, I have always noticed this with Creative. While they have really great hardware, the lack in software. And they really lack. I’ll exemplify with a couple of examples. The Creative sound cards came with a suite of software for everything from basic sound editing to MIDI sequencers. But it was very very difficult to understand how it worked. The names were vague, the interfaces incomprehensible and help menus were not at all helpful!

I was hoping that when Creative went into the media player market, and competed against Apple, they would put in a lot of efforts into their software. But the same old broken crap came along with the Vision.

I have to say that the firmware and the embedded software on the Vision itself is pretty cool. It works pretty well and has most of functionalities that I need. The only exception would be allowing the user to edit the ID3 tags on the Vision itself. But, maybe I am asking for too much.

But this rant is about the PC side software support. This Portable Media Player comes with a plethora of PC software. There is a Sync Software, a Media player, a Pod Catcher, a Media Explorer (like windows explorer for the Vision), a software to buy online content, a software for audiobook support. Sheesh. Now that is confusing. And the best part is, they dont work with each other!!! Not only that, they cause each other to crash!!

Now this is just really really bad software design. I do see how a software suite is a better option than a single application that does everything (like iTunes), but in such an approach, the suite should work as together, not against each other. A great example of such a suite is the old Nokia PC Suite for the old Nokia 6510. Creative should really do something about this. While I manage to get along with this mess, I am very sure a less savvy user would just give up and buy an iPod.

Can’t you do something more creative?

I am absolutely shocked by the developement in Mumbai. Though I never actually lived in Mumbai, something makes it quite dear to me. Maybe the amount of time I spent there, maybe the number of people I know from there or maybe just that it’s capital of Maharashtra…

What saddens me more are the number of lives lost, all innocent people. Mostly middle-class workers returning from their jobs. Working hard all day, in Mumbai, to earn an honest living for their families. And also that I knew at least one of them.

There is no way to justify killing of such innocent people. What had they specifically done such that they deserved such wrath from the assilants??

This rant can go on forever, but for now all I want so say is, ‘Can’t you do something more creative?’. Instead of spreading destruction, chaos, and disorder, do something better. Create something, organise something good, do something worthwhile.

I don’t understand how there people have so much time to plan and coordinate such thing and I can’t even find time to make minty! Do something creative people, don’t waste your life away… Please..

I take that back..

I seriously need to take back my last post. All the software has been acting up since I wrote about it!Sigh.. so here goes the rant…

MS Word 2007.. Crashed a few times in the 2-3hrs I was using it. (I should really really learn LaTeX). It gave me a lot of problems with drawing, especially ungrouping and regrouping.. Also spell check. The feature which I was kinda excited about, ‘save as pdf’ function also have font embedding issues… But then its a beta… so its ok I guess..

Netbeans 5.0. The suckiest part is that you cant edit the freaking GUI once its made. It wont let you edit any part of the obnoxious code that it writes. Great! So I have to use its form editor to edit the code there. And it only allows that for GUI that was created solely in Netbeans and not edited outside it. Sigh..

Flock.. The blogging tool creates wierd formatting for the html. It has paragraph markups all over the place and span tags around random words, doing nothing in specific. Later, I realised that they were on all words which the spell check utility thought had errors… Which happen to be like 30% of all the words!..

Finally, on a better note…

Windows Media Player 11 beta.. WMP11…I have been using it for a few weeks. Lovely graphical interface. Pulls album art off the web for most of your albums and a lot of new features. Should go really well with Vista.. At least the look and feel is there.. No other issues so far.. and does not take up so much memory..:)