Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flash Talk is live at the app store

My friend Zeki and I wrote an iPhone application: Flash Talk. It was approved today by Apple. Check it out in our website at

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Monday...

After 1739 days the wait is over. It was a green Monday, after all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DRM stops innovation

This time the predictions have turned into reality. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is stopping innovation.

The RIAA and the big music industries have been fighting a big fight against consumers, and the music companies have been realizing that fighting the consumers is not a good idea. Aligning themselves with the consumers will make everyone happy. Capitalism rules apply: if nobody wants to buy it, then there will be no product to sell.

This fight will now move to the TV realm. In one year the entire broadcast will switch to HDTV. This is being forced on us, consumers, but, unfortunately, we're not going to benefit from it.

Dozens of appliances will cease to work, or will not work correctly, and we're forced to upgrade if we want to get "any" TV. The HDTV Converter costs more than the voucher we're getting, and it doesn't allow our older appliances to work. Cable TV companies will force you to upgrade to their digital services, which are more expensive than the regular services.

In essence, we're paying, and paying a lot, for what? Many say there's an advantage to HDTV, the picture is better, etc; but at what cost?

HDTV comes with heavy DRM. Current TVs and devices will not work without a conversion box, or they have to be fitted with the CableCard. CableCard will only be installed in "select" devices, and those devices have to be approved by both the CableCard consortium and by your Cable company.

That's where the DRM comes to light. Today, with regular TVs you have your VCR, you have DVRs, and lots of flexibility with those. Many DVRs allow for you to burn your programs to DVD or even to transfer it to your computer or iPod for portability.

None of this is possible with HDTV. Just look at the Tivo HD specs. It does not support a fraction of the features of the regular Tivo. Also, the broadcast companies can lock a program from being recorded, copied, etc, adding even more DRM to it.

In essence, HDTV brings loss to all our TV watching freedom. We cannot record our shows to watch later, unless we "pay the fee" of the certified device we can use; we lose the freedom to take the TV show to other devices for watching on the road. It took us so long to get to where we are, and now we lose it all again. Watching TV in 2009 will feel like 1980's again...

So, tell me, why should I switch? In the end, I would be paying more, to have less...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweetwater Saloon is closing

It's very unfortunate that The SweetWater Saloon is closing down. This past weekend I saw the James Moseley Band. It was a great show, and I'm really going to miss this great place!

Fortune Pond

My friend Zeki makes great cellphone video games and he also has some great Flash games on his website. Here's Fortune Pond.
Try it out!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Air Safety compromised in Brazil

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Association has declared Air Safety is compromised in Brazil. Read more...
Here's a post describing the problem in detail, way ahead of its time...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brazilian government inefficiency

Yesterday there was a tragedy in Brazil. An Airplane with 186 people crashed while trying to land in the downtown airport in São Paulo, killing everyone on board and several people on the ground.

This accident was predicted. The government continues filled with corruption, is motionless and as usual, everything ends in Pizza (a common Brazilian joke).

The SF Chronicle, through the AP finally published a very nice article about how bad the Brazilian government is. CNN Money also has another great article.

As Folha says, what's next in Brazil? An Energy Crisis? A crisis in the Ports? That won't be news, that will be, again, "I told you so" scenarios.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Open letter in favor of Net Neutrality

Competition is at the heart of all our telecommunications. It's what brings innovation, lowers prices and ensures quality of service.

This is failing lately. In my residence I only have access to one cable television provider and one telephone provider. This means there is no competition for these services, and I have to take the current market options, without a chance to bargain or even request better services.

Net neutrality is not different, except that it moves the competition from my house to a couple iterations below. But it will affect me, the customer, directly, and more importantly, monetarily.

For instance, without net neutrality, my ISP may opt to charge the services I use a fee for the availability of the data, or a fee for faster access to that data. This means that if I choose to access certain type of information I may have to pay for it, even directly to the ISP or to the content provider.

I for instance work from home eventually, and would have to pay a premium price for accessing the VPN at my work, or my company would have to pay a premium to allow us to work from home, more than they already pay today.

What's interesting in the Net Neutrality discussions is that the ISPs do not consider the fact that the content providers already are paying a premium for their backbones - in most cases, the backbones or the fiber optics connections are owned by the same telecoms who own the ISPs. Why would a company need to pay twice? Once for a large backbone with large capacity to be connected to the Internet, and second, for the ability to reach their customers who are on the other side of the fence.

I'm more afraid that the lack of choice in competition is what is going to affect us users in the future. Today there are a few options in DSL, but only 1 cable modem provider. The DSL options rely on a "land" line, which makes DSL competition harder, given that I only have access to 1 phone provider. If I compare the prices between the options I have, there's no competition between the telecom DSL and the others, given that they have to pay a premium to the telecom already. And instead of seeing more providers appearing in the market we actually are seeing less and less providers, either due to merges, or due to the fact that many have to rely on the few telecoms in order to reach us, the customer.

What happens when the content providers are also the owners of the large broadband companies and they then decide that any traffic from a competitor will be submitted to a premium charge? How is that democratic? How different is that from totalitarian regimes which censor the content available to their citizens?

Since the FCC and those against Net Neutrality are considering the broadband competition as a way to ensure Net neutrality is not needed, then there's something wrong, because there isn't "open" competition.

All that we can do is try to educate and hope that those making the decisions are able to do so with enough information and without the bias of those who would benefit from the changes in the system.