All posts by tomsoft

Google is going to Widget, and compete with Konfabulator


Google just introduced the ability to add Widget in your starting page. The first widget are not very numerous (see the
directory ) but I guess it will increase rapidly. The “date and time” widget seems very similar, in terms of look and feel (and functionalities) to a Konfabulator widget.

May be somebody in Google read my previous posts about writing Konfabulator widgets and write something in a couple of days! ;-)

More seriously, this’s a quite good and smart approach, as it uses the browser model. So all rendering is done using HTML, JavaScript, etc… and widgets are stored on the server side. So the only missing thing, to compete with Konfabulator, is the ability to put theses Widget on your desktop…. Should not be a too difficult task, just extend Google desktop to provide the ability to open some “web pages” that contains each one a Widget, and you’re done (and ultimately, Google Desktop could finally be useful and sexy!).

Also, I would like to mention this interesting view from C.Enrique Ortiz: Google – The Best Thing That Has Happened to Yahoo! I totally share this view, and it’s a very positive proof of the utility of competition (and of course, this comment can be extended to Microsoft, hopefully).

Technorati tags: Google Yahoo Widget Konfabulator

Communicating with the external world….


Interesting announce today:
TIM unveils Z-SIM SIM card with radio technology“.

So what does this mean? Another way (one more) for a mobile to communicate with the external world. Not only through GRPS or UMTS as today, but also to interact locally with your physical environment.
The examples given in this announce are really interesting, like interaction with home appliance, purchasing TV content, parking payment, etc…

This opens some great opportunities for mobile developers, and also for operators! ;-) Phone (or more accurately Sim card) could be more and more a way to identify yourself beyond just the area of phone calls, and to do transactions, mainly micro-transactions.
Of course, operator will be the big winner in this scenario as it will manage the transactions, and I would be interesting to see what will be the bank reactions in this scenario. But that’s so annoying to get your credit card out if you want to by a 1€ songs….

For those who are interested, take a look at JSR257
, contactless communication API. It cover also things like Visual Smart Tags, a very interesting way to get information from you’re environment by taking a picture of a specific tags, or NFC, which is the extension of RFID in the consumer world…

Technorati tags:nfc j2me javame

My first Konfabulator Widget

I’ve just make my first Konfabulator Widget…

The good things, is that took me just ten minutes to understand how to do it and to make it run (I just wanted to display the number of registered users to J2memap as a widget).
It also took these 10 minutes to realize where were the limitations of the framework…

  • No HTML or XML parsing. For something that is frequently used to display in a specific way Webpage, XML data or RSS feed result, and that rely so heavily on XML internally, it’s incredible to see that there is no built-in parsing engine. You have to do you’re own.
  • Basic rendering engine: all graphical elements need to be pre-rendered (with the exception of text). No layout feature, just good old bitmap, the only fancy stuff is transparency.

So even if you start to build something very rapidly, it requires a huge maintenance effort each time you want to do a modification. It would have been great to have a better Web awareness, by including an XML parser, and a kind of HTML/CSS rendering engine. This would have made things much simpler….


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Electronic Arts to buy Jamdat in $680 mln deal

Important news for our industry, mobile gaming: EA, the biggest game publisher, just acquired Jamdat, the biggest (for now! ;-) ) player in this space….

Jamdat Mobile (JMDT:Nasdaq – commentary – research – Cramer’s Take) surged in after-hours trading Thursday following news that Electronic Arts (ERTS:Nasdaq – commentary – research – Cramer’s Take) agreed to buy the cellphone-game publisher at a 19% premium to its close. Electronic Arts will pay $27 a share for Jamdat and assume outstanding stock options, for a total deal value of $680 million. The deal is expected to close during Electronic Arts’ fourth quarter. Shares of Jamdat were up $4.23 to $27 in after-hours trading, while shares of Electronic Arts fell $1.51, or 2.7%, to $54.24.

The deal value Jamdat at 680$ million…At this price, a very good deal for Jamdat…. A few comments:

“EA overpaid by $200 (million),” Piper Jaffray analyst Anthony Gikas said in a client note, adding the amount was not material

“We’re not sure why the company would spend so much to get into the mobile market when it appears that they could have leveraged their content on their own for less money,” Wallace said in a note. He added that EA will probably spend more than $750 million this year on research and development.

“That’s a lot of console games that could have been developed (or bought),” he said.

Still, analysts liked the deal, saying that Jamdat and EA are each better off together.

EA “has had some fits and starts trying to build its wireless division” and adjusting to a “buy” strategy resolves investor qualms about the company’s relative lack of presence in that market, said Paul-Jon McNealy, video game analyst at American Technology Research.

J2MEMap Update

Just to announce a new release of J2MEMap, with some great new features:

  • Support of GPS through bluetooth
  • Nice rescaling feature (similar to the GoogleLocal one)
  • WayPoint feature (nice to be use with GPS, in order to know how far you are from your destination, and what is the direction). Not yet really “driving GPS”, but quite cool.
  • Support of touch screen. On the P900, it’s quite fun to play with it…
  • Improved display of routes….
  • Support of GPX for the download of waypoint, track, etc…

Just like this one:


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Next Buzz: Mobile AJAX

2005 was probably the most exciting year since 2000 for the Web, thanks to the thousands of new projects, most of them based on the usage of AJAX to create a new and compelling user experience. One interesting question for me, involved in mobile, is what will be the impact of this revolution for mobiles?

Well, seems that the Ajax buzzword will be in all mouth in the coming months, and Opera is already surfing on this.

Thirst thing, is do we need Mobile Ajax?

I think that with the generalisation of data network (GPRS,EDGE or 3G), the services will be more and more interactive. But the current technologies are far from providing a compelling user experience on mobile. Wap (or even HTML) applications look like ’99 Web app (for the best ones). So I believe that looking at what’s happening on the web, many people will provide these improvements to mobile, and this will be an improvement.

And one side note: Google local for mobile IS NOT a Mobile Ajax application (just like J2MEMAp). It’s just a monolithic application created for mobile, which can not be updated, or changed OTA (unless you reload it). I guess that I should define what I think is mobile Aj

So what are the various technologies available, or do we need new ones?

A first answer is to say that we already have one technology that could fit to Ajax requirement: be able to execute locally a small program downloaded remotely to add interactivity in “web pages”. J2ME (oh, sorry Mr Sun, JavaME) seems to be perfect for this. It’s a small bytecode, cross platform, web oriented, etc… However, J2me (in fact CLDC) failed in one important topic: the inability to download OTA some new byte code. So an application, once downloaded, can not be easily changed, modified, etc…. And even worst, you can not jump from one app to the other: from a calendar to the address book for instance. So if you want to do something great, you need to create a -relatively- big monolithic J2ME application. And I do not speak of security issue (see below).
One the other hand, there are plenty of advantage to J2me, and this could be a good candidate for being the scripting language for mobile Ajax application, or the framework basis for this, but it needs to evolve a lot if he wants to achieve this level.

One option (the one used by Opera) is to write a browser in J2ME who contains some Ajax component. Honestly, I did not take a deep look at the opera mobile (the J2ME version) right now, but I doubt that the have a scripting engine in this version…And what will we have at the end: an interpreted VM being able to run interpreted scripting language… And I am sure the several other initiatives are one the way.

The alternative is not numerous. Flash lite could be a candidate, but the first issue is the deployment: very few handsets yet have it right now. But technically speaking (and here, I am not a FlashLite expert) it seems that many of the J2ME limitation does not exist anymore, especially the one concerning the limitation of an application to one single binary. And probably the first truly mobile Ajax experiment will come from here.

But whatever is the option, I except a lot of buzz on this, conference, announces, etc for the second half next year! So let’s be ready for the Ajax wave on the mobile,….

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Konfabulator settings


Just a small suggestion for Konfabulator (but it might be already in the loop for the future): is to store all your settings on the server side, so then, just log into another computer (with konfabulator already installed, and probably you’re yahooId) and you get magically all you’re settings, as well as the widget, downloaded and installed… Sounds cool?

End of the browser?

During a recent discussion with one of our partner, this one predicted “the end of the browser”, before two years, as opposed to the emergence of specialized applications like messenger, or Google earth. His point was that the crucial part was integration between applications, something that was in his view impossible to do using a Web Browser.

In a time of a complete renewal of the Web, I was a little bit puzzled by this remark. That’s true that the obvious evolution of messenger (or any other chat client) is a better and better integration with the rest of you’re environment…
So should we oppose loosely integrated “web application” to highly integrated local apps…
Not sure that there is an opposition here:

  • If it was possible to do Google Earth using a standard browser, I am sure that Google would have done it. It’s just a question of availability of the techno (in fact, I can predict that in two years, Google Earth will be available as a Web application).
  • The Web is probably the best platform for integration. In fact, it much easiest to share application between web app than to share locally, most of the time. And a good example is Msn messenger. The sharing (of information) is mostly done on the server side, not on the client. And it seems that the evolution of messenger and hotmail, is to a be a full web/Ajax based application.

So the Web is probably the best platform to do component integration, and the best integration tool is the Browser.
Of course, there is some need for some vertical and specific application, but most of the people do not really need it. The few specific needs can be solved by a “Widget” approach, similar to Konfabulator or Safari: still browser (ok, it’s not 100% the case), but this browser is skinned and just displays a single web page, but in a very good way…

Again, as stated in one of my previous post, “The end of the OS“, I think that in the future, the operating system might be a detail, as long as you have a very good browser…So I think that browsers will be here for a long time, see you in two years….

Security, security…



As I’ve explained, I’ve created also this J2meMap application to play and experiment with most of the J2ME JSR’s….
After SMS (JSR120), Bluetooth (JSR85), Location Api (JSR179), I’ve played with JSR75 (PIM). The objective was to be able to use the file system of the phone to cache most of the image downloaded from Google. This work fine, except that some phone implementation ask permission to the user EVERY TIME that you access to the file system.
So, when starting the application, after the first warning (do you allows the application to access to the network), you have another warning (do you allows the application to access to Bluetooth), and a third one (do you allows the application to access to the file system). Fine, unless that on SonyEricsson (my favourite target phone), the right are checked at EVERY access. One check for reading, one check for writing!
So now, I have numerous user requests that make the usage of file system API impossible…

How to solve this? Ideally, the midlet needs to be certified, but it’s a long a costly process. And there is no way for the user to say “once for all” that he grant access to the file system.

So what is the conclusion: the JSR75 is a nice JSR, but current implementation (at least on SE phones) makes it impossible to use it right now….When too much security kill innovation..

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JBenchmark on mobile


SPMark now available on mobile… Not sure is it’s a great thing, but you can check by your self. I’ve downloaded the “high end” version, a jar file of around 500kb! I even did not know that it was possible to do such big app! ;-) The application by itself is not yet as impressive at it should be, and others benchmakrs (like www.jbenchmark.com/ ) are already doing some good job.
And this one need to improve. It reported that my phone did not head the bluetooth API, which seems to bo obviously wrong (see below…)

Support for Bluetooth GPS in J2ME Map

This picture show J2ME Map communicating with a Bluetooth enabled head (this is the BETA vrsion, 07.03). This works quite well, and you are able to get your positionning while driving and display it on a Google Map/Virtual Earth Map… That’s quite fun, this probably needs to be linked to other features like direction. One things that is missing in Google Map is reversegeocoding, in other words the ability to get a street adress from your current position, feature which exists anyway in GoogleLocal for mobile!

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Where do you live?

Playing a little bit with GoogleMap, and having saw a nice page somewhere on the web (but I really can not find it anymore) showing all the list of tiles to go to a specific location of GoogleMap, I’ve just created a fun page where you just enter a latitude longitude, and he shows the list of tile from here.
You can try it at j2memap.landspurg.net/whereAmI.php

For instance, for statue of liberty, it’s: http://j2memap.landspurg.net/whereAmI.php?lon=-74.045051&lat=40.689712

Have fun!

Technocrati tags: Google Map.

New Yahoo Maps beta

I’ve just played a little bit with the last version of Yahoo Map beta.

First, my comment is that the application is big, in size! It tooks literraly more than 10 minutes at home to download. Yes, I am one of the few without DSL, so I still have to use a modem! The beauty of GoogleMap was his simplicity and the use of standard Web Technologies. I guess that being late in the race, Yahoo had to find something to differenciate…
The application is fancy, but not really innovative. For instance, you have three text string for your request (one for finding place, the others two for directions) while Google had just one box for all of these…
The other strange thing, when you look inside, is that all tiles are predefined Flash elements. But these elements just seems to contains a bitmap..sounds strange (look at http://195.113.150.5/us.tile.maps.yimg.com/tile?md=200511021115&col=1308&row=923&z=5 ).
One the other hand, the AJAX interface seems to work quite well. The good news is that if you use it, all tiles are png images, but with some strange choice: they are 258×258 (256×256 seems much more simpler! :-) ). But anyway, it should be quite easy to use them in other mapping application, like the good J2MEMAP! ;-)

Technocrati tags: YahooMaps

The end of the OS?

Why bother about your operating system, mac, windows, or whatever? What it really important today, in your digital life, is your data….Do you really care about your OS, or do you care about your pictures, movies, documents, and so on…
There is three different category of (multimedia) datas:

  • Your personnal data, that you have created. Typically your own photo, video, but also your documents….
  • The data that you own. Typically, the music/video you bought. Ideally, you just bought the right to view these data, for a spefici support, or for a specific time, or foerever….
  • Everything else: what is free (the Web generally speaking)..

And what you see know, is an emerging generation of “media players”, that are gradfually replacing the “old generation” of PDA, Smartphone, etc… This generation (PDA and such) was an OS centric generation. Designed by engineer for geek, very powerfull to do complex tasks, but unable to do simple ones. This dinosaur generation is dying, and the new one is now data and user centric: the ipod, the mobile phone, etc… these are now real mass market device, (may be technically more powerfull than the previous one) but focused on your data: mp3, photo and now video…You do not care really of the OS of these stuff, but you care about data imperobaility. In other words, to be able to listen to your music whatever is the device…
I predict that is where is going the OS, and the internet. Your OS will be a commodity, with a few of common but good applications, to manage your data, share them, download them, etc…

Mobile Interface to Google Map

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I’ve just played the past weeks with google Map, and I have made a nice interface to Google Map(!)
I will publish more technical information on how to create such application, as there was some interesting problems.

But you can already take a look at the application, available here: http://j2memap.landspurg.net or through your Wap browser at http://wap.landspurg.net.

This has only been tested on SonyEricsson, and probably works only these device!

But the application is quite cool, you can navigate either through map or satellite pictures, do search on google, see the result and even give phone call to the result of your search!

Google and Sun

Google and Sun just made an announcement that they enter in an agreement ( http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/pressrel/sun_toolbar.html ) to integrate Google ToolBar in some Sun products, typically JavarunTime environment and OpenOffice….

Google, and probably Yahoo, are in my views preparing the next revolution of the OS. In fact, they are killing the need for a specific OS. With most of their tools being server based and really useable (which was not the case during the first wave of “web based tools”, some years ago), they just need a good web browser.

Then, what is missing really for an average end user? A few enhanced application (maybe a word editor,) or some games (but not core gamer games), and this can be done easily using Java…

Then, why do we really need a complex, heavy and costly operating system to run a web browser?

What might be interesting in the future is that this gives a good opportunity for new and innovative operating systems. The only requirement for such system: be able to run a web browser and a JVM, and then you will fill 99% of the requirement of a Google or Yahoo centric world….

What is a multiplayer game?

I’ve just been through one of the report following the last CTIA (http://www.mpogd.com/news/?ID=1748), and I have noticed this comment, from Bill Barhdyt, CEO of Sennari:

“Speaking of multiplayer gaming, Barydt defined networked mobile gaming by two categories: person to person interaction (through advertising, in-game transactions and AI-based game content) and person to machine (instant messaging. turn-based tournaments and wagering)”

What does this mean…. As usual, multiplayer game is not the only way tu use network, sending score, managing interaction, turn based games , etc.. are other type of interactive games with the server…
We used to name this connected game, and were too honnest to not put this into the multiplayer category…So we were doing multiplayer in this definition since ’99…A real precusor!

YAB: Yet Another Blog

Well, another guy writting his small blog in the cyberspace? For what? My purpose will be to share some of my views on various technical topics related to wireless, mobile, and internet! There are probably already plenty of these, but I see one key advantage for me: it will help to write some of the idea, thinking, etc…on the things around me, and prevent them to disappear!

And of course, feel free to add your comments, suggestion!