Apple deals some blows with iPhone OS 4

"Kajyn Club - Boxing" by Olivier Ciappa - CC by-sa

As I was reading the coverage of the iPhone OS 4 event on engadget, I couldn’t help thinking: some people will be really, really pissed. Or scared. Or both.

No, I’m not talking about iPhone 3G users who won’t get to enjoy multitasking, I’m talking about numerous companies whose right to exist is seriously questioned by Apples innovations.

But let’s start at the beginning and look at the seven features Apple presented and the effect they will have.

Folders. Nice to have, but not really a game changer.

Enhanced mail, together with the new enterprise features, make the device more attractive for business people. Blackberry and Windows Mobile will have to watch out.

Reading long texts on the iPhone doesn’t work for me. But for a lot of people, it does work. There are numerous ebook apps in the app store which serve that market and with iBooks, they suddenly have a strong competitor. With iBooks built into the OS, Apple might even play the duplicating functionality card and ban these apps from the store.

Game Center provides convenient solutions for game developers, like achievements, leaderboards, match making. Now look at the feature list of multiplayer gaming platform Z2Live. It’s almost identical. Ouch, that must hurt.

Long awaited, multitasking arrives on the iPhone plattform – but only on the latest devices: iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3G and iPad.

Many applications, which were kind of pointless under the One App At A Time policy, finally make sense with multitasking. Pandora and Skype are great examples and I think creative developers will come up with countless other ways to blow your mind.

Of course, other platforms had multi tasking for a long time, but it had its downsides as well. Sluggish performance, low battery runtime. If Apple really solved the energy and performance solution with their approach, they have not only caught up to the other guys, they have overtaken them.

And now the real sucker punch: iAd. Mobile advertising is a big market and Apple just has bitten a huge chunk off the pie. Now it seems to pay off that Apple rules their platform with an iron fist. Just recently, use of location data for advertising  was just restricted and guess what they presented: ads with location data! If I had just forked over a nine figure sum for a mobile ad provider, like Google for AdMob, I would be massively unhappy.

With iPhone OS 4, Apple once more changed the playing field. We will see how the other players react.

And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to: Teh Internetz

It made the news that the Internet has been nominated for this year’s Nobe Prize.

The Internet? Seriously? Just think about all the flame wars the Internet caused. I think some people have to check there calendar, it’s not April 1st yet. What were they thinking?

– “Ok, last year we gave it to Obama, because was so popular. That didn’t really make everyone happy. We need someone more popular.”
– “How about the Internet?! Everyone likes the Internet!”

This just ridiculous. Why not nominate swords? After all, you can hammer them into plowshares.

"Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares" by United Nations Photo - CC by-nc-nd

Why I decided to spam you on Twitter

Like almost everybody I know I despise the useless updates by apps like Foursquare and Farmville that clutter Twitter and Facebook with useless information.

But if you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I myself allowed the Hundred Pushups iPhone app to post updates to my Twitter feed. Why this change of mind?

Doing a pushup (not me)First, let me explain what the app does. The goal of the Hundred Pushups iPhone app is, who would have guessed, to enable you to do 100 consecutive pushups. It offers a six week training program* and allows you to log your workouts. It’s definitely not the greatest app ever and has lots of room for improvement but it gets the job done: when I started training with the app on the 25th of January, I could do 37 consecutive pushups. Today, about 6 weeks and 15 workouts later, this number has more than doubled to 77.

That’s all well and good, you might intervene, but why boast with these numbers on Twitter?

Guess how I heard about the 100 pushups app for the first time? A status update on my Twitter feed caught my interest, I googled, found the site, bought the app and started training. I don’t remember who posted that update, but I’m really glad that person decided to do so. While the mere fact that you can do 100 pushups buys you nothing, a strong upper body definitely has its benefits.

At first, I was reluctant to allow the app to post on Twitter, because I didn’t want to annoy my followers with useless updates. But after seeing good progress, I decided that posting my progress to Twitter might be actually of value to somebody.

If my tweets motivate only one of my 197 followers to complete this training program, it is well worth pissing of the other 196.

* 100 pushups in six weeks sounds to good to be true? Well, calling it a six week program is a bit, let’s say, optimistic. It would be more accurate to call it a six level training program. The levels, which are named week 1 to 6, get more and more difficult and at some point, your progress will stagnate. I was able to keep up with the first three weeks, but I’m struggling to complete week 4. Still, a 100% increase in 6 weeks isn’t to bad and I’m confident that I’ll achieve the 100 in the not so far future.

Image adapted from  “I Knew Pushups Would Pay Off Someday” by reid.gilman, licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC

21st Web Montag in Cologne

Yesterday evening, the 21st Web Montag Cologne took place. The list of participants had already been growing constantly during the last days before the event, but when @fbz, @scompt and me arrived at ~19:30, I was surprised anyway how many people where already there and engaged in lively discussions. Starting from 8 o’clock, three talks were given.

Jörn Zaefferer (@bassistance) presented the newly released jQuery 1.4. It offers new features and also an improved performance. If you use jQuery, it might be worth upgrading, despite some backwards-imcompatibilities. A lot of work has also been done on the website and the documentation.

Christoph Beckmann (@cbek) talked about his experiences surviving a traffic peak caused by TV appearance with the help of Amazon Web Services. The solution involved migrating the Loo2Go server to a big EC2 instance and using several caching servers. While the costs were marginal, the approach seems very labour intense to me.

Michael presented a new MVC framework written in PHP which was heavily influenced by his experiences working with Ruby on Rails.

After the talks, the discussions continued. All in all, it was once again a very interesting evening, thanks everybody for participating.

The next Web Montag in Cologne will probably be on the first or second Monday in March, so mark these dates in your calendar.

How to solve the 36 Cube puzzle – hints & solution

For Christmas, I got the ThinkFun 36 Cube. It is consists of 36 towers in 6 colors and 6 different sizes and a base plate with 6 by 6 slots to plug in the towers. These slots are of different heights. The goal is to place one towers of every color in each row and column. And the  towers must fit to form a level cube.

After some tries, I came to the conclusion that this puzzle is the work of the devil and that I should not waste more brain cycles on solving it. So I wrote a little python script to solve the puzzle for me.

Show sourcecode

My program quickly came up with a correct placement for 34 towers – but it failed to find the complete solution.

[('P', 5), ('Y', 3), ('O', 2), ('B', 1), ('R', 4), ('G', 6)]
[('Y', 4), ('O', 1), ('P', 6), ('R', 2), ('G', 5), ('B', 3)]
[('O', 6), ('B', 5), ('R', 3), ('G', 4), ('P', 1), ('Y', 2)]
[('R', 1), ('G', 2), ('Y', 5), ('P', 3), ('B', 6), ('O', 4)]
[('B', 2), ('P', 4), ('G', 1), ('Y', 6), ('O', 3), ('R', 5)]
[('G', 3), ('R', 6), ('B', 4), ('O', 5), ('X', 2), ('X', 1)]

P = Purple, Y = Yellow, O = Orange, B = Blue, R = Red, G = Green, X = Empty
The number is the size of the tower.
As you can see, I didn’t waste much time on making the output pretty 🙂

36cube almost solved

So close and yet so far

After spending lots of time verifying that my program was working correctly, I became impatient and googled for help. I found an answer, but it revealed too much, taking all the fun.

Therefore, I split my solution into multiple hints. If you are stuck, reveal just one of them at a time and try to figure it out by yourself. It is way more rewarding!

Hint #1 (show):

Hint #2 (show):

Hint #3 (show):

Hint #4 (show):

Hint #5 (show):

Even if you uncovered all hints, the puzzle is still far from solved. You can still tinker with it forever.

Spoiler alert: Don’t uncover the solution, unless you are really desperate!

Click to show the 36cube solution.

Asus EEE PC 901 with RunCore Pro IV SSD

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about upgrading the SSD of my EEE PC 901 and the mixed results I got. I decided to return it and wait until a faster SSD by RunCore becomes available. Today, I received my brand new RunCore Pro IV SATA 70mm Mini PCIe SSD 32 GB (what a name!).

As I already wrote in my earlier post, swapping the SSD is really easy.

  1. Backup your data. If you want to reuse your current installation, use some imaging software. I booted from an Ubuntu Live CD and used dd.
  2. Turn off your EEE, remove AC and battery.
  3. Loosen the two screws of the lid on the bottom and remove the lid. You might have to apply a little bit of force with a flat screw driver.
  4. Loosen the two screws that hold the SSD in place. Make sure the don’t fall into the case. If the do, you absolutely must find them before you plug in AC or the battery, otherwise you risk a short-circuit.
  5. Replace the old SSD with the new one.
  6. Fix the SSD, put on the lid, restore your image. Done!

If anyone asks nicely, I can take some pictures of the process, but it is really simple. The only special tool you need is a very small Philips screwdriver. There was one in the box with the SSD, but it wasn’t small enough.

After swapping the drive and restoring the image, I booted the device for the first time. The EEE detected the drive without problem and I noticed immediately that the system was snappier. Then I ran the benchmark:
Benchmark Runcore Pro IV SSD

The sequential and 512k read performance is on par with the Super Talent SSD, but the write performance is miles ahead. To be honest I expected even faster write speeds, but I’m far from disappointed. The benchmark result is 7.5 times faster than the Super Talent SSD and a ridiculous 93x better than the stock SSD. Way to go, RunCore!

Older benchmark results:

Benchmark of Super Talent SSD

Benchmark of Super Talent SSD

Benchmark of EEE PC 901 onboard SSD

Benchmark of EEE PC 901 onboard SSD

Disclaimer: I’m not affliated with any of the companies mentioned, I’m just excited that my little EEE PC might be usable again. If you think about dumping it for a new device, consider upgrading the SSD.

Automatic plugin update problem in WordPress 2.8.x

After upgrading WordPress to the current version, I could no longer automatically update plugins. This is the error message I got:

Downloading update from

Unpacking the update.
Warning: unlink(/…/wp-content/upgrade/ [function.unlink]: No such file or directory in /…/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-upgrader.php on line 146

Incompatible archive PCLZIP_ERR_MISSING_FILE (-4) : Missing archive file ‘/…/wp-content/upgrade/’

After digging through the forums I found a solution to the plugin autoupdate problem in the WordPress Support forum.

Open the file wp-config.php in the root directory of your WordPress installation and remove the definition of the WP_TEMP_DIR variable, i.e. a line that looks like this

define('WP_TEMP_DIR', ABSPATH . "wp-content/upgrade");

Asus EEE PC 901 SSD Upgrade

Update: Upgrade instructions and benchmark of the EEE 901 with an even faster SSD.

Recently, I upgraded the harddisk of my EEE PC. It comes with a 4 GB onboard SSD which in quite slow, and a 8 GB SSD which is even slower. A benchmark shows just how slow it is.

Benchmark onboard SSD

After reading the test of the RunCore Pro IV SSD on jkkmobile, I decided it was time to upgrade. Unfortunately, the RunCore SSDs are hard to come by in Germany, so I bought a 32 GB Super Talent PCIe SSD (FPM32GLSE) for about 100 €, expecting similar performance.

I made an image of the old drives and upgraded the BIOS to the newest version. To my surprise, installing the drive was as simple as swapping the RAM module.

After restoring the images to the new drive, I ran the benchmark again.

Benchmark Super Talent SSD

Overall, the Super Talent SSD outperforms the onboard SSD. Sequential writing is a bit slower, but sequential reading is more than 3x faster. 4k writing is about 12x faster, but the absolute value of 0.7 MB/s is still quite low. A RunCore Pro IV should get about 16 MB/s which is 20x more.

YouTube to sevenload Bookmarklet

Say you find a video on YouTube and you want to share it with your friends on sevenload. Now what?

YouTube to sevenload Bookmarklet to the rescue!

Just drag the link below to your bookmark toolbar:


If you are watching a video on, click the bookmarklet to get redirected to the same video on sevenload.

YouTube video


You can also manually create a bookmark with this adress (make sure to remove linebreaks):

javascript:l=document.location;m=’Not a YouTube video!’;if($/)==-1){alert(m);}else{‘&’);v=”;for(var i in a){k=a[i].split(‘=’);if(k[0]==’v’){v=k[1];break;}}}if(v==”){alert(m);}else{window.location=’’+v}

Slides from EuroDjangoCon

These are the slides and code of talks given at the EuroDjangoCon, which is held in Prague from May 4th to May 6th. This information can also be found in the EuroDjangoCon Wiki.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:


This post will be updated over time. Please leave a comment if you think something is missing.