Cast for two

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Testing the Opera browser on Nintendo DS Lite

As I already mention in a previous post, the Nintendo DS Light (NDS Lite) will be able to do voice over ip (VOIP) as revealed in the article: Latest Pokemon titles morph DS into kid-friendly VoIP phone at Engadget. During my visit to the i-city event, I had some time to test out the Opera Browser for the Nintendo DS Lite. The Opera browser is a 45 euro package that consists out of the usual flash card that has to be inserted into the top slot where normal games are inserted and an extra card that has to be inserted into the front slot that contains extra memory:

Remark that the front slot is a different in a NDS and a NDS Lite. Check carefully for the right version when you would buy the browser.

My experiences using the Opera browser on the NDS Lite:
first of all, the DS lite Wifi connection only support WEP encryption. Since at home I'm using WPA, I could not test it at home. Setting up a Wifi connection is not childplay. In some cases indepth knowledge of the wifi router settings were necessary. This is not something to blaim Nintendo for, as setting up Wifi links is in general a difficult task. Probably only Apple will be able to solve this by using a RFID chip in every Wifi terminal (see their recent patent).
Second observation while browsing is that it's going slow. Something to be expected when you know that the DS Lite runs on a 67MHz ARM9 processor but I hoped more horsepower was made available in the extra front cartridge.
Third reading gmail on the DS Lite is possible although not very elegantly as Google does not support Opera's browser very well. Typing short emails is working fine and definitely an option.
Fourth, on the public hotspot of the local provider Telenet, authentication via username and password must be reentered after each session. Thus closing the DS lite and opening it again ment that the full username and password had to be entered again. I guess this has to do with Telenet infrastructure because I got a popup about a root certificate that could not be stored. I did not test Wifi in a open hotspot without authentication.
Fifth, during browsing it is not possible to play games. The top cartridge must be removed and browsing is then disabled. So no easy switching between reading mail and brain training...
To conclude, even in bright sunshine the screen stays readable. Kudos to Nintendo for this.

To conclude, the Opera browser for NDS Lite does not transform the game console into a functional handheld computer. To me, it looks more like a gimmick.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Public broadcaster : Starbucks for media?

From the moment I read on his blog that Dries Buytaert (the Drupal guy) was reading a book about tribal wisdom from Starbucks, I intended to examine the book and eventually buy it to read. The book subject triggered me because two people pointed in the direction of tribal mechanisms. The first one is Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, professor at Insead and author of very good books on leadership. Recently he studied organisations by traveling to countries where pure tribal societies are living (read “High Performance Teams: Lessons from the Pygmies”, Organizational Dynamics, 27 (3), 66-77. Kets de Vries, Manfred F.R. (1999)). I think his experiences with those tribes leads up to the arguments for the authentizotic organistation (dutch link). The second pointer in the direction of tribes comes from the social scientist Ilka Tuomi (the author of the book Networks of Innovation). In his presentation titled "Social Forces and the Broadcasting Revolution" he forecasts the rise of groups, clans, tribes , typically based on gift economies, in the next generations of internet-based societies. So I was wandering if the success of Starbucks had something to do with gift economies like in open source or commons-based peer production.

In the beginning of March '07, during a transit in the Heathrow airport on my way to the Game Developers Conference in San Franciso, I walked into a bookstore and found a book about Starbucks. Because we were in a hurry, I bought it without much further ado and started to explain to my colleagues what I tought Starbucks is about and why I tought it could learn us something about the future of broadcasting. During the flight I discussed what I read in the Starbucks book with them. Visiting a Starbucks rose high on the list "things to do when arriving in San Francisco". So this was the first Starbucks we visited in our life:

Of course, our high expectation where not met at all. We had to cue up in a long line. Since we where new we acted to slowly and felt as obstructions. No personal treatment by the baristas who could hardly understand why we had such a difficulty in formulating our order. And in contradiction with mental picture build by the book, the place was not clean. To sum it up, far from amarvelous experience at all. Luckily, the lathe was indeed very good! (So it is a good strategy to be really good at one thing, see Principle 2 of BBC's 15 web2.0 principles)

Later I found out that the book I bought was the wrong one. In a nutshell, the book goes as follows: it states that Starbucks is a successful company, it presents a list of principles of the company that boils down to "if you know your costumers you can give them a great experience". (That the service industrie would develop to experience industry is also long predicted). If you apply this principle to your business, your business will also become successful. A bit to simple for my mind.

To me, the Starbucks principle resembles a lot to the style of Flemish pubs we (used to) have. Just substitute coffee with beer and there you go. So nothing very insightful or revolutionary. Hence, I still intend to buy "Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed from the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture". Luckily I understand now that I can study it by having a good beer in a Belgian pub (even beter would be Café Tabor in Heverlee) Cheers!