November 27, 2008

HP Reveals All

HP certainly revealed a lot of things (but not their pricing) at yesterday’s press conference to launch their new range of business notebooks and desktops for Sri Lanka. The press conference was held at the Trans Asia and surprisingly enough for Sri Lanka, it started only about 15 minutes late 🙂

The first thing to be revealed was of course, the new notebooks. In the process, HP also revealed their lack of taste, decorum, or any indication that they knew which country they were in. Why? Because they had models in skimpy outfits strutting around showing off the notebooks as if they were having some sort of catwalk fashion show. Sure, HP calls itself a "green" company and sells a lot of PCs, but they certainly showed the fact that they are not PC at all and that they are very green when it comes to doing tasteful marketing 😀

The ladies doing the modeling, no offence to them, were terribly over-made-up and under-clothed. They had this horrible blue eye-shadow which made them look like zombies and these skimpy skirts which would hike up when they got on the stage and if you were half a foot shorter than me, you probably could see their underwear as they got on stage. Yes, it was that short! And the showcasing of the notebooks? They simply walked around in front of the seated audience, giving them a glimpse of the notebook, which was totally useless because you didn’t get any of the details. But then again, this was all for effect and not really to let the participants get any useful info, right? And not once did any of the models smile, look pleasant or in any other way try to make the audience feel like taking a second look at the computers.

But then again, most of the guys there were probably busy looking a little bit below the computers, which were at eye level, to notice if the models were smiling or if any of the computers were even powered on :p

Given that this was a gathering of journalistic types and the abundance of pocket-feminists and armchair-nationalists who normally rise up to talk about "objectification of women" and "2500 years of cultural history", I was surprised that nobody pointed out the fact that apart from being utterly tasteless and tacky, this was also something which went against the culture of Sri Lanka and was degrading towards women. I’ve never understood why you needed a scantily clad woman to sell a car or a computer – you’re not buying the woman, you’re buying the item. Do we really need this kind of senseless, appealing-to-the-gonads type of advertising here in Sri Lanka as well? (Or did I lose the one single reader I have at "scantily clad"? :p)

Of course, that was just the beginning of things. HP talked up their products but gave no concrete answers to questions about how much these new products would sell for or even how much their current products sell for. They also kept harping on the fact that they weren’t a price-based organization because their products came with value-additions that others didn’t have. When asked what these value-additions were though, they were again rather vague – talking about doorstep service to customers. But then they went on to say that they don’t sell any HP products directly but do so through their network of authorized dealers and that all value-additions are provided by the dealers. So how do they even know that this mythical doorstep service exists? I’ve certainly never heard of it.

As the title says, HP certainly revealed a lot of things at this press conference, but not many of the things revealed were complimentary to the organization. The products showcased were good but given the lack of pricing information and HP’s insistence that they are not price-based because in the total cost of ownership, the price of the machine is a mere fraction, I certainly wouldn’t be dreaming HP anytime soon 🙂

May 20, 2006

Days of meandering …

Yesterday was a tiring and hectic day :p No, we didn’t move, we just spent most of the day out shopping since Laurie’s sister was here on a sort of a flying visit 🙂 We were out most of the day and by the time we got home, I was totally and utterly tired.

In the process of all that shopping, comparing, gazing etc. I came across a few things worth a mention. For instance, I think I have just switched my preferences for my next phone :p I had wanted to get the Sony Ericsson P990i as my next phone since it had all the features that I wanted. However, I have been increasingly aware of the fact that Symbian OS phones don’t seem to have all the apps that I’d like to see being available for them and that developing for a Symbian OS phone isn’t as easy as it would be developing for say a Pocket PC phone. At least, that’s how it has looked from where I stand.

Then, I came across the HP iPaq hw6500, which is both a handheld PC and a mobile phone! Now this device has all the capabilities that I can think of using (except for Wi-Fi and 3G) and it uses a variant of the Windows CE OS which makes development fairly easy! So, for instance, if I wanted a way to transfer my DVD database over to my phone so that I can carry it around on shopping trips, I probably will be able to do so much more easily on this device than I would on a Symbian OS based phone since I would be able to code the functionality in myself. So, I’m looking very hard at the HP iPaq hw6500 as an option but the lack of Wi-Fi access bothers me. I’ve looked at a couple of other similar handheld PC/phone combo devices but some of them lack a keyboard and others have those bulky (and annoying) antennas sticking out of them. So I guess I must continue to look if I want to find the ultimate phone device … or go with the HP iPaq hw6500 :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:54 am  |  2 Comments

June 5, 2003

Of phones and polyphonics …

While I’m kept busy at work during the daytime learning my new duties and getting ready to take over from Robin, my evenings for the past few days have been busy working with my new phone – the Sony Ericsson P800 :p I’ve been installing software, trying out backgrounds, categorizing stuff, moving data over from my Compaq iPaq and so on. I’ve now come to the ringtone stage of the customizations. The P800 supports a variety of audio formats for ringtones but I didn’t like the MIDI option since the tones were too soft and couldn’t be heard over traffic while I might be travelling on the bike .. or even in a bus. The same seemed to be true of the IMY (iMelody) format and I wasn’t sure how to work with AMR format or RMF format files.

At the same time, I wanted to have some songs as ringtones but not just the instrumental part and so that let out both MIDI and IMY and I think even RMF as well though I’m not sure about that particular format. So I dropped back to the old reliable WAV format that the phone also supports. The problem was that I couldn’t find any song ringtones online at all after a lot of searching though a friend of mine does have a couple on his Sagem phone – but the problem is that there is no way to get the tones out of his phone since he can’t beam the tones and they are too big to be sent via SMS. So I decided to try and create a ringtone on my own from an MP3 file segment. My first attempt produced a 2MB+ WAV file which was around 20 seconds in stereo at 44100Hz and in 16-bit format. So I began experimenting with all the different variables – I dropped the frequency down to 8000Hz, brought the bitrate down to 8-bit and suddenly the file was only around 200k-300k! Of course, by this time the volume was so low that I had to amplify it by around 15dB but this produced a lot of distortion in the final output.

I didn’t know enough at this point to figure out how to clean up the output file to get rid of the distortion (that would come later when I went through the help files and also went online) but I did do some normalization of the output. I later realized that going from stereo to mono would save me some space as well. That was all day before yesterday. Yesterday, I got a whole bunch of MP3’s I wanted to use and processed each one of them the same way that I’d done the original ringtone that I’d created but this time I experimented with the frequency and the final amplification on some of them. These turned out slightly better but not so loud but that was probably because I amplified most of them by 10dB instead of 15dB. I learnt after I’d done all of this as to how to clean up files which had become distorted due to amplification but it was too late to do any further experimenting. So maybe today I’ll see if that method can be used to clean up the files I’d created and still be left with a clear and loud ringtone …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:21 am  |  No Comments