Fixing slow Samsung printing over AirPort Extreme/Express

Fix to slow and painful printing over AirPort ExpressPrinting with Bonjour over AirPort Express was painfully slow, apparently because of a bug with Leopard and Bonjour. Here’s the not-so-glam fix from solo4675 on Apple discussion:

  1. Open Print & Fax Preferences.
  2. Click on + to add printer.
  3. Select IP at the top of the page. Select HP JetDirect – Socket in the drop down.
  4. Enter the address of your AirPort Extreme (IP Address or name such as living-room.local) then add the socket number. 9100 for the first printer, 9101 for the second printer. 4a. If you’ve got the address right it will verify this and confirm this on screen. It will select a generic postscript driver which you will change in step 6.
  5. Enter a Name and Location in the boxes at the bottom.
  6. In the Print Using box, choose Select Driver and then search for ML-2010 driver. Select it.
  7. Click Add and you’re done.

My few days with the AirPort Express has shown me that wireless technology does not just work. But at least it’s working better than my SpeedTouch 570.

iPhones sold by SingTel will not be carrier-locked

Chua Hian Hou wrote, according to an interview with a SingTel boss:

Buyers, though, will have to sign up for a SingTel subscription, although the phone can be used on any mobile network in Singapore, unlike in the United States where iPhones are ‘locked’ to only work with one operator.

Does this mean those who want to use both official apps from the App Store and a network other than AT&T in the States would find the Singaporean iPhones more appealing?

How much would the iPhone 3G cost you on SingTel?

Singapore is number 64 out of 70 countries that Apple plans to roll out its iPhone 3G later this yearIt is true, SingTel will carry the iPhone when it finally hit our shores later this year. The million-dollar questions now for the iPhone hopefuls are when exactly will it come, and how much will it cost? Any attempt to answer the first question is probably wild speculation at best, unless of course you happen to own SingTel.

An educated guess, however, can probably predict the price of the iPhone when it launches in Singapore. The Straits Times, however, is not very good at this when tech reporters embarrass themselves and confuse their readers by contradicting one another’s reports within days of each other.

Chua Hian Hou first reported that we can expect to pay about $270 on June 10th,1 based on what an analyst, Nathan Burley, said. But Burley merely took out his calculator and converted US$199 to Singapore dollars (US$1 = S$1.363 as of today). Days later on June 15th, Tham Yuen-C found a different set of analysts who predicted between S$500 to (gasps) S$1,000 for the 8GB model.2 This, according to Tham’s sources, is because

Here, telco subsidies typically range from $100 to $500. But the more popular a model, the less subsidy is needed. Since the iPhone ‘sells itself’, it is not likely to be heavily subsidised.

When the Times technology correspondent, Alfred Siew, wrote another article two days later, Siew decided that he would ignore Tham’s article and go with Chua’s “analyst” instead. Indeed, he wrote:3

It is not yet known what SingTel will charge for the iPhone when it begins selling it later this year, though sources say that the phone is unlikely to cost more than the recommended US$199 or US$299.

Perhaps that’s why Digital Life has such a bad name among real tech enthusiasts. Then again, there’s a big difference between the typical Sim Lim Square tech enthusiast and the Apple enthusiast.

While Tham took time to find proper analysts who gave guesses more educated than consulting the currency convertor, it just doesn’t make sense for SingTel to offer the iPhone at such exorbitant rates—especially not when other operators are hot on the heels of SingTel to clinch an iPhone deal.4

Why would SingTel want to lower the entry to iPhone ownership? Because with full number portability and a first-strike advantage, it can attract subscribers from its rivals, especially those whose contracts would expire in the next few months. Knowing that the iPhone would come later this year helps tremendously to prevent iPhone hopefuls from renewing their expired contracts with StarHub or M1. After all, the iPhone is the only phone that people know about and go to great lengths to procure one even before it’s available. I don’t see anyone doing that for Samsung, Nokia or Sony Ericsson.

It’s hard to see why SingTel would want to give up on this opportunity to attract more onto its network rather than keeping people out because of the price barrier. One of SingTel’s boss, Quek Peck Leng, also recently confirmed that the iPhone would move at a “‘mass market friendly price… nowhere near’ the 499 euro (S$1,059) price tag in Europe.”5

But of course, the price of the phone is but one side of the story; there’s also the price of the monthly plan that you would be bounded to for the next two years. Similar reasoning however can be applied to how SingTel would possibly price its iPhone plans. After all, there’s little point in subsidising the iPhone heavily to attract subscribers on one hand, but dissuade them with pricey plans on the other hand.

Kevin Lim from suggested that the price of an equivalent plan to AT&T’s offerings in the United States would cost a whooping S$117.45 per month.

It does sound initimidating, but that would be piecing together the iTwo Value plan for 300 minutes of outing voice calls and 500 free SMS, and an unlimited 3G data plan that Kevin wrote costs S$69.30.

A check on SingTel’s broadband mobile website however revealed that there’s no unlimited 3G data plan. The maximum bundled data usage for any plan is 50GB—well within the use of most normal and even expert users—and starts from S$22.42 per month. On the voice plan side, most students do not use any plan remotely close to the cost of iTwo Value, since they do not give a hoot about outgoing talk time.

Although the iPhone may appeal to some of the older generation (my girlfriend’s dad booked the iPhone the day after it was launched), the truth is that most of its users here would be the younger generation—students with high disposable income and lust over the latest technology gadgets. The other group of users would be the PMEBs, and they are the ones already paying the S$100-plus plans for their BlackBerries. If they were to hop onto the iPhone bandwagon, costs of the plan should be of the least concern to them.

Therefore, a more plausible plan that SingTel might offer would be one out to attract students instead, i.e. huge number of free SMSes, little outgoing talk time, decent among of data usage for those who might want to surf the web and check their e-mails on the go.

Piecing together the iOne Plus voice plan ($25.68 for 100 minutes outgoing, free unlimited SMS for students and NSFs, 500 for the rest) and the 1000 data plan ($22.42 for 50GB per month, 1Mbps download speed) would give us $48.10 per month, a conservative estimate at best.

SingTel has yet to announce any special voice-and-data plan for the iPhone, and if it does, it could come cheaper than this. If the iPhone does not get any special treatment, it is likely that you would be able to just mix-and-match your own plans like existing Smartphones that SingTel currently sells. There is even a possibility that you can forgo a data plan (not that this makes much sense), but that would probably result in a costlier iPhone as a result of losing the SingTel subsidy.

The high price for 3G data plans in Singapore do however suggest that most Singaporeans are not ready for Smartphones yet, or perhaps the other way around. Mike Davidson wrote that the recent price drop for the iPhone in the United States would “split the mobile world into two choices: settle for a free phone or buy an iPhone. There just aren’t many reasons to do anything else.”

While this may not yet happen in Singapore, the iPhone may very well usher in a new era where more people are finding use for 3G and data plans.

  1. Chua, H. H. (June 10, 2008). SingTel to bring 3G iPhone to S’pore by year-end. Straits Times

  2. Tham, Y. (June 15, 2008). Want an iPhone? Don’t expect it to come cheap. Straits Times

  3. Siew, A. (June 17, 2008). iPhone rivals usher in the touch-screen era. Straits Times 

  4. StarHub had repeatedly revealed that it expects to sell the phone eventually, and that M1 is in talks with Apple. 

  5. Chua, H. H. (June 19th, 2008). SingTel confident it can fend off competition. Straits Times

Photoshop: Cycling through hidden tools

Photoshop: Hidden ToolsSome of the lesser used tools in Photoshop are grouped under the same button. If you use the mouse, this would normally involve clicking and holding on the button until a list of additional tools pop up.

However for those who use keyboard shortcuts to access these tools, it can be quite confusing as to how to access those hidden tools with the keyboard. To do so, hold down Shift+ to cycle through the tools. For instance, pressing Shift+I for the first time would select the Eyedropper tool, the Color Sampler Tool the second time, and the Ruler Tool for the third time, etc.

Who Defines Good Web Design?

When I first hooked myself online 10 years ago with a 28.8kbps modem borrowed from a friend, I was fascinated by the possibilities that the Internet could offer. I can’t exactly remember when I started my first personal webpage, but that was long before blogs were called blogs. They were more like diaries, but I never enjoyed keeping something so private on the Internet. My writings were thus more observational and critical rather than narrative. But I digress.

Back in the 1990s, The Internet and more specifically HTML itself were still in their infancy. Most personal webpages were flamboyantly ornated with scrolling marquees, blinking texts, custom cursors, background music, java applets and what not. Many of them still are.

Many amateur web designers and bloggers, overwhelmed by the plethora of possibilities the WWW could offer, readily embrace any possible technology in customising their site – from backgrounds to scrollbars to cursors to titles. It is perhaps much like how some car lovers would plaster up their rides with millions of decals and vinyls, install roof scoops and neon lights. Admittedly, not everyone would find such decor to their taste. But to the owners, it may just be a way to identify with their posessions.

While Jeremy may have felt a tinge of sarcarsm on my description of his blog, the truth is that no malice was intended at all. After all, who really defines a good web page? Jeremy’s friends may have liked how colourful his page is while I prefer to keep mine easy on the eyes. The “warning” was only put up in part because I assumed that my readers (if any) may not be able to adjust so readily from my almost monochrome page to his.

With the flexibility bestowed on web designers and bloggers in customising their webpages, many are tempted to over-customise their website. While it is great to have a site that stands out from the rest, we should ensure that it stands out for the right reasons. I’d play safe and go by the golden rule of “Less is More”. Anything in excess can never be good.

I’d note the following, though they are strictly my preferences:

  1. Scrolling marquees and blinking text are definitely out. Heck, they can even trigger seizures in epileptic patients.
  2. Background music is not appreciated. Most of us have tons of music queued up in our playlist already. Being interrupted while surfing the net does not sound appealing.
  3. Consistency is imperative. Don’t get too caught up with customising everything you can. The arrow cursor, for instance, tells the user that there’s nothing to interact with. The hand cursor, for another instance, tells the user that he/she can click to interact with the object. If you had customised the cursor, the user would be at a lost having lost the vital visual cues.
  4. Frames are defunct. I never liked them anyway for I could never get to bookmark a framed page correctly

More tips on proper webdesign can be found at the following:

  1. Everything Else: The Top Fifteen Mistakes of First Time Web Design
  2. Art and the Zen of Web Sites

30 Years of Computing and My Ho-hum Life With It

Chanced upon this article, “The Real History of the GUI“. It’s kinda geeky, but it’s quite a good read to know how your computer came about.

My first computer (it’s my dad’s one, actually) was a whopping 80486 running Windows 3.11 and DOS 6.22 back in 1995 (Primary 4). Instead of perusing textbooks and slaving over assessment books like local school kids do, I read through the entire DOS 6.22 manual, which by the way is thicker than all my Primary 4 and 5 textbooks combined. My repertoire of knowledge in DOS soon grew way beyond my dad’s “dir/w”, “copy ” “mkdir”. The constant experimentation with the PC caused countless of reformats and reinstallation by a 10-year-old, with him getting more proficient each time than the previous.

I only managed to convince my dad to upgrade our Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 after I wrongly bought a game, Cyberstorm (I think), that required DirectX (i.e. Windows 95) to play. I bought myself a book on Windows 95 (can’t exactly remember the title, but it’s some Expert Guide to Win 95), went through it more than once (instead of studying, again) and became Microsoft’s unofficial technical helpdesk for all relatives with their computers woes.

Back in my upper primary school days, when kids play games – board or electronic forms, I wanted to make my own games. I was too poor (read: my parents were too ngiao) then to afford the board game Risk that my spoilt and rich neighbours owned. And so, I combined two drawing boards, traced a world map on it from my encyclopedia, stole dices from my brother’s Monopoly and made my own Risk. My aberrant desires to make games (instead of playing them) was only limited to board games. Making your own computer game sounds unattainable to a 10-year-old then.

When I transferred school in Primary 5, this bloke, Alvin, told me that I can make my own computer games. Although Alvin was a bullshitter most of the time, he was right about that. His words and encouragement had utterly destroyed my life as a normal living teenager for the next 6 years to come. I spent my days slaving in front of the computer instead of having a life. I remembered perusing through the help files of QBasic, the program Alvin touted that could materialise my deviant desires, one afternoon and finally managed to draw a circle on the screen. I literally jumped around the house for a full five minutes before hugging my younger brother for joy. It was not until 2 years later in Secondary 1 that Alvin, myself and two other school mates participated in the Cyberwar Zone ’98 competition that I made the first game, Annihilator, with Visual Basic. We eventually made it into the finals (the only Secondary 1 team out of the 6 finalists) though I can’t exactly remember did we rank 4th or 5th. I have since lost the source code, though.

I became the Vice-Chairman of the school’s computer club by Secondary 2 but was eventually overthrown in a coup d’etat by the teachers-in-charge and IT HOD in Secondary 3 due to my recalcitrant ways and for articulating my disdain for inane school policies.

Alvin, Jeremy and myself (and even Weiming, I think!) eventually formed OmniDesigns and created ONAS, a network administration suite that was to be deployed over school computer labs and marketed to LAN shops for easy administration. However, programmers being programmers, we procrastinated and never managed to deliver a final version of it. We never became rich as a result of that but still managed to clinch monetary prizes for the school’s internal IT competitions. There was this renegade group of non-computer club students that were always trying to rival us though, and the IT HOD was so obsessed with them. They went by the lame name of “TyphoonStorm” if I remembered correctly. Admitedlly, they’ve got better marketing executives than we do.

Addendum God, their website is still around and has not changed a bit since 2001. Now this is nostalgic.

Secondary school passed, I collected my ‘O’ Level results and decided at last minute not to do computer studies at polytechnic but to continue rote-learning at a friendly neighbourhood JC. That was perhaps when I decided I didn’t want to do computers for a living. And that is the end of my geeky story. And that was when I last heard from Alvin, I have no idea why he refuses to contact me now. And you must be really bored to read through all that!