Have Nintendo 3DS in Brazil, no Netflix for you


My daughter asked me to buy her a Nintendo DS on my last business trip. My business trips to the US of A usually turn into small disasters for my personal finance. My kids, wife, and myself included, take the opportunity to delve into buying stuff that is more expensive or hard to find in Brazil.

Getting back to the topic, I visited a local Toysrsus store and spent a couple of good hours studying the different variants of the Nintendo DS family. The DS Lite was the cheapest at 89 USDs. I almost bought it, but decided on exploring the feature-set of the Nintendo 3DS. At 169 USDs, it is almost twice as expensive as the DS Lite, so I needed to be convinced it was worth buying.

Two things convinced me I needed to buy it. The 3D display piqued my interest. The cheapest 3D TVs in Brazil can easily cost more than 2500 USDs, so they are rare to get hold of. I am curious about 3D display technology and I don’t know of any other device or gadget with a 3D display at the price point of the 3DS.

The other thing was Netflix. Since its launch in Latin America, Netflix has notched up a million subscribers. The 3DS has a Netflix app in the Nintendo eShop for North America. Netflix does not stream 3D movies. I thought another screen to watch Netflix, that consumes less electricity than a PC, would be a fine thing.

So, I bought the 3DS. The Hotel I was staying at had a hotsite for Wireless access where you had to enter an access code. I was having a hard time figuring out how I’d provide the access code when I realized that the 3DS has a fine web browser. Having the internet working, I was then able to access the Nintendo eShop and download the Netflix app. The hotel Wireless was too bad to actually stream movies but I had the app and thought in all earnest that I was all set.

Back to Brazil. I launch the Netflix app, and you know what? Here’s what appears on the screen:

3ds_netflix

I am so disappointed. Nintendo, please work with Netflix to fix this, why don’t you have a Netflix app in the eShop for Brazil already? I know this is what you have to say at your site:

Currently, Netflix Instant Streaming for the Nintendo 3DS is only available in the US and Canada. For information on availability in other regions, please contact Netflix directly.

But, come on, it is your customers who are pissed. Netflix obviously has to shoulder a good part of the blame. They have a support page (in Portuguese) for Nintendo 3DS, and it’s a verbatim translation of their support page in English. They failed to check if it works on a real device.

Obtain dissection data using Field and FieldInfo


The Wireshark Lua API reference documents Field in some detail, this post gives a concrete example to complement the official documentation. If you are not familiar with writing dissectors for Wireshark in Lua, I recommend reading the post Create a Wireshark dissector in Lua.

Creating a Field extractor

According to the reference on Field cited above, you should create a Field extractor before Dissectors get called. This is how you can create a Field extractor for the source and destination IP addresses of the Internet Protocol.

local ipsrcf = Field.new("ip.src")
local ipdstf = Field.new("ip.dst")
local ipprotof = Field.new("ip.proto")

The name of the fields of any protocol can be obtained by using the autocompletion feature of the Filter text field in the toolbar, or the Filter Expression builder dialog.

Obtaining Field information

You can call a Field extractor to obtain all values associated with it, in the form of a FieldInfo instance. For instance, the code snippet below shows how you can get the string representation of the source and destination IP addresses. This code snippet only works inside the dissector function.

local finfo = ipsrcf()
local ipsrcstr = tostring(finfo)
finfo = ipdstf()
local ipdststr = tostring(finfo)
finfo = ipprotof()
local ipprotostr = tostring(finfo)

Packet Information structure

Certain information about the packet is already provided to the Lua dissector function by Wireshark. This is how you can obtain the source address for instance: pkt.net_src.

What Apple did right with the iPhone


I have been a Smartphone user since before iPhone and Android were nothing but rumors. Windows Mobile ruled then, and so did RIM BlackBerry and Nokia. They were resting on their laurels.

Here’s why.

Graphics Accelerator

Video playback on any of these devices was an afterthought. I had a Windows Mobile device from HTC but it hiccuped through videos and games. The void was filled by specialized apps such as CorePlayer. HTC didn’t care that the device had a graphics accelerator that was being totally wasted on a 320×240 pixels screen.

iPhone changed all that by supporting normal video playback albeit of a single video encoding. Whereas HTC and Nokia had become device pushers, Apple innovated. Shame on you Microsoft for not providing constant updates and screaming performance on my Windows Mobile device. You still expect Nokia and the carriers to help you do that.

Touch Screen

The resistive touchscreen on my Windows Mobile device was a joke as was the phone application. My wife complained every time I handed her the phone to make a call, inspite of having the longer nails advantage over me. Resistive touchscreens worked only with a Stylus and even then you couldn’t make a phone call in a hurry. Touchscreen sounded good on the spec sheet to bump up the price but was a totally bad experience.

The iPhone with its capacitive touchscreen and sufficiently large widgets changed all that. Infact, I am writing this on an iPhone 4S using iA Writer.

The Processor

Before the iPhone, Smartphone makers used what the semiconductor makers had to offer. A 400 MHz processor was considered awesome. Apple showed that it was possible to go beyond that, way beyond. They were willing to design their own processor and hardware if the market did not provide what they needed. They didn’t wait several generations of poor devices to launch their best effort. They have only launched four base iPhone models.

Compare that to other makers that can’t stop themselves from launching new devices. I’ll repeat again, they are device pushers. I am not saying some don’t innovate. Nokia has just announced a 40 something megapixel camera on a phone. It remains to be seen what use it can be put to. You don’t hear Apple announcing preposterous specs in the press way before it has decided to launch a product. They know not to dilute the importance of a product launch by making early promises they may not keep. Then when they do launch, they market it like the best piece of hardware the world has seen, which is not far from the truth.

Material Science

No doubt there have been sleek phones but the iPhone redefined that too. Whereas the other Smartphones have a cheap plastic feel, the iPhone feels like the premium device Apple projects it to be. The use of glass and metals has never before been so effective.

The Operating System

iOS is simple to use. Steve Jobs drilled this into everyone at the launch keynote, which I only happened to watch after I had written most of this post. I added this section after that. Watch that keynote and I have nothing more to add.

Cost

Inspite of its premium hardware, the iPhone is seriously price conscious. I cannot afford a Lexus or Mercedes Benz in Brazil but I have an iPhone. An apples and oranges comparison, I know, but you get the drift.

Not an Apple fan? Tell what your smartphone has or does way better than the iPhone.

Businesses disrupted by smartphones


Here’s my list of some businesses that a smartphone has disrupted or is disrupting, in no particular order.  The potential to disrupt several other businesses is huge, so is the opportunity for incumbents to adopt the smartphone before more agile startups disrupt their business. Leave a comment and add to it.

Portable gaming devices

Most smartphones have sufficiently high-end graphics performance. Game developers have flocked in droves to build dedicated titles for them. The financial woes of the likes of Nintendo and Sony in the gaming department attest to this fact. I see the innovation in 3D gaming devices such as Nintendo 3DS but the cost and lack of titles is a dampener.

E-book readers

I do most of my casual reading on my smartphone. I am slowly adopting my smartphone for serious reading. As a developer, I am well served. Most technical publishers now provide titles in the EPUB format which adapts fairly well to small screens. I have bought books from Apress, O’Reilly and others in the recent past, they provide e-books in multiple formats – PDF, EPUB and MOBI in particular. I store these e-books in a cloud storage service like Dropbox and open them in the appropriate reading app when needed.

Digital cameras

I don’t carry one when I travel. My smartphone has become an apt substitute. Instagram, Google+ and Facebook have photos as their main target for social sharing, digital cameras just cannot keep up. Most smartphones also capture decent HD video.

Document scanning

With high-resolution auto-focus lenses and intelligent graphics processing, apps are able to scan documents really well. I just scan and keep my documents in an app such as the TurboScan and view, e-mail or share it from there.

Desktop printing

Why print if you can take the document everywhere? Commercial airlines now allow you to board flights using on-screen boarding passes.

Personal Computers

I need one as a developer or for sites that are not mobile ready, otherwise I would abandon my PC in a second. Most of my daily activities like reading or sending e-mail, time tracking, personal finance, banking etc are realized on my smartphone.

Digital calculators

You can get all kinds of scientific and financial calculator apps for your smartphone. The arrival of cheap laptops and netbooks began this disruption, the smartphone with its portability is completing it.

Dedicated media players

Most smartphones can play offline or streaming music. Living in Brazil does make taking a high-end smartphone for a walk or jog risky business, hence I do have use for a cheaper music player. If you are streaming your media using apps from Amazon, Google, Netflix, Vevo and the like, a dedicated player is next to useless. You can also get your streaming media onto a bigger screen using HDMI adapters. This may disrupt broadcast TV some day. I don’t remember the last time I watched TV.

GPS devices

Dedicated GPS devices are slowly becoming niche devices. Most smartphones have built-in GPS and apps for turn-by-turn navigation. They can also record your route so that you can retrace you steps during biking and hiking trips.

Electronic payment

This is one disruption that has just begun. Sellers can buy simple credit card readers and attach them to a smartphone and charge their customers anywhere in their establishment. No more going to a PoS terminal. The smartphone could one day make credit cards obsolete.

Consumer data storage devices

There was a time when I upgraded my computer hard-disk every two years or so. I haven’t done that in five years. With most of my media creation happening on the smartphone I can upload that media to a number of cloud storage options. I still don’t rely on them a hundred percent and they have features that are sometimes a bother, but we are steadily getting there.

The radio

Most broadcast radio now also streams over the internet. I don’t have a FM radio player at home. I do have one in the car but I do my listening on the smartphone using dedicated apps. Smartphones did not disrupt the radio obviously, but smartphones are disrupting whatever dedicated radio hardware still sells.