Eliminating the distractions

Some weeks ago I decided to put a lot of effort in eliminating distractions and cut my informational queues. Every day I was seeing a huge number of unread RSS items, Gmail messages, and all of my sites getting rusty because of under-maintenance.  This was a very sad picture, and the most important thing about it is that I understood my “luck of time” apologies being completely wrong and naive. Time and money are the things that are never enough before you know how to cut down your appetite.

So, I started from bringing count of unread RSS items below 1000. In one week I managed to do that, and then I successfully organized my Google Reader to be a place to get newest information in contrast of earlier times, when some items left unread for weeks before I found a possibility to view them. After so much success, I can give an advice or two about this. The most important thing is to cut down the number of subscriptions. Just show no mercy and unsubscribe everything that you rarely read, even if it’s something you would like to spend more time on. If you don’t pay much attention now, it is not worth keeping it. It only steals your time and blurs your attention on more important things. Come back to it, when you are ready to embrace this new thing completely and check the news every single day. Second step is continuing cutting down the number of subscriptions. After eliminating those which are rarely read by you, eliminate those who have less than 50% of interesting content, because remaining 50% are stealing your time and blurring your focus. If you absolutely need the information in first 50%, find another feed that has much better percentage of good posts.

After this is done, you can breathe more freely, but you still should change your habits to regular reading of subscriptions that survived the cleansing. This number can still be quite high. In order not to get stressed with quickly increasing number of items to read, do the following (the advice is based on using Google Reader, but I believe most of RSS readers have very similar feature set):

  • sort feeds to groups and prioritize the groups
  • learn to skim through the headers without reading the entire item - just press N to go to the next item when header does not seem to be attractive enough.

Skimming through the groups with highest priorities lets you quickly work through the most important information that can distract you from more important tasks. If you still have a large number of unread items, but it is mostly because of low-priority groups, you still feel better, and this also gives you ideas about further eliminations of subscriptions you rarely read.

Another threat to your time is your friend feed in social network of your choice, notifications sent by the sites you frequently visit, trackbacks on the comments and so on. This is a bit harder to give any advice, because it’s very personal. But anyway, some of your ‘friends’ on Facebook are closer than the others. For example, I have about 50 or so ‘friends’ I never met in person, and some of them weren’t even virtual friends before meeting them on Facebook. However, their wall posts appear in my feed. I guess that many people have the same problem. The best solution is again to group contacts into different groups, and read feed from the group you are interested in. Thankfully, it’s very easily done with Facebook, and after Twitter introduced lists, it became much easier with Twitter, too. Also, Facebook allows you to block wall posts on personal and application level, which greatly helps to get rid of those Farmville-like notifications.

Also, another great way to fight time distractors is to offload your working time by moving task of cutting down informational queues to some idle time. It happens - you might be commuting to your office, waiting for a girlfriend who is always late, killing time in a queue in a shop or hospital - you name it. The rise of the smartphone makes it easy not to worry about having a book/magazine/sudoku/etc with you - you take it out of your pocket, and in no time you are reading, playing or watching something. Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter, mailbox, instant messaging - they all are looking great on your iPhone, Android, and even Symbian. I quit reading RSS at home, because I cut down the informational queue with my iPhone at the idle time.

Finally, I wanted to emphasize one thing that I myself am not very familiar with. Eliminating distractions is not the only thing that improves working time. You always need to find good ways to motivate yourself doing useful things, and to organize your day so that you remember about useful things. I am very bad in planning my time. I tried so many times to use a calendar, and every time I fail. I guess many of you having the same problem. There are lot of notebooks and todo lists spread all over the desks, offices, apartments, and websites, and most of them are abandoned after first use, because lack of inner organization and numerous distractions make to forget about them. Once a year they are re-discovered, just to be abandoned a day later.

All this is wrong, of course. And if this happens, you will hardly ever change your habits. What to do?

Suddenly, I’ve got an answer and I will try hard to follow it. Stop multiplying your calendars-to-be-abandoned. Select just one web service that is available from all the locations where you have ever started your previous failed todo lists. Write everything in one file, just to get a habit to check out just one place. Access this place in all possible ways. I think the best choices to achieve that is to have a private notebook at Evernote, text document at Google Docs, or just a text file in Dropbox. All three are living in the cloud, and accessible from any device. Do not write many things in this one file, because otherwise you will get overwhelmed and stressed by the number of thing you need to do. Cut down low-priority todos by throwing them out of the list. Try to get all items visible on one screen.

If you have some small things to do during a working day, just write them down on a sticky note and put it on your monitor, but do not forget to throw it away in the end of the day, otherwise you will be flooded by sticky notes after a couple of weeks. This might help you to figure out what is the right number of tasks you can plan for yourself for one day. If too many tasks were planned for the day, summarize them in one short sentence and write it down to your file in the cloud.

Major Life Update

Well, it’s already over a year I haven’t post anything here. And should I say, a lot has changed since then.

The most important - I quit my job at Tallink and moved to Southern Spain. Here, I need to start my career anew, because no one so far is impressed with my CV until it’s in Spanish. And the dead cycle is that with current job, I have no chance to learn Spanish without going to language courses - since all of my colleagues here are either English or Russian-speaking. But I take it easy so far, learning to enjoy a Mediterranean lifestyle while being not so stressed with looking for a job.

This does not mean I have an easy life at the office. I started a gargantuan task of rebuilding existing systems, which are a peculiar mix of aged technologies, into something modern, extensible, cross-platform and scalable. At the moment, I have a nice progress in two areas - modern and cross-platform. My solution is much more web 2.0-er and works in all major browsers, in contrast to IE-only nature of old system. Used technology and infrastructure provide additional constraints that boost my creativity. Hopefully in several months I will have great GTD-solution for a small-to-middle company.

On the other side, my own company is not doing well because of these major life changes - I lost all of my customers in Estonia, while haven’t gained yet any customer in Spain. So, if anyone has some suggestions, I am open to any cooperation. IT and tourism are main areas of my interest, but I learned to be curious to things that are not yet familiar to me. Surprisingly, one can have a lot of fun doing things he had previously no clue about.

After moving to another corner of Europe, it’s easy to keep in touch with most of the friends online, but it’s pretty hard to see anyone in person just because getting between Estonia and Andalucia is not an easy task. Searching for a new interest groups became a requirement after we solved the main problems of legalizing documents, renting an apartment and applying for social security. So far we found a place to dance, yoga group, and a place for a language exchange. Obviously, I need to find a decent language course for myself - and most of the evenings are already busy! :)

My linguistic efforts are a bit down - my forgetting of French progresses, Swedish has become pale as never before, and interest in constructed languages still does not give any fruit. Meanwhile I became curious not only in Euroclones, but also worldlangs - languages designed to appeal to wider audience. It seems that Sambahsa and Lingwa de Planeta are the languages to take a look at. From these two, Lingwa de Planeta shows more promise, so most probably, I will concentrate on it as a worldlang, and sticking to Ido as favourite euroclone.

My virtual lifestream has also changed a little bit - I now spend much more time on Facebook than any other site except Google Reader, mostly because having an iPhone made mobile blogging a breeze. I still dismiss Twitter as something useful for my needs, and haven’t yet jumped to Foursquare bandwagon, and the only useful newcomer in the long list of services I tried during the last year, is Tumblr. This thing is designed pretty well, but it is destined to fail unless Facebook refugees would be searching for nice alternatives with less status update clutter. And I became almost  ready to pay for some cloud services, Dropbox and Spotify in first place. I realized that some good things need our participation in order to become a household item for everyone, rather miserably fail while fighting for a place in Web 2.0 ecosystem against 800-pound gorillas like Google, Apple and Facebook.

Hopefully I will write in more details about all the subjects covered above. Can’t promise it will be soon, but I’ll do my best.

Television on demand

My friends know that I don’t have television at home. So do many of my friends. Some of them have a TV set, but no cable subscription to TV channels - so they use TV set only as a screen for their home cinemas. Others, like me, even don’t have a screen. No-TV phenomenon is big around me, and those who are neglecting TV channels have similar arguments - “I watch only things I select myself”, “I save time for more useful things”, “My brain is not washed with outrageous propaganda that comes with TV media” etc.

I also support no-TV camp, and the argument about wasted time is something I am ready to sign under. But I admit that rarely, I need to watch some TV program. And here again, it counts where on Earth you live. Without any problem, one can buy episodes of latest US soap operas on iTunes Store. But for the rest of the world, one can rely only on those enthusiasts, who for some reason publish aired programs on YouTube. I sometimes come to YouTube to see some particular Russian TV show. But in the age of HD, it is ridiculous to see low definition clips in the browser.

I would definitely like the possibility to buy _any_ show from _any_ tv channel in the world. That is something similar to the fact of getting information off the internet nowadays. Just the common standard is missing, as well as common monetization infrastructure. Until then, we are limited to poorer options.

Another problem is that TV channels here in Estonia suck. I have no any wish to watch them. Given the size of their audience and budgets they live on, there is no even hope they will get any better. Cable operators compensate this sad fact with transmitting foreign channels, which include Russian, German, Ukrainian, Finnish channels, as well as ViaSat channels and obvious BBC, CNN, Euronews. Probably I am a freak but having all of them would annoy me. This is ridiculously stupid to randomly walk through the channels, searching for someone good. Everyone has their favourite channels, while others are just a ballast used as a marketing stuff. “Hey, join us, we show 76 channels!” - why should I? I would hardly watch 20 of them. OK, I can spend an hour and hide all channels I don’t need, but the problem is that I should pay for the package that contains 20 channels I need and 56 channels I don’t need.

Of course, I need those channels which are available in biggest and most expensive packages. The idea “you get 56 more channels for free” is flawed, I don’t need free shit. I would like to have possibility to select my 20 channels and pay only for them. I know pretty few about technical side of cableco business, but living in XXI century sets high expectations. I fail to understand why it is not possible.

With all this rant, I want to say only one thing - TV is yet in its infancy from tech-savvy consumer’s  point of view. It will be interesting to see what dies first - traditional TV, because of its stagnation, or internet-based TV on demand, because of congestion in the cables.

5 years ago we would think crazy to have the whole music collection in one iPod, and wirelessly get WallStreetJournal on Amazon Kindle. I hope next 5 years will bring enough innovation to TV as well.

Radio announcement about upcoming Ido conference

I probably haven’t mentioned about upcoming Ido conference in this blog. Unfortunately, I still putting insufficient amount of effort into this project - but things are still evolving. Last week, I contacted my friend, who works for a state-run radio station (Radio4) and we decided that on Monday we will record a program that will be aired on Tuesday, during the morning show.

I’m gonna give a short overview of planned languages, talk about Ido and announce the conference. The weird thing is that I still don’t have neither a good presentation of a conference anywhere on the net (the only published announcement can be found here) nor an official site for my non-profit organization that I created specifically to promoting conlangs; so I can’t leave any contact information about me except my mobile phone number!

I quickly checked if there any fast way to register .ee-domain for my NPO and set up some very simple page with announcement in Estonian and Russian languages (that announcement in Ido I linked above is definitely unintelligable for many potential visitors, so it would be pretty useless for my future radio listeners to share it), but it turned to be not a single day adventure. It seems that it is a good readon to revitalize my three-years-old domain, barcodexana.com, for this very purpose.

I participated in MacHeist this year

At MacHeist.com, they have a mission to save the world one software bundle at a time. I never really liked the idea of software bundles - even in Microsoft Office, used by everyone and his grandma, you might never use some of the software included. Even Google bundles some freeware titles together with their own software, and if they say “Make no evil” while doing this, maybe it’s not a bad thing?

I read TUAW blog in my Google Reader every day, and when I first read their article about MacHeist, I was left cold. Well, I even visited the site they linked, and saw a lot of software I would never use or even try. So I forgot about this, until I realized that this year, some apps I would use are bundled. Namely, I was looking at Espresso, new shiny HTML+CSS+everything editor from MacRabbit. The ideology of MacHeist is that some apps (obviously, the most useful from the bundle) are “locked” until certain amount of people have paid for the bundle. I thought: “well, if they gather enough people to unlock Espresso, I would also jump in”. On the last day of selling, guys from TUAW kindly reminded about MacHeist and I realized that required number of buyers was reached indeed!

So, I entered my credit card number and in some minutes, I found an e-mail with license keys in my inbox. Que bueno! I downloaded Espresso, Times (very special RSS reader, that organizes your feeds like a newspaper sheet, hence the name) and The Hit List (I still hope to start  Getting Things Done). It seems that I won’t feel a need to try other 11 applications of the bundle (well, maybe Acorn) but even with these three, I am saving some money, as $39 I paid for the full bundle is still less than price of Espresso alone.

But the most rewarding point of my purchase is not even financial saving. I really like the fact of 25% of earned money being sent to charity. Not just abstract charity, but the fund of choice - for example, I chose my money to be forwarded to a Cancer Prevention Fund. And the fact I still paid _something_ for the software, means that I somehow supported some software engineers to keep up their good job.

I will definitely look for the MacHeist4 next year. And I will try to report about my experiences with software from the bundle.

Magazine publishing

In our small world of Ido speakers, we have a problem lately - namely, editors of official magazine retired and Progreso, which was published since 1907 and lived over the hardest time for conlangs in general and Ido in particular, is not being currently published. That is the long story why this happened, but my personal feeling is that editors were overworked and received too few positive feedback in return. Anemic pariticipation of other idists in the project is something that does not change overnight, but I thought that the publishing process as it exists now is a bit hard, too.

So, today I spent some time exploring the internet about existing publishing solutions. I came to a surprising conclusion that if public services for that really exist, they are well hidden. The closest service I have found so far is HP’s MagCloud, which might be a great service, if it’s only wouldn’t limited to US during current “beta” stage. There are Lulu.com and other Publish-on-Demand services out there, but none is good enough to use it as all-in-one magazine publishing solution.

Here are the requirements for such a service:

  1. It must host online version of the magazine for those who don’t need to have a paper version
  2. It must allow printing any amount of magazines and sending them to subscribers, defined by an easy administration tool
  3. It must editing the contents in an easy way (of course, in some reasonable limits - this should not be another Pagemaker)
  4. It might allow combine old issues in single books for those who want to get old issues from the archive
  5. It might allow collaboration between different editors
  6. It might allow having custom appearances for different subscribers, either in paper, online, or both
  7. It should take care about all questions related to subscription, including paying
  8. It should synchronize with most popular e-Readers and be available on iPhone and similar devices

Some of this requirements are comprimisable, some not, but in the longer run it would be grat to have them all.  This is something that does not really exist anywhere, it seems.

If anyone wants to start a project to create a service like this, and shares my vision - I am more than willing to participate.

“Entry fee” of language learning

One of two pseudo-scientific terms I regularly use when justifying my obsession with conlangs, and when talking generally about learning some language, is an “entry fee”. By this term I mean the amount of effort you need to master the language to some degree.

I never tried to build a theory about it, putting some levels, calculating percentages and drawing graphs basing on some vision, which in my case would probably be inacurate and biased. Just because my knowledge of theoretical linguistics is pretty bad, I tend to keep it that way. Actually, this might be someone’s master thesis - but I doubt that there were really a lot of investigations in this field. What makes any serious study complicated is the fact that perception of different things is still different for different people.

I do believe that ability to learn a language is complicaed misture of natural talent, general knowledge, number of languages the person already has in his arsenal, cultural environment, place of living, personal motivation and many other factors. However, when you fix all these factors for one person, it is obvious that in that particular situation, one new language will seem easier than the other.

When a person starts to learn a language which belongs to the same language family as his mother tongue, he might think that learning langauges is easy. Very quickly this person starts to realize that “false friends” are his greatest enemies, but this does not stop him from having fun of learning. If the person selects a language from a different family, especially if its written form uses some nonfamiliar writing system, the effort needed to get even the lowest level of mastering this language is great. 

As I said, I compare this difference in amount of work to be done to an “entry fee”. Imagine that you are starting to do some sports. If it’s jogging, your investment is a pair of good running shoes - everything else is an option. If it’s a yachting, you need to buy or rent the boat, which seems to require much more money and time. The same with languages - entry fee in the francophone world is much smaller for catalans than for chinese or russian, while Polish will be much “cheaper” for slovaks rather than moroccans or mexican. 

If you learn several languages in a row, you get a “discount” for every next language you start learning. If you know Norwegian, you get huge discounts for learning Danish. If you ever spoke Russian, the price of learning Ukrainian is much lower than if you never did. 

What’s interesting in this theory in application to conlangs is that the latter ones were often designed to be easily learnable by people with different language backgrounds. There are some great interlinguistical projects that specifically aim to be “a missing link” for some language group, like Interlingua for Romance languages or Slovio for Slavic languages. Having them learned gives great discounts for picking up related natural languages. Pidgins and creoles do the same job, as they often mix two or more natural languages in an easy package.

Using obvious similarities between the languages, you might build a learning path for complex natural languages. My favorite example of such path can be illustrated by an idea once spoken by Dave MacLeod - to learn Arabic, you might at first learn Interlingua, which helps you to pick up Italian and Maltese which mixes good portion of Italian being at the same time a language family as Arabic. Going from Maltese to Arabic is maybe a longest part of this path, but it’s definitely shorter than going straight to Arabic. You might spend the same time to learn Arabic from scratch as if going the Interlingua-Italian-Maltese-Arabic path but in the latter case you get 3 more languages, which will also give discounts for entering the world of other languages. Think about it as if you buy one thing, or getting it for free while buying three more useful things that in total cost the same. Or rather getting three things for free for the same money. Isn’t it just great?

Futurology

For some centuries people are not only trying to predict the future, but write books about it. With time, humankind even got a new science - futurology. Some of futurologists let their fantasy fly and write science fiction, others base on statistical models and trends shown by other sciences. But in any case, noone knows very exactly how the world will look in the future, and can predict with certain level of accuracy only a short period of time. What distinguishes XXI century is that the period of accurate prediction gets smaller and smaller. 

About 10 years ago, innovation in mobile telephony was mostly in miniaturization. I can remember that the smaller phone you had, the more mojo you got. Now, look at the phones - they are reasonbly small, but noone tries to make even tinier devices - focus shifts to functionality. Nowadays phones in our pockets have more processing power than our desktop computers 10 years ago. Regardless of phones’ capabilities, they changed our habits forever. Nowadays it seems incredible how people could organize any meeting and social activity without phones and e-mail.

Internet was a toy for academics and IT people 15 years ago, so who could imagine 20 years ago how it will affect our lives? That we will do lot of stuff without leaving our homes, that children will start have problems with communicating real people instead of their virtual egos? Automotive industry and television made this world a small place in second half of XX century, now the world shrinks to the size of your portable computer, which is now passed period of gaining row performance and is following the miniaturization trend (as 10 years ago with small telephones, nowadays people are crazy about as thin and as small computers as they can get).

Web 1.0 was an important step in evolution of technology. It made information of any kind easily accessible. Web 2.0 breaks further and adds a social dimension which allows information exchange even less formalized and more total. What will Web 3.0 give us? Or will it at all be the Web? Our life changes quickly - new technologies attack and it’s just incredible what you can do nowadays. Google cotributed most to make search a commodity. Apple proved that selling music online is a feasible business. My iPod Classic holds my whole music collection - no need for CDs, which in their turn promised heaven on earth after tapes and vinyls. The same fate obviously await DVD collections. Amazon with their Kindle kills the book printing. Finally, it seems that cutting trees for paper might eventually become a history.

We live in very interesting time - we can see technical evolution blooming all around us. I think that last time when people were as excited was the end of XIX century, when inventions in field of electricity and radiowaves provided a lot of new devices. And as they did not know what they will get in a few decades, we can’t imagine what devices will fill our life in just ten years.

At first site, financial crisis [everyone talks about] threatens technological progress. But I think that on the contrary, it gives another push signal to inventors - to create more effiient things. I put my hopes to efficient airplanes, automobiles, power plants; electronics that consumes almost nothing and provides more functionality, effective communication, advanced health systems that rely more on natural stuff. If only we had the political stability for the next years to overcome the crisis. As we remember, the world after last Great Depression was a fragile thing and had fallen to a great war. Devices get smarter, but the humankind? Not really, I am afraid.

I think that we should not just concentrate on technical process. We need to improve out way of thinking and remember that simple humanistic values will make this world a better place, not a miraculous technology. Do something kind tomorrow - donate to a charity, adopt a homeless dog, teach something good to your children, call your parents, sort your trash, plant a tree, switch off excessive light in your apartment. Be a good man.

Choosing a planned language to learn

For those who perhaps got interested by previous post about planned languages, I continue to introduce my own take about the subject.

For the perfect introduction to the world of planned (constructed, artificial, auxiliary, international) languages, look no further than Wikipedia - they have both summarizing article and pretty good pages about particular languages. For this post of mine, the most important excerpt from Wikipedia article is this:

 

“Constructed languages are categorized as either a priori languages or a posteriori languages. The grammar and vocabulary of the former are created from scratch, either by the author’s imagination or by computation; the latter possess a grammar and vocabulary derived from natural language.

In turn, a posteriori languages are divided into schematic languages, in which a natural or partly natural vocabulary is altered to fit pre-established rules, and naturalisticlanguages, in which a natural vocabulary retains its normal sound and appearance. While Esperanto is generally considered schematic, Interlingua is viewed as naturalistic. Ido is presented either as a schematic language or as a compromise between the two types.”

 

In this fragment, you can see the “big three” - most popular planned languages, usually viewed as most probable candidates to learn. Of course, they are others (for example, OccidentalToki Pona, VolapükLatino sine FlexioneLingua Franca Nova), less popular but not necessarily worse than any of the “big three”, but since very conveniently we have here schematic, naturalistic and intermediate options to compare, let’s review only these.

Schematic languages provide most abstraction from national languages, while naturalistic use their resemblance to natural language as a biggest advantage. This is one of the reasons why Esperanto itself is often considered a leftist language and its adepts - nonconformists and even marxists. Which is nothing more than a stereotype. True, average Esperantist has more international and idealistic viewpoints than a random guy-next-door, but calling them marxist is an exaggeration to say the least. I personally think that too much politics is forcedly (and falsely) applied to conlangs.

Selecting the planned language to learn, a person should understand why he or she does so. The motives themselves can help to make a decision. Obviously enough, people learn language to have possibility to communicate to other people. By far the biggest conlang is Esperanto, so the first logical thought is to start learning it. This enables communication in this language with up to one million people worldwide. However, in case of naturalistic language, the strong point is their similarity to real languages. Interlingua adepts argue that after learning their language, one can comprehend to a big extent any of Romance languages, so going this way could provide help with communication with up to one _billion_ people worlwide.

The both numbers are clearly optimistic if learner will never go beyond learning just one conlang. But the main point I personally like about conlangs is that learning them is a bridge to easier and faster learning of real languages. My favourite language of big three is Ido - being schematic in a good way, and having lots of naturalistic vocabulary, it makes a good choice to cover the most possible variants. And I also like how it looks and sounds. But it’s just me - everyone can have his own preference.

In next posts I will share more thoughts about conlangs as an educational instrument.

Why I don’t have an iPhone

I admit it publicly - I am an Apple fan, who may sometimes be blinded by glam of their products. I really enjoy my Macs and adore my iPod Classic, which holds the whole iTunes library. I was as excited as everyone else when iPhones were announced. But unlike many of bloggers out there, who were running wild to Apple stores worldwide to get their own phone, I still don’t have an iPhone, even if I sincerely think it’s a revolutionary device that changed the landscape of smartphone industry. I can explain why - and some of my reasoning might seem strange for those of you living in big countries with long history of using Apple products.

The most obvious reason that is often mentioned by many bloggers, is abysmal battery life of iPhone. I belong to the camp that thinks one day of standby time is not enough. I like not to bother with chargers for as long time as possible, ideally weeks. I still remember Nokia 5110, which was best Nokia phone ever because of two things - excellent menu, and even better battery life. Battery should last at least three days. Of course, this is my private opinion and many may argue it’s a matter of taste and self-organization, and even if it’s a big discomfort, it can be tolerated in exchange for functionality the device provides.

Other minor thing is impossibility to send MMS. This is plain silly in my opinion. Why it is not possible to send an MMS when device is capable to do much more advanced things?

Putting minor issues aside, the main rant is about distribution of the phone and how different is iPhone real experience in different countries. I don’t really understand why Apple chooses exclusive partners in the countries where their phone is officially distributed. I am not going to trade my operator because of any even most advance phone - why my operator can’t increase iPhone userbase by legally selling phone to me? 

Well, even the last argument could be compromised, given my brand awareness and belief in Apple products’ superiority. But as a real IT geek, I am pissed off by the fact of absence of AppStore in my country. Without possibility to extend phone’s functionality with 3d-party software, the device itself is less useful than its jail-broken variety.

I live in a small country - Estonia - and size of the country is both its advantage and its curse. In terms of variety of goods available the small size is a curse. A lot of cool stuff never gets officially imported, because producers don’t consider our market any significant to put any effort in distributing their goods to this corner of the world. Obviously, the same thing happens in case of Apple’s AppStore (and iTunes Store as well). I might understand that multi-billion dollar company is short on money to create an Estonian version of stores. But why not to allow usage of other stores, but paying with credit card issued by some Estonian bank? When I discussed this with friends, some suggest that Apple has fear of credit card fraud. I dismiss this as a total bullshit - there are countries with much worse history of cybercrimes, who are still enjoying comfort of AppStore and iTunes Store.

Well, on some forums you can find information how to hack this limitation using a backdoor in registration process. But I don’t want to add a semi-legal practice to the list of drawbacks that iPhone already has.

Apple, please, treat all your customers equal - open proper AppStores in all countries where phone is distributed. Otherwise, iPhone will still be more iVanity than anything else. Currently, HTC+Window Mobile is (sic!) much more open platform (in addition to decent look and better battery life), and only their high prices prevent people of prefering them to iPhones, because besides Nokia, there are no real competitiors for these two on the smartphone market of small countries.