My private little G1/Android wish and hit list

First of all, I have to say that I like the phone a lot. While you may get an impression from the rest of the post that I have a lot of beef with the phone, that’s really not the case. The very fact that I can compile a short, coherent list of things that I think could be improved upon, made me realize how little there is to be wishing for. And none of the problems is a deal breaker. It’s not like the phone is missing Copy&Paste or MMS ;). It does almost all I expected it to do (even in version 1.0), but since a few of my colleagues is looking forward to get one I thought I’d throw in a list of the little annoyances that I have faced using it, so they might verify how important the drawbacks might be to them. I am not sure how many of those can be addressed with third party applications but, for sure not all of them can, and I would definitely love Google to step in and provide a system-fix for them at some point.

The Wish List

Look for wireless networks more aggressively

Basically I find that very often I am still talking to the cell network when I could perfectly well be connected through a Wi-Fi. Turning Wi-Fi off and then back on again corrects the problem. This is annoying on a couple of levels. I have 3G turned off to conserve battery, It not noticing the Wi-Fi actually slows me down quite a bit, not to mention using up the precious data from the data plan (it’s only 500MB on the G1 plan in Poland)

Fix the battery problem

I mean really… 1 day is the best it can do when I do pretty much anything during the day with it. I could live with it being a little bit bigger if I didn’t have to fear it will die on me before the evening. I realize that this is because we have background apps, but perhaps you can introduce a CPU throttle technique that will slow down the operation when the horse power is not really needed. Perhaps something the next gen hardware will have to address.

Allow me to have multiple identities

The first thing you do when you start the phone is linking it to a Google account. That provides you with a really nice integration of Google calendar, mail & contacts. And it’s not just setting up apps for it. The whole system is aware of your identity and any app that wants to (and that you allow it to), might use them as a service. For example, a to-do list is able to schedule events in your Google calendar and setup mail notifications and send over mail invites your contacts to a meeting. It can reserve a time in your calendar for shopping that your wife has asked you to do. that’s great but… why is my phone fixed to a single Google identity? And yes, I realize that I can send email to and from multiple mail accounts and access other calendars through the browser. That’s not the point. I want BE adam.najmanowicz AT cognifide.com when I’m at work and BE adam AT najmanowicz.com when I’m leaving the office. I have a perfectly fine 8GB card sitting idle in it that could easily store a number of identities and swap between them. I want to be able to manage multiple calendars conveniently and have applications like to-do lists tied to them. Come on Google, even Windows 95 could do it! Introduce multiple profiles with easy switch!

Application uninstallation directly from the App drawer

Android Marketplace is a great repository that you can get plethora of apps quickly. It’s a blessing… and a curse. It’s a major pain in the rare to hunt the apps that you want to remove on the mile long list of apps that additionally re-populates after every uninstall without keeping track of where you left off while removing the previous app.
In the perfect word I could long-tap an icon and additionally to dragging it to the desktop I could drag it to some uninstaller corner.

The “Must haves”

That’s as much for anyone else as it is for my reference should I need to reset the phone to factory settings.

DroidWiki

A wiki like notepad. Supporting some basic wiki mark-up and links between notes. Brilliant idea, great implementation, perfect placement for a wiki!

Useful switches

This is what you will use to turn your Wi-Fi off and on again when it will fail to connect to the Wi-Fi again.

Astrid

Versatile and powerful, yet simple and elegant to-do list

Skype (Beta)

Naturally if you are using the Skype network. This is a native and group chat supporting Skype client.

Twidroid

So far my client of choice for Twitter. This is indispensible if you’re a part of the twitter craze.

The weather channel

Weather channel gizmo that allows you to check the weather for any area in the world at any time.

ConvertAll

Convert any unit to another.

Tricorder

For the geek cred.

Conclusion

Again, I need to reiterate, this is the best phone I’ve ever had. Having a full physical QWERTY keyboard and a browser with me all the time has definitely changed my life. I’m much more organized. I can track stuff much better and I have my priority list and my schedule always with me accessible from web as well as from the phone. The integration with Google apps is a tremendous selling point and none of the issues is a real deal breaker for me. Yet, this is the stuff that I will look up to in the following system releases.

Posted in Android, G1, Gmail, Google, GSM, Mobile, Rants
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Immediately after you implement the VirtualPathProvider proxy from my previous post you will notice a one fairly serious lack in it. Namely all the files within that provider will be hiding behind the registration form. That is not cool for a couple of reasons…

  • You may want to keep all of the files in one store – being forced to put them into a designated folder is not desired.
  • You may want to make some file freely available for some time and lock it after a while, or the other way around (e.g. to allow the robots to crawl it initially). having to move them is just silly and defeats the purpose.

So how do you discriminate the files that you want locked from those that you want to be publically available, and potentially from those that you want only the logged in users to be able to get?

Specifying the EPiServer File Metadata sweetness

One of the potential solutions would be to define a special rights group and check for that group for the people that have your “registered” magic-cookie. That however introduces a bogus group, and I would rather like to avoid that. However if you look into the FileSummary.config file that’s located in your web application folder you will find a slightly mysterious content. A bit of hacking reveals that you can actually add your own metadata to the file. For example adding the access rights based on what I’ve established above would look as follows (the content you can already find in the file that comes with the public templates that-we-all-oh-so-love is skipped):

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Simple registration for files served by EPiServer

With the culture of knowledge sharing and open source spreading, everyone races to show they have something valuable that you may want. And while you may not ask for money for your content you may still want to get something in return, say a contact, an email address that’s verified (or not), to keep in touch with the consumer of your content.

Yet a full fledged registration doesn’t seem like a proper thing to do – cluttering your EPiServer user repository with (let’s face it – for a large part fake or temporary email addresses that user create only to get your content).

While there may be a lot of ways to handle that (streaming it through a page Response.WriteFile might seem as one of the more obvious ones), I would like to show you a cleaner, simpler and more elegant way that I’ve come up with.

We really don’t want people to deep link to our files without them knowing the files are from our site, that’s just rude – so hiding them behind an obscure URL wouldn’t work (thus we cannot use the regular file providers). We’ve already establish that we don’t want to log them in, so setting file rights are useless. But I want all the benefits including client-side caching.

Basically the solution boils down to creating a thin layer over the File provider of our choice, in my case the versioning file provider. The only method we need to override in it is GetFile. I want to allow downloading for logged in users and I want to allow downloading for all users that have a “magic-cookie” set. If either of the conditions are met, the file just downloads using the underlying provider’s routines including all the logic EPiServer has put for caching and rights. But if neither of the requirements are met, the user is directed to a page of our choice.

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