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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There’s been a great link to an article forwarded to me today to a Newsweek’s Apple PR division Technology columnist Steven Levy. Where he claimed that he has lost (although he is not sure (LOL) ) his MacBook Air. blogosphere is throwing their hands up in the Air ;), but really… it’s so funny on so many levels that people are all about the story (ironically so am I with this post). The article is such a great example of the Apple hype machine at its best. Let me elaborate

Let’s start with the heading to the article:

There will be a lot of desperate searches for lost MacBook Airs. And can you really blame a guy for losing something called Air?

Oh really? I have a newsflash for you Steven: 90% of everything is SMALLER than your Air. Over the years people have learned to get a hold of their credit cards, cell phones, money, keys. When was the last time someone made a stink about them loosing a PDA? All of them are by far smaller and lighter than the Air.

Read the rest of this article »

Posted in Apple, Blogging, Lifestyle, Mobile, Rants
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There seems to be a storm over at over at the Internet about Microsoft going Cross platform and “opening the common language runtime to a multitude of platforms”. What seems to be a false perception that even such respectable podcasts as Buzz Out Loud or even TWIT fail to realize and mislead people on is that this has NOTHING to do with portable .Net desktop applications. Someone even suggested at one of the BOL podcasts that it’s Microsoft’s attempt to put .Net Framework on Linux servers. (Huh? Beg your pardon?) You may have not noticed it but when they say about cross-platform capability of Silverlight it always says Windows, Mac.. and then on a single breath they start enumerating browsers. A casual listener just measures the quantity and the list has an impressive 5-6 bullets. heh… wait… erm… not really… it’s actually only 2 platforms. You cannot enumerate browsers as platforms! You share 99% implementation between them, the only cross-browser thing is the interaction between the plugin and the host browser!

As a .Net developer this pretty much makes me laugh through tears. What an excellent publicity stunt. First of all, Microsoft does not plan to release a Linux version. It’s cross-platformedness (is that a word?) refers strictly to the fact that there has been a runtime engine port made for a Mac. What was ported? The CLR and the DLR. Big deal! This has been there in a form of Mono years ago! And the CLR is available for Linux for a few years now. How is that suddenly an exciting thing?

If you’re interested in what exactly was done you may want to look at the interview with Scott Guthrie, GM of the Silverlight team. GAC was not ported. Wait! GAC WAS NOT PORTED?! Only a subset of classes that are needed inside a browser. Basic GC, no ASP.Net. It’s nothing like a cross platform version of a full .Net framework. this is also nothing really that new from the cross platform point of view – this kind of stunt was already pulled by Microsoft in form of the Compact version of the .Net framework. Something similar has already been done in terms of XNA – which is a form of .Net framework for XBox. In fact Silverlight is much more like XNA than it is like the full .Net framework.

Second of all the only open part is the DLR which is actually developed in an “embrace and devour” fashion. Ruby, Python and the likes developers – we love you! come join us under our Common Language runtime! Of course Microsoft will open it. Those developers are all about open and free this makes a lot of sense doing it this way. Give something, get a lot in return. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dynamic extensions, and I really like what’s being developed in the DLR, but make no mistake, the motives haven’t changed.

In the end CLR has been open for a long time and it’s not where the most exciting part of the development is. It’s the framework. I’ve not seen a word about Windows forms being ported. Or any of the ASP.Net namespaces on that mater. Heck even Mono has big ASP.Net 1.0 and chunks of 2.0. If you look at the image where do you see the CLR?

It’s the small middle circle inside the big one. That’s a far cry from releasing .Net as a standalone portable framework. And if you think about it, it does not make any sense from Microsoft’s point of view to go the whole way. What for? for it to make Windows expendable? Ridiculous!

My feeling is that (other than making another bucket of money), partially the motives behind is is to kick Adobe’s butt. If it did not occur to you yet, Microsoft and Adobe are full-out at war at this point. PDF is combated with XML Digital Paper, Flash has its Silverlight, Shockwave (& Macromedia Director) has Blend and XAML now and so on…

Adobe already takes shots back at Microsoft

While Adobe made PDF readily-available to other software companies such as Apple, Sun, Corel, and OpenOffice, when it came to deep-pocketed Microsoft, Adobe took a different stance, demanding that it remove the feature and charge a separate fee.

In response, Microsoft agreed to remove the feature, but refused to charge consumers separately for it. Adobe consequently sought negotiating leverage by threatening to sue before the EC, despite the fact that neither Adobe nor Microsoft are based in Europe, neither operates major production facilities there, and neither maintains primary business locations there.

Now that we have a few myths busted, I don’t want you to think that I am not excited by Silverlight.

The coolness ensues

It is still incredibly cool that they are doing it and not for the cross platform reasons (although it’s nice), and not for the multi browser compatibility (even nicer), but for it’s roots in the full framework. For us .Net developers it’s like one day we woke up and we knew how to write Action Script (Flash) applications. The Silverlight download is only 5 meg, so in the broadband world it’s going to be on almost every computer fairly quick. We will have a robust development environment for developing those applets in less than a year. It’s root in the .Net framework roots will make it talk seamlessly to our IIS embedded apps and services. You wanted web applications?

You asked for web applications? We will deliver…
… only they will be desktop applications running inside a browser we approve....
… and on any platform we choose for you…
the best of both worlds – no matter if you want to run them in Windows OR in Internet Explorer. :)

But honestly – should you use some artificial and clunky surrogates of instantly-responsive-interactivity in forms of AJAX when you can have the real thing running faster and delivering much wider functionality? Developing a browser apps was possible before, but .Net was never perceived as a platform specifically designed for that kind of activity, the quasi multi-platform/browser compatibility has a chance to change that perception. Perfect crime :)

I can’t wait for Silverlight to turn gold. It’s a brave new world.

The Wiki Family

Writing user documents for our company, I ‘ve been using our corporate wiki a lot recently.

Confluence is incredible. I can honestly say I’ve not been impressed by a piece of software to that degree for quite a while.

I really like how it provides me with the possibility for creating small pages like “format specifications” and “installation info” which I can then assemble into e.g. “User’s manual” simple and seamless:

{include:InstallGuide}
{include:CommandLineInterface}

It’s so neat, it’s actually a pleasure to work with it. Need a document to provide to your customer? No problem – it will create a PDF file from that page so that the customer can even print it out conveniently. Bliss…

So I’ve decided that I want to get a wiki for myself. I want to create a wiki with some of my code sippets for the everyday use, some small text handling utility classes, simple solutions, with some coding standards for myself to use, and for my family… to be able to share the family annual stuff like birthdays or important dates, phones, addresses, some basic photos, some experiences and some simple facts, like which pizzerias we consider good, where do we plan to perform our next family meeting and so on and so forth. Accessible for all of us online.

The hosting provider however does not allow me for shell access and java, so Confluence is out of the question (it has a free private license for 2 users which would otherwise be just fine).

I’ve asked around and it looked like mediaWiki might be the answer, so our MediaWiki seems to be up and running. I am not sure though if it’s just me being a noob, but the administering of it seems to be a major pain in the rare. Need permissions changed? Edit php. Add new user without enabling public access to the wiki? looks like you’re facing the the grief of dealing with myPHPAdmin.

And the editing support is almost as good as notepad… *sigh*. There is no way my dad is going to use it in its current state. We’re definitely in need of some nicer theme for it that won’t leave him running form it, screaming. Perhaps I can equip it with some plugins as well to make it bareable?

Short of that, I think I’m still in the market for another wiki engine.

[update]
I’ve also setup TikiWiki for testing, although it seems a bit overwhelming for a casual user. I’ll see about customizing it for the family.

I’ll also be looking at Twiki in the following days.

I’m sure soon enough the kids or at least Martuska will want to have access to it. Boy, would it be nice to have a global family wikipedia, or what!?

There seems to be a plethorea of them to the degree that there are sites and huge matrices comparing them point by point.

Wikipedia comparison
WikiMatrix comparing some of the wikis I’m considering

[update 27-01-2007]
I think I’ll settle with media wiki after all. It’s really tedious to administer, but I can handle it. While tiki seems a bit too complicated and I think the family could have had troubles using it.

Posted in Lifestyle, Rants, Software, Web applications
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Let me start by digressing… I’ve got this Desktop Sidebar installed (wich by the way seems to be one of those viral softwares since a lot of people in the team started using it upon looking at my screen) and on the daily comic roll I’ve got the Mother Goose & Grim displayed in it among others. And looking at todays comic made me roll on the floor laughing (not that it does not usually do it anyway) since I realized that I can totally relate to it in the sense how I feel when I log on to my computer at home.

Let me elaborate. I am someone that you could generally put in a drawer with a sticker “early adopter” attached to it. Being one and wanting to be able to write software for it and test my old wares, I signed up as a beta tester for the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista uperating system. Overall it’s been a really good experience with an examption of a few bugs that are inevitable for a beta, but as one of my friends say “Nothing on earth forces you to run beta software, for it may end up on the bleeding edge” so I’ll just ignore those.

The things that really is annoying there is not what is there by mistake, it’s what has been put there intentionally.

So this is basically how you will feel on Vista after the first 15 minutes…

Vista security?

The system goes out of its way to make your life miserable whenever you actually try to do anything other than write a mail or browse web a bit.

Whenever you run any installer, whenever you want to delete anything from desktop, or even purge your recycle bin, the screen goes dark and it pops up an administrative allert from User Account Protection allerting that there might be a problem. Riiiight… Fortunately you can disable that in msconfig.

Similarly if you want to enter “Documents and Files” folder, you will hit a wall on anything but the lowest level. Fortunately you can take ownership and take the control back.

“Program Files” folder virtualization is particularly interesting stuff. Aparently there is action going behind the scenes whenever a program wants to save anything to its folder in “Program Files” after it’s been installed. If you installed a 2P2 app that downloads to its folder, good luck finding the files after you’ve downloaded anything… the folder is buried within a new structure of folders. Aparently there is a new fiolder called “UserData” or something similar in the main folder on your %SystemDrive% (usually C:\), deep within the belly of that monster there is a Virtual folder that contains your precious new mp3 files you’ve just downloaded.

Registry Virtualization was particularly annoying to me since some of my apps set registry Associations for some file types, and guess what? No love for me. The app can save it, sure, but it will get fed its own little chunk of registry that only it will see whenever it wants to read it back, but no data that saves to HKLM or HKCR seems to be be handed to other apps. Now I realize that there probably are ways of circuimventing it although I’ve been told that this is not to be done in anything but the installer… oh well…

So Vista may be the best thing in security since the private firewalls (which I don’t really use any longer since I’m behind a NAT anyway and I tend to be careful about what sites I visit, not opening mail attachments and so on&#823 ;) for the general users like my dad which indeed need to be driven-by-wire, but power users will really generaly feel like Grim on this strip, till… they go and disable it wholesale, which I am pretty sure will be a standard practice after you install the system.

It’s just like in the above mentioned firewalls, you will always finally check the the “OK STOP BOTHERING ME ALREADY!” checkbox and be done with it.

Posted in Rants, Software
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Could we have some decency here?

Originally posted on Wincustomize.com

There’s a lot of noise in the news sites (Slashdot.org, News.com and Neowin.net) about the Monday release of Konfabulator for Windows. But to be honest they just make me think that journalists today no longer care to be through and accurate and will chew in everything  that a PR department will send them. I do not personally rant about those kind of things, but this one got me going. Especially one thing Mr Alro said which is cited in about all of the sources:


‘When you have a great idea, you want more than 2 percent of the global market to have access to it.’


That’s just utter gibberish!


Unless you lived in a glass castle for the last 6 years or never been a part of the desktop customization community you know that there already is a pretty stiff competition in that area on Windows. He sounds as if some Macintosh saviours bring the desktop customization into the abandoned wasteland of Windows.


Hellooo! I have a news for you! DesktopX is at least a few years older than Konfabulator and it has always been a Windows application. And it just began from that. There are multiple desktop customizing apps epart from that, Kapsule and AveDesk to mention just a few of them.


Unfortunately this is not news for Mr Arlo Rose he is pretty aware of it as I’ve been reading his rhetoric after Apple anounced Dashboard in Tiger and that just makes me all much more astonished about this statement.

Posted in Desktop Customization, Rants, Software
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