Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Apps Organizer

I have , i think, 122 apps installed on my GW620..and before using folders, i even experimented with 9 pages on my home screen, which was unwieldy and slow - the GW620 is not equipped with a killer processor(i.e. not a snapdragon!)..
with the use of folders i cut it down to 7. which was ok actually. i knew roughly which types of apps were on which page, and the folders kept the less used ones..
but a better way of doing things was required..not least because the folders could not be renamed...
and i found the Apps Organizer..
in it, you label every app that you have, organized as alphabetically..it comes with a few default labels - android, internet, games, multimedia, tools and others. i added one more - office. and then you could simply add shortcuts on your homescreen that point to the labels. so when you press on the 'office' shortcut, a folder with all the apps in the 'office' category is displayed. thats neat!
i've set it to close the folder view once i launch anything within the folder. and you could 'star' some of your apps, and have a shortcut to your starred apps - essentially its yet another category - probably intended by the developer to be the more often used ones i guessed.
but anyway with this i've cut my homescreen down to 5 pages..and with empty slots on them too!
you can find more about it here :

http://www.androlib.com/android.application.com-google-code-appsorganize...

I got a LG GW620 EVE

Before I decided on my LG GW620, there were actually a few phones I was considering..my main constraint was that i was only prepared to sign a $25/mth contract..

1. Acer Neotouch ($248 with $4/mth rebate x 24mths)

1 ghz snapdragon, 256mb ram, 800x480 3.8in resistive screen, win mo 6.5, smallish battery, free 8gb micro-sd card

2. Samsung Omnia HD Gold Edition (at one time $138)

600mhz arm cortex a8 + powerVR graphics accelerator, 256mb ram, 640x360 3.7in capacitive
screen, symbian s60v5, big battery, 16gb built-in memory

3. Samsung Omnia II ($288)

800mhz arm 11 + dedicated graphics processor, 256mb ram, 800x480 3.7in resistive screen, win mo 6.5, big battery, 16gb-built in memory

4. Samsung B7610 Omnia Pro($268)

800mhz + dedicated graphics processor, 256mb ram, 800x480 3.5in resistive screen, win mo 6.5, big battery, slide-out 4-row qwerty, 2gb built-in memory

5. Samsung Galaxy Spica ($88 with $4/mth rebate x 24mths)

800mhz arm 11, 128mb ram, 480x320 3.2in capacitive screen, android 1.5, big battery

6. LG GW620 (i got it free)

528mhz arm 11, 256mb ram, 480x320 3in resistive screen, android 1.5, big battery, slide-out 5-row qwerty keyboard

7. HTC Tattoo (free?)

528mhz qualcomm 7225(like arm 11) , 320x240 2.8in resistive screen, android 1.6, ok battery, usb port for earphones

8. HTC Magic (free?)

528mhz qualcomm 7220A(like the 7225, but with video acceleration), 256mb ram, 480x320 3.2in capacitive screen, android 1.5, ok battery, usb port for earphones..

Basically the HTC Magic was only free for 1 day via M1, but the lack of a normal 3.5mm headphone jacked severely turned me off. Otherwise i would have considered it alot more seriously, since HTCs are the most supported phones in the android firmware community..one could actually flash it with the HTC Hero's rom and essentially have a Hero - the 2 phones have practically the same hardware underneath, but the Hero is quite a bit costlier.

But that doesn't follow for the HTC Tattoo, since its 320x240 screen would be incompatible with many apps..i only toyed with the thought for a moment..

The Omnia HD Gold Edition was only at that price for 2 days..i could not re-contract then..it was
quite a pity that i didn't get it. Its still the only phone capable of HD(720p) video capture on
the market now..but at least a friend of mine , tho unlike me is actually interested in shooting
videos, got it.

And comparing the Omnia HD's price to the Omnia II and Omnia Pro, i thought they were too expensive for what they offered.

But despite a similiar price, the Acer Neotouch was very attractive. The 1ghz snapdragon that
powers it is only available on a few phones for now - and they're all expensive machines(HTC HD2, Google Nexus One..). Moreover, i quite liked the idea of win mo, since it had a huge library of apps, is guaranteed to work with whatever email or office document you throw at it, and is the phone OS with the best flash web browsing support.

Skyfire works on it. Opera Mobile works on it, and unlike the symbian version of the same browser, you could turn on the flash within the settings on win mo. And although fennec(mozilla mobile) currently works on maemo(as it was called then, the project has been combined with moblin and had its name changed to..meego!), mozilla said the next os its porting to is win mo.

But with its $248 sticker price, i was drawn greatly towards the cheaper Samsung Galaxy Spica
and the LG GW620. The Spica was the very first phone i looked into in my search for phones - its 800mhz arm 11 was very much a draw - besides the n900, no Nokia has a processor that even comes close to that speed.

In the end, I decided to spend less on the phone, and it was down to the Spice and the GW620;
finally my wanting to try using a phone qwery keyboard and a weekend promotion that lowered its sticker price from $38 to nothing decided me on the GW620..(i also imagined that having more ram could be an interesting compensation for its slower processor compared to the Spica).

Having used it for exactly a month now, I think its indeed not the fastest of phones, but its speed(or sloth) is tolerable - only occasionally is the onscreen keyboard slow to respond to my pokes. And in fact, its Android OS has been quite delightful to play with - I've been doing stuff like installing 100+ apps and trying out 5-6 different home screens - even though I'm stuck with Cupcake, at least for now...

The qwerty keyboard I only use occasionally, since I'm mostly accustomed to using the alpha-numeric onscreen keyboard with predictive text input - its credit to LG that I actually think its not fucked up at all, since I've had that opinion about all phones except Nokias. But whenever I actually use the qwerty,which is when what I'm typing I deem too long to type with the alpha-numeric keyboard, its been helpful.

Battery life has been tolerable - it will last at least a full day, with reserves to spare, if the battery functions(web browsing, watching videos, etc) are used only occasionally. I've actually got a AA powered battery pack for it, but haven't found the need to use that yet.

Finally, a word to people who actually use the cameras on phones. The camera on this phone is much less useful than the 2mp one on my 2 year old E51. The problem is that its too slow to keep up with the action, and the shutter lag is way too long as well. In the end I only use it for reading barcodes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

reverse, rewind

Remember a long time ago when Apple launched the first Mac? And then Microsoft 'stole'(well, the GUI was invented by xerox parc) the gui and made windows 3.1 and allowed anyone who wanted to write a program to run on their os or any manufacturer to build a pc that runs their os to do so?

and then microsoft never looked back?

this time round its a little bit more interesting.

Google has taken the iphone platform, added some features that it was missing(multi tasking?), put the not-uncool Google brand on it, marketed it to all the major telcos and phone makers and allowed anyone who wanted to write an app to run on Android or anyone who wanted to make an Android device(doesn't even have to be a phone!) to do so, and even rewrite Android to suit their purposes..for free!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Math Processor is Not Doing Well..

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/10/03/23/1647239/SSD-Price-Drops-Signaling-End-of-Spinning-Media

Google's numbers on hdd failure rates :
3% die in the first 3 months, another 4% die by the end of the 1st year.
8% more die in year 2.


lets say 20% of hdd die in 3 years, which is a lower* failure rate than what google is apparently experiencing.
*google's hdds may be running 24x7, but laptop and portable hdds get moved and knocked about...

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1597647/freecom-launches-recovery-service

The service, run in partnership with data recovery specialists Lazarus, gives you three years cover for any hard drive for £24.95.

so, if 100 users sign up, they get maybe sg$8000.
20% of them die. thats 20 hdd.
professional hdd recovery will have to cost Lazarus less than sg$400 per drive to do for this service to make any sense. it'll probably have to cost them less than sg$200 per drive to make this service worthwhile to think about launching..
why are they doing it? does it really cost so little?

Monday, March 22, 2010

We never paid for the News, all we ever did was buy the TV set!

Nice isn't it? Its supposed to be cheap, the Hott clone mentioned previously was supposed to be sold for just us$92.. If they would make a 11in version, then i'd totally start thinking about how this 11in version can play video clips over the internet...and if the Kylo browser would work on android...then you could view video on your MID on a browser optimised for video clips...








The project to revive Polaroid has borne fruit!













And finally, a little bit about paying for content.
You know, we buy TV sets but don't really pay for the programming that comes over the air.
Neither do we pay for the radio programming.
Neither do we pay for the news - we just pay for the paper and the newspaper boy.
Other than movies, books and music cds, which we pay for because we specifically want that content, all other content has been free.
The TV is paid for by TV advertising, same with radio, and same with our newspapers.
The only reason why the newspapers are in such a quandary now is simply because they have not been very good at convincing the advertisers to pay them in the last few years.









Friday, March 19, 2010

The Trial

Recently I had a couple of conversations with a friend about our Changi airport's practice of selectively rejecting visitors. The problem is : whats the selection criteria? Is it because they're vietnamese? or from myanmar? which 3rd world countries are not welcome here? Is it because they take budget airlines? What if they're rich but prefer to take cheaper airlines? Are they asked to show some proof of wealth before getting rejected? Is there anything to do with their last place of embarkation? Or which airport they'd flown in from? Or is it a combination of many factors? Perhaps a woman between 18-30, with a hemline more than 5cm above her knees, arriving from XYZ airport, is a ABC citizen, is of PQR race, on a budget airline will be rejected at Changi? The problem is, we don't know. But hell yes, people are being pseudo-randomly rejected at Changi. And we know its got alot to do with being indochinese and female.
And we also don't know why they're being rejected.
See, for people to follow a law, they have to know whats the offending behaviour.
This issue seems to be afflicting Viacom (the owner of MTV, which more or less got killed by YouTube), as they're trying to sue Google(who bought YouTube) now.
Basically, Viacom asked Google to remove something like 100000 video clips, and Google did. But some of the videos, Viacom had them reinstated. Because they were videos that Viacom themselves put on YouTube. And were included in the takedown lists by mistake.
So now. Viacom cannot tell which video is their own, but expects Google to know???
Google's stand is quite clear - tell them which video, and they will remove it.
Viacom's stand is not quite so clear. They want Google to remove all unlicensed Viacom content from YouTube, but are unable to tell Google how to differentiate(in fact they can't do it themselves!) between licensed and unlicensed content, but expect Google to know. And clearly, they also don't want Google to remove ALL Viacom content from YouTube, since they themselves put content on YouTube..
It boggles the mind how Viacom wants this to work!!!
Anyway, this is what YouTube is saying :
And this is what a Hollywood reporter thinks (keep in mind the issue is not if there is pirated content on YouTube, but which clips are pirated) :

Generally, when faced with competition, firms compete. Industries too. Like when the car was invented, and the horse carriage makers had to compete with them for buyers of personal transport.
But when they have no idea how to win, they tend to stop competing in the market and litigate instead. Like how the horse carriage makers tried to lobby for laws that force cars from travelling over a speed limit(slow one, so that horse carriages can compete!) or needed cars to have ground guides.
Similiarly, when the newspaper companies(sueing Google), movie studios(sueing torrent aggregators) and recording firms(even sueing radio stations!) start to sue everyone else who they think is eating their lunch, but not changing the way they do business, you'd think its a signal that they're out of ideas.
But after a long time, other than iTunes which is not a record industry idea, the recording firms have at last responded. With a price cut :

Finally, on a totally separate note, something cheerful...puppets for hanging below your lens....

















Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Free Lunches

I don't know if its quite clear, that moviesndroids.com is hosted by blogger, and blogger is part of Google, and the domain comes with the whole Google Apps shebang. Meaning we have @moviesndroids.com email , calendar and documents for up to 50 users, free.

For those organisations with more than 50 users, Google Apps premium costs a bit. Maybe sg$6/user/month. They get 25gb of email per user and postini anti-spam too, among other things.

Of course, anyone who has more than 50 users already has their own domain and already has some sort of working system already in place. Even if Google were the answer, migrating to it would be a royal pain.

And that royal pain has been drastically salved with :

http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2010/03/now-its-easy-switch-to-google-apps-from.html

But, I don't know if this is quite clear to everyone, Google Sites are generally aesthetically challenged. And if you're running a more than 50 user site, you would probably find them functionally challenged as well.

Drupal would of course be the most obvious solution, being the most popular CMS in the world, and boasting a library of thousands of plug-ins. Running a Drupal site may be alot more effort than putting up a Google Site, but its much reduced now with :


And finally, away from the dreariness of domain hosting, something about movies.

As we all know, we go to the theatres less than ever because an ever growing portion of the content can be enjoyed at home. Theres only so many titles the theatres can show - and my palate is more wide-ranging than theirs. I believe the primary reason people go theatres nowadays is not to watch the movie but to meet with friends.

So, the movie makers have to think up something to make people visit the theatres again - since meeting with friends can be done anywhere, not only at theatres. And james cameron provided the answer.

Although 3D has been available for donkey years already, its been prohibitively expensive to film in 3D. Cameron's new technology, although it still cost him something like a billion dollars to make Avatar, is vastly cheaper. And given that 3D cannot be easily recreated outside the controlled, hi-res environment of a theatre optimised for that purpose, it can become a way to differentiate the content you consume at home and the content you consume at theatres. And now its cheap enough to make quite a bit more of the content in 3D.

But what if the film makers found this a useful money maker and dug up their entire catalogues and ran them through some sort of automated 3D computer filter and 3D-fied every film and sold them as DVDs and BlueRay discs? And what if the results of this process are quite unconvincing? And what if theres no easy way to tell which film was shot in 3D and which was a converted 2D film?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

At a Fraction of the Price

Of course the talk has all been about the iPad recently, be it silly spoofs or its implications on the future of computing, but besides the hype that seems to surround all Apple products, why is the iPad important at all?

Since once upon a time, there had already been tablet computers in existence. The only thing that has been changed (besides technological advances) is people's acceptance, and possibly increased requirement, of mobile computing. Give Apple credit for that - the iPhone made the idea of carrying a small computer you can install apps onto a not just useful idea, but an exciting one. Of course Symbian, Windows mobile and even BlackBerry phones have been around for a long time already and have huge user bases(in fact BlackBerry and Symbian are still the undisputed market leaders), but none of them are cool.

Since the introduction of the intel Atom, electronics and computer makers have been plotting to extend that low-power chip into Mobile Internet Devices that are bigger than phones but smaller than notebooks, in fact, smaller than netbooks. At around the same time that intel had been supporting the development of the Moblin OS for this purpose, a few other things happened as well. Windows 7 was to support touch screen devices much better. Nokia got more serious about the Maemo OS (now merged with Moblin and the combined entity called MeeGo). And ARM chips scaled to beyond 1ghz.

Yet, despite the fact that Freescale demoed an ARM based reference tablet design that was supposed to sell for us$199, and the fact that TechCrunch wanted their CrunchPad to sell for us$2-300 (now its more or less become the JooJoo..and more iPad-ish in price..thats another story), Apple has decided to price their iPad different. It starts at us$499. That for a clocked ARM cortex without 3G.

In other words, a Acer Neotouch/HTC HD2/Nexus One would be faster and a netbook would both have a larger screen and be faster. And either would be cheaper. Possibly the phones would not be cheaper per se, but since you'd have to pay for a phone line anyway, you'd end up losing less cash on the phone than on an iPad.

And you would have, across the market participants, a choice to run any number of OSes. Moblin, Maemo, win 7(if the machine is a dual core atom), ubuntu netbook remix...and now, Chrome and Android as well. Chrome is not yet out, so we don't really know how the user experience will be like. But Android and its app market has been growing at a stupendous pace, and now its useable and not handicapped in app-count compared to any of the other mobile OSes.

Another thing to note would be that most of the OSes i've mentioned are open-source. Which in reality usually means free as in beer. Which means that the manufacturers don't really have to spend money on OS development - they'd only need to map OS functions to their hardware. Which means that given a low-enough-cost manufacturer, you could well get market participants like the Hott MD500, that cost a mere us$92 - an unspeakably tiny fraction of the price of an iPad.