Wednesday, December 25, 2013

UPDATE: Five Reading Tools - part IV: Read Quick

How embarrassing.

In my tiny review of Read Quick I lamented about the fact, that one could not mark an article read (in Pocket) directly in Read Quick.
Also, and option to mark the article as read, once you are done with it, would be nice.
Oh, was I wrong.

This apparent lack of a feature was so annoying to me, that I decided to click on the "finished" icon next to the article - and voilà... a new menu appears, with the usual range of sharing options, but also an Archive icon.

Archive - of course - is the pocket way to mark an article as read.

So I stand corrected, Read Quick does fully sync with Pocket.  Hooray!

Speaking of Pocket, here's a nice little info I got from them... it appears I'm amongst the top 5% of pocket users. Another hooray!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part V: Reader in Safari

And finally... on my iPad in Safari I use the Reader.

It has about the same features as Evernote Clearly, except that it is not an extension and only exists on iOS.
Luckily it is built into the browser since several iOS version (not sure how long) and therefore is just there (for free).

It also comes with a reading list feature, but I never use that, simply because I want my reading list centralized (i.e. pocket).

I only use it to clean the article of all the clutter around it, and it works like charm.

All you need to do is press the little reader icon (seems to represent some text lines as in "text only") left of the URL bar.

Our Wikipedia entry looks like this (click to enlarge).

Nice thing is, that links work.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part IV: Read Quick

Now for something quite different:

While I studied at TU Vienna (Computer Engineering) I took some lectures in Computer Linguistics offered by the Linguistics Department of the (regular, good old) University of Vienna.One of those lectures/courses was about Text Comprehension and Computers (this was 1990), and I was the proud presenter of the topic Reading on the Screen.

One of the methods I came across during preparation was Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). It is about presenting one word (or very short phrase) at a time at a fixed location. This allows for reading rates of up to 700 words per minute [1].

Flash forward 22 years (ouch) and imagine the déjà vu I had, when I learned about ReadQuick. Because it is exactly an implementation of this.
ReadQuick is an iOS app, that uses Pocket, Readability or Instapaper as a back-end service to store/queue the articles and then presents them in RSVP style.

You can set the speed yourself (in words per minutes). I'm currently at 335 as you can see. You'll notice that over time your reading speed will increase - as advertised. I think I started around 220 or so.

One nice side effect is, since the article size (in words) and the speed is known, it can tell you how long in minutes this article is, or how much you have left.

It actually is a totally different reading experience. After a time you'll get rid of "reading" and just absorb the text as it flies by.

It's $4.99 in the app store, but totally worth it.

The longer or more narrative an article is, the rather I read it with ReadQuick. However, you do need a quieter environment then for the rest (at least I do), because once you get distracted, you cannot easily jump back one sentence or paragraph.

Also, and option to mark the article as read, once you are done with it, would be nice.

Unfortunately, this app is iOS only for the time being. An Android version is said to be in the works.

UPDATE here.

[1] Mills, C.B./Weldon, C.J.: Reading Text from Computer Screens. ACM Computing Surveys 19,4 (1987)... to be found here. Well at that time, I got it from TU Vienna Library back in the days.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part III: BeeLine Reader

Beeline Reader is a Firefox and Chrome extension very similar to Evernote Clearly, but with a little twist...

They use a color gradient that "flows" along the line and creates a high onctrast between two lines.
See how the color changes from black to blue to red and also varies saturation:

Supposedly this should make reading easier. Quite frankly, I cannot judge this, but it seems to work.

The drawback is, that it only allows for reading, no saving, printing, ...

If you are a Firefox or Chrome user, install it from here and try it. Worthwhile.
Again, here's our Wikipedia entry for comparison with the other tools. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part II: Evernote Clearly

Evernote Clearly is an extension to both, the browser and Evernote.

I guess, it is fair to say, that it only makes sense to use Evernote Clearly, if you are an - at lest modestly - active Evernote user. But see for yourself.

To quote their own website:
Clearly makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read. Save them to Evernote to read them anywhere.
And that's really it.

I use Clearly whenever I'm on a PC/browser and want to read some longer article or post [1], or when the web page is cluttered with too many gadgets, ads and nonsense - primarily when I need to read it now (otherwise I'd use pocket).

Once you installed the browser extension, you will find the Clearly icon in the toolbar. When needed, you just click on it, and it will overlay the current web page with it's own cleaner content-only view.

You can clip and save to Evernote directly from Clearly and you can also print the cleaner version.

Here's the reference Wikipedia entry as viewed through clearly (click to enlarge).

As you can see, this is really a clean and smooth reading experience. Try it on one of the ad-cluttered news sites for a start.

And most importantly: it comes with this cool Luxo Jr-like desk lamp as an icon. Always a plus.

[1] not necessarily long form, just longer than e.g. one browser page

Monday, December 02, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part I: Pocket

Pocket (formerly: read it later) allows you to save an article / URL to your pocket list for later consumption. The pocket list is not device specific, but kept "in the cloud", so you can access it from everywhere. You can see it as a competitor to Instapaper or Readability.

The main use is, that when I find an article or post interesting (or too long to read on the mobile while on the underground), or just stumble upon a post, but don't have the time to read it right now, I put it on my pocket list.

95% of the time this will be from Feedly [1], the remaining 5% are from Facebook, G+ or  Twitter. Yes, I'm still one of those grumpy old guys from last century, who use RSS.
Once click from Feedly, and it is in my queue.

If find the following important features extremely useful:

Easy to queue

Pocket makes it really easy to put an item into your reading queue or list.
Feedly, for instance, directly supports Pocket, and all you need to do is press the pocket button to send an item to the queue.
All my browsers have extensions that allow me to send the current document/URL to the pocket list.
On Android, Pocket is integrated in the Share menu, so all apps that can share content via the SendTo Intent, automatically support Pocket as well.

iOS introduced a similar share menu (now combined with AirDrop), however, Pocket does not (yet?) support it.

What Pocket does nicely (both on iOS and Android) is to detect that you have a URL in the clipboard, and allows you to add it with just one click. So you can easily copy the URL from the Facebook app or browser, switch to pocket and simply save it there.

Available everywhere

Once an article made it into the pocket list, it can be read from everywhere. PC/Browser, iOS, Android.
I personally do 90% of the actual reading on my iPad, 10% on my Android mobile.
So my pattern is, queue from Android (while on the road) and read on iOS (at home).

Easy to read

The number one reason I queue article to pocket, is that I don't have the time to read them when I discover them (again...commuting on the train / underground). Or the device is to small.

The other reasons is, that pocket (like all the other tools I show in this series) removes all the disturbing gadgets from the web page, and shows only the pure content (+ content related images).

This is how Wikipedia (which is quite clean on the web, to be honest) looks in Pocket [2] on the iPad. You can spot that it does not too well with structured content (the start of almost every Wikipedia entry) but does very well with "regular" writing. (Click both images to see compare)

Once an article is read, you can decide if you want to delete it, or archive it. Either way, when you're done, you should get it of of the queue.

When you decide to archive (which is what I usually do), it does help to add some tags to it (tag icon) before you send it to the archive (check-box icon).

That's how pocket works for me.
You mileage may of course vary.

[1] or Google Reader back in the good old days.
[2] I will use the very same Wikipedia entry for comparison in this series.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Five Reading Tools

No worries, this is not one of those link bait "10 best..." posts... I simply want to introduce 5 tools for online reading that I'm using or trying right now (apart from RSS readers, etc etc)

So over the next couple of days, I'll be posting about
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Getting an iPad Air

A bit more than three years ago I bought an iPad (Generation 1 from today's point of view). 64GB, Wifi only.
There were good reason to stay on Wifi only, because I intended to use the iPad mainly at home and not as a "large" phone to carry around.

My iPad came to be a real companion at home...

  • first email and news check in the morning - on the iPad
  • last check in the evening/night - on the iPad
  • second screen while watching TV - the iPad
  • checking news (feedly), email, facebook, twitter in between - the iPad

It did not want to use it while commuting to the office, because I know that I'm an online junkie and that I'd be online all the time on the train/underground. In urgent cases I could still tether through my Android phone.

However, the performance and stability of the iPad deteriorated... or rather: began to suck.
For example. when entering a new appointment in the calendar app, the lag when trying to select the time was a couple of seconds (!). Feedly, Pocket, Facebook would crash, i.e. just exit, several times a day.
This really started with iOS 5.1... And since this is an Generation 1 iPad there is no upgrade path to iOS 6 or 7.

So, as much as I love my iPad I also started to hate it.
I used to work a lot (while at Sun Microsystems) with Thin Clients (specifically the SunRay) and loved the notion of a client device, that would not age. Meaning that the capacity in the client (CPU, memory, screen estate, ...) would suffice for all IT trends for say 7-10 years.

In a way the iPad started as a thin client, and - call me naïve - I expected an iPad to last 4-5 years.
It did not. Not even three years and it got obsolete (for my usage pattern).
That's a PC replacement cycle, not a thin client cycle.

So over the last couple of months I was actually considering switching to a Nexus 7. But then I decided to stay in both worlds, Android on my phone, iOS on my tablet.

Yesterday I ordered my iPad Air... to get back stability and speed. Still Wifi only.
The old iPad will probably stay around as a TV/raspbmc remote...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Screenshots with Dropbox

A couple of weeks ago, Dropbox (my favourite cloud storage or rather information sharing tool) started to support putting Screenshots directly to your Dropbox folder (for Windows and Mac).

Make sure you have Verison 2.4 (or later) installed (get it here), then open preferences and enable Share screenshots using Dropbox on the Import pane.

From then on, when you press the Print Screen button, Dropbox will save the screenshot to a (new) folder in your Dropbox named Screenshots.

Alternativeley when you hit Ctrl Print Screen it will save the screenshot and copy a public web link (URL) pointing to the screenshot to your clipboard. You can immediately paste this into the browser, or an email, or skype, or whatever you want to use to share this screenshot with friends or coworkers.

You will then see a notification on your Dropbox taskbar icon, once the screenshot is saved (and ready for sharing).

By the way,  those screenshots where taken with Dropbox (as descripbed above) and then edited with Gimp.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Remember S.E.T.?

The other day, while cleaning out some drawers at home, I found an old registration confirmation for S.E.T from VISA.
I must admit, I hardly remembered.
S.E.T. - short for Secure Electronic Transaction(s) - was an attempt by VISA (and others) to establish secure protocols for electronic payments.
I think we even implemented this in an online shop, around 2000. At least we had a plan to do so, not sure if we really did...

Anyway, if you want to get nostalgic, check it on Wikipedia.

And while you're at it, check out WAP as well, should go to the same drawer shredder.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dryft Virtual Keyboard

Wow... if this virtual keyboard - just presented by dryft - really works, I need it...

Don't have an Android tablet yet, but I neeeeed this.

(via GigaOm)

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Friday, September 06, 2013

JSP/JSTL migration problem

While migrating some of my work stuff from my old WinXP laptop (ThinkPad T500... good old machine) to my new Windows 7 T430 (also fine iron), I switched from Tomcat v5 (yes, indeed, old) to Tomcat v7.
Tomcat v7 comes with a new servlet, JSP and EL spec. Not a real problem - I thought.

But once I got all the data sources etc up and running, my JSPs would not compile and gave EL parsing errors like "javax.el.ELException: Failed to parse the expression".

A bit googling revealed this nice post on Stackoverflow.

Turns out, that with the new EL standard, Java keywords are forbidden as variables.

And I had "static" as an URL parameter  in ${empty param.static} as well as "class" as a variable to hold css/style class-names.

Once I renamed those everything worked fine again.
The first once was nasty, though, because as an URL parameter the name was of course exposed externally... Had to change some other scripts as well.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

No Key Lime Pie, take a break ^h^h^h^h^h^h Kitkat instead

So, Google decided to call the next Version of Android (4.4) Kitkat instead of Key Lime Pie (as has been rumoured).

Not a bad name, probably more (brand) recognition world-wide then key-lime-pie.
Also, they created a wonderful Apple spoofing ad. I just love it.

So I probably have to turn to my dear daughter to make me one of those... Keylimepiecut

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JK everywhere

No, I'm not talking about the author of Harry Potter...  and I'm actually offended that you even considered this.

I'm talking about the keyboard shortcuts "J" and "K" (amongst others) to scroll/jump up and down in lists.
Using J and K to scroll goes back to the vi editor when you used it on old terminals without cursor keys (or maybe probably earlier, but I know them from vi) ... get the history here.

J/K became really popular with Google Reader (RIP), then later Google+ adopted it, Facebook followed as well, then of course feedly as the Google Reader replacement did it, and now I noticed that flickr (with their infamous redesign) at least adopted J/K navigation.

In case you are not familiar with it... J steps/scrolls down to the next post, K goes one step backward to the previous post.
That simple.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


So, Microsoft will have to rename Skydrive...
BBC News - Microsoft made to rename Skydrive after BSkyB victory:

Makes me chuckle, and to some extent mad... No one would confuse Sky (the TV network) and Skydrive. Really.

If this were IBM, this could never have happened; they'd have clled it  'DDSF' from the start - as in 'Dislocated Data Storage Facility' :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Android 4.3 refined app permissions

The key elements of discussions on app security on iOS vs Android (e.g on Tech News Today, All About Android, ... and others) have always been like this:
  • on iOS you as a user doesn't know anything (because he doesn't have to... Apple cares, so you don't have to)
  • on Android you know the permissions of the app and accept them (during installation), but still can't do anything about it (except for not installing, or rooting in some cases)
I always wondered, why the app manager or security manager did not let you change those permissions after installation as well?

It works like this: in order to do something privileged like placing a call, reading contacts, accessing the internet, ... anything outside the "sandbox" of the app, the app has to declare this in the manifest that comes with the app. If it is not declared, it is not granted, and the activity (e.g. reading contacts) will fail.

Now, with Android 4.3 it seems there is a tool to change those permissions during the life cycle for the app - see screenshot.
See also here on Android Police or here on TechCrunch.

This is really great: you can no e.g. enable location access / GPS for the one or two times you really want an app to have it, but revoke it afterwards...

One caveat, though: I'm afraid that most app developers are lazy and rely on the old model. That assume that the app will have the permission(s) simply because it asked for it during installation, so they will on catch the fact/error that the permission has been revoked, and simply crash.

Expect one or two iterations of some apps to fix this....

Still a huge improvement.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

HTC confirms One S will no longer receive Android updates

Crap, crap, crap. After only one year.
This has been out for about 2 weeks already, but - optimist as I am - I wanted to wait for HTC to backpedal on this.

They didn't... so there.
HTC confirms One S will no longer receive Android updates:

"We can confirm that the HTC One S will not receive further Android OS updates and will remain on the current version of Android and HTC Sense. We realize this news will be met with disappointment by some, but our customers should feel confident that we have designed the HTC One S to be optimized with our amazing camera and audio experiences."

Yeah, "confidence" is what I feel... right...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A weird one: RTM on my HTC

Earlier this week I noticed that the battery on my HTC One S drained really fast.
I check some settings and stats and found that the Remember the Milk app (RTM) seems to be the culprit.
  1. GPS was on all the time (seen in power > history)
    even though I explicitly turned it off... it stayed on
  2. the RTM app used more than one third of the power
    (and location alerts were disabled... so there should not have been any link to the GPS thingy above)
  3. however, RTM was using GPS all the time, as can be seen in the details.
That was weird.

And I could not make this go away.
I was pretty sure that during the previous days, I rebooted the phone (just because for lack of power...)
So I posted a question to the RTM support forum and disabled the app for the time being.

You have to re-read the last half sentence to fully understand how this was bothering me:
I - totally dependent on RTM - disabled the app on my phone. Imagine that.

The RTM folks responded, I described the problem in more detail, and got the tip/request to 
  1. uninstall RTM app (not simply disable)
  2. reboot the phone
  3. re-install RTM app from the play store.
I did as requested, and voilà the problem was gone.
RTM does not even show up any longer in the power statistic. (So nowhere near 34%).
And GPS is really only on when I need it (see history).

Should have thought of this myself: I mean, I'm in the business too long not to consider re-boot and re-install :)

Big thanks to the RTM team for their fast help

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Backup

So, when I will be back from vacation next week there wont be any Google Reader left.
Time to declare myself a coward and take a backup of my OPML and put it to Dropbox.
Just to be sure.

You might consider that, too.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Part 5

Maybe the final part... but then again, maybe not.

Yesterday my Feedly account got migrated from Google Reader Backend to the Feedly backend - the Feedly Cloud.

Can be verified at the URL

You'll either see Google Reader or feedly cloud as the back end service (in the nice json output you get there).

So on all of my devices (PC, laptop, Android mobile, iPad) I'm on feedly now. Google Reader bookmark and app... unpinned and gone.
Fingers crossed.

I hope that Reedr - still my favorite on the iPad - will use the feedly cloud soon.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Recommendations: music vs apps

I think it was on a recent episode of This Week in Google where someone was expressing their hope that now that Google seems to have good recommendation engine in their Google Music service, that this would extend to the Apps market/store as well.

I beg to differ: recommendation for music (or books, or "arts" in general) is rather easy [1], because you (the consumer, the audience) is very likely interested in stuff similar to what they already head/read/like/love.

On the apps side, this does not make any sense; you don't need an app that has a similar user interface to ones you already have/use, you don't need a second or third todo app, or calendar app.

You might collect jazz or Beethoven or Sci-Fi books, but you don't collect todo apps.

[1] not that I knew how to program it, but easy as a concept

Friday, June 07, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Part 4

So, feedly finally announced that they are building the back-end service for the Google Reader replacement and - more importantly - are working with 3rd party app developers such as Reeder to support them... *before* the sun will set on Google Reader.

Building Feedly | Re-imagine how people keep in touch with their favorite sites.
"We have been working behind the curtains with the developers of Reeder,Press, Nextgen Reader, Newsify and gReader as design partners for our Normandy project[1]. Today we are excited to announce that you will be able to access your feedly from all these apps before Google Reader retires and that the access to feedly API will be free. More details soon."

Monday, May 27, 2013

CalConnect: 7 Things You Should Know About Tasks

One of those conundrums [1]: The more popular mobile devices get, the more people care about data interchange. Don't ask me, why they did care less on PCs... Probably it is easier on a PC to read and re-type a calendar event, than on a smartphone.

So, I'm glad to read that the CalConnect consortium is doubling their efforts on Task (todo) exchange/interchange/compatibility.

or is it conundra ?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Part 3

So, only 5 more weeks or so to go before we geeks have to eke out our miserable existence without Google Reader.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I will most probably switch to Feedly.

Here's where I stand today:
  • I mostly gave up the Google Reader app on my Android mobile, 99.9% on Feedly.
  • On my iPad I do 80% on Reeder, 20% on Feedly... and Feedly's share is increasing.
    Reeder's future is not entirely clear, except they say they plan to continue.
  • On the PC I'm also 80% still in Google Reader, 20% in Feedly.
Basically I'm waiting for Feedly to launch their own back-end service, then import (hopefully auto-magically) my Google Reader feeds in there and just continue.

Ah, and in the meantime Digg seems to be progressing with their Reader back-end. Let's hope they'll launch it openly for any reader app out there.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Syncing Google Contacts to iPad/iPhone Address Book via CardDAV

The cloudier software and services get, the less I sync my iPad with iTunes.
It took Apple a while, but even podcasts can now be sync'd over the air without iTunes.

The only thing that I really needed to go through iTunes was syncing my iPad address book with Google Contacts (in GMail). I only synced about once a month (probably even less often) so my address book really missed some contacts.

But now that we have 2013 Apple and Google both support CardDAV - if you will, the address book equivalent of the more popular CalDAV (for calendar data).

With CardDAV the iPad (or iPhone for that matter) directly goes to Google without the detour through iTunes on the PC. The benefit: you'll be really in sync, like on Android. (SCNR)

Here's what you need to do:

Create a new Account with CardDAV

In Settings find the Mail, Concacts, Calender bullet; the first section is the Accounts section, and there click on Add Account.... Create a new Other account and then select Add CardDAV Accont in the Contacts section.

All you need to provide then is for the server, and your Google credentials (userid and password). You can of course modify the description, but the default - taken from the server name - sounds quite apt, doesn't it.

That's it.


... you did sync your Google contacts previously through iTunes - like I did.

Because then you will notice - in the contacts app - that now all entries are duplicate. Once from the new CardDAV account, and once from the iTunes sync.

Let me show you the fastest way to
Delete the old Address Book

Back to the Settings / Mail, ... page.
Create a new Microsoft Exchange account with dummy parameters like test for Email, Username and Password. I used "test" for it.

Then the iPad will prompt you for a server name, say, just to have one that really exists and answers.

Next the iPad will ask you for the services on this account, make sure you turn Contacts to ON.
And now the nice part: you will be prompted if you want to delete all your local contacts. Say you do. And confirm. Be sure to save the account settings, because it will only delete when you save.

And now the old local address book will be gone.
Remove the dummy Exchange account you just created.

Now you have all your Google contacts sync'd to the iPad through CardDav... over the air. No iTunes needed.
Don't forget to go to the PC and turn of Contacts sync (to Google) for the iPad as well.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

How not to share on Android

This morning my wife told me that one of our favorite restaurant guides for Vienna (Wien, wie es isst) now has an Android app. I knew this app from the iOS version (earlier on my iPod touch) and I had not been impressed by it - largely because of the required paid subscription and lack of features.

Well, half an hour later she found a review of a new restaurant in Vienna, which we decided to try soon, and she wanted to make a note of this (address, phone, ...) in Evernote.
When I saw her typing like there was no tomorrow, I asked here, why she did not simply share this restaurant from the guide app to Evernote.

Well, turns out, you can't.  Because those (strong language deleted here) developers decided not to properly implement the share functionality (with the Android SEND intent), but implement their own.

And guess what happens then: you only implement a view of the share functions / targets... and this is not what Android is supposed to be.

Of course, we can only find Facebook, Twitter and E-mail there, because the developer had no clue that I had e.g. Remember-The-Milk on my smartphone; or Evernote, or Google Keep for that matter, or any other app that might want to receive this information.

Simply freaking share with the SEND intent, please! It is easier, less effort (for the developer) and will actually fit the user's needs and expectations. That's why it is there.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

One of thoooose popups

So, which is it...
Cancel or Stop ?

Well in this case at least it can be resolved: Cancel cancels the stopping of the download, i.e. resumes the download.

Developers and Designers, listen to me!
You have to pay more attention to  wording and/or translation.

Friday, April 19, 2013

HTC Contacts and Google Maps

I don't like the HTC Locations service on HTC Android phones. And I don't know anyone who does.
I really do prefer Google Maps and Google Navigation.

Bummer is was that when you click/tap on the location of an event in the (HTC) Calendar, it always takes you to "locations" instead of Google Maps.

Turns out, there is an app for that :)
Aptly called Select Other Map for HTC and available in the Play Store.

And it does just that. It is only there to register Google Maps for the same intent/scheme as HTC did with locations.
Once installed, the next time you click on a location in the calender, the Android system will find two apps registered for the same action, and will ask you for your preference.

You can pick Location Picker (which you wont, because that's the whole point) or Select Other Map.

Choose this one and say Always (unless you just want to try this once).
And - voilà - Google Maps will open and search for the location from the event.

You can always change this back, by going to the Select Other Map app in Settings > Apps and click on Clear Defaults in the Select Other Map app.  This will undo the Always selection from above and you are free to go back to the cra**y HTC location picker.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two random yet timely thoughts on Android

1.  I finally gave up (to wait for JB ever to be released by HTC for the S3 variety of the One S) and had my "old" HTC One S (the one with the S4 chip) repaired.  Got the phone back 20 minutes before we went on a  a marvelous week of vacation with the family in Nice, France. So, finally, when we came back it was time to migrate from One S to One S.
Thus I - again - ran into the issue of Back / Migration of Android.
Not an easy task.

First, there is the Android 4+ trick of using the Android dev kit (ADK) on the PC, connecting the phone via USB and running
adb backup –apk –shared –all
That was the easy part, especially since as an Android developer I of course have ADK on my PC:
The  adb restore to the other phone did not work for me, because it always stopped with an exception after a while.
When trying to root my phone to get Titanium Backup to run, I must have selected one wrong option - it only takes one - and totally erased my phone.
Good thing I had the adb backup files.

So...breath deeply... root the "new" phone... because this is pristine anyway, login with google account, go to Google Playstore on the web and click through all the apps to re-send them to the phone.
Run adb restore for the data only, to get all text messages and other data back.
Worked quite fine, most of the apps found their settings again.
Took me altogether like 5 hours or so.

Then, take the S3 variante - the one I just got rid of - and set it up for my wife... Moving from a Gingerbread Samsung Galaxy S (the "old" I9000 one) is harder, because adb backup does not work there.
Anyway, I pulled most of the data through USB file system mode. Register her account on the new phone, restore some select folders from the PC (like media, and beyond pod, ...) ... 2 hours and it was done.

This is probable the only realm where apple is still ahead... Migrating a phone through an iTunes or iCloud backup is really easy. As easy as it can be.

Google / Android: This is where you need to learn from Apple. You really have to.

2. Facebook last week announced their Facebook Home for Android.
Good thing. Instead of building their own phone, they just "skin" Android and potentially all hardware. Seems to be 4+ only, which is OK as well.
Not sure, however, if their premise is right: What do they mean, that I want "people" on my phone, not "apps"?
It will be a success, because Facebook junkies might use it. I personally rather have my widgets on my home screen, and not 100% Facebook. I don't even have any of the social/facebook/google+... widgets active on my home screen, so this part of Facebook home is not for me.

The chat heads (talk about a fit yet bad name) seem to be interesting; non intrusive / disruptive chat layers on top of the apps might actually work, especially if the combine SMS/text and facebook chat (and the other messaging services in the future maybe).

I'm not talking about the privacy aspect here. Facebook does have a worse track record than Google, so not sure I want them to have total access to my phone and thus contacts, location, texts, ... But that's a different story

It is, however, a wonderful testimonial for the power of Android. A truly modular and open architecture.

Friday, March 22, 2013

MyScript Calculator for Android

This is a nice little calculator.

Even works fine without a stylus on a smartphone as well...
Get it from the play store here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Part 2

(see, I told you, this might become a series).

Of the many companies that now claim to come to the rescue of Google Reader EOL victims, the one that stuck out is digg.

Of all !!

I wanted to leave digg for more than a year now... because it became irrelevant, pointless and even annoying. But I never even bother enough to take the time to close my account there.

So, do i see digg becoming the "backbone" of RSS or just lets say a replacement for Google Reader ? not for me.

Delicious for example - though they did not "come out" yet - would be a much better choice for this.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beyond Google Reader - Part 1

I'm pretty sure this will become a series, so I decided to call this post here part 1 ...

After Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader two days ago, the internet was of course full of rants and stuff. Some even declared RSS dead. Yeah, right... Whatever.

I want to stick to RSS (as a style of receiving and consuming news, articles and posts) for as long as possible. And I need my reader synchronized between devices.


Here's why.

  1. I start with Reeder on my iPad in the morning (at home);
  2. then on the train & underground on my commute to work I usually continue reading a lot (or rather quickly browse through the headlines) on my Android Phone using Google Reader (ahem). Interesting articles which I really want to read on a proper screen are save to pocket.
  3. And then at work (as well as at home) there is always one browser tab open with Google Reader. 

So I have this one feed of news wherever I am.
Therefore I need the (almost) instant synchronization of the read/unread state between devices. And this is what Google Reader did perfectly.

Google Reader is was not only a front-end / user-interface, but also this great back-end synchronization service (or rather: central repository). Reeder, Feedly, Pulse, Flipboard, ... they are were all relying on this infrastructure.
This now needs to be replicated or picked up by someone else.

A new hope:
In the aftermath of thurday's EOL announcement, Feedly (which I was using a bit already on my Android) said, they were actually anticipating this move by Google, and already starting building their own backend infrastructure, essentially cloning on the Google Reader API. And more importantly, that they will open this to others.

So my hope is now that

  1. Feedly will do the backend service 
  2. existing clients like Reeder (unbeatably, to me),  Flipboard, ... will use this service and concentrate on the GUI. (This of course includes Feedly, the client, as well)
In the meantime, if you are facing a situation like mine, I suggest you try feedly.
Go and get the Chrome or Firefox plugin, the iOS app, or the Android app. Or all. Here.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Repair while you wait

Since I'm still waiting for the Jelly Bean upgrade for my HTC One S (the "new" one I bought to replace the one with the broken glass, the one with the S3 processor) I did enough JB Testing on the "old" one (the one with the broken glass) ... I finally brought it in for repair ... hope to have it back soon, so I can go back to my "old" phone with the "new" Android version.

My, this sounds odd.
And only because ${expletive} HTC still did not release JB for some of the S3 processor versions on the One S... Arrrrrghksdfkjh

Monday, February 25, 2013

LG acquires webOS from HP, plans to use it in smart TV platform

This is a surprise ... (via engadget)

LG acquires webOS from HP, plans to use it in smart TV platform: "LG acquires webOS from HP, plans to use it in smart TV platform"
So with HP moving towards Android (in their tablets at least) LG is picking up webOS... good for them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Opening ICS Files with Thunderbird/Lightning

Now as the world is slowly progressing towards the 21st century when it comes to calendaring tools, some websites offer to download a calendar file (ical, ics, ...) for events they publish.

The problem in my environment is, that no application on my (Windows) PC is registered to handle this file type.
Thunderbird/Lightning simply does no do this.

The out-of-the-box solution without any hacking is to simply download the .ics file e.g. to the desktop, and then drag&drop it to Thunderbird's today pane. This triggers an import. Quite OK.

Works with TB17 and Lightning 1.9.
(Sometimes it seems I have to hold the Ctrl key to force a copy (instead of a move)... awkward.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Did Facebook Replace Restaurant Homepages?

This stems from a couple of conversations that I had recently, about how restaurant homepages lack content.
Many of them at best have their contact details, but nothing else.

In one case the phone number was an image file, so I could not even copy-paste the phone number :(
(Or they are total flash-crap).

I don't want to single out anyone, just give examples here, that came up.
All of them, however, do have very active Facebook pages.

One reason I can think of is that Facebook has actually replaced those store / restaurant homepages. And there are good reasons for this

  • it comes with hosting / homepage / everything
  • it does have a simple content management system (if you really stretch the term) and you don't have to mess around with HTML/CSS or any of that
  • it comes with statistics
  • you can easily enter a conversation with your "visitors" (or friends or followers)
However, you still might consider having one of those half-empty pages (and domain) so that Google will still index you.
And: no, I could not find any of them on Google+ :(

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Why, Flickr, Why ?

As much as I like the new flickr app for iPhone [1] and Android, I wonder, why they could not decide on one layout for the toolbar

The above is from iPhone, the lower is from Android.

Why, Flickr, why ?

[1] actually, I use it on my iPad, but there is no HD version yet, so I have to use the iPhone version... room for another rant :)