Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Top 30 Android Apps And Games Of 2011 | TechCrunch

Nice selection from TechCrunch...
The Top 30 Android Apps And Games Of 2011 | TechCrunch: The best Android apps are thus the ones that can both push the technological envelope while also remaining accessible to the vast majority of users. This is no easy feat.

Not necessarily my view with every app, but a good starting point for all you new Android owners...

It definitely shows that in 2011 the Android ecosystem - while it did not fully catch up - narrowed that gap to iOS. And apps are increasingly becoming tablet ready or compatible as we go into 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

iPad Video App Freeze

Since I updated my iPad[1] to iOS 5, I frequently had the problem that the video app that comes with iOS is simply frozen, when you open it.
Even closing the app does not help.
A reboot of the iPad did not help either.

My idea was to somehow not start the video app, but launch a video directly, but for lack of a file manager on iOS, this is not easy.
Turns out it is... simply do a spotlight search for a known video name, wait for it to appear in the search results and tap on it there. Next best thing to a file manager :)

Voila, the video app should start and not freeze...
Works everytime for me know... a bit cumbersome, but still.

Hope that Apple will fix this.

[1] first gen iPad, that is

Monday, December 26, 2011

Letters to Steve

Nice easy reading for the holidays...  a collection of Steve Job's email responses...
and no, it's not just a book full of "Nope" and "Yep"... :)
Maybe a little bit too close to the Steve Jobs Bio by Walter Isaacson which I finished only a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dropbox app for Android update

There's a new version of the Dropbox app for Android. Among several UI and usability improvements, the most important to me is that you can now upload text files from the share/send menu.

I was really craving for this, because quite often in order to get real-life logs of my own app, I'm using the Log Collector app to gather log files and send them to my PC. Dropbox did not support he upload then, so I was using gmail for this (not wanting to bother with Bluetooth and the likes).
Tried it just now with the 2.0 version of the Dropbox app and it really works like a charm. Click - and just some seconds later I have it in my local Dropbox folder on the PC...

So thanks, Dropbox team, for getting this fixed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A simple HTML tag will crash 64-bit Windows 7 • The Register

A simple HTML tag will crash 64-bit Windows 7 • The Register:
An unpatched critical flaw in 64-bit Windows 7 leaves computers vulnerable to a full 'blue screen of death' system crash.

the simple HTML script, when opened in Apple's Safari web browser, quickly leads to the kernel triggering a page fault in an unmapped area of memory, which halts the machine at a blue screen of death.
What weird architecture is this, that allows a usermode application (browser) to crash the kernel?
And this is through Safara (not Internet Explorer, which I'd understand to be more closely tied to the kernel)

Strange, strange.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dropbox auto-updates

I just happened to hover over my dropbox taskbar icon (well not I personally, my mouse pointer) I noticed that it said
Dropbox 1.2.49
All files up to date

I was pretty sure that last version I installed was 1.2.48 - see here.
So I googled for "dropbox auto update" and found the following:
Dropbox - How do I upgrade to the latest version of the Dropbox application 

So yes, it does auto-update... good. thanks.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

More on the Firefox Sessionstore

After I cleaned the Firefox session store about 2 weeks ago by manually deleting the sessionstore.js file, I decided to watch its growth.
I did so by simply doing a copy of the sessionstore.js file with a task scheduled daily.

Here's the results

You can see that there is no constant (monotonic) growth. The sessionstore.js file grows a bit, then shrinks again, then grows a bit...
But it stays at about just under 1MB...

Should this change significantly, I'll report here again.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Google+ page

I'm testing a Google+ page for this blog... find it here and follow me, if you want.
Or try the badge to the right (--> somewhere over there, right beneath my book recommendations).
I mainly want to find out if and how Google+ (brand) pages work...

Of course I will post update there.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Dear foursquare,
don't I give you my location with each check-in anyway??

Friday, November 25, 2011

Firefox Sessionstore

As I mentioned in my previous post  "Firefox 8 - Slow and Memory Hog?", I managed to get FF8 to behave "normal" again by manually resetting the session store.

In order to learn more about the session store I did some googling...and found several interesting parameters in the FF config.
Check here for a list.

One that might be of particular interest is that you can specify the interval for FF to save the sessions into the session store with browser.sessionstore.interval; the default (in FF8) is 15 seconds, which seems ok... not too frequent, but still enough to capture your sessions...
Might be fun to play around with his; e.g. move it down to sub-second level in order to totally ruin your PC performance :-)
or increase it to 1minute or more and see if it is still useable then, in terms of session-state captured...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


No worries,  this is only about my home PC.

I finally moved off my 8.5 year old 1.2GHz [1] single core 1GB RAM Windows XP machine to 4core Windows 7.

Well it first had Vista on it, and hardly anything worked (try DB2 for a start), then I decided to go Windows 7 before I do most of the migration, so I won't have to re-do everything again.

I have to say, Win7 is really a nice product... especially compared to Vista, but after only a week, I started to prefer it over XP as well. And compatibility is great, all of those nice little tools I had on XP work fine here as well.

And finally I got some RAM and clock cycles to work with... Android development (esp the emulator) is a lot easier now... :)

[1] or so, I don't even care enough to check this

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Firefox 8 - Slow and Memory Hog?

I'm running Firefox 8 now since it came out last week.

Not only did I find it to be slow (compared for both, FF7 and Chrome), but also a real memory hog.
~800MB on my work laptop, with only 6 tabs open, and really not responsive at all.

FF7 and earlier never had more than 300-400 MB (roughly) on that machine - with the same tabs and apps open, and the same extensions installed. So this was odd.

Especially start-up was a catastrophe.

Then, yesterday, I got the slow-script warning for sessionstore.js.

Well that about just did it for me ...

I went to my profile directory[1], and found a sessionsstore.js with more than 3MB.
I renamed it, restarted FF... of course with none of the pinned app-tabs open, because I took the session store away... But that's what I wanted.

I manually re-established my pinned app tabs, and voila
FF8 now was back to using 250MB, and the sessionstore.js was around 200kB

So - fixed for now. I think I had the session store build up for more than 1 year now and never cleared it (and quite frankly, why should I). So maybe cleaning it once might really fix the problem, and FF8 is not such a memory hog after all - or maybe it will be back after a couple of months...

Let's see, how this progresses from here...

[1]  can be found in %appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Dropbox release

Awkwardly Dropbox (of all services) does not have a notification for a new release. Well, a new one is out - 1.2.48 for Windows. I guess, this is to support the new Dropbox for Teams. Anyway, since there is no notification, I took the task to tell y'all :) Download Dropbox

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thunderbird 8 and Lightning 1.0

So, 2 days ago Thunderbird 8 has been released.

The major changes are:
  • more restrictive handling of extensions/add-ons, especially those that come from other apps... those will be disabled by default... Thunderbird Installer will guide you through this.
  • keyboard short-cuts for the various search options have been changed.
While it has been Ctrl-F for both, the Find within the current message and the QuickFilter for the current folder, it is now
  • Ctrl-F for Find (within the current message)
  • Ctrl-Shift-K for the QuickFilteron on the folder
  • and Ctrl-K is unchanged for the global (indexed) search.
Took me 2 days to get accustomed to the Ctrl-Shift-K.
Well, almost. Not entirely. But I'll manage.

Also I had to "manually" upgrade 3 add-ons that were not declared compatible with TB 8, because no-one cared to update their install.rdf in the XPI file... quite cumbersome... See my rant earlier this year.

Ah, yes, and Lightning finally made it to official release 1.0 ... after years of beta.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Save icons

Is there any reason - except for convention or tradition - that icons for the Save action are still a 3.5" diskette symbol?

Will today's kids actually understand this?
And when was the last time you saved anything to a "floppy" disk?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

They joy of forgetting your Kindle at home

Yesterday I was on a business trip in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and wanted take my Kindle with me to continue reading the Jobs bio. However, in the hotel I noticed, that I forgot.

No problem... take the iPad, start the Kindle app, sync to the furthest point read... and continue reading.

And tonight, I'll sync again on my Kindle an continue where I left on the iPad yesterday.

Still, the reading experience is a lot better on the Kindle than on the iPad, but occasionally, when there's no Kindle around, it is sufficient.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Finally someone publishing calendar data

Baby steps, baby steps... both to proper publishing of calendar data and to open data in government/administration.

The municipality of Vienna publishes the calendar of public school holidays for this year as an iCalendar file... (here at
Schulferien in Wien im Schuljahr 2011/2012; German only).

For non-nerds they go so far as to explain what an ICS file is: "for integration with e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Ical or  Google Calendar".

Let's hope this is not a one-time, static file for 2011/2011 only, but will become a stream of school holiday data...

Thanks, Martin, for the pointer.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Remember the Milk - new feature

When I moved to an Android device earlier this year, I decided to fully use Remember the Milk (RTM) as my task/todo management tool.

Mainly because
a) stock Android does not have any such tool
b) it is available on the Web (read: PC), on iOS (my iPad) and my Andoid mobile...
There are a lot of plug-ins and other integration methods into other tools as well, listed here.[1]

For the web browser there's a "quick add" bookmarklet that allows you to easily add a web-page to your task list as well.

I was missing exactly this feature for the mobile, so I asked in the support forum for this. Android has the architecture for this, the android.intent.action.SEND intent. All apps implementing/exposing this, will be listed in the "Share" or "Send to" option of the browser and other apps that support this.

Now the feature has been implemented in the latest release of RTM app for Android. And I only noticed because all of a suddent "Remember the milk" turned up in the "Share" menu of the browser.

So: Kudos to the Remember the Milk team for picking up my suggestion and implementing it. Excellent support.

[1] There's also a Thunderbird/Lightning plug-in as well, but that does not really work with Lightning 1.0 and is no longer supported.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Public Parts - Finished

So I finally managed to finish Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis.

The book starts (and ends) with a couple of excellent observations and thoughts on privacy versus publicity... and also how those two concepts came to be.

Good read... but if you know Jeff Jarvis' blog and other statements already, this will not be news to you. Also he devoted too much space on essantially a re-cap of his earlier book What Would Google Do?

I still highly recommend both books.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nokia did it again...

They still manage to surprise me. Just unsubscribed from one of their newsletters...

Guess what, it will only take them "up to 14 days before" the remove me from their mailing list.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to build up a 1000+ € phone bill..,

... without you knowing.
And no roaming.
Or doing anything different ... compared to the previous month.

This is what just happened to a friend of mine:
She learned from their operator that she ran up a 900€ data bill, and the month (i.e. billing cycle) was not even over.
Did she have an app running, that kept data open? No.
Did she have a video running in the background? No. [1]
But she did have a 15MB email in her outbox that could not be sent for days.

The email app (on the iPhone) was trying every 3 minutes.
Could be tracked down with the operator's help.

My guess: it failed, because the mail server (or mta) did not let it send a 15MB+ email...
So it kept retrying, without any chance to succeed.

Simple math:
3 minutes a day = 20 times an hour = 480 times a day

Lets just say it successfully transmits only 1MB before the error[2], that's still 480MB ~~ 1/2GB a day.
Continue for a week or so, and you have 3.5GB... and through the 3GB ceiling and you hit the area where it gets really expensive.

And she really did not do anything wrong. Claimed that there was no error message, from the mail-app... And why should there, it kept retrying anway...

Well, the operator in an act of humanity - or to avoid the negative publicity of a court case - found a way to help here. But only because it totally breaks her data pattern until then.

[1] The operator really asked this... no pun.
[2] unlikely, it probably occurs after a lot higher transfer volumn, so those are best case numbers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Kindle Experience So Far

I have read a couple of books on my Kindle so far. Here's what I found out:

  1. The Kindle is an excellent reading device. The e-ink display has the perfect contrast for reading... Once you started reading on a Kindle (or just looking at it) you'll never ever consider reading a book on the iPad again. Trust me.
    Not surprisingly, the display/e-ink quality was my reason for buying a Kindle:
    My actual craving for this device started on the tube in London, when I first got a glimpse at a kindle of a fellow passenger. My first thought was "This is a mockup". Honestly. I really thought someone just glued some paper on some dark carton, before I realized this was the real thing. (Well, the real kindle... not real paper).
  2. Buying books for the Kindle is - of course - even more instant than buying a paper-book on Amazon (which is still amazingly simple). It's a matter of seconds.
  3. That said, I still browse for books and buy them from my PC/Laptop. I do this very rarely on the Kindle directly. The userinterface and "browser" speed there is simply not suitable for this. It's a reading device after all. Not a tablet or a PDA.
  4. Sharing books - forget it.
    With my wife working in a book store, we share a lot of books. It was quite common that I picked up a book which she just had finished (reading). Well, it's different now on the kindle, because I would have to share the device with her..
    So while I'm reading book A (on the Kindle) she of course cannot read book B (on the same Kindle). This used to work pretty well with real books :)
    Maybe she should get her own Kindle[1].
  5. Privacy
    When you read a book - say - on the underground, everyone can see what you're reading. This could be embarrassing... depending on your choice of books. With a Kindle, no one knows what you read.
  6. Publicity
    As I just said, with a Kindle, no one knows what you read.There's no visible/public bookshelf - in your home. So you cannot brag with your library. Most of us judge people by their library, in a way. And really, browsing the backs of the books on a friend's bookshelf sometimes gives excellent conversations and recommendations. This will have to work differently with a Kindle. You will have to ...
  7. ... share
    So if you want to have the publicity about your reading habits, about your library, you'll have to do this actively, like in a blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, on Goodreads. You'll even have a bigger audience there.
  8. As for the act and experience of reading itself. NO DIFFERENCE.
    We'll maybe for books with illustrations :-)
    But when it comes to being able to concentrate, or (not) getting distracted, or getting tired... no difference to a real book. I came to prefer the Kindle over books when it comes to the shape and how you hold the thing... it's lighter (in most cases), there's no clumsy page turning (as with thick books), ...
Don't get me wrong; I still LOVE real books. And I still read them... (see the problem with sharing above). But there is nothing to be said against the Kindle. 

[1] yeah right... like booksellers would buy a Kindle...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


So dear Google+, kudos for finally making hash-tags link to the respective search, i.e. allowing # as a keyword marker, like Twitter.

... BUT...

... there are some pretend-hash-tags, that really aren't.  Sometimes a has is just a hash...

Like in
(for the geeks among us)
or #1 #2 ... (again in geek terms #\d+)

But still better to have the link to a pointless search than not have the link at all.


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Is it really ok to fully quote an article from someone else as your blog post and then just add a "Source:" at the end? (In a much smaller font even)
I say no.

But if you do, then you have to cope with the criticism you receive, and you cannot just say "I'm only quoting xyz."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Icecream sandwich approaching?

It seems like the majority of my Android apps from the Android/Google marketplace have been updated during the last couple of days. Some it seems on a daily basis.... This can only mean, that everyone is getting ready for Icecream sandwich... Right?

Meaningful error messages

This calls for a new series:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Excellent presentation on Cloud Computing

Ok, this is a bit old (OSCON 09) but still easily the most fun and solid presentation about Cloud Computing:

Found it via the IT Conversations podcast.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Flight Search - Hipmunk

If you ever wanted to know how fast a search for flights can actually be, try Google Flights. Only US for the time being ... but this is really fast.

But what I really wanted to show is, how flight search results can be presented... Try Hipmunk.
Cool overview; excellent timeline; nice and helpful coloring. Check the above image (click to enlarge)

Also: redundant flights are being masked out, i.e. flights with the same time but different number (code sharing), or just a higher price - but you can unhide them with the dropdown to the very right.

I have yet to search a real-life flight for me to be able to judge it, but it looks promising indeed.
Also available for iPhone and iPad and Android. Granted, on sub-tablet form factors[1] this is less helpful than on PCs and tablets.

Most importantly: it got an animated chipmunk.

[1] formerly known as smart phones.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Public Parts

Thanks to the Amazon Kindle pre-orders, I'm now proud owner of Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis on my Kindle.

Or am I? "Owner" that is  - with all that DRM nonsense?

Anyway... I have it... and can't wait to read it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

That Hurts

So the Apotheker had to go, after the webOS and PSG disaster.

SCOTTY mobil for Android

The Austrian Federal Railways (OeBB) finally released their mobile timetable / route-planner app for Android.

After they claimed for years that it would be available for "all relevant mobiles" [1]... only not for Android, when it already had top market share.

Anyway... it's here now. And it looks good :)

SCOTTY mobil - Android Market

[1] "für alle gängigen Handymodelle"

Why did Google buy Zagat?

Because they not only need to index the pure content (and pagerank it by means of links etc), they also need to know the author's location in your social network.

Hence Google+.
Hence Zagat... The review alone is not sufficient, they need the author as well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Annoying DNS Problem

If you cannot reach this blog [1], your ISP is probably Telekom Austria.

Since about early August this year, they must have changed something in their DNS infrastructure that no longer allows them (nor their clients) to resolve (nor - my food blog - for that matter).

I was affected, too.
When I noticed this, I asked some google+ followers to check from their side, and only Telekom Austria (aon) customers had problems.
Interestingly, their mobile half ( and their nameservers don't have a problem.

Well, I changed the nameserver setting on my router at home to (Google nameserver); so all my clients work fine now.

So if you can read this despite of DNS problems and you are NOT on Telekom Austria, kindly let me know in the comments section.

[1] but you are reading this right now... weird :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Google+ Follower Model

To be honest, I haven't quite come to terms with the Google+ follower model. I am of course familiar with it from Twitter (i.e. anyone can simply follow you, ...). But Twitter is public. As public as can be. So on Twitter I don't really mind or care who's following me. It simply is their problem, not mine, if my chit-chat clutters up their Twitter stream.

I know that I should have the same approach to this on Google+, but somehow I don't. It definitely is a bit more personal that Twitter, that's probably why I do care a bit more who's following me. Still not as much as on Facebook.

But it does not mean, that I have to follow them. And I don't.

So thanks Google, for implementing this here the other day:

Really helpful.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Amazon Kindle tablet

I'm pretty sure that the details MG Siegler provided on the roumored Amazon Tablet - allegedly to be called Kindle like the ebook reader - are accurate.

So it will be a 7" Android device, without any of that Google stuff, a less sophisticated multitouch, but full Amazon store integration.

The ultimate Amazon shopping device.
The perfect media consumption device, that does not even pretend to be for work and all the enterprisy stuff.

Calling this an Android tablet is probably wrong - even if technically correct - and misleading for both, this gadget and all the other "real" Android tablets.

Its a multimedia kindle.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A thought about Android

With the currently ongoing patent wars around Android (and iOS) where everyone is suing everyone over alleged patent infringement (usually over patents that shouldn't have been awarded in the first place) and copied design, I think the real fight here is not about the mobile space (i.e. smartphones and tablets) as it appears, but rather about the upcoming embedded space.

Both Android and iOS are already beyond phones and tables, see Apple TV and Google TV.  And then there's also the range of all the other devices, where visionaries about 10 years ago (and more), told us, they'd be connected and "intelligent":
Like the fridge (not sure if that will ever make sense), or smaller wearable devices, like a wrist-watch  and/or a pulse watch etc etc. Maybe digital cameras as well.
See what WIMM are currently releasing as technology prototype and developer platform for such devices. All Android based.

Kind of the Java promise from 1995 :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Android Call Reminder

As long time readers of my blog and my rants may remember, I once owned a Nokia 6233 which could schedule calls, i.e. have a calendar/todo/reminder entry for a phone call you wanted to make. When it was due, it would alert you, and you could - with only one click (on the green button) - make that call.

Then came my Nokia E71, which was in all ways superior (and most probably the best Nokia handset I ever had), except for this: It simply could not schedule calls, and I could not find any 3rd party software for it.

Now on my HTC Desire Z / Vision I again went on a quest for such a beast. Android doesn't have any stock reminder/todolist app at all, and none of the ones I saw so far, could handle calls (Astrid, Remember-The-Milk).

Then I found Call Reminder (and more importantly Call Reminder Pro).

It does exactly what I was looking for.

You can set a reminder for a specific call (number or entry from your contacts) and it will notify you then.
Then you can call, snooze or dismiss this reminder.

But more importantly - or conveniently:
It also sends you a notification for every incoming call (or every missed call, this is a preference setting).

So let's say you were away from your phone, and a call in the meantime that you obviously then missed. You will see the default Android missed-call logo and notification, acknowledge (and thus remove) it, get distracted and not return this call.

Well, 30 minutes or an hour later (again depending on our settings) Call Reminder Pro will step in and remind you of this missed call, and what you want to do with it.

This auto-reminder feature is really handy.[1]

Of course you can manually schedule calls (as noted before), you can change the time/date of the reminders etc etc. 

One weird effect is for calls you actually took: you still get a reminder.

Sure you can turn this off. But ever so often you briefly take a call, tell the other party "I'll call you right back!" and then of course fail to do exactly this.

So this is the one more case where Call Reminder Pro comes in handy. That's why I still keep it enabled for all calls, not only missed calls.
Would be cool to have an option to say, "Missed calls and call calls less then 20 seconds"...

Call Reminder comes as free (trial) version with limited features, i.e. you cannot manually schedule a call for any other day than today... annoying.  So for only 1 buck don't even bother with the free version. And also, if you install first the free and then later the Pro version, you have 2 call reminder apps running, and get all the notifications twice (until you uninstall one of them)... As I said, don't even bother with the free version. Call Reminder Pro is worth its money.

I've been using it for about 1 week know, and it already caught 3 calls I'd have otherwise forgotten[2].

[1] And at times, really annoying, because I might just be the 7th reminder for this call... with the voice box, maybe an text/SMS or email, etc etc... you know those guys.
[2] yes, this is rather a problem with me, than a feature of the app, but still. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Android SMS client replacement

This is my favorite replacement for the stock SMS client/app on my Android (HTC Desire Z aka Vision):


Apart from presenting the conversations iPhone-style and does iPhonish smileys, it - more importantly - pops up a dialog when a text arrives and let's you immediately reply from there. Totally handy.

I've been using it for a bit more than a week now, and never regretted it.

Also it is not really intrusive: you keep the old (stock) client, and all you have to do is disable the notifications there (to avoid double-notifications). So you can always go back to the regular app.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mozilla's new version policy

With Firefox 4 Mozilla introduced their new release policy, which basically means a new release every quarter, and also changing the major version number with every such release. Thus we got Firefox 6 only yesterday.

Since I'm not an enterprise, I do not have a problem with quarterly releases... some IT organizations do.
Also, I personally couldn't care less if they call their releases 4, 5, 6, 7, or Bob, Frank, Josephina, ... or IV/2011, X/2011, Fall 09... whatever.

If it were not for the add-ons... Usually you test an add-on you develop against a certain release, and also declare this in the install.rdf:

<!-- Thunderbird -->

In the past you knew that the architecture would be stable for a major release, so if you'd tested successfully against a late Thunderbird 3 beta you could increase the maxVersion to "3+". And you'd not have to bother for the next 18 month, until the next major version would go to alpha or beta, you'd have a look at it, test your add-on against it, maybe a tweak here or there, and voila, maxVersion++; and publish it.

Now, you have to do this every 3 months; since everything is now a major version, you either have to declare the add-on as universally compatible (and it might break with version 8) or you have to update the install.rdf every 3 month. Even if there is no major change in Firefox or Thunderbird (as this week with v6).

From a users perspective the same happens, with every update you'll see a couple of add-ons as "incompatible" and disabled. And you either go to your profile and patch the install.rdf (which is what I do) or you have to wait a couple of days (at least) until the developers publish the new "version".

True for both Firefox and Thunderbird.
Somewhat annoying. There's a reason why the separation of major and minor version number has been introduced a couple of decades ago...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Totally un-applish

I just recently had to do the routine password change on my corporate email/calendar.  Not a big deal.

However,  why does an iOS device (both iPod touch and iPad) prompt me for the new Calendar password (and remembers it from then on), but not for email (neither IMAP nor SMTP). I really have to go through settings to change this.

This is totally not like Apple.
First of all its annoying (to have to go to settings), and secondly its inconsistent (automatic for calendar, manual for email).

(ah, end yes, Android is manual only... up to 2.3 at least).

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I do enjoy "digital" recommendations, both Amazon-style (with just pattern matching on clicks and orders) and the social way, i.e. recommendations you get from your social networks via Facebook, Twitter and co.

But it's also really nice to see the old-fashioned analog recommendation at work, like two weeks ago in London.

As is almost mandatory we were a Foyles.. most probably the best book store in the world.
With the best Jazz (and world-music) department... (at least for a book-store).

While I was browsing their Jazz CD titles there, sorting through the Keith Jarretts... I noticed the excellent music they were playing in the background... So I asked the guy at the counter, he smiled, pointed to the "Currently Playing" display right next to him, looked at the two Keith Jarrett albums I was about to buy and added something in the lines of "You will love this if you like Keith Jarrett", and then went to shelf to get the CD for me.

The artist is Gwilym Simcock ... a jazz and classical piano player I have to admit I have never heard of, and the album in question is Good Days at Schloss Elmau. Now part of my CD collection.

Maybe Amazon could have done this as well... it would definitely fit my buying pattern there... but this analog recommendation was a nice experience and flash-back into the eighties. When "social" was still something you experienced in person.

BTW: this reminds me of the early days of digital recommendations some 10+ years ago, when we were discussing locations based services(LBS) and restaurant recommendations (based on location). We were talking so some providers of LBS and ranting about the quality problems of such recommendations, when one of their managers said "You can't even get a decent restaurant recommendation out of a human being."


Thursday, August 04, 2011

UK Public Wifi - A Disappointment

So I just spent two and a half weeks of vacation in the UK, touring South England (all from Oxford via Stratford-upon-Avon to Bath, Cornwall, South, Kent, and then a couple of days in London) with only my HTC and the company SIM card in it... which allows me to data-roam only up to 20MB... (company policy) and I can't even top that up, although A1 would offer such a service. I did not really mind this, because I really was expecting to hit a public open Wifi spot every odd day.

Well, I did not... or hardly ever!

Many times pubs, hotels and other places (like Pret-A-Manger, Starbucks, ...) actually advertise "Free Wifi available" but you end up with a pay-version, like BT-Openzone and others. I only found two (2) truly open, public, free Wifi spots (one in a totally loveable B&B near Bath, the other in a bar in St.Ives). Thank you, guys.

This both surprised an disappointed me.

Next time, I should get a local (i.e. UK) prepaid SIM card with  a cheap data plan or pay-as-you-go data... in Austria I would do this with Bob for 4 EUR per 1GB/month... much cheaper than adding the one-time A1 roaming-option to my SIM card from 10-100 EUR), although this offer is quite OK (if you need to keep your own SIM/number in your phone).

For two weeks it would be at least cheaper than getting Wifi from 3 or so different providers, and always available...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Google+ Android App

While everyone seems to be waiting for their G+ activation and/or iOS app, I just like to point out that the current Android App for Google+ is in all aspects superior to the Facebook app on Android (and on iOS).
  • Faster
  • Syncs with all other google services (check this in Settings -> Accounts & Sync -> Google)
  • Faster
  • Not sure if the Huddle (group texting) service is really a plus... haven't used it so far
  • Faster
  • The photo/video auto upload feature is great:
    privacy is OK, because your pictures will only go to a private folder in Picasa and they are almost instantaneously available in G+ to share
  • Faster
  • Images/Photos actually are shown/loaded, whereas in the FB app they fail to load at all in about 1/3 of the times I click on one (Wifi or 3G/HSDPA connection)
So all in all: big + for the G+ app.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Android Gallery Problem

Every Android phone I've seen so far has a problem that all of a sudden recent photos are missing from the Gallery.
Most users then think the picture they just took has not been saved to the phone or sd-card.


This is - as a simple google search will reveal - a problem of the media scanner.
The standard Gallery app relies on the MediaScanner to collect images from the various folders of the SD card. And apps should notify the MediaScanner when they store a new image/video/... on the SD card.

However, something is broken in the media scanner and it seems to die frequently - or at least not work.

Easiest work around (apart from rebooting the device):

Go to Settings and unmount and re-mount the SD-card.
This will force the media to be re-scanned.
However, this is a bad idea to do when you are listening to podcasts at the same time (because they are on the SD-card as well, which you are about to unmount...)

Therefore - even better, download an app like "Rescan Media" from the market place. All it does, is re-invoke the Media Scanner.
Just click on it - voila, the images will be back again.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

iPad - the missing key

If you want to edit HTML on the iPad, you quite frequently have to switch to the special character keyboard.
Conveniently it contains all the keys/characters you need to e.g. type in a those nasty HTML tags.

The forward-slash (/) key is actually missing.

Oddly enough, there would be enough room for it, see my rendering of this

(The place where I put the key is actually empty).

Mid-Year Resolution

I haven't been working on my Mid-May Resolution:
"I'll get a second (CPU) core in my home PC before I get it in my smart phone."
Granted, I neither have a dual/multi-core CPU in my PC *nor* in my smart phone right now...

but I should be working on the PC issue. Especially the Android Emulator could need it.


I've been using Google+ now for a couple of days, and I have to admit I like it.
Currently it suffers from being almost 100% self-referential... everyone on G+ only talks about G+.
Apart from that it reminds me a lot of friendfeed. (Odd, since FF was bought by Facebook - of all).

I wonder why they did not implement hash-tags (like twitter). They'd link individual posts to topics, so they provide additional (and in many cases) valuable information - or meta information.

G+'s most important task is to get additional signals to improve Google search/index, so hash-tags should serve well there. Wouldn't they?

Or does Google consider hash-tags as "messing with the algorithm" because they are being entered by humans... and not derived from their algorithms?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Google Takeout

So I joined Google+ today (thanks, Martin, for the invitation), but more importantly I want to write about Google Takeout today.

Best starting point is the video from the The Data Liberation Front:

The announcement seems a lot more promising than the current implementation itself.
It must have been written exclusively for Google+, becaus that's what Google Takeout focuses on.

There is neither Gmail nor Calendar export... Contacts are exported, though, and conveniently grouped into .vcf files (per contact group... and your circles (see, I told you it was designed for Google+).

Still a good start. Better than Facebook for now. And I like their mindset... that this is MY data, not theirs.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Platformness, part two

I recently claimed that a true platform has to protect it's developers from (ridiculous) claims of third parties (indemnification), the same is of course try in the opposite direction:

When an ecosystem around this platform evolves that adds new and important features to this platform, the platform itself should not step in and re-create those add-ons.

Current (counter-) example: Twitter just added their own photo sharing service, thus rendering e Twitpics and Yfrogs obsolete... who were instrumental in Twitter's success during the last years.

In other words: a platform shall not compete with (or against) its developers.
I'd like to call this quality trust.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In The Plex

I just finished this book:
In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy.

Excellent reading, good insights into Google; a bit google-sided but not too much.
I highly recommend this to anyone involved with or interested in Google... (even the opponents and Google haters).

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Apple's just announced  multimedia cloud storage thingy, iCloud[1] looks like a real threat to Dropbox.
Especially if well integrated into the Apple ecosystem (Mac, iOS and applications).

Not for me, though; the 2GB Dropbox offers for free are sufficient for me... but thats only because I do not keep music or photos/videos there..

Also Dropbox will probably always be more cross-platform.

So I'll keep using Dropbox - and invite you to do the same.

[1]  if they can keep the name :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2011


The recent (if not still ongoing)  Lodsys v. Apple fight over patent infringement around in-app purchase revealed another important criteria for something to be a platform: indemnification.

Apple (or any platform provider) has to protect developers for their platform from such claims - whether they are justified or - as in this case - just patent trolls.

For a true platform this must never be burdened on the developers.

Hope Google/Android will follow Apple's example.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mid-May Resolution

Why only have new-years resolutions? Why not start with Mid-May resolutions?

so here's mine:
I'll get a second (CPU) core in my home PC before I get it in my smart phone.

Tough one... off to buy a new PC in the next 2 weeks (after 8+ years with the one I currently own).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cloud rants

With the outage of the Amazon S3 storage about two weeks ago  and the downtime of the Playstation Network (PSN) due to security problems, the cloud sceptics are on the rise again.

The usual “we told you so” and “the cloud is not safe”... etc etc.

Two thoughts on this
  1. Show me one internal IT operation that has an availability or up-time like S3.
  2. If people would only spend the right amount of money on the cloud services and subscribe to the full package with proper redundancies, etc etc this would probably not happen.
    Well, the single outage at one Amazon site will still happen, but not the same net effect on all the other services.
I guess one of the reasons is, that IT managers or CxOs compare the cheapest price they find on the brochures for the cloud services with their internal (total) cost. And then tend to buy only the cheapest flavor of whatever cloud service they want, without any consideration regarding availability (don't even get me started on security).

Like at least one IT manager who I heard complaining how expansive 1 TB of storage is in an enterprise grade storage box (or even in a SAN) when they can get 1TB for roughly 50€ as a USB disk...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Awesome Thunderbird Plugin

So, the other day I sat down to write myself an add-on that was more than overdue for me... or for the way I use mail and Thunderbird.

At that time I called it Domain Specific Move, and it did exactly that. I took the most domain with the most occurrence in an email (scanning to, from, cc) and suggested a folder for this mail; and you were able to train it.

Through Max's comment I learned about the Nostalgy add-on. It actually is about defining keyboard shortcuts and stuff for Thunderbird:
Adds keyboard shortcuts to change folder, move/copy messages, with folder name auto-completion (using only the keyboard). 
The folder name auto-completion is the really awesome stuff. I just have to hit S (for Save == Move) and an entry field pops up at the bottom of the window and I only need to type two or three letters of the folder name and that's it.

When you really use nested folders like I do - with about 5-6 levels deep, this saves a lot of time.

Same for G as GoTo folder. And there's a nice B (whatever that stands for) that Moves the message to the folder and then goes to the folder (sort of S+G).

Great stuff. Thanks Max, for the hint.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

New Google Docs App for Android with OCR

New Google Docs App for Android with OCR

Google release a (nativeff) client of Google Docs for Android. Apart way better editing of documents than the (mobile) web version does, it now also supports OCR. (optical character recognition) images directly from the camera. This feature has been in Google docs for a while, but now it is also directly from the phone. Of course I had to try this. It gives you a kind nf James Bond feeling, when you grep you phone with a hidden camera in it[1], bend over a document and take picture of it
With a click it is uploaded to Google and convened to text. With quite impressive results. The image itself is preserved through the upload and attached to the document, so you can manually correct the results.

Naturally, this post had to be created this way.

[1] ofcourse the camera in my HTC Desire Z is not really “hidden”, but part of the 007 experience
 Ok, so here's the image:

And here's the original text:

New Google Docs App for Android with OCR

Google release a (native?) client of Google Docs for Android. Apart from way better editing of documents than the (mobile) web version does, it now also supports OCR (optical character recognition) from images … directly from the camera.
This feature has been in Google docs for a while, but now it is also available directly from the phone.
Of course I had to try this. It gives you a kind of James Bond feeling, when you grep you phone with a hidden camera in it[1], bend over a document and take picture of it.

With a click it is uploaded to Google and converted to text.

With quite impressive results.
The image itself is preserved through the upload and attached to the document, so you can manually correct the results.

Naturally, this post had to be created this way.

[1] of course the camera in my HTC Desire Z is not really “hidden”, but it's part of the 007 experience :)

And yes, the typo ("grep" instead of "grab") was by me, not by google.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Google Calendar Goodie

Have you ever noticed that Google Calender shows the current day (of the month) as the favicon.

Therefore also in the tab (on Firefox), even it the tab is pinned.

Cool. Nice.
Not sure if it is entirely useful, but I like it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The end of Flock

Flock Official End of Support Notice

Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011. We would like to thank our loyal users around the world for their support, and we encourage the Flock community to migrate in the coming weeks to one of the recommended web browsers listed below.

Our Recommendations

Since no further security updates will be provided to keep you safe on the web, we encourage all Flock users to upgrade to either Chrome or Firefox. Both are based on the same reliable technologies as Flock, and both are being actively maintained and improved. Also, each of these browsers has a broad selection of add-ons and extensions to customize and extend their capabilities.

For more information (including notes on how to migrate to other browsers), please see our FAQ.


The Flock Team

I de-installed it months ago anyway :(

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thunderbird hack: Domain Specific Move

One of the most frequent actions in Thunderbird is to move a message that I received from a business partner or customer to a message folder for exactly this partner/customer. Same for messages I sent to them.

However, as you communicate with more customers and partners, the folder hierarchy will become more complex and I already need about 6 clicks to select the specific folder.

Sometimes I'm lucky and it is the most recently used folder, then I can do it with the "move again" function directly in the context menu; sometimes, it is at least in the recent folder menu, still 3 clicks.

WIBNI if TB could just remember that I always move messages from domain A to the folder X, lets say from "" to folder "/Vendors/IBM" or something like that, and then present me with a one-click option on the menu.

So I wrote an add-on for this and called it "Domain Specific Move".
It does exactly what I described.

I find the most frequently used domain in the email (counting all from sender, recipient, cc-list).
If I already find a setting for this, I create an additional menu item in the move message menu for a move to this folder.

If not, I present a "learn" menu item, that lets you train the extension on where to put mails for this extension (i.e. register a folder for this domain). You pick the destination folder yourself. No magic included there.

Once I thus learned and stored the folder for this domain, I can - next time this domain appears - present the "Move to " menu item as above.

Configuration is stored in the preferences under "extensions.domainmove.".
Currently I have no options page for this, so if you want to change or remove an entry, you have to go to the prefs.js file or the about: dialog.

Yes, I know, filters can do the same; but when I select to manually run the filter, it will not tell me what exactly it is up to... The beauty of my approach (IMHO) is, that I see it on the menu and can decide otherwise, because not always does the folder registered for this domain really match.

In essence this is only a short cut with an educated suggestion. No behind-the-scenes magic.

  • more flexibility with domains with more than 2 parts (e.g. should map to if there is no
  • unlearn domains (without going to the about: dialog)
  • option for domains-to-ignore; currently I ignore non-specific domains as,,,, [1].
  • ignore "my" domain (see comment re
Available for TB3+ only.

I will polish the code and implement some of the above todos, then I will post the first beta.

[1] well for me as an former Sun and now Oracle employee, all emails contain either an or address and this domain contains no information on where to archive the email.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

On podcasts - Not Print

Not only is a podcast not radio, it is also (not too surprisingly) NOT PRINT.

In a newspaper or journal you usually have the so called standfirst right after/below the headline summing the article to follow. Sort of an abstract, if you will.

This is quite convenient, because it allows you to learn what the article is about (not always that obvious from the headline alone), and maybe skip the article itself entirely.
Sometimes - if I know I am interested in the article - I will skip the standfirst... knowing that there is no additional information in it.

Either way, there are options to avoid the repetition.

Not so in a podcast.
In audio it is less easy to skip things.

If you provide a quick intro to a podcast, be very very brief. Only give the topic. Don't summarize the podcast. Especially not if the podcast is short (5-10 minutes). Do not repeat everything from the podcast in the abstract/standfirst.

Just don't.
It's annoying.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WebOS on my Laptop?

I sort of made fun about WebOS on a PC the other day; but after a nice chat with Max, I began to realize that there indeed is a use for WebOS on a PC... on a Laptop to be precise.
  • Imagine a regular Laptop (HP in this case here, if it makes it easier for you :-) )
  • Imagine also that by some magic means you'd tell it to boot WebOS instead of Windows/Linux when you power it on or de-hibernate it.
  • Imagine that you'd have an excellent browser, video player, good-enough email app, good-enough word/excel/powerpoint viewer and editor, ... all that you have on regular iPads or Android-Tablets today.
That'd give you an iPad/Tablet-like instant-on-gadget with a full QWERTY keyboard and excellent battery life.

On the airport, on the train, on your daily commute, ... this sounds a lot easier than Windows for those situations

Some thoughts and pre-reqs on this:
  • You'd need something like a "WebOS key" which you hold to "boot" the WebOS mode.
    Windows must not even start to de-hibernate.
  • WebOS would need to be already running (hibernated to flash, or something like that), not really booted from scratch
  • The laptop would need an extra power-saving mode and maybe clock the CPU down in WebOS mode so save battery life
And if you really need the full enterprisey stuff to create rich corporate boring PowerPoint presentations with pie-charts and everything, you can still boot into Windows, like you used to.

Come to think of it, I might actually want WebOS on my laptopThinkPad.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Numeric HTML Input Field and other HTML5 goodies

Some while ago I've written a little web app at home that
a) needs mainly numeric input
b) is used mainly from an iPod touch / iPad / other mobile device.

On all of those devices, numeric input is cumbersome, because you first have to switch the virtual keyboard into numeric mode.

Yesterday I googled around again for this, and finally found a solution.

HTML5 has some more types to INPUT fields:

type="email"for email addresses
type="url"for web addresses / URLs
type="number"for numeric input

All of them have the effect on the iPhone/iPad that they switch to a virtual keyboard layout that is optimized for the input, e.g.

The email-keyboard on the iPhone will have the @-sign there
The url-keyboard on the iPhone will have the ".com" key; also the . and the / key will be placed more prominently.
The number-keyboard on the iPhone will switch the numbers in the top row.

On my Android 2.2 [1]  HTC only the number mode works, but it gives you a numeric block / phone-style keyboard, which is even better for numeric input.

HTML5 defines some more values for the type like "date", "week", "month", "time", ... and "range" for sliders, i.e. for numeric values with clear and narrow boundaries, but those are rarely implemented as of today.

See Dive Into HTML5 for an excellent overview including browser-support.

Since all of the above are defined only starting HTLM5, they are not "supported" on many current browsers, but the good thing is, that all browsers, that do not explicitely support them, revert to type="text" for unknown input-types.

Also there is a new attribute placeholder:
Placeholder text is displayed inside the input field as long as the field is empty and not focused. As soon as you click on (or tab to) the input field, the placeholder text disappears. (from Dive Into HTML)

Sort of like the search box in Firefox.

So back to my initial problem, defaulting to numeric input on mobile devices.
Just replace  input type="text" with input type="number", there is no down-side to this.
It is user-friendly on mobile devices, and works like it used to on all other browsers.

[1] I'll check 2.3 and 3.0 once my PC is fast enough for the SDK.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Android SDK and a new PC ?

So now that I finally moved to Android, I installed the Android SDK on my home computer plus the NetBeans plugin.
I seems to work fine, I can get the Hello World sample to compile and package and it shows up in the emulator.

The problem is that my 8 years old (!) PC with only 1.something GHz and 1GB RAM is definitely too slow and weak for this. Booting Android (2.2) in the Emulator takes longer than actually buying, charging and starting a physical Android device ...

So I guess I need a new PC now as well..

OK, I wanted to get a new one anyway, come April, so that my current PC can actually celebrate it's 8th birthday...
So proud...

Friday, March 18, 2011

So long...

So long, Nokia, and thanks for all the fish handsets.
Had a great time and fun with Nokia handsets for the last 14 years or so ... But now I'm leaving.

I'm now proud owner of my own HTC Desire Z (not only the test equipment, thanks again Richie).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book: iWoz - by and about Steve Wozniak

A couple of weeks ago I read iWoz: How I invented the Personal Computer and had fun doing it by and about Steve Wozniak.
Only I forgot to blog about it then. So here you go.

Fascinating book... well, when I say that, it will not win the Nobel prize, but it is so full of memories.
That is,
  • if you ever did something in hardware;
  • if you ever (like I did at TechU Vienna) designed some chips (integrated circuits - not crisps or fries)[1] 
  • if you ever designed a small computer system, with CPU, memory, and all the device controllers
  • if you ever had to write BIOS functionality or at the operating system level
  • if you ever wanted to do more with some gadget than the manufacturer intended you to do
  • if you ever spent[2] days optimizing some machine instructions / assembler programs to use 2 cycles less
If you ever were a geek, if the name Steve Wozniak has any meaning to you... go and read this book.
An experience quite close to time travel

[1] by the way my first contact with SunOs
[2] read: wasted