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...