Thursday, December 27, 2012

HTC One S JB Test Upgrade

So, since I broke my original HTC One S about 6 weeks ago, I replaced it with a new one... the broken one (broken glass) to be sent in for repair  for one of the other family members later. Lazy as I am, I did not send it in yet, so I have 2 HTC One S right now.

Two days ago the Jelly Beans upgrade for HTC One S Worldwide/European versions has been released. But mine did not pick up. So I checked on the "old" one, and - voila - Jelly Beans is available for it.

Both phones have CID  HTC_102, (you can check with with the CID Getter app), a version that is listed to be ready for the update. Still only one found the update.
So I did some digging around and found that the "new" one has the older CPU (S3) whereas the broken/old one seems to be equipped with the newer S4 chip. So there most be some other parameters to identify the update
version/file. As the discussion on XDA says, the S3 update wont be out for another 2-3 weeks...

Annoying, but still good news... Because this actually means that I can test the JB upgrade on the broken/old/S4 model.

Download takes a while (612MB), but then it installs smoothly.

So I now have 2-3 weeks to play around with it, before my "real" phone gets the benefit of Jelly Beans.
I guess the broken one wont get repaired for another 3 weeks...

Monday, December 24, 2012

You're asking me, Google?

Have a smartphone or tablet? Get Chrome for Mobile
Oh c'mon, Google, you know anyway. Why are you asking me?
Especially since I'm using chrome on my Android as the default browser.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Someone hacked my gmail

... or in any other way got access to it and sent (non critical) spam from it.

So first and foremost, if you got an unsolicited email from my gmail account this night, I do apologize. It probably only contains a link to a non existent document. If you can see any data / route / ip / trace in the email that could help me identify the source, kindly reply to me via this email.

I was under the impression that a) my google password is quite strong, and b) that I'm very selective with app or site I allow access to my gmail account.

The weird thing is the list of recipients they picked. It's a strange combination from people I've sent email to in the past, and people I follow on g+ (but did not send an email to).
They all exist in my gmail address book, and the only common denominator I found  so far is, that none of them have a phone number in the address book entry... apart from that I have to draw a blank.

I also found the original email (not only the non-delivery replies) in my sent folder, so I looks like the email has really been sent through my gmail account (and not only with my email in from/reply-to).

Of course in the meantime I not only changed my gmail password, I also reviewed the web-apps and services that have access to my gmail, and will go through the apps on my iPad and Android phone.

Again, sorry... If you have any data to help, just pass it on.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Android Automatic WiFi Login

Most of the public and free (as in beer) Wifi spots force you to click on a freaking "Accept" button before you can use them.

In Vienna, for example, we have a free Wifi operator called "Freewave" who have quite acceptable coverage in and around restaurants, cafés, hotels, etc, etc. So I do have freewave wifi configured and "enabled" if you will in my Android phone.
Bad thing is, whenever I come close to a freewave hotspot, I have to click "accept" in order to get connectivity.
There is a freewave app for Android (and iOS), but it only helps you to locate the next hotspot, not to automatically sign in.

I used to have an app called "Wifi Browser Login" that would open a browser page, so I'd only need to accept without opening a browser first.
But this was still to cumbersome for me (talk about first world problems, eh).

What I had in mind was an app, that would detect that there was only a button to click (or sometimes a checkbox to select) and submit the HTML form. automatically

Just before I wanted to hack this myself I checked the play store and found  WiFi Web Login, which does exactly this.
Even more, you can record the sequence on your first "login", and it will automatically replay it, when you connect to this wifi hotspot.

Works like a charm on freewave.
Haven't tried it with a real username/password situation yet, because I don't have any such Wifis.

There's a 3 day trial, and the "full" or perpetual version is just 1.22 EUR. So go for it.

Loving it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Hate Apps That...

... are only a badly written container for HTML, without any proper error handling...

And btw: this is not Android specific...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Second Screen - part II

While we are talking about Second Screen:

Google Glasses are the Second Screen to Life.

Really, I mean it. With all the consequences. Think about it.
I'm not even saying this is good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thoughts on Second Screen

With the ongoing success of tablets, media companies and many social platforms get all exited about the "Second Screen".
Second Screen is short hand for getting additional content on your tablet while watching TV. Sometimes it refers to the device itself, sometimes to certain apps on this device.

The quest for the perfect second screen app reminds me of the race for killer app in the early 2000s for the mobile phones. Everyone is jumping in and wants to define the second screen experience.

TV stations, networks and content owners/producers rush to the race in creating very narrow and limited second screen apps for certain programs, TV series', ... Just because they noticed the success of Twitter (and probably Facebook as well).

My 0.02$:

Yes, there is a (very positive) second screen trend right now... but it is defined by the users, not be the content providers. I don't see a lot of sense in creating separate apps per TV program, because that's not like we users behave.

When I watch TV (or a DVD, or streaming, for that matter) I do have my iPad on my lap (or next to me), and I spend quite some time with it: e.g. in IMDB, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Google+ (or my email).
Point is, it is somewhat, but not 100% related to the program I'm watching. I'd never open one specific app e.g. the Breaking Bad app just because I'm watching Breaking Bad...

I don't want to engage in anything (and most probably not the things, the network wants me to), I want to look up actors; or find some background information; or see where Downton Abbey exteriors where shot (link) and find that on Google maps; or have the twitter stream for the election night run by while I watch as Ohio is being called.

But that's my personal second screen usage or experience, not a pre-defined one.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking has changed a lot over the last couple of years.
What started with simple (and some say ugly) pure heading/URL lists, turned into magazine style full-color, hi-res, rich-media, insert-your-buzzword-here pages.

Observe - as an example - the change from he good old to Pocket or Flipboard.

I don't really won't to compare them with or against each other, because to me they define different categories or sub-categories of social bookmarking.

Here is how I use the various tools and platforms:

  • To publish or almost broadcast links, I use Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.
  • To publish for a certain interest group - kind of newsletter like - I still use delicious and have people subscribe to the tag via RSS.
  • To store for later reading, I use Pocket - especially because of the text-only view in Pocket, which make medium-size to long articles and posts really good to read on an iPad or phone.
  • To save or archive URLs, I use delicious, sort of my bookmark vault.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

ifttt to the rescue

Since my feed from flickr to Facebook has been broken for a while now (and I re-authorized flickr on facebook and v.v.) I decided to work around this with ifttt.

No, I'm not out of my breath, I'm just using if this then that

A simple but very convenient service, with rules of the nature
If (this) happens then trigger (that)
with predefined "channels" for this and that. E.g. flickr and Facebook.

So I created a rule
which takes every new picture I upload to flickr (with the tag #FB) and posts the URL to facebook
Bingo, it works again, and I can now control what is being posted to Facebook by adding or omitting the #FB tag.

You can slightly modify those rules, but you are bound to what ifttt offers. Pretty much actually.

Sort of competes with Yahoo Pipes in a way (if they were really still alive). Bit more powerful in some aspect, less powerful in others.

Monday, November 05, 2012

[revisited] Google's reference gadgets

Almost 2 years ago (Jan 2011) I was musing about Google's reference device strategy; see my post from then.

At that time Google had the Nexus One (by HTC) and the Nexus S (by Samsung)  devices out, they also released the Cr48 as a reference for their Chrome line.
And I was wondering
I wonder when they will release such a reference device for tablets (with Android).
Or will they ever?

Well, they did, didn't they.
Here's the full Nexus family of devices as of now;
  • a really cool smart-phone (Nexus 4)
  • a mid size tablet (Nexus 7), that I really long for
  • a full tablet (Next 10)

So, they did it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Jelly Beans yet

Ok, so it does not really look like October, does it ...

After the earlier report  about October, I was really ...optimistic 

IT conservations: Jelly Bean on its way: From The Verge : The Taiwan-based manufacturer also revealed that a Jelly Bean update for the HTC  One X  and  One S  will arrive in Oct...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Maps mash up: Underground vs post office

The other day, when I had to post an important letter, I was wondering if there is any post office close to an underground station on my commute, and I could not come up with one. So - me being me after all - I decided to do some in-depth analysis on this. And learn Python along the way.

1.  The Idea
Get all the underground stations and post offices as geo coordinates, and find those closest to each other.

2. Getting the underground data
Easy, the geo data of all the public transport stations (or ony the underground stations) can be found easily, since the are part of the open government data, shared by the municipality of Vienna.

3. Going postal
Getting the post office data is rather challenging, because they are seemingly not considered to be public enough.

Still, this can be done; so first get a list of all the post offices in Vienna from Best with a little python script (my first!!) to parse it.
Get all those with a ZIP code starting with '1' into a CSV file including their full street address.

Then - thanks for the hint, martin - use the Yahoo! PlaceFinder API to convert those postal addresses to geo coordinates. Get an Appid for Yahoo!, if you don't yet have one.

Important trick here: Don't place everything into the q=... query string, but separate it into postal, city, street, etc. Like this
u = yahooURL+"?appid="+yahooAppidy
u += "&postal="
u += "&city="
u += "&street="+quote_plus(unicodedata.normalize('NFKD', po.addr).encode('ascii','ignore'))
u += "&country=Austria"
From Y! we get some fine XML back and use XPath to access the geo coordinates

doc = ElementTree(file=urlopen(u))
lat = doc.findall('.//Result/latitude')[0].text
lon = doc.findall('.//Result/longitude')[0].text
So now we have the geo coordinates of all the underground stations and all the post offices.

4. Visualize & Verify the data
Let's again use Python to create a simple KML file to load the date acquired so far into Google Maps (or Google Earth). There's a Simple KML python library to do just that. Here's are the maps (post offices, underground stations)

5. Do the Geo Math
This is the tricky part. I decided to put all the data into a (relational) database, and since I have DB2 installed on my system, it was of course DB2. I did not use any geo/spatial extension, but just put the latitude and longitude into proper types. Then I created a user defined function (UDF) to do the geo math. Actually, for this purpose this could have been simpler, since one can disregard all spherical aspects and assume the surface (of the Earth in Vienna) to be flat.
With my newly created haversine function the query then looks like this:

select haversine(,p.lon,,u.lon) as distance, p.plz,p.street,,p.lon,u.station,,u.lon
from p, ubahn.stationen u
where haversine(,p.lon,,u.lon) <1
order by 1 asc
fetch first 20 rows only

I'm only interested in post offices that are maximum 1km (distance<1) from an underground, and I only want the closest 20 of those (first 20 rows only)

6. Create a map
Export those data into a CSV file, and run a pyhton script that creates the KML file for this, with the post office being a point, the distance being a line, and the underground again a point. Map can be found here.

Turns out, there are more pairs than I actually thought.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Geo-Distance vlg Haversine as a DB2 UDF

In a hack I'm currently working on (to be published soon) I needed to calculate the distance between two locations (on the surface of our planet). Admittedly, those are close addresses (all in Vienna), so I could have assumed them all to be on a plane (not an airplane, a flat surface...), but I felt like some real math.

This is a workaround for all of you who do not have spatial extender available or installed.

To calculate the distance of two points on (a perfectly spherical earth) you apply the haversine formula.
This is the representation of it as a DB2 user defined function (UDF)

CREATE FUNCTION HAVERSINE( lat1 decimal(10,8), lon1 decimal(10,8), lat2 decimal(10,8), lon2 decimal(10,8))
declare dlat, dlon, a, d double;
set dlat = radians(lat2-lat1);
set dlon = radians(lon2-lon1);
set a = sin(dlat/2) * sin(dlat/2) + cos(radians(lat1)) * cos(radians(lat2)) * sin(dlon/2) * sin(dlon/2);
set d = 2*6367*asin(sqrt(a));
return d;

The two points are given in latitude and longitude (in degrees) as lat1/lon1 and lat2/lon2. It returns the distance in kilometers. If you want to change this, replace 6367 (which happens to be the Earth's radius im km in Vienna, for which I needed this) with your radius and units,e.g. 3956 if you want miles in London.
Check it simply at Wolfram Alpha with "earth radius in london".

I guess it is not perfect, but it does work well. I should probably make it DETERMINISTIC (because it is) to improve performance.
Go ahead, play around.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Something's odd here

In tablets we currently observe two business models:

The Apple model -  make money on the hardware, therefore lock users in,  and make sure that there's enough content available for iOS to do so

The Amazon model - get consumers to buy content and stuff from Amazon,  and make sure they have a device for this.

What is odd here,  is that the Apple model,  which depends on globally availability and distribution of a physical goods (the iPad) is more scalable than the distribution of purely electric or virtual goods (content) in the Amazon model, because Amazon is (still) limited by availability of said content in each country and has to negotiate it...


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Firefox 16 is out

... and fighting with he F1 addon (an addon to share pages via Facebook, Twitter, gmail)

Problem was that the tab-key stopped working... both in web-pages as well as in the awesome bar (to jump to the search inbox).
Google revealed bug 788050  with the following exchange:

Luckily, F1 has been replaced by the Firefox Share addon, which solves the tab-key problem, but does not have a share button/icon on the address bar... 

The worrisome part of it, is that the addon is from Mozilla Labs, and not some thirdparty script kiddie.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Jelly Bean on its way

From The Verge:
The Taiwan-based manufacturer also revealed that a Jelly Bean update for the HTC One X and One S will arrive in October
hell yeah...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A New Baby - Raspberry Pi

Finally - thanks to Max, I got my new baby:

a Raspberry Pi.

What for, you ask?

Don't know yet... I'm thinking along the lines of

  • a thermostat - with some fancy features
  • a power meter - for some "private" smart metering
Any other ideas welcome.

Today I finally found the time to get the beast running: only needed an SD card (believe it or not, I could not find any SD card at home... probably because my Nikon uses CF). 

I also got myself a new Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse; the first time I'm using a wireless... but only because the Pi is next to the TV (via HDMI cable), and I don't want any more cables lying around.

Apache is running, the dhcp lease is permanent... cool times ahead.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oh boy!

Last Friday, late  afternoon, just when we arrived at our b&b for our 2 days vacation in Styria, my beloved HTC One S went into a reboot loop. Meaning, it would power off, restart and right after the HTC logo reboot again, and again, and again, ... forever.
Didn't change when connected to power.
Didn't change when I let the battery run out (which was fairly fast and easy with this behaviour).
After about 2 hours I was not only really annoyed, but also quite allergic to the Quietly brilliant logo and sound.

So I finally managed to get into the bootloader or diagnostics menu (or whatever it is called). The one you get when you press volume-down while powering up. There I - after some playing around - decided to go for a factory reset.
This helped.

Bad thing is, I only had a 2 months old Backup I took with My Backup Pro. Not only that, I didn't actually have it, because it was on the memory of the phone I just wiped...
At this time, I really wished, the HTC One still had physical SD cards...

And this in the middle of nowhere. I only had an Edge connection from time to time.
Luckily the b&b had at least free Wifi, so I could re-install all my apps from Google Play.

From there it was easy: all contacts were synched with Google. Nothing to do there.
My emails, tasks, appointments are of course all "in the cloud" and/or on our corporate server(s), so once I logged into the respective app, it was done.
My photos/videos got periodically backed up to Dropbox with the automatic camera upload. Nothing lost there.
Most podcasts I had in Google Reader, and BeyondPod does sync with Google reader. Good.

The only real pain (apart from losing all my achievements in Temple Run) was to get the application settings back again. Still working on some of those.

Lesson learned: always do a backup and do it to an external medium or the cloud. Will set this up tomorrow.
I swear.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


We all know, that no-one ever - ever!! - reads the terms-of-service of a web service. So in a very laudable effort, the guys around ToS;DR did this for us.

ToS;DR is of course a play on the ever popular tl;dr, which is not a broken HTML tag, but stands for too-long, didn't read:

Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.
(source: Urban Dictionary)

ToS;DR - short for Terms of Service; Didn't Read - takes care of that:

They created a dash board of the most important web services out there, and flagged them from class A (green) to class E (sooo red, you don't really want to touch it) with the most important aspects and consequences of using said service, like e.g. that twitpic by the terms of service you agree to (!) takes credit for your content.

This catalog of services and their ToS is just great. Imagine, this were to be represented as XML (or in any other machine readable format); then a browser extension could actually flag web pages you visit according to their service, i.e. really warn you about your "loss of copyright" (exaggerating) if you upload to twitpic...

I want this!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Look, What I just did to my HTC One S!

No, the Jelly Bean upgrade is still not here for HTC One S, but at least here in Europe we got the 4.0.4 upgrade on ICS.

Upgrade was totally smooth and flawless. And now, back to waiting for JB...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Listen, listen, gone.

So, finally, Google Listen is gone from my mobile.

I'll stick with BeyondPod.

Google Play Store Gift Cards

According to several reports, the Google Play Store is finally getting gift cards.
Google Play Store Gift Cards - Great Idea!:

This essentially places the Google Play Store on par with the Apple iTunes ecosystem.

It means that anyone can purchase apps and content from the Play Store, without the need for a credit card.
For example, my kids!

And thus it gives more revenue opportunities to app developers in the Android ecosystem.

Well, let's see when it will become available outside the US...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client for Android

Finally, with my move to an ICS device I do have a VPN client compatible with our corporate VPN, Cisco AnyConnect. For earlier versions, this was only sort-of available for rooted devices, and I did not really want to root my old HTC just for this.

But now for Android 4 and above (ICS+) there is AnyConnect ICS+ available in the Google Play Store.

 Setup and installation is straightforward. Of course you need to know the connection details of your VPN (hostname, mainly; assuming you do know your userid and password anyway).

It comes with a nice widget for fast and easy access; remembers your userid after the first connect, and also shows the VPN status with a key (connected) in the notification area.

Works great.

Still don't know what I should do in the corporate network with my mobile, though.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Replacing Google Listen

The other day Google announced they would discontinue Google Listen (my favorite podcast fetcher and player for Android until now):

We launched Google Listen through Google Labs in August 2009, to give people a way to discover and listen to podcasts. However, with Google Play, people now have access to a wider variety of podcast apps, so we’ve discontinued Listen. People who have already installed the app can still use it, but after November 1, podcast search won’t function. You can access your podcast subscriptions in Google Reader in the “Listen Subscriptions” folder and download them from the Import/Export tab.
So I finally did some research for a good podcast player for Android; my criteria were:
  • use or at least import my current podcast feeds from Google Reader
  • an option to restrict episode download on Wifi only
  • an option to restrict episode download only when charging (not too critical, though)
  • easily accessible controls for play/pause and skip
  • good control over the order the episodes play (playlist)
  • good UI
I found all this in ... drumroll ... BeyondPod.

What I really like is the smart play list, where you can configure BeyondPod to e.g. take all episodes from category x from oldest to newest first, and the all other episodes from category y. I use this to start with all the short 2-5 minutes episodes from e.g. FM4 or OE1 (both from Austrian public radio), followed by the longer ones, e.g. Tech News Today, or In Beta.[1].

The concept of categories makes it easier to configure update frequency, order in which to play episodes, etc etc. Really nice set of settings there.

BeyondPod comes as a free trial version, with all features enabled for the first 7 days. After that, you either continue using the free version - what they call "Lite" - with a limited feature set:
When using the Lite version, you can still add feeds, update, download and play your podcasts. The main limitation is that in order to get the latest episodes, you have to manualy refresh each of your feeds using the circular "Refresh" button located in the top right corner the Feed Content View.
This is too "Lite" for me, so I purchased the BeyondPod Unlock Key from the Google Play store for €5.51/$6.99 so I can continue to use the full version. Still worth the money.

I moved to BeyondPod about a week ago and I'm glad I did.

btw: you can find a review of BeyondPod All About Android episode #5 (minute 38:20)

[1] other weekly podcasts like TWiT, or TWiG, or AAA I still listen to on my iPod nano

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Data Usage Monitor in Android ICS

Found this while playing around with my HTC One S running Ice Cream Sandwich (aka ICS, aka Android 4.0) while on vacation and roaming (!).

If you pull down the Settings menu or open it via the apps screen under *** more you will find a Usage menu.

Opening this will reveal some very useful and detailed statistics about the data usage of your phone.

You can see the wireless data as it accumulates over the data usage cycle as you define it. Since I am on a corporate plan where the billing cycle starts with the first of the months, I set the usage cycle to the month. If your billing cycle starts on the - say - 21st, you should change this to 21st to 21st of the following month. Set the Reset data count value for this.

You can also set two different thresholds.

  1. A simple warning when a certain data volume is reached within the usage cycle - see the 1.0GB bar in the graphic
  2. A real limit, where - once reached - the phone will no longer allow a data connection. As you can see I have not activated the hard limit.
If you scroll down further, you can see in detail how the data is been use per application. This lets you easily identify data hogs, giving you some good data points when you want to tweak your data consumption.

In my cases here (just for demo) a good idea would be turn of one of the podcast players (I have both, BeyondPod and Google Listen active right now... more on this later), and also restrict them to Wifi only... Or maybe do less Facebook while commuting :)

Very useful indeed. If you are running ICS already, take a look at it.

BTW: You can turn this on for Wifi, too. This will give a separate tab on this page.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Wonderfull errror message

Thank you, Facebook... that really helps.
btw: I only clicked on a Instagram link on Facebook. The error itself is from

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Android ICS for Raspberry Pi

Wow, ICS is coming to the Raspberry Pi... you know that little cheap alsmost DYI computer.

This sounds like serious fun!
I just might...
I just might...

Monday, July 09, 2012

CalDAV for Android

I've been looking for this since my first Android last year, but at that time there was no CalDAV support for Android. So I had to use the Notify Active Sync solution my company provided. This basically allowed to sync the calendar (and email, ...) as ActiveSync (from the handset's point of view) to our corporate calendar/email/...

With the re-installation on my new HTC One S I found that there is a ("native") CalDAV sync for Android, and luckily our corporate calendar supports CalDAV.

With CalDav-Sync beta from the Google play store you create - as expected - an additional calendar and set up a new profile in "Accounts & sync".

You can change the sync interval, the range of events to sync (past and future) ...
There are also some kludges and fixes for weird calendar or phone behaviour, e.g.  that some Android phones seem to create events only as tentative.

The default mode is a one-way sync from server to phone only, but all you need to do is disable this option, and - voilà - you have a two way sync from server to phone and vice versa.
I have had this running for about a week now and it works like a charme... Although I have to admit that I did not try any synchronization conflicts yet.

Sunday, July 08, 2012


For almost exactly one and a half years my son was the owner of a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro. To be precise, he had two of them, probably three - since we had the first replaced immediately. With all three of them, the Sony showed huge problems with charging the battery after a while. We already went through an external charger, which worked fine. So it was never a problem of the battery, or the USB cable.

So about a week ago, I decided to get myself a new phone and pass the HTC Desire Z on to my son.

At first I could not really make up my mind between
  • HTC One S
  • HTC One X
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
So I want to a A1 store, where they had all three of them on display.  The S3 and the One X are of almost exactly the same size (in all three dimensions; or four if you include weight :) ). Although the display of the One S is significantly smaller, the whole body of it is only marginally smaller than those two.

Since I still don't like the Samsung skin, and I - quite frankly - love HTC Sense, the choice was only between the two HTCs.
Or in other words:
  • Do I need 1280 HD on my phone? - No
  • Do I need NFC? - No... not yet, not sure if ever.
  • Do I need a 4.7 display instead of 4.3? - No
  • Is the One S display sufficient ?  - Yes
  • Do the One X features justify 100 EUR more? - No
There. I ended up with a HTC One S and I'm totally happy with it.
Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich)  and dual core are just ... wow.

I'll continue to report on my love for this gadget in the weeks to come.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Thunderbird left alone

So it appears that the Mozilla Foundation decided to no longer support, i.e. fund, Thunderbird.

There will be only security updates and patches, and the community is of course free to continue developing Thunderbird.

I guess email - and thus Thunderbird - is not innovative enough for Mozilla, and in a way I can see that. but then again, I've been using Thunderbird even as my corporate email client for about 10 years now and never regretted it. Or even envied the Outlook users. Quite on the contrary.

At least since Lightning, the Calendar add-one, got mature. For a global search (indexed, of course) I find Thunderbird even superior. Ctrl-K is (after Ctrl-Shift-K and Ctrl-M) probably the most used short cut for me in Thunderbird.

Well, let's hope the community continues to support it - I'd hate to go back to Outlook.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Finally an SSD

In the last two weeks I enjoyed two BSODs on my ThinkPad T500 with Windows XP. Each took me about 15min to recover, i.e. from reboot to getting back into our corporate VPN and Thunderbird and Firefox running again. And guess what, I did not really have the time for this...

So I decided time was ripe for a solid state drive (SSD). Although XP does not optimally support SSDs (e.g. no TRIM), there is still a huge improvement.

So I bought a Corsair Series 3 Force 120GB for only 100 EUR...
and a cheep USB/SATA external enclosure, so I can connect both the old hard disk and the new SSD at the same time.
Also, since I'd have a spare 160GB hard disk after the swap, a USB box for this would serve me well.

Well, day #1: the enclosure I got for 9.90 EUR, the Fantec Alu-2503 with USB 3.0, was a crap. I tested it on two different computers with two different drives, but it would only show up as a USB device for about 10 seconds, and then only the bridge itself, but never the drive. Regardless what I did. I gave up then.

Day #2: Bought 9.23 EUR Revoltec enclosure with only USB 2.0 and this worked fine.
I kept the harddisk on the internal SATA port and the SSD on the USB.
With my Acronis DiskDirector I copied my XP partition from the hard disk to the SSD, copied the MBR and then ... tried to boot from the SSD.... failure.
Moved the SSD to the native SATA port, still nothing.

Problem was, I could not find my XP recovery/install CDs... So I had to work with my Win7 DVD which has a different boot mechanism and MBR... etc etc...
So I was fighting various BSODs, NTDETECT, BOOT.INI BOOTMGR and NTLDR error messages.
Swapping the SSD and HD on USB and internal every 20minutes ...

To cut a long story short: On Day #3 with a lot of partitioning tools (diskpart.exe, ...) and the help of the Ultimate Boot CD, I found the problem to be in the partition order with the service partition on the SSD... I manually edited BOOT.INI and voilà it finally worked.

And wow, this is amazingly fast. XP now boots to being fully usable in below 2 minutes instead of about 10. The CPU goes to 100% for about 30secs when everything starts up at once, and with an SSD services and applications really start up all at once.
Thunderbird, Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice... they all start instantly.

To quote a friend: "SSD FTW".

Friday, June 22, 2012


What if RIM had bought Palm two years ago (instead of HP)?
Well,  we still might  have webOS still around and RIM in a significant position in the smartphone market with a winning OS.

Just a thought...

Friday, June 08, 2012

Android v iOS

The three top areas where/why I think Android is superior to iOS:

#3  Notifications
Apple really has to fix them in iOS6... currently they are just laughable.

#2 Widgets
Yes, a lot of widgets are just noise, but many are really helpful, like tasks, calendar, clock, ... maybe messaging and/or email inbox even (although I don't use that)


#1 the Share Intent
This is what you usually see in an app as the "Sent to" or "Share" menu item or button.

Just take the example of Read-It-Later (or pocket as it is now called). On iOS you have to install a bookmark-let  and manually edit the URL (which cannot really be considered user friendly), and then it is still clumsy. On Android the application just declares that it is capable of receiving URLs and voila, it will be in the list. And it can be done from any application that allows to share.
Or Dropbox, or ...

This is really the thing I miss most on my iPad.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Firefox 13

So, yet another Firefox update.

Version 13 with the new homepage (featuring buttons to bookmarks, downloads, history, add-ons, sync and settings) and the new tab page looks  suspiciously chrome-y to me...

I don't think it will have a huge impact on me, but lets just see over the next weeks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Google Acquires Mobile Productivity Company Quickoffice

Google Acquires Mobile Productivity Company Quickoffice | TechCrunch: "Google Acquires Mobile Productivity Company Quickoffice

So, will Quickoffice become the long-awaited mobile frontend for Google Docs Drive? The current mobile HTML version just s.cks... So any  proper client is welcome... And Quickoffice is probably the best mobile office pack out there.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lenovo dumps the good old ThinkPad keyboard

Look at this... Lenovo decided to dump the good old (IBM) ThinkPad keyboard in its recently announced T-series upgrade.

There have always been three reasons for a ThinkPad (IBM or Lenovo)
  1. they keyboard
  2. the physical stability
  3. the trackpoint
One less... too bad.

I really don't understand it - it cannot be the cost of production, because most ThinkPad users will gladly pay the higher cost and thus price for the classic keyboard. They already do anyway.

Or maybe it's a royalty/patent thingy with IBM... who knows.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Oh, Google...

Google not only just renamed their docs to Google Drive, a couple of weeks later they also released a new iOS app for faster access, more responsiveness on the suggestions, etc etc...

Why, oh Google, did you guys forget to rename Google Docs in this app ??

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why handset manufacturers love cloud storage

In the last couple of weeks, every new Smartphone seems to come with cloud storage attached, e.g. the 25GB you get with HTC - as announced in Barcelona earlier this year.
I think there are good reasons for the manufacturers to prefer cloud storage over SD slots/cards:

  • A SD increases the cost of the device - not by a lot, but still.

  • It imposes physical restrictions on the design, because the SD slot it obviously has to be accessible.

  • Preferable not hidden behind the battery, otherwise you will get bad reviews

  • The capacity of the SD card will for some weird reasons affect reviews, too. If you only include 8GB of SD storage, reviewers will tell their readers to get some other smartphone with 16GB... If you include a too large SD card it will drive up cost and price...

  • Also, if a customer decides to replace his SD card with a larger one, the phone manufacturer will not see any revenue from it, but SanDisk and others will.

However, going for cloud storage

  • will have no impact on the manufacturing cost

  • will not impose any design restrictions

  • and you can upsell your users to higher capacity and make mony from it.

So, no wonder they love cloud storage.

Friday, May 25, 2012

SwiftKey X Keyboard for Android

The other day I heard about SwiftKey X keyboard for Android (I think it was on All About Android) and since I was not really too happy with my default HTC keyboard (on my HTC Desire Z) I though I'd give the free trial a try.

Well, it quite convinced me. The auto-completion and prediction is quite good, since it takes the data from my own history... (SMS, twitter, facebook, ...) So I found it to really suggest the phrases as I use them... Even in mixed English/German environment.

Sure I had a new set of typos to surprise people, I hope I caught most of them...Let's say I had my fair share of damn you autocorrect moments.

Anyway, I really got used to the new prediction within a week or so, and should be back to my normal rate of typos... or hopefully less.

Yesterday - when the trial ended - I bought the full version.  $3.99 is really not a lot :)  I'd have bought the full version earlier, if I had remembered that I was running on the trial version... I did not see any limitations there.

So if you are unhappy with your current Android keyboard... give SwiftKey X a try.

I can really recommend this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Finally 3.4

OpenOffice finally made it to 3.4
And - of course - it now has the Apache branding...

Get the details here.

Seems like minor changes only over 3.3, but let's see.

Finally some movement.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Kindle on my mobile

Today was the first time that having the Kindle app on my (HTC Android)  mobile really came in handy.
I picked up my daughter from her English drama rehearsal,  which ran 45min 1 hour late and I had nothing to do. No podcast to listen to,  no gadgets with me except for my phone.
So I synced to my current reading position and continued to read my current book.
A bit cumbersome on 3.7" but better than nothing...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why do I have to manually set the time on a Kindle?

Granted, I'm still spoiled by ye good olde Palm (Pilot).

So one thing that really annoys me is when the clock on my gadgets get totally out of sync.
Like 1hr 5min on my Kindle 3 - ok, the 1hr most probably stems from DST and not from an inaccurate clock, but still.

I expect my connected devices to get their time from the network (or from the PC, depending on how they are connected).

Why can Whispersync synchronize books and my position within this book, but not get the time from some source on the net? Or the PC when I connect the kindle via USB?

This is annoying.

To fix the time you have to go to Home > Settings > page 2 > Device Time > ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gimp 2.8 for Windows

Finally, the Windows installer version is available for GIMP 2.8 at GIMP - Downloads

Looking forward to the new single window mode...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Finally, Google Drive

The long rumored Google drive is finally here.

To keep it short: it is basically DropBox, just with some Google Docs integration... or rather, Google Docs is - once you sign up for Google Drive - replaced by it.

Therefore, in addition to DropBox you will get all your Google docs mirrored to your local folder as well. And you start with 5GB free.

"Real" Google Docs (like sheet, draw, ...) are represented as their own file type, e.g. .gsheet, .gdoc, .gslides ... and are only synchronized as a link to the web application, instead of a OpenDocument or Office file.
Well, at least some integration.

All other file types from Google Docs (like .pdf etc) are fully synced in their native format.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Those Instagrammers...

Stop Whining and Carry On
Weird bunch ... honestly.

Last week they were busy complaining that Android users started to ruin their community, because it was no longer iPhone-only... WTF ??
Now they all threaten to leave Instagram, because it has been acquired by Facebook.

I do understand the fear that a larger company like Facebook can ruin the smaller startup and the service... and we have seen that a lot of times, so it would not surprise anyone...

But we leave now? Give them a chance, and let's see how it turns out over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Instagram for Android

Instagram finally became available on Android. And the Apple-Instagram-fanboys hate it...

I - however - love this... Have to try it out.

I'll probably give up Lightbox ... which was sort of the interim replacement app.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Digg this...

Just noticed how uncool digg is.

Not to remove the submission and comments ... yeah, I get that... Would sort of break the networking/social aspect of it.

But only through the contact form and no direct action in the account settings to close it?

That's bad.