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November 2013

Some Android phone reviews

posted to writings on nov 6th, 2013 with tags android, motox, and nexus, last updated on nov 21st, 2013

I recently decided to upgrade my Galaxy Nexus to something with a better camera. I liked much about the HTC One Mini, but I refuse to get a phone with logos on the front of it, so that ruled out the HTC One and all of the Samsung phones.

I first got the Moto X Developer Edition which only comes in one color: a black front with a white "woven" design which is just kind of cheap. The phone is plastic but with a solid feel. It has a smaller footprint than my Galaxy Nexus and the rear of the phone is curved and fit in my hand nicely. The screen is bright and colors are sharp. The camera is great, and very quick to respond which is one thing I really hated about the Galaxy Nexus. Its HDR mode in the Camera app made for some pretty decent pictures in various light.

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September 2012

An Update on Pushover

posted to writings on sep 23rd, 2012 with tags android, ios, iphone, pushover, and superblock

It's been a little over 6 months since I released Pushover, the notification service with Android and iOS apps. I've been asked to post an update on how things have been going since then.

Shortly after the initial release, I received some great feedback from Chad Etzel, one of the creators of Notifo, the notification service that I used until it was shut down (which prompted me to create Pushover in the first place). Chad asked for Pushover to support sending messages with URLs that can open external apps, and Pushover soon gained supplementary URL support which required changes in the API and on both Android and iOS apps.

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March 2012

Building Pushover

posted to writings on mar 16th, 2012 with tags android, ios, iphone, pushover, ruby, and superblock

On March 7th, 2012, I announced the launch of Pushover, a simple mobile notification service with device clients available for Android and iOS. I kept some notes during the development process, which mostly occurred in the evenings and weekends around my other work.

I had been using Notifo for a year or so to receive push notifications on my phone from my custom network monitor, but last year the free service announced it was shutting down. When I switched back to my Android phone a few months ago, I was unable to download Notifo's Android app which never made it out of beta.

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November 2011

On Android

posted to writings on nov 20th, 2011 with tags android and blandroid

The source code to Android 4.0, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, was made available last Monday. For developers of Android ROMs like my Blandroid project, these source code releases enable us to release our own modified versions of Android to users that prefer to use our software on their phones. The source code to the previous major version, Android 3.0, was not made available[1] and was only given to certain tablet manufacturers like Motorola. While many complained about the lack of source code to a supposedly open source project, Google's "excuse" was that the code was not suitable for release. They rushed and hacked together version 3.0 to add a tablet-compatible interface to its then-current version, 2.3, nicknamed Gingerbread, so that tablet manufacturers could push out rushed and hacked-together tablets to compete with the iPad. Google told everyone to wait for Android 4.0 which would combine the tablet interface changes of 3.0 but still work on smaller screens like phones.

I put "excuse" in scare quotes because Google doesn't really need to justify their decision to anyone. Android is their product, they are free to do whatever they want with it, and any source code they release to anyone that isn't a partnering hardware vendor is a gift. That's not how they would like it to appear, though, and to most it would seem that anyone can just download and compile the code like any other open source project. To many people familiar with the term, "open source" is used for a project that is developed in the open, releasing changes as they are made, taking in patches and input from the community along the way before releases are finalized. Developers participate in the project, contributing code and project direction, releases are made, and developers and users use the software. Users sometimes become developers by fixing bugs in the software, which get merged in and pushed back out in future releases.

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October 2010

Idea: An Android Tablet "Shell"

posted to writings on oct 31st, 2010 with tags android and ipad

I keep reading stories about these new Android tablets that are destined for failure because they're too big or too small or too expensive. I owned an iPad and sold it after a couple months because I didn't use it enough to justify the cost. While its large screen was nice for viewing webpages or playing games on the couch, it was also one more device that I had to sync, charge, carry around, and possibly pay for another data connection for. With that in mind, I had an idea the other week: why doesn't someone make an Android tablet that just acts like a docking station (or "shell") for an Android phone?

The tablet would essentially be a big screen with no guts. An Android phone would plug into the back of it like the battery of a laptop does (think aluminum Powerbook but without the need for a coin), so that when it was installed, the tablet would be flush on the underside and have the same form factor as an iPad or other tablet. Once the phone was connected, the tablet would provide a larger display for the phone, just like plugging an external monitor into a laptop. The tablet would have no CPU, storage, or memory of its own, and wouldn't even need its own battery (though perhaps it could include an internal one for additional run time). Since the phone is still powering everything, it would still be able to use its WiFi and 3G connections.

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January 2009

syncing itunes music with the android g1

posted to writings on jan 26th, 2009 with tags android, g1, mac, and ruby

i finally got around to putting music on my g1 and wanted a simple way of synchronizing an itunes playlist with a directory on the g1's sd card while it was connected over usb, just like my iphone used to once it was docked.

i found synctunes which is free (though not available on the author's site anymore for some reason) but it didn't preserve any directory structure on the destination and just lumped all of the files into one big directory.

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