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Response #2

For those that weren’t involved in a recent discussion I had over on a hack piece by Jonny Evans, I wanted to respond to several of the comments put up by one particular individual. It’s unfortunate as he seems relatively intelligent, though amazingly misinformed.

By the way, Linux Rants – what is so great about Android?  What does it do exceedingly better?  I know that it once did OTA updates while iOS did not – and Apple finally “copied” that, but what about graphics handling, gestures, web-browsing?  Is Android superior in those respects?  It won’t be on all devices, but what about on a device with comparable hardware versus an iOS device?

So, there’s comment number two from this individual, or I guess it would be more accurately described as a question.

So, what is so great about Android? What does it do exceedingly better?

I love that you gave me a starting point, but I’ll come right out and say that graphics handling, gestures, and web browsing are probably equal.

No, what’s really great about Android is it’s ability to evolve and adapt to the preferences of the individual.

My current phone is an HTC Thunderbolt. It’s default interface is the HTC Sense, which is OK. I preferred a different launcher, so I changed it. It’s default browser is the unnamed Google browser, but I preferred the Dolphin browser, so I changed it. I have my personal email (several different accounts) and my work email configured in different clients (gotta keep work and home life seperate…. kinda), but I have widgets placed on the same screen so I can check my personal email, my work email, and my text messages with a glance, never opening an app. I have the same thing configured on another screen for my calendars. My default “Home” screen only has a few apps on it, and a picture of my wife and kids (not the same as my wallpaper). There’s nothing that compares to any of that on an iPhone.

The form factor of the HTC Thunderbolt is similar to an iPhone, but if I wanted a hardware keyboard, I have several choices in that regard. I could get a Droid 4, or I could get a Droid Pro, or maybe even a Samsung W899. I might even get lucky and find myself a LG GD910. Variety is nice.

When it comes to software, again Android wins out. What happens when you want an app and it’s just not available in the App Store for your iPhone. Well, you could jailbreak it if you want to void the holy hell out of your warranty. I look for apps in the Android Market. If it’s not there, I check the Amazon App Store. If it’s not there, I search Google and manually download the APK and install it myself. I can do all of this without rooting my phone or really even going that far out of my way. I’m not subjected to the whims of a single company.

I think that’s probably enough for tonight. I really could go on, but my couch is calling me and there’s a cold beer in the fridge. Hopefully, that answered your question.

Response #1

For those that weren’t involved in a recent discussion I had over on a hack piece by Jonny Evans, I wanted to respond to several of the comments put up by one particular individual. It’s unfortunate as he seems relatively intelligent, though amazingly misinformed.

I’ve given technical reasons as to why Android *appears* as a cheap knockoff, when seen running “out in the wild” as they say.  Maybe that approach is not quite correct, but it’s not like I was ever on the debate team….However, what I mean by the “cheap knockoff” term is that when one uses Android, one will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.  For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.
My EVO is one example, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire are good examples, although each implements the Android OS differently.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.  I typically have to hit the power button on my EVO just to get back to the music app, which is annoying.  It works much better on an iPod Touch.  Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.  Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).  That’s not to say that these features may not work well on another Android device, or on ICS-specific tablets and newer smartphones, but that has been my experience thus far.  The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE……So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.Granted, Android has not taken on Apple’s iOS path for grouping apps and has maintained an open file system, but even a cheap knockoff can be better at some things.True, Apple took ideas from several players, but it’s not like they had people sitting on those companies’s boards.  Any company can look at another company’s tear-downs on the FCC website and get a handle on the design approach and decisions.  Since both iOS and Android are descendants of Unix, or more BSD in the case of iOS, there will be some commonality, but the public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!  It could have been more like desktop Linux (certain minimal builds of Ubuntu can run on a rooted Android smartphone).  However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.  Oh, and going the write-once, run anywhere route is just a cop-out – granted one that makes sense for Google, given their ad-based revenue stream, but it was a quick road to *market share*.  If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine, but Xerox had gone into an agreement to give Apple access to certain IP and cared nothing about actually turning the GUI into a computing product for mass consumption……

So, there’s comment number one from this individual.

A little context. This comment was a response to a request by me to explain how Android was a knock-off of iOS. His “technical reason” why Android appears as a cheap knockoff was a lack of vertical integration with the hardware. Let’s define “knockoff” here as well:

knock·off  (nkôf, -fn. Informal

An unauthorized copy or imitation, as of designer clothing: “the place to go for quality knockoffs” (Women’s Wear Daily).

OK, so a knockoff is a copy. Claiming that Android is a knockoff of iOS because iOS is vertically integrated with the hardware and Android isn’t just doesn’t make any sense. That’s pointing out a difference, where to show that Android is a knockoff, you’re going to need to point out areas where Android copies iOS.

One will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.

Like what? Be explicit.

For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.

First, your experience on a particular Android device doesn’t not constitute proof. It’s an anecdote, and is relevant only to you. I could point out that my iPhone3Gs was the worst phone I ever owned. How does that affect the experience of someone other than myself? As to the gestures themselves, they’re definitely not originally iOS either. Most of those gestures date back to the early 80s.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.

Again, this is more “proof” that doesn’t in any way show Android to be a knockoff of iOS. Claiming that one system does or does not work as well as the other is anecdotal and subjective. Your example of a music app is irrelevant and lacks context. Personally, I use WinAmp as my music player on my Android device. Is that the music app that you’re talking about, or was it a different one. How can you claim that Android isn’t as good as iOS based on an app that can be replaced at any time based on user preferences? Personally speaking, I think that points out a strength of Android.

Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.

Again, based on what? My personal preference is the Dolphin browser on my phone, but I prefer Firefox on my tablet. How is “typical” web-browsing better on an iDevice than either Dolphin on my phone or Firefox on my tablet. I’d point out that “better” is again subjective. Both Dolphin and Firefox have a plugin interface, allowing me to increase the functionality of the browser. Safari on iDevices does not allow for that.

Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).

Again, you’re pointing out differences in the two platforms. You seem to be failing to understand what a knockoff actually is. Whether Objective C has better memory management is also up for debate. One comparison I read reached this conclusion: “Each solution has its own benefits and disadvantages. Although Objective-C’s retain/release runs smoother and faster than Java’s garbage collection, it places a much larger burden on the developer and introduces a much larger risk of memory leaks.” The claim that Objective C has better memory management is still very much in contention.

The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE.

This  particular portion of your response is just rife with error. Where Eric Schmidt was sitting at any given time does not prove that Android is a knockoff. As you pointed out, Google didn’t write Android, but purchased it in 2005 along with the company of the same name, which was founded in 2003. Long before Apple decided to play in the phone market. In many ways, iOS is much more like a Blackberry than Android ever has been, even in 2006 and 2007. Quite honestly, no version of Android that the public has ever seen has been overly “Blackberry-like”. The cost of Android only points out that Android is less expensive than iOS, not that it’s a knockoff.

So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.

So, you’ve failed in pretty much every way to show that Android is a copy of iOS, but still make that claim. In re-reading your comment several times, it barely looks like you even attempted to show how Android copied iOS. The only feature mentioned was multi-touch gestures, which it’s easy to point out were not invented or pioneered by Apple in anything.

The public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!

Please explain how the UI of Android is even remotely close to the UI of iOS. It’s also worth noting that Android started out with many “cloud” type features, even though at the time it wasn’t called “The Cloud”. For example, the Google account was configured with the phone, and that account was used to tie Google’s mail and Calendar services to the phone. Also, that account was used to track purchases in the Market, so purchased software could easily be installed on a new device simply by configuring the Google account there. Believe me when I say, Apple is late to the cloud game when compared to Android and Linux in general.

However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.

That’s a very interesting theory, but Android isn’t tied to hardware. It runs on a wide array of devices. Yes, some of them use capacitive touch-screens. Some of them don’t. You’re focusing on a single segment of the devices that Android runs on and making general statements about the OS based on that single segment. I’d love to hear you tell me how the Parrot Asteroid is a knockoff of the iPhone.

If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine

Well, it doesn’t really matter if Apple stole the idea from Xerox or not. Apple tried to sue to keep other companies (namely Microsoft) from using ideas present in their GUI, despite the fact that they were not the originators or really the owners of those ideas. Xerox didn’t grant Apple sole ownership of those ideas. Regardless, I had no intention of bringing Xerox up at any point, though it is worth noting that one of the primary features that both Android and iOS share (the icon grid) did originate there, not at Apple. Really, that feature is one of the few that Android and iOS share.

Less than Impressed

So, the new iPhone was announced today, if you were living under a rock and didn’t know. I found this comparison over at Engadget. I’m less than impressed with Apple’s latest offering.

Five (Lame) Reasons for Windows 8 (A Linux Users Perspective)?

Today I ran across an article by Preston Gralla titled “Five Reasons You’ll Want Windows 8“. I figured, why not read it? I could use a good laugh.

I didn’t even understand what I was getting myself into. These reasons are sad people. I thought I’d go through them for fun.

  1. Metro:  Seriously? Metro? I will grant that there is some functionality in Metro that is interesting, but damn is it ugly. I have Windows 8 running in a VM on my home computer, and I can’t get over just how ugly it is. Add to this, it just doesn’t seem practical in a non-touch environment. I can see where it would have it’s uses on a tablet or even a phone, but on a desktop computer, it’s terrible.
  2. Built-in apps: I don’t even know what he’s talking about with this one. The built-in apps that I’ve seen in the developer version I’m running are sparse and lame. They operate in a tablet mode (meaning taking the whole screen), and lack functionality that I think would make them useful. Tweet@rama is the example Preston used, and it doesn’t come close to comparing to Tweetdeck.
  3. Cloud integration: Is it 2009 still? Yea, Linux has been doing that since there was a cloud, and Microsoft’s version certainly provides no motivation to switch.
  4. It’s fast: So? Linux is faster. Try again.
  5. New Windows Explorer: This one I thought was the funniest of all of them. The “New” Explorer is virtually identical to the old Explorer, but now it’s got a ribbon! Keep in mind that this is a ribbon that takes up 1/4 of the window, and rarely needs to be used.
Seriously, these are the best reasons you can come up with to try Windows 8? Anyone that’s already using Linux will just look at this and shake their head in wonder. I’m reading it again because I still just can’t believe it said what it said. OK, moving on now.

 

Goodbye iPhone… Hello Thunderbolt!


It’s a red-letter day at my house. Finally, after 2 long years of AT&T, our contract is over. With an expired contract comes the freedom to change carriers and get new phones. I gotta tell you, this is a day that we have been waiting for for a long time.

Two years ago, we bought iPhones. Quite literally, the iPhone was the worst phone I’ve ever owned. Today, the Thunderbolts arrived.

To say that the Thunderbolt is a revelation compared to the iPhone is an understatement. It’s blazing fast. Let me say that again. BLAZING. The screen is beautiful. It literally makes the screen on the 3Gs feel dim and tiny in comparison. The camera takes beautiful pictures, which I’ve already setup to upload in the background (utilizing real the real multitasking found in Android).

Finally, I’m free of that iPhone. I’m never looking back.

iPhone 3Gs – The Worst Phone I’ve Ever Owned

Soon I will be celebrating the anniversary of one of the worst technology mistakes I’ve ever made. First, some back story.

My first son was born in July of 2008. At the time, I was using a an LG V. For a gadget guy, I actually haven’t own that many cell phones. I’d had the V for several years,and it was a nice, sturdy phone for me. Both my wife and I work, so unfortunately, we had to put my son into Daycare instead of keeping him at home.

Here’s where the problem came in. I didn’t like the fact that any time I was away from my desk (like when I was in one of my many meetings), I couldn’t be reached if I was needed by my Daycare. The building I worked in allowed for virtually no Verizon signal inside the building. Even just a couple feet from the window, and signal dropped to zero. The same was true for every other cellular network I looked into, with one exception. AT&T. We didn’t want to switch to AT&T, so we toughed things out for almost a year before it was just too much. So, after talking to my wife, we decided to switch from Verizon to AT&T so that I’d be reachable inside of the building.

So, since we were switching networks anyway, we decided to splurge, and get smartphones. Really, at the time on AT&T’s network, the only choices were iPhone or Blackberry. I really didn’t want a Blackberry, so even though I’ve never been a big fan of Apple, I sucked it up and we each got an iPhone. The 3Gs had just been released, so we picked up the most current model.

For a couple months, everything was fine. Then it happened. My wife got a job offer out of state, and we decided to take it. Our new city (as it happens, Phoenix, AZ) didn’t have the greatest AT&T reception. There were many “dead spots” in areas where we frequented. Even in our home we sometimes barely get any 3G bars. I realize that this isn’t the fault of the phone, but the network, but it’s here for context.

One morning, we were heading out to work, my wife grabs her phone, and it won’t turn on. Plugged in, unplugged, we get nothing. We take the time and go to the Apple Store, and talk to one of the “Geniuses” there. He plays around with the phone for about 30 minutes, and gets nowhere with it. Apple graciously replaces the phone for us since we hadn’t even bought it a year ago. Unfortunately, with the new phone, none of her apps transferred to the new phone. Any pictures were unrecoverable (couldn’t even crack open the phone and change out the battery), so we lost a good number of pictures and videos of our now almost 2 year old son. We were not pleased with this.

Not long after that, I started noticing my phone behaving oddly. The phone would turn off claiming the battery was dead when the meter still was reporting over 10% charge. When I say that the phone “turned off”, I mean that the screen just blacks out. No warning. Apps were crashing left and right, and the phone was virtually unusable. Again, we took it to the “Genius” bar. The “Geniuses” played around with the phone for a little while, and then reported to me that the reason the phone was doing that was that there was a bug in the OS software that was telling me there was charge when there wasn’t. He suggested that I completely reinstall the OS.

Under the mistaken impression that these “Geniuses” might actually know what the heck they’re talking about, I followed my orders. I reinstalled the OS from scratch, completely rebuilding my phone. No change to the behavior of the phone. Still crashes apps, still dies before the battery meter makes it even close to zero.

We take it back to the Apple Store. The “Geniuses” tell me that the bug that caused the problem in the first place is still present in the current version of the OS, and that the next version of the OS will resolve the problem for me. All I need to do is wait for the next release.

Still, for some reason, thinking that they might have some semblance of a clue, I wait. Next version comes, and it doesn’t solve the problem. I rebuild the OS from scratch again, and it still doesn’t help.

At this point, I’ve given up on the “Geniuses”. They know what Apple tells them. I can’t use the word “Genius” without heaping derision on it when referring to Apple’s employees.

The phone is getting worse. The phone dies with 30% or 40% of the battery still supposedly charged. Apps barely run on the stupid thing any more, and many of the ones that I actually liked fail to load at all.

With about six months left in my AT&T contract, the phone has begun shutting down with 90% charge still apparently available. I bite the bullet and buy a Case-Mate battery extender. This thing is really the only thing that keeps phone working. It fools the phone into thinking that it’s plugged in. The Case-Mate battery only gives me about 3 hours charge, but right now, the battery in the phone is giving me less than 15 minutes. I have to keep the phone plugged in virtually all day, and when I can’t keep it plugged in, I turn on the Case-Mate so at least the phone thinks it’s plugged in.

Now, with under a month to go until this AT&T contract expires, I will be running (not walking) to the nearest Verizon store to replace this nightmare of a device as quickly as I can. I will replace this spotty network, and I will replace this disaster of a phone. I can honestly say that the iPhone was the worse tech purchase I’ve ever made, and the only thing it excelled at was making me miss my LG.

To the people that tell me constantly that the iPhone is “Magical” or “Revolutionary”, I tell you that you can take this phone. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

The countdown has begun.

There is an ending to my pain, and if I have my way, I will never own another Apple product again.

Microsoft bought Skype – Damn it

I have no idea what this is going to mean for the Linux, Android, and even Mac versions of Skype. I just don’t see this is a good thing no matter how you look at it. Here’s a collection of links. I’ll be watching this pretty closely. I’m already starting to look for alternatives.

Why Apple is so Popular

I watched this a couple days ago, and thought to myself, this is exactly why Apple is popular. If you watch the video, it’s an April Fools joke played on a Fox News corespondent where her co-anchor convinces her that there’s a new technology now available that lets a person smell and taste things through the screen of an iPhone or iPad. Not to ruin the joke or anything, but everybody cracks up when she licks the screen.

The sad part of this joke is, this is exactly what Apple has been doing to it’s customers for years. Their customers have been told so many times that their device is magical, or revolutionary, or intuitive that they’ve started believing it. They’re believing it despite evidence to the contrary. Apple isn’t laughing through, they’re just raking in the cash with a smile and a nod.

AT&T buying T-Mobile?!? I’ll miss the Commercials.

Bummer.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-20045184-94.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

Is the iPad 2 Great?

I just finished reading a post over at ZDNet by David Morgenstern. The article started with the question, “Why can’t they just say it’s great?” The “it” in this particular case is the iPad 2.

Morgenstern quotes Edward Baig of USA Today:

As Apple unleashes the latest object of desire, a slimmed-down iPad 2, it makes what was already a splendid slab even better, even if the overall upgrade is relatively modest. Apple didn’t boost the screen resolution or bump up the storage. There’s no iPad that can take advantage of nascent high-speed 4G cellular networks. The external speaker is mono. No SD card slot or USB, either.

He also notes that Joshua Topolsky of Engadget referred to the iPad 2 as “iterative”.

The problem that Mr. Morgenstern has with these two reviews is neither of them bow down and worship at the altar of Apple. What he wants is for everybody to “just start out with the fact that the iPad 2 rocks and go from there.”

The problem with that is, the iPad 2 does not rock. Mr. Topolsky was right in his statement that the iPad 2 is an iterative release. There were hardly any changes from the original model other than a speed bump and the addition of a couple cameras. For this thing to “rock”, the original iPad would have had to “rock” first, which it didn’t. The original iPad was a cop out. A hack. A glorified iPod.

Don’t get me wrong, it sells really well. Apple’s best product has always been their marketing. They always manage to fluff up their products to the point where it’s just assumed that they’re going to be the best thing on the market, and so it doesn’t really matter if they are or not.

So, I guess in answer to Mr. Morgenstern’s question, why can’t they just say it’s great?

Because it’s not.