Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Apple’s next iPhone 5 will have everything we’ve already seen on Android

Monday, July 9th, 2012

International Business Times has published an article with some features made available by iOS 6 that is likely iPhone 5 will offer:

Answering/Declining Calls – Users will now have the option to answer or decline calls. Users may send a text message from a choice of pre-programmed options if you wish not to be disturbed at the moment. Users will also be able to remind themselves to return the missed calls later.

Really? That’s a new feature? Having used these features constantly since, like, forever on Android, I’m actually very surprised that iOS didn’t have those up till now.

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Handling “Package file is invalid” problems on CyanogenMod 7

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Update: The latest update for CyanogenMod for Milestone – version 7.1.0.3 solves this problem as well.

Lately I’ve been having problems updating software on my Motorola Milestone (1, as in A853) running CyanogenMod 7.1 (thanks to Nadalbak who maintains an unofficial and unsupported port of CyanogenMod for this old device). When I start the Android Market and do an update of an existing application, I get the error “Package file is invalid” for any application. Sometimes removing an application and reinstalling it will work, but often not.

There could be several problems that cause this, apparently a problem with the file permissions on the file systems is common, and if this is your problem then it can be fixed by opening the terminal emulator, executing “su” to gain super-user permissions and then running “fix_permissions” (it will take a while to complete).

If this doesn’t solve the problem for you, then likely the problem is that you ran out of space on your “data” partition or “cache” partition. This is very common if you have a large “apps partition” on your SD card and you are in the habit of installing tons of applications – I know I am 🙂 .

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Android, iOS – who stole from who?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The obvious answer is – who cares? But Apple fan-boys seem to like to gloat that any smartphone design (or at least any design moderately successful – nobody is looking at Symbian) is a “rip off” from the iPhone, while Android fan-boys(1) point out may cases where iOS designers “shamelessly” “got inspired” by Android features such as the pull-down notifications, seamless multi-tasking, “share” functionality, personal Wi-Fi hotspot, untethered syncing (iCloud in Apple’s lingo) and more.

So everyone copies from everyone else – that’s how a market should behave: if one product comes up with a better idea, then it is only expected that other products can build on that idea – and sometimes do it better. And don’t get me started on the patent thing – patents allow an inventor to protect the technology and implementation of a specific idea, it does not give one a monopoly on ideas (even though many today try to use the patent system like that).

The question that, I think, is more interesting to ask is – who is more willing to play this game and who treats idea as their sole domain and exclusive property?

The answer, not coming as a surprise to anyone, can be found in Apple’s founder new biography: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as reported by AP review of the book set to be available tomorrow, here are some choice quotes (taken from AP’s review):

Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Jobs told Schmidt [Google’s CEO at the time] … ” I want you to stop using our ideas in Android”

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  1. of whom I am a card carrying member, I’ll admit []

Suddenly I’m Less Worried

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

About my next Android phone: Google Buys Motorola Mobility (for $12.5B).

This deal is very good for me, as a consumer of high-end smart phones, for several reasons: one reason is the more obvious patent issue: the Google smart phone OS has come under fire from competitors (mostly Apple) in a host of patent lawsuits, though none of them actually targeted Google itself: the main advantage of Android is its availability to any small manufacturer – which enabled the amazingly rich ecosystem that is the Android world, but its also its main disadvantage as competitors can target “small fish” for their patent extortion, companies that are too small to afford a real legal battle. Google wasn’t in a good position to help defend their OEMs or developers, and I believe this is what they were trying to do with their Nortel patents bids, that didn’t come through – but they had an ace in their sleeve: even as the Nortel business was going on, Google was probably already deep in negotiation with Motorola Mobility that hold a portfolio of around 18,000 patents and patent applications – compared with Nortel’s paltry 6,000 patents. With this arsenal, and once the deal comes through(1), expect Google to come out swinging.

But as I mentioned – this is only part of why I’m happy about this deal. The second, and likely more important reason as I will be looking for a new phone at about early 2012, is that I think Motorola Mobility is one of the best makers of Android running hardware – if not the best. They definitely have the market in keyboard slider phones, which is the kind I’m using. The problem is, I’m a power user – I like to use the latests and best software available and the whole point of having a small computer (read: user programmable device) in your pocket – is the ability to install and upgrade whenever something new comes out (about every couple of months). And this is where Motorola devices fail me: Motorola like to keep a lock down on any user modifications to the phone’s operating system and their devices are notoriously hard to mod – installing a new firmware on a Motorola phone is a dangerous game of “will it brick?”.

Motorola has come out with promises of freeing up the phone “bootloader” (the part of the phone’s firmware that makes sure you don’t install “unauthorized” software) but so far we haven’t see any results. I have hope that under the new ownership, Motorola Mobility developers will find it easier to keep to this promise and allow us power users to buy hardware on which we can run whatever Android-based operating system we want.


  1. supposedly by early 2012 – these things take time []

Just jumping on the 6692d179032205 bandwagon

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

As Intel confirmed, the HDCP master key has been leaked (using PasteBin of all things(1) ), and have been reproduced(2) around the web in blogs and forum posts.

One, more industrious, individual went a step further and reproduced the HDCP master key as a Python program to generate sink and source keys according to the leaked instructions – which is reproduced here fully for the purpose of mirroring (no copyright notice was added so I don’t know who to thank for this). More musings about the meaning and purpose of all this – after the break:

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  1. Where it quickly went out of control, people don’t seem to understand the concept of  “mirror” or “offsite backup” 😉  []
  2. 1890 sources, total for today and not including this one []

Easiest Android Rooting In 3 Simple Steps

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

One of the neatest features of carrying a small Linux computer in your pocket, is that you have a machine to hack everywhere you go 😉

After getting a terminal application installed, you find that most stuff that you want to do require “root access” on your android phone – it appears that on Android they don’t really use “user permissions” but instead each app is its own user id with its own set of permissions (an ingenious way to handle different permissions per application).

To do most interesting things you need to make sure you can get root access. As a normal phone user you aren’t expected to need this so this feature is disabled on phones and to enable access to the root account you need to crack the phone’s security model. (more…)

I Hate Pod Catchers

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

[Updated: 29/7/2011]

One of the reasons to get a new mobile internet device, is to get a better pod catcher to use in order to feed my podcast listening habit :-). Its not that Escarpod for Symbian was bad – it was a very good application and any new podcatcher I’ll get will be measured against it – but my P1i was kind of dying and regardless all new development in Escarpod was happening in the S60 version and not for UIQ that the P1i was running.

Once I had an android device, the next order of business was to find the best podcatcher (for me). I’ve downloaded and tried all the podcatchers I could get my hand on, so here’s the summary of my trials and tribulations. If I missed any podcatcher that you know of (and want me to compare against those listed below), then drop me a note about it.

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Got me a new gadget

Friday, June 25th, 2010

For all of you who are not up to date on my latest news, I’ve got a new phone last week – a Motorola Milestone running Android 2.1 (I expected more Moto* application with the Motorola brand, but I only got a Media Dock home app and a driving home app – not even the “Motonav” navigation software, not that I mind – I use Waze).

Its a pretty cool device and (to my surprise) it allowed me to abandon all the other phones I was carrying with me, pretty much with in a couple of days (I expected it will take me at least a week to transfer all the things I was doing with mobile connected devices to a new device). So now – probably to the surprise of many of my friends – I carry just one phone instead of 3.

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Did you hear that the iPhone 4 was released?

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

It includes some breakthrough technologies such as “Video Conferencing”, so say Wired in their feature post Apple Unveils High-Resolution, Videoconferencing [sic] iPhone 4.

It again boggles the mind, how Apple takes on a well known feature of existing products, tacks a bastardized version of it on a new revision of their product, and everyone hails at how innovative they are…

Here’s the Wired quote:

iPhone 4 includes a front-facing camera and support for videoconferencing with other iPhone 4 users, via a feature called FaceTime.

Here’s what I can do today with my 3 years old Ericsson P1i, my Nokia E-whatever or my fiance’s $20 Nokia (as well as about half of Nokia phones released in the last 8 years or so), and many other phones from other manufacturers:

  • Above mentioned phones include a front-facing camera and support video conferencing with any other phone that supports standard 3G video calls, on any 3G network.

Also, apple announced their own video conferencing protocol (the so called “FaceTime”), as discussed in ReadWriteWeb:

That’s what Apple aims to do with the introduction of FaceTime. The awkwardly named protocol could be implemented by all major handset manufacturers so that consumers could perform video calls as easily as we perform voice calls today.

There is only one problem with that statement: there is already a standard protocol for video calls – as mandated by the cellular industry’s leading standard body, 3GPP: the 3G-324M protocol, was developed jointly with ITU (the telecom industry governing body for standardization) and is implemented in virtually all video call capable cellular telecom devices.

Now here’s a video:
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Supports Windows Linux

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Those funny Chinese are at it again: An acquaintance got a new netbook device from a brandless Chinese manufacturer (the brand label on the device is “Excel”, which is anyone’s guess what its supposed to represent) and the device comes with a bright sticker on the base, in front of the keyboard, with the list of features this devices offers: CPU, memory and support for operating systems:

Yes, this device runs better with all kinds of logo MS-Windows operating systems: you can choose either XP, 7 or Linux 😉

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