New mobile provider, Republic Wireless, for $19/mo, unlimited everything

November 8, 2011

Republic Wireless launched today. They’re a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which essentially means they sell time on another provider’s network (in this case, Sprint). The twist is that they use WiFi for their calls and texts whenever possible. You sign up, pay $199 for an LG Optimus and your first month’s service. After that it’s $19/month. No, you can’t bring your own device (BYOD) but they say they’re working on that.

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Ringtones from NASA!

September 23, 2011

Yowza! Want a lift-off ringtone or some beeps and clicks or how about some radio emissions from Saturn? NASA has put up a page with a bunch of sound clips — MP3s and M4Rs (for iPhone). Yep, real NASA sounds, free for the download. They’re here: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/sounds/

Mog.com relaunch but I still prefer Grooveshark

September 16, 2011

Mog.com relaunched a few days ago allowing completely free listening — no credit card required. You can sign up for an account or connect with your Facebook account. Sounds cool, right? Yeah, well …

I have a Mog account. Is free listening available to me? Well, sorta but, apparently since I already have an account, I have to provide a credit card. Yes, I was a Mog premium subscriber before but let my account lapse because I wasn’t happy enough with the service to justify the continued expense. So, now, even though I can listen free for 14 days, they require a credit card. And there’s no indication that I’ll be able to continue listening for free after that. No, I’m not that cheap, I just don’t like getting roped into something, spending a lot of time working up laylists and such and then having to abandon it.

OK, so I created a NEW account and now I can listen for free. I created a playlist, saved it and grabbed the URL to share it to my friends. Turns out THEY have to create an account to listen to it. Not terrible. But compare it to Grooveshark.

Grooveshark doesn’t have the cool interface that Mog does. But it does let me share music with my friends who can play it (or my playlists) without a Grooveshark account and that’s pretty important to me. If my friends want to create their own Grooveshark account, they can but they don’t have to.

50% off all O’Reilly ebooks and videos thru 9/27/2011

September 15, 2011
Use code B2SDEAL

The great thing about O’Reilly ebooks is that they’re DRM free, you can get them in PDF as well as multiple ebook formats AND you get lifetime free updates. Works great on a tablet with your favorite ereader. http://www.oreilly.com

Woot off!

September 13, 2011
Today was a Woot Off! over at woot.com. If you’re at all into this, you know that during a woot off, Woot sells one item until it sells out then puts another item up right away. Serious woot-afficianados, sit glued to their computer all day. Less serious ones install WootWatcher (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.drclabs.android.wootchecker) and turn on the beta push notification service. Yes, it has ads to defray the cost of the push infrastructure but that’s a small price to pay. Am I going to keep it installed on my phone after today? Probably not but it’s fun seeing my phone light up when another item goes up for sale.

Current devices and why I’m OFF NVidia

September 13, 2011

Motorola XOOM with Verizon. Still 3G, running 3.2 stock but rooted.

LG G2x through T-Mobile. Running CM7 nightlies

Overall, I’m happy with both devices. Was considering NOT upgrading my XOOM to 4G but I think I will when they contact me. The G2x is a nice phone with a great display and very responsive. Since I’m running a custom ROM, I don’t have A2DP which is a philosophical problem for me but that’s all.

And, that said, I think I would NOT buy another NVidia-based device until/unless they start releasing their code/drivers. The reason I don’t have A2DP on my G2x is because NVidia hasn’t made their code available to the community. And that means that the independent developers are either limited to working with the kernel that was released with the device or are reduced to guessing how to work with the drivers. That’s NOT the reason I’ve moved to Android and I WON’T make that mistake again.

Hopefully shorter means more

September 13, 2011

When it comes to blog posts, I’ve been caught between my desire to be complete and the constraints on my time. So, for now I’m going to try to eke out a few posts by making them shorter … less complete, in my opinion, without (some, many, most, all? of the) cross-links to things I’ve referred to. Hopefully this will allow me to post more, be more informative and highlight some of the things I’ve wanted to bring to my/your attention. I’ll try to be as complete as time allows so feel free to comment and provide your own cross-links.

Cyanogen -> Samsung

August 16, 2011

My favorite ROM is CyanogenMod, originally produced by Steve Kondik (cyanogen) and now done by a whole team of developers. Steve just started at Samsung as a software engineer supposedly working on Android. And why not? He’s proven his stuff over the years. But how will it affect US? This could be either very good or very bad for Android and alternative ROMs depending on how Samsung handles things and how busy Steve is. He has always been a reasoned voice in the skirmishes between developers as well as among developers and carriers/ manufacturers. Time to change ROMs? (source)

Perhaps MIUI is a good candidate. It’s been around for quite a while, being done by a Chinese company, Xaomi. They’ve just announced a handset that will come with MIUI installed. (source)

Google to acquire Motorola Mobility — so what?

August 15, 2011

it was announced this morning that Google will acquire Motorola Mobility (TechCrunch live blog of the conference call here).

I’ve got a ton of stuff queued up to post and haven’t been able to make the time to actually post them but this particular story has driven me to (at least temporarily) break that roadblock. I have ONE Motorola device: a Verizon XOOM. While I’m happy with the quality of the hardware and Honeycomb, I’m NOT AT ALL HAPPY with Motorola, primarily because they’ve so badly missed their Verizon LTE upgrade. Whether it’s Motorola’s fault, Verizon’s fault or a combination, I look to the hardware vendor to honor their commitments or TELL ME WHY they haven’t.

If I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I’d buy the XOOM. Sure, it’s a Google experience device and, yes, it was the first to market with official Honeycomb support. But the hardware market’s continued to move and there’s even a new 4G tablet imminent on Verizon yet there’s still no upgrade for my XOOM. It’s supposed to be available sometime in September but the lack of any sort of notice prior to this bothers me. It smacks of how RIM doesbusiness — the old carrier/phone vendor model, closed source and closed mouthed.

As long as I’m on a semi-rant, I also have a bone to pick with NVidia and their drivers. Some elements of their HAL (hardware abstraction layer) are still unpublished, making it all but impossible to do things like update the kernel and still bring A2DP to custom ROMs. So, I’m also off NVidia hardware until I see a change in their direction.

OK, so, enough bitching. What am I after with this post? Here’s what I really hope — that Google’s acquisition will have significant positive effects on Motorola Mobility’s attitude toward their customers and, by extension, all other hardware vendors’ attitudes. Unlocking bootloaders, releasing source and binaries for MM’s kernel and drivers and just generally setting a good precedent for the rest of the Android universe of hardware vendors. Google sets the standard for Android base source (granted, they’re not perfect), Motorola Mobility should set the standard for everything hardware (NVidia, are you listening?).

Controlling security yourself on your Android device

May 26, 2011

One of the central features of Android is the concept of “permissions” — collections of access rights to data and services on your device. There are over 20 of them and they include things like access to the Internet, access to your contacts, access to your phone’s state, access to your location (GPS and cellular), etc. The developer declares what permissions the app requires in the APK (the thing you install) and when you install it, the permissions required are shown to you. You must accept them if you want to install the app. That’s all I’m going to say about permissions here … but you can read more about them here.

So, recent CyanogenMod 7 nightly builds include a permissions manager. It gives you the ability to revoke permissions of individual apps . This is causing a bit of a stir in the app world.

Now, along comes another app, LBE Privacy Guard (Android Market link and AppBrain link), which pops up a notification when an app requests ACCESS to a permission and lets you grant or deny it (yeah, sort of like UAC in Windows 7). Along with your allow or deny response, you can tell LBE whether you want it to remember your choice or ask each time. This app also comes white and black lists (which you can edit) and logs of the permissions requests. It’s pretty slick. I’ve installed it on my phone (LG G2x) and, so far, am happy with it. I’ve denied a few requests, just for fun, and haven’t seen app crap out because of it … yet. LBR is free but requires that you have a rooted device. You can get a little more information about it, along with some screenshots of it in use, at http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/05/26/new-app-lbe-privacy-guard-is-like-win…