Android Issues

Android (whose kernel is based on Linux) currently looks like the Linux of mobile operating systems. It doesn’t just work – you have to enjoy complications. Lack of upgrade paths seems to be a big problem with few handsets having OS upgrades from their original release. Actually the comparison to Linux is probably unfair since Linux on the PC platform has evolved to be not that bad.

Motorola’s Android Issues

Android’s open reputation is also under scrutiny as Google’s agreements with carriers look a lot like the bad old days where handset manufacturers got their orders for specific (crippled) versions from carriers.

The dirty little secret about Google Android

Update: Techcrunch has some analysis that most Android users have picked the platform for its supposed openness even though in reality the platform is constrained by the cell phone carriers.

Multi-platform Multi-media Calling

Wouldn’t it be terrific if you could use one integrated client software/service to do instant messaging, voice, video, and screen sharing (multi-media calling) across Mac, Windows and Linux (multi-platform)? Well we aren’t there yet but progress is being made.

Most multi-media calling capabilities use instant messaging (IM) as the foundation and interoperable solutions are available for IM chat. Multi-platform voice, video, and screensharing are still a challenge.

If you want to just interact with other Mac users, iChat does it all. It even does voice and video but not screensharing with Windows users who have AIM accounts. AIM is not the most popular client software/service*, however, so finding buddies could be difficult if you can’t convince them to subscribe to yet another service. I would like to hear from people who have thoroughly tested the x-platform interoperability to see if it is worthwhile trying to convince people to get AIM accounts. The probable deal breaker though is that the most useful feature, screensharing, is not supported X-platform.

* From wikipedia figures the current market share of IM services is approximately as follows:
1. Skype 309M
2. Windows Live Messenger 300M
3. Yahoo Messenger 248M
4. AIM (used by iChat which also has MobileMe) >100M
5. Jabber (used by Google Talk) 90M
(Tencent QQ has 783M active accounts but most of these are in China)

iChat windows showing video screensharing of a photo, instant messaging, and buddy list

Apple - Mac OS X Leopard - Features - iChat

Google Talk can use the iChat client on the Mac for instant messaging but that service doesn’t support voice, video, and screen sharing using iChat. X-platform (Mac and Windows) voice and video can be done within the Gmail service by installing the Google voice and video software and screensharing can be done by installing the Yuuguu software. Below is an interoperability matrix for Google Voice:

Google Talk Client choice

Google Talk client choice

Google Talk supports standards and native client choices on each platform which works well for instant messaging but voice calls only work between the Goggle Talk clients.

Skype is another popular online calling choice which is multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux) for IM, voice, and video. Yugma Skype edition is a Skype addon that provides multi-platform screen sharing. Skype is starting to offer integrated screen sharing through beta software (as opposed to using an add-on) but right now you can only share screens from a Mac to Mac or Mac to Windows and not from Windows. However, Skype is the closest thing to a full featured multi-platform multi-media client that is currently available.

Skype 4 for Windows

Skype 4.0 for Windows

Some day all of this will interoperate so you don’t have to use multiple redundant clients/services.
Until that day comes users who want multi-media calling to buddies on multiple platforms will probably need at least two or three clients:
– iChat (for Mac users)
– Google Talk
– Skype

Right now, Skype is the closest thing to a full featured multi-platform client, iChat offers the best integration for Mac users, and Google Talk is an up and coming contender that is particularly suitable for people that collaborate using Google applications.

Glossary:
Multi-platform = Mac, Windows, Linux
X-platform = more than 1 platform (usually Mac and Windows)
Multi-media = instant messaging, voice, video, screensharing

Portable Devices, Ebooks, and Network Computing

These are interesting times.

The iphone and ipod touch are generating excitement about new models of phones and just about PDAs that oh yeah play music.

Kindle is generating new discussion about ebooks and online services.

Asus eee PC and Everex gPC are getting Linux enthusiasts excited of potential widespread adoption of inexpensive ultra portables with an open source operating system and applications.

I think Tim O’Reilly is right about multi-touch and there is potential in my opinion in the near future for touch screen tablet computers that could combine all of the above attributes.
How great would it be to have reasonable size screen for web surfing and book reading with multi-touch, solid state storage for quick start up, the ability to use open source applications, and online data storage and managed services for content. A wireless keyboard could be an option and with ubiquitous broadband networking, issues with backups and software updates could be a thing of the past. For the phone part include a speakerphone capability and wireless stereo headset with a mike that can be either folded out or folded into the clip if just listening to music.

There is going to be more than a few iterations in getting there so the content will need to be able to make the jump and not be stranded with a particular device but this could evolve into being a must have device especially if it is delivered in the $300 to $400 price range that most of these existing devices are being targeted at.

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Promotion

The OLPC project is having a Give 1 Get 1 promotion from November 12-26 where for $399 USD you can buy a laptop for a child in a third world country and get one for a child in North America. Here is more information on the XO “$100” laptop ($100 is the target price for providing the laptops in bulk to children in third world countries.

This could make a couple of kids really happy this Christmas.

Computer System Information

It is useful to have a summary of your computer system information to keep it properly maintained and to troubleshoot problems.

Here is how you can get system summaries for different computer operating systems:

Windows:
There are three options for Windows XP information depending on the level of detail desired.

1. Windows XP System Information
To start Microsoft System Information, use either of the following methods:
• Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.
• Click Start, click Run, type msinfo32.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.
The information that is displayed in System Information is divided into the following five categories:
• Hardware Resources
• Components
• Software Environment
• Applications
• Internet Explorer

To save the information in a text file choose File Export and enter a memorable name like the name of the computer with current date.
2. Belarc Advisor (more information)
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

3. Windows System Information (detailed information)
http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download.html
After you download the file you double click on it to open and run it (i.e. it runs automatically when you open it).
Then in the file menu choose CREATE A LOG FILE, pay attention to the name and where the file is being created, and accept the defaults by tapping the enter key. If you downloaded the program to your desktop the log file will be created on your desktop too.

you can then view the log by opening the file in your browser or send the log file as an attachment in an email to someone providing support.
Mac:
In the Applications utilities folder there is a built-in system reporting tool called System Profiler.
This tool provides information on:
– Hardware
– Network
– Operating system
– Extensions
– Applications
It is easy to export the report in xml, rtf, or text.

Ubuntu Linux:
A lot of system information is contained in the proc directory. To summarize it use a tool like phpsysinfo.
Installing phpsysinfo in Ubuntu using the terminal

sudo apt-get install phpsysinfo

After completion of your installation this program automatically located at apache2 default document root directory i.e /var/www/phpsysinfo/ folder

If you want to access this from your web browser type the following (you can use the ifconfig command in the terminal to get your IP address)

http://youripaddress/phpsysinfo/

You should then see a screen with all your workstation details