One thing I have begun to do is leave low-value cards at the fare machine. That way I don’t have to screw around with "add fare" in the train station which can suck if you’re caught without change. I figure someone purchasing a new fare card can use the buck I leave behind.
The other day I saw someone leave a $0.05 at the machine in San Bruno.
Trivia: this is the 1,004th post in my WordPress installation. And of course, that represents only a portion of my journal from the past decade. I surpassed 1,000 posts earlier today while migrating some of the travel log from HTML into WordPress, which is one of my less exciting ways to kill time on a weekend.
The Red Vic is possibly my favorite funky little movie house in San Francisco. And in their recent e-mail they just pour it on:
The Red Vic Has Gone Solar: OK, so you know about our organic popcorn served in wooden popcorn bowls and that we serve our (fair trade) coffee in mugs instead of disposable paper cups. In fact, we have done so ever since opening in 1980 – we were “green-minded” before the term even existed! (Not to mention the fact that we have washed a zillion dishes since then). We also use eco-friendly cleaning products and this calendar is printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Well, thanks to our fabulous landlord we have now gone solar with the assistance of Sunlight Electric (http://sunlightelectric.com/). There is an impressive array of solar panels on our roof and our electric meter is now running backward. Our solar panels are the equivalent of 21,962 pounds of CO2 not emitted per year, or equal to planting 3 acres of trees. We fortunately share our building with like-minded businesses; the Alembic is all about the local, sustainable slow-food scene and Escape From New York Pizza has a robust composting program. So, on your next visit to the Red Vic, as you munch away on popcorn in your wooden bowl and take a sip from a ceramic mug of coffee, you can also give a thought to the power of the sun and to communities working together – if you are not too engrossed in the movie that is!
I just like that little bit enough to share. Now when I sit in one of their cozy chairs, I can watch the movie using solar power. (I guess they run the meter forward at night, though, so probably it’ll be utility coal power for the movie but you know, its the overall impact that counts.)
I bought some white board sheets off Amazon the other day, because I enjoy standing up to do creative work. I wanted white board paint but this is not available. The white board sheets . . . enh . . . they tend to rip when peeling them off the stack, and after a few days they start to roll up and fall off: better with tape! But the real bummer so far is that they really don’t erase well . . . I had to do windex on a paper towel and then scrape the marker off with my thumb. Too bad . . .
The advise to startups is to focus on must-have products, cut deep and be ready to go for a year without income. That’s good advice for those of us who work in the Valley, as well. Good luck, everybody!
I should receive my first new mobile phone since 2004 on October 22. I don’t really need a new phone: the old Sidekick 2 is built like a tank and shows no sign of giving up the ghost any time soon. But I went and pre-ordered a G1 for three reasons:
1) I have a friend on Google’s Android team.
2) To annoy the iPhone weenies.
3) My employer made its targets, so I spend a little of my bonus check.
One crucial improvement over the iPhone: a Menu button. It summons a panel of big buttons for functions related to what you’re doing. It’s the equivalent of right-clicking a computer mouse.
“Right mouse button!” HA!
Where Android really falls down is in the iPod department. There’s no companion program like iTunes to sync your photos, music and videos to the phone; you’re expected to drag these items to the phone manually after connecting via USB cable to your Mac or PC. More time-consuming fussiness.
This is a win for me: I hate iTunes. Dragging and dropping files is just the ticket, in my book. I’ve been dealing with that interface metaphor for fifteen years and its more comfortable than dealing with the quirks of some new software package. (Back when I had lots of issues with iTunes doing stuff like copying my library over twice.) That, and I run Linux desktops.
Some of the goodies in Android will reward the iPhone holdouts: voice dialing, picture messaging, built-in audio recording and the ability to turn any song into a ring tone are all included — no charge.
Voice dialing? That should be nice. And audio recording might be fun, too. Too bad the camera is supposedly crap, and no video. But that’s why I have my Canon.
The big news is the physical keyboard. It’s not pure joy, though. The keys don’t click down much. Worse, you have to keep turning the phone 90 degrees from its customary vertical orientation every time you need to enter text. That gets old fast. And it’s bizarre that, even though the phone contains a tilt sensor like the iPhone’s, it’s not hooked up to the screen. Turning the phone 90 degrees to get a wider look at a photo or Web page doesn’t rotate the image. You have to do that manually, using a menu or by popping open the keyboard, which makes no sense.
The keyboard is my biggest concern. I think the Sidekick 2 keyboard is nearly ideal and it is a big reason I shun the iPhone. Software bugs (sounds like the e-mail client is a mess) can be addressed by future patches or possibly third-party applications. I like to think rotation can be sorted out down the road.
Overall, it sounds like the G1 will be the dowdier, more adaptable PC to the flashy smugness that is the iPhone. And, I have to admit, while I love the turtleneck sweater I bought in France, I am a PC guy. (I think that’s the point of the new Microsoft ads: Bill Gates is as big a schmuck as Jerry Seinfeld or any one else.)
Lastly, this is just sad:
Finally, there’s no headphone jack. (Hello?!) If you want to use headphones, you have to buy and carry a special adapter that connects to the USB jack.
Unacceptable Content. Google has listed practices that are unacceptable, prohibited and will result in having your account banned. They are: Nudity & Sexually Explicit Material, Violence/Bullying/Threats, Hate Speech, Age (must be 13+), Impersonation, Private Info, Copyright Infringement, Illegal Activities, Malicious Products, Prohibited Products.
Way to go, Google! Of course, I think you’ll be able to install applications from outside of the marketplace, and besides I hear that social networking is now more popular than pornography.
In terms of spelling, I favor “colocation” or “co-location” to describe the facility where the servers go. My mind says “colocation is the fruit of cooperation.”
A lot of people use the word “collocation” which is a linguistic term to describe the frequency of word sequences. I believe this term is favored by sales and marketing people because when they type it in the word processor it appears without a red squiggle underneath.
What annoys me the most about “collocation” is that the pronunciation is different:
For what it is worth, Google implies that the Internet is still 3:1 in favor of “colocation” when searching for a “colocation facility”:
The Linguists responsible for the word “collocation” have another term for people who use the word incorrectly: “hypercorrection.” Hypercorrection is when someone who aspires to greater social prestige will attempt to use what they regard as more prestigious language, but they end up getting it wrong.
My new toy is due to arrive on Wednesday. This morning I asked myself “where is my G1?” I cast about on the ‘net for answers. T-Mobile’s web site explained to look up the tracking number on at UPS’es web site, so I wrote them and asked where’s my tracking number? Then I peeked at the forums and saw that I can use my cell number as my tracking number! Pretty slick!
The next thing I did after that was to get my real tracking number from the UPS web site, stick that in Google, then bookmark the link to that page so I can just check that bookmark over the next couple of days to see if my widget has arrived yet in the mail.
My happy joy toy arrived today. So far, no love. It ties in to your Gmail account, see? But I have a hosted Gmail account. Rumor has it that hosted gmail accounts work, but when I try to log on I get this error message:
This account cannot be used on the phone because it is missing the following application: cl. Please contact the domain administrator for toldme.com or sign in using another account.
Alas, there is no information to be found on the Internets, and since I have a mere “standard” hosted gmail account I am not entitled to contact Google about the problem. So, I posted a message to their web “help forum” and we’ll see if someone knows. Meanwhile I guess I switch back to my old Sidekick and figure out how to migrate all the data I have stored on that device to the new thingus. With any luck I can shake down some Google employees for some technical support. I hope this isn’t another general case of “eff you hosted domain losers!!”
NOTE: A Google employee has already offered the guess that “cl” may be the Calendar application, so I’m seeing if I can make something happen . . .
UPDATE: According to a reliable source, there is a bug related to registering G1 accounts on hosted domains that surfaced this evening, October 21. They are working feverishly to fix this issue, and I hope we’ll be online tomorrow, October 22.
UPDATE:firstname.lastname@example.org is now using his G1 as intended. Yay!!
I have been a Sidekick user since the black and white days. Prior to receiving my G1 on Tuesday evening, I had used my Sidekick 2 pretty heavily for nearly four years. I loved its solid feel and the membrane keyboard. The applications mostly worked together pretty well, though the web browser was butt-slow. I have high hopes that as the spiritual reincarnation of the Danger team, the Android team will spawn a worthy successor to the Sidekick 2, which I regard as a peculiarly satisfying pinnacle in the evolution of the mobile phone.
I have been playing with my G1 for three days now. Here’s how it has been so far . . .
I fault the Quick Start guide for going over what the buttons do and the user interface, then half way through the booklet it tells you how to put the battery inside the phone. That was somewhat annoying because the very first thing I wanted to know is how do I get the battery in the phone and turn it on. Transferring the SIM card was easy enough, and the “tap the Android” process worked rather well.
Unfortunately, the night I tried to first use the phone there was a bug that surfaced in Google’s internal systems so I could not log on to the phone through my hosted domain account. It tossed out a bizarre error code and as usual Google’s support was no help: another customer with Premier hosted domains was incorrectly informed that the G1 didn’t support domain logons.
In retrospect, I should have tried T-Mobile technical support, who have through the years done a solid job at escalating Sidekick issues appropriately. I give the device an extra bonus point for putting the “factory reset” feature within the options panel, rather than making it a voodoo process that involves a paper clip.
I wish the Android could be incarnated within the Sidekick 2’s hardware. The Sidekick 2 is built like a tank, with a solid feel and rubber bumpers. You could bash a fool in the skull with a Sidekick 2 if you had to, wipe off the blood, and get back to writing an email on that awesome rubber membrane keyboard.
The G1 is smaller in each dimension, and feels more rickety. It is solid enough, but it is no Sidekick 2. My biggest gripe is that the keyboard, while not truly awful, leaves something to be desired: there is little tactile feel and it took a little retraining to hold my right thumb further out over the keyboard in order to clear the right-side wedge. I am not sure how that will do for prolonged typing. The space key is also narrowed and at least once I have typed an ‘@’ instead of a space.
I like that it charges through the Mini USB port. Yes, I would prefer if it had a proper headphone jack, but that’s not a huge deal for me.
I really look forward to the day that the screen rotates based on how you are holding it.
The Gmail client is very nice: it integrates really well with Gmail on the web and my contacts list. If you compose a new message it can check not only your contacts list but also other addresses that you have corresponded with, which is nice. When I read a message on the phone it is marked as read in Gmail and vice versa. It is also easy enough to switch between tags.
The Sidekick 2 takes muddy pictures on a good day. The G1 has a 3 megapixel camera that takes some pretty nice photos under decent lighting conditions. Unfortunately, the G1 fails a few things the Sidekick 2 got right: the lens is right where I’m apt to put my thumb, there’s no flash, the shutter lag is substantial. The Pictures application is decoupled from the Camera application, so you need to switch from the one to the other to review your photos.
I was at first disappointed that there is no practical way to export my contacts from the Sidekick 2. I went through my Gmail Contacts list and cleaned everyone up, integrating phone numbers to email addresses. I had a lot of fun finding pictures of everyone on the web and cropping them into my contacts list. There seemed several instances where updates I made on the phone or on the web didn’t make it across. And one contact I swear got eaten and had to be re-added.
One feature lacking from the Sidekick 2 is the ability to put friends in groups. At the very least it is nice to be able to pull up a group of coworkers versus the rest of your friends. Maybe there is a “tag” feature I have overlooked, or things will improve in the future.
Another unfortunate bug is that in the Gmail interface, you can not add a photo to a contact who has only a phone number.
That said, the interface can be extremely frustrating: wide web pages require a lot of dragging up and down and back and forth. Sometimes columns of text will be shrunk to page width, but not always. You can not easily resize text. (You couldn’t do this on the Sidekick 2 at all.) The Google Reader app works well enough but there is no way to make the font larger. (I hate squinting.) I am not yet used to the zoom feature: you need to hold your finger down on the screen, without clicking a link or scrolling, then you need to go catch the + or – button that appears and hold that down . . .
The Sidekick 2 allowed for bookmark folders: the G1 web browser has no folders or even a provision to reorder the bookmarks. This is really frustrating because one of the great features to me was to have a folder of Nextmuni bookmarks so I could quickly pull up information on approaching transit vehicles. I look forward to this being fixed. It would be even more awesome if bookmarks could be synced with say a Firefox subfolder on my computers.
The web page links are often quite tiny, and my big beefy man fingers are constantly clicking on the wrong thing.
The G1 data plan includes I believe 400 SMS, whereas the Sidekick data plan was $5 cheaper and included unlimited SMS. I like that the SMS application groups messages by sender as in Gmail: tapping a thread brings up what amounts to a conversation with a contact. Deleting SMS messages is a little annoying: you get to confirm that you will delete an entire thread.
The Sidekick 2 supported AOL instant messenger and you could add a Yahoo instant messenger application. What it did do well was to proxy the connection through the Sidekick service so that if you lost reception temporarily messages would queue on either side and be delivered asynchronously. I do not know if the G1 does this.
The G1 supports Google / Jabber, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL within a single IM application. I prefer the way Pidgin works where contacts are grouped together regardless of their protocol. This IM application seems to require a lot of navigating up and down the hierarchy: I have no idea if it will be much fun if you are chatting with a friend through Google at the same time as you are chatting through Yahoo. Anyway, I don’t intend to use instant messaging much.
The Sidekick 2 had no navigation features. The G1 Maps application so far has been slow, inaccurate, and unstable: it crashed once and other times it would take a long time to inaccurately figure out its location. GPS is disabled by default to conserve battery power. There’s no turn-by-turn navigation. The first time I tried to grab directions the service was down, and the next time it took some fidgeting to figure out how to tell it that I wanted directions to the destination from my current location. (Click on the destination label on the map and then hit Menu > Directions.) Another frustration is that if I go to my location and then switch to Street View, I still have to click on the map near my location, and then figure out how to navigate the street view back over to the original location.
Map searches are very slow (often 10 seconds or more) even on the 3G network.
The Maps app could use some polish. I also need to get used to it. I am very disappointed that there is no transit support.
Yay! My mobile phone now syncs with my calendar! I can not really offer a thoughtful review of the Calendar application, because whenever I launch it the user interface makes me want to vomit. I guess it will take some getting used to.
The “desktop” pans across three screens, which offers some possibility. It is easy enough to trash the analog clock widget on the middle screen. Unfortunately, the wide Google search bar on the right screen can not be trashed. I google-search from within the web browser. I do not need nor do I want a Google search bar widget on my phone “desktop”. Forcing it upon me is evil and Google should apologize.
Both phones have a marketplace where you can shop for and install additional applications. The Android Market is new and somewhat sparse. Apps download and install in the background, and have ratings and reviews so you can avoid the schlocky ones. The “Translate” app is kinda cute and potentially handy. And “cab4me lite” promises to help you map out your location and then call a local cab company, which sounds awfully neat.
What I really want is a nice note pad–I was always scribbling notes on my Sidekick. I also want an SSH client: preferably one that supports key authentication. Give it some time. I guess if I urgently desire a notepad I should jump on the developer tutorial.
People ask me what I think of the G1. I answer that it is okay and it will get nicer with time. the conventional wisdom that it is “good for a 1.0 device” works for me. If pressed I say that I miss the solid feel and membrane keyboard of my Sidekick 2. I like to think that in the next two years the Android platform will mature and someone will release a model with a form factor more to my taste.
I was just mulling over proposition 8 and how happy I am to see that Google and Apple have each taken a public stand against it. So, I figured I’d shoot a brief message off to upper management suggesting how proud I would be if my employer were also to take a stand in defense of civil rights.
Then I wondered that other people may have similar sentiments and similar inclinations to share their feelings with their management. I’m not holding my breath that my company will take a stand, but it doesn’t hurt to share the idea.
I consider it a hard-won blessing that I work in an industry where I can feel comfortable openly expressing my support for the rights of homosexual people.
UPDATE: Due to multiple requests, a “sample text” that folks should feel free to steal / adapt for their own purposes:
I think it has been great that both Google and Apple Computer have both publicly stood in defense of the diversity of their employees and their community and made a public stand against Proposition 8.