Posts Tagged ‘google’

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Jajah Direct! and more ways to place cheap long distance calls!

November 21, 2007

Since I moved to the U.S. I have been looking for cheap ways to call home, and so far the best one in my opinion is Vonage. It is relatively cheap (19.99 for basic service and 5.99 for a proxy number at home) and i get 500 minutes, quite a good deal. It gets forwarded to my cellphone so everyone can call me and it is completely transparent for them and for me.

However since I really don’t use the local service, I never use it to call (I only use the cellphone) and I don’t even use the equipment they gave me, I feel like I really shouldn’t have to pay the first 19.99, so I looked for new options.

Jajah is a startup company providing phone call services through VoIP, but unlike Vonage they don’t give you a number, or a rent plan. It is simple, you enter your number and the number you want to dial, they will do the connection and “call” you, when you pick the call the person you are calling will be about to be connected.

The rates are very good, (more expensive than Skype though) and if the other party has the service you get 150 minutes free! The main problem I found was that you needed to be connected to internet and log into the site to be able to dial (of course the cellphone internet can come to the rescue but it is annoying)

Fortunately that problem is gone and now with Jajah Direct you can enter your friends number and get a “proxy number” that you can use that will redirect your call to your friend. This is exactly the way that Jaxtr works, with the difference that Jaxtr for not very high usage purposes is practically free (you get 100 minutes a month for free, and getting minutes by referring people is easy).

The problem with Jaxtr is that the quality of the call (both sound quality and delay) is quite poor, and sometimes the calls don’t even connect (I am NOT complaining, heck it is free!) and for sometime I used as my main way to calling back home (since I cannot make calls with vonage without paying extra, only receive).

So now, having Jajah Direct and convincing people to join is a very cheap way to communicate long distance with very decent quality (Skype still sounds a bit better though).

So… what about Skype? Having to use it through the computer is not very “portable” and although there are solutions that allow you to use it through your cellphone like Fring, the sound quality degrades quite badly, and it is nice to have some VoIP that doesn’t eat up your bandwidth 😉 (I should try other options like Gizmo but I have been lazy)

Of course, that is Skype now. If Google buys Skype from eBay as speculated (I wonder if Nokia in its acquisition spree will jump in there too), pairing it with GrandCentral (and maybe even android) may result in a solution that will be far superior to all the other ones I have mentioned.

I am definitely looking forward to see what happens, for now I will keep my Vonage account for some more time until I feel that one of the alternative solutions is reliable enough (or Vonage launches a plan that suits my need… sadly after all the problems they have had with Verizon I really doubt it)

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Two different Android kernel trees?

November 21, 2007

Is Google hiding the Android kernel source?

Ok, that was a bit extreme… but definitely Google/OHA is not making it easy to reach the android kernel source code. You can of course google it, and find git.android.com and find a git repository of what we can call version A of Android source, but other than the announcement in the ARM Linux Kernel Mailing List (about which I commented in a previous post) there is really no way to get to it from anywhere else (in particular from the Android website or the OHA one).

However if you go through the “fine print” in the Android website (that is, go to Download the SDK, and then go to the bottom of the page and click through the not so flashy link Android project page ) and that will take you to what I would call version B. I am giving different names because they are definitely not the same thing.

Version A last update seem to have been on November 8 (13 days of no activity by the time of this post), and version B is a static tar.gz file dated November 11 (I don’t even know if that file is being updated).

There are of course more differences than the latest modification, for instance version A clearly is focused on mach_msm (for the Qualcomm chipset I mentioned in my previous post) and has as the proposed board definition the “halibut”, it is noticeable that most of the code contributions in this one are found in the architecture section of the code (arch/arm/mach-msm).

In Contrast version B is targetted to mach_goldfish and uses the board definition for “goldfish”, in this one the specific code is equally split between the architecture section and the drivers section (this one clearly named drivers/android).

Halibut and Goldfish are two of the at least four boards that Google registered at the ARM Linux Machine Registry (being the other two Sardine and Trout), it is funny that instead of having a single repository including the two, they have this two separate versions… there is something fishy here, and I am not talking about the board names.

Probably there is much more that can be inferred about potential specifications by looking at both sources, but I will leave that for another day.

Maybe I am just being paranoid about the android here and there is some reason to all this, but I am failing to see it.

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Google Maps with GPS in the N95

November 14, 2007

… and any other phone with GPS for that matter.

For all the users of mobile phones with a GPS receiver that still have an old version of google maps, go now and update it. I just noticed that the new version (and maybe even a few older ones) now are smart enough to use the GPS on the phone to get your position.

Now it is not only the Helio that can do that… and I am pretty happy now because there is no way I will get lost ever again as long as I have my phone with me.

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Android SDK released

November 13, 2007

Yeah… another android post. Probably not many more news after this one though.

Anyway, the SDK was finally released, and it turns out that it is just a bunch of Java classes (yeah… I am a bit disappointed).

I agree it has many innovative and cool features, all applications are first class (so you can override any aspect of your phone), and the API seems to be nice, particularly the UI part (I haven’t gone very deep but I like what I saw) and the potential ease of use in general… but still it is no more than a bunch of optimized classes for a modified Java VM!

What if you don’t like / don’t know Java? What if your applications are currently in C/C++, Python, Perl, name_your_favorite? I wonder if this is more about Google’s powerful name than anything else. Furthermore what happens to write once run anywhere if you use a non-standard non-JCP JVM? I don’t think this is necessarily good for Java (actually it may be quite bad), and all the Symbian, Windows Mobile and Mac OSX phones are not just going to disappear (and more unlikely to support Dalvik)

We have Qtopia, we have Maemo, is really this Java VM thing a reason good enough to justify yet another Linux for phones? I have to admit that I am also disappointed because I was hoping to see virtualization being used in some other context.

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Android’s source… HTC Dream?

November 10, 2007

So the Android team at Google released the source code of the work they are doing on Linux with support of Qualcomm for the MSM7200A SURF Development board (MACH_HALIBUT). (Full announcement here)

Probably this means that the first Android enabled “gPhones” will be supporting the Qualcomm Mobile Solution Modems 7200 Chipset. So at least we know that much of the potential specifications of the future phones.

It is well known that HTC is working in the so called “Dream” phone, whose specifications have not yet been revealed, but it has been speculated that it may be the HTC Omni.

Since both are using the MSM 7200, I am tempted to say that it may be the case, and if not at least the suspicions are well funded.


				
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Nokia, Symbian… about Android

November 8, 2007

I was just saying two days ago that Nokia was notably absent from the Open Handset Alliance, and just yesterday Nokia stated that they didn’t consider it a threat. Today they have a different position on it, stating that they “never closed any doors” and they even welcomed them. However it looks like Symbian is singing a different tune. They even compared Android and other Mobile Linux to the common cold: “It’s a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business.” said John Forsyth, VP of Strategy at Symbian.

I still think it makes no sense for Nokia to just ditch Maemo and join OHA, but they are keeping the door open, maybe just as a fail safe. Anyway, I like Maemo, and it’s good that we will have plenty of choices when picking the OS for our mobile phone.

However I don’t think Symbian should take it so lightly, I bet a lot of devs would be happier coding for Linux than Symbian, and offering some advantages over it as well, so it may not be such a small threat.

Let’s wait and see what happens…

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GMail IMAP… time to export!

November 7, 2007

It has been a few days since I got my GMail IMAP enabled. This is just fantastic, after so many years of archiving my mail in .pst files (yeah… I used Outlook for years), I can now export all those old mails from those POP accounts that I don’t use anymore or maybe are not even valid now. I have finished exporting everything from 2004 to the present and I have finally gone over the 1 Gig barrier and my personal record of 10K messages. I still have to export everything from 1998 to 2004, but that’s a good start.

It may seem silly, but sometimes those old mail messages are actually useful. And the ability to just read them anywhere be it Windows, Linux, my PDA, cellphone, or just on the web, is so great.