Category Archives: Web/Tech

Android on your next phone

In 42: Htc Desire, Android Mobile Phone review I wrote about how I love my Android phone. Remember Android is the operating system for phone (well any mobile device really), rather like Windows or Linux are operating systems for PC's (only Android is free and open so more like Linux than Windows).

Below is the keynote speech on Android at the recent Google IO conference. It is 45 minutes long but should be interesting to anyone who has any interest in smartphones. Lots of nice detail on where Android is now (60 devices, 49 countries, 100,000 phone activations a day [more than iPhone], more data traffic than any other phone operating system, 50,000 applications in the marketplace, …). Also on what is now available in the latest release of Android (Froyo or version 2.2).

Note that for Android phones it is worth checking what version of Android your phone includes (mine is 2.1 but I should be able to upgrade to 2.2 within a few months). Some phones are cheap but are running very old versions of Android and so many new features will be unavailable on them (worth asking about Android upgrade policies too). Note of course that the features already on the phone will still work so if it has all you need and you like the price then upgrades won't be a concern.

Anyway here is the keynote:

I love some of those new things. The WiFi hotspot will save me £5 a month. The music sync support is going to allow me to replace my iPod (or at least allow me to use one device for work music and one for pleasure). Many of the other upgrades are cool even if just great fun to experiment.

All this with the open platform that is why I chose Android in the first place.

Htc Desire, Android Mobile Phone review

I have now had my Htc Desire mobile phone for over a month now. So here are some thoughts.

6a00d8345296c369e201347ff67025970c-800wi First, I am delighted. By far the best phone I have ever had. I use it far more than any other phone ever before and it has fulfilled my hopes by allowing me to go out for work without my laptop computer most of the time.

Many colleagues use iPhones, however, I have chosen the Htc Desire running Android instead of an iPhone for 4 main reasons (and critically the reasons do not include any hatred towards Apple).

  1. I want the freedom that an open source operating system gives on my phone just as I do on all my computers. I prefer running Android on a phone compared to using an iPhone where the operating system is tightly controlled by one company. I want the freedom to install applications that have not been approved by the phone company (ie for an iPhone by Apple). I want the freedom to be able to write my own phone applications (unlikely though it is that I will find time) and give them away to anyone I wish. I like the fact I will be able to upgrade to new versions of Android. Either waiting for Htc to issue an update so I keep their Htc Sense widgets or by downloading (legally) a version from elsewhere. Currently it looks like I will be able to upgrade to the latest Android (2.2) before the end of the Summer.
  2. I want the freedom to be able to buy my connection to the phone network from any supplier. I don't want to be locked into only certain companies and contracts. I bought my Htc Desire online, when it arrived I just put my existing SIM on and it worked without any hacking or breaking licence agreements. So currently I am with 3, when the contract runs out I may change to another supplier and I value that freedom.
  3. I do not want to pay as much for my mobile phone as I would have to for an iPhone. I pay the full cost personally and am currently paying more than £10 a month less than I would for an iPhone with less minutes included. When I next change contracts I expect to save another £10 a month which will make my contract less than 1/2 the price of an iPhone yet lots more minutes and texts. While I chose to buy the handset I will still save money within less than 2 years.
  4. I use Google Mail and Calendar all the time and so the excellent support for these on Android is very attractive.

Given these reasons I am not able or interested in directly comparing my Htc Desire to an iPhone. I don't know if the iPhone has all the things I like about my Htc Desire as I was not going to buy an iPhone. If you want a comparison between the two look elsewhere. Here though are my thoughts on the Htc Desire.

Things I love:

  • The web browser is excellent. Works well with every web page I have tried. It is easy to do data entry, watch Youtube etc etc.
  • Google Maps is great. You get your location, map view, satellite view, street view, directions. Great quality and surprisingly fast.
  • The contacts is wonderful. You get an integrated list of phone contacts, google contacts, flickr and facebook contacts.
  • Text messages is great. I love seeing the list of messages between me and someone else as well as a normal inbox etc.
  • Connectivity is great. I like the way it works with WiFi and the different speeds of internet access over 3G. Also the control over when to use data roaming. I have got much better data access than I expected, far better than my old Nokia phone.
  • FriendStream is great as it combines twitter and facebook into one list, much easier and quicker to use on here so I use my computer much less for twitter.
  • BBC News widget: easiest way yet to stay up-to-date with the news. Only pity is that the BBC seem to push the same story out multiple times.
  • The screen: absolutely wonderful.
  • Typing: pretty good. Much better than the Samsung touch screen Jane has. I am pretty accurate and the predictive feature catches most typos.
  • Scrolling and zooming. Super easy, accurate and fast.
  • The marketplace. Found a number of very useful applications, have only paid for one so far (3.99 Euros) as the free ones have met all my needs.
  • The super ease of sharing photos in lots of ways. Would be nice to be able to share a set of photos rather than one at a time.
  • It also makes phone calls and does so very well :-) Possibly a slightly larger speaker area (I find I do need to hold it in the right place by my ear) would be good. I love the simple way of adding the number from an incoming call to an existing or new contact.


  • Battery life. Yes you do need to charge it every night.
  • Calendar. Most of the views give the date (eg 1/6/100) but they don't display the day as well eg "Tue 1/6/10"
  • Google Mail. It would be nice to be able to delete some or all the message you are replying to rather than include it all at the bottom of every reply.


Fantastic, highly recommended.

IP Alliance says that encouraging free/open source makes you an enemy of the USA

It is almost unbelievable and yet true.

The US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance has asked the US Trade Rep to add Indonesia to its list of rogue nations that don't respect copyright. What did Indonesia do to warrant inclusion on this "301 list"? Its government had the temerity to advise its ministries to give preference to free/open source software because it will cost less and reduce the use of pirated proprietary software in government. According to the IPA, this movement to reduce copyright infringement is actually bad for copyright, because "it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions."


Version 3 of Methodist Social Media Guidelines open for editing

Ok everyone, last chance to improve the Methodist Social Media Guidelines.

Time to put up or shut up :-)

I have again updated the unofficial version for you to edit. As before I will give anyone who asks permission to edit this document (if you have already asked then you still have permission to continue) and Toby Scott will get all the changes passed onto him. The read-only official version is also available if you prefer.

This has not been a very long process, that was inevitable given that the next Methodist Council is the weekend after Easter. However, this has been something of a first in terms of openness and transparency in forming Methodist policy. I have been pleased to see how the suggestions made in the unofficial version have been adopted into the official version.

While these guidelines are not going to be perfect or all that the various online communities would like to see, I believe they are a great deal better than what was originally presented and move us in a helpful direction.

For earlier discussion see 42.Version 2 of Methodist Social Media Guidelines open for editing

Changing the World

If there is one thing I am passionate about it is this: 

The world needs to be changed. 

I hope that comes through clearly in the things I write here. I also hope that it is clear that my motivation for this passion is just as clear. 

I believe the world needs to be changed because I follow Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

However, I also believe that many other people who do not have the same motivation also want to see the world changed and have many of the same goals as me. So

I will gladly work with people who have similar goals but do not share my faith in Jesus.

The changes that I want to see include:

  • Utter destruction of Poverty everywhere
  • Justice for all people
  • Peace throughout the world
  • All people to be valued, welcomed and included
  • Protection of the planet and its resources for future generations
  • Building of communities around these goals.

For me as a Christian these changes form part of what I understand as the need to be part of the building of the Kingdom of God and also preparing for the return of Jesus. However, I believe that many others would see these changes as desirable, certainly as worthwhile and maybe even as essential.

Does my life show commitment to changing the world?

I have been reflecting on how my commitment to these changes becomes real. In other words what aspects of my life make concrete contributions to these changes. Alternatively "what do I do?" and "what am I?" so that people can see and experience my commitment to these goals.

As I look at the very public side of myself in the contents of this blog I hope that my commitment can be seen in four main areas

  • My lifestyle as a disciple of Jesus
  • My work within the Methodist Church (and wider Christian Community) to encourage change and growth
  • My support for and contributions to Free Software
  • My commitment to cycling as transport

In some ways these may appear a mixed bag of general and specific, they may also leave you wondering if they are connected and even how they might support the changes I am committed to.

So I want to explore each of these four areas in a series of posts before then considering more generally how we can change/should the world. While I hope all my thinking is theological I also hope that it is still relevant to those interested in changing the world who do not share my faith perspective.

One of the reasons for this series was a post by a friend (Dave Faulkner) Seth Godin: Without Them « Big Circumstance and the comments that followed. In them I mentioned that I try to bring change in the way Seth Godin suggests and that I refer to it as "being easier to get forgiveness than permission". Dave asked me to expand on what I meant and in particular on the importance of motivation and process in doing this.

However, that is not the only reason. Through reflecting on these issues I also hope to find it helpful for me as a review of where I am and how well my life actually fits with what I believe is important. Therefore this is not fully planned and worked out so diversions and changes should be expected on this journey. Hopefully that taking stock will be of interest and perhaps help to others too.

Please feel free to challenge woolly thinking as we go and for that matter encourage anything good as well :-) Helping me be honest and thorough is good for me and should make this more generally useful as well.

My next phone?

Well it might well not happen but it seems like the new Nexus One Phone
Web meets phone
 from Google would suit me really well as my next phone.

It would be especially great if I could use it on the 3 network that I am currently with. For me having high quality google calendar, gmail and integrated contacts for phone and email would be amazingly useful.

Looks like the best way of avoiding an iPhone (don't like the double monthly cost of the iPhone with less minutes and messages than I get now).

Results from installing Google ChromeUbuntu Chromium browser (Google Chrome for Linux on Ubuntu

It was only 6 days ago that I wrote 42: Install Ubuntu Chromium browser (Google Chrome for Linux) about how easy it was to install a pre-beta version of Google Chrome (the Web Browser from Google) on Ubuntu (both 9.10 and 8.04).

Well I have upgraded to the beta version. Installation is even easier (download, open, click install). get it from Google Chrome – Download a new browser.

The performance is wonderful, extensions are now appearing (eg I have installed xmarks so my bookmarks are in sync across all machines and browsers). I have stopped using Firefox entirely after many years of use.

So far totally stable and very quick (some of the benchmarks I tried were over 10x the speed of Firefox 3.1 for javascript, others did not even complete on Firefox [it reported that the script had stalled]).

I have not compared it to Windows Explorer as I have stopped booting into Windows now that I have Datasoul (Free Open Source Church Presentation Software) to use for worship services.

I'll finish with a summary of software recommendations just as a reminder if you are also thinking about leaving windows now that Google Chrome is available for other Operating Systems. For the main applications used by Churches & Ministers my recommendations would be:

Operating System: Ubuntu 9.10 (I use Ubuntu on netbooks, old laptops, new laptops, and a Sun Server with 5 thin clients). Very easy to install, very easy to use, looks great, extremely stable, fast, free and with huge amounts of easy to install software.

Office Software: OpenOffice (over 100,000,000 downloads of version 3 in just over a year!!!). I come across MS Office on other machines all the time and keep coming away wondering why anyone is using it. The huge changes in user interface that require learning each release so put me off! This is a no brainer way to save a lot of money (and yes Ubuntu installs it for you) while gaining something that works so well.

Web Browser: Now got to be Google Chrome for speed, looks and speed. Only negative at the moment is support for pdf's (at least on Linux, have not tried Windows).

Worship Presentations: Datasoul Not just because it works so well on Linux and is free but because it is so fast to prepare worship and is getting better all the time and the price plus freedom is just what is needed for Churches.

Install Ubuntu Chromium browser (Google Chrome for Linux)

Oh yes! Excellent!

I have been wanting the Google Chrome browser on Linux for ages. If you don't know anything about it then there is the Google Chrome Comic to explain everything.

Anyway this is how to install it on Ubuntu (I have installed on 2 machines so far using Ubuntu 9.10 and 8.04):

[Update 2]: Chromium is now in beta see Chromium Blog: Google Chrome for Linux goes beta! for installation! The stuff below is out of date!

[Update: See comment 1 from Dan for an even better way]

Install Ubuntu Chromium browser (Google Chrome for Linux) – Linux * Screw.

Just to point out to anyone not using Linux how easy this is:

  1. Add 2 lines to /etc/apt/sources.list eg use:
      sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
    The 2 lines are:
      deb jaunty main
      deb-src jaunty main

    (Obviously change jaunty to your version of Ubuntu)
  2. Then update and install using:
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

Obviously you could do all that with the gui in the Ubuntu package manager but it just takes longer to describe and you can't copy and paste gui instructions.

If you don't like chromium then you can always remove it completely using the Ubuntu package manager.

Compuserve shuts down

Compuserve shuts down – Boing Boing.

Sad news. I was very active on Compuserve back in the mid 80′s through to mid 90′s.

The forums such as DACCESS (Data Access, developers of DataFlex) were the best support mechanism of the time and a real community.

We also used it as a way of getting email in the Bible Societies in remote parts of the former Soviet Union eg the Asian Republics. I had over a dozen accounts in my name at one time, used to get emails from people interested in family trees who were amazed that there were so many Dave Warnock’s in the world.

There were a lot of 3rd party software applications to help minimise online time. eg they would connect, get a list of new messages and then allow you to tag the ones you were interested in offline before re-connecting to grab the actual messages.

In the early days we were using big chunky 2400 baud modems (240 characters per second). At times you could read as fast as the text came in (no error correction or compression built-in).

It took a long time for access to the internet to match Compuserve and the www seemed very poor for interactive support.