Archive for July, 2012

Android is Linux…

29 July 2012

Most of the time I adapt to new technologies in a very early stage, but not for tablets. I really dislike greasy fingers on screens and when keyboards are sold as a ‘must have’ extra, something is wrong with the design. That was until I realized that a tablet — in its smallest form — could be the ultimate pocket computer device.

I really like things digital. Looking up information, keeping works for reference and making small notes or calculations. A few years ago I bought the Acer Aspire One netbook with Linux and 8Gb SSD. It really is a marvel doing things remote, but there is no way taking a netbook with you without a small rucksack. Tablet users do, probably only iPadders to expose themselves as happy-upper-avangard fruit lovers. I’d like to keep my hands free…

This summer Samsung introduced the Galaxy S 4.2 WiFi. In fact it is a smartphone without the phone. After playing with the thing and weighing alternatives I bought the box.

Galaxy S 4.2 WiFi

For me the Galaxy 4.2 is the ultimate pocket size computer. It is small but the screen is large enough to use it well. Making notes, reading things and even booking a flight with a free wifi access point goes very well. With an extra 16Gb mini SD I’m able to take my reference books and funnies with me.

Apps, apps…

Apps are everywhere. In fact there are so many that it is hard to make out which one suits best. I managed to find some very useful and well coded software: K-9 Mail, Jota Text Editor, Explorer for file management, MapDroyd and SkEye Planetarium. Only finding a good spreadsheed keeps me busy.

MapDroyd and SkEye are real marvels. MapDroyd has downloadable maps in a compressed OpenStreetMap format. Activating the GPS shows your actual location quite well. All without the need for a wifi connection as opposed to Andriod/Google Maps. SkEye shows the names of stars and constellations while holding your box against the sky. When turned the heavens on the screen turn in pace, so side by side you can explore the stars. Great Fun!

It is remarkable how all these small programs have such functionality. The essential pieces of software are just a few megabyte, the complete map of the Netherlands takes just 263Mb on my 5Gb SD card.

Android also has its downsides. It comes with a bundle of pre installed software that is not removable for the average user. IMO this is a waste of disk space and freedom. I’m used to the freedom of choice with my Linux Fedora box at home, what I don’t need goes in the bin. Now my Galaxy is bloated with Email, Gmail, Maps, ChatON, Google+, QuickOffice and a football game i’ll never use. If this software is really free, why did Google lock it? If Samsung gives me the football and racing game for free, why didn’t they put it in a Galaxy-user-only repository so I have my own choice?

The second thing is that the Android market is cluttered with limited-use and advertized apps. Really, a spreadsheet with only 10 rows is of no use. Apparently a lot of people want to make a buck. Where is the fun of coding as it is in all the repos with the desktop Linux distributions? Off course people have to earn a living and when coding is your thing why not selling your software. My sole discovery is that really free and opensource software is a missing dimension in the Android world. Opposed to the vast Linux repos and Linux base of Android this is a strange thing to me. I really wonder how other tablet users get their productivity software — or are these things only Just for Fun?

After all I’m very pleased with my Galaxy pocket computer. Finally I can take my digital stuff that does not fit in my brain with me. But the Android world IMO has too much of a Windows behaviour powered by a Linux kernel…