Monthly Archives: November 2008

The gPhone or Android is Intriguing

I had the opportunity to handle two Google Android first generation mobile phones today, the T-Mobile G1, and while the shape (form factor) is a bit odd, I did enjoy playing with the user interface much more than any of the iPhones I have tried.
Gasp! Shock! Blasphemy!
Every time I use a friend’s iPhone, I am left nonplussed and usually find it to be a bit frustrating of an experience. Yes, yes, yes, I know, I am weird. As with any interface, even learning to use the iPhone takes time. And the truth of the matter is that I am not intrigued enough by the iPhone to want to learn.
The iPhone, as I have detailed out before, has a crappy camera, no video capture, no MMS, and Apple has made it to be a closed sandbox.
For all the claims of the radical innovation and intuitive user interface, I will agree that bringing the metaphor of the web and Apple UI to a mobile device is new and can be delightful to use, but it is not for everyone. I am not the only person I know who has fondled and played with the iPhone and then went and bought another device.
Today I had the opportunity to talk with some folks who perused all the major smart phone options and decided to get the Google / T-Mobile G1 Android phone over the iPhone. After listening to them describe what they wanted and then saw how both of them had hacked/altered the home screen to fit their needs, as well as get a tour of the G1 mobile, I was intrigued.
Yes, the G1 has a crappy camera; yes, there is no video capture; but the UI and the physical handset made more sense to me than any time I have used an iPhone. I did not have to have steps explained to me as I was using it, my hands and mind figured it out. Everytime I use an iPhone, I get stuck and have to ask the owner what to do next – usually this is a question of what to do with the physical handset as I find it too abstracted.
The web browsing experience is good. As good or even better than the iPhone. I ran through a couple of websites that most mobile browsers choke on due to javascript & AJAX and the G1 rendered all the scripts and CSS correctly. Bravo!
What is most exciting to me about the G1 Android phone is that it is open source and one can use python to program it. I like Python. I like mobile python for S60 and will be interested in exploring the Android development platform.
The other two things I liked about the G1 was that it is smaller than the iPhone and I can hold it in one hand without fear of dropping it and it has a physical qwerty keyboard which was easy to use, even easier than the Nokia E71 keyboard.
So, Google, here are my challenges to you:
1) I love open source, but I love unlocked mobiles even better. I am willing to pay the extra for an unlocked phone.
2) Come on, Google, give Nokia, Casio & Sony a run for their money and put a real camera on the G1: at least 5 megapixels or better, with a flash, a quality image sensor chip, and then back it up with the computing power to process the algorithms for great digital camera work.
3) Video capture.
Looking forward to the next iteration of the Google Android phone.

Advent

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.
If you are like me, Advent has little meaning other than a fun little calendar in your childhood of the days in December that you opened a colorful little paper door and there was chocolate or surprise in side. I grew up vaguely Presbyterian. Vaguely.
As a young adult, I found myself at charismatic churches were ritual is of little to no import. Since the 2004 election, I have been allergic to going to church, unless it is an ancient church in the UK or Europe with ritual. Oh, St. Bartholomew’s, how I love you.
I still know very little of Advent, about as little as I know of Lent. The seasons of the liturgical calendar are a mystery to me, a mystery that I am somewhat intrigued by until my interior protestant gets in a big fight with my interior anti-authoritarian rebel. Not pretty, I assure you.
If you, like me, are Advent-curious but a little afraid to step out and experience it in an out way, then Ken Collins’ Advent Wreath tutorial may be for you.
I have looked at pine wreaths for days at the market trying to determine if I will make the leap away from Calvin and the like and try out a Sunday advent practice starting tomorrow, but I have been unable to commit. I have 2 purple candles and a bunch of beeswax candles, but it seems a bit too heathen for me.
Silly me.
How do you celebrate Advent?

The Imprinted Brain Theory

Compliments of the nice folk over at 3 Quarks Daily, late last week I read this article on The Imprinted Brain Theory by Christopher Badcock who writes on the genetic, gender, and environmental causes of mental disorders / diseases such as autism and schizophrenia, or how it may not be nature vs. nuture but nature + nuture.
Badcock breaks down not only genetics and brain development, but also how environmental factors such as good maternal nutrition can contribute to more cases of autism and famine can contribute to more cases of schizophrenia. Also, there is implications in less extreme cases of non-mental disorders such as tendencies to a scientific / rational persuasion versus folks who tend towards intuition, the arts, and faith.
I have been interested in the recent research of the last few years that is showing that one’s belief in religion or lack thereof may be influenced by the processing of one’s brain. If Badcock’s research and theory are found to be correct, then may the decline of religion in developed countries may be a result of increased maternal nutrition and pre-natal care? Before you get all up in your biscuits defending rational secularism or religion, read the article and think about the implications.

Oh Dear Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel and the Gateway to India
Photo of the Taj Hotel and the Gateway to India taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N82 on 02.19.08 from the Mumbai Harbor.

Thurs 11.27.08 – For 2.5 days in February 2008, I stayed in the Colaba district of Mumbai at the end of the Urbanista Diaries adventure in India. I stayed a little less that 2 blocks from the famed Taj Hotel. I ate a small supper the second night at the upstairs bar at Cafe Leopold. I enjoyed wandering around on foot the southern part of Mumbai.
Most of all, what I did experience of Mumbai made me love it the way I love Los Angeles and London. A big sprawling vibrant world class city. The kind of city, like LA or London, that you either love or hate. After being in Mumbai for 15 minutes, I was deep down happy. It was love on first sight.
Yesterday, my heart went out to Mumbai as the news of the terrorist attacks on the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi, Cafe Leopold, the Jewish Center, and the CS Railway Terminus.
I first heard of the attacks on Twitter when an Indian friend wrote a cryptic anguished tweet, I went to the BBC and saw no news, 10 minutes later there was. The news and crisis has continued to unfold over the course of the last 36 hours, getting worse. And made worse by having been at 3 of the 5 places that have been attacked. And worse for loving the city.
Oh, Mumbai, I am dreadfully sorry. Words are failing me to express the upset.