android review and recommendations

It is pretty difficult to find unbiased reviews of micro apps for some reason. Here are the parts of Android that I use regularly:

  • Cyanogen --not an app, but possibly the best thing you can do for your Android. I have noticed a nice speedup and have used a lot of the tools included with Cyanogen to debug things and poke around, just scratching the surface of what this makes possible.
  • A task killer. I have been using Advanced Task Killer only because it is the first search result. Before installing Cyanogen I was using something else, which worked equally well. One of these apps is essential, particularly with the limited CPU and RAM on ADP1/G1. Nearly all apps are not worth running backgrounded on this phone. I kill all tasks when things are slow. The mentioned app has a nice big "kill all" button.
  • Pandora -- even works pretty well on EDGE
  • Maps -- best mobile mapping experience I've seen thus far -- "Navigate" and Buzz are nice additions.
  • Power widget in Android 1.6+ -- quick access to power for the various radios, brightness, syncing.
  • Calendar Widget -- included "desktop" widget which lists upcomming events
  • Astrid todo lists with sync to web
  • RoboDefense -- tower defense game- incredible waste of time :)
  • Listen -- podcast receiver from google labs.
  • Google Talk -- clean enough to run in background on ADP1/G1.
  • Calendar -- included app with sync to web.
  • Included "music" app -- could use some polish, but it works.
  • Included music & search widgets
  • Bluetooth -- not an app, but the bluetooth audio support blows me away. I just get in my car, and press play in any music app. All audio goes through car speakers. I use this all the time.

Obvious missing item: mail client. I used K9 for a while, but have mostly given up. The ADP1/G1 is too slow for ~2000 item IMAP. Prove me wrong.

I have some other things that are handy somtimes, but not regularly. These include Amazon, Barcode Scanner, ConnectBot, OpenTable, Paypal- nice when you forget wallet :), Pixelpipe, Voice, Twitdroid.

I've been pretty satisfied with the ADP1 in the ~1 year I've had it. It has left me more impressed than everything I've owned prior including n97 and iPhone. I look forward to ending my ATT contract this summer at which point I'll probably buy the fastest iteration of Android phone that is available.


Posted Mon 15 Mar 2010 02:54:38 AM UTC
hollywood perception

Hollywood has ruined our perception not only socially but of interactions of physical objects:

Sometimes, too, we need what's best described as 'Hollywood physics'. When a crate falls from a height, if you accurately simulate that, you can look at the screen and think, 'well, that doesn't look right'. But then you start tweaking the numbers and changing gravity, making things accelerate faster – it's almost like this Hollywood expectation of motion simulation - and that actually looks correct. You have to remember games are an entertainment after all…"

The hidden story of the 3D engine

Posted Sat 19 Dec 2009 09:08:56 PM UTC
engine failures in commercial aircraft

This Everything2 post The most engine failures in one flight has some great quotables:

More than one airliner has been lost because engines literally fell off, and the pilots' report to ATC that they had "lost" said engines was interpreted merely as them failing, since the vernacular is, rather inconveniently, the same.

Also good:

...passengers going to the toilet caused an engine to fall off at least three Boeing 727s in flight, and caused an engine shutdown on two others. In all cases the blame was laid on> ice accumulating around a service panel on the fuselage near the drain outlet for the cabin lavatory. The ice broke away in-flight and was ingested by one of the engines, which on the 727 are all at the rear.

Incidentally, Everything2 is a bastion of knowledge- it was hacker's wikipedia long before there was wikipedia.

Posted Sat 19 Dec 2009 08:41:26 PM UTC
how to keep an ovrloaded db running

Here is my new trick to keep a website running when mysql is overloaded:

Assuming you can narrow down your problem to a bad query on the site and you have no sensible way to disable what is causing it [or if you don't know the source of the bad queries] you can kill queries by regex using something like this

MYSQL="mysql -u root --password=passwd"
BAD_QUERY_REGEX=".*select * from users limit 100000.*"

while `true`; do 
  for x in echo 'show processlist'|$MYSQL|grep $BAD_QUERY_REGEX|awk '{ print $1 }'; do
    echo kill $x | $MYSQL
  sleep 2

This will kill any query matching BAD_QUERY_REGEX every 2 seconds. This technique is valuable when some part of a site is killing the whole site because of bad queries. It's not immediately obvious that you can do this to save a site.


Posted Wed 28 Oct 2009 11:51:01 PM UTC
do we have x running y why not

Do we have X running Y? Why not? It is funny- often times I make design decisions based on some parameters to have them challenged later (a week, a month, several years) -- the problem is by this time I've forgotten the reasons why I made the calls and am apt to agree with someone proposing a reason to change them. "Why do we have X threads for Y and not Z" or something.

Many times I've ended up changing something when prompted, and even though I felt uncomfortable about making the change, I couldn't verbalize why.. couldn't think of any reason why they could be wrong. Later it blows up, and I remember why, and it's usually painfully obvious why I made the original call :) I think it is more compact for my brain to store something like "doing X is bad" rather than the actual reason why. Maybe it's a binary datatype in a brain-hash table :)

It is an annoying cognitive bug, but I suspect that carrying around reasons for doing everything will slow me down. Maybe not? I suppose that is one of the issues facing large companies in which everything has to be justified -- the more checks you have, the more reasons you have to remember to defend yourself, and the slower you move.


Posted Sat 29 Aug 2009 07:06:37 PM UTC
how to learn anything well

I've been hearing it over and over lately -- this formula for mastering things.

Researchers (Bloom (1985), Bryan & Harter (1899), Hayes (1989), Simmon & Chase (1973)) have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music composition, telegraph operation, painting, piano playing, swimming, tennis, and research in neuropsychology and topology. The key is deliberative practice: not just doing it again and again, but challenging yourself with a task that is just beyond your current ability, trying it, analyzing your performance while and after doing it, and correcting any mistakes. Then repeat. And repeat again. There appear to be no real shortcuts: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music. In another genre, the Beatles seemed to burst onto the scene with a string of #1 hits and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. But they had been playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg since 1957, and while they had mass appeal early on, their first great critical success, Sgt. Peppers, was released in 1967.

Via: Learn Emacs in Ten Years life

Posted Wed 15 Jul 2009 12:27:18 AM UTC
arduino heartbeat code

I recently got a mail from Chris McGuire asking about how I made the LED heartbeat effect.

For anyone interested, my code is here


Posted Mon 02 Mar 2009 09:49:49 PM UTC
2008 email sending statistics

Somehow I figured these numbers would be higher. I ran statistics back to 2004:

lolz% ./toys/mailstat ~/Mail/sent-mail
Mail sent by month: 2008
{1: 174,
 2: 293,
 3: 274,
 4: 322,
 5: 207,
 6: 238,
 7: 222,
 8: 274,
 9: 322,
 10: 473,
 11: 276,
 12: 193}
total: 3268
avg: 272

Avg for 2008: 272
Avg for 2007: 193
Avg for 2006: 187
Avg for 2005: 126
Avg for 2004: 159


Posted Sat 17 Jan 2009 11:37:25 PM UTC
startups and freedom

Paul Graham makes some intelligent calls on scale with regard to size and age and freedom of companies. The article is about allowing your team to ship code, but I found the part about startups being more free most interesting. I have noticed this pattern too. Since there are no established patterns and rules in young companies, they are free to do things now that will take much longer to pass in established companies. It is no wonder that art happens in the trenches.

For good programmers, one of the best things about working for a startup is that there are few checks on releases. In true startups, there are no external checks at all. If you have an idea for a new feature in the morning, you can write it and push it to the production servers before lunch. And when you can do that, you have more ideas.

From: The Other Half of "Artists Ship"

Posted Tue 02 Dec 2008 11:05:23 PM UTC Tags:
awesome wm

I have been very happy with the awesome window manager for several months since switching from Ion.

Here is a screenshot of my config:

awesome screenshot


Posted Tue 19 Aug 2008 09:02:39 AM UTC

Powered by ikiwiki