Disclaimer: rough language ahead.

So we bought an Acer Iconia A200. Reasons are not important, and I was hesitating about an Android device. But features are good, I can't indefenetely deny that Android is the option to Apple. A clear case of choosing the least of all bads.

Today it came. I did the clasic deboxing photo shooting, and that was that. I opted out from all the options that were presented to me that meant telling google what I was doing or where, got the wifi working, upgraded to 4.0.3, and started testing.

First things first, play with the widgets. There's a 4 square panel one that uses the top 2 panels for showing the hour, the lower right one for the date (which is not a shortcut to the agenda... WTF?) and the lower left one has a small sun-and-clouds-and-sky image that suggested a weather applet. So I hit it and it tells me that because I opted out from using wifi spots as alternative ways to find the device on the surface of our unique world planet, I can't simply use the applet. I mean, there is no way to tell the applet, "hey, you know what? for no particular reason I want to know the weather in, let's say, Saint-Symphorien-du-Mahun, France". I can either enable the "network Location Service" (or something like that, I set the device in spanish) or not use it.

So I forget about it. Next step, install a real map application. For that, of course, I had to yield a Google account. I have one, or several, laying around, so I use one of those to let Google Play install things. That's already shitty. But then what does it do? It also uses that account for configuring the gmail client. Who the fuck told it to do it? I was expecting to set it up to my girlfiend's account. I hope I will be able to do it later. Do these people ever thought that a tablet could be used by more than one person?[1] Also, account sync got activated. I had to go to the settings and turn everything off. Still, the gmail app keeps being linked to that Google account.

At some point, too, a multimedia server went on. WTF from? Who set it up? Why is it enabled by default? Who decides these things? Ok, this is getting close to a rant. I see a tag comming. It also comes with an app that shows in the "task list" (there is no concept of app in Android) which is actually a "apps you last used up to certain value of «last»" or something like that; the app is called VirusScan. When I try to activate it, it gives me back to the home screen. Go figure.

So back to Google Play. I had already skiped the yielding of credit card info. Now it's time to opt out of being spammed about news and offers from Google Play. I think I see a pattern here, but at least some things are being asked, "can I, pretty pretty please?". Most of the time, my answer will be "No!", sometimes followed by "Go to your bedroom, no dinner or dessert!".

I select Maverick, which I remember from the time I had a Motorola Droid from work. I choose it because it can handle offline maps. This tablet has a GPS, but it does not have GPRS. The rights it asks for are a little permissive (for instance, taking photos and vodeos), but I hope it's just a matter of not using those features and that's it.

I fire it up. I choose OSM maps and it works just fine. The guide for the offline maps is nice, not fancy, but it doesn't have to be. It only needs an µSD, VFAT formatted, which I don't have (I lost a 8Gb recently with a lot of wine labels from wines that I liked. It's hard to live in a country where wines sold by features completely orthogonal to what you're used to). Makes me wonder why I bought a 32GiB device. I'll have to fix that soon.

For some reason I try the image viewer. Of course it went to the picassa account associated to that Google account. That was really a bad move. Even the calendar is tied to that account. I'll have to ckeck how to reset that shit. Probably I'll have to reset it to shipping state. Not that I did a lot in it. Also, I missed some privacy settings, like the backup in Google servers, which at least deactivating them erases that data from Google servers... or so they say >:-)

Android apart, the tablet is nice. Not very heavy, looks good, responsive, can act as USB master, has internal GPS as I already said, and whatever else. I will be actively looking for an app that lets me embed another two, so I can use it as a GPS and media center in the car, which is the primary goal that I had for my non-charging-from-USB-anymore N900 :(

So lasts test: The GPS didn't got a good signal in my balcony (My god it's cold outside. What's the teperature? I don't know[2], the weather applet does not work, the second one I put in the home screen reset itself to NYC [!??!] and I hadn't try the third I installed), but at least it found it fast. The first guess put me some 80 meters from my actual position, but it slowly got it right.

Now audio: let's see how well it plays MP3s, OGGs and FLACs. I connect it via USB and simultaneously I get two suprises: a) the tablet does not seem to charge via USB. Now, sincerely, WTF? I corroborate this by plugging it to a wall USB charger. Nothing. I should had suspected something when I saw at first that the wallwart has a cilindrical connector. And b) it announces via MTP device, not an USB mass storage as others do, with an option of PTP for the photos. Amarok can handle MTP devices, but then Amarok tries to bee too clever and handling a big-ish collection with lots of missing data and inconsistencies is a nightmare, so I skip it. mtpfs is somehow broken in Debian Sid, and I don't have the willpower to compile kio-mtp.

So that's it: I have a nice 11" tablet with a operating system I knew I hate, which in spite it has GPS can't charge via USB and is not even a USB mass storage, when it can act as a USB master. Probably the bottom line is: I should have investigated better the device before buying it. If only my N900 would charge via USB again[5]...

[1] Ok, yes, it hs support for several Google accounts, or at least Gmail ones.

[2] It's 15°, according to the weather applet in my notebook. How difficult would it be to install GNU/Linux on this beauty[3]?

[3] Just kidding[4].

[4] Actully, not so much. I mean, the device runs an Google/Linux system.

[5] For EUR 300 I probably could buy a not refurbished-but-sold-as-new one. But then, I'm not the only intended user for this device.

rants android google

Posted Sat 23 Mar 2013 11:47:50 PM CET Tags: google

I never wanted Gmail. I always had an email account to which I identify more strongly than any free service around, even when it means not having the hability of «ubiquitousness», but I never needed it anyways. I also already had a Jabber account to which I also identified a lot; both accounts where from two NGOs where I participated.

But then a lot of friends already had Gmail accounts when Gtalk came out. Before that we used mostly other IM networks to communicate, and now a new one came. Everybody was using it, and even when we knew that the backing protocol was XMMP/Jabber, initially Gtalk's servers were not open to other networks, which meant that the only way to communicate via Jabber with people with Gmail accounts was having one too. So I did.

Even then, I never used that Gmail/Gtalk account as an email account. At some point I started using it as a disposable account for registering to other services that I suspected or knew that could spammy, or that I didn't want them to be associated to my real email.

Then I went to Europe and that changed a few things. First, I started another blog in Blogspot for communicating with my family; I already had one, but before Google bought them. I also started using Picasa for showing my family and friends where I have been and what I had seen. This meant that I started mixing a disposable account with a not so much one, but at the time I didn't care.

Google was never shy on using the network effect. Google Plus was another of the products I was dragged into (just to see a friend's photos); I never correctly setup my personal account for using Google Groups, so I used the Gmail account instead; also Calendar and Docs. Currently my Google account also includes Profile (whatever that is), AdSense (yes, I tried to jump into that wandbagon too), Android Devices and Play, Chrome Sync (I should had disabled it at first use; I don't really use the browser), iGoogle (does anybody use that?), Tasks (I don't even remember setting those two up) and of course YouTube (which I used to access «adult-only» content).

Apart from all that, I don't always use Google search, I switch between Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo, or more specialized sites like the Wikipedia or the documentation sites for the languages and software I use. I can say that the only product I would miss if I couldn't use, and for which I don't need an account, is Maps. Most of the time I use it for calculating times from place A to place B, sometimes passing through place C. For maps I prefer OpenStreetMap. An interesting note about Maps: Google has been using GeoIP for «guessing» the language for searchs, completely ignoring the settings in my browser (hint: I live in a country whose official language is not English, which I prefer for technical stuff, or Spanish, which is my native tongue), but Maps always starts in USA (I definetely don't live there).

Yesterday morning I openend that Gmail account and got this beautiful surprise message:

«Oye, esto es importante: si alguna vez pierdes el acceso a tu cuenta, podemos enviarte los datos de restablecimiento de contraseña a [my personal email account]». Translated says: «Hey, this is important: if you ever loose the access to your account, we can send you the password recovering data to [my personal email account]».

This was too much: I never told google that the two accounts were related; in particular, this is not a message reminding me that they're using that account for password recovery. They're telling me for the first time that somehow they figured out that that's my other email account and that is that. I'm pretty sure is not hard to figure that out, but still I think is another step into my digital life.

Today I will start the process of make this account dissapear. Since a few months now I started using a Jabber account associated to my personal email account (the address is the same), and given that for some years already you can connect to Gmail/Gtalk users from other XMMP/Jabber servers, I've been slowly migrating users to the new jabber address. Today I sent a last batch of «indispensables» and I'll add the rest on a need-to basis.

Initially, the data export offers me 4 options: my Picasa photos, which I don't care about, as I already host my own galleries, my Profile data, my Stream data, whatever that is, and my circles and Contacts data. Good thing is once you actually are in Google Takeout, you can select which services you want to export, including Blogger, which is the one I'm most insterested in.

So after selecting Profile, Blogger and Contacts, I create and download the archive. What is interesting is that during this process I was asked my password several times. Probably is just extra security for those who have their accounts constantly logged in in their browsers.

The data I extracted was mostly complete, or at least at the levels I wanted: All the posts from the 3 blogs in Atom format (for a second I though it would only include those that normally are in the feed, like the last 10 or 15), the contacts in VCS format and a json on my profile, with not much else. All this contained in a zip file. Mike Hommey has an analisys of the data you get while exporting your Reader account, and how is not enough for him (and I would guess, a lot of people that used reader for more than just reading feeds).

It's incredible that after all this, it still took me 10 minutes of staring at «you're about to delete everything on Google» to finally hit the «yes, I do» button. The process was way less painful that I envised, but then Google is the company whose motto used to be «do no evil». Definetely, they're not Facebook.

For closing, a statistic that shows the mean lifespan of all the services closed by Google.


Posted Sat 23 Mar 2013 11:47:50 PM CET Tags: google