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My new G1 Android based phone - Journal of Omnifarious

Oct. 27th, 2008

09:45 am - My new G1 Android based phone

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My HTC "G1" Android based phone is a nice gadget. I've discovered in doing some searching for a nice LJ client for it that other people have expressed my worries, complaints and hopes about the gadget already and so I can best say what I want to say right now by pointing at what others have said.

Overall I'm pleased with it. It's better put together than the Treo I lost a couple of years ago and it has a much brighter potential for more useful software. The battery life issue is a problem, but for me it's not a huge deal, and I think there are some ways that can be fixed with better software.

But I think I may also get a FreeRunner in a couple of months and compare. I think the FreeRunner is more in the Open Source spirit than the G1 is, and this makes me sad. I was so hoping that maybe Google actually got it. :-(

Current Location: 2237 NW 62nd ST, 98107
Current Mood: [mood icon] hopeful

Comments:

From:hattifattener
Date:October 28th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)
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I got a FreeRunner a few months ago when they came out. It's definitely Not There Yet as a cell/pda thing, but I definitely like the direction they're going with it, and they're really taking a pretty strong open-source stance with it. (Down to things like releasing CAD files for the case, so you could make your own plastics if you were so inclined.)
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From:omnifarious
Date:October 28th, 2008 05:22 am (UTC)
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I talked with a Googler friend of mine. Apparently T-Mobile wouldn't allow an unsigned OS on the phone. :-( :-(

Everybody I've talked to has gone wide-eyed when they saw the GPS thing, then immediately told me it was scary because they couldn't be sure who would have access to that information. I assured them it was Open Source, but now I feel bad for having done so. :-(

So, yes, I'm definitely going to have to check out the FreeRunner.



Edited at 2008-10-28 05:22 am (UTC)
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From:pphaneuf
Date:October 29th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
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They're not exactly the first phone with GPS-type electronics, and I've never seen even the beginning of the source code for most of those phones... Not that the G1 is "okay" either!
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From:omnifarious
Date:October 29th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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I know, but it clearly makes a lot of people very nervous. The source truly being open would go a long way towards easing my fears about exactly what could be done with it.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 29th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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People are nervous about the "GPS thing" in the G1 specifically? But they don't worry about their Nokias, iPhones, or whatnot, which pretty much all have it? And if I'm not mistaken, in the US, didn't the government make it required that it be possible for a law enforcement agency to get the location of a cell phone remotely (with a warrant, I'd hope, but still)? In which case it pretty much doesn't matter, things I don't very much agree with are just going to happen, open source or not (I'm guessing that dyking out that functionality from any phone might be illegal)...

Ah, the life in the "land of the free"... ;-)
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From:omnifarious
Date:October 29th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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Yes, mostly because it makes itself obvious by virtue of showing you maps (the "as long as I'm outside I'll never be lost again!" feature is one of my favorites) and other things. In the other phones I think it's more hidden.

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From:pphaneuf
Date:October 31st, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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If I'm going to have a GPS that spies on me in my phone, it better bloody tell me where I am, too! I can imagine people at the NSA, looking at their screens and laughing: "Ha, pphaneuf is lost again, poor bastard!"

The type of people who are nervous about that, they simply do not have a mobile phone in the US, right?
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From:omnifarious' OpenID account [omnifarious.org]
Date:October 31st, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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No, because most people in the US (or anywhere else for that matter) are not technically aware enough to realize that they can be tracked so easily. But a GPS with a map slaps them in the face with the possibility.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 31st, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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Maybe it's a good thing then, to make people realize what's happening to them. The next time someone brings up those fears of being tracked by GPS-touting smart phone, point out that their current phone already tracks them, they just don't have the map!
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From:pphaneuf
Date:October 31st, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)

Re: GPS units in phones

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Maybe it's a good thing then, to make people realize what's happening to them. The next time someone brings up those fears of being tracked by GPS-touting smart phone, point out that their current phone already tracks them, they just don't have the map!
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 29th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
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Google are just another company out for a profit. They help FOSS when it serves their profit-making needs. A HP employee said basically the same thing at DebConf about HP's involvement in and support of Debian.
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From:pphaneuf
Date:October 29th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
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That post from robilab is a bit dated, no? Nowadays, it's more reasonable, it would seem.

Also, I think there's (understandably) a bit more association of the "HTC G1" and "Google Android" than there really is, IMHO. Android is all open source, mostly under non-copyleft licenses, and HTC is a user. As such, it looks like they are quite free to modify it to their hearts content before putting it on their phone, including putting all sorts of restrictions (and we all know how much telcos like putting restrictions!) on their users. Although, to confuse the issue a bit, Google seems to have some kind of agreement (having their name on it, for example?), maybe they asked for a few things in return like being able to install applications (which T-Mobile could have blocked, since it's all open source!)...

This is also known as Tivoization, and HTC and T-Mobile are the ones doing it, not Google. I'm not sure what they could have done about this. They could have made it GPLv3, and ensured reliably that no phone would have ever used it (well, other than maybe the FreeRunner, say), which isn't very productive...

I'm not too thrilled with the G1 hardware itself, no matter what software is on it. The FreeRunner doesn't look all that much better, but if you got one, you could probably port the Android software to it, and be free to re-flash what you need, as you need, which is that much better, as well as probably having more documentation about the hardware itself.

(of course, talking just for myself, I don't really know any details about those deals and what's going on with Android much better than you do)
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