Archive for February, 2010

DictionarySearch now Supports Thunderbird

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I got several request to add support for Thunderbird to the DictionarySearch extension. So today I decided to finally do this. You can install version 3.6.2 with Thunderbird support from the DictionarySearch Homepage. It should show up on the mozilla addons site also as soon as it gets approved.

I’m always struggling on finding good documentation on how to do something in Firefox/Thunderbird extensions. In the end I usually end up downloading another extension and reading the source code to see how another extension author solved it. Like this time I downloaded the Image Zoom extension to see how you could have Thunderbird support

Does anybody know really good reference documentation on making these extensions?

Two things I’m looking for for ReloadEvery is to either add an icon to a tab or in the URL bar to show that ReloadEvery is enabled.

GNOME Amazon Search Plugins for Epiphany

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

In order to get referral fees for the GNOME foundation I made some search plugins for Firefox. Since Firefox is actually not the official GNOME browser I got some questions to also release search plugins for Epiphany. Epiphany does not support the OpenSearch plugins that Firefox supports but has smart books, that you can add. So if you add bookmarks with the following URLs and use these for searching your product at Amazon you’ll be giving referral fees to the GNOME foundation.

Here are the URLs:

  • Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-ca-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-uk-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-de-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.fr: http://www.amazon.fr/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-fr-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.jp: http://www.amazon.co.jp/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-jp-22&field-keywords=%s

You can also find the URLs in the GNOME Amazon Store

Maybe also a good idea to add these smart bookmarks by default to Epiphany, such that in distros these smart bookmarks are immediately used.

BTW things are going well these month with the referral fees. We are already close to 250$ and still a week to go. It certainly helped that somebody bought a $2000 camera.

Firefox users can use the link below. NOTE these links use javascript to install the searchplugin so the links don’t work if you click on them in an RSS reader. Just go directly to this post

SearchPlugin

Nexus One could be more Environment Friendly

Monday, February 15th, 2010

In order to reduce strain on the environment the European Union decided with the top 10 mobile phone manufactures to use a common charger (Press Release). Basically they decided to use a micro-USB for charging. Mobile phones only last 2-3 years on average however the chargers last much longer. By having a standard way of recharging you reuse your old charger.

However I have not seen mobile phone yet which doesn’t come with a charger. So actually we are still producing electronic waste which is not needed and we end up with loads of unused chargers.

When you buy the Nexus One it comes with a US charger and a USB cable. The charger has a fixed cable. If it would have a USB connector the charger one could have saved a cable. Further the charger could be more easily reused to charge devices with a mini USB connection.

When you buy a Nexus One from the UK Google automatically adds a UK charger for which pay an additional $19.95. So you even end up with two chargers in the end.

In my opinion Google should just ship a USB cable with the phone and make a charger optional. I’d prefer if Google in that case would offer an optional dual charger like depicted here on the left, because I would be able to use it charge two devices at once.

What’s your opinion should all devices that are charged by USB come without a charger by default?

Better experience for Mobile Readers

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

I just installed the WPTouch wordpress plugin on this blog. This means that if you read this blog on your mobile it’ll look something like this:

It’s optimized for touch and it loads significantly faster. Instead of downloading the plugin from the WPTouch website you can also simply install it from your wordpress admin interface by going to “Plugins” > “Add New” and search for WPTouch.

Android Market should stimulate Open Source Apps

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

As I mentioned a few days ago I bought a Nexus One and that the Android Market is something I like.

Android itself  built on Open Source software. Though many op the applications in the Android Market are free it is often not obvious if an application in Open Source or not. Sometimes a developer puts it in the description but it is difficult to find. Overall I think overall there are only few Open Source applications in the Market

Open Source Section

Since Android is built on Open Source I think Google should actually stimulate developers to make their applications Open Source. Open Source could have a specific section type like Paid and Free have now.

For Google this is also good because with open source multiple people can start contributing to apps such that they can improve faster. Furthermore people can start new projects by simply reusing open source code of other Open Source Android applications. All in all it will spur innovation and improve quality of applications and in the end that’s good for Google because the platform will become more popular.

Furthermore it fits in the Google policy that they stimulate Open Source.

Donations

Another nice addition would be that users can easily donate some money to authors of Open Source and Free applications. Mozilla added this possibility for their addons. I have donations setup for ReloadEvery and several times in a week I receive around $5 from people that want to show their gratitude. It’s not making me rich but it is a nice feeling that people actually find your software worth giving money for.

Or do you think it could work to have Open Source applications in the Paid section? Legally you can ask money for Open Source applications but I think probably pretty quick a clone would appear in the Free like in beer section of the Android Market.

Other Improvements for the Android Market

While I am at it here are some other ideas for improving the Android Market

  • Version Release Notes: Now when I get an update of an app I often don’t know what has changed because there are no version release notes. There is just a general description. Some authors write version release notes in there but most of them not. Also would be handy that the version number would be more visible on the page.
  • More than 2 screenshots: Currently there is a limitation that you can only add 2 screenshots for your application
  • Ability to add videos: Many people now like to watch videos to see how an application works
  • Better Web interface to the market: Sometimes it’s handier to sit behind your computer to find the app you need. Currently there is this website but it only lists a few applications. There is no search and the interface is a bit clunky.
  • Standard Android Apps also available market: Applications like Phone, Email, Messaging, Alarm Clock are part of the OS. It would be nice if they were available in the market. That way the OS and the apps could have different release cycles.

4 Weeks with the Nexus One

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

As I had a layover in the New York (when traveling from Chile to the Netherlands) on the 14th of January I decided to buy a Google Nexus One by having an American colleague buy one for  me a couple of days earlier. In the end I payed because of sales tax 560$ (390 euro). However I think it is not a bad price compared to the fact that the cheapest unlocked Motorola Milestone/Droid is 469 euro in the Netherlands. Compared  to an unlocked iPhone at 641 euro it’s even a better deal.

Sofar I’m very happy with my purchase though I have to say that typing on a touch screen is something you have to get used to  (I had a Nokia E71 and a BlackBerry 8800 with physical keyboards before this) and I probably will never gain the typing speed that I had with a physical keyboard.

12 Things I especially like about the Nexus One

  1. The screen. The AMOLED technology and a resolution of 800×480 shows a really vivid image
  2. The touch. The cover of the Nexus One has a cover with a bit of a rubbery feeling. So it nicely fits in the palm of your hand and it does not slip
  3. The looks. It looks much nicer in person than on photos on the web. In my opinion the iPhone looks kind of outdated next to the Nexus One
  4. Android Market. Many nice free apps are available and the best thing for paid apps is that if you uninstall it within 24 hours you get your money back. So you can just try out paid apps for a day without paying.
  5. Speed. The applications are very responsive. I guess a 1 GHz SnapDragon CPU helps here
  6. Integration. The phone is really well integrated with Google Services. E.g. when you searched for something on your PC on google maps those searches automatically will appear as a suggestion as soon as you type a few letters
  7. GMail. I’m a big fan of GMail. I love the archive and search concept instead of filing. On a mobile phone this concept is even handier. In normal email programs I need to decide what to do: delete or move it to a folder and moving to a folder usually requires several clicks.
  8. Accounts Sync.You can setup several accounts from which you can sync data. The Nexus One can sync data from your Google account, Facebook and Exchange out of the box. Nice thing is that things like contacts get all merged into the address book on the phone.
  9. Battery Time. This is actually much better than I expected. Like many others on the first day I used the device and just after applying the multi-touch update I had horrible battery life. The battery was sucked empty in a few hours. However that seems to be a problem that the software has to tune in. Now for instance I’ve been using the phone for 13 hours. I had only a few phone calls and checked email a few times but the the battery charge is still 78%. Even with more intensive days I can easily make a day. The Nokia E71 I had before I really needed to charge every evening otherwise the phone would drop dead on me.
  10. Grass Live Wallpaper. A bit lame I know but I like it anyway.  You see grass moving by the “wind” and depending on the hour of the day you see the sun rising, sunset, stars etc.
  11. It’s largely build on open source and uses open source development tools.
  12. Linus likes the Nexus One

6Things that can be improved on the Nexus One

Actually I think it’s a very nice device but there are a few items that can be improved.

  1. Exchange Sync. It only syncs your inbox. This is for me a showstopper because I always move emails in my “Archive” folder after I read one. It doesn’t sync your exchange agenda. (Contacts are synced). Ideally the Exchange agenda would appear in the normal agenda app alongside your Google calendar data. I’d think Google will add these features quickly because otherwise they’ll have a problem with corporate market (I’m now using TouchDown of Nitrodesk as an alternative. Though it has most things it is not really integrated that well with the Android OS and moving a message to a folder is taking 4 clicks :-( )
  2. Speaker Phone. The normal voice quality is really good, probably due to the dual noise canceling microphones but the quality of the speaker phone I’m not that happy with. I find it difficult to understand and the Nokia E71 scores much better on that.
  3. Power Button. The power button is sticking out a bit. Because of this I already had the phone turn on by accident because I was sitting and moving my legs. I think the power button should have been made such that it is impossible to turn on the phone by accident. I have to admit that the time it happened I had the the power button on the open end of the sleeve that comes with the phone. Now I put in the phone the other way around and have not had the problem anymore
  4. Ringer Volume/Vibrate/Silence . With the physical volume buttons you can set the ringer volume. If you move the volume down the one but last setting is vibrate and the last one is silence. This sounds logical, but it can easy happen to you that push the volume button now and then by accident and then your setting changes. I always have my phone on vibrate but it happened to me that I accidentally put it to silence :-( and missed calls. I now downloaded an app from the market which forces the silence settting into vibrate. So I don’t miss calls, but this is not ideal. In my opinion silence and vibrate should be set through a menu setting and you need to disable the settings also from the menu. From that moment on the volume buttons work again for the ringer volume.
  5. Touch buttons. Below the screen there are a couple of touch sensitive buttons. It happened to me a few times that while I was typing an email I’d touch the home button or so by accident and my message would dissapear. I have to admit that it didn’t happen to me lately. Probably because I’m more used to the touchscreen now. However in the end I would have preferred that the Nexus One had normal physical buttons below the screen.
  6. Speech recognition. Maybe it’s my English but for me it does not seem to work that well. Though I also know that general speech recognition without any training is extremely difficult to do well

For me these are just things that can be improved. Overall I’m like Linus a Happy Camper

A rotating Coke Can with only CSS

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Román Cortés shows a very nice technical trick on his blog with CSS. You can rotate a coke can by using a scrollbar and he does this without any javascript. To look at the code go to this link http://www.romancortes.com/ficheros/css-coke.html which I also embedded here below in an iframe. If you like this one Román also shows a paper bird with different illumination effects by using CSS.

GNOME Amazon Referral Fee Results January 2010

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

gnome-amazon For January 2010 the GNOME Foundation received the following Amazon referral fees

Amazon.com$55.06
Amazon.ca$0.00
Amazon.de€26.90
Amazon.fr€0.90
Amazon.co.uk£27.39
Amazon.jp¥142

This totals to approximately $137.36 (up from $94.36 in December). As the search plugins were wrong in December January was indeed a better month, which is not bad because people probably bought much more stuff in December because of the holiday season.

Keep on spreading the plugins to friends and family

Below and on http://www.gnome.org/friends/amazon you find the links to install the GNOME Amazon Search Plugin of your favorite Amazon store. NOTE the links below might not work if you read this post in an RSS reader, because it needs a javascript command to install the search plugin. Just install the search plugin by going to this post directly.

SearchPlugin