Reserved Words

May 11, 2010

Android 2.1 for HTC Hero – Custom ROM

Filed under: android,technology — Craig Harvey @ 8:57 pm
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Android logo After all my bitching about HTC not bringing out an official Android 2.1 ROM I finally bit the bullet and installed a custom ROM. Check out HTC Hero ROMs for a list of some of the available ones, or the excellent XDA Developers Wiki – HTC Hero section.

I had already rooted my phone long ago and was running a 1.5 custom ROM. I had not rushed into a 2.1 ROM for my phone though because I knew that the ones available were based on early versions or leak test ROMs. But they seem stable enough now.

I originally went with VillainROM 5.3 but that didn’t prove too stable for me (your mileage may vary), and in the end I installed SenseHero 2.2 which has been great.

Android Police has also been another great site full of helpful info – see their Tutorials listing to get started.

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Things I’ve found Twitter useful for

Filed under: technology,twitter — Craig Harvey @ 8:02 pm
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imageI didn’t get Twitter for a while. I signed up and tentatively sent a few tweets around May 2009 but it still took me a while to get my head around why you would bother. Eventually though it has won me over.

Following is a list of things that I’ve managed to use Twitter for in the last few months – not earth shattering, but also not the kind of thing that is easily accomplished with

  • Obviously following a bunch of comedians and having chuckles at their comments and links – @chaslicc, @rossnoble etc.
  • Get answers to a sales enquiry (well before I got a reply to my email to the same company)
  • Found results to NRL games, even quicker than the bloated Flash based ‘live scoreboard’ on the NRL website – search for #nrl or just the name of the team playing
  • Got Harvey Norman to correct an in-store sign for the HTC Hero that had a Windows logo for the O/S (and had a laugh)
  • Found out about things happening in my local area #Canberra including traffic problems, bomb scares, local events etc.
  • Chuckled at tweets during Masterchef!

One of the keys to ‘getting into’ Twitter for me has been able to do it from my phone – I do most of my reading from my phone and occasional updates. I used the web interface on my PC for a while but have recently been using Seesmic which is a better experience.

What have you found Twitter useful for? Or have you found it to be a complete WOFTAM (waste of f$%king time and money)?


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May 10, 2010

Senator Conroy – the Internet is special

Filed under: politics,technology — Craig Harvey @ 9:22 pm
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In April 2010, Senator Conroy was quoted by Fairfax media (Sydney Morning Herald, The Age etc.) as asking "Why is the internet special?,"  saying the net was "just a communication and distribution platform" (see article).

Here are my reasons why I believe that the internet is special (and therefore a heavy handed approach to filtering content is unjustified).

The internet simultaneously:

  • hosts audio and video which can be broadcast or narrow cast
  • acts like the postal system (with email replacing letters)
  • acts like the telecommunications system by hosting voice (and video) calls between two or more parties (Skype, instant messaging, ChatRoulette etc)
  • hosts systems for conducting business transactions (a bit like the EFTPOS system, a bit like the postal system in a mail-order analogy)

Other unique features that make it different from any other technology to date:

  • It is truly global – content accessed in one country can be hosted in any other country
  • It has fundamentally lowered the barriers for entry for those who want to publish and distribute material
  • It’s pervasive – accessible from a variety of different devices and locations, not just tied to a desktop computer and a telephone line
  • content is dynamic and easily changed – a web site you saw half an hour ago could be completely different the next time you view it

So why don’t we censor the telecommunications system and the postal systems as well? It would only be fair given the Internet is capable of replicating the functionality of these systems. Imagine a listening device on every phone call that you made that bleeped out any words that would offend the average person – or having all your mail opened and read and ‘cleaned’ before being able to go on to it’s final destination? Sounds ludicrous and is unworkable.

The proposed net filter would work by preventing access to a blacklist of websites. It would only block access to web sites, and would not affect many of the other applications that run on the internet (email, file transfer, instant messaging, peer to peer file sharing etc). It will only block a list of around 350 websites when there are currently over 100 million websites on the internet – accessing any single one of these websites will invoke a ‘check’ to see if it’s not on the banned list of 350. As the banned list grows larger, the slower this ‘check’ gets.

It will not target ‘high volume’ sites like YouTube and Facebook – so it’s not going to filter out stupid comments on Facebook pages or prevent offensive videos being posted on YouTube. There are already mechanisms in place for dealing with that kind of content, so why force a mandatory filter on all of us?

So why push ahead when we already know it’s only going to filter a fraction of the Internet and it’s going to be easily bypassed? Surely it makes more sense to spend the money on law enforcement instead. $43 million (the proposed cost of the filter) would make a lot of difference to the AFP budget in their fight against child sex predators and distributors of child pornography surely.




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May 4, 2010

Android 2.1 for HTC Hero – will it ever happen?

Filed under: android — Craig Harvey @ 9:52 am
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I bought an HTC Hero (GSM) early November 2009. I love the phone, it’s been good to me. But now it’s getting frustrating that I’m stuck on version 1.5 of the Android OS when phones are being released with 2.1.

One of the reasons that I bought an Android based phone was that I figured that I’d get more regular updates than a Windows phone (with their releases coming out very few years). While I’ve only been waiting 7 months… the frustration comes from the fact that there seems to be no firm release date from HTC.

A simple search using Google reveals the trail of previous articles rumours setting out release dates for February, March, April, now June! It’s at the stage where I’ll believe it when I see it…

In my opinion this has come about because of the wonderful beast that is the HTC Sense UI. This particular add on to the OS requires updating to 2.1 – but they’ve obviously done that for the HTC Desire and others, so why does it take so long for the Hero?

Hurry up already!

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May 3, 2010

Would our environment have been better off with John Howard?

Filed under: politics — Craig Harvey @ 8:34 pm
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An interesting article from Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald that proposes Australia would have been better off environment wise if John Howard and the Coalition had won the last election. Sounds pretty radical but I read to the end because I usually find that Ross Gittins makes sense so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

It’s hard for me to admit but he might be right. Sadly KRudd is turning out to be a politician of convenience and when the going gets tough he doesn’t appear to have the mettle to back it up. The gist of Gittins’ argument was that going into the election the Coalition and Labor had similar policies. Howard would have had more success getting the legislation passed, the climate change sceptics in the Coalition would have fallen into line; Rudd has now proven it’s all too hard for him and has postponed it for three whole years. And under Howard we would have had an Environment Minister in Malcolm Turnbull who was willing to put his job on the line for the cause – oh the irony!

I think postponing the ETS legislation is a disgraceful cop out. The list of failures and bodgy jobs for this government is really starting to stack up. The NBN that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, an Education revolution that looks to be costing a bloody fortune and there’s this crazy fixation with filtering the internet. Sadly the alternative (a Tony Abbott led government) is not looking any more palatable.

April 29, 2010

Masterchef Tweet sport

Filed under: media — Craig Harvey @ 8:20 pm
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There’s a new sport in town – tweeting about the hit TV show Masterchef (on Australian television) while it’s being aired. OK tweeting about a TV show isn’t new, but the sheer volume of #masterchef tweets is crazy. It’s made the top 10 global trending topics every episode that it has been on (to my knowledge), and this is just the start of the season.

It certainly adds a new dimension to the show – phone or laptop nearby, monitoring hilarious and bitchy comments in real time while watching this hit reality show. There’s a few positive comments in there, but usually people are cracking jokes, bitching about the contestants that they hate or being infuriated by yet another contestant crying or quitting the competition! I can’t wait till they make TVs that integrate Twitter feeds into the the show – oh wait, they do, it’s a called a home theatre PC.

imageOne of the judges – Matt Preston is a regular tweeter and usually gets in there and participates which really adds a new dimension to the conversation as well. The shows were obviously filmed weeks (or months) earlier, but it’s good that he’s sticking around and adding to the hype around the show as each episode airs.


The first season of the show already was a great example of how to use the internet to support the show itself – it had a great website with content such as recipes and videos from the show published not long after each episode went to air. This Twitter phenomenon hasn’t really been spurred on by the makers of the show as far as I can tell, it’s just a ‘grass roots’ thing that has happened by fans of the show getting online and getting their opinions out there. And it’s great to see something beat the Justin Bieber trend on Twitter.

It must be hard for some of the contestants to go and read what people are saying about them – they put themselves out there by revealing personal stories and people take the piss. I’m certainly guilty of it! The other issue is that sometimes the way an episode has been edited might inadvertently make someone look like more of a tool than they really are – I think we’ll all scream if we hear once more that Claire is a lawyer though!

The themes that appear to be emerging are:

  • Plenty of discussion about what Matt Preston is wearing – his musk stick pants were divisive!
  • We’re sick of contestants crying
  • Alvin is a bit of a favourite – interchangeably called ManPoh or Gaysian. We’re sick of hearing about his mum though!
  • People are tipping a surprise re-entry of Irgmard, the lovable widow who cooked lamb thinking it was pork
  • Jake is a serial killer (harsh!)

So what do you think? What makes Masterchef so unique that people are so passionate about tweeting during the show? Is it because it’s a fast paced reality show, the demographic of the target audience or some other mysterious factor?

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March 29, 2010

Microsoft support for jQuery

Filed under: — Craig Harvey @ 9:01 am
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Good to see Microsoft throwing their support behind jQuery and committing resources to developing for it. Also interesting to see their proposal for including templating in the core of jQuery.

I currently use the excellent jTemplates plug-in for jQuery (even if the doco is a little hard to follow) and I’m a big fan of Client Side Templating as it minimises the amount of markup transmitted from server to client. Have a read of Encosia’s articles on the topic and I’m sure you’ll be converted too!

March 25, 2010

Senator Fielding also fails internet school

Filed under: politics,technology — Craig Harvey @ 6:39 pm
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According to this ABC News article, links to child pornography were posted on the website of Senator Steve Fielding of Family First. The website hosted a forum (under the link ‘Have Your Say’) where anyone can register as a user and then post comments. I’m unable to verify because the forum is now closed, but I suspect someone registered an account and spammed the site. Childish and puerile but hardly uncommon on the internet, particularly when you’re a politician who is very ‘pro family values’!

The news article contains this quote:

"It is disturbing. But I suppose this is the reason why we do need to have some sort of classification, some sort of filtering, and I do know that is controversial."

If this quote is true, then let me explain why this is scary. While Senator Fielding is an independent and not part of the government, he will surely support the proposed mandatory internet filter when the legislation comes before parliament.

Yet this is just another example of a politician who fails to understand how the Internet works – scary because they are going to be imposing legislation that will impose a filter that is a waste of money and time.

Senator Fielding if you’re going to host a discussion forum on your web site you need to take responsibility for the fact that people may post unsavoury content on there – you need to impose a system of moderation on this web site and actively screen content for this kind of spam and abuse. This is a far more sensible approach than imposing a mandatory ISP level filter that will not work.

Let’s hope the Australian Federal Police have more sense than this and laugh in his face when this matter is referred to them.




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Conroy fails to defend mandatory internet filter on 7PM Project

Filed under: technology — Craig Harvey @ 10:52 am
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Senator Conroy appeared on The 7PM Project last night (Wednesday 24th March 2010) in an attempt to defend the proposed mandatory ISP level filter. Watch the video below and see if you think he was convincing.

It was typical spin that tried to keep the focus for RC material on child pornography when the scope of RC material is much wider than that. To be fair to Conroy he got talked over a few times by the panellists, who I thought did a half decent job of asking him tough questions.

In this interview Conroy quotes that there are 355 web sites with child pornography ‘in the open’ now that would be on the blacklist. He proposes a contradictory approach of using a filter to block access to those, but using police to get into the peer to peer networks where the majority of this filth is trafficked (and for which the filter will not work). Why not just use the police for all of it Senator? Spend the filter money on the police instead.

Rather than reiterate why I’m opposed to this whole thing, I’m going to point you to this great article debunking the 10 common lies told about the internet filter.




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March 10, 2010

Updates to the Google Maps Geocoding Web Service

Filed under: mapping — Craig Harvey @ 5:12 am
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Google have released a new version of their geocoding web service, details here.

Geocoding is the process of translating an address to an approximate location in terms of latitude and longitude (approximate is misleading, it can be very accurate). Reverse geocoding is the process of taking latitude and longitude coordinates and translating that to an address.

Updates in the service include:

  • Support for the changes to v3 of the JavaScript API
  • Requests no longer require a Maps API key
  • Google Maps Premier customers must sign their requests
  • V2 of the web service is now deprecated – can still be used and is still supported

The geocoding service is able to be called from the client APIs (JavaScript) or there is a web service that can be called from server side components (or anything that can call a web service). The web service supports both XML and JSON output. For example, you might have a CRM system that captures address details. Why not call out to this web service as needed and determine the latitude and longitude values and then store them with the record?

A word of warning, if you do use this service to geocode addresses, you can only use those geocoded values with the Google Maps API – you can’t use it with other services such as Bing Maps.

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