I think I am going to give Mediaportal another go, now that 1.1 final has been finally (after so much time and so many release candidates) released. I had been using Mediaportal as my media center software of choice since about 2007 (back in the 0.2.x days) but recently I had been lured away with some of the shinier features of Windows 7 Media Center.
Although overall I have enjoyed the user experience and polish of 7MC, the frustrations and limitations (lack of good plug-ins, local content, themes etc..) continue to mount. There are a lot of things 7MC is simply great at (series record, intelligently recording at another time to deal with timing clashes, Windows integration, four-foot configuration and so on..) but I think I am ready for a bit more freedom again from my media center.
Since the first mobile running on Google’s Android software platform was announced, I have been eagerly awaiting it’s release here in the UK. Well this week it finally happened, so yesterday I went into a T Mobile shop to have a play with one. Unfortunately it is a bit of a mixed bag, whilst looking quite stylish (it looked a bit ugly from the photos) there are a number of bad points about the G1 which unfortunately terminally let it down.
First off, the slide. I actually rather like this part, despite being highly dubious about overly elaborate mechanisms, the G1 screen slides up and to the right cleanly and locks into place with a fairly reassuring click. The problem is the G1 is not comfortable to hold in the horizontal position, and I found the keyboard buttons to be inadequate for any serious use. However the most serious problem with this was that the screen was not fully locked into place. Given that it is a touch screen the fact that the whole screen section flexes backwards and strains against the sliding mechanism, even the smallest amount of force is exerted against it, is very worrying.
The touchscreen itself worked quite well and Android has definitely incorporated several design elements that Apple initially came up with. However it feels like Google were as eager to incorporate finger swiping functions as they were not to look like they were copying Apple and as such there are two different ways of scrolling through icon menus like the ‘desktop’ and the application menu which just feels silly and inconsistent. The overall layout and design of the menus and functionality felt poor and counter intuitive. This was felt especially in the web-browser which, whilst working well ( and really showing how nice the screen was) felt clunky and unfriendly to navigate and use. There was also an issue with flash plugins but I am assuming that would be fixed by an update.
Overall, the G1 very much feels like the unfinished article. The black one looks surprisingly nice in the person, but an inconsistent GUI / navigation system lets it down as well as the quality of the screen sliding retention mechanism. Still, thankfully this is not the Android phone, but the first version running the software platform. I have high expectations of future phones and can only hope that meager sales will not put off other companies from adopting this platform.
Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” will be released soon! If you can’t wait or want to help out, download the latest beta / release candidate from canonical and get an early preview. Be warned though that this is beta software and as such potentially requires more than the usual amount of patience to get running properly as I found out whilst tinkering with Kubuntu 8.10 beta KDE 4 remix. :) Although I am sure the problems I was having had as much to do with the poor hardware compatibility with Linux as with buggy beta software.
T Mobile launched the first mobile based on the open source Android platform earlier this month. Although from a design prospective I am less than impressed with the device, I am extremely excited that this hitherto academic project is starting to gain mass market traction. Open source projects all too commonly go the route of the GP2x, OpenPandora or OpenMoko– accruing a loyal fan base but never really breaking out into the main stream. (I highly recommend taking a look at some of those projects.)
The fact that there is now a mass market device running the Android software stack is very encouraging, however with an industry behemoth like Google behind it, there was no way this project was going to roll over and die quietly. So, until it launches here in the UK (and wherever you may be in the World) you can try out a emulated version on T-Mobile’s website.
.. and I’d like to think its as result of the angry email I sent to google as I uninstalled their new open source browser Chrome, based on the WebKit engine, two days ago. :) Back then, part of the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) explicitly stated that by using the browser, anything you type into it (i.e. search queries, comments and presumably blog posts) becomes the exclusive property of Google.
Old Section 11 of Chrome EULA
11. Content licence from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
More worryingly, section 11.4:
11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.
After The Register broke the news, many people just like me, promptly uninstalled Chrome. Google yesterday responded apologetically saying that they had never intended for the EULA to be interpreted in such a way, and issued an update.
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services.
This rapid turn around is welcome, but it does make me wonder… if Google had any intention of enforcing the content appropriation their initial EULA made way for, by simply updating the EULA and not issuing updated binaries is the purported functionality still present? I guess only in-dept analysis of the code will tell, it is an open source project after all.