Tag Archives: Apple

The Pre-Cognition of a New Cell Phone Search

CES happened last week and one of the big announcements was Palm’s return from the ashes in the Pre. The announcement of their new smartphone pulled together new developments at Palm, including a linux based OS and advances in user interface design. I naturally drooled at the pics. After glossing over in gadget heaven, I remembered that my cell phone contract is up later this month. It’s high time I shop around and see what’s out there in terms of cell phones and plans. Here’s a quick list of what I’m looking for (and really what people should think about when getting a new phone):

  • Does the storage expand?  Can I slide in a card to expand whatever available amount of storage is on the phone?  Most phones come with a decent amount of storage but chances are I want to swap out stuff when the time comes.
  • Is there a touch screen interface?  This is the next step in user interfaces and it seems to be making its headway through cell phone use.  Is there a touch screen on the phone and how crisp or responsive is the interface when I make gestures?
  • How locked down is the phone?  The current Motorola I have needs a special USB connection to charge, use as headphones, and access the computer. BUT, you must go through my carrier’s software to access it.  A phone with a little more open access to its components is high on my list.
  • Will I be able to play music on it?  This goes together with the locked down phone and storage questions.  Some phones/carriers allow you to just plug your device into a computer and drop music files on it to play.  This is a must have.
  • What kind of applications are available for the phone?  Either Windows Mobile, The iTunes App Store, or Palm’s new App Catalog to add software that is non existent on current devices would benefit me greatly.
  • Following up on the previous point, what kind of services can I connect to from the phone?  My current carrier jacks around with SMS text messaging and therefore inhibits usage on some Web 2.0 services I use frequently.  BrightKite is a good example of an online web service that is cut off or not as usefuly because the carrier getting in the way.
  • Is GPS on the phone?  It’s not big, but working with BrightKite and Google Maps would make this feature seem ideal.
  • What will the data plan cost and what can I do with it?  My monthly bill is pretty high for what I can do.  If I can get more data and or text messaging for my buck, I’d go with that company.  I’m looking at you Sprint Unlimited Plan.

Some of the other topics in smartphone usage aren’t that big to me.  Bluetooth and headset capability is nice but wearing a plug in my ear all the time is my cup of tea.  The battery in my Motorola died on my twice and the third battery for this phone works best, mainly because I bought it from a third party and not the carrier.  I know now what to do when the battery runs out again.  Buttons or keypads aren’t that big to me, even when looking at the Pre, because I’ll be entering text on the phone regardless and can pick up any method to do so fairly quickly.

I think I covered all the bases on the smartphone requirements.  If I missed anything, let me know.  I still need to find out if my carrier has some kind of month to month plan after my contract is up.  If not, I may get a phone real quick.  I hope not, because I really want to hold out for a Palm Pre.  I could go iPhone, but I’m doing all in my power to stay away from it.   It’s still an Apple so it will still be super locked in.  If I get one of those two or some other phone, I’ll let you know.  Maybe by typing up the post from the new smartphone.

Xampp’ed Up But Turned Off To Portability

Before I rolled out the relaunch, I spent a good month trying to figure out the right kind of development environment for tools the I had available.  I have three laptops but all of the batteries are toast and the motherboard on one of them has gone the way of the dodo.  I convinced myself to develop exclusively off of a big ole Western Digital 80 GB Passport USB external drive.  First step done.  After doing some research I decided on XAMMP to drive my environment.  It was nice but there were some issues.

My real focus for this development environment setup was to be able to plug in the hard drive and code directly off of it.  I work off of multiple platforms at home and at the office.  Almost all of the apps do not have a single application to launch.  I already run some portable apps that support clients in Windows, Mac, and Linux flavors, like KeePass.  XAMMP advertised clients for each platform so I decided to give it a try.

XAMMP is a fully integrated web application development server.  The purpose of XAMMP is to roll out a fully workable, out of the box *AMP stack.  The packages include an Apache2 server, PHP version 4 or 5, MySQL 5, and a torrent of management utilities and open soruce libraries/modules.  There are some differences between platforms for the package set, however.  The beauty behind it is that you can pick and choose what you want and start work within minutes.

At first, I wanted to setup all of the platform packages on the flash drive.  Due to the desire for cleanliness on the drive, however, I tried to install the software locally on all of my workstations.  Most of my time is spent on these machines anyway.  Linux was the easiest to turn out, mainly because it just dropped everything into the ‘/opt’ directory.  I could change the doc and database links and move forward from there.  Windows was also a snap as I could modify configuration and turn services on and off with the included XAMMP control panel.  The Mac OS X client was not so easy.

The installer package for the Mac does not allow for choice.  It scans you computer to see if it’s okay to run on and then drops it straight to the Applications folder.  The folder it installs to is not entirely encapsulated.  When the configuration points to the database files on the flash drive,  the service will crash upon startup.  I’ve already been exposed to issues on lock file management on Mac OS X Server, and the workaround didn’t work for this issue.  The Apple puts the lock file in a directory other than the MySQL default setup.  When I symbolically linked the lock file, the database would start up.  This was not working with XAMMP.

After spending some small time here and there for about two weeks on it, I ended up just letting it go.  Attempts to find out on their forums page led me nowhere.  Also in my research on this topic, I discovered a Portable Apps version of Xammp but it is Windows only.  Not much help there.  Maybe one day the devs on the project will look for better portable support.  Until then, I’m focusing on version management and working off my lil server in my apartment.

I’m still coming to terms with getting distracted on small setup roadblocks.  I really didn’t need to waste the time figuring this out when what I really needed to do was to turn out this blog and other projects.  Struggling with Xammp taught me that sometimes the perfect environment will trickle down from actually working on things first rather than focusing on a perfect setup for work that hasn’t started yet.  Plus it’s alot more fun when you actually have projects in progress instead of dreaming of working on projects.