Desktop – Android’s Next Frontier

                     Android, soon in a desktop near you

The Android operating system is an indisputable success. A few weeks ago, it was with an average of 400,000 activations per week.

But not only that: Tablets, E-readers, portable gaming devices, everything seems to go in the direction of Android (and ARM).

And as a natural evolution, the ARM architecture is slowly entering the server room.

And, it  seems inevitable.

ARM on the server? What a joke …
Yeah, all the critics cite that the ARM architecture is only 32 bits, can not do mult threads effectively, and besides, what operating system would run on this architecture?
Even more as a server …

But several factors are driving the development of servers with ARM architecture: ARM chips  are much cheaper than Intel ones, and much more efficient in terms of power consumption and heat dissipation, the so-called Green Computing

So, after this information, is not  surprising the announcement that ARM would be working to launch 64-bit versions of their processors, targeting the server’s market

But what does the expansion of ARM processors and their journey towards the server’s room has to do with the Android desktop? Many things, since the expansion of the ARM chips is forcing Intel to move…

Android on the desktop – Increasingly close …

The growth of the ARM architecture, and therefore, the entire Android ecosystem is pressuring Intel to do something.

After years and years making  more powerful processors (and therefore) more expensive and energy hungry, Intel is trying to leapfrog in the mobile sector , feeling the pressure of the ARM chips  closer and closer, and watching its influence being undermined. Not that Intel has not tried, it tried, with Meego (thanks to the Nokia / MS deal, it went down the drain) and now with a new attempt, the Tizen. But these efforts are still timid.

The power of x86 fades…

Even Microsoft, Intel partner for many years, is failing to become relevant in this new mobile market (phones, tablets, netbooks), and their new systems are greeted with yawns (at the best).

Intel is cornered, feeling that the legacy software (which always helped Microsoft & Intel) no longer has so much importance (nor relevance). And Microsoft’s attempt at the ARM architecture  begins already flawed
The new ARM platform, however, already has Linux as one of its traditional operating systems (Debian Arm has existed for a considerable time).

If you build it they will come

Exactly, and since Intel can not depend anymore on its largest  partner (Microsoft is also going to the ARM side of the force – has become a licensee, to produce its own ARM processors), it is working to improve Android in the x86, and of course, making mobile x86 chips to compete with ARM ones.

So, Intel is pushing Android to run on x86 architecture very well, even releasing  SoC x86 chips, that rival  ARM chips capabilities.

And some say that Intel will dismantle the reign of ARM in the mobile

And there’s more: The Android kernel is being inserted back in the Linux mainline kernel.

What this might mean?

As Mr. Pogson wrote, this means a whole ecosystem now quite mature (all Android Apps) becoming available for Linux, yes, that common Linux (Ubuntu, Debian., etc…) could run Android applications. And thus, the Android would go the opposite way of what Microsoft intends with windows 8, making a mobile operating system run on the desktop.

But, What About Chrome OS?
Despite being a radical concept, having an operating system that only works “in the cloud” is something that is not ready to happen yet. Not now, we do not have the infrastructure that such a system requires. And besides, who will rely on storing files in the “cloud”? Sensitive files ? Webmail services(a cloudy example) have already given many evidences that they may fail, and fail badly.

What to expect …?

The strengthening of the Android platform on the desktop will be a great evolution for Linux. The operating system that was received with contempt by some IT companies, as a hobbyist’s toy. It will bring more applications to the Linux ecosystem (that are now exclusive to the Android platform) and  will certainly make Linux very popular.

However, two companies, Microsoft and Apple are not being able to compete with Android in the market, and are resorting to lawsuits to stop the growth of the platform, how will they  react when  Android begins to appear on the desktop?

Google to Murdoch- This is just nonsense

Rupert Murdoch, owner of a world renowned phone hacking newspaper accused Google of making money by slapping ads over pirated content and pouring millions into lobbying, in a tirade in which he also accused the Whitehouse of being in the employment of “Silicon Valley paymasters.”  

Well, Google has fired back and called the accusations “nonsense.” 
“This is just nonsense,” wrote a Google spokeswoman. “Last year we took down 5 million infringing Web pages from our search results and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads…We fight pirates and counterfeiters every day.” 
It’s nice to see the public row between supporters and opponents of both SOPA and PIPA acts that have the potential to derail some of the fundamental tenets of the free web as we know. Is Murdoch right in his accusation against Google? You be the judge.

Windows Phone 7? 5 Reasons Why I Have no Faith in it

In my last and final goodbye to Nokia, a commeter asked the question, “what about Windows Phone 7?” Indeed, all throughout the post, there was not one mention of Microsoft’s answer to both Android and iOS. Is it because I think WP7 is no match for the two dominant OSs? Or that because it’s from Microsoft? I don’t think so. WP7 for me, is not a viable contender for the following reasons

1. Lateness: I really don’t know what Redmond was doing when Google bought Android Inc back in 2005 or when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007, but somehow they chose to turn a blind eye to the then budding ultra smartphone market and instead concentrate more on their desktop offering. As the adage goes, the early bird catches the worm, and both Google and Apple were those early birds. If Redmond had thrown down its gauntlet at that time with the introduction of WP7 then, at least they would stand a chance today.

2. Miscrosoft bullying: Rather than focus time and resources on marketing and making WP7 attractive to both developers and those who don’t want either iOS or Android, Microsoft prefers to spend its energy on  bullying Android OEMs into paying so called royalties for infringing never-shown Microsoft patents. But there’s no surprise here, it’s one of Microsoft’s hallmarks to use the bogus patent system as a trump card if it cannot compete. 

3. Nokia: Perhaps the biggest reason why WP7 will find it tough on the market is the unholy alliance with Nokia. For years, Nokia had been a company known to make profits by selling high volume, low cost “dumb” phones to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Now with WP7, it will have to focus on the highend spectrum of the market. With Elop giving Symbian just a few years more for “harvesting,” Nokia is left with WP7 as its primary OS. We don’t know when Meltemi will finally take the place of Symbian, but for now, we can safely assume Nokia is going to alienate its core market. 

To also hammer home the point of Nokia being a disaster for WP7, take a look at the press coverage the release of the N9 and N950 MeeGo powered devices enjoyed and compare them to the Nokia Lumia, even Engadget, an ultra Apple centric blog was drooling over the N9. The Lumia? Yawn. The market logically expected Nokia to overhaul Symbian and fire up MeeGo, not sell out to Redmond.

4. Apps, apps and apps: The Apple App Store and Android Markets both have hundreds of thousands of apps available for download. Think of anything and you’re likely to find an app for that in those two markets. WP7 is yet to catch up, and with Microsoft busily suing other OEMs rather than go all out to attract developers, it’s going to take an eternity for WP7 to reach the scale of Android and iOS in terms of apps. 

5. The OEMs just love Android: Why? Because it gives them the power to differentiate themselves completely from their competitors. Given its open nature, it is always easy and safe to model Android into anything one can think of, an example being what Amazon did with it on its Kindle Fire tablets. Which company would not love such an offering? It’s little wonder that even the home pages of almost all the device makers  readily feature Android phones, with WP7 a few clicks down the menu. I don’t know the extent of customization Microsoft allows the OEMs, but it sure will not be on the scale Google gives them with Android. 

There could be even more reasons why it’s going to be a monumentous act for WP7 to climb out of the bottom, but from where I sit, these are the 5 basic reasons I see which work well against Microsoft’s comeback in the mobile spectrum.

A Final Goodbye to Nokia and a Hello to Android

Just a little over a year ago, I detailed why I opted for Nokia’s Maemo powered N900 instead of an Android device. To be precise, I purchased my Nokia N900 on the 4th of Jan 2011, and wow, what an excitement it was to hold such an incredible device. A full blown, Debian based GNU/Linux OS in my pocket.

However, it was not long to be before the groundbreaking, expertly leaked burning platform memo to Engadget and the subsequent Elopcalypse of Feb 11 2011. For long time Nokia loyalists like yours truly, it was like a dream shattered. We’d always dreamed of having MeeGo as the third force in a fiercely competitive arena dominated by the two tech giants of North America: Google with their Android offering and Apple with iOS.
But the all knowing Nokia board knew better. To salvage Nokia from its not so desperate situation, they had to bring in a former Microsoft employee to head a company that was at the forefront of pushing GNU/Linux to millions of people around the world. And as was expected, the inevitable happened: the bringing to its knees of one of the most powerful and recognized technology companies on Earth. 

Using the N900 is an experience worth savoring. But the device was rapidly ageing(aged?) given it only shipped with 256MB of RAM, Nokia had discontinued support for it, leaving only the very wonderful Maemo community on their own, new applications rarely got published among a myriad of other factors. Thus I felt the need for a new device, and quite naturally I opted for Android this time around.

Of course I know of the Nokia N9 and N950 both running MeeGo, but with the frantic effort Nokia’s CEO is making to sabotage the success of the those devices, I logically shunned them, fearing Espoo will pull another N900 on users of those two phones. 

You’re wondering what device I went for right? Haha. I opted for the Motorola Atrix. After a long and careful searching and considering the price range of the various devices on the retail market here in Accra Ghana, I opted to go for the Atrix which is both a good bang for the money.

Retailing at $400 on Amazon, it packs all the goodies of a modern Android device (yea well not considering the slew of devices being announced at CES 2012). Running Gingerbread on an Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 with 1GB of RAM, it’s more than adequate for an intensive mobile user like myself. 

As I’ve stated before, the Nokia N900 was my last Nokia device, until perhaps Elop is fired and the Nokia board wakes up and realizes gallows they’re being led into, it’s a goodbye Nokia and all your offerings and hello Android. It was really nice knowing you, Nokia, for more than 10 solid years of my less than 3 decades old. 

Why I love Android

Earlier this week I misplaced my beloved Samsung Nexus S. I only realized when arriving at home my Android device was missing. After a frantic backtracking of the places I had visited just before, the phone was nowhere to be found. Every time I tried to dial the phone I heard it ringing but no one picked it up. I suddenly found myself in great distress as I very much live by my Android phone.

There are several apps for locating a lost Android device. However, they require you to have had the foresight to install the app before the phone is lost which – to my regret – I had not done. So my chance of recovery was looking ever slimmer.
Then, I came across Lookout Labs’ Plan B. Lookout Labs claim that Plan B can locate your device after it has been lost even if you did not install it beforehand. Sounds unbelievable right? Well here’s the punchline…. it actually worked!
Somehow Lookout Labs has found a way to install the app remotely from a browser via the Android market – pushing the app to the lost device. It will start tracking the device immediately and the phone’s GPS location is sent to your Gmail address every minute. If you are unable to locate the device within 10 minutes you need to SMS the word ‘locate’ to the device and the tracking will continue for another 10 minutes.
Immediately the emails started coming in. I could see the phone was still in the area where I suspected I lost it and from the email updates it became clear the the ‘finder’ must be on foot following the road. This gave me hope that I could still recover my phone.
I called up a friend for some backup and we got in the car – me with my laptop running a 3G USB modem on my lap tracking the phone.
When we approached the location where Plan B claimed the device was located we saw a man walking towards us on the side of the road. As there were no one else in the vicinity it was apparent that – if Plan B was right – this person had the phone. We pulled over the car and got ready to confront the man. Fortunately, my friend is the level-headed sort and managed to talk the person into revealing that he indeed had picked up the phone and give it back without any hostile confrontation taking place.
You can see some of the screenshots of this quite intensive hunt for the Nexus S below. I just love that Android is open enough to allow Plan B to work. Surely, for most other platforms this would be close to impossible and the device would be unrecoverable. I also admire Lookout Labs for developing Plan B to work as well as it does. Well done!

To Ghana’s Minister of Education- Can we please Open Source the CSSPS?

Hello Madam Betty, this mail is being written to you on an OS called Xubuntu, it’s open source and developed by people from all walks of life. The underlying skeleton, or code as it’s called, is open for anybody’s inspection. Anybody who thinks there’s something wrong with it can have a look at the code and if need be, suggest changes that will better the OS for all who use it.

You may be asking why this long preamble? Well because as a youth of this dear country of ours, I always get headaches, heartaches, fever, high blood pressure among others anytime the senior high school placement- you know, that piece of algorithm that supposedly auto selects which school to place every junior high school student- system kicks in every year. To the best of my understanding Madam, that system was put in place to curb the annual frustrations that hard working, tax paying parents of this country go through every year in getting their wards placed in high schools.

That old system we were told- and we agree- was fraught with irregularities, corruption among others thus the need for a computerized system that does all the placements automatically, without any human intervention. Wow, that was an awesome idea for a country that still is technophobe at the government level. Until the computerized system became worse than the old system. You’re a witness to it Madam, year in year out, parents keep going through untold agonies because the so called computerized system that we were told could not be comprised, is not doing what it was intended to. Far from it. 

We, and by we, I mean myself and like minded youth like me, don’t have any evidence to suggest the computerized selection and school placement system has been compromised. However, what we are humbly demanding as a matter of urgency and desperation is for the system, the entire piece of software that makes up the CSSPS be open sourced. We want the government of the Republic of Ghana to make the code of the CSSPS available as an open source project for anybody to be a watchdog over it. 

We want to be able to see what the code looks like, keep an eye on it so no single entity has complete control over it. We don’t know who the government did contract to write that software, but as tax payers, and as a democratic country that prides itself on the tenets of transparency, we the youth of this country want to be vanguards of the code that has been the cause of so much controversy in our educational system for sometime now. 

You may be wondering what’s there to gain by open sourcing the code right? Well for starters the government won’t need to spend hard cash in paying whoever it contracted to write that code. Me, him, they, us and everybody around the globe can be a maintainer of that code once it goes open source. We save money which can be used elsewhere. Secondly all doubts will be cleared and trust restored in the system. You know for sure parents have lost trust in the entire selection and placement process. They strongly believe the system is corrupted. And what’s there to stop them from believing that when only a select few know what the code is like and have access to it?

Third, we can be a model for other African countries when we open source the code. They can look at it,  adapt it to their needs and then on we move as Africa. To give you an example of what open source can do, take a look at that massive, 800lbs gorilla called Google. Yea. That company whose annual revenues is almost equal to our GDP runs on open source. It’s a central, necessary part of that company. It’s Android OS is a prime example of the power of making code available to all and sundry.

I could go on and on about the benefits of open sourcing the CSSPS. But I know you’re hard pressed for time so I’m just going to end here. Just a recap Madam, we’re asking that the gov takes the CSSPS project and make it available as open source so the entire nation can be vanguards of the process and we assure you that the entire hiccups that have become a necessary annual ritual and characteristic of this school selection and placement exercise will be a thing of the past in no time. 

This is my first mail to you Madam, but you can bet it won’t be last. We’re waiting to hear from you. 

3 iPhone Apps That Make Divorce Much Easier

Modern-day technology can be of great help when it comes to getting a divorce. The divorce process is not only painful but also quite senseless at times, with people struggling to understand it, and that’s where phone apps come in. Fortunately, Ipod Touch and iPhone users dispose of a number of apps, which are sure to assist in terms of learning new things about the process of divorce.

Cost of divorce
One app worth mentioning is the Cost and Prep App. This app will tell you how much money you will probably end up spending on the divorce, as well as what kind of information you need to have. This can be very helpful because we usually end up spending a lot more than we planned, which is a cause of stress on top of divorce being an extremely stressful event in life as it is. So, this app offers two advantages – you spend less money than you otherwise would, and you face a lower degree of stress.

An app within the one mentioned above, which is called Divorce Cost Estimate, is what helps you establish the costs and differentiate between soft and hard costs. Hard costs are those that can be measured in exact dollar amounts, while soft costs are more subjective – they involve the impact on you personally.

Another feature of this app, Divorce Preparation, gives information on the type of documents you need to get and at which time. You will be told when to file, which documents can be printed off a web site and which cannot.

Estate division
A second useful app for divorcees-to-be is the so-called Estate Divider App. This app is like a calculator in that you can enter the cost of your assets and liabilities depending on how much each of you own and owe. Then you can divide these costs and values based on the percentage of your choice. This app can also give you the values of the alimony, the respective amount in taxes, and whether either of you will be liable for any kind of tax advantages or deductions by structuring and adjusting the alimony payments. The app also lets you email the estate division to your soon-to-be-ex, if you are no longer on speaking terms, and wait for their reply.

Divorce goals
Another option, this one for men only, is the Divorce Source. This app comes with two helpful books on divorce. One feature of the app, Divorce Goals Assistant, lets you set your divorce goals. This includes issues like child custody, division of assets, establishing the divorce cost and more. You can email these to your future ex and your divorce attorney. The app also features access to thousands of family law articles, answers to common and not-so-common questions, and a Family Law Reference Section. The app allows you to find divorce attorneys near you, email stories or share stories on Facebook and more. This app can be used by iPhone and iPad users. Having said all this, do not rely on apps only. Divorce is a very complicated process.

Melissa Dean writes about , Credit Cards in Credit Cards Canada

4G – A Brief Discussion Of Its Usefulness

The first question that comes to mind for a person with a completely nontechnical background is ‘what is 4G?’ There have been several levels of up-gradation you have seen in the mobile phones available in the market since it was launched. The variations have been available not only in the designs and looks of the phones but also in the engineering and technology with which they are made. This has initiated various changes in their features and functionalities.

The earliest mobile phones were black and white with no cameras and color options or even the same for ringtone and caller tune downloads. With time there were successive launches of newer phones that brought in newer features and uses of technology. In the sphere of telecommunications there are several standards that have been laid down; 4G refers to the fourth level of mobile phone technology standards.

Before the initiation of 4G there were phones that were based on the 2G and 3G standards of telecommunication technology. In each of the previous launches there have been a few aspects which were specialty areas of functions for the particular technology.  In this case it was declared that in many years after the initialization of mobile phone technology there would be freedom of usage; this means that you will not experience call drops and network related problems any more. There is a high speed access within these phones and which also means that you can say hello from a moving train and a fast moving car as well.

With a 4G system there is an all in one service available through your Smartphone devices. You can also look forward to IP based mobile  broadband service with wireless modems of laptop computers as well as other mobile computing and communication devices like tablets.  Typical features will include ultra-broadband through internet access, IP telephony, streaming of audio and video and gaming application services. 

A practical understanding of the features that you can enjoy with this standard of the technological advance is a high range of megapixel in cameras that will be available with these devices. There is a greater clarity and resolution of video shoots capacitated within the devices which also includes video calling features in the phones.

4G devices are also enabled with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capacity which makes internet access easier and faster. There is a lightning speed at which access is enabled along with faster downloads and software installations through online resources. Chief objectives of this technological approach have also been the capacity to fulfill personalization of the device to suit one’s needs. 

There is a greater adaptability with different software applications which are enabled through the device for various work related and entertainment objectives. It makes for easy access and multimedia support at cost-effective prices. A modern range of smartphones makes it easier to access the internet with features of scanning and email or fax from the devices.

With 4G network you are ensured with of quicker access to the internet that will support a wide range of your work even when you are on the move.