Sunday, 8 July 2012

ABC iView and Android Phones

Judging by the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Our Beloved ABC Aunty) one might be misled to believe that Apple's proprietary, one device iOS is the only mobile platform around.

At current count the ABC has 17 apps designed for iOS and only 1 for Android despite it being the market leader in smartphone sales and numbers.

Note that the ABCs mandate requires it supply it's services to as many Australian's as possible without preference to a specific platform, especially one that is propitiatory and expensive to obtain.

Let them know

How about we let the ABC know just how many people use Android phones and tablets, and motivate them to co-release all new apps on both iOS and Android as well as updating all of the existing apps to include Android.

Contact the ABC using any of the following techniques to let them know this ongoing bias against the majority of Australians is just not on:

And don't forget to:

Can you see the bias?

ABC Android Apps
  • ABC News / News 24 live
ABC iOS Apps
  • ABC iView
  • At the movies
  • ABC Kids
  • Angry Boys
  • Bananas in Pyjamas x2
  • Beached Az
  • Good Game
  • Poh's Kitchen
  • Rage Mobile
  • Rocket Compulsion
  • Spicks and Specks
  • The Gradual demise of Phillipa Finch
  • Triple J
  • Triple J Unearthed
  • Four Corners iPad
  • ABC Foodi
  • Play School Art Maker
ABC Blackberry/Symbian/WP7 Apps
  • None


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Universal and Warner Brothers studios

Had the most wonderful, exhausting day imaginable. Universal studios tours and rides followed by a live filming of a new sitcom called "Hello, are you there vodka, it's me Chelsea".
Awesome day, lots of laughs and heaps of fun rides.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Pizza Pi

The first real meal in the US. Local joint called pizza pi in Long Beach California.
I checked and what they claimed was true, the circumference divided by the diameter was 3.14159.
Just wish the diameter was a little smaller. Great pizza though.

Penthouse in Longbeach, CA

Arrived in the US of A safe and sound. Got a chevy charger convertible and settled into the long beach penthouse.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Telstra's real test

Telstra put to the test
It is time to put Telstra to a real test as a belated part of the social review program for the HTC Desire.

My HTC Desire has developed the well documented HTC Desire overheating issue where the phone goes into restart loops without booting when using graphically or network intensive software.

I will put a timer up on my blog to signify how long it takes Telstra to rectify the issue. As Telstra has launched a new "Better customer service" campaign it is time to put it to the test.

My first call to Telstra will be today on the 10th September 2010.

Telstra phone support:
Frustrated again at the automated receptionist
Spoke to Bell located in the philippine islands within the Telstra technical support call centre who had trouble understanding my language, making it very difficult to explain the situation.

Call forwarded to HTC customer support. Telstra call centre taking absolutely no responsibility.

HTC phone support:
Receptionist answered to say all technical support was unavailable and they will call me back.

Called back 24 hours later with rudimentary customer support such as re-flashing Telstra modified RUU rom onto phone. (Maybe not rudimentary for some users, but very easy on android devices)
After completing basic troubleshooting HTC said the problem was hardware based and Telstra would have to deal with the issue. Calling Telstra back would simply result in getting forwarded to HTC again!

HTC and Telstra phone support have failed in basic customer service, making it very difficult for those not able to visit a Telstra store to get any decent service.

Telstra Twitter Support:
Tweeted my problem, very speedy response from Carly in Adelaide who knew exactly what to do. Now talking to Tristo, a solutions provider.

Within 3 hours the Telstra Twitter support team had contacted the correct department to resolve the issue. I have been asked to send my phone by post to get fixed.
Phone has been posted express post. Will await a further response.

So far a very intelligent, rapid and effective response from the Telstra Twitter team.

The Telstra repair team
(Edit: 7 October) The phone is now back and doesn't seem to be overheating but it looks like the microphone has stopped functioning due to the repair. I have replied to Telstra with the original information and the problem that the repair has caused. The phone has been sent back to Telstra for further repair.

(Edit: 6 December) The repair team has replaced the phone with another HTC desire. The second hand phone they supplied works fully however the phone they supplied was second hand and shows signs of wear and tare on the device, whereas the one I sent away was spotless, had no damage and a screen protector.

When posting the phone I sent it away inside it's original box with bubble wrap inside protecting it from any bumps while on route. When it arrived back the new phone was in the box, but no bubble wrap or protection in any way so it could bounce around the box in transit.

Resolved in 86 days
Now that the phone has arrived back in full working order the issue can be considered resolved.
The verdict?

Clearly the new Twitter support team is worth their weight in gold. 

The Telstra call centres are just as useless as we perceive them to be.

Telstra repair team gets the job done but very slowly and without testing the device after repair.

If I did not have a standby phone I would have been very annoyed. The time it took to resolve this issue was close to 3 months. I expect more out of a carrier. With any luck this will improve with the separation of Telstra as the lazy retail section can no longer rely on the wholesale section for market advantage.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Scout Camp

The other week we decided to go for a trip out to Scout Camp, otherwise known as Mananggaym to the local Yolngu people. It was a beautiful place. Nice quiet river, very layed back. As you can see from the photos the car was a bit of a mess when we got home. The suspension lift in the Jeep is brilliant. It can now go places that many other 4x4s can't.

Also I just read in the newspaper that the Cato river is open again for permits, however they are $200 per car per weekend and the permit specifies that you don't venture out of the mouth of the river. I am very dissapointed by the price of the permits. Yes they have upgraded the boat ramp and camp sites but that means for three mates to go fishing with their families and have a nice weekend it will cost $600 for the weekend. If we are not careful we may end up with a system like England where you have to pay for access to all rivers and nature reserves.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

It's here

Yesterday I collected the new HTC Desire phone from the post office and I now have an android powered headache from playing with the phone too much yesterday and today.

First Impressions
Even taking the phone out of the box you can tell that it is of very sturdy construction. The phone, although covered in plastic is incredibly strong. I would guess almost as strong and probably more durable screen wise than other phones which are coming out in aluminium and glass.

It is interesting that HTC has not provided software with the phone, but rather relies on users to download the software from the support site. This is not a problem for the vast majority of users, b
ut could present a problem for those who don't have internet access on their computer. The phone is very well connnected to the internet, so everything is also available in cloud form from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Photoshop online, LastFM or Google docs, hence it is unlikely that you would actually need to connect your phone to your computer.

Despite some of the twits I have heard, the user interface is incredibly user friendly, and I have trouble using an iPhone. The options are easily accessible, the Android marketplace seems to be the place where I have spend the last 24 hours straight. If you don't like the way the phone is handling something, just download another app to replace the one you are using.

Telstra's additions to the UI including a plethora of shortcuts to websites hidden both in pseudo applications and modified default HTC applications such as the media player are just annoying. Yes occasionally I might check the news through the Bigpond home screen, but why would I do that when I have the ABC News application installed.

Of all the Social Reviewers I don't know a single one who is anything but irritated at the Telstra pseudo apps. Also using wifi none of the Telstra Apps work at all, including Foxtel mobile, useless!

Multiple home screens which you can scroll between, an invention of Android is such a great productivity gain that the new MS Windows mobile is poaching it for mobile 7, albeit implemented poorly so quick modifications cannot be made. The ease of widget and shortcut placement on the multiple desktops is amazing. And you can remove all of the Telstra pseudo apps from the home screen very easily :) (They remain in the apps menu).

Social Network integration is seamless, to the point where you start wondering where all of your friends info came from. I found that I have not even needed to transfer my contacts from my old phone because almost all of them are already there due to the desire automatically updating info. The constant updates of email, facebook and tweets is an incredible drain of time. It is however very easy to place the HTC power app on the home screen to disable auto updates throughout the work day.

It was dissapointing to see that Telstra distributed the phone without fully testing the phone after they made modifications to the software, it was only today that I did the update and got GPS working. I have not worked out how to use Voice Search yet.

I am dissapointed with the way the phone handles SMS and messaging. I would have expected that there would be a gmail like 'threaded conversation' application for SMS, but instead by default the inadequate HTC SMS application. I have replaced it with Handcent SMS manager for free.

I have linked my phone up with email from both Gmail (Personal) and Microsoft Exchange (Work). I also work from home a bit through the Citrix Client app (Fantastic!). I have also been reading and working on documents using quick office and adobe PDF reader which are installed by default.

Gmail integration is seamless. All contacts, attachments and of course emails are very fast to access and read. One gripe however is that pinch zoom does not work in the gmail app which makes reading emails which are made up of mostly images very difficult.

I already have my exchange calendar synced with my exchange calendar at work through the google sync application. I am finding that the 'Agenda' view of the Calendar application is invaluable. Displaying meetings, time, location and contact details of those at the meeting.

Exchange integration (HTC designed) is great. I can access my work phone directory through my contacts (go to corporate directory) as well as read and reply to emails quickly. Downloading and reading document attachments is very easy also. Allowing me to do quick analysis and shoot a reply off almost as quickly as if I was at a computer.

Google docs sync is currently only by a 3rd party application, which I am disappointed with. I would really like to see a native application which you can download and edit documents without using the docs HTML interface. For all other documents the office application installed by default is quite good, but no google docs integration.

True Multitasking (Not apple) is brilliant, holding the home key allows you to jump back and forward between application and copy and paste info between applications.

Must Have Apps
I have concluded that there are some applications that everybody should not go without.
  • Aussie Weather Radar - Especially during cyclone season.
  • Google Maps - Rooted Version allows turn by turn voice navigation
  • Gesture Search - Brings old school transcription back to search
  • You Tube - Fills in much time
  • aLastFM Player - Streaming music
  • ABC News - Essential News Headlines
  • Bluetooth File Transfer - Nice interface and FTP server for bluetooth
  • RealCalc - Being an engineer a scientific calculator can come in handy
  • DataCounter Widget - Keep track of your expensive mobile data use
  • ES File Explorer - Tried a few file managers. This seems to cut the mustard
  • Epicurious - Recipies Galore
  • Google Finance - Forget Bigpond Finance, useless app.
  • GDocs - Integration with Google Docs
  • Gesture Search - Old school transcription
  • Google Translate - for working internationally
  • Handcent SMS - Replace the HTC SMS UI
  • Photoshop Mobile - Photo management and manipulation
  • Pkt Auctions ebay - Good eBay search and track tool
  • WiFinder - for when you are out and about. Avoids high mobile data charges.

For fun
  • Billy Goat Test - Best ever brain game
  • Google Sky Map - Brilliant astronomy tool
  • Invadroid - Space Invaders
  • Listen - Podcasting for android
  • Metal Detector - Actually works. I am using it as a wall stud finder for mounting frames
  • Paper Toss - Fun game, just like work
  • Google Scoreboard - Cricket scores live (no footy :( )
  • Shazam - Music identification
  • Google Shopper - Lookup products online by taking a photo
  • Total Footy - Live scores and ladder.
I am still looking for apps which provide:
  • Tide times
  • Fish identification
  • GPS Tracking Secret fishing spots
  • Map application that caches - used for 4x4 driving outside of mobile coverage
  • Good Golf game tracking and course info
  • Voice Transcription into text
  • VNC client
  • More Games
I will be posting more information about the actual use of the phone as a continue using it from day to day. I am expecting that as I explore more applications I will find new ways that the phone can come in handy.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Telstra's understanding of remote Australia needs

Having won a competition to review the HTC desire from Telstra on 14th May I was pleased to see that Telstra was interested in understanding the different needs of remote Australia.

I live in a remote Northern Territory town of 4000 people called Nhulunbuy (or Gove) which is only serviced via flights and a weekly barge for deliveries due to roads flooding during the wet season, as happens across the top end of Australia. Having items delivered by air mail is as fast as in urban centres for regular mail, taking only a couple of days for the item to get here. The barge however, which transports all ground mail can take up to 3 weeks depending on the weather conditions.

It is now the 25th May, 12 days after Telstra sent the item and the phone has still not arrived. I would put this down to the Australian Post service, however due to logistical and cost constraints it is understandable that low priority mail can take time to arrive. One possible conclusion is that Telstra, as an essential communication service, may not fully understand that being without a phone for weeks on end is difficult mentally and sometimes physically dangerous in an area which there are few people to help you in an emergency situation.

I am not suggesting that Telstra does not take this responsibility lightly, as there are maintenance acceleration programs in place which ensure that people with health problems have problems rectified as soon as possible. What I am suggesting is that there are still areas which Telstra may not fully understand the unique living conditions that remote Australia presents.

Again, I don't think this shows a lack of leadership or poor service on Telstra's behalf. What it does show is that with evolving communications and focus on cutting edge technology in urban areas that there needs to be equal attention paid to new solutions and improvements to remote services.

As for the phone, my hope is that it will arrive by the end of the week and I will be able to present some videos and reports on how telecommunications impacts on remote Australia.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

iPhone vs HTC Desire

Having not received my HTC desire for review yet, I have decided to do a review on the systems of the HTC Desire (Android) vs the Apple iPhone from a global community and competition point of view.

There is no denying that the Apple iPhone has been a game changing phone. It has challenged phone manufacturers to step up to the plate and provide more than just the basic call and message system with some Java support which has been on all phones for around 10 years.

The kick start which Apple has provided the mobile world has both provided great opportunity for business and individuals to make money off the blooming world of mobile communications NG as long as you play by Apples rules.

Almost every large store, bank, social network, service provider has created an iPhone application, which cannot be recycled by moving
the application from one platform to another. One might say that this was a good investment as the number of iPhones exceeds the number of any other next generation mobile OS. However this is NOT true. By far Symbian is the highest selling mobile OS and Blackberry sells a vast number more phones than Apple.
(Source: Giga OM)

So the question stands, why have all these amazing applications 'popped up' just for the iPhone?

Why Open Source?
Since the early days of open source there have been many geeks who profess open source love to all, however there are now larger players stepping into the market, creating open source software which not only competes with 'closed' software but exceeds the closed systems is ease of use, speed and cost (free), such as Mark Shuttleworth, the South African astronaut who brought you Ubuntu (which I am using to write this article) and Google with the new Android OS.

Why are these people creating free software and how is it possible for them to be better than Windows or Apple operating systems?

Mark Shuttleworth and Ubuntu (Translates loosely to 'Humanity through relationships') have an agenda to make it cheaper and easier for people to use computers. Google however has a financial profit agenda. They want more people using the internet 'Googling' things to provide advertising revenue. This is not a bad thing, your search results have been provided this way for years.

The benefit with these operating systems and software is that YOU can change them. You can suggest better ways of doing things, create better graphics and icons or even reprogram part of the system to work better or be more secure. There is a very large community of open source users waiting for your suggestions. Android is no different, there is a development community who are waiting for you to make a suggestion.

The power of the new generation of open source mobile platforms such as Android is that application and service developers can create one application on their favourite development platform and then port it to other open source and closed source devices (all except Apple).

There has been many examples of Apple rejecting applications which people and companies have invested time and money without explanation. Due to the restrictive nature of the iPhone/iTunes symbiotic relationship and Apples strangle hold on all applications which can be run on an iPhone there is a good chance that Googles Android OS will fill the gap by allowing local install of applications without the need to Jail Break your iPhone out of it's closed source prison.

Apple has even rejected the possibility of developers creating applications in flash and translating them into an iPhone application using technology Adobe is about to launch.
Another example of good money after bad when developing applications for Apple OS.

Last but not least, the iPhone will not have flash support. This means that there are many websites which will simply not work on the iPhone. New social networks or favourite TV show sites which have not spent the money developing an Apple specific application will only be accessible using Android based phones.

The new Adobe Air development platform, along with the Open Source Screen Project have provided a path forward for application developers to move their content from PC to desktop to media player to TV.

Back to the future
The selection of mobiles which run open source software is vast, Symbian, Meebo and Android are just a few players. Android however has shown great promise, having Google invest millions into development and the 3rd party devices evolving fast. Some might say that just by restricting the iPhone OS to one device Apple has restricted rapid improvement of mobile technology, not to mention choice of devices.

I still don't know if the HTC Desire will be better than iPhone or a Sony Ericsson X10 or Motorola Droid. What I do know is that choosing an open mobile platform rather than a restrictive, closed OS designed only to run on one device provides choice into the future and a better end user experience in the long term.

Friday, 14 May 2010

HTC Desire - Telstra Social Reviewer

Telstra has given me the opportunity to review the new HTC (very) smart phone as a part of the Social Review program. To explain, I entered a competition and now along with 24 other people am an official reviewer of the phone.

I have been told that the phone should be here soon, which probably means Monday or Tuesday in Nhulunbuy. Once the phone gets here I am sure my blog will be flooded with my new posts, but I am not going to do an 'Unboxing Video' like all those other lackies on youtube. I am going to show you how the phone is used in everyday life such as taking photos, geocacheing, Navigation, golfing, fishing, you know, how everyday stuff can be made better with the fancy new phone.

If you have any suggestions for videos or tests for the phone while I am reviewing it please post a comment here or contact me on facebook.

Here is the official YouTube video of the HTC desire. I am looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Whale Shark

While we were out fishing with Steve and Craig we came across this whale shark. It was as big as the boat and very gentle. It started to lift it's head out of the water to see what we were doing there.

All in all it was a very successful day with a couple of coral trout and a few other Trevelly we had a great dinner when we got home. Along with the mud crabs that were fresh from the mangroves, it made a delicious meal.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

November 2008: Photos from Nhulunbuy

This is the view from the flat. Third floor overlooking the beach.
Also attached are some of the photos of exploring new areas around town.

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Back in Nhulunbuy

After the trip to Melbourne it was nice to get back into the warmer climate, blue water, white beaches and outdoor lifestyle. Although Melbourne was nice to see many family and friends the cold weather and the traffic was just killing us.

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Photos from Melbourne

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More Halloween Photos

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Haloween Party

Here are some of the photos from Nathan's annual haloween party.

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Sunday, 7 September 2008


Yes I got bogged, but what better place to do it.
This place is magnificent. You couldn't ask for a better beach.
Little Bondi East of Nhulunbuy.

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The new flat

I created a video for my website that shows the flat that I am moving into.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Brisbane Visit

During the last week I stayed in Brisbane for a control logic meeting at the companies head office. This is the view from the balcony of the apartment which I stayed in. The 'Medina' apartment was located just at the end of the story bridge, not a very fancy room, but the location was fantastic. Only a 2 min walk to work in the morning along the river.

You can see the office I was working in in the second photo. It is the small brown building right on the water with trees around it.

I will be back in Brisbane in about a weeks time for the  Graduate Forum.

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