Migrating from iPhone to Android

It is possible to migrate from iPhone to an Android device and not miss out on all those ‘fantastic’ apps that Apple would have you believe are only available on the iPhone platform.

Below is a list of my favourite apps that are available on both platforms:

  • Google Maps (but Android version also includes Navigation) [Google Inc.]
  • Google Earth [Google Inc.]
  • Dropbox [Dropbox, Inc.]
  • Evernote [Evernote Corp.]
  • Ocado [Ocado Technology]
  • Shazam [Shazam Entertainment Limited]
  • Sky News [BSkyB]
  • Twitter [Twitter, Inc.]
  • WordPress [Automattic, Inc.]

Here is my list of alternative apps where a direct Android port is not yet available:

  • Seesmic (I chose this over the official Twitter app as it supports multiple accounts) ~ Tweetie
  • Where’s My Droid [alienmanfc6] ~ MobileMe Find My iPhone
  • Record It [Austin Reid] ~ Sky+
  • Pkt Auctions eBay [Bonfire Media, Inc.] ~ eBay Mobile
  • Astrid Task/Todo List [Todoroo Inc.] ~ Todo
  • PicSay Pro [Shinycore] ~ Cropulator
  • Squeeze Commander [flattermann, Chr. Erpelding] ~ IPeng
  • Fring [fring] ~ Skype
  • National Rail [croworc] ~ National Rail Enquiries
  • Barcode Scanner [ZXing Team] ~ Red Laser

How about some apps that are only available on the Android platform?

  • RingScheduler [CellAvant, Inc.]
  • Handcent SMS [handcent_admin]
  • Sipdroid VoIP [i-p-tel GmbH]
  • LED Light [picolyl]
  • beebPlayer [David Johnston]
  • Astro File Manager [Metago]
  • BatteryTime Lite [Motalen]
  • Wifi Analyzer [farproc]

What else is great about the freedom of Android?

  • Widgets! – active content on your home screen(s), this is a genuine game changer
  • Printing via Bluetooth to a Polaroid Pogo photo printer
  • Choosing any notification sound I like (not the small selection that Steve Jobs approves)
  • Not paying £59/year for MobileMe

Do I miss my iPhone? Not a jot. I have been using an iPhone for nearly three years solid, so that really surprises me. After a few weeks of using an Android 2.1 device the iPhone looks and feels antiquated. Will the much heralded iPhone OS 4.0 bring iPhone back level again? From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t believe so. If I were Steve Jobs, I would be a worried man.

Fedora 12 hangs during large file transfers

Burning Fedora

Ever since I replaced a Belkin network switch with a new D-Link DGS-1216T gigabit switch my Fedora server has been crashing when copying large files to it using Samba or Secure FTP. There was nothing in the log files or console messages to suggest the cause, so I scoured blogs and forums for answers. What I discovered is that I am certainly not the only person suffering from system crashes during large file transfers on Fedora 12. The most common suggestion for is to disable ‘scatter-gather’ in the ethernet card settings (ethtool -K eth0 sg off), but this did not address the problem in my case.

I suspect there is a bug in the Linux sky2 ethernet driver for the Marvell 88E8057 NIC, which is embedded on my Shuttle SA76G2 XPC barebone. Quick solution – disable the onboard Marvell NIC and install an Intel Gigabit PRO/1000CT PCIe adapter which uses the e1000e driver.

Since installing the new Intel NIC I’ve not experienced a single lock-up so far. This is unfortunately just the latest example of Fedora costing me money to work around the instabilities of supposedly supported hardware.

How to sync Google Contacts with Apple Address Book

If like me you are considering migrating from Apple’s MobileMe to a more open (and free) repository for your PIM data, then Google’s Gmail could be the answer.

Once you have setup your Gmail account simply export your contacts from Address Book or MobileMe, then import directly into Google.

In Mac OS Address Book go to Preferences > Accounts and tick the ‘Synchronise with Google’ option. Enter the Google Account and Password that you wish to synchronise with. You may find that your contacts don’t appear immediately, but you can force a resync via iSync. To do this open iSync, go to Preferences and tick on ‘Show status in menu bar’. To force a manual resync click on the iSync icon (swirly arrows) in the Mac OS menu bar and choose ‘Sync Now’.

The default automatic sync interval is set to 1 day. This can be changed by editing the StartInterval key in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.GoogleContactSyncAgent.plist which has a default setting of 3600 seconds (1 day). I changed this to 300 seconds, which forces an automatic re-sync with Google every five minutes.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

Finally you should check through all your contacts to ensure that they comply with Google’s ActiveSync limitations:

The iPhone can synchronize up to 3 email address. Phone number synchronization is limited to 2 Home numbers, 1 Home Fax, 1 Mobile, 1 Pager, 3 Work (one will be labeled ‘Company Main’) and one Work Fax number.

Aside from some teething troubles when Google’s Calendar service went down last week, this setup has proven to be reliable and I can now keep my PIM data in sync between Mac, iPhone and Android devices.

Multiple identities in Apple Mail

Want a quick way to switch between email identities when sending email in Apple Mail? Well it’s remarkably easy – once you know how!

Instead of creating separate accounts, simply add all the email addresses separated by commas on the email address line in Mail > Preferences.

Mail.app will then display a drop down list of the addresses next to ‘From’ when you compose a message. Just pick the one you want and away you go. Don’t forget that if you are using an address not provided by your ISP then you may need to use SMTP authentication to prevent anti-relaying from blocking your outgoing mail as spam.

The sound of silence

This morning I lay in bed and listened to nothing but the occasional light breeze blowing through the blossom in the trees outside and the cheerful morning chorus of chirruping local wildlife.

This is a special day, a day when I have not been rudely awoken from my slumber by the thunderous roar of Boeing 747s on their final approach overhead. This is the day that airplanes were banished from our skies, when we regained the most basic human right to be free of the unhealthy and invasive noise pollution.

A hushed sense of relaxation has enveloped the entire neighbourhood, conversations are no longer punctuated by the scream of jet engines from overhead, there is a holiday atmosphere.

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano has granted us a brief glimpse of how life would be without the planes. Would I forsake foreign holidays and unseasonal imported fruit in return for this? You bet I would!