March 1st, 2010

device

A good move in the "Don't be Evil" direction

Huh -- I hadn't previously noticed the Data Liberation Front within Google. This is basically an internal group whose entire self-stated purpose is to figure out how people can get their data *out* of Google's hands if they want to, and publicize that. It's not perfect (they admit quite explicitly that their coverage is nowhere near complete yet), but it's a nice project to keep the company honest...
device

LJ -- the least phone-friendly of the networks?

There -- I think I *finally* have things set up so that I can read my LJ flist from my Droid. That was way harder than it should have been.

Most of the social networks have dedicated software for the major mobile platforms, or at least excellent sites. The Facebook app for Android is stellar, and ships with the phone. There are a host of decent Twitter clients (I'm currently using Twidroid), and even Buzz has a web version that is tailored specifically for phones.

LJ, OTOH, has a simplistic mobile interface, m.livejournal.com. Used naively, it has a glaring weakness: you can't use friend filters for reading on it. That makes it essentially useless for me, since I *always* read using filters. I've got all kinds of people and feeds on my full flist, including a bunch that I follow rarely if at all. For actual reading, I use one of the filters -- ranging from "Daily Reading" if I'm caught up, or "Critical High-Priority" (which mostly consists of close friends who I particularly care about not missing posts from) if not. If I have *gobs* of time, I'll use one of the optional-reading lists, but that's really pretty rare.

Anyway, after far too much digging around in the LJ FAQ, I finally found the right incantation. It turns out that, if you create a special friend list titled "Mobile View", that defines the friends that will show up in the mobile app. Not ideal from my POV -- it's duplicating data, and I'd rather have access to my standard filters -- but at least LJ is now on an even footing with Facebook and Twitter (both of which I am following *far* more regularly on my phone than I ever did on the desktop)...
device

The new toys are getting pretty decent

Last week, I finally broke down and indulged myself in an "impulse buy" that I'd been thinking about for six months: a new netbook. It wasn't a trivial decision, since I've sort of got two laptops already. But one is an XO, which I refer to as my "Fisher-Price laptop" -- it's cute, but it's slow, strange, and the keyboard really is too small for adult hands. And there's my work laptop, but that's big, heavy and kind of a pain to bring home often. (Plus there's my old ThinkPad from Convoq, which is nice but currently somewhat dead.) So having heard strong reviews of the new Eee 1005PE, and finding it on the shelves for just a hair over $300, I figured it was worth a gamble.

It's surprisingly good. Windows 7 Starter is a slightly lobotomized version of the OS, but in practice I'm finding that my laptop runs everything just fine, and boots *much* faster than my work laptop. The screen height is a real constraint, but as Ars Technica pointed out, you can improve that by hiding the Windows taskbar and using Chrome as your browser. The smallish keyboard probably restricts me to typing at 2/3 normal speed -- but 2/3 my normal speed is still pretty damned fast. True to netbook form, it weighs pretty much nothing. The Wifi-N works great: it's the fastest net connection of any of my machines. The battery life is just plain insane: something like 6-11 hours, depending on usage. And it comes in the same shade of burgundy as my car!

So that's my new little red toy, which I'll probably be bringing to meetings instead of the bulky old ThinkPad. So far, so good: if it continues without major snafus, I can recommend it quite strongly...