Category Archives: android

Wordfeud, server maintenance & monetization

wordfeudSo I’m a Wordfeud-addict (you know, Scrabble without the TM infringement) and the game is down since this morning. Their Twitter-account reads;

#Wordfeud servers are going down for maintenance around 06:00 CET. We expect 2-3 hours of downtime.

This message is 9h old but still no Wordfeud, so they must be facing major problems. Which begs the question; is Bertheussen IT into server-technology? And wouldn’t they invest more if paying customers could simply stop paying if service-level became too bad instead of paying a one-time fee?

The broken smartphone sequel

It’s been a almost a year since I last listed all smartphones that passed through my clumsy hands, so surely I must have some items to add to that list, you might think? Indeed! So starting off where we ended last year;

  1. 2014: Google Galaxy Nexus; 2nd hand replacement (a steal for only €95) with Cyanogenmod 11. Missed 4G, but loved the phone really. It just died on me within a week.
  2. 2014: ZTE Vec Blade 4G: no 2nd hand, 4G and not ridiculously expensive was what I was aiming for, so I bought the ZTE for just €170 and it was a very decent handset really. I sent it in for repairs under warranty mid 2015 after the power-button broke.
  3. 2015: Samsung Galaxy Ace2: much like the Galaxy Gio I used before a useable but underpowered small smartphone with an aging 2.x Android. But once one is used to it, there’s not a lot one cannot do with it (I typically want Firefox Mobile, WordFeud and a music player).
  4. 2015: back to the ZTE which was repaired perfectly, until after approx. a month it fell out of my pocket onto the ground, shattering the glass. I tried finding a shop to replace the glass, but ZTE being not that common I didn’t find one. So …
  5. 2015: Samsung Galaxy Core Prime VE: So I wanted a not-too-expensive big-brand phone (i.e. LG, Sony, Samsung or HTC) to have a better chance of getting it repaired outside of warranty, with 4G and a very recent Android-version (i.e. Lollipop) and that’s what the Galaxy Core Prime is about. I added a 16Gb class 10 SD-card and I bought a flip wallet case. Just to be safe I’ll go and buy a screen protector as well, because I am, as this list proves, not only spoiled but also clumsy.

The Broken Smartphone Breakdown

broken smartphone (http://pixabay.com/en/broken-cell-phone-cellular-72161/)I’m a spoiled, clumsy brat. Spoiled because my (previous) employer hands out yearly vouchers, which I use to buy me a new top-notch smartphone every 2-3 years. And clumsy as I all too often loose of break those expensive gadgets, forcing me to look for cheaper replacements. So here’s the breakdown of my smartphone history;

  1. 2009: HTC Hero: my first smartphone (although I wasn’t complaining about that 2nd hand Nokia e61i). I lost it on the train a year and a half after buying it
  2. 2011: Acer beTouch e110: cheap replacement for the HTC Hero, only used it for a couple of weeks before selling it because it was a horrible excuse of a smartphone.
  3. 2011: HTC Magic: 2nd hand replacement, it was a great little handset once it was flashed with Cyanogenmod. I sold it for my next new phone, the …
  4. 2011: Samsung Galaxy SII: Had a great time with that Sammy, lots of upgrades & tweaks. but I did need to have it repaired within a year of buying it, after it fell out of my pocket when getting off the train.
  5. 2012: Samsung Omnia 7: My first encounter with the Windows Phone Metro interface as a temporary device, while the SII was getting fixed.
  6. 2012: Samsung Galaxy SII: back from repairs and was very happy with it, but a year after that it broke down again.
  7. 2013: HTC Radar: temporary replacement for the SII, Windows Phone again.
  8. 2013: Samsung Galaxy S4: A brand new handset which I dropped approx. a year after buying it. Not really a huge leap forward compared to the SII, but I did love the speed improvements 4G offered.
  9. 2014: Samsung Galaxy Gio: temporary replacement for the broken S4. but despite the fact I got my main apps up and running (incl. Firefox Mobile), the old version of Android (2.3.6), the small screen and a serious lack of memory decided this was not a permanent replacement.
  10. 2014: Google Galaxy Nexus; 2nd hand replacement (bought yesterday, a steal for only €95) with Cyanogenmod 11. Early days, but I just might try not to drop it, I’m loving it already. The only thing I really miss is 4G support, because, after all, I am a spoiled brat.

Android Chrome bug when styling unicode character?

symbols CSS weirdness in chrome for androidWhile experimenting with the use of Unicode characters in a small proof of concept, I stumbled upon what I think is a bug in Chrome for Android. Apparently character ☰, which renders as ☰ and which most people consider the “options”-icon, cannot be given a color in Chrome for Android whereas other Unicode characters can.

As you can see when visiting this test-page, the 3 symbols styled correctly (font color white) in most browsers (tested on IE8, FF on W7, Ubuntu and Android, Chrome on W7 and Ubuntu), but the options-symbol is not white on Chrome for Android (at least on my Samsung Galaxy S4).

So, does this qualify as a bug, or did I just mess up? Anyone happens to know a workaround?

Facebook force-feeding Messenger, going mobile web instead

So Facebook wants me to install yet another permissions-greedy app just to read messages? That is so frustrating! So no, don’t think so guys. I’m putting Facebook back into the (slightly) safer sandbox that is the mobile web;
facebook forces users from app to web

So thanks for reminding me why I love my mobile browser that much Facebook!

Sammy’s dead, long live Sammy!

poor polly parrotI was pretty happy with my Samsung Galaxy S II, especially after the non-trivial Jelly Bean upgrade some time ago. Because of that and as I wanted to wait until I had 3 vouchers from my employer (which covers the bulk of the cost of a high-end device), I decided to hang on to my S II for one more year.

But then (about a week after the guarantee period ended) it died on me. Black screen, no sound what so ever. I tried charging it (the battery was running low a couple of hours before), but the thing remained dark. I tried replacing the battery with a known good one, but still nothing but silence. I banged it against the counter of the shop where I bought it and threw it up in the air while yelling slightly frantically;

‘ELLO SAMMY!!!!!
Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

THIS IS AN EX-SMARTPHONE!

But the shop-guy just said my Sammy was stunned and that it was out of guarantee anyway.

So I needed an alternative. I started out using my wife’s ancient Sony Ericsson w810 (which I used before her) but that didn’t work for me. I then convinced a colleague (thanks Gregory) to lend me the HTC Radar from his collection of test-devices, but the Windows Phone experience was pretty similar to the one I had over a year ago. In the mean time I tried to find me a smuggler who could buy me a ZTE Open with Firefox OS in Spain (thanks Tamara, thanks Pieter & Tine) but Telefonica (Movistar) support couldn’t confirm it wasn’t sim-locked so I cancelled the order.

And then i saw colleague after colleague (Benoit & evil twin Jean-Paul) surrender to the sweetness of what is considered the current hotshot smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S 4. And after someone (Gregory, great chap!) gave me his voucher (on condition he would get mine next year), I caved and ran down to buy me that beautiful telephone. So (again) no Firefox OS phone for me just yet, I have me a new PRISM-device to tame.

Thanks for reminding me about AdBlock Plus Google!

So Google removed AdBlock Plus from the Google Play Android store. That is their prerogative, off course, but it does confirm they’re not the cool technology-centric search engine everyone once thought they were. It’s kind of ironic that in December 2011 AdBlock Plus by default enabled the display of “acceptable” ads, a move that seemed to be an attempt to appease (or please) Google.

But whatever way you look at this, Google’s core business (as is Facebook’s) is displaying ads. Sure they try to do that in an intelligent manner. And sure, they have some cool technologies (App Engine, Android, Chrome, …). But at the end of the day they want us to see and click on ads. That makes Google a media company. But whereas traditional media have -at least the notion- of a wall between their editorial and advertising departments, editorial independence does not seem to exist over at Google.

I don’t like particularly like ads, I don’t like widgets snooping on my web-whereabouts and I definitively don’t like Google’s advertising department dictating what applications the editorial team in charge of Google Play should remove. So today I installed AdBlock Plus on all my devices. Maybe you should too?

Introduction to Adblock Plus

Watch this video on YouTube.