Archive for August, 2011

Google Motorola Mobility Purchase Explained

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

It does make sense, people understand parts of it, but no one seems to get it right.  Let me explain.

Personal Tidbit: Kent’s Market Manipulation

Looking at a down-market, thinking this was a buying opportunity, I bought a few shares of Google. A few days later it fell on the Motorola news.  No, I wasn’t annoyed with myself (I didn’t have any inside information, and wouldn’t trade on it if I did).

Rather I am annoyed that the market doesn’t seem to understand what Google is up to. I need to explain so my stock can go back up.

Google wants Android to succeed.

Google’s Android “partners” don’t particularly care about Android succeeding, they want their own tablets and smartphones to sell.  So they tart up their versions of Android to try to catch an eye (“Hey, big guy! Wanna..touch my tablet…?”).  The other day I was talking to someone who was considering getting an Iphone.  No, I didn’t say “Get an Android!”, I kept my mouth shut because the Android market is a mess, I have no idea what Android phone is good right now.  I think Google is going to tell Motorola to make clean versions of Android.  Like the Nexus One (which I bought).  Once they do that I can recommend people buy a Motorola Android.  People will still be tempted by the trollops from the other “partners” and that is a matter between consenting adults, but at least there will be a clean and respectable baseline you can bring home to mom.

Google wants Android phones and tablets to innovate.

God knows what it took to get Samsung to put a near field communications radio (NFC) in the Nexus S, but I bet there are some cool things Google wants to do but no “partner” wants to bother with.  Google will tell Motorola to add new features.

Google “partners” need not quake.

Much has been said about how the “partners” won’t like Google being in the handset and tablet business, but if Google forces Motorola to do things the “partners” don’t think is smart…well, that might be just the kind of competition they could use: either ineffectual (no problem) or truly innovative (serves them right).  Google is no Apple, they don’t have an “all mine” utopian (dystopian!) vision, they aren’t interested in crushing LG or HTC. They want to sell ads.

Google has a really nice cash cow in their ad business. They aren’t interested in the low-margin hardware business for any reason other than to keep their ad business healthy. Their fundamental interest here is different from that of other Android hardware manufacturers.

Google has patent battles to fight.

Speaking of Apple and Android “partners”, Steve is doing his best to crush the entire Android ecosystem in the courts, some recent decisions out of Europe should have them all deeply scared.  Google to the rescue: Motorola has a lot of patents, many are probably even wireless-related. (What was the Nortel portfolio mix like?)  Motorola, unlike a patent trollhouse, and being a hardware business, might even have legitimate patents.  (I think software patents should be very rare and noteworthy, and that all the other SW patents are garbage.)  By measuring patents by the count, people miss the fact of these might include legitimate and topical patents.

Google is interested in big screens, too.

Google TV hasn’t done much so far, but they haven’t given up.  Motorola Mobility also includes set-top boxes in living rooms.  As much as we all like to poke at our phones, we also like being couch potatoes, sitting in front of a big TV, poking at our phones.  Google wants access to our TVs, Motorola Mobility gives them that.

Sitting on tons of cash is a waste.

Google can afford to buy Motorola Mobility. We now know they are serious about Android and will do what it takes to make it succeed.

Apple is not going to manage to drive a lawyer-hewn stake through Android’s heart. Android is here to stay.  Long live Android!

-kb, the Kent who thinks it all makes great sense and GOOG should go up now.

©2011 Kent Borg

Android Phones Won’t Keep Time Precisely

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Google should use the GPS receiver. They should use NTP. But they trust the cell carrier.

Recently I have been in awe of what an amazing thing my Nexus One is.

For example, with few instances of a little 2×1 widget called myUTC Clock, one of my home screens turns into an 8-timezone pocket watch.  A read-in-the-dark, self-setting, 8-timezone pocket watch.

I am old enough that such a thing would once have been very expensive if possible at all.  Yet I can add it to my phone for free.

So cool.  It must be time to start complaining.

My Android Nexus One isn’t reliable about how it keeps time.  Sure, it is good enough for prosaic purposes, but it could do much better.

In the Settings I have two choices, either “Automatic Use network-provided values” or I can set it manually.

I have it set to use network-provided values.  This means to take the time from the local cellphone network.  Unfortunately, the cell provider is sometimes quite wrong.  There is a lonely roaming section of highway I drive frequently where my phone clock is off by almost two minutes.  At home, on T-Mobile in the big city, my phone clock is set within a second or so.  That seems sloppy and random and prone to wild errors if some technician makes a typo.

My other option is to manually set the time.  I did this yesterday afternoon, and this morning my phone was off by over 20-seconds.  That’s enough to start missing airplanes if not reset frequently.

There are two other options that are not available without rooting my phone and customizing the software:

1. Use time from the GPS receiver.  Yes, the GPS receiver is not always turned on, but when it is it is an exceedingly good source of time.  Pretty much “gold standard” where time still has a “gold standard”.

2. Use time from the internet.  The Network Time Protocol (NTP) works over wireless connections, uses very little data, and can set time very precisely.

In both cases, once the Linux kernel inside my Android knows the correct time it is willing to faithfully honor it to very small intervals.

Google: Please make Android keep decent time.  Possibly someone has already done this nicely and you could just pickup the code, examine it some, and make it part of the official version.

Android phones have the ability to keep excellent and time, it is just a simple matter of programming.

-kb, the Kent who has been a time geek for years, who knows that time is very complicated because of the conflicting expectations we have about time, and who still misses airplanes.

P.S.  One of the complications that Google tries to avoid by taking local phone system time is that of timezones and daylight savings/summer time.  Okay, so it is tricky, but there is detailed timezone data available for Linux, you have location data (from the GPS and, ironically, from the local phone system), the result could still have problems, but they will likely still be better than blindly trusting the local phone system.

©2011 Kent Borg

Healthful Diet: A Too-Simple Summary

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Everyone else pontificates on what we should eat, why can’t I?

Two big points, A and B.

A.  Only eat food that is made of … food!

This means don’t eat junk food.

This also means don’t eat most convenience foods.  If you look in the freezer case at the grocery store there will be frozen vegetables there and they are good for you.  Nearly everything else in the freezer is bad for you.  If the frozen broccoli is made of stuff that isn’t broccoli, don’t eat it.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.  If the ingredients include a lot of salt or sugar or long words that you don’t know the meaning of, don’t eat it.  If it even has a long list of ingredients, be suspicious.  The word “hydrogenated” means don’t eat it.

If eating out, don’t eat fast food.  This doesn’t just mean don’t go to McDonalds, it means don’t go to restaurants that can’t convince you their food is made of food.

B.  Eat stuff that is good for you.  This second big point has three sub-points.

  1. Fundamentals, remember what your grandmother told you. Eat your vegetables, eat real fruit, don’t eat too much salt (okay to sprinkle on top at the table, not okay to spoon in during cooking).  Deep fried foods should be eaten in moderation.  Desserts and other “treats” should be eaten in moderation.  Organic is good (one can tell how much someone eats organic food by measuring how much pesticide is in their blood).  Maybe don’t eat animal products that are too industrial in how they are raised and processed.
  2. Don’t eat so much sugar.  This includes not eating so much potatoes because they rapidly turn into sugar in your body.  Same with white bread, white rice, and other refined starches.  After too many years of eating too much pure starch and sugar one can easily end up with “adult onset diabetes”.  Lately we have gotten so efficient at this that kids now get “adult onset diabetes”, so they had to change the name to “type 2 diabetes”.  Refined carbohydrates are dangerous, go for hearty whole-grain.  (If bread is colored brown but is still as soft as Wonderbread, don’t eat it.)
  3. Don’t eat so much corn.  Back in the ’70s the US federal government changed agricultural policy to encourage lots of grain production (alas, not fruits and vegetables), and this has mainly meant every year we produce mountains of corn.  And the food industry has been working hard to figure out how to get us to eat it ever since.  The kind of corn we are talking about here is not sweet, but they have an industrial process to convert the corn starch to “high fructose corn syrup”: don’t eat it.  Junk food is loaded with corn.  Somewhat hidden is “corn fed beef”.  Beef cattle have spent many thousands of years figuring out how to digest grass.  It is an impressive feat, and they have done it!  They will even wander around and harvest the grass they eat.  So what do we do?  We put then in packed corrals where they can’t much move, and we feed them trucked in corn.  Then we slaughter them young, before their health gives out, because they are not designed to eat corn and it makes them sick.  Eat local grass-fed beef, it tastes better, is safer, better for you, better for the planet, better for the cattle.

Unfortunately, if you put all this together, it means you that if you are stuck in an airport waiting for your next plane…there is little to eat.  If you are at the mall…there is maybe nothing to eat.  If you are at a convenience store…there is very little to eat.

Shop at real supermarkets, go to a local farmers’ market if there is one near you.  Pack a lunch.  Support restaurants that try to serve food that is made of … food.

-kb, the Kent who is eats better than he used to, and who even gets some exercise.

©2011 Kent Borg