Random Thoughts

Thought #45

Just in case you haven't noticed, I've started twittering in the last two weeks. This will probably spell the end of "Random Thoughts" since I can now post random blather as it comes to me rather than saving it for a rainy day.

Thought #46

The primary reason I started twittering was that I was looking for something simple and fun to do from my new G1 Android phone. What's more interesting than the phone itself is how people have reacted to it, namely, "You bought a G1? You?"

Apparently I have acquired a reputation as a bit of a Luddite over the years, which is hardly fair. True, I'm hardly an early adopter, but I'm not trying to create blog entries on a linotype machine either. I pick up gadgets and software as I need them as opposed to when I want them. I only seem backwards in comparison to my friends, most of whom are the sort who queue up to buy things on release day and would network their TiVo to their iPhone just for fun.

In general, I think my approach works out for the best. Yeah, this does mean that I don't have an HDTV right now. But it also means that I'm not stuck with a huge pile of unwatchable HD-DVDs either.

Thought #47

About a week after I purchased the G1, Google finally allowed their developers to start charging for applications. And, unsurprisingly, the Google Market was immediately flooded with eight zillion rip-offs of "iFart" and "I Am Rich." You think someone would just combine the two into a farting diamond called "I Am Rich and Have No Taste." Why are people buying a $300 phone and a 99¢ program to replicate the functionality of a $2 impulse buy at Spencer's?

At the moment, most of the G1 apps aren't quite ready for prime time yet. The best POP mail client I've found has some serious issues (like always pinging the mail server for the 25 most recent messages as opposed to whatever messages have come in since the last ping), the Twitter client I'm using doesn't do direct messaging well, and a most of the other apps with interesting ideas tend to have lackluster implementations. WikiTude, for instance, uses the GPS to overlay various points of interest over the phone's camera images but is crippled by the fact that the data in their system is almost useless — a lot of obvious geographical data and not enough points of interest.

If there's one app you have to get, it's Locale. It's a program that lets you alter your phone settings for various conditions - turning off data notifications at night, or turning down the volume when the GPS sees that you're in certain locations. And even this isn't quite ready yet — it doesn't really integrate well with other programs, so I can't, say, turn off checking my work e-mail while I'm in the office.

Also worth having, if clunky: AndFTP, K-9, RingDroid, and Twidroid. Everything else? Not terribly exciting. And the in-phone browser? Urgh. Don't get me started. Clunky as hell without installing some extensions and still not all that great with them.

Thought #48

There have also been a spate of publishers offering downloadable comics for the G1 as well, and I can't figure out why.

Okay, I know why: because the publishers can charge money for them. From a consumer standpoint, though, I can't really see the advantage over a webcomic with a well-tuned mobile stylesheet. I suppose having a comic specifically formatted to the dimensions of the screen is admittedly nice but not really a spectacular selling point. Even from a development standpoint it's sort of dodgy — who wants to make different versions of a comic for print-on-demand, download, web, and several varieties of phone (or the Kindle)? Each one has unique aesthetic challenges that will have to be compensated for — figuring out the optimal size of the lettering will be a huge headache, since what looks good on a G1's tiny screen is going to be tiny on a big monitor.

I suppose there are worse ways to try and monetize digital comics. I just don't see this one catching on.

I'll also use this as a chance to say: webcomics, start working on your mobile stylesheets. The day is coming where they're going to be very important and it's best to be ahead of the curve here.

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