I Like Android, But I Have A Gripe…

I’ve been a long time Android user – approximately four years now since moving off of a feature phone, and using an iPod touch for my media consumption and apps. I’ve been mostly happy with Android, especially the latest revisions (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and Kit Kat). So maybe this is less to do with Android itself, and more how Android devices are handled by carriers (and manufacturers)…
android-robot-logo-give-me-my-codeYes, I know I can root my phone, etc, to upgrade to a later version of code, but this is something that tech savvy people are likely to do. When I think of everyday users, these folks are not likely to do this, so they are stuck with whatever code their carrier has qualified. While new features are nice, what concerns me more are folks getting access to security updates.

I am reminded of this every time Apple releases an update to iOS. Just yesterday, iOS 7.0.6 was advertised to my son’s iPod Touch and my wife’s iPhone to fix a security issue, which I promptly installed for them. When Apple releases a code patch, it is available to the end user at that time. With Android, the user must wait weeks or months for the update to make it to their device, based on what testing is done at the carrier (assuming the device is not rooted, and the user has loaded their own version).┬áMy Nexus 7 (a wifi only tablet) is running 4.4.2, but yet my Galaxy Nexus phone is currently stuck on 4.2.2. While there is a 4.3 based code available for the Galaxy Nexus, Verizon has yet to release it to their customer base. (I’m not addressing Windows phone here since I have no experience with it, and honestly don’t know how updates are handled for these devices.)

So let’s think about it… Does my ISP (Comcast) dictate when and what patches or OS upgrades I can do to my home systems? Of course not – the idea sounds absurd, doesn’t it? So why are carriers essentially acting as the change control agent?

I hope this changes. Updates should be available to consumers at the time of their general availability.

Let The Truck Be A Truck

Let The Truck Be A Truck

A few posts back I made reference to “tabletizing” the desktop/laptop OS. Since that post, Linux Mint has remained at the top position on Distrowatch, followed by Mageia, then Ubuntu. Distrowatch may not be the “be all end all” of distro ratings, but seems to be one of the best indicators of at least interest of a particular distro.

Linux Mint’s main offering of their latest version (13, an LTS or Long Term Support release) comes in two main different desktops: Cinnamon, and MATE. Cinnamon is an offering to make the Gnome 3 desktop a more traditional desktop, while MATE is a Gnome 2 fork for those that really want to stay with that experience. Mint also offers an xfce and KDE edition. I am currently running the xfce variant of Linux Mint 13 on my Linux box.

I have not followed Mageia closely, but understand it to be a community fork of Mandriva that came about when Mandriva fell on some difficult times financially. They have a default environment of KDE, but also offers Gnome 3, xfce, lxde, and a couple of others.

From various places I’ve read around the net, folks seem to be still critical of Unity (the default Ubuntu desktop environment), as well as the desktop formerly known as Metro for Windows 8. Of course there are some folks that seem to like those interfaces, but to my unscientific observations, there seem to be more folks critical of these “tablet oriented” interfaces on the desktop/laptop than those embracing it.

My take, and it seems there are others who may agree, is when a tablet experience is all I need, then I will reach for my tablet. When I am on a desktop or laptop though, it’s because I need it to do something more. Something the tablet either cannot do, or do as well or efficiently as a laptop or desktop.

The late Steve Jobs made the analogy that personal computers are like trucks. At one time, when the US was much more of a farming nation, most folks had trucks. As that trend changed though to less farming and into other occupations, less trucks were used in favor of cars. Of course, trucks never went away, and similarly, I don’t see personal computers completely going away anytime soon.

So why “tabletize” the experience of a personal computer? I know in the case of Windows 8, I can click on the “Desktop” tile to get to a more traditional, Windows 7-like experience, or do some registry hack. When looking at the case with Ubuntu, I can install a different evironment.

But I shouldn’t have to.

Why take the truck (in this example, let’s assume the standard pickup), and cut 6 feet off of the 8 foot bed, taking a key function of the truck and reducing it to a significantly less function? It seems to me that the truck functions as a truck when, well, we let it remain a truck.