Google’s mobile strategy (Android) is spot on

It’s not often that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launch a new software development kit with a $10 million prize for developers and a video explanation / press release from one of it’s founders. Yet that is exactly what has happened today with Android’s offical SDK release.

Before you read on, you should probably watch Sergey Brin’s YouTube video.

There has been a lot of fanfare with this latest announcement, but it’s easy to see why; the stakes are huge. By 2010, just over 1 billion people will have access to a computer, but around 4 billion will have access to a mobile phone, with over 1 million new subscribers every day! Google know that the potential for advertising to this vast market is enormous. They already lead the way with their contextual and search based adverts, but with mobile they will be able to target them to location as well.

Now I must admit that I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about Internet on mobile phones until this year. Previously devices were clumsy to use, access speeds were slow, data transfer was expensive, and sites optimised for the small screen were few and far between.

However fast forward to now and we have flat rate data packages, phones that can cope with complex websites as easily as your desktop browser can and pioneering new interfaces such as the Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) multi-touch technology. The prospects for the Mobile Internet are looking up.

And this is great news for Linux. I think Android will do for Linux on mobile phones what Ubuntu has done for Linux on the desktop. If Google’s powerful brand can help get handset makers to write drivers for their hardware then the community as a whole will benefit.

The scope for software developers is enormous. By the end of next year, most handsets will have built in GPS and Android developers will therefore be able to craft a wide range of innovative location based applications. Think free sat-nav and local business enquiries via Google maps!

So, have Google missed out by not launching a single “gPhone”, and focusing on a software platform instead? In my mind, not at all. Linux’s growth is due to its open source nature and the fact that it can run on an enormous range of hardware, and I think Android will benefit from the same.

If Android will run on a mobile phone, then why not run it on a PC as well? Say hello to Google OS.

iPhone UK TV ads begin

I’ve just seen my first UK iPhone ad on Channel 5, but I expect to see a lot more as we count down the days to the November 9th launch.

iPhone UK advert

The ad was demonstrating how you can access full size web sites natively on the iPhone and it certainly did whet my appetite for one. However, I think I’m going to wait until next year for the iPhone 2 (which should have 3G connectivity).

Leopard + WordPress = Ultimate Blogging Tool

In the last 24 hours blogging has become a whole lot easier for me. The reason for this is that I upgraded both my laptop and my blog yesterday evening. The MacBook was taken from OS X Tiger to Leopard and my blog was switched from Blogger to WordPress . The combined Leopard/Wordpress blogging platform makes writing a blog (and embedding images such as screenshots) a breeze. In this post I will show you the steps required to take some screen grabs and then upload them to WordPress.

Take a screenshot

The two main screenshot commands you will most likely use are Command-Shift-3 which takes a grab of the entire screen, or Command-Shift-4 which allows you to select an area of the screen to capture. Both commands will save the the resulting image on your desktop.

Screenshot of Blog Homepage

Resize an image

Once you have made some screenshots you may want to resize them. Double click on the image and it will open up in the Preview utility. Click on the view menu as shown below.

Screenshot of Preview View Menu

On the view menu select adjust size, this will open an options window.

Screenshot of Preview Resize Options

For this post I have resized all my images to have a common width of 400 pixels. Leave the scale proportionally and resample image options checked, then click OK.

Save as JPEG

By default, the screen shot function will save your images as PNGs. Sometimes they are quite large files, so I like to save them as JPEGs instead and adjust the quality down a few notches to result in a smaller file size. Just click File > Save As to bring up the saving options.

Screenshot of Preview Save Options

Uploading to WordPress

Finally, now that the images have been prepared we can upload them to WordPress. On the Write Post page, you will see an upload as shown below.

Screenshot of WordPress Image Uploader

Simply click browse to select the image you want to upload from your desktop, then give it a title and/or description and press the upload button. Once the image has uploaded you will be given a few options on whether you want to display the full image or a thumbnail, and whether you want the image to have a link. Since I had resized my images to 400 pixels, I wanted to display the full image so I selected full size with no link. Then you just press send to editor and the appropriate image code is sent into the main editing text area.

And that’s it!

OS X 10.5 Leopard – First Impressions

In this post I will talk a little about my first impressions of Leopard after upgrading my MacBook from Tiger this evening.

As a converted Mac fan (NASDAQ: AAPL), I pre-ordered Leopard the very same day that Apple spammed e-mailed me about it. That was a week or so ago, and sure enough it arrived in the post this morning, like clockwork, on the day of Leopards official release. So far so good….

The install process was amazingly simple. Once in OS X, I stuck in the CD, clicked an install button and then after confirming my admin password, it restarted the computer and began installing. Initially it said it would take 4 hours, but the time remaining quickly came down and in the end it only took about 40 minutes. However, I was surprised that they didn’t use this time to take you on a tour of some of the new features.

Once you’ve rebooted after the install, the improvements to the OS could be described as a collection of subtle improvements dotted with a few new core features (such as Stacks, Time Machine, Spaces and Quick Look).

Some of the small changes I have noticed so far are…

New wireless networks drop down

The new drop down for selecting a wireless network now shows you whether the networks are secure or not with a padlock icon:

OS X 10.5 Leopard Wireless Networks Dropdown

Preview image resize / resample options

Now when you open an image in preview, you have the option to resize it. I’m pretty sure this is a new feature as I have always wanted to be able to do this!

OS X 10.5 Leopard Preview Image Resize Options

Bluetooth Dropdown Menu

You’ll notice now in the bluetooth dropdown menu that you can see your paired devices and immediately click through to browse or send a file to them.

OS X 10.5 Leopard Bluetooth Menu Options

Fixing the arrow and delete keys in Vim on OS X

One thing that has frustrated me for the past year and half that I have been a Mac user, is the fact that the arrow keys behave strangely in vim’s insert mode. Instead of moving you around the document, they insert an A,B,C or D character followed by a newline. Further more, the delete key doesn’t work. Anyway, I had finally had enough tonight, and so I searched the web for a solution.

The fix turned out to be incredibly easy….

cp /usr/share/vim/vim62/vimrc_example.vim ~/.vimrc

Connecting OS X to GPRS/3G via T-mobile

I have just got a new Nokia N95 on T-Mobile’s excellent Web N Walk package, which allows you to use your mobile as a modem to provide Internet Access on your laptop.

In order to do this you must first pair you phone with your laptop.

  1. Enable bluetooth on the N95 in Menu > Tools > Bluetooth
  2. Enable bluetooth in OS X: System Preferences > Bluetooth > Settings
  3. Tick “Show bluetooth on the status bar”.
  4. From the bluetooth status menu, select browse device
  5. Click “search” to search for your N95.
  6. Follow the on screen instructions to pair your laptop and phone (you will need to give a passcode which can be anything you like, e.g. 1234)
  7. You may wish to set the laptop as an authorised device in your N95. If so, go to Menu > Tools > Bluetooth > Paired Devices then click “set as authorised”. This will save having to select “allow” everytime you wish to connect your laptop to your phone.

Then you need to setup a dial-up networking connection

  1. Open System Preferences > Bluetooth > Devices
  2. Select your N95 and click configure
  3. Go through the wizard and tick “Access the Internet through your phone’s data connection” followed by “Use a direct, higher speed connection to reach your Internet Service Provider (e.g. GPRS). Then click continue.
  4. Give the following settings. Username: user – Password: one2one – GPRS CID string: *99# – Modem Script: Nokia Infrared

Creating a GPRS/3G Internet Connection on OS X to a Nokia 95 on T-mobile

Managing SSH Keys in Mac OS X

For some reason that I haven’t yet worked out my OS X SSH Agent has stopped prompting me for a password when I load it up to add my private key. So I wondered what’s involved to manage my ssh keys with the command line instead.

First up, I had to install my public and private keys in ~/.ssh/

drwx------    5 paul  paul    170 Apr 24 20:32 .
drwxr-xr-x   40 paul  paul   1360 Apr 18 23:19 ..
-rwx------    1 paul  paul    951 Oct  6  2006 id_rsa
-rwx------    1 paul  paul    218 Oct  6  2006

Note the folder needs to be owned by your user with 700 permissions.

Once the keys are in, the actual process of starting an ssh-agent and adding a key is pretty straightforward:

eval `ssh-agent`
ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

You will be prompted for a password and then that’s it! To confirm your key has been added correctly, you can list all the keys in your agent with:

ssh-add -l

Mac Mini + Ubuntu + Quagga join LINX

We had a dilemma at work last week. We were joining the London INternet eXchange, and had to find some suitable BGP routers to install in their racks, but since power is somewhat limited in London data centres at the moment, we had to find something that used less than 150W of power draw.

The solution? A pair of Mac Minis running Ubuntu and Quagga with two 24 port HP gigabit switches.