We kick off season 5 of Knightwise.com by cutting into a hot topic : Ubuntu on Mobile phones. Oblivious to the announcement Canonical made a couple of days ago about bringing Ubuntu to the Mobile phone, we talked to one of their lead developers in December of 2012. Alex Chaing tells us about the development of an Ubuntu distribution for mobile devices. What were the hurdles, how is it done and how do YOU get it on there. A sneak peak behind Canonicals roadmap, a geeks guide to getting Linux on your tablet.
About 2 weeks ago Knightwise asked me if I would like to go to an Acer Smartphone presentation as a Knightwise.com reporter. Well … I certainly don’t have his wit and ingenuity, but since I’m quite interested in the whole Smartphone thing I decided to accept the invitation. The kind people from MindShake were expecting us in Brussels for a short presentation and a little surprise.
I have to say … I only know Acer from their computers and I didn’t know they were also in the Smartphone business. Apparently they are, and according tho the Acer person, they are doing quite well in Belgium too. They showed us a few models starting with the Acer Liquid Z, which is an Android ICS phone which comes in at a very affordable 99 euros. Next up was the E Series and we ended with the Acer CloundMobile at a very affordable price of 289 euro.
Apparently Acer is going for a ‘vanilla’ Android smartphone, which means it is as close to the default Android as possible. No funky skins, no icky any animations … just a few little tweaks here and there. For me this was a big difference to my current Android experience using the Samsung Galaxy S III and I have probably been spoiled with the shiny bling bling on that device.
Personally I’m not the guy who looks at the tags with all the numbers next to the phones in the shops. But I know some people love to know those details so here we go. It comes with a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor and has 8 Gb of built-in storage which can be expanded using microSD cards. The screen is a 4.3 inc screen with 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). What’s interesting is that it comes with an 8 megapixel front facing camera which sounds nice indeed.
The thing which interests me is battery life. I remember telling Knightwise I wasn’t impressed with the battery after the first day of testing, but I have to correct myself. The phone lasts at least whole day even with my Twitter and Instagram addiction. Of course all this depends on how often you use the device, the camera, the GPS and all the other stuff in the phone so your mileage may vary. But after 2 weeks of extensive testing I can say that I’m quite pleased with batter life on the Acer CloudMobile.
I did have a minor issue though. If I understand it correctly it should be possible to use Android Beam to ‘beam’ pictures and other things from one android device to another and that feature uses NFC (I could be wrong here). Sadly I couldn’t get it working at all. We tried with an Acer CloudMobile and a Samsung Galaxy S III, and even between two Acer CloudMobile devices … but there was no way we could get it working. I showed the problem to the Acer person (sorry … forgot to write down your name) and we tried different things but it didn’t work. He mentioned it could be a software issue and that there might be an update or fix soon.
Well, strangely the device comes with Android 4.0 which is rather strange to me. I’m not a veteran Android user, but I know there is already an Android 4.1 and probably an even more recent version, so why didn’t it ship with the most recent Android version ?
The good thing is that the Android version is only lightly skinned and thus … in my opinion … it should be easier to keep the OS updated. Sadly … so far … I didn’t see an Android 4.1 update for the phone.
I have to admit though … the device seemed pretty fast and it does come with Polaris Office 4 and EquiView pre installed. Additionally the device also comes with support for AcerCloud. For those of you who wonder what AcerCloud is … well I could say it’s Acer’s version of iCloud. Apparently it’s a service active in the Benelux, France, Germany, Italy and the UK which allows you to remotely access information from you laptop, Android tablet and Android phone from wherever you are.
The AcerCloud service includes PicStream which automatically uploads you pictures to the cloud and synchronizes them with your other devices (including non Acer devices). From what I heard this service is also available for your documents and music and there isn’t really a limit on storage. The data should be available in the cloud for 30 days.
Well … you have to know that I’m an Apple fanboy and only very recently ventured into the Android world. My first Android experience was on a Samsung Galaxy S III, so I’ve probably been spoiled there. But I have to say the Acer CloudMobile is and amazing device considering the price. Roughly speaking it costs about half as much as the S III, but you are getting way more than half an S III for that price.
In short … it’s a very performant Android smartphone at a very affordable price.
About the Author
Stefaan is a Software Developer by trade, but also active as a Tech Reporter and Podcaster mostly in Dutch / Flemish. You can find out more about him on his blog at iTutor Podcast or check out the Tech45 Podcast.
We close of the year (and season 4 of Knightwise.com) with the video coverage we shot at the “Softlaunch” event of Belgians first ‘Internet only’ TV-Content provider : Weepee.tv. You Cable-Cutters can watch and learn what it is, how to get it, how it works and what other geeks might think of it. Will this be the death of classic television for geeks or just a fab ? Find out in KW408.
If there is one thing I love, then it’s performing acts of Blasphemy Strickly technological blasphemy of course. The kind that makes operating system makers, virtual shopkeepers and DRM overlords grasp the few stray hairs on their balding heads and cry out “Blasphemy” into the digital night. To be frank : I love it to make tech do things it wasn’t supposed to.
With our Mac Mini as a central mediahub in our house, it holds all the movies and TV shows that I love to watch, and hidden deeply behind the magical fairy dust that is the Itunes library, lie hidden all my songs. Locked away in a proprietary cloud of pixy poo.
Around the house we have several devices lying around depicting both the Cupertinian Apple, The green android goblin or boast a bold penguin. The owners of these devices have long ago banished the television from its monopolistical rule of the entertainment empire. These masters would like to consume any content, anywhere on any device. Wether this be Android, IOS, Linux or even Windows .. They would like to watch and listen to anything, anywhere .. and if possible, pickup on one device where they left of on the other.
I have done a podcast about these shenanigans once before (Remember KC0057 : Cross platform Streaming ) where I used a combination of XBMC and DLNA to get things where I wanted them to go. However technology is always on the move and there is always something better on the horizon.
Today I have been playing around with Plex. A central media hub that takes all of the content you have at your disposal (Audio or video) and “streams” that towards any connected device in the house. (Tablets, Phones and embedded devices) Aside from being the red-light district for your home media with the “plex server” It also offers a great front end to “consume” that media on whatever desktop (or media center pc) you are using. If you ever feel the urge to crawl out from under your desk and enter the big airy meeting room with the high ceiling (Referred by some as “outside”) Plex even lets you connect back home so you can continue to enjoy whatever you have been watching before you were forced out of your house.
So far I”ve enjoyed flawless transcoding and streaming of some of my favorite TV shows and ‘backed up’ movies to both my Tablets (Android and IOS) and am currently enjoying some music streamed from my itunes library .. on my Android tablet. Can you spell Blasphemy ? No ? thats ok .. you can just SCREAM it ! :p
The Plex server app is ‘Slider friendly’ and available for Windows, Linux, OSX and some “embedded NAS” devices. The clients will put you back a couple of bucks (about 5 or 10 depending of what you choose) on your mobile device .. but the quality and convenience is totally worth it.
In a couple of words. Download and install the Plex server, run the configuration wizzard ( Click yes yes yes and point it towards your media) Put the mobile apps on your portable devices and let them auto discover your Plex server .. Run to the bathroom and don’t come out until you have watched the entire series of Friends .. from your tablet or smartphone.
Never mind the family members who command the black monolith downstairs to consume whatever dribble they like to watch .. Get Plex and turn any device into your personal media station.
Links : PLEX.
So have YOU played with plex ? Share your experiences or questions in the comments.
Calibre. Without a shadow of a doubt out favorite cross platform ebook management application, is once again the topic of conversation for today. For whoever came up with the idea that ebooks should and could be managed through iTunes .. should be shot, brought back to life, shot again, cremated and have his/her ashes scattered on piles of horse shit. Managing your eBook collection in Calibre on the other hand is a bundle of joy. Ordering and cataloging your books, adding keywords, sorting them around AND converting them to your favorite format .. is exactly what Calibre is good at. So what gives ? Well , imagine you and your favorite ebook reader are out and about on the road ? What if you would like to grab that copy of the Twilight Saga you have stored on your computer at home ? Is there no hope ? Sure there is ! Calibre comes with a built in webserver that lets you acces your ebook directory via a browser .. exactly what you want .. is it not ? “Hotdiggedy YeS” I hear you scream .. but what if you don’t have access to a browser ? (or are in the inability to transfer the downloaded files to your favorite reading app ?) Are you lost ? Should you revert to reading the cerealbox for all eternity ? No ! Enter ODPS : A standard for interacting with ebooks libraries.
How does it work ?
- Make sure you have installed calibre on your machine (Duh)
- Enable the Calibre web service and make sure to enter a username / password. (you don’t want the entire world to know you read my-little-pony cartoons )
- Open up the correct ports on your router (if you want to access this from the outside)
- Pick up an ebook reader app on your IOS or Android device that is able to open OPDS libraries.
- Setup your home calibre library in the apps OPDS preferences.
- Access your ebooks from anywhere.
What do you need ?
- One copy of Calibre.
- On IOS an OPDS compatible ebook application Shubook
- On Android you might want to use FBREADER
- Connect to your Calibre library via the correct url : http://yourcalibreip:8080/opds