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Android application oddities

Android has a market that allows you to choose and install a whole variety of applications to expand the capabilities of your phone. Want a decent video player? MoboPlayer. Want a better music player? WinAMP. Want telnet and SFTP access to your site? There's an app for that! (™!)

Thus, I was happy to discover a little app called "Mango" which, in its early days, listed manga available from various scanlation websites - click here for an example. I didn't make much use of it because while I have a 500MiB/month data allocation, reading manga at work on EDGE (around 18KiB/sec flat out) was uncomfortable. But it was okay at home with WiFi. Then Mango got the ability to download and save chapters to SD card for offline reading. This was excellent as now I could stuff a lot of manga onto the phone to read on break without worrying about transfer rates.

Then, recently, Mango just disappeared from Google Market. No notification, no warning, it just ceased to be.
This, in itself, is interesting for a number of reasons, namely:

  • Mango isn't the only manga reader, there are several others, but at the time Mango was the most popular.
  • While Mango's download behaviour contravened the terms of use of the manga sites (which often prohibit automated retrieval, or specify something like you can't access the site more frequently than a human could reasonably do in the same time frame). It is conceivable that they could have lodged a complaint, but this would seem to be churlish given the dubious legality of scanlations.
  • The content copyright holders may have launched a complaint, however I would imagine the focus of any such attention should be the distributors of the content in question, not the end user.
My, personal, suspicion is somebody wished to topple a competitor. But Google said nothing to us end-users, and I take it there wasn't much of an explanation to the developer either... the app just vanished.

The programmer, Victor, is continuing his work outside of Google's Market. This is one of the strengths of the Android approach, that you can source content from locations outside of the official distribution channel. So I updated to the latest version of Mango, only to see:

Two Mangos

As the software is no longer listed under Market, it isn't possible to easily manage and/or uninstall it. It is possible, however, if you load the application in question and then select it with the Application Manager part of Settings, though this is a rather less straightforward approach. It might not be immediately obvious to a newbie that you'd need to first start the application to get it to show up on the list.

Managing Mango
In order to prevent it trying to "tidy up" by deleting all of the application data (I recall one application removed its folder on SD card upon uninstall, and at no point did Android prompt if user-generated data should be kept or removed) I decided to plug the USB lead in so the SD card would switch to USB storage device mode, and thus be inaccessible to Android.

What Android needs is a clear and concise app manager that will list all applications, allow you to close (if running), uninstall, clear cache and/or data, edit associations, etc. No, not as a plug-in app (I'd imagine you'd need to be rooted for some of that) but as a component of Android. For example, if I ask the system to deal with a PHP file, no action has been defined. As Android does not have PHP onboard, the next logical action is to treat it as a text file. Can I set this up? If I ask File Expert ways to open the file, I see this:

Open with?
Why is "Accounts" listed three times? In the list, other software is listed multiple times (Contacts ×3, Dialler ×2, File Expert ×3, News ×2, Social Messaging ×3, Social Networking ×2, View Event ×2, and WinAmp ×2).
I am guessing this list shows applications with file associations without being smart enough to fold multiple entries into one. For example, the News app responds to RSS and it can probably do Atom as well, which gives it two types it can handle, thus two entries. But does it need to be listed twice?

Speaking of which, am I the only person that sees application titles as gibberish when the Application Manager first opens? I've highlighted what I mean.

Weird (corrupted) app names

Looking in some of the system's murkier corners, I have found a way to 'repair' Motoblur's notoriously buggy News (RSS feed) fetcher. As you will know if you have one of these phones, the News app sometimes "just stops updating". Here's a picture from the weekend - you can gurantee that two days after Gaddafi was murdered, BBC News would be carrying something between nearly four in the morning and nearly eight at night. That's a span of about 14 hours.

Stalled Motorola News app

The fix that works is to restart the phone. It's a rather severe approach. The alternative is to look in Settings->Applications in order to manage Running Services. Find the News service and tap it to be prompted to stop it. Do so.

Stopping the News service
Now go back and enter the News app. This will cause the News service to restart. Drop out of the News app and give it a little while to get itself in order and refresh the RSS feeds.

 

Unlock the phone?

While I don't have any actual need to unlock my phone, I see this as a fairly arbitrary restriction. I am tied to an Orange contract for a year, so what's the point in locking the phone to Orange?
There is an unlock system on Orange's website because you have the right to unlock your phone after six months (it's the law). So I enter my IMEI and Orange replies with...
Unknown IMEI
What? This doesn't fill me with confidence in the event of my phone being stolen. Oh no, we don't recognise that phone (but we'll bill you for any calls made on it) - I can hear it now...

 

In Europe, the United Kingdom IS a second rate country!

So Sarko finally told David Cameron to shove off and stop poking his nose where it wasn't wanted, and the British parliament (Commons) responded with a knee-jerk vote on whether or not a referendum should be held on Britain's EU membership (which was "won" (no referendum) by some 400-110ish votes)). Britain's complaint, mainly that of things involving the Euro economy, they are an outside player and less and less have a say in what happens.

Fair enough, the UK will be affected by what happens to the Euro economy. But then so will Japan, and Cambodia, and Mexico...

So, I ask the UK to answer a few questions.

  • Are you a Eurozone country?
    No, you are not. You have not only resisted changing to the Euro, but a depressing number of people seem to believe the history of Britain will end if the money no longer has the current royal's head on it.
  • Do you follow the European ethic?
    Not really, no. While there are some obligations (which may or may not ultimately be paid any attention - re. prisoner voting or police holding dna samples of non-criminals), the much lauded "opt out clause" is there to allow the UK to pick what it wants to adhere to. Though, frankly, I think a lot of it comes down to sheer bloodymindedness of the populace, a sort of "we don't want straight cucumbers therefore you can take your centimetres and shove 'em".
  • Are you a reliable player in Europe?
    I would be inclined to say No for we all know that should a public referendum actually be held, the people - led by a staggering amount of Euro-skepticism - will vote a resounding no. This is quite likely why NuLab went back on their election promise to hold a vote. The informal TV televote thingy (the fake referendum) showed a large amount of no votes.
    In part this is due to voter stupidity as for several generations of government, Europe has been seen as an acceptable target for blaming stuff when it goes wrong. Couple that with highlighting some of the EU's "insanity" (re. straight cucumbers) and glossing over the more reasonable things they are doing to improve people's lives. There's a sort of ingrained "we don't want some asswipe in Brussels telling us what to do" (which, oddly enough, is considered an insult in times when the Scottish think "we don't want some asswipe in Westmister telling us what to do").
  • Are you essential to the EU?
    And here's something Britain is going to have to wake up to. No, no you are not. While Britain is likely to be missed by some if it leaves the EU, it is definitely not essential. Not from the point of what the EU is all about. A steadfastly different currency, a strong desire to persist with different measurements, a workforce frequently perceived as unreliable by its own people (so God help what outsiders will see), a supposedly world-power country with a rather high level of foreign investment in critical infrastructure (i.e. how well can they manage themselves?), pension rights roughly on par with an Eastern European country (that's not a good thing), a media that panders to an increasingly stupid populace (for a country of Britain's stature, the illiteracy rate is depressing - it wasn't until a big American CEO publically lambasted the practically non-existant computer studies courses that the government thought maybe such things ought to be on the curriculum - but perhaps too little too late? and don't get me started on the ever decreassing support for foreign languages, for we all know Johnny Foreigner speaks English, right?), along with a populace that is, on the whole, notoriously xenophobic. Yeah, they're important all right...

 
...I can add to this list some of my own observations too - that of salespeople, servers, waitresses, etc frequently being unfriendly or uninterested. Sure, you get the helpful genki girl, but they're outnumbered by the ones that just don't care.
Bad fashion sense. I mean, Good God Almighty - you can pretty much always spot an ex-pat in France just by looking at the... what word is the opposite of "fashion"? Really, please, learn how to co-ordinate your wardrobe.
A complete and unexplicable obsession with celebrity culture. While many countries have tat magazines detailing the latest exploits of so-called celebrities (many who seem to be famous for little other than being famous), England takes this up to 11 on the dial.
A frequently vicious press. While it is fairly clear now that Dr. Liam Fox made some horrenduously bad choices and the right thing would have been his resignation on day one, the media dragged this through the sewer. This is, perhaps, a side effect of the fact that the official investigations and enquiries were rather determinedly not looking to answer the important questions. Yes, okay, Dr. Fox broke the Ministrial Code. Whoo-hoo. So who actually is this Werritty (is that how you spell it?) guy, what exactly is his relationship with Dr. Fox and the others involved, and given what has been going on (real and alleged), how might this have compromised National Security? For all the mud slinging in the press, these questions still have not been answered.
Why is it depressingly frequently that an import item seems to work on a dollar to pound rate of 1:1? A $29.99 book selling for £29.99 is not good (should be about £19). This is likely why people are frightened of switching to the Euro, for a £5 object will sell for €5. However this comes down to English apathy and general stupidity. After all, during the first Gulf War the entire country totally had the wool pulled over their eyes when petrol pricing switched from gallons to litres to mask ridiculous price hikes. Well, go work out the price per litre now.
British manufacturing. What, actually, does the UK produce and export? There are things (a new airbus wing factory opened recently) but by and large the country is more famous for stuff they used to make than stuff they actually make now. Hell, new trains are made by Seimens these days, with Britain's own works seeing less and less action. What says "Made in England" in a non-ironic sense?
For footy fans, I have only one thing to say - 1966.
British music used to rule (look at '80s playlists). Now it is increasingly a pile of who-won-a-TV-programme rubbish.
And, finally... Why is it the three major political parties have broadly the same policies? There's no longer and red, blue and yellow. It's now just a sort of murky purple.

 

The right to your "image"?

A current news item has a guy, who is the ex-boyfriend of a well-known Australian singer, being able to sue the Sunday Mirror in France for carrying on their website a story (quote) "filmed with prostitutes at a 2008 orgy".
His legal argument is the paper's "interference with his private life and infringement of his right to his image.".

This, to me, seems an interesting argument. For while his activities at said orgy (if it actually happened) could be seen as an infringement of privacy, the flip side is that his "image" is a public thing, thus it should be in the public interest if his "image" is a lie. But, then again, we have seen recently a number of cases where high-profile celebrities use legal means to attempt to silence the press reporting on their embarrassing mistakes. However, in the case of the famous gagging super-injuction, it just made a sorry situation all the more comical.

Let's put it like this. You craft an image and tout it to the world. It is the essence of "you". Sometimes it is a character (think Al Murray the landlord from hell), sometimes it is the opinionated crusader (hello Richard Stallman!), sometimes it is a pure little pop starlet (Taylor Swift, anybody?). People who are known in the world have a certain sort of "image". And when you do something insanely stupid like participate in an orgy with prostitudes when you also happen to be the boyfriend of a hugely popular actress/singer... yeah, let's say your image is going to have a righteous downgrade.

Invasion of privacy? Perhaps.

But infringement of your right to your image? What does this even mean? The guy still has his image, it just isn't the one he wanted and, pretty much, if the events described took place, the cause of that is more or less entirely his own, and given his position, one could suggest reporting of it is in the public interest, which could mean it wasn't so much an invasion of privacy as justified. But, then, given the aspects of this case I think a number of lawyers will make a good bundle coming to some sort of answer. That said, and for what it is worth, I had no idea who the accused is, I don't even remember any mention of this back in 2008, and having looked him up, I still can't say I'm that interested.
What I will do, however, is suggest he look up "The Streisand Effect".

 

A final farewell

In a BBC news article, a surgeon Pauline Chen, suggested that doctors and nurses should be obliged to take five minutes to pause and reflect upon the person that has just died.
She says that when somebody dies, the doctors disappear to deal with the next patient, and the nurses start to clear up.
She then goes on to recount a story of a person she got to know.

While it is logical in theory, in practice I'm not so sure this will work in a major hospital. How would you feel if you came in from a car crash, in agony, and the medical staff didn't attend to you because they were spending five minutes with somebody else who had just died? And while Mrs. Chen may have known her patient, I wonder how many people die in hospitals who are pretty much unknown to the staff there? What would they spend their five minutes contemplating? Mmm, she had nice dress sense. Damn, he smells like he lives on garlic. How d'you pronounce this name?...

In my experience, dealing with elderly infirm, there are many carers who flee the scene of an imminent death, whether for bizarre religious reasons (a large number of African carers go into full scale "praise the lord" mode at dead bodies) or the more simple fact that it is a reminder of their own mortality and they are scared witless (I once worked with a girl who held herself and then developed a large wet spot on the front of her dress as a resident died - I suggested she take her break around about then). Me? I guess my screwed up outlook on life (namely that it is some sort of celestial joke, and I'm the butt of said joke) makes me more able to cope with this. Fairly few people, in my experience, just fall asleep and never wake up. Most are aware, even when drugged up on stuff, when their time has come. That's when the religion kicks in, when a committed athiest asks about heaven. And some try their damnest to fight the inevitable, and the results are not pretty. I will leave it there, lest you get nightmares. I'll just say I then "attend to the dead", observe any of the peculiar little requirements (open window, cover mirrors, etc) noted, tidy up and change the dead person, and make sure their eyes are closed. I do my job about as gracefully as possible, with respect for the person. But I do not contemplate their life. I do not consider myself to know more than the tiniest part of this person. They've lived for eighty some years, I've known them indirectly for several months, who am I to pretend I know anything much about them?

But Mrs Chen does have a point that an ER shouldn't be a production line - when somebody dies, shuffle to the next. I'm not sure five minutes is the right answer, but an acknowledgement - not so much of professional failure (for sometimes, like that girl that got fell between a train and the platform in Mersey, there is little that can be done) - but perhaps more to remind them that these are people, with lives, and families, and loved ones. It's not so much about remembrance as about a little bit of respect.

 

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