Friday, September 10, 2010

Android = Open. It Doesn't Matter What Some Carriers Choose to Do With It.

A recent TechCrunch article written by the infamous MG Seigler entitled Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With, argued that Android is indeed a closed system because the carriers and handset makers that implement Android load their own custom skins, lock the phones, and put unremoveable crapware on the devices.  This of course sparked huge controversy and we're now seeing (at the time of this writing) about a 1,000 comments on the thread, the most I personally have ever seen on TechCrunch.

A reply that I posted to a retweet of the post on Facebook ensued a rather good bit of argument with a co-worker Caleb Davenport, that I'd like to share here.

Here's the thread:

Caleb Davenport openness is an illusion #android #iphone
My Reply:
Carlton Northern Are you serious? You honestly believe that android is a closed system? If that is the case, could you please define what an open system is?
His Response:
Caleb Davenport
that's not what the article said at all. it said that the android os being open source does not make it an open platform for the consumer. in fact, it can never be open for the consumer because google is letting carriers run the platform. so, according to the article, the fact that it's open (to the carriers) means that they can install "crapware", block google's own app store, restrict from out-of-store installations which makes it closed (or at least less open) to the consumer.
if it's open:
why can't you install skype off of verizon?
why can't you install bing off of verizon?
why can't you uninstall the trial apps that come with it?
why are only 4% of phones running the latest software?
why can't i install apps external to the app store on all android devices?
My Reply:
Carlton Northern 
Oh Caleb Caleb Caleb.. Why do you do this to me. I know what the article said and the article is wrong. And my questions to you still stand because you said in your post "openess is an illusion" referring to the Android platform.
Let me say it again, you can't both have a system that is open while still maintaining control! The two are mutually exclusive. By creating an open system, the creator itself loses all control at the point of distribution. As long as the carriers and handset makers comply with the open source license of Android, they can do whatever they want with it, including locking the phones and putting unremoveable crapware on them. Google can't control that. But it doesn't mean that the platform isn't open. It just means that there are a few bad eggs in the bunch.
Let me also argue your point that its not open to the consumers. You're wrong. If there were one Android phone, let's call it the aPhone, that only ran on one US carrier, that would be a closed system. However, there are like 70 Android phones that run on all the major carriers in the US and many more throughout the world. Many of these phones run vanilla android without any crapware. Many of these phones are also unlocked, or if they aren't unlocked they can be unlocked very easily, or they can be purchased unlocked on eBay. Furthermore, Android complies with software and hardware standards that are open. Things like 3.5mm headphone jacks, microUSB, Adobe Flash, the ability to run Java, C, C++, and other scripting languages on the phone, etc.
Lastly, the answer to all of your "if its open" questions is, precisely, "because it is an open system". Because it is open, Verizon can do whatever the hell they want to with it, Google has no control over Verizon like Apple has over AT&T. Their is fragmentation of versions precisely because it is an open system and carriers have the choice to upgrade or not. But let me also point out that those figures are more than a month old. There has been a massive amount of upgrades since then. Furthermore, many of the phones in the 35% not on Android 2.x are because they were first generation phones and they can't support the newer 2.x operating system.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Lookup for Nicknames and Diminutive Names

I created a simple lookup file that contains United States given names (first names) and their associated nicknames or diminutive names. For example "gregory" -> "greg", or "geoffrey" -> "geoff". The file can be downloaded and contributed to from here

This lookup was started from which is used for genealogy purposes. It was a good source to start from but because it is used for genealogy purposes there are some pretty of old names in there. There was also a significant effort to make it machine readable, i.e. separate names with commas, remove human readable conventions, like "rickie(y)", so that it would be made into two different names "rickie", and "ricky".

This is a large list with about 700 entries. Any help from people to clean this list up and add to it is greatly appreciated. Think of it as a wiki where you can contribute or change it as needed. CSV was the easiest format to use. Maybe I'll release this in XML or something later, or maybe a kind soul who uses this library wants to contribute another format they converted it into?

I was rather surprised that I couldn't find anything like this on the web. The best I could find was the pdNickname database and it costs $500. So, I created my own and released it as open source so that others could benefit from my work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Life is Now Complete


Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Homage to Paco

This is a gallery of photos of Paco, our little puppy.  I guess he's not so little anymore. He's 7 months now and about 20 pounds.  The photos are sorted chronologically.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Talking Time Travel

I'd like to share with you a special talent
It ain't so hard to do, it's called time travellin'

Well, I woke up this morning feeling quite unpleasant,
Found I couldn't enjoy my present.
So I sat in my bed and tried to superimpose
Things I would have rather saw in front of my head.

I was time travelling,
Darn tootin'

Well, I travelled back to a different time
When people besides rappers enjoyed the rhyme.
One thing I can't comprehend
Is why poets nowadays don't call rhymes their friends.
Maybe I could be their friends, too.
Well, I must have been doin' something right
Hung out with the types of people
Who wrote, edited and updated Strunk & White

I was a travellin' troubador,
Village storyteller
I'd like to think so.

Well, it got a litte bit cold in my old log cabin,
So I devised a new mode of time travelling:
Instead of visual superimposition
I tried my hand at writing fiction
About things I ain't did yet,
But intended to do
And thereby make 'em happen.

Well, all of a sudden, my seat felt trembly
Found myself on a schoolbus to a school assembly
Where my supergroup was performing.
Well, you can be in my supergroup on one condition:
That you're my best friend, musician,
And don't mind unpaid conditions.
We was invited to the high school by the Peace Club
To fight the Fight Club
On their 100-watt light blub radio station.
Well, at that station, we met a kid, about 13,
Painted our schoolbus green
And called it the Joke-A-Minute Brain Machine.

He was bipolar,
High roller, savant tard
Well, on board that bus--I don't know why--
I got a hankerin' to learn to cry.
Now, learning to cry was quite a chore,
Just like doing anything you ain't never done before.

I was log flumin'
Jet streamin',
Quite relievin'

Well, I could have gone for the rest of the evening,
Or perhaps till the world ended,
When a moan from my girlfriend did bring me home
Next to her pillow.
Lookin' so gorgeous
(Don't like me to say so--
Thinks it's shallow).