Arnt Gulbrandsen
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The tiny Jelly Pro smartphone

I don't buy a lot of hardware any more, and nothing out of the ordinary... but I have a credit-card-sized smartphone called Jelly (a Jelly Pro actually, with 2GB RAM).

A smartphone should be small and light, have a large screen and battery, be fast enough, and not have too many bugs. Obviously there's a conflict between overall size and screen/battery size. The Jelly is a very different compromise than most smartphones — most phones fit barely in a pocket, or only in some pockets, and provide large screens on which apps work well. The Jelly starts by fitting easily in any pocket, and makes the apps work as well as possible on a very small screen.

It succeeds on size: I can stick the Jelly in tight jeans pockets and sit down without noticing that it's there.

It fails (somewhat) on two minor points: Spotty battery lifetime and screen/body ratio. The battery doesn't reliably last a full day, and there's room to spare around the screen. The screen is 30×54mm, and they could have fit at least 36×65mm, maybe 38×69mm into the same body (the glass front is 38mm wide, the phone 44mm wide at its widest point).

I got the battery lifetime up to tolerable by setting the phone to disconnect from wifi while asleep (settings → wi-fi → ⚙ → keep wi-fi on during sleep), and automatically killing all but three apps (settings → background task clear) when not in active use.

There are bugs. The phone seems to lose contact with the mobile data network a little too often for my taste.

The apps I need do work... more or less. Typing key by key is frustrating, but glide typing is not much worse than on a typical smartphone. Hitting small buttons is generally quite difficult. Touches don't register at all if the finger is too close to another touchable thing. But I can send and receive email, SMS and Signal messages, Google Maps navigation works, the remote-control app I use every day works decently, and so on. I suppose these shortcomings would be reduced with a 38×69mm screen.

So the phone works, by and large. The big thing that's missing is fun. Fun is what I got when I used a phablet the other night, a large thin device with a bright colourful screen. That screen gave me such a good feeling, something the Jelly doesn't. I imagine that Facebook and Instagram are boring on the Jelly.

Is that good or bad? And am I going to keep using the Jelly, or am I going to switch back to a bigger phone? If I do switch back I'm going to tell myself it's because the screen is unnecessarily small.


Nexus Player

Our latest little film-playing box is a Nexus Player. It's good.

We have it connected to an Epson 1920×1080 projector and a Musical Fidelity amplifier.

The most remarkable features of the Nexus Player are that its remote control is simple and does not require line of sight, and that as of Android 6.0.1 it supports USB audio. (more…)


Android boot with animated GIF

I've hated the Cyanogenmod 11 boot animation since I first installed Cyanogenmod on my phone. Admittedly I don't see it often, but I hate it. These walking fingers, possibly drawn by Will Holmes, would be so much better. So I put together a shell script to convert animated GIF files to the format Android needs.

Now and then phones are lost, particularly at schools, and I have two children, so I added an option to add text.

Reddit's mesmerizinggifs is full of suitable input files. To download today's highest-scoring animation and annotate it with Nirmala's phone: (more…)


Implementation notes about unicode mail

I've implemented unicode mail three times now; in Postfix (paid for by CNNIC and not yet integrated), in aox and lastly in an old mail reader I'm porting from the Zaurus PDA to Android (unreleased as yet, send me mail if you'd like beta access). This is mostly a random collection of notes and remarks I collected while writing the code.

The specification was produced by an IETF working group called EAI (short for email address internationalisation). The WG produced two generations of RFCs. First, an experimental series which I ignore, then a revised, simplified and improved series. This covers the second generation, which takes the general position that unicode mail is only sent to recipients who understand it. There is no conversion during transport, and (almost) no fallback to ASCII.

RFC 6530 is an overview/introduction. It points to the other documents, and has some extra text. Worth reading.

6531 describes how unicode addresses are used with SMTP: MAIL FROM, RCPT TO and VRFY accept UTF8 addresses, and there's a safeguard to provoke a syntax error in case a unicode message body would otherwise reach someone who cannot accept it. (more…)


Typing on an outsourced keyboard

I'll need to test something with a bluetooth keyboard. I really like the Nexus 7 tablet, so off to Amazon: nexus 7 2012 keyboard. Ah, hm, since I don't like QWERTZ keyboards, best try amazon.­ too: nexus 7 2012 keyboard. There were many contenders, including what I bought and will return: (more…)


Where have all the web duh-signers gone?

Best Viewed in 800X600 resolution, Internet Explorer, 5.0 and above. Best Viewed by Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5/+ in 1024 x 768 resolution. Those messages are gone from the web. So where did the web duh-signers go, now that new web sites don't want to be so duh?

I think they must have all found frustrating new jobs designing android apps.


Why do people tolerate suckage?

When I feel the phone growing hot in my pocket, I don't have to guess why. Menu→Settings→Battery usage, and high on the list I invariably see the Economist. Yesterday it spent about a minute helping me read the magazine. Later, in my pocket, the app went into battery-burning mode, spent eighteen minutes working the CPU as hard as it could, and then I noticed the heat. (more…)


Android WLAN roaming breakage

We have two access points at home, and wireless clients can roam freely, keeping their IP address.

Most clients can. Android phones and tables could not. For example, if a Motorola Xoom (Android 3.0) was in range of both APs, then it would switch to the other AP every 3-4 seconds.

The problem was that one AP was set to support only 802.11g, while the other was set to support b/g. Setting both to G-only solved the problem. The Xoom now connects quickly and keeps its connection (so long as it remains still at least).