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On my Android devices I use the AIX Weather Widget which shows a 24 hour forecast. It is a nice clean visual style.

aix screenshot

Northern California looks like this for the most of year. It also shows levels of rainfall, below freezing temperatures etc.

By my bedside I've had a "weather station" for about a decade, that has an outdoor wireless sensor. It shows indoor and outdoor temperatures, has an "atomic" clock, and even projects time and other fields on the ceiling. Rather nifty and very robust. I've changed the batteries on the outdoor sensor twice, and on the main unit once (it is plugged into an AC adaptor so they are backup). It also has weather forecasting that is a work of fiction.

Sadly yesterday the outdoor sensor died, and I now have to make a decision. The outdoor temperature was very useful. Getting the temperature from the Internet isn't as accurate or as up to date. I decided to get a new unit, and there are a huge number of choices, but none matching what I already have and was happy with. (The outdoor sensor is sold as a replacement but costs more than a new weather station!)

I can reveal what all online reviews say for any model from any manufacturer:

  • 10% say it is wonderful, works for years, was easy to setup etc
  • 90% say it stopped receiving the outdoor sensor information within days or weeks. Also the customer service sucks. Setup was difficult. Some even measured with other devices and found the margin of error to be far too large (several degrees despite showing a decimal point implying a tenth of a degree accuracy).

Unfortunately Amazon don't give an indication of sales volume. For example if 10 million purchases resulted in 100 complaints then that seems okay, but 1,000 purchases with that volume means stay away from that brand!

Looking across different models and manufacturers there are a variety of issues:

  • No indication of expected battery life
  • Can measure wind speed (good), but the sensor appears too small to be accurate
  • No ac power for receiver (which means lots more battery changes)
  • No manuals online
  • No idea of release date (one has Copyright 2013 at the bottom of each page)
  • Record minimum and maximum temperatures (good), but wipe them at midnight so you can't see what they were for the previous day.
  • Require pushing buttons to see things (eg can't see indoor and outdoor temps at the same time)
  • Cheaper units having a time display but not automatically set
  • Only showing some little used bizarre measurement system instead of the correct thing

No one seems to use solar power for the outdoor sensor.

La Crosse have a maze of identical looking products with different model numbers and prices.

I feel some allegiance to them due to the longevity of my current unit, but then most complaints are about them too. I did consider going analog/old school hoping not to do gloves but that too has several problems.

So far my experience has involved trying to buy local. The first retailer charged 20% more than Amazon, and their Internet price matching meant waiting in a long line to get to the checkout, only to be told I had to go to another person at the other end of the store to get some piece of paper, and then return to the checkout queues. I wasn't jumping through those hoops, and left.

Another location had a different brand and unit that seemed good, but turned out terrible in practise. The screen has very limited viewing angles and a reflective face plate. (It also couldn't do a 24 hour clock.)

So Amazon it is for a La Crosse unit.

Category: misc – Tags: weather, android

Android backup applications

I've always been curious why there are so many +Android backup applications. Technically the backups are trivial - apks are at a known place and each app's data is at a known place, so just grab that stuff for backups and put back for restores. Android 4 has adb backup/restore commands which do pretty much that. Simple, effective, what could go wrong? Short answer: it is quicker to just delete your data. Those backup apps exist for a reason.

Yesterday I decided to wipe my phone and tablet back to factory images. In particular I wanted to encrypt them, and I did want root, but didn't need +ClockworkMod recoveries which rooting usually require you install first. +Chainfire has a CF-AutoRoot that does that for you.

Backing up the phone gave me a ~400MB archive (I didn't include apks since they can be easily redownloaded). I did the wipe/factory/root/encrypt dance and then did my restore. It had no effect as far as I can tell. And I had to manually select every app I wanted again in the Play Store. Doing another restore after that still had no effect.

Having learned my lesson, I did a backup of the tablet including all apks. It was ~12GB. Did the wipe/factory/root/encrypt dance and then did the restore. It restores one apk and then the Android gui crashes, restarting itself a few seconds later. This is completely repeatable. Gui crashes don't have a crash reporter so Google won't even know this happening. And I'd love to hear the explanation as to why a restore would crash the whole gui environment.

I could of course manually dig things out of the backups, but that would be far too time consuming. There is no unique data on the devices so I didn't actually lose anything. But the reinstall of every app, having to supply usernames and passwords to so many of them, changing settings, and placing them in the right places in the launcher is really tedious.

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Google Chrome To Phone extension

I've used the Google Chrome To Phone extension for two years now. In theory it is very simple - while on a page (or selected text) in desktop Chrome, press the button and the page/text show up instantly on your Android device. Behind the scenes it is using c2dm gcm and serves as a useful demo including source code.

In practise it isn't as good. The "instant" is sometimes instant, and sometimes never, and sometimes a random time period inbetween. Rebooting a device can result in over a month's worth of content all showing up at once. I also have more than one Android device (perils of being a developer) and in theory the url should be sent to all of them. Again it is very unreliable.

Today I finally got rid of the extension from Chrome and the app from my devices, switching to Pocket based on the recommendation of +Stephane Verdy . Looking good so far ...

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Android app install referrers



Giving credit for Android app installs When an app gets installed on Android it is nice to know who the referrer was. For example it could be a ... (more)

I wrote about the nitty gritty details on #Android app install referrers, and dealing with the quirky behaviour of the Play Store code.

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Android app install referrer


referraltester referraltester - Android app to test analytics referral for android (more)

When an Android app gets installed via the Android Market/Play Store/Finsky it gets told who the referrer was that resulted in the install. This is very helpful for app publishers since they then know who to credit (or blame).

Unfortunately testing this as a developer is quite difficult. It would be impractical to round trip each development build through the market/store, so the next best resort is a way of simulating the behaviour.

Enter referraltester, an open source app written by giago which does that simulation. However it turned out not be accurate, and also had a few usability quirks, so I have scratched the itch and produced an enhanced version at the github link below which includes a list of all the changes and enhancements.

The developer at Google who decided to only call one broadcast receiver despite the platform default behaviour being to call of them owes me many hours of my life back.

Category: gplus – Tags: android

The 1%



Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ Buy Galaxy Nexus directly from Google (more)

I'm now a member of the 1%. By that I mean the 1% of Android folk who are running the latest version (ICS/4.0). Doing Android development means that on my desk there are 5 devices running 1.6, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2 and 4.0.

The phone is nice with my first reaction being "holy cow that is big". It is probably only as big in my hands as regular phones are for other people not as tall as me (I'm apparently in the 1% for height too).

Google happily restored my usual apps which turned out to be a half gigabyte download with various random inclusions and omissions. Unfortunately they don't restore the position in the launcher (I like the left most screen to have games, the next one developer tools, the middle one things I use most, right one Google apps etc). Widgets aren't restored either. On my tablet the main screen has a widget "Problem loading widget". It was important enough to put on the home screen, I don't remember what it was, don't want to delete it but haven't spent the time to work out what the widget actually was.

The Android market happily shows every app I have every installed, including those I tried once and didn't like. If only it had some way that I could only show those I've used or rated or some similar way of filtering out the junk.

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Android QuickOffice warning

There is QuickOffice app on Android (it comes preinstalled on some, and is also available on other platforms). Be aware that if you use its cloud storage functionality that an access token is sent to one of their servers which then accesses the actual cloud server (Google Docs, Dropbox etc). This is not disclosed in any way.

What it means is that when their servers get hacked, the hackers will have full access to any storage you provided the credentials for. For all you know, they already do.

I've been back and forth with their support, with their latest statement being this nonsense: "However, I've been told that we are doing our cloud storage access in a very secure way, even more secure than accessing same cloud storage via web browser or native application."

Be afraid, very afraid.

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Space buff Android app



ISSLive - Apps on Android Market Interact with live streaming data from the International Space Station (ISS), Take virtual 3D tours of the Mission Control Center (MCC) and ... (more)

A wonderful app for space buffs on Android where you can get a current view of the ISS in orbit as well as visit the control center and see the same live data as shown on many of the screens. As I write, the urine tank is 24% full and both S-Band antennas are on.

(Obligatory whine about this not really being space travel and how we could be doing so much better and going so much further.)

Category: gplus – Tags: space, android

My good deed for the day


AccountManager | Android Developers (more)

I've done my good deed for the day. Emailed several Android app developers pointing out that they do not need to keep asking for Google credentials when Android already has a system for sharing accounts with apps. Also contacted the DropBox folks pointing out they should be a provider too so that apps do not need to ask for their credentials. See my post of December 5th for what life is like without infrastructure like this. (On the desktop it looks like Gnome 3 is adding something similar - yay!)

Category: gplus – Tags: android

Android Orphans



the understatement: Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support The announcement that Nexus One users won’t be getting upgraded ... (more)

Category: gplus – Tags: android

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