oda: droid icon on blue-violet field (android)
More on book management... MyBookDroid will import from and export to Goodreads quite well for a beta, though it's not true sync yet. (That's on the roadmap.) It's also a partial import, but still, it hits the important part: shelves. All in all, it gives me the good key features of making it easy to see my list of desired books, so if I'm in a bookstore I can check if the book is on my list, as well as an easy way to import physical books onto my list -- I can scan a book and put it on my 'buy later' list, or scan a book I've just read to easily rate it and import it into Goodreads.

Goodreads itself is proving to be a good social library site, with good privacy options combined with social goodness, something a lot of sites find hard to balance. It's very easy to add books in, especially with app support, and it talks quite well to Calibre.

Calibre is the newest addition, and seems to be a very fine personal library server. I can selectively export to Goodreads, which I like, as well as create records for physical books. It has an ebook reader built-in, and will serve up a library. I wasn't able to get Aldiko to talk to the library, but I tried Moon+ Reader and liked a lot of its other features as well as its ability to see my Calibre library.

I'm also going to give Cool Reader a try because it's GPL, and keep an eye on Book Catalogue, which doesn't seem to have online backup/sync as of yet, and that's something I really need.
oda: zombie face on a blue-violet plane (personal)
Proof that I have a tiny hamster brain that is obsessed with tiny wireless devices: +Jenna Moran shared with me a link to the lovely library management software Calibre, I found out the trials and tribulations about how Calibre Portable isn't very, I found a more portable version on the ever-useful Portable Apps, and now I am trying to figure out how to build catalogs I can browse from my phone. (The software at Calibre2OPDS looks perfect but I haven't successfully got it to actually build anything yet, possibly because I'm running Calibre portable, or because it's a beta portable package, or because I was configuring it when I should have been sleeping.)

This would be about exactly why I never get anything done. It's rabbit trails and side quests all the way down! (This started from: "I would like to read an ePub book on my computer.) Oh yeah and I could have just used Bookworm ....

On the SAD side, Amazon let Stanza die a sudden death when IOS 5 came back out. I hear they've patched it, but the patch didn't say IOS 5 only like other 5-only apps do, so my iTouch 2 (stuck on IOS 4) got its Stanza build vaporized by the shenanigans. BOO. I don't know how to reconstruct it even though I theoretically have backups and everything, since I loaded the stuff in directly to the Touch and didn't have any library management running anywhere else, and the iTunes backup format is... opaque to say the least. Not the end of the world as I had a bunch of random Gutenberg books there and didn't read on it very often, but still boo -- I can't even get it running enough to find out what I lost. It's probably not worth doing a full restoral over, though; I also just tidied up a bunch of other apps on the iTouch, getting it ready to be more of a backup media device for both of us than a full time iPod for me. (Now using the phone for that.)

I already refused to buy Kindle books over the DRM; now I'm sad at them for buying Stanza just so they could kill it. I'm glad to see the Lexcycle programmers make good on their hard work, but I think it's awfully shoddy of Amazon to buy a very nice piece of software just to destroy it, and to vaporize my library even if it wasn't a bought library -- it still represented time choosing books. Another lesson in why it is so important to mirror everything, even if it was free and easily found -- time is a resource too! Calibre looks like it will do an excellent job at that. Open source is a good protection against those sorts of shenanigans, because loyal fans can simply fork the dead-ended project and continue support if it's popular enough, and usually it's possible to at least run unsupported legacy stuff as long as you have an OS that will support it. (NOT open source, but I'm also grooving on Good Old Games for giving us legacy software at a good price.)
oda: droid icon on blue-violet field (android)
In repairing an annoying very intermittent network bug on my phone where it fails to connect to 3g at all (very frustrating as it will happen sometimes to my phone and sometimes to my husband's), I discovered that there is a another general network bug on the LG Optimus V: it is bugged into a mode where it is scanning for cell networks 50% of the time even if you have a solid CDMA connection. The best workaround for this is to put the phone into airplane mode for 15 seconds after booting; this will hold until the next reboot.

There is a small app on the market, Toggle AirplaneMode On Boot that will handle this, or in my case I'm doing it with a Tasker profile that waits until the first crush of booting is done with and then toggles it. There's also an app, Network, which will go straight into the RadioInfo menu for the settings workaround, if airplane mode doesn't work for some reason. Another workaround, which has worked for me when airplane toggle and even rebooting didn't work, was to dismount and remount the SD card. (Buh.) Fixing this setting considerably lowers the Cell Standby battery use, and you can tell if it's working by plugging your phone back in, unplugging it, and checking after a minute: when it's fixed there won't be a stat for 'Time Without Signal' under Cell Standby on the battery history screen, assuming that you have a good signal to Virgin.

I am also able to replace Silent Boot with a Tasker On Shutdown/On Boot profile to mute the hideous Virgin boot sound.

Apps Replaced By Tasker: 4.5; Toggle AirplaneMode On Boot, Silent Boot, and Unlock at Home; I am keeping a backup of Network on my SD card in case I need to dig into that menu later. I am counting Llama, Setting Profiles, and TaskBomb as "1" because I was evaluating them all for similar purposes but hadn't decided which one when I realized that I preferred Tasker even though it's rather fiddly to set up. They're all pretty worthy for someone looking for something simpler.

Apps Added Due to Tasker: 1; AutoShortcut, which allows Tasker to run a shortcut (in my case a music playlist.)
oda: droid icon on blue-violet field (android)
I've been kind of distracted by all of the ways to skin an Android, as well as trying to find good productivity apps for keeping a shared to-do list with my husband. Here is the pure nonsense part of the proceedings, all about the looks. I got the idea from a thread on Android Forums about creating a Debossed Theme, which provided many useful widgets.

This is a little busy but contains all of my notifying apps, time, weather, etc. at a glance, and makes a very informative home screen dashboard.

Debossed Android Home Screen on Celadon Crackle-Glaze

I am using:

ADWLauncher EX or ADW.Launcher with the Hand Carved Theme for icons. Stock phone (using the call icon because the green goes better with the theme), stock messages, ColorNote, and MailDroid with the Email icon set. I use gesture control for the notifier bar and the dock. I am not rooted and don't think I can theme the notifier bar without rooting, so I hide it when I'm not using it.

The control widgets paulmz kindly provided on the top.

Beautiful Widgets with paulmz's Debossed theme set for the Home and Weather widgets.

Media Buttons re-themed with icons swiped out of paulmz's modded Music player APK.

And a link to the wallpaper, from a photo of a plate:

Thumbnail of Celadon Crackle-Glaze Wallpaper

What I'd change if I actually had image editing skills (I have some very rusty and primitive GIMP practice but nothing up to this):

  • Shrink the bluetooth widget icon so it's more in keeping with the size of the other widgets.
  • Re-skin the Hand Carved theme in a Debossed look so they don't have as sharp edges and aren't colored or are more subtly colored.
  • Build a battery widget theme so I can have a circular/pie or ring debossed battery widget, very minimalistic and inset like the other widgets.

If I could actually program I would build a notifier that instead of just adding a little colored circle to the phone, message, mail, etc. icons to notify, changes their color or makes them glow. (I don't need the number count, I just need to know if I have unread stuff.)
oda: droid icon on blue-violet field (android)
My husband has agreed to be a guinea pig!

What does this entail?

Well, he got a GMail account when we got our Android phones a few months ago. He's been using it just for GMail, Android Market, and Docs access. He has fewer apps than I do, and no Google+ posting history, so in short he has less to lose, though losing access to his Android Market purchase history can cost us some real world money. He is worried, having already grown fond of his phone, but resigned to his fate.

He is going to sign up for every Google service we can think of, and do some minimal amount of user activity where meaningful, to have a basic state of being an active Google user on all of them. We will document what that looks like.

Then he will downgrade his Google Profile and see what happens, and screenshot the results. Of particular interest, of course, is what happens to his phone.

This of course happens as we have time and energy, and he is undergoing a Work Crunchâ„¢ right now, so it will occur in the usual slothlike question. If anyone is faster than us and wants to try this themselves, please post your results! They might actually end up varying, based on prior evidence. Please don't try this if you've spent a lot of money on Android phone apps and weren't intending to leave anyhow, as it could possibly lose you access to your apps.

Since Google is giving inconsistent information about what exactly is attached to Profiles, let's do a black box test and find out. If anyone has experiences which differ, then we will know that it's probably another bug and can raise that issue with even more urgency -- and perhaps even hope for data recovery on any improperly affected users.

(Mirrored to Google+)
oda: droid icon on blue-violet field (android)
For everyone who is voluntarily doing a takeout, but wants to keep their Android phone: talk to your app vendors first and see if you can have them switched to a new GMail account, or you will lose your paid-for apps forever. If you are in your grace period on a suspension, requesting a review can get you shut down long before your grace period ends.

It's not warned about anywhere on the data liberation page, but one item of data you cannot liberate is your ownership of any Android apps you've bought.

"Data liberation? What data liberation? Where? Oh.... you’ll graciously allow me to have content I actually created, but not the things I bought and paid for; silly me, here I thought you actually MEANT it. (You’d think I would have learned by now, eh?)" -- Bonnie L. Nadri

Google Checkout does not liberate personal info either.

At least, my name and address remain welded to Google Checkout, even if I delete the credit card. I can't do squat with those fields if there isn't a valid credit card attached. If I add the credit card it auths it then and there to make sure it all matches and won't let me change the address to something that doesn't match and then delete the card.

<extra sarcasm> The place where I most want to see flaky privacy behavior and only a partial removal of personal information is the one attached to not just my wallet name, but my wallet contents. </extra sarcasm>

Current status on my own Android apps:

App vendors have gotten back to me. One didn't get the possibility of losing access to the account so tried to be helpful by trying to tell me to use it as a secondary account. I think they will probably let me move the apps to another account if I lose access, though. But I am not sure if I can go Amazon with them; I need to check and see if they're in the Amazon store. (An app move might not work as well if I've already lost access.) Another vendor has offered me the choice of Amazon or a fresh Google account, which is a fair pick. I don't think there are any independently authed app stores, more's the pity.

Because of the lack of ability to move apps between accounts, this must be done ad hoc for each app vendor, and they are basically doing it out of their kindness of their hearts if they do it at all; nothing is making them do it other than good customer service and decency. So it's heartwarming to see them be accommodating here, and I want to recognize that they are going above and beyond. (In this case it's the makers of Ultimate Todo List and iSyncr.)


Check purchased apps against Amazon store. Dither a while about which I want. I am going to have to do a full migration either way.

Pros of Amazon: Google doesn't get a cut. I won't get cut off from Amazon for using whatever name I feel like. They will probably get better in response to complaints.

Cons of Amazon: Reputed to treat devs worse than Google does. Requires network connection to use any Amazon apps at all (nng). Slower review process so it can take much longer for updates to trickle through. I am going to have to have a Google account for some functions anyhow. Store is limited in selection and hard to search and people game the reviews even more than Google Market. (Kind of a surprise because their physical stuff shop is fine.)

(Mirrored to Google+)
oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (degoogle)
I really haven't been getting much done, but I got a little bit done tonight, at least.

Here are some links to excellent blogs by people also doing the same thing:

Another very helpful tool is the Dashboard, which can show you where Google is storing your data.

Google Checkout

On the plus side, this had a nice little summary of all of my Android purchases, so I ended up not having to dig through my gmail box as I had feared.

On the minus side, I cannot fully delete my data! I tried deleting my credit card, and while it deleted the credit card number it refuses to delete the address and phone number attached to that card. If I try to edit it, then it tells me I need a valid card number to do so. I tried various permutations including re-entering my card to see if I could then remove the address data, but it does a credit card verification against the number, so I simply cannot edit the data away or delete it. Did anyone ever test card deletion? This is a serious privacy failure.

I'm going to leave this on hold here with the credit card still in place, since I might end up getting credits as part of my app transfer process, and come back to it later.

Android Apps

Having received my app summary via Google Checkout, I used the 'Contact Vendor' links to send mail inquiring the best way to transfer an app off of a Google account, so that I can re-download it even without the account attached on my phone and still receive future updates. This has to be done individually to each vendor.

New Google Account

Given that I might need to transfer apps to a new Google account, I have set up a new GMail account so I have a place to send them. I used an invite and didn't need to authenticate SMS. Remember to check 'Always use HTTPS' under General settings. I also like to turn chat off and set it to only let people chat with me if I explicitly allow it.

Buzz: It appears to be turned on, but I don't yet have a profile set up. It throws a 404 if I try to disable it from GMail without a profile.
oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (sadchrome)
The Bad News: Another crash day so not a ton of progress, though I got the weekly chores done at least. This is probably where my weekly 'still life with farmers market' would be going if I felt like I was actually welcomed by this service. I was planning to keep doing posts-as-usual, but sadly it feels a little like a farce to continue so I will probably be posting even more boring single issue stuff and less of the rest. It is not as if pictures of what I eat or digressions about my dog are super amazing content anyhow, but while I'm waiting for the next hammer to fall I just don't feel comfortable with it anymore. I will continue documenting my slow dawdle away from disentangling my life from this particular cloud giant.

The Good News: I'm still feeling very engaged with people here, though, and love to read what they post. The gaming community here in general is thriving and beautiful. So I still hope the horse will sing, though that hope seems more silly with each new development. I'm a ways from gone unless I get suspended, so I'll try to grab people's twitter/blogs/etc. on my way out. Feel free to post them here! I have an RSS reader and am on Dreamwidth and Twitter, though the latter in a not very active sense.

Email and Docs Research: I've done some reading up on Zoho and didn't see any egregious wails and lamentations in response to my basic searches for reviews, so I will be trying them out when I get more spoons. They also offer web mail and it is supposed to be very solid. I'm trying to decide between that and a solution that offers me a local store that I then can index. I don't actually know of any good desktop/unix based mail indexing solutions, though. Another solution is that I am planning on going to a different provider soon and they will offer email as well, so I could use them as my back/mirror/archive. Email is actually the least of my problems since I host my own, but Zoho offers Docs replacement as well. Heck, depending on their setup I may be able to do some things I wasn't able to do with Sites.

Phone: I keep staring balefully at it and not wanting to start untangling it. It's enough of a hairball that I am procrastinating. I think the solution is to try to pry my apps out of the marketplace and deal individually with their vendors. I don't have that many paid apps. Or find an alternate marketplace of some repute. I'm not happy with Amazon Marketplace though I like them for other services, so not sure what good alternatives are. Another alternative if I can't find a good marketplace is to try to get the app vendors to re-auth my apps onto a new Google account. Except I'm pretty sure they're all going to force real names all the way through at some point, so I'd prefer having them tied to Google as little as possible. While I don't mind a vendor knowing my full name (they're getting my credit card, after all) I do object to my full name popping up on reviews. Static pseudonym is fine.

Wiki Ruminations: I've also used wikidot which in its paid/ad-free form is pretty sweet. It's pretty ad-infested in its free form, but it's a good general purpose wiki and I don't have to keep patching it or removing spammers, which is the general issue with self-hosted wikis. I can host static content in theory (in practice I probably haven't edited a static webpage since 2006, so while it is up there it isn't getting maintained) but running wikis has historically annoyed me, so having that hosted seems plausible as long as I can export it at will. More research, probably. I won't really miss Sites, as it is is Not Quite A Wiki and lacks some features that I keep really wanting.

Mirrored from Google+
oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (degoogle)
I thought it would be useful to have a presence here as I retreat from Google+.

(De-Googlefication; see original link for comments and elaboration.)

Taking the recent policy changes as the closest thing to a declaration of intent we seem likely to get, Project Googlefy which I had started prior to my testing of Google+ is now starting a 180 into Project De-Googlefy.

Why? Because as a prior Buzz/Picasa user affected by the fiat policy change, I am dissatisfied by a company that feels that it can make major changes to pre-established user privacy simply by introducing a new service. I would rather be more firmly divested in case they turn those policy changes loose on Gmail, and I'm generally very slow at making changes so need to get started now so I can pick at it in my slothlike fashion and don't end up falling off my comfortable tree-branch if it gets sawn off by future changes that I simply no longer trust Google to refrain from.

Yes, the horse can learn how to sing. But I am not holding my breath waiting for it to do so. As long as some groups of people receive disproportionate harassment and/or outright violence merely for being a member of that group, I am not interested in having a lot of my services tied up with a company that has clearly exhibited it simply does not understand privacy, or that it values privacy less than it values the appearance of conformity. (Especially as I am personally a member of at least one of those groups.)

So, step one: identify services.

  • Gmail: Been using it as a searchable archive/backup to my primary mail, an HTML mail reader (since I am text-only on my primary), a way to skim attachments, etc. I've already identified a potential alternative. There will be not inconsiderable pain in migrating an older archive like mine, given that the tools for migration are throttled down to moving only a few hundred messages at a time (IIRC; hopefully I'm wrong in that and I can let it run unattended.)

  • Docs: Collaboration with others, online spreadsheets. This has been a pretty good solution so far, and only improving as they add features, but I've already identified some alternatives. I don't have a huge store of docs, though some are rather crucial to our workflow, so this ought to be easy to migrate once I find a new home. Version controlled cloud storage could also be a solution here.

  • Android: Well, if I want to use the Android market (and to be honest, Amazon's market is a highly inferior alternative) I have to have a Google account. I guess I need to take a harder look at other smartphone OSes for future phone upgrades? Also I am a lot less excited than I was a month ago about having an Android tablet if apps on it can go suddenly defunct based on a random policy change. I might end up having to hold my nose and go Apple, who is at least predictable in its bad policies, or wait until there's another alternative. I'd been holding off on buying a tablet anyhow until the hardware improved, so this is not a priority. Luckily we are not locked into plans on our android phones, so the cost of switching phones is not excessive if that later becomes necessary. There also may be ways around the android market, by buying directly? Not sure; I haven't done a ton of research here yet.

  • Sites: Honestly I have found the site building software to be inferior to other solutions I've tried, though lower maintenance. I won't miss it very much. It might still be a pain to transition off. I'm glad I stopped adding data into that set when I started testing G+, because it's less to have to remove later.

  • Reader: Surely there is a cloud synced RSS reader solution out there somewhere. I just need to research it. Worst case I can probably run something out of cloud storage of some sort.= Calendar: See Reader.

  • Picasa: Had some sharing options that were pretty unique (or at least not readily available on Flickr), but I probably just need to look harder to replicate them. Will miss the ease of synchronization with a local store, but there might be desktop software out there that syncs readily with other solutions.

  • Google+: There may not be a decent substitute yet, but I can cope. I'll stay on while I document my progress at de-googlefying at the very least, and might stay on past that in the same way as I use facebook: exclusively to keep contact with a few people who are only there, and with my own data sequestered/segmented. Still thinking about where to draw the line on this one.

  • Chrome: This one is a sadness as Chrome puts up with my tab abuse and wimpy out of date desktop far better than Firefox does. Might hang onto this one to the bitter end, hoping Firefox solves some of its issues before I make the leap. Might decide it's all right to hang onto stuff that doesn't require any PII.

  • Search: Left off the original post, and it's important. Also: Ads (which I don't use but other people do) and Groups.
  • July 2012

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