[conspire] phones, phone plans, gps [was Re: CABAL meeting tomorrow (also, webmail security discussed here)]

Tony Godshall tony at of.net
Sat Nov 28 22:14:46 PST 2009

> Now that I'm not totally reliant on my Neo Freerunner, I might
> experiment with some of the non-OpenMoko firmware for it, such as
> the Android ports, to see if those are satisfactory.

Oh, do report your results!

> You mention GPS.  GIS service for smartphones is one of the trouble
> points -- as I shall explain -- and seems likely to remain so until
> OpenStreetMap's data get extensive and reliable enough that apps such as
> AndNav2 and Navit for Android, Opentouchmap.org for iPhone, and GpsMid
> for Java ME (mobile apps for the OpenStreetMap dataset) become good
> enough for mobile GPS navigation that we can say "screw you" to GIS data
> providers.
> I'm not sure who those companies are who own the commercial GIS datasets
> -- I suspect  Autodesk, Bentley Systems, ESRI, Intergraph, Manifold
> System, Mapinfo and Smallworld -- but it is said that _no_ smartphone
> is permitted access to that data unless the 'phone vendor agrees to DRM
> the device and control the customer.  They fear losing control of that
> data, you see.  So, the only longterm fix to _that_ is to replace them,
> which seems to primarily mean using OpenStreetMap data.


I've found the "just below the smartphone definition" symbian-based
phones to be pretty tolerable.  And the data plan's about half that of
an iphone.

These phones are good enough for google maps and python and the
browser's perfectly good for wikipedia and gasbuddytogo.com (for
finding cheap diesel).  Not so good for javascript-heavy sites, but
the device can actually play youtube stuff passably well as long as
you don't mind running down the battery.

My pet peeve is the stupid "GPS" and "PTT" keys on the AT&T version of
the phone I always hit by mistake and always offer to sign me up for
AT&T's extra-fee services after making me wait several seconds.  Off
course, the GPS is perfectly serviceable in gmaps without signing up
for AT&T's map service.

BTW, Nokia's taken control of Symbian and has stated they will open-source it.

So, while I wait for an open source phone I can live with, these will
do, I guess.


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