The Google nexus one vs iphone in Australia

I have used the iPhone for 2 years now and quite like it. The strangle hold apple has really annoys me so after jailbreaking the phone, I can do mostly all of what I want to do.

Heres some thoughts about the last 24hrs playing with the nexus one.

Nexus One – Good Points

  • Fantastic screen. It’s bright, clear, hi-res and the animations are great.
  • Brilliant google apps integration. (Including lattitude from google apps accounts which aparent’y can’t be done on any other platform)
  • Close integration with things like SIP clients with the normal phone interface
  • GPS reeption (inside a building, works great)
  • Fast browser.
  • latitude that ‘just works’
  • Gmail integration that doesn’t rely on the old imap methodology. It handles threaded conversations.
  • Great camera with flash
  • feels thinner and better
  • great google talk integration
  • proper multitasking

Nexus One – Bad Points

  • 3G dropouts. In 24 hrs, i have had 2 calls drop (I don’t make many calls) and have had other call breakup.
  • Bluetooth is worse than the iPhone (which is pretty bad). I often have trouble getting A2DP connections working properly with phone calls etc. The iPhone gives you an option to select audio output options and therefore by selecting speaker, then back to bluetooth, it works again. the Nexus one, doesn’t have this option and stopping/starting the bluetooth, while it seems to fix the problem, takes too long.
  • Finger sensors seem ‘wrong’. When I played with the HERO, i seemed to have to touch the screen a few mm above the point that i wanted. This is the same on the nexus one. I would be happy to believe it was my fat fingers but the iphone doesn’t have this problem.
  • The gmail application, while it has some great features just feels wrong. I normally keep mail unread in the inbox as a todo list, this is harder to do in the gmail app. on the iPhone app, its easier.
  • doesn’t support pinch gestures.
  • has a totally useless trackball (well, sometimes its the only way to do something so useless is probably not the right word)
  • still not enough apps

iPhone Jailbroken – Good Points

  • with the purchase of 3G unrestrictor and longtitude, latitude works and SIP over 3G works.
  • as much as I hate to say it, iTunes integration makes life easier than the options.
  • wifi/3g switching just works

iPhone Jailbroken – Bad Points

  • Apples restrictive policies on things like native google latitude support.
  • the bluetooth support is crappy but still less bad than the nexus one.
  • crappy battery life with no quick replacement option
  • only manual upgrading of software/apps
  • no multitasking


So in summary, I am going back to the iPhone and hope the next 4G iPhone addresses these bad points.

Washington DC

I didn’t know that the smithsonian was so extensive. Its 19 separate museums and were/are great places to visit.

The first things I wanted to see were the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Air and Space museum.  These were great to visit but I also discovered lots more to see. The Natural History Museum was great, as was the Portrait gallery and the National Museum. The national archives was a little less interesting (probably more aimed at children) but it was interesting to see a 1296 copy of the Magna Carta. There was a line for about 40 mins to see the declaration of independence but no line at all for the magna carta.
The Spy Museum (not smithsonian) and the Crime and Punishment museum were interesting but also mainly directed at children, or at least people who don’t watch documentaries as often as I do.
Madame Tussads was really crappy. It could have been that I was expecting so much more after going to the ‘real’ one in london but this one wasn’t even as good as the wax museum in surfers paradise in Qld.
The postal museum was interesting, although also more for children, and had the postage stamp that we’ve all seen on television with the upside-down plane. I don’t know whats its worth but its always the example of expensive stamps.
The Lincoln monument was interesting (although very wet that day) and the Washington monument was also worth seeing (not that you could avoid it). In the same area the monuments were the WWII and Vietnam memorials, the Korean war memorial is a little further away and I didn’t get that far.
I didn’t get to the American Indian museum, the FBI building or the Capitol Building but they had to be missed as I ran out of time. I did get to go to the new Air and Space museum wing (the new one as the 1976 one was full) at Dulles Airport. Thats were the space shuttle enterprise is and the SR-71 Blackbird as well as lots of other things.
So, the things I saw that I will hopefully remember are…
Apollo 11 command module
Space Shuttle Enterprise (not that it was a finished space shuttle capable of space flight)
Magna Carta
The upside down stamp
the Original ‘Wright Flyer’
Original Space Suits (from many of the moon trips)0
The X-1
The Enola Gay
Overall it was a great trip to washington as I managed to have it over a weekend where I didn’t have to do too much work and got to see some great stuff.
Enola Gay Enterprise
Marine One First Van De Graff Generator
The Hope Diamond
Enigma Machine (3 Rotor)
X-1 'The' Wright Flyer

Astricon 2009

Astricon was very informative. From learning more about Amazon EC2, to chan_skype they cover lots of things. Not every session was what I wanted to know but they did get you thinking about how to do things. There were sessions on large organisations and government systems where queues are seperated from media gateways and from servers where extensions connect. There was also a log on XMPP integration into asterisk and thats certainly something ill need to look into further.

Not all sessions were of the same quality. Some were very well prepared and were informative, others were simply sales pitches for the products sold by the company presenting.
It was also nice to meet Jared Smith, Leif Madsen and Mark Spencer. The dCap breakfast was also great as it provided a chance to chat with some others on a technical level. There were certainly some very knowledgeable people there to talk to.

By the time I get to Phoenix, i’ll be sleeping

The day started off quite well. While sitting in the airport, I was organised, with a combination of TripIt, Dropbox, Google Calendar Sync, Evernote I had all my documents ready at hand. This makes life much easier when filling in forms with passport numbers etc.

The US war on tourism was in full force and apart from their difficult on board requirements, this year they have a online form to fill in before you can leave. This must be done 72 hours before leaving and no-one reminds you of it. Luckily, I had read something about it and filled it in.

It seems, a Visa is a document telling you had permission to enter a country, the USA and Australia participate in the visa waver program so this means you don’t need one. That sounds great until you realise what a visa does for you. It gives you permission to enter the country, now we don’t have it at all.

So, weeks ago, i fill in an online form with passport number, flight number, date of entry, date of exit and address where I will be staying. This could have been a real time saver but no-one apparently reads this form.

On getting to the airport I discovered that they didn’t know about my form and asked me to fill it all in again at the check in. Oh well, it only 5 mins and not too hard. My docs were all organised and not too hard to setup.

I always find it annoying that the little green form you need to fill in to leave the country is only provided when you get to the airport so this had to be filled in also.

Anyway, After all this, I was sitting in Qantas club charging the laptop and phone up feeling quite good about it all.

The Flight was annoyingly long (although obviously expected) and during the flight, we were given a blue form that asked the same questions again. I thought, as others had, that we didn’t need to do this as we had filled in one online and one at checkin. Well the crew made a PA announcement saying that this was needed regardless of what was done online. I was also annoyed at this point that Qantas doesn’t give you one of those as its a dedicated USA checkin desk and they should know whats required.

On getting to LAX, I was a little pleased to discover they have about 50 little cubicles readily to rapidly process the incoming traveller and send them on their way.Unfortunately, on loser inspection, only about 5 cubicles had people in them. Bugger.

25 mins later, I was told with a little sense of ‘understanding’ by the staff that I also needed a green form and I needed to go back and start again. This had the tone of ‘why is everyone getting this wrong today’

Well, in a very Douglas Adams moment, I found the green forms in a drawer. There were no signs on it saying ‘beware of the leopard’ but it might as well have.

Filling in this form, with the same information they had from online, checkin, and the blue form, i waited 25 mins more and got through immigration only leaving them with the required left hand, left thumb, right hand, right thumb fingerprints on the scanner and a nice new photo of me.

My bags were dizzy from going around and around and after I was sniffed by the puppies, I walked out without further interruption. I think the customs part of it all is working quite nicely now, it was really painless at that stage.

The car rental documents I had said wait for a car labeled ‘JohnnyPark’. 20 mins waiting was aparently enough because it finally decided to turn up and took me to the car rental place.

On getting there, I noticed it looked pretty dumpy. They didn’t believe be I had paid and it took a while to work out that I had only paid insurance.

Well, I thought this would have been quite simple as when I ordered online I clicked all the insurance boxes.

Well, Aparently I hadn’t ticked the not offered fourth party insurance, swamp insurance, doorknob tax, foreign accent and foreign licence tax, internet booking fees and a ‘oh, you actually want the car you ordered’ fees which updated me to the car they had available.

It was nicely already dented and scratched so that saves me the worry of having to do it later.

Luckily the guy wasn’t there to see me getting in the wrong side or there would have been a ‘the steering wheel is missing’ tax. Ok, I was a little tired.

The Garmin satnav i took with me had the usa maps on it and after the 10 min warmup time when it looks at all the music files on the SD card to make sure they haven’t changed, it started telling me what direction to take out of LA.

About an hour later, I stopped at a Wal*Mart and decided to get some breakfast and coffee. I also picked up a AT&T prepaid card (after doing lots of research on the net) and some recharge cards for it. I also picked up a cradle to charge the phone (I forgot to bring the car charger) and I was set. In the car, I spent 30 mins on the phone to AT&T working out that the iphone cannot be used in the USA. After I told them that I was wrong, it wasn’t an iphone, it was a nokia, they processed it and told me they can’t do it on the phone, I needed to go to an AT&T store and work it out there.

Giving up on that, I started driving again. With 5 hours of driving, i needed to get moving to get there on time. about 2 hours later, an impromptu lane change encouraged me to pull over and get something to keep me awake. I pulled into a carpark of a service station and thought I would just get an hours sleep. The ads on the TV in australia telling me that nothing beets a little sleep is working I guess.

After about 15 mins of sort of sleeping, I overheard someone talking. In my dazed state (trying to sleep really hard) I started to make out words and realised they were talking about me. Aparently the 911 operator was interested there was a body in a car in a car park. I then got up (much to the surprise of the person calling) and went into the service station and told them I was going to have a sleep in their car park.

This worked far better.

After about 30 mins of real sleep, I went back to the service station feeling I should buy something after using their carpark, I bought some ‘energy drink’ thats only about 60 ml. The packet says its 5hrs energy and you should take only half at a time. I took it all and that, with the sleep I had, had me feeling great.

3.5 hours or so later, I was in Glendale (near Pheonix) and checkin into the hotel. Aparently theres a cisco conference here at the same time so the world nerd population could be in real danger if there was a natural disaster here.

I then went out to find an AT&T store to get this phone thing sorted. When I arrived, I explained that the phone person told me that it had to be done in a store. She called the call center and in 10 mins, had it working. I guess the store part is nothing special, you only have to know to ignore them when they say its not possible.

Anyway, I now had a phone (working for voice) with a revolving 100mb data plan. If I used my Optus card, this represents $2000 of data, locally its $20. I know the $2000 is AUD and the $20 is USD but it still seems cheper to me.

After getting some pizza to eat, I tried the data part and realised it was not working. Maybe I really can’t use an Australian iphone here with data. Again, Bugger.

I called tech support and after a while, realised I was being passed from AT&T to Apple and back again many times I gave up. I setup the laptop up with the wifi in the hotel ($10 USD per day) and googled it. Right, I needed to update the carrier file. After plugging in the phone to iTunes, updating carrier files and realising it didn’t work any better, I had to then start playing with the phone more seriously.

The WIFI here gives you a /30 address range and even with the phone and laptop both connected ($10 USD per day EACH) I couldn’t ssh between them as they weren’t on the same subnet and they were blocking port 22.

I then setup both the laptop and phone to VPN back to the office (other side of the world, via 2 translations, over PPTP) and finally they were on the same subnet. I could then SFTP in, get the carrier file, edit it manually on the mac here, re-send it back, reboot and WOO HOO, data works.

Apple (ok, optus) turns off the APN settings for a phone so that users can’t break it. It means that we also can’t fix it (and they can’t either) so the change I made tuened on the settings screen where I could type in the right APN and get it all working.

So, its now 23:30, the energy drink seems to still be working (I can’t sleep now after about 2 hours earlier) and decided to write stuff that is a) too technical and b) not interesting.

I also got the virgin mobile internet working for the laptop so I have connections everywhere now.

AT&T seem to block port 5060 so sip doesn’t work over 3G but I can live with that i think.

Anyway, tomorrow the Asterisk (astricon 2009) conference starts and I’m really keen to see what its like. I just hope I get some sleep soon so I don’t have to sleep in class.