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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Thu, 25 Aug 2016

Do I really need your app? Do I want it? Do I have space for it?

Can you call a business a "web site" if they try to force you to use an app to access their content on a mobile device?

I guess everything these days is a "social network," "e-commerce platform," "content provider," or some other phrase or three that escape me at this particular moment.

There are two social networks -- one is an employment-based network, the other a dining-reviews network -- that won't let me see content at various times without downloading their mobile application.

Bet you can guess who I'm talking about.

The first is LinkedIn. I don't remember having much trouble accessing LinkedIn on my phone or tablet, but I get these emails from them that say, "So and So has an update." I click for the update, and it sends me to a come-on for the LinkedIn app.

I'm not getting that app. So I don't get the content.

The other one -- the dining-review app -- is worse.

That's Yelp, in case you didn't figure it out.

Every time you go to their site on a phone or tablet, the top of the page is a massive plea to download and run their app.

And then the web site wastes no time in telling you that you'll only get a few dining reviews from real people in the browser. If you want more, you'll have to get the app.

I don't want the app. So I lose out on your content -- and any ad impressions you might be offering to monetize my experience.

Why don't I want these two apps?

1) Not everybody has a 128GB iPhone. My el-cheapo Android phone is limping along with 8GB of storage, and that is double my previous phone's 4GB. Even though I have a 32GB SD card on board, there's only so much that can go on it in terms of apps (thanks for that, Android). Some apps won't go on the SD card, and most store data on the phone's memory regardless of where they are installed. So I have to be very selective in what I do have on the phone.

2) I don't need an app for a site or service I use infrequently. It's just clutter, and I'd rather use the browser. Even if I had a 64GB phone, I don't want a dozen pages of apps to swipe through.

3) Your app is not that good. Most apps don't do more than mimic a browser-delivered web experience. Maybe some users feel "safer" using an app rather than a web site. Those days are gone. Web apps (really just fancy web sites with lots of Javascript) do so much client-side that they really are apps that users don't have to download and keep on their phones.

The craziest one these days is Amazon.

Amazon will pay you $5 just to use their app.


Because, for Android anyway, their app is not in the Google Play store, and you have to download it and allow your phone to run non-Play Store apps.

Most users find this daunting and don't want to do it. But maybe $5 will change their minds.

I just discovered that the Amazon is preloaded on my Android phone, so maybe if I launch it I'll get the $5? Probably not.

But do I even need this app? It will alert me if crap I want to buy is available, on sale, or who knows what.

I use Amazon enough that maybe the app is worth it.

But most of the apps out there for things that can be taken care of with a web site? No, I don't want your app. I don't have room on the phone for it.

I sort of understand that you feel you need an app. That it's part of your business plan. But at least give me a choice. If you push to hard on making me download and run your app just to sample your service, chances are I never will. And you lose a potential customer. Or hundreds (or thousands) of them.

Wed, 27 Jul 2011

Text editor and FTP client for Android?

I just got my Android phone, the LG Optimus V from Virgin Mobile, and I'm naturally looking for my two most important apps -- text editor and FTP client.

Trying AndFTP and Text Edit. As far as an editor goes, I need something that helps with typing HTML tags. This simple editor looks nice, but typing <p> is murder.

AndFTP works acceptably well. Once I get my paths typed in, it'll be quicker and more painless.

(Note:This entry began on the phone but continued at the computer so my typing/thinking speeds match more closely.)

Thu, 21 Jul 2011

Virgin Mobile -- pricing schizophrenia for prepaid carrier

I've been long intrigued by the prepaid cellular market. The traditional "contract" mobile carries that dominate in the U.S. generally fleece their customers and do so by offering "good" phones cheaply while making it all back with higher monthly costs for the duration of the contract.

I haven't yet written anything, but Virgin Mobile sent me a couple of devices over the past few months -- an LG Optimus V smartphone that runs Android and a MiFi mobile broadband device.

While I thought the LG phone a bit overpriced at , knowing full well that phones often available for down to free on a contract plan can cost much more from a prepaid carrier, my enthusiasm for the LG Optimus V was dampened when I learned that the phone had been introduced months earlier on Virgin Mobile at .

Upon Virgin's announcement that they would bring out a "real" Android phone, a Motorola with a bigger screen that compares more favorably with the better Android handsets for (ouch!), the drop of the LG Optimus V's price from back down to made me think all was not wrong with Virgin Mobile.

And they did have that killer Beyond Talk plan. No contract. per month for 300 minutes of talk, "unlimited" texting and web (really 2.5 GB before throttling, or so I understood, but not 200 MB like other carriers, so it was still a great deal).

Call me anachronistically cheap, but per month, even with a phone, sounded pretty good to me. Almost great, in fact.

But now I learn that on the day (July 20) Virgin Mobile releases its "grown-up" Motorola Android phone for , the Beyond Talk plan is suddenly a plan.

Wait. From to ? That's a 40 percent price increase.

Can I repeat that? A 40 percent price increase in the service overnight.

While nobody matches per month, there are plans out there for with unlimited everything, including talk minutes.

I don't claim to be a mobile-market expert. I'm just a guy who can't see spending to (or more) per month for mobile phone service.

I'd just as soon have no talk minutes and all texting and web. For . But nobody's offering that to me, either.

Virgin Mobile is "grandfathering" in current users, if they continue paying their bills monthly, and allowing them to keep the -per-month Beyond Talk plan. New people? It's 40 percent more.

Forty percent more. Overnight.

Virgin Mobile isn't offering 4g service. It's 3g. You can't use your to phone on "regular" Sprint (the network Virgin uses for its service).

Now the service from MetroPCS and the service from T-Mobile is starting to look a whole lot more competitive.

If my employer was paying the bill, I'd be fine with a "regular" plan. But that's not happening. This will come out of my own pocket. And I'm surprised how cavalier the average person is out there about paying or so per month just to carry an Android phone around in their pocket.

Disclaimer: I realize I'm in "get off my lawn" territory.