Saturday, January 05, 2013

Smart Phone, Dumb Person

I joined the community of annoying smartphone people with the purchase of my Motorola Atrix HD Android phone.

I'm very happy with the phone, but I was surprised by the weird world of phone marketing I found when trying to decide which phone I should get. I started my search with a small set of requirements for the phone:

  • Android Jelly Bean
  • AT&T
  • preferably Motorola - just because they're based in my old home state of Illinois. I guess Apple and Motorola are the only American phone manufacturers these days.

Anyway - pretty simple, right ? What I expected to find was some web pages on the Motorola or AT&T web sites with a lineup of Motorola's Android phones something like the Apple Store's iPhone page. The iPhone has a great approach to marketing - there's just one iPhone product line with the flagship iPhone 5, and the older 4s and 4 available at a discount. I expected Motorola might similarly have a couple different phone lines based on size or feature set, and one or two older generations available at a discount. Sadly for Motorola - it turns out Motorola offers separate product lines for each carrier! I just found this page that nicely lays out their product lines, but I somehow didn't stumble upon that page during my phone search, and I was amazed by how many different (but very similar) phones Motorola designed and manufactured. Motorola's phone branding is crazy - RAZR is exclusive to Verizon (Verizon apparently owns the "DROID" brand trademark too from the old days where iPhone was AT&T exclusive), ATRIX is AT&T, Electrify for U.S. Cellular, Sprint gets the Admiral and Photon, Triumph for Virgin Mobile ... I think these are all actually different phones - not just the same no-brand phone with a different carrier logo.

Motorola's per-carrier marketing is just crazy. It's already hard for Motorola to distinguish itself from the other Android handset manufacturers (htc, Sony, Samsung, LG, ...); it's crazy that Motorola has to muddy down its own brand in some misguided strategy by the carriers to differentiate themselves from each other. Nobody switches from Verizon to AT&T (or vice versa) because one has a slightly better Android phone than the other.

Actually - it looks like Samsung might be in the same messed up phone-per-carrier boat. This carrier-branding mess must drive Google crazy. The iPhone was trail blazing in so many little ways that people forget (visual voice mail, apps, ...) - the unified (across carriers) "iPhone" brand was one I never considered.

scala 2.10 netbeans ant fix

I just upgraded the scala install on my laptop from 2.9.x to the latest 2.10.0 release candidate, and was depressed to discover that broke my crazy netbeans derived ant build scripts (ugh!).

> ant clean
Buildfile: C:\Users\pasquini\Documents\Code\littleware\WIP\littleware\webapp\lit







eId\nbproject\build-impl.xml:50: The following error occurred while executing th
is line:
a/tools/ant/antlib.xml:5: taskdef A class needed by class
alac cannot be found: scala/reflect/internal/settings/MutableSettings$SettingVal
 using the classloader AntClassLoader[C:\Program Files\Scala\scala-2.10.0-RC5\li
b\scala-compiler.jar;C:\Program Files\Scala\scala-2.10.0-RC5\lib\scala-library.j

Total time: 2 seconds

Fortunately - the fix was easy. Scala 2.10.x pushes some classes that its ant task depends on to a new scala-reflect jar file, so I added that to the classpath in one of the xml blocks in nbproject/build-impl.xml, and I was back in business:

        <property name="scala.compiler" value="${scala.home}/lib/scala-compiler.jar"/>
        <property name="scala.library" value="${scala.home}/lib/scala-library.jar"/>
        <property name="scala.lib" value="${scala.home}/lib"/>
        <taskdef resource="scala/tools/ant/antlib.xml">
                <pathelement location="${scala.compiler}"/>
                <pathelement location="${scala.library}"/>
                <pathelement location="${scala.lib}/scala-reflect.jar"/>

Anyway - scala 2.10 looks to be a great release. A lot of people are excited about the "macro" system, but I've been working with the new akka actors, and also look forward to playing around with the futures and promises APIs.