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New from Google: Gadgets for Linux and Gmail Labs

Posted by Fred on June 9, 2008

Over the past couple of days, Google has rolled out a couple of interesting new products, a version of Google Gadgets for Linux and Gmail Labs, a testbed for new features for Gmail.

Google Gadgets for Linux is about what you’d expect, an implementation of Google’s gadget platform, previously available only to Windows and Mac users, for either the GTK+ or QT toolkits.  For those who care about such things, GGL is licensed under the Apache License, rather than the closed-source license for the other platforms.  To install, you’ll need to build from source, which is not a big deal, although it does require an Ubuntu user to jump through some hoops first.

The first step is to install some additional packages, if you don’t do much development work:

sudo apt-get install subversion build-essential zlib1g-dev libmozjs-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libxml2-dev libdbus-1-dev libmozjs-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev libcurl3-openssl-dev libdbus-1-dev libxul-dev libcurl3 libcurl3-dbg libcurl3-gnutls libcurl4-openssl-dev libcurl-ocaml libmozjs0d libmozjs0d-dbg libmozjs-dev g++-4.2-multilib g++

Some of these packages may already be installed, many undoubtedly are not.  Now download the source from Google.  You can get a source package, but it may be outdated, so I used the svn repository.  From a terminal, do this:

svn checkout google-gadgets-for-linux-read-only

Assuming you’re using the svn repository, prepare the build script:
cd google-gadgets-for-linux-read-only
sh autotools/

Now configure and build from the source code:
mkdir -p build/debug
cd build/debug
../../configure --enable-debug --disable-qt-host --disable-qt-system-framework --disable-qt-xml-http-request --disable-libggadget-qt --disable-qtwebkit-browser-element
sudo make install
sudo ldconfig

To start the sidebar, hit ALT-F2 and run ggl-gtk.  An icon will appear in the panel, which you can right-click to add gadgets.  To run at startup, click System>Preferences>Sessions and add ggl-gtk to the Startup Programs tab. If you want to use QT, build using just ../../configure –enable-debug and run ggl-qt instead.

Gmail Labs adds some experimental features to Gmail, many of which probably could be added via Greasemonkey scripts.  Unlike Greasemonkey, the Gmail labs features appear to be available in any browser.  To turn Gmail Labs on, go to Settings/Labs and enable features one at a time.  As of this writing, there are 13 available, ranging from Custom Date Formats, which “adds options to the general settings page allowing the date and time format to be changed independent of language. For example, you can use a 24-hour clock (14:57) or show dates with the day first (31/12/07)” to Signature Tweaks, which “places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the ‘–‘ line that appears before signatures.”  Most of these don’t do much for me, but there are two I enabled:

Quick Links “adds a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.”  Open any Gmail view, such as an individual message or a search, and click Add Quick Link.  The most useful application for Quick Links is with searches.  Add a link for is:unread to quickly view unread messages or has:attachment to find messages with attachments. Quick Links would also be a good way to find message from certain correspondents.

Superstars adds new icons to the default star for marking messages. You get additional stars in new colors, along with a check mark, exclamation point and question mark.  To use, you have to enable on the Settings/Labs page and then choose the stars you want available on the Settings/General page.

Presumably Gmail will keep adding Labs features, which will appear on the settings page.  if any feature messes up your inbox, just go to to disable Labs.


Posted in Technology, Ubuntu | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Install Ubuntu 8.04 LTS from USB [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 23, 2008

I decided it was time to move my Wubi install onto a dedicated partition, in order to speed up disk operations a tad and enable hibernation/suspend on the laptop.  At the time, LVPM, which automates the process of doing just that, was not available for Hardy Heron, but there was a script on the forums to make to process easier.  Unfortunately, my attempts at creating new partitions with Gparted hosed the master boot record of my hard disk, and the Compaq didn’t come with Vista install disks, so I ended up restoring the original disk image, losing the Wubi install.

For some reason, I was never able to burn an install CD properly, but was able to install from USB via this guide.  I’ll summarize the steps, in case you want to do the same thing.

First, download some software for your Windows machine.  Get an Ubuntu Live CD image of 8.04, a copy of 7-zip to decompress the ISO file and syslinux to make your USB stick bootable.  Install 7-zip and unzip syslinux to the Desktop.  For ease of use, rename the syslinux folder syslinux.

Go into My Computer and right-click on the drive letter of your USB stick (in my case, it was G:). Choose format… and make sure to format as FAT32 and not NTFS.

Now open a Command Prompt by clicking Start > All programs > Accessories > Command Prompt or Run > cmd.  In the command prompt window, issue this command:

Desktop\syslinux\win32\syslinux -ma g:

If your USB drive is something other than G:, change the command accordingly. Close the command prompt window.

Back on the Desktop, right-click on the Ubuntu ISO and choose 7-zip > Extract to ubuntu-8.04-desktop-386.  This will decompress the installation files into a folder on your Desktop.  Open this folder and copy everything to your USB stick.

Now we need to make a copuple of changes to the file system.  On the USB drive, open the isolinux folder and copy all the files to the root of the drive.  In my case, that meant everything in G:\isolinux had to be moved to G:\.  Also, rename the file isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.

Now we’re ready to boot into the USB installer.  On my laptop, I had to go into the BIOS by hitting [F10] and boot and change the boot order so USB HDD came before Laptop HDD.  Some BIOSes are already set up to boot from USB.  Some, like an old Toshiba I have, can’t boot from USB at all.  On the Compaq, [F9] will let me temprarily boot from a different device, but that is [F11] or [F12] on some machines.  You’ll just have to experiment.

Once booted, the Live USB acts just like a Live CD, so help abounds on the Ubuntu site. 

Posted in Linux, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Use Internet Connection Sharing on WM6 with Hardy Heron [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 20, 2008

The reason I have a Motorola Q9 Global instead of a Blackjack II is that AT&T in its infinite wisdom eliminated Internet Connection Sharing from the BJII (I think it’s actually still there, but the interface isn’t, but I digress). Up to now, I’ve been piggybacking off the open wi-fi connection from the Richmond Omni, which is in and of itself amazing as the Omni is 0.4 miles away, but the connection has gotten flaky.  So I decided to use ICS instead (kind of like tethering, but free of the otherwise-applicable AT&T fees).  Here’s how:

First, you need to make sure you have the right Ubuntu packages installed:

sudo apt-get install subversion build-essential

Now do the following in a terminal:

svn co
cd usb-rndis-lite/
sudo ./
sudo make install

That should be all you need on the Ubuntu side. On the phone, start ICS. There’s no shortcut on the Start Menu, so use the File Manager to browse to /Windows and look for IntShrUI.exe. To make things easier, you can click Menu>File>Create Shortcut and create a shortcut in Windows/Start Menu. Once you start ICS, click the left soft key (“Connect”) and plug in the USB cable. That should be it.

I know this works, as I am posting this via ICS and WM6.

Posted in Linux, Technology, Ubuntu | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Assembling a Blogger’s Toolkit in Linux: Not Good

Posted by Fred on May 9, 2008

As previous posts should indicate, I have been using Ubuntu Hardy Heron (aka 8.04 LTS) almost exclusively on the Compaq Presario laptop for a while now.  After some early hiccups related to wireless networking and printing, the setup works pretty well.  The OpenOffice suite does just about everything I need MS Office to do, browsing is almost the same experience in Firefox for Linux as Firefox for Windows, and there are applications to do just about everything else I do on this laptop.  One big problem, however, is blogging and the tools I generally use to do so.

On Windows, my basic blogging toolkit consists of:

Of these, Firefox, the GIMP and Inkscape are all cross-platform, so the experience is identical.  OpenOffice does everything I need done with number-crunching.  I miss using for lightweight image processing, but the Linux tools are adequate for that job.  With regard to the latter two categories, the Linux tools are, in my opinion, woefully inadequate.

Think what you will of Microsoft, but its free Windows Live Writer is, hands down, the best tool for off-line blogging available.  Basic features of that program that I use everyday in Windows include support for WordPress tags and categories, image uploading and manipulation (including automatic resizing, adding drop shadows, etc.), creation of tables and live preview (the application downloads your blog’s stylesheet, so you can see exactly what a post will look like).  To be comparable, a Linux app would have to have all of these features.

I looked at each of the Linux applications listed in the WordPress Codex, including BloGTK, Drivel, Flock, Gnome Blog, JBlogEditor, QTM, ScribeFire, and WriteToMyBlog. I prefer an off-line editor for various reasons, including the ability to automatically save local copies, so the Flock browser, ScribeFire extension and WriteToMyBlog web service, while interesting, are not really comparable.  All of the Linux clients are much simpler than WLW, and none offer true support for WordPress tags or the level of image manipulation offered by the Microsoft product.  I actually thought the best client was one not on the list, Kblogger, which is part of the KDE application suite.  Kblogger is still relatively featureless, and does not support WordPress tags, although it does appear to support Movable Type keywords.  Further, most of the Linux applications with the exception of Kblogger appear relatively dormant, and few have seen recent updates.

I next attempted to install some Windows clients via Wine.  Virtually all Windows blog clients use Internet Explorer DLLs, so installing via Wine just won’t work.  I was able to achieve some success by first installing IES4Linux, and then running the client installation program through IE.  BlogJet appears to run well via Wine in this way.  Unfortunately, there appears to be a conflict at some level between the version of Wine in the Ubuntu repository, the IES4Linux script and Hardy Heron, as IE will install and run fine the first time, but crashes if I exit and try to restart it.  BlogJet likewise would run once, but would fail if I exited and restarted unless I re-ran the IES4Linux script.  In any event, I found BlogJet’s most recent version to be inadequate, as it too does not support WordPress tags.  My attempts to install Windows Live Writer, BlogDesk, Post2Blog, Zoundry Raven, Qumana and Ecto via Wine all failed.

The same general experience held true for RSS clients.  I’ve written before of the reasons I prefer FeedDemon, including its support for clipping folders and watch bins, powerful feed data and feed management and the Panic Button (which allows the user to mark posts older than a certain timeframe to be automatically marked read).  On Linux, I looked at Liferea and Akregator.  Neither offered the full feature set of FeedDemon, particularly the tools for feed management and the automatic watch lists.  Neither integrated feed reading and posting as well as FeedDemon and WLW.  Of the two, I far preferred Akregator, which has a more user-friendly appearance and UI, and which organizes the feed list in a more intuitive manner.

FeedDemon did install under Wine and IES4Linux, but I found the experience to be vastly inferior to FeedDemon on Windows.  It runs more slowly, and it’s just a less coherent UI, with aspects of Windows and GTK jumbled together.

Why is blogging and RSS reading so much better on Windows and Mac than Linux?  It appears that many of the Linux offerings are, like many other small Linux apps, personal scratch-an-itch development projects.  Unlike OpenOffice (supported by Sun) and Firefox (run by Mozilla), these projects have no corporate-level support and no drive to support a large userbase with feature development.  In Linux, of course, I could just learn Python and add features myself, but I don’t have that kind of time.  So for now, I’m back to Google Reader and ScribeFire when on the laptop, but blogging is the one area I find to be inferior to Windows (but not so inferior as to make me boot back into Vista).

Posted in Blogging, Linux, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Use Brother HL-4040CN Color Laser Printer in Ubuntu Hardy heron [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 6, 2008

After managing to install Ubuntu 8.04 via Wubi and finagling the wireless into working with ndiswrapper, I decided to actually get some work done, and created some documents in OpenOffice. Time to print, so I tried the easy route first. System >> Administration >> Printing lets you add a printer, and Ubuntu dutifully located the Brother HL-4040CN at its network IP address. It looked for a printer driver, and suggested the driver for the Brother HL-4000. Same family, so it seemed like something worth trying. Bad idea, as it just spit out about 20 blank (but curled) pages.

Brother’s website has instructions for installing drivers in Linux, however. It’s basically a three-step process:

The drivers are *.deb files, which you can double-click in Nautilus or install via the terminal. Once you’ve installed the drivers, you can use the add printer dialog or follow Brother’s instructions. I tried Brother’s instructions, but they didn’t work, as they suggest using “lpd://xx.xx.xx.xx/binary_p1” as the Device URI, where I actually needed to use socket://xx.xx.xx.xx, which is what the Ubuntu printer dialog suggested.

After clearing that hurdle, it was time for a test page, but it didn’t work. Instead I got this error message:

Unable to start filter “/usr/Brother/Printer/hl4040cn/cupswrapper/brlpdwrapper”

It was unclear why the system wasn’t letting me access the printer files. Trying to change the file permissions had no effect. Luckily a forum post had the answer. Go to a terminal and issue this command:

sudo aa-complain cupsd

The problem appears to be a conflict between the third-party printer driver and AppArmor, which controls application access to system files. Putting AppArmor into complain mode for CUPS means that it will write to a log file but not prevent file access. Printing works great now.

Posted in Linux, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Install Ubuntu 8.04 on Compaq Presario A900 laptop [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 2, 2008

UbuntuLozengeStrapLogo compaq_qwubi_logo 

I have a Compaq Presario A900 notebook that I picked up cheap at Staples a while back.  It’s actually pretty decent, with a crisp 17″ screen and full desktop-style keyboard.  It came with Vista Home Premium and sufficient RAM to run it with Aero turned on.  With the recent release of Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04), I decided to see how hard it would be to install.  Ubuntu on a desktop is a piece of cake, but what about on a lower-end notebook?  It was pretty easy, with one sizable glitch.

The complicating factors here are (1) I have a CD burner but no blank media and (2) I have only a wireless Internet connection. So that means installing from CD won’t work and as it turned out I should have planned ahead for getting the WiFi working.  The first step is to grab some files.  I decided to install via Wubi, which installs Linux within a file in the Windows filesystem.  There are valid reasons not to do this and to install to a standard partition instead (which you can do without a CD via Netboot), but at this point it’s not clear how Ubuntu on this notebook is going to work out, and uninstalling Wubi is no different than any other Windows program.  Eventually, we’ll move the Wubi install to a dedicated partition if all goes well.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • The Wubi installer for version 8.04
  • ISO for the Ubuntu 8.04 desktop CD.  This is not strictly necessary, as Wubi will download the files for you, but I found that grabbing the ISO directly was orders of magnitude faster.  This may change once the download servers cool down from the new release of 8.04.
  • The packages for ndiswrapper, which enables Linux to use Windows drivers for the Broadcom wireless chipset in this notebook. This is only necessary because I had no other way to get an Internet connection.  Some have reported better success installing from source, but the Ubuntu packages worked fine for me (which is good, because satisfying the dependencies manually would be a real hassle).  You’ll need both ndiswrapper-common and ndiswrapper-utils-1.9.
  • Windows drivers for the Broadcom chipset. To make things easier later, I put the two *.deb files and the Broadcom package on a USB stick, but you will be able to access your Windows directories via Ubuntu if needed (look in the directories /host and /media).

wubi Step 1: Make sure the Wubi installer and the Ubuntu ISO are in the same directory and run Wubi.  All you need to do is tell the installer how much space to give Wubi (the minimum is 4 GB, but I gave it 15), which drive to install to and a username and password.  You can also pick a desktop environment – Ubuntu gives you Gnome, Kubuntu is KDE and Xubuntu is XFCE.  After that it’s fully automated – the Wubi website explains the process.  After two reboots (be sure to pay attention and pick Ubuntu from the boot menu, or you’ll end up in Vista and have to reboot), you’ll get the Ubuntu log-in screen.

Step 2: Log into Ubuntu using the username and password you picked earlier.  You’ll get the default Gnome desktop. You can do many things, but you’ll notice you have no wireless connection. Indeed, Ubuntu doesn’t even think there is a wireless card present, because we haven’t told it to use an appropriate driver.  This is where planning ahead comes into play – we need ndiswrapper, but we can’t use Synaptic without a network connection.

Step 3: Plug in your USB stick.  A Nautilus window will pop up, and you can drag drag the two *.deb files and the Broadcom file to your home directory. Again, not strictly necessary, but it will make things easier.  If you’re not using a USB stick, choose Places — Computer on the top panel.  Double-click on filesystem and then host and you’ll see your Windows files, where you’ll find the three files in question.

Step 4: It’s easiest to use the Terminal at this point, so choose Applications–Accessories–Terminal.  Issue the following command:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

You’ll be prompted for your password, and then the two ndiswrapper packages will be installed. To make ndiswrapper work, we’ll need to tell it what driver to use.  First uncompress the Broadcom file:

tar -xzvf WLANBroadcom.tar.gz

This will give you a directory full of driver files, of which we only really need two.

Step 5: Tell ndiswrapper what files to use by issuing the following commands in the terminal:

cd WLANBroadcom
sudo ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
sudo ndiswrapper -l
sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
sudo ndiswrapper -m

Time to edit a configuration file to add ndiswrapper. Linux evangelists will tell you to use vim or emacs, depending on their particular denomination, but I’m lazy, so:

sudo gedit /etc/modules

At the end, add a new line that says “ndiswrapper” (without the quotes). Exit and save.

Step 6: Almost done, but Hardy Heron has a bug that causes a conflict between ndiswrapper and another package, meaning ndiswrapper still doesn’t work. We need to work around this bug.  Back in the terminal, run this command:

sudo gedit /etc/init.d/

In the gedit window, paste the following:

modprobe -r b44
modprobe -r b43
modprobe -r b43legacy
modprobe -r ssb
modprobe -r ndiswrapper
modprobe ndiswrapper
modprobe b44


Exit and save.  back in the terminal, issue these commands:

cd /etc/init.d/ && sudo chmod 755
sudo update-rc.d defaults

Step 7: Reboot, and voila! Wireless should be working.  I know this works on the Presario, but the same steps should work on any notebook with this Broadcom chipset, including several other HP/Compaq products and Dell notebooks with the 1350 WLAN Mini-PCI Card.

[resources used include Invaleed’s howto for Ubuntu 7.10, and Ubuntu Forums howtos from HokeyFry and Mazza558]

Posted in Technology, Ubuntu | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

FeedDemon 2.6.1 [Regular Guy Reviews]

Posted by Fred on April 24, 2008

catalog_feeddemon As I noted earlier, now that NewsGator’s RSS products are free for individual use, I decided to try them out and see what worked better for me, a standalone reader or web application (specifically Google Reader).  NewsGator Inbox 3.0 did not work – while the idea of reading feeds in a mail client was promising, certain limitations of Outlook made it far less useful than Google Reader (first and foremost was Outlook’s inability to show how many items exist in a subfolder if the folder list is not expanded).  FeedDemon has been a far better experience, and in limited use I find it superior to Google Reader, at least for now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in internet, software, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

NewsGator Inbox 3.0 – good, just not for me

Posted by Fred on April 21, 2008

I’ve been using the new NewsGator Inbox 3.0 RSS reader for Outlook for a few days, and had high hopes for the product, which is now free.  Reading posts within Outlook seems a natural extension of the email client, and it sync nicely with NewsGator Online.  Unfortunately, two show-stoppers have led me to uninstall the software, neither of which are really NewsGator’s fault.

First, the server here runs through a filtering appliance, and NewsGator throws an error when updating unless I first go to NewsGator Online, invoking the filter.  I thus end up having both the web version and Outlook product open, defeating the purpose.  This won’t be a problem for many, but is a problem for me.

Second, because NG Inbox uses Outlook, it suffers from Outlook’s infirmities.  Specifically, if there are new messages in an Outlook subfolder, Outlook won’t show them in the parent folder when the Folder List is collapsed.  That’s a complicated way of saying that I can’t tell when there are new posts in a subfolder unless I keep the folder list expanded all the time.  That’s not NewsGator’s fault – the same behavior holds true for email folders and email messages.  Unfortunately, it makes managing feeds difficult the way I prefer to use a reader.

I’ve downloaded NewsGator’s stand-alone client, FeedDemon, and will give that a spin before going back to Google Reader.

Posted in software, Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

NewsGator Inbox 3.0 beta

Posted by Fred on April 17, 2008

NewsGator has released a new beta of version 3 of their now-free NewsGator Inbox, which lets you read feeds in Outlook, just like any other email message.  It has some useful features compared to my usual reader, the web-based Google Reader.  Grab a copy and install – it’s very straightforward, but here it is in pictures (click for bigger):

Let\'s begin.  Click Next.Your standard EULA. You know you\'ll ignore it, so accept and move on.Clicking install seems like a good idea.

Lookee, a progress bar.  Installation is fast, so don\'t blink.Already done.  Click Finish.Now set up synchronization.  Set up a new account or use an existing NG account.

Standard \Time to add some subscriptions. Use the OPML import to move feeds from a different reader.All done. Let\'s get started.

Some useful links here, but be sure to disable it or it will be annoying.

Installation was straightforward, but some issues came up right away.  The OPML import from Google Reader didn’t work properly for me, and it imported only the first feed in the list.  This is probably an incompatability with the XML file Google creates, but we can work around it.


An additional try with the XML file didn’t work any better for me, but NewsGator Online did.  Login to NewsGator Online, and click on Add Feeds. 

From here, click Import, and you’ll be able to upload the same XML file you used before:

Success! The Google feeds now appear in NewsGator Online, and because Inbox 3.0 syncs with NG Online, they’ll show up in Outlook.  To get there, however, you’ll need to update the subscriptions.  Clicking Refresh on the NewsPage (what you’ll get by clicking My News in Outlook’s Folder List) seemed to have no effect, but the toolbar button did (it’s the arrow next to the NewsGator Inbox dropdown).

Now you can read your RSS feeds in Outlook.  I’ve only been using it for a half a day, but a couple of features seem quite useful.  One problem with Google Reader is that if I don’t read items for a few days, they really pile up.  It would be best just to ignore the unread count, but I’m psychologically incapable of doing so.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to mark only certain posts as read.  NewsGator solves that problem, and offers to do so automatically:

You can also do this cleanup any time you want by using the NewsGator Inbox dropdown.

Inbox 3.0 also lets you easily post to your blog about any item.  Setup was a breeze – just open Options from the dropdown and click Posting Options.  Choose and fill in your account information.  Now you can post automatically using the NewsGator Publisher plugin.  Using the plugin is a bit clunky, however.  There’s no toolbar button, and no right-click option.  You have to choose Post to My Blog from the NewsGator Inbox dropdown:

If you use the NewsPage view, it’s a bit easier.  Each post has four buttons at the end.  The last one is a Post to My Blog link (I highlighted it in the image).  I don’t particularly care for the NewsPage view, however.  I know Dave Winer says I should like the River of News format, but I don’t.  I like folders – I don’t want a story on NewsGator Inbox to follow a story on how pitiful the Tribe is this year.  This brings up the other issue I have with NewsGator Inbox.  The Outlook Folder List shows your NewsGator folders, but it doesn’t tell you how many new items are in a particular folder, or if therre are any new items at all.  You have to expand the folder to see individual feeds.  You also can’t click on a folder to see a River of News-style list of all items in that folder, nor get a NewsPage view of a single folder.

NewsGator Inbox thus isn’t perfect, but it has some advantages.  I’m in Outlook all day long, so it is an easy way to read news.  Posting to the blog from an item works well, and works even better if you use the Windows Live Writer plugin instead of Publisher.  Feed and post management is easier than on Google Reader.  It should also work well offline, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Google now has offline access to Reader, however, so this isn’t the advantage it once was.  Plus, it’s free.  I plan to use it for a while and review it more fully later.

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AT&T’s real view of open networks

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

Back in December, AT&T responded to Verizon’s proposal to open its network to additional devices and applications by arguing that the AT&T network was already the most open in the world:

“You can use any handset on our network you want,” says Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s wireless business. “We don’t prohibit it, or even police it.”

Everything that Google has promised to bring to the wireless market a year from now AT&T is doing today, de la Vega says. “We are the most open wireless company in the industry.”

Today, however, saw two articles that together show how AT&T really feels about openness.  The AP says that AT&T focused its efforts in the recent 700 MHz auctions on the non-open portions of the auction because it better fit their business plan:

AT&T spent $6.64 billion for licenses in the 700-megahertz band auction but avoided licenses in the consumer-friendly “C block” because of the additional regulatory requirements, said Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of the wireless unit.

“The auction worked well … but it highlighted that people put a premium on spectrum that is not encumbered by heavy regulation,” said de la Vega in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

And it’s not like AT&T didn’t value the C Block of the spectrum – they just didn’t want to open their network, so they spent $2.5 billion to buy Aloha Partners, which owned unencumbered C Block spectrum. 

Today also saw an article suggesting that AT&T may introduce an Android handset of its own, now that they are confident they can modify it to fit their own business plan:

When we spoke to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega a few months ago, he said AT&T was open to the possibility of Google’s Android phones being on their network. Today, at CTIA, he followed up on this and said that he’s already met with Google executives and is “encouraged by the idea that an Android phone could host AT&T branded apps.”

A possibility was to take an Android phone and shove AT&T’s own money-generating apps onto it, such as MediaFLO mobile TV. “One of the things we were looking for was that it was truly open and that you could put other features and applications on it.”

AT&T must have a different dictionary than I do. Open spectrum that allows the customer to use any device or run any application is encumbered by excessive governmental regulation.  A mobile OS expressly designed to breach the mobile carriers’ walled gardens, however, is only open if AT&T can litter it with revenue-generating crapware like AT&T Navigator or MediaFLO TV or $5 ringtones.  You can be sure that they’ll also make sure it has a crippled java implementation, crippled GPS, crippled (or missing) Wi-Fi, non-existent OS upgrades and other revenue-generating “features”.  All in the name of openness, of course.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »