UK Govt Adopts PDF, ODF

The Cabinet Office has announced the adoption of its open standards:

“The selected standards, which are compatible with commonly used document applications, are:

PDF/A or HTML for viewing government documents

Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents

The move supports the government’s policy to create a level playing field for suppliers of all sizes, with its digital by default agenda on track to make cumulative savings of £1.2 billion in this Parliament for citizens, businesses and taxpayers.”

Imagine a world in which there is the possibility of competition for office suites.  One day Australia might join that world too.

Why takedown procedures are such abysmal policy

Getup alleges that someone has copied one of Getup’s videos, then issuing a takedown over the same video in respect of Getup.  With copyright enforcement rhetoric running hysterical for years now it comes as no surprise that the provider of the video site would remove Getup’s video.  Takedown procedures are specifically designed to be swift and effective against allegations, regardless of the justice of the matter.  Given such a lopsided approach to rights, it is surprising that it has taken until now for people to start abusing the system.  It will get worse in the future.

ACIP Report on Innovation Patents Released

They say there is no evidence one way or the other about the usefulness of the innovation patent system.  Seem a little annoyed that so many people said to remove software patents.

Details here.

Pygame Subset For Android FTW!

Pygame Subset For Android FTW!

I was looking to port some things I’ve written over to run on Android – in particular, I decided to migrate this yesterday. I have done it as of today, albeit as a working prototype, using the Pygame Subset for Android. The only thing I had to modify was to rename the main script as main.py and rewrite a little of the main game loop. Total time from learning that PGS4A existed (about 11am this morning) to having a working prototype on my Android Tablet is 7 hours. That includes about 6 hours of being away from my desk doing other things and maybe 30 minutes of downloading, installing PGS4A and its dependencies. Actual coding changes took maybe 5 minutes for roughly 1200 lines of code (excluding blank lines, comments etc). That said, now I have to hook up the multitouch interface and it has some unexplained (and critical) pauses when played.

PGS4A is a really quick and cheap way of getting an existing pygame based application onto Android.

Why is wrapping paper so expensive?

Why is wrapping paper so expensive?

Quick comparison of wrapping paper pricing:

width length price price per m^2
John Sands 0.7 2 $6.00 $4.29 Incredible rip off
Wrapco 0.5 60 $44.00 $1.47 used for store wrapping. Presumably good weight
$2 shop 0.7 2 $2.00 $1.43 Thin paper
White paper A4 0.21 0.297 $0.01 $0.16 5 reams = $24.45
Coloured paper A4 0.21 0.297 $0.02 $0.35 1 ream = $10.98
Coloured paper A3 0.297 0.42 $0.06 $0.50 1 ream = $31.14

Maybe I’ll just buy coloured A3 paper from now on and forego the gloss finish?

UK Govt to ditch MS Office?

UK Govt to ditch MS Office

Apparently so, according to the Guardian:

‘Maude will add: “Technical standards for document formats may not sound like the first shot in a revolution.

“But be in no doubt: the adoption of compulsory standards in government threatens to break open Whitehall’s lock-in to proprietary formats. In turn we will open the door for a host of other software providers.”‘

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Review

I recently received a Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), fresh from the US.  I had earlier used an ASUS Slider.

Summary

A good, light device with great potential for note taking and use as a portable sketch book.  Marred by poor hardware and suboptimal UI decisions.

[Update: despite the problems I encountered, it is still a great device.  Cloverpaint is my sketch app of choice. I have the US bundle, which included $25 of Google play credits.   The AU version looks like it doesn't come with this.  Most of the rest of the bundles looked to me to be useless.

Update 2: For the past month or so (as at Feb 14) the SD card reader seems to be working with a low capacity SD I bought as a test, but I haven't tried removing/replacing it.]

Discussion

I have a complex relationship w my note. When I first received it its apparent heavy reliance or Wifi was a big turn off. I want the device primarily as a mobile sketchpad. I would also like to get work stuff (reviewing and drafting documents) done on it. Overall I am happy if the tablet despite its many failings. I do not propose to focus on its strengths, other than to say I am quite happy w| the tablet as a sketch book and am confident I will be able to use it for work on the go. Rather, let me list some of the issues I have faced with the tablet in my first week of use.

Issues with note 10.1

Many application features are difficult to discover.  Always press the menu button, just in case!

It is good to be able to take hand written notes w/out them being converted into text (conversion takes too long, particularly correcting mistakes).  The handwriting recognition is not good enough – at least fed my writing.   The virtual keyboard is bad for ‘ ” () because each time you want one of these characters it requires 3 key presses.  This is a very serious problem for me. These are commonly used glyphs. It makes me wonder whether this software is used by actual people before being released. Also of concern is the lack of arrow keys or the virtual keyboard. I assume the designers decided you could just tap the screen with your s pen.  This is an exercise in frustration.  Hunting the screen for the right tap spot is much harder than hitting the arrow keys a couple of times. Autocorrect generally works well – but sometimes quite poorly. No easy way to correct a bad autocorrect.  The hardware buttons are no good. I hit them too often, esp using the device flat on a table. Turning the device upside down doesn’t quite solve the issue because you obscure the light sensor and the screen goes dim.  Using handwriting is slow compared to typing on the virtual keyboard.  That, in turn, is slow compared to typing on a proper keyboard.

The s note application uses a weird page size – apparently you’re supposed to keep adding these tiny pages (note taking size is roughly equivalent to card file cards).   When you turn the tablet from landscape to portrait mode, you just get the small card across the width, rather than a full portrait screen to do your note taking on.  [Update: you can choose portrait mode templates when creating a new note, but not via the default widget.  Open the S Note app instead - and press that menu key! - to set the template ]   Export to text is not available(!)  You can get the text by selecting it and copying it to the clipboard though.  Turning a page takes a tediously long time (although still only a second or two).  Annoying because it is presumably deliberately included for effect.
Polaris office was woeful the last time I tried it. It looks like the new version has improved dramatically.  I haven’t used it extensively though.

It is hard to get a soft touch with s pen.  I would like to be able to configure the pressure curve for the s pen but this seems to be impossible.  Light pressure seems better in Clover paint than in  Galaxy sketch.

The device doesn’t come with an epub reader installed (?!)
Sd card issues – apparently a known issue w/ Samsung tablets – google “SD card unexpectedly removed”. I have tried it with 2 SD cards now. lt corrupted the first one. The second one is new and it will not read the card or even recognise that a card has been inserted. Yes, I have tried reformatting it – to within an inch of its life. lt makes no difference.  BTW these cards work in my ASUS Slider and on my computer.  In fact, they even work in the note if connected as a mass storage device through a usb-otg cable to a card reader.

The device mounts as an MTP device when plugged into a Linux computer.   Developer options are hidden in recent versions of Android tap the build number repeatedly to become a developer.

The note doesn’t work with my ethernet dongle connected to a usb-otg connector.  Instead it insists on using wireless <sigh>.  I don’t like wireless as I’m not comfortable that it’s secure.  The wireless supports WPA2 among others.
The Knox system looks interesting. I may use it but it is more designed to allow you corporate IT staff to quarantine data. Eg. I’d actually like to be able to move files from the Knox container to the public one, but I can’t. Rather I have to email the file to myself, using up my data allowance.  What I really want is a per-file or per-directory encryption system.  If the SD card reader worked I could apparently use that as an encrypted container <sigh>.  There are only a handful of apps available for use in the Knox container – and, strangely, S Note is not one of them which is annoying.  Taking meeting notes is an obvious use for the Note, but the lack of S Note means you have to do this in the personal container of the device.  Dumb.

Conclusion

Despite the very annoying failure of the sd card reader my general impression of the device is very favourable.  I am concerned that it will either tie me to online services or lock my data in weird formats.  That said I am reasonably confident that I will be able to keep my data free.


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