Monday, June 28, 2010

Using Android without Google (part 1)

As magicfab on requested, I'm starting a journal of my experience using Android without Google's proprietary apps.

I own an HTC Eris phone which originally came with Android 1.5. A few months ago a firmware was released by a 3rd party which allows users to gain root on their phone (about time) and I've been experimenting with this since. My primary interests were removing HTC's "Sense" UI so I could use a different soft keyboard and removing the backdoors HTC, Verizon, and Google installed in the phone.

After some disturbing problems with the VanillaDroid firmware, I switched to CyanogenEris 3.0 last week. Not only did this new build not come with HTC's Sense, thanks to Google hitting them with a threatening DMCA letter, the firmware came without Google's apps either. This includes GMail, GTalk, Google Maps and Market.

Everything works on the firmware except for USB tethering (which is a feature of the firmware). I started by using the browser to download the Barcode Scanner and then used that to install other apps via QR code:
The Foursquare app I was previously using refuses to install (likely because it depends on Google Maps app) and I haven't figured out how to install the dvorak keyboard add-on to soft keyboard.

I have the standard Android Contacts app, but without Google it does not sync to my Google contacts. I plan to remove my contacts from Google and write a small app that provides ContactsProvider2 via XMPP in an effort to decentralize and federate contact syncing.

I found the web version of GMail superior to the old app, though I do miss the Google Maps app (there are various OpenStreetMaps alternatives but they don't have the same features). The biggest thing I miss is the GTalk app, though its pitiful as far as XMPP clients go and we should be able to do a lot better.

Most importantly, my phone is now 99% free software with only a few of HTC's drivers left to be reverse engineered. Even for an advertising company Google is really stretching the truth when they call Android "open source" - but it should be an attainable goal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

concordance progress

While dredging through framework API design, its sometimes difficult to sense how close you are to finish. Tonight the Concordance "pure Python" redesign reached a critical point - being able to add an extension and respond to an XMPP <iq> stanza:

>>> import concordance
>>> import
>>> s = concordance.Service('host')
>>> s.append(
>>> import xml.etree.ElementTree as et
>>> st = et.fromstring('<iq from="arc@host" id="f00" to="host" type="get"><ping xmlns="urn:xmpp:ping" /></iq>')
<iq from="host" id="f00" to="arc@host" type="result" />

That's a correct response to an XMPP Ping request, one of the simplest XMPP extensions. Many of these basic extensions will be combined into a single extension module and a ready-made Service class, this is just proof that it works.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Concordance stickers ordered

Concordance-XMPP Logo
I just ordered 1000 2" x 2" vinyl laptop stickers with the Concordance logo on white. They should arrive by the end of the month. Contributors can send me their mailing address to receive one along with one of the new Python 3 stickers from the PSF.

New PySoy stickers will be made as soon as we have a new logo.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday, PySoy

On this day, June 6th 2006, the PySoy Project was born.

We've come a long way from the small homebrew Pyrex-based game engine we started from. We've built a solid development team, spun off numerous related projects, contributed hundreds of bug reports and patches for libraries and applications, and grown close to the Python, Gnome, and XMPP communities.

Currently halfway through our most ambitious endeavour yet, moving our codebase to the GObject model and preparing the engine and related projects for cloud gaming, there's a bright future ahead for this tiny project. While its sometimes frustrating that we're still not to 1.0 release, looking back to what we started from four years ago its clear we've made tremendous progress.

Here's to another exciting year!