The Null Device


An Android developer posts his top ten complaints about the mobile platform.

5. The Developer Cooperative

Remember back to college and that Economics 101 class you didn't take. In that mythical class, they might have talked about a term called the tragedy of the commons: the misuse and overuse of a collectively owned resource. In the case of Android, that common resource is the memory, processor, and battery life of the handset. The tragedy is that any application, while in the background, can use any amount of resources. This is why performance and battery life on Android handsets can be so unstable.

Google just expects programmers to use fore and background cycles wisely, which most of us do, right? However, one careless developer can single-handedly demolish a weekend's worth of battery power in a matter of hours.

Needless to say, others include it being based on Java, and market fragmentation making it difficult to test on the ever-increasing range of Android devices out there.

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Iceland is about to make its entry into the global data centre market, taking advantage of its position in the middle of the Atlantic, cold climate (hence less need for cooling) and abundant geothermal energy; the new facility, named KEF001, is currently under construction at the former NATO Command Centre in Keflavík; one of the major investors is the Wellcome Trust, the nonprofit biotech charity who also funded the Human Genome Project.

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Priori Acute, a new display typeface by Johathan Barnbrook (best known for Exocet and Ma(n)son Serif), and published by Emigre, has a nicely Escheresque look to it.

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On 30 January, sceptics in the UK are planning to stage a mass overdose on homeopathic products in protest against the promotion of homeopathy as a remedy:

Sceptics and consumer rights activists will publicly swallow an entire bottle of homeopathic 'pillules' to demonstrate that these 'remedies', prepared according to a long-discredited 18th century ritual, are nothing but sugar pills.
The protest will raise public awareness about the reality of homeopathy, and put further pressure on Boots to live up to its responsibilites as the 'scientist on the high street' and stop selling treatments which do not work.

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An Armenian-born programmer recounts how, during his childhood in the USSR, he stumbled across the KGB's technique for listening in on conversations in any home.

Some time in 1981, I think, a relative from the U.S. comes to visit us for the first time since he left the country many years before that. He was going to stay in our house for a couple of weeks. My parents told me that such visits were always "monitored" by KGB, and so I should be careful with expressing any kind of anti-soviet ideas (which I was known for in the school). In the end though, nobody was going to take this seriously: neither the possibility of KGB agents freezing in cold outside watching us through the windows, nor any kind of bugs installed in our house.
Something strange, however, had happened when our relative had finally arrived. Our phone went crazy. First of all, it was practically impossible to call or to take calls during that period. And besides, the phone's ringer started giving a single "ding" twice a day, exactly at 9 in the morning and 9 in the evening.
The KGB, it seems, was using the ringers of telephones as crude microphones, responding to sound vibrations and feeding a very weak signal back into the phone line; when a house was noted as being of sufficient interest, a powerful amplifier could make the signal just about intelligible. The KGB only got caught out (to the extent of allowing a young boy to figure out what was happening, at least) due to the dilapidated condition of the Soviet phone system, and the tendency for lines to get crossed from time to time.

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