Tag Archives: Android

Custom Firefox Sync servers now supported again for Firefox for Android

Around the Firefox v29 timeline, Mozilla changed the authentication mechanism for Firefox Sync to use Firefox Accounts. Consequently, the setup method for custom self-hosted Firefox Sync servers changed (note that my guide has yet to be updated), and for a few releases Firefox for Android did not support the new model.

Fortunately, custom Sync server connectivity has been restored as of Firefox for Android version 33. The full guide (including an add-on which enables custom sync server addresses) can be found on Nick Alexander’s blog.

Note that if you’re using a “non-standard” port for either your custom Sync or Firefox Account servers, you’ll run into the bug described at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1046020, which as Nick says manifests itself as an authentication error. The workaround suggested is to use Firefox Beta, which works for me.

It’s terrific that Mozilla continues to offer its users the choice of self-hosting their solutions.

Firefox Sync on Android

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IM+ Pro vs. Xabber as an Android Openfire client

Quick post for those looking for a capable Android client for Openfire. IM+ and IM+ Pro don’t support direct connections to an XMPP server such as Openfire: connections are made first to Shape’s servers then passed on to Openfire (see here for example). Of course, if you are wishing to connect to a private Openfire server, then IM+ Pro is effectively useless. It’s especially disappointing to find this out after shelling out for the “Pro” version, and Shape don’t exactly put a clear warning up or anything.

Xabber on the other hand does permit direct connections to an XMPP server, is free, ad-free, and comes with a nice UI to boot. So, for my purposes there is no competition to speak of 🙂

Xabber connecting to Openfire

Google Play store reviews now require a Google+ account…

… or in other words: “We can’t get people to sign up to our crappy social network, so we’re going to put you over a barrel to use it any which way we can!”

Google Play requires a Google+ account

Disable conversation view in the Gmail Android app

Actually, the title is total linkbait because you can’t. Google would rather inflict the wretched conversation view on you whether you like it or not. This might sound peculiar, but perhaps less so if you read “GMail: designer arrogance and the cult of minimalism“, and also this legendary rant from one of Google’s own prominent software engineers (Steve Yegge), of which a relevant excerpt follows:

“But when we [Google] take the stance that we know how to design the perfect product for everyone, and believe you me, I hear that a lot, then we’re being fools. You can attribute it to arrogance, or naivete, or whatever — it doesn’t matter in the end, because it’s foolishness. There IS no perfect product for everyone.

“And so we wind up with a browser that doesn’t let you set the default font size. Talk about an affront to Accessibility. I mean, as I get older I’m actually going blind. For real. I’ve been nearsighted all my life, and once you hit 40 years old you stop being able to see things up close. So font selection becomes this life-or-death thing: it can lock you out of the product completely. But the Chrome team is flat-out arrogant here: they want to build a zero-configuration product, and they’re quite brazen about it, and Fuck You if you’re blind or deaf or whatever. Hit Ctrl-+ on every single page visit for the rest of your life.”

 

So – if you’re like me and want to check out a great email app for Android which doesn’t use conversation view and includes all the bonus goodies the Gmail app is missing (think Thunderbird for Android), you should check out K-9 Mail:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fsck.k9&hl=en

The really nice thing is that if you want to support the developers of this fine application, you can pay a tiny sum for the deee-luxe version, which goes by the name of Kaiten:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kaitenmail

Kaiten Mail running on Android

Stream video content from XBMC to an Android tablet (continued…)

In my blog entry describing how to stream from XBMC to an Android tablet, a commenter remarked that the ASUS “MyNet” application used in the example was an ASUS-specific product, and therefore not applicable to other non-ASUS Android-powered devices. A quick look in the Android market reveals plenty of other free and paid-for UPnP applications, so let’s briefly repeat this exercise using one such vendor-neutral app, which goes by the name of BubbleUPnP.

I am using the free version of BubbleUPnP (hence the ads visible in the following screengrabs), on the same platforms as described originally here.

After installing BubbleUPnP, fire up the application, browse to the Devices tab where you should be able to see your XBMC server listed. Make sure that the “Local Renderer” is selected as the renderer, and the “XBMC: Media Server” is selected as the library source:

BubbleUPnP - select renderer and library sources

Then, head over to the Library tab, and drill down until you find the relevant movie content:

BubbleUPnP - browsing the media library

BubbleUPnP - selecting available video media

On the first attempted playback, you will observe a prompt to select playback through one of the media player applications installed on your tablet. In my case, I am going to use the built-in Android “Video player” application, and set this as my default (of course, if you have other media player applications installed you would expect to see a different set of apps listed here):

BubbleUPnP - selecting the default video playback application

Et voila:

BubbleUPnP - playing back a streamed video locally

Again, the chunky video quality in the above screengrab is simply because I am using a low-quality example video, not because of any inherent quality issues with the source material, software, or hardware.