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Blackphone and F-Droid for Business Use

I’ve since long been uncomfortable with all the extra software that came shipped with my various Android devices, in particular the phones. Mostly, because I felt it’s a lot of stuff I do not need and have no idea what it’s actually doing - but it certainly was not designed to protect my privacy. Also, I realized that at least on a Sony device I once had, it was eating up a lot of space and battery. But, aside from flashing the phones with e.g. CyanogenMod and not installing the Play store and the various Google apps, well, there was not much one could do.

This has somehow changed for me with the blank” href=“” title=“” onmouseover=“window.status=’’;return true;” onmouseout=“window.status=’’;return true;”>Blackphone, which advertises itself as a security- and privacy conscious phone, built on the Android platform. Blackphone does not come with Google applications (Gapps) like the Play store, Youtube, Maps etc, so for finding and installing applications, you are somewhat on your own. I also feel that installing the Google apps onto such a device would, in the light of the Snowden revelations (e.g. (surveillance_program)”>this one), pretty much invalidate any additional privacy or security one might have gained with the Blackphone, so even if Gapps were available, I would quite certainly not install them.

I am using the Blackphone as my business phone, i.e. I need the phone as a phone of course, and calendar and contact sync, sometimes navigation services to orient myself in the right directions when visiting e.g. a new client, and comfortable access to my tickets for Deutsche Bahn and the like. I also admit being fully guilty of using Twitter, and, well, sometimes Facebook on my business phone, and looking up stuff in the Wikipedia on a regular basis. Oh, and I want to use Firefox as my browser, period.

The challenge was - how do I do that without access to the Play Store and its appications, and I tried as best as I could, being a big fan of FLOSS, to get along just with the Free (as in speech) applications provided in the F-Droid app “store”.

To make it short: While certainly losing a bit of comfort here and there, I can work well using only FLOSS. My choices, from F-Droid, are such:

  • Navigation and Maps: Well’ you really can’t beat Google Maps in terms of simplicity and availability. But OpenStreetMap (OSMAnd~) does the trick as well, with the additional benefit of being available off-line, although I find the GUI pretty complicated and hard to use. That aside, there is GApps Browser, which allows you web-based access to most of the Google services, so when you’re online, that provides an interface to Maps that is slightly less comfortable than what you’re used to from the App, but still usable and very useful. It also gives you, after login of course, web-based access e.g. to Calendar.
  • Calendar: Well, that’s really the biggest problem: I have a very busy schedule, and I need to visually digest a lot of information from several calendars (e.g. business and family matters) when looking at the weekly or monthly view. You only get so far with the standard Calendar application, AND Blackphone does not permit to sync with Google accounts (so no Google calendar access). I have access to my business schedule, which comes from an OpenExchange server, so that’s fine for getting through the day, but for creating new appointments (which I often have to do on-the-fly), I still currently have to use another device, like the Laptop or a tablet that has non-free software on it. I think the only solution to this is to get away from the Google calendar e.g. to OwnCloud (that can be synced without Gapps), and live with the less-great visual presentation of the stock Calendar. That calendar migration remains to be done, but I am sure it’s possible.
  • Contacts: No surprise here, stock Android applications work just fine, and so does sync with Exchange (OpenXchange in my case)
  • Wikipedia: The Wikipedia App is available, no problem
  • Firefox: Is FLOSS, so available.
  • Social Media: For Twitter, I am pretty happy with Twidere, which has a nice GUI and is very functional. For Facebook and the like, I never used the app anyway, to me that’s always been spyware - so I access via browser and log out after, which of course works just fine with Firefox.
  • Deutsche Bahn tickets: Well, I realized the DB Tickets and DB Navigation apps are not strictly neccessary - there also is a browser-based interface available that does pretty much the same, only a bit less comfortably, and tickets can be sent as MMS onto the phone. So, finally, no app needed, the browser does the trick
  • Banking: same story - works fine in the browser, no app neccessary, but I simply did not realize that before. It should be noted that I only use online banking on the phone to look at my accounts, not for any transactions, so if there are limits there, I would not have realized them. 

So - that’s my experiences as far as Apps are concerned; of course, YMMV. I will blog a bit more about the Hardware of the Blackphone and my experiences in the daily business use, and about the purchase and shipment process and my overall impressions withe the device. But not today :)

Zitat der Woche

No one’s screaming at men that they’re about as likely to start the next Facebook as I am to wake up tomorrow a dead ringer for Penelope Cruz. And I think that matters, and I think it’s worth saying again: We put a lot of pressure on men to build empires and to get rich doing it. And men process this deeply, and it can be as insidious as a young woman’s obsession with being thin. And we don’t talk about it. We don’t actively discourage men from feeling this way.

Sasha Pasulka in ihrem Blog. (Danke an Herrn R. für den Link)


Hm. Ist schon wieder ein Weilchen her, daß ich das erste seiner Bücher gelesen habe, und zufällig war es auch noch ein Dave Robicheaux-Roman: James Lee Burke, der wahrscheinlich genialste Krimi-Autor der USA. Er hat inzwischen nicht weniger als siebszehn Romane mit seinem Protagonisten Dave Robicheaux veröffentlicht, den ersten 1987 und den letzten 2008. 

Burke schreibt wirklich wunderschön, und weit mehr als nur Krimis. Er beschreibt ganz nebenbei in fast schon poetischen Worten die landschaftliche Schönheit von Louisiana (und manchmal auch Montana), und erzählt viel über die Geschichte dieses Stücks Erde, in der viel Gewalt und Rassismus steckt. Robicheaux ist, wie viele der Gestalten in den Büchern, ein Cajun, also ein Angehöriger der frankophonen Minderheit Louisianas. Viele Details, vom Essen bis zum französisch durchzogenen Vokabular (“I had a demitasse of coffee and beignets at Cafè du Monde in New Orleans”), zeichnen vor dem geistigen Auge ein wahrlich unglaubliches Bild von diesem Fleck Erde.

Robicheaux ist jemand, den man eigentlich gar nicht mögen kann: Ex-Alkoholiker mit einem Hang zu Gewalttätigkeiten, kämpft er oftmals mehr mit sich selbst als mit den Mördern und anderen Verbrechern, auf die er Jagd macht. Aber gerade dieses immerwährende innere Ringen, das bei weitem nicht immer Happy-End-taugliche Ergebnisse erzeugt, ist es, was ihn so authentisch, so nachgerade faszinierend macht.

Ich jedenfalls bekenne hiermit öffentlich: Ich könnte jeden Tag ein Robicheaux-Buch lesen und bekäme davon trotzdem niemals genug. Tatsächlich habe ich das letzte wirklich in weniger als 24 Stunden durchgelesen und mich dann verflucht, weil ich nicht an neuen Stoff kommen konnte ;) Der Mann hat es tatsächlich geschafft, mir richtig Lust auf eine USA-Reise zu machen(!)

Warum ich das so offen preisgebe? Nun, ich habe jetzt, wie ich leider feststellen mußte, wirklich ausnahmslos alle seine Robicheaux-Bücher gelesen (und noch einige der anderen dazu). Das eine oder andere habe ich mir sogar aus England kommen lassen, weil hierzulande vergriffen. Wie dem auch sei - jetzt ist wohl leider kalter Entzug angesagt.

Eines der Bücher ist übrigens vor kurzem in low-budget-Manier mit Tomy Lee Jones verfilmt worden: In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, als Film nur In the Electric Mist betitelt, läuft noch in ein paar Kinos. Wie so üblich fehlen dem Film viele der das Buch egentlich erst so wunderbar machenden inneren Monologe und Nebenhandlungen, so daß ich ihn zwar gerne gesehen habe, aber eher, um ein bißchen mehr von der Landschaft zu sehen. Wen die Geschichten interessieren, der sollte lieber lesen.

Michael Moore - Senate to Middle Class: Drop Dead

Senate to Middle Class: Drop Dead

Friday, December 12th, 2008


They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers start building only cars and mass transit that reduce our dependency on oil.

They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers build cars that reduce global warming.

They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers withdraw their many lawsuits against state governments in their attempts to not comply with our environmental laws.

They could have given the loan on the condition that the management team which drove these once-great manufacturers into the ground resign and be replaced with a team who understands the transportation needs of the 21st century.

Yes, they could have given the loan for any of these reasons because, in the end, to lose our manufacturing infrastructure and throw 3 million people out of work would be a catastrophe.

But instead, the Senate said, we’ll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That’s right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever -- the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.

We have a little more than a month to go of this madness. As I sit here in Michigan today, tens of thousands of hard working, honest, decent Americans do not believe they can make it to January 20th. The malaise here is astounding. Why must they suffer because of the mistakes of every CEO from Roger Smith to Rick Wagoner? Make management and the boards of directors and the shareholders pay for this.

Of course that is heresy to the 31 Republicans who decided to blame the poor, miserable autoworkers for this mess. And our wonderful media complied with their spin on the morning news shows: “UAW Refuses to Give Concessions Killing Auto Bailout Bill.” In fact the UAW has given concession after concession, reduced their benefits, agreed to get rid of the Jobs Bank and agreed to make it harder for their retirees to live from week to week. Yes! That’s what we need to do! It’s the Jobs Bank and the old people who have led the nation to economic ruin!

But even doing all that wasn’t enough to satisfy the bastard Republicans. These Senate vampires  wanted blood. Blue collar blood. You see, they weren’t opposed to the bailout because they believed in the free market or capitalism. No, they were opposed to the bailout because they’re opposed to workers making a decent wage. In their rage, they were driven to destroy the backbone of this country, not because the UAW hadn’t given back enough, but because the UAW hadn’t given up.

It appears that the sitting President has been looking for a way to end his reign by one magnanimous act, just like a warlord on his feast day. He will put his finger in the dyke, and the fragile mess of an auto industry will eke through the next few months.

That will give the Senate enough time to demand that the bankers and investment sharks who’ve already swiped nearly half of the $700 billion gift a chance to make the offer of cutting their pay.

Fat chance.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore - The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this “collapse” is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn’t know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can’t figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this “bailout” package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What’s this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called “collapse” was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people’s home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans  are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it’s because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn’t afford. Here’s the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills ( ). Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage “crisis” may never have happened.

-- Michael Moore, in an email that arrived today

Enfin, ca y est

The Wine team is proud to announce that Wine 1.0 is now available.
This is the first stable release of Wine after 15 years of development
and beta testing. Many thanks to everybody who helped us along that
long road!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!