Google Apps for Your Domain and Gmail Mail Applet for Nokia phones

I own a Nokia E61 cell phone. A nice phone all in all (aside from the backup problems my wife encountered).

Gmail has this cool little applet that lets me access my Gmail account in a nicer (and better cached) way from my cell phone. It’s a really nice program and I use it quite often.

It has one problem though. If you host your own domain through Google Apps for Your Domain to get the Gmail like interface for your Emails you cannot use this program.

Technically (as far as I could see) the interface is rather the same, the only different should be the user name and password. But there is a restriction in the user name in the mail applet that forces you to put an Email address with a suffix of @gmail.com only. It will not accept anything other than a @gmail.com user name.

Google Apps for your Domain has, however, a program for Blackberries. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I would really like to have the current nice mail applet working with my hosted Google Gmail application.

I want the normal Gmail applet to work with my custom domain and Google Apps for your domain, otherwise I’m forced to use the not so nice Cell phone browser web mail access which is far less usable than the applet.

Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so, considering that it seems there shouldn’t be any problem supporting it technically (it’s the same backend). If any of you Google Apps for your Domains Googlers are reading this and there is a bigger issue/problem with forcing the mail applet to support Google Apps for Your Domain, I would love to know why (you can even ping me privately through my contact page).

Universal Binaries

Is it just me or Universal Binaries for Mac are a world domination scheme to increase the bandwidth usage of the world?

I know that the Apple folks didn’t want people to start figuring out “Do I have an Intel process or a PowerPC one?”, after all most people don’t really know what’s inside their machines, but in 99% of the cases, when downloading from the web most sites that do provide the software could tell quite easily if the the browser is running on an Intel Mac or a PowerPC Mac by looking at the “User-Agent” string that the browser sends.

I also have another solution, add a patch to older OS versions (and add it to new ones) so that they could look inside the .app file (executable or whatever they call it) and see if it has the necessary bits to tell it if its Intel or PowerPC. If it’s the wrong version, the file itself should include a link to the correct version.

This adds a bit of a burden to the creators of the software (they need to provide a link to the Intel version on the PPC version and vice versa and use a specific compiler and compile two sets of the application) but makes the whole thing a lot more pleasant.

Combine these two methods together and you get decreased bandwidth costs for everyone. Only at the worst case where both the web application failed to detect the correct Mac version and the person downloaded the wrong version that doesn’t fit his/her Mac type, only then they will download both.

Luckily Apple’s market share in PCs worldwide is still a single digit percentage so the bandwidth issue is still small, though its probably rising around Silicon Vally ;-)

Amazon Recommendations, Big Giant Collection Books, Reprints and New Editions

I really like Amazon. I really like Amazon’s recommendations and ever since I inputed most of my books into Amazon I get really good recommendations.

There is one thing that bothers me, though.

I recently made a big order from Amazon and included two books which I was long overdue in owning and reading them. The books were “Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” both by Douglas Adams.

After the purchase, Amazon recommendation started to offer me other Dougls Adams books such as “Mostly Harmless“, “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” and “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“.

I previously told Amazon that I already own “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy” which is one large book containing all 5 of the hitchhiker’s guide novels (3 of them are the books mentioned above).

Since I own a book that include those books I would have figuring that Amazon will know that and handle that similar to how they handle situations in which a book is reprinted or has some newer edition (usually with minor changes or no changes at all). The recommendation engine doesn’t handle that because it probably doesn’t take into account that this one book is a collection of other books and in addition to that.

Due to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy movie they have re-printed the series so there are newer edition out there, which is probably one of the causes I see these books again.

It’s not that uncommon to have such a book that contains multiple previous titles that were a part of a series before. For example I also own “The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles” which is one big book that contains the 10 books in the Amber series by Roger Zelazny (luckily I haven’t told Amazon about that so I’m not getting recommendations to buy the same books again).

Perhaps Amazon should take a look into such collection books as well as handling re-prints and newer edition in a different way.

For example, for reading books (not technical books that often have newer editions that do change and add things) I would expect by default to not see any new re-prints and things like that unless I specifically opted that in my settings.

For technical/reference books I would like, by default, to see newer editions because these new editions (usually) add and update information and in most cases its important to stay up-to-date or at least know that there is a newer edition.

For paperback vs. hard cover editions, Amazon seems to handle it well and does understand that if I have the paperback edition I don’t need to be recommended of the hard cover edition and vice versa. I can only assume they implemented it by saving some kind of a reference between these books, so perhaps they should add a new type of reference/link for books that are a collection of other books and other such links to handle the rest of the things I’ve mentioned above.

What do you say? Am I the only book maniac/Amazon maniac/Recommendation maniac out there that thinks about this? :-)

Amazon Checkout Interface – Group to as few shipments as possible

I recently ordered a couple of books from Amazon.

When reaching the check out screen I, obviously, selected to group my shipments to as few as possible. I then looked and saw that it was grouped into two shipments, one book should be shipped the next day and the other 4 should ship only on the 20th of March – almost two months afterwards!

This was a bit strange considering the fact that Amazon showed that all books were in stock.

I figured there is probably a book or two causing the delay of the whole shipment, so I switched to the “ship as soon as the books are available” option and saw that one book (one book alone) caused the delay of the whole shipment.

I removed it (with great sorrow – it will wait for the next batch of Amazon books from my wish list), set the “group to as few shipments as possible” and everything was in one big happy shipment.

I wonder what other customers who are a bit less proficient in computers would have done. I’m guessing one of 3 options:

  1. Order and not notice that it will take two months for the shipment to come
  2. Select the option to send things as soon as they are available and pay a bit more
  3. Cancel the shipment and go elsewhere

Why didn’t Amazon add a check to see if the shipment will take more time than it should alert the user and tell him/her which item is the one causing the delay? It shouldn’t be that hard to check something along the lines of

if (scheduledShipmentDate > DateTime.Now.AddMonths(1)) {

AlertUser();

}

Sometimes it’s the little things that tick me off. I’m a great fan of Amazon and it’s really the only place I can get almost any book I can think of, but sometimes a man’s got to post on his blog when a man’s got to post on his blog.

The feed reader of my dreams

I’m what you may call a medium to heavy feed junkie. I read most of the information today using my favorite feed reader RSS Bandit.

While RSS Bandit is a great feed reader it does have its limitations. The biggest one being that its a client side application and it doesn’t sync to one of the server side readers.

I sometimes want to read my feeds at home, sometimes at work or sometimes when I don’t have a computer with me and I just want to login in some Internet cafe and be able to continue reading where I left off.

I don’t know if RSS Bandit does support such a feature, AFAIK it doesn’t. What it does support is the ability to save its feed list and state to some remote location and be able to upload it to some remote storage location (i.e. some accessible FTP site) and download it back again. I found some posts about people saying that they found some ways of doing that and keep the state of the read/unread items, which is a partial solution, but it’s not what I’m looking for. It doesn’t answer my need of being able to continue reading my favorite feeds even when I don’t have one of my machines near me.

So what do I really need?

I want a server-side service with a good API for:

  • Managing Feeds – Adding, removing, grouping them into groups
  • Managing the state of feed posts – Marking what I read as read and what I’ve marked an unread as unread
  • Syncing up – If I install a rich client on a new machine, it should sync up with the server with all of the feeds and its state.
  • Handling a LARGE amount of feeds – well, as I’ve said I’m a medium to heavy feed junkie :-)

Ever since I’ve read Niall Kennedy’s post about the Google Reader API I’ve been meaning to try and cook something up, even though it doesn’t really answer all of my needs (at least as far as the API functions Niall talked about). I wonder if that will piss them off too much :-)

There are a few web application based feed readers, but then I’ll always need access to my home machine (or office machine) which I usually have, but I don’t really want to rely on it. I prefer using one of the big guys’ feed service.

Oh well, time to start getting dirty (unless someone already did that, if so, drop me a comment!)