Android life so far

It’s been three weeks since I bought my Android phone, and I’m having lots of fun hacking it. Here’s what I’m doing with it now:

  • Tracking the time I spend on various activities so that I can (a) get better at estimating time for travel and other things, (b) log my work hours, and (c) find out where my time really went.
    Experimenting with grocery tracking systems so that I can organize my shopping list and track prices. GTracker seems okay, although there are a bunch of features I still want, so I might build my own someday.
  • Synchronizing my files with Dropbox, reviewing spreadsheets, and using the files in various applications.
  • Mindmapping with ThinkingSpace, which understands Freemind files I’ve downloaded with Dropbox.
  • Taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook and Picasa.
  • Capturing notes, mostly with MobileOrg. Still tweaking this.

What am I working on being able to do with my Android?

  • Retrieve contact data from BBDB: I’m most of the way to being able to show records from the Emacs Big Brother Database in my Android contacts. Mwahaha! I’ve figured out how to parse the records with StringTokenizer, interpret the alists, add information to records, and add records to visible groups. I just want to set up a new account manager for BBDB, and then group the items using mail aliases. It took me a while to piece things together from bits of documentation and tutorials. I’m looking forward to applying for permission to share my BBDB stuff as open source, too.
  • Improve Org interface: I’m also most of the way towards making the MobileOrg capture interface close to the MobileOrg iOS capture interface, which I had been quite happy with. You
  • Check my Toodledo tasks: None of the Toodledo clients I’ve tried are as slick as Toodledo for iOS. Who knows, this might just push me back into using Emacs Org to manage everything, with my org-toodledo for syncing to the Web.
  • Get better at using a timer: Not quite Pomodoro technique, more like a timer just to remind myself to stop doing something. =) The open source Tea Timer is a decent fit, and I’ve kludged it on my phone to make it easier to add multiples of five minutes.
  • Track my time in more detail: Maybe with task-level tracking, or finer categories for the things I care about?

What am I learning?

Looking at my preliminary stats from a little over two weeks of tracking, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much time I spent on social interaction – more than I thought I did, looking back. I also get a decent amount of walking and other exercise into my schedule. It takes me about 13 minutes to walk to the subway station, and the subway ride to work takes an average of 19 minutes – a little over my estimate of 30 minutes travel time. I’ve been putting that time to good use, listening to podcasts while walking, and writing Christmas cards if I can get a seat.

I might shift our preparation routines around so that I can move more non-computer things into weekday evenings. I want to do more blogging and Android development in my personal time. Even though I take frequent typing breaks to avoid those pangs of incipient RSI, a long day of working on the computer is probably still a bad idea. ;) Most of our weekend preparations involve laundry or cooking. Both are more efficiently batched on the weekends – cheaper electricity, too. Tidying up and folding laundry can be done as a break that separates work from evenings. Drawing might exercise different muscles (and different parts of my brain). Investing time into training speech recognition might pay off, too, although I get self-conscious about dictating when other people are around. <laugh>

Definitely like my Android.

  • Mark

    Hi Sacha,

    I note your struggles at times with org / org-mode / toodledo … I know you’re an emacs junkie (I mean that in the nicest possible way :-) but have you had a look at at all? I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I just wanted to pass on my experience quickly:

    I used org-mode for a few months, found it great, loved the outlining and basic ‘text’ aspects of it. Also tried mobile-org but I work on multiple computers in different locations and I had trouble syncing everything to my liking. Also used Toodledo for a few months, because I like web-based apps, as they run on my Linux PC, Mac, Windows PC and iPhone. I searched for a good web-based version of ‘org’ – which of course doesn’t exist, but I found Checkvist! Many of the concepts in terms of outlines, lists, assigning due dates, priorities etc. are very much the same as org. And, there are keyboard shortcuts for everything! I was even able to write a little import program to bring all my org files into checkvist. Add to that the ability to collaborate my lists/tasks with others and it’s a true winner for me .. I haven’t looked back after over 6 months of use now.

    I know you lose the capability of being able to customise it yourself (which you have with Org), but the trade-off for built-in simplicity/functionality was worth it for me.

    Thanks Sacha, really enjoy reading your blog each day, keep up the good work!

  • Frank

    For the rest of us, there is also the Android gReader, which makes it much easier to keep up with your blog :)
    I never really got the whole BBDB working, so if you get it to work, it would be great if you could post it. I’ve never seen a BBDB w/ gmail sync if any kind.
    I’ll also use your org-mode/android sync once you have it working (though use SpiderOak instead of DropBox, so hopefully that worksalso)

    Thanks for doing all the hacking, and sharing.
    Frank D.

  • Hi Sacha,

    What’s your android phone? ^__^

  • A Google Nexus One. =D

  • Oh nice! I have a galaxy s but I’m not using it that much. O_O

    I breathe
    with my blackberry… :)