A day wasted in sickness is a day…err, like this one

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So, this may only be a cold, but it’s done a fair job of kicking my ass. I suppose I’ve not actually had a cold for quite a long time by my standards. I don’t think I’ve had an actual cold for a very long time – and I say this because some of the cold-flu medicine had expired, and I had to chuck a bottle of nightnurse (well, it went to the pharmacy) because it had expired too.

So having a cold, and having it kick my arse, is probably fair. I spent yesterday fairly much immobile on the sofa with my head embedded in the cushion because more than that seemed unreasonable. Today’s been an improvement. I feel lightly woozy at times, but otherwise not too bad. I have absolutely no intention of cycling to work, but am debating going in tomorrow. It’s whether to say stuff it and have tomorrow off sick to get really properly better which will mean spending the whole day feeling monumentally guilty (and they might well say ‘well, don’t come back on Sunday either’, because they say things like that); or instead go in tomorrow with the remnants of lurgy which will undoubtedly make it drag out for ages. The decision is, of course, complicated by the fact it’s a night shift which – having just adjusted back to UK time – is going to be f’ing evil.

Anyhow. So feeling somewhat better as I am today I decided to make an attack on the other Nook. See, as I mentioned before, we have two Nook Simple Touches. Mine, which is rooted, and Kathryn’s which, after today, is more-or-less rooted. It is rooted, but isn’t quite as ‘nice’ as mine. Why, I have no idea.

I used TouchNooter on mine, followed the instructions carefully (because I’m paranoid and don’t want to turn it into a brick, even if it’s a relatively cheap brick) and lo, with some patience* it worked exactly as it says on the hypothetical tin.

Kathryn’s Nook was not such a pushover.

The install bit of it appeared to go as expected, but then it didn’t want to reboot, and when it finally did decide to respond to my plaintive poking of the power button it rebooted back to being a standard nook. Several resets/retries/re-writings of the SD card later, one exciting trip where it became clear that it was getting some of the rooting suff on there, but it just wasn’t quite working, and I sucked it up, reset it and brought it home as a standard Nook.

Today I set to on it with the TinyNoot rootkit instead of TouchNooter, and after some fiddling I’ve got it sort of rooted. But for some reason neither would the Amazon app store work – at least – I don’t think it was working – but I need to play with it more. Nor could I install Google Marketplace. The irony being I actually do want to install pay-for apps and pay-for them. Well, potentially. Except that as previously stated, nobody loves Android 2.1. I’m surprised that Barnes and Noble haven’t offered an upgrade for Nook Simple Touch that puts a newer version of Android on there. But anyhow, they haven’t, so Android 2.1 is what we’re stuck with.

Installing software on Kathryn’s nook is, at present, arduous. Thankfully she only wanted Instapaper (well, she wanted Pocket, but Pocket is Android 3.something I think, and Read It Later is no longer available. Rant follows) – well, InstaPaper’s Android 2.2, but InstaFetch which is a somewhat aged InstaPaper compatible app, that’s Android 2.1. So that was easily….well. Okay. By Easily, the steps involved were:

– Find a site offering the install package (‘apk’) to download rather than trying to install it directly.
– Download it (most of these sites are hideous spam filled sites that just direct you through a never ending sequence of adverts with multiple pop-ups).
– Download the Android Developer’s Kit.
– Find out how to use adb
– Connect to the Nook using adb-wireless
– Realise Kathryn’s nook, for some reason, isn’t running as Root. Switch to root.
– Install files upon said beast.

So that wasn’t too bad. gReader, now that was a pigging pain in the flipping arse. Not as much as my unsuccessful hunt for the APK of Google Market (which, after several unsuccessful hours I had to give up on), no. But in the end I resorted to:

– Connecting my nook using adb
– Listing the apks installed on it and grabbing the right apk (use the ‘shell’ function of adb, make sure your nook is running as root (‘su’), change directory to data/app, list directory content, nab relevant apk name, use adb pull to copy the apk off it)
– Disconnect my nook / reconnect Kathryn’s nook using adb
– Install the file on Kathryn’s nook.

Thankfully this worked as the temptation to have a screaming hissy fit was approaching.

I’ve still no idea what’s different between the two. I’m intrigued by the fact that the install on the nook is apparently not the same between any two nooks. They’re all special little snowflake different. Meaning you can’t just copy one and dump it on another. Which is quite the strangeness. I suppose it makes them harder to root.

Still. It is, at present, working.

Of course, it’s only working as long as google reader works – although I’m holding out a leeeetle tiny bit of hope that greader (which is what is currently on the Nooks) will become Feedly compatible. I’m hoping that when they do this, they will keep Android 2.1 compatibility too.

However, all of this dancing around mulberry bushes has led me back to one of my pet frustrations about the modern software world.

Back in the old days, when all this was fields, and I was typing this on an archaic hamster powered desktop with a monitor that generated enough heat to warm a small apartment building, you could actually, fairly easily, get hold of old versions of software.

If you wanted the previous release of something it was usually available on that things website. Before that, when new versions came out they actually had to send you physical disks with differently aligned magnetic particles on, so if you were wise, you kept the old ones. Before that, the idea of ‘different versions’ of software was a bit advanced. But seriously, there was this phase where if you needed version instead of because 2c and 2d had something that you used that was now broken, you could usually find it.

Now I have to trawl sites that I don’t particularly trust to find apks that I suspect of being filled with malicious turds but painted to look like the thing I want, and obviously, there’s no easy way to check that they’re what they say they are without opening the tin.

This makes me unhappy.

This makes my crappy Android devices even less popular with me than they have the potential to be. This makes the iOS devices that we have running versions of iOS prior to current less useful. Because even when applications exist that did run on them, when they’re superceded by a version that no-longer runs on them, there’s no “download for an older OS” button. The play store in particular infuriates me for this. Android appears to update approximately every 2 minutes. There are more flavours of Android than there are blades of grass, and whilst it seems like 2.2 is one of the cut-off points, there seem to be many other cut-off points.

I understand it more from iOS. I understand that by choosing Apple products, I am going to have to deal with enforced obsolescence, and with minimal product support once they’re more than a few years old. I know that my MacBook despite looking almost exactly the same as Kathryn’s MacBook Pro and sporting a very similar spec, is nearing persona-non-grata. I know that my iPhone 4 is considered old hat and not worth properly supporting despite the fact I only got it 3 years ago. It annoys me, but it’s a decision I made.

With Android I didn’t expect it so much. Perhaps because I’m sat outside the ecosystem, and occasionally nose at it and assumed it would be more like most of the open source things I’ve toyed with or worked with over the years. But it does, in fact, drive me spare everytime I go near it. Our ‘Superpad’ is shit, not because it’s an interminally badly built piece of crap, nor because it’s underspec’d so far as to be woeful, but because virtually everything you might want to install on it pops up with an inexplicable ‘you can’t do that’ which appears to be related to the Android version. And you can’t update the Android version because it’s tailored to the hardware so closely that each manufacturer needs to make their own special snowflake version. It’s also shit because the app-store doesn’t work on it in the way that it works on other devices – in that I can’t log in from my laptop and say ‘Hey, install that on my Superpad’. And since the search is a bit unreliable about pulling up apps, it’s hard to rely on it. Feh. Anyway.

So yes, Android developers, please, please, please make the old APKs available. Or at least make what I’m going to call ‘transitional’ apk’s available – i.e. those where you stop supporting a previously supported Android version (and I full expect the ‘WE NO LONGER SUPPORT THIS VERSION’ tag).

Rant over.

* It really did take a day for the android store to work, and it’s still ‘odd’ in that I can’t search for apps – but if I log in from my laptop I can ‘see’ the device and tell it to install things.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...