Phil Nickinson

I'm supposed to take this more personally, I've been told. I'm supposed to hate Apple and what it's litigious self with every fiber of my being. I'm supposed to cry in my beer for Samsung, for HTC, for anyone who's ever had an injunction handed down. I'm suppose to hate the player, as well as the game.

That's just not me. I don't set my hair on fire, especially about things over which I have no control.

Here's what I do hate, in no particular order:

  • I hate that patent litigation has become the focus of the past several months. (It almost makes me long for the bad old, sky-is-falling days of Carrier IQ.)
  • I hate that instead of writing and talking about phones and tablets, we have to concentrate on lawsuits about phones and tablets.
  • I hate that it takes the focus away from the developers, without whom none of this would matter anyway.
  • Most of all, I hate that it's come this far.

That patents should be granted for software certainly should be debated. That patents are granted far too easily hardly is up for debate. Let's hope by this time next year we'll be talking about new and innovative products, and not this mess. I'm sick and tired of patents.

If you've yet to do so, check out the podcast I did with Rene Ritchie from on Saturday.

And now, for some more good (and bad) from the past week in Android.

Motorola does a good thing well

Kudos go out to Motorola. Within, oh, a half-hour of the manufacturer releasing its bootloader unlocking tool, I had the Sprint Photon Q opened up, the way God intended. We never thought we'd see the day.

This is the way it should be. It's not a overly difficult process. You need the Android SDK installed. And you need to be able to follow directions and copy and paste a few things. If you can do that, you can unlock the bootloader and easily flash a custom recovery and ROMs. It's tough enough so that you have to do a little homework if you're new to the game, but not so hard as to not make it worth your while.

Or, you can leave good enough alone. And Motorola's latest iteration of whatever the hell it's calling its UI these days isn't half bad. Don't like the way it looks but don't want to do any real hacking? Just install a third-party launcher.

Hate, the right way

It's been fun to watch the flame war that's engulfed the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. You've probably seen Android Police's excellently titled review, calling the Note 10.1 an "Embarrassing, Lazy, Arrogant Money Grab." Hat's off to that headline, I suppose. It's also the sign of someone who really has no understanding of what goes into a designing, manufacturing and marketing a product, which is anything but arrogant, lazy and a money grab. This stuff ain't cheap to do. And it's not easy. And the people who do it works their asses off at it. But, hey, it's a great headline. And you know what? I don't disagree with a lot of their conclusions. But I also don't let tablets and phones offend me as much as this one apparently did them.

I think Anndrew Vacca got the good and the bad about right in our review. (And, no, I don't always agree with everything in all of our reviews. That's a great thing about having great writers who can have their own opinions.) The display resolution bugs me maybe more than Anndrew, and the picture-in-picture thing is gimmicky, at best, as are some of the other TouchWiz features. (But you know what? I also like that Samsung over-reaches a bit.) But something you have to remember is that the Note 10.1 isn't meant to take on the ASUS Transformer Infinity, or even the Nexus 7. It's meant to be an Android-based Wacom tablet. There's a big difference there.

If you really hate the Galaxy Note 10.1 -- if you really want to attack it with hate and bile -- here's what you do: Set the goddamn thing on fire1. Blow it to hell. Take it to the middle of a field and fire a friggin' TOW missile at it. Enough pillow talk. And then do it with every other device that doesn't live up to whatever misconceptions you'd had in the first place. You know, to be fair and all.

Here's the thing about extreme reviews, be they positive or negative: No device is ever as bad as a review states. And no device is ever as good. It's almost always somewhere in the middle. This is one of those times where the majority of our commenters got it right, I think. (And lord knows I don't always agree with our commenters.) If you want or need a tablet with a good Wacom stylus and some apps that actually take advantage of it, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is for you. If you want a traditional, top-tier Android tablet, there are other options. And Samsung (eventually) will put out something for that crowd again, too.

Oh, and we're not done with the Note 10.1 just yet. Stay tuned.

The HTC ThunderBolt rises from the ashes

I've used the HTC ThunderBolt more in the past week than I have in the past nine months. 

First, it was to fire it up so I could trade it in for a Verizon Galaxy S3. (Which I promptly put CyanogenMod 10 on. Lemme say this about that -- the dark theme of stock Jelly Bean (and ICS, I guess) looks sweet on that hardware. I recommend trying it if you can.

Then there's that Ice Cream Sandwich-based ROM that Team BAMF leaked out. You should seen me with that broken, beat and scarred phone, somewhere around midnight, waiting for that download to finish. We might have a smartphone boneyard around these parts, but we can still get a little excited seeing new life breathed into an old phone.

But I tell ya, that phone feels like it's from another life ago. If you're still using one and see me out and about, grab me. I'll buy you a beer.

That's it from me this week. Time to get back to work. To everyone in the path of what will soon enough be Hurricane Isaac, hunker down. If you're told to get out, get out. And I'll see ya on the other side.