[Tinkerphones] ZeroPhone site offline

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Mon Jan 3 22:31:04 CET 2022


On Monday, 3 January 2022 21:32:16 CET Andreas Kemnade wrote:
> 
> > > "The Pine64 developers and the community need to put more focus onto
> > > making the PinePhone perform the most basic of mobile phone tasks, Like
> > > making and receiving phone calls, using headphone earpieces, receiving
> > > and sending SMS, phonebook. The basic essential stuff required for
> > > someone to just buy this pinephone and use it to replace a cheap android
> > > phone. Focusing on apps and UI and all that stuff means nothing if the
> > > average idiot cant use this phone out of the box!"
> > > 
> > > https://www.pine64.org/2021/12/29/pinephone-community-poll/#comment-5521
> 
> Well, I had also my bad experience: USSD is even working better with my
> simple dialer on the GTA04. So what is the point here. Designing
> something more complex than you have resources to test and maintain
> it?

I think I am wondering about the same thing as the person who wrote that 
comment: are the developers actually interested in making a phone, or are they 
more interested in making a platform for "apps" instead? I imagine there is 
nothing remotely exciting about making a phone any more, and testing telephony 
stuff is tedious and difficult, so why not just focus on the familiar, mixed 
up with things like "convergence" that also appeared in that list of 
responses?

Over two decades ago, I worked at a company making call centre solutions, and 
the software had to interact with telephony gateway solutions (Dialogic 
products) and ultimately the telephone switches themselves (stuff like Nortel 
Meridian and whatever Alcatel were selling). Inbound and outbound calls had to 
be handled, and there were occasions where we had to troubleshoot this stuff, 
although it was largely done at the customer who had to suffer the 
inconvenience and cost.

I am not saying that testing mobile telephony is necessarily any easier, and 
the one thing that didn't arise in traditional telephony was the need to 
optimise or control power consumption, but someone has to focus on the task 
and just iterate until the thing just works as everyone expects. That might 
need the software architecture to be designed appropriately, though, which 
then requires people to acknowledge any issues and to adapt any existing 
software architecture appropriately. There is presumably a reason why Android 
is not just vanilla Linux.

> > > There's also a lot of complaints about Signal not being available for
> > > the phone, but I think that those people bought the wrong product.
> 
> hmm, I do not understand the point, it would be good to have some
> messenger available, if it is opensource. I would expect that I cannot
> connect to everything, but at least to something.

Sorry for having been vague here, but many of the people wanting things like 
Signal will belong to the crowd obsessed with "security" or "privacy" (the 
appearance of those things, not necessarily those actual things). 
Unfortunately, many of these people do not understand the dynamics around Free 
Software or even open hardware: they just want something that lets them 
communicate in a super-secret way and would probably buy anything sold to them 
in the right way. Buying a work-in-progress phone running an alternative 
operating system is most likely to be a waste of time and money for them, not 
that they realise it yet.

> > > The PinePhone initiative seems to be an interesting experiment in seeing
> > > whether various Linux-plus-graphical-environment distributions can
> > > deliver a usable phone experience. I recall things being said about the
> > > Openmoko FreeRunner not being quick at handling calls, with assertions
> > > about the software stack not being responsive enough to deal with the
> > > different hardware-driven events, and I imagine that despite a lot of
> > > disdain for what Openmoko and others sought to achieve all that time
> > > ago, the situation is still not that great even now.
> 
> So we are at the same place with just consuming more ressources for
> that?

Yes, I think so. I guess the PinePhone people set up the race and let the 
different horses run around the course. If one gets to the end, they can at 
least sell a phone with software on it. Some people will highlight an apparent 
lack of investment in software by the PinePhone developers (this can be 
discussed and disputed), but since they might well have a favourite in the 
race, too, such observations might not be entirely objective.

People can be so obsessed with their "vision" and its realisation that, for 
them, there can only be one winner. But as we've seen elsewhere in the Free 
Software realm, it usually means there are no winners in the end.

Paul




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