RCS Carrier Interoperability

Rich Communication Services Universal Profile (or Chat as Google likes to call it) is all about interoperability. The end goal would be for ALL carriers world wide, to standardize on RCS as their carrier provided messaging platform (instead of SMS / MMS). There are a lot of moving parts that will have to come together for this to happen, but some of those parts are starting to come together.

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RCS Is designed to be Inter-operable – It shouldn’t be news that Google and Samsung are doing it.

Maybe Google and Samsung are working together to make RCS inter-operate, but they shouldn’t HAVE to! And even if they ARE working together, that shouldn’t be the news here! We should be focusing on the fact that Rich Communications Services (RCS) Universal Profile (or Chat as Google wants to call it) is INTENDED to inter-operate between clients AND carriers!

Continue reading RCS Is designed to be Inter-operable – It shouldn’t be news that Google and Samsung are doing it.

Fi on a non-Google phone is like mowing your lawn with a weed eater….

Project Fi Logo

UPDATE: As of the 11/29/2019 Google Fi announcement, this article is pretty much old news but I’m leaving it here for reference. 

 

I’ve seen the “can you use Project Fi with an XYZ model phone” question over and over. Invariably someone (or several someones) will reply “yeah, it works”. And while this answer is kind of / sort of technically correct (with caveats), it’s misleading!  When I see this I imagine  quotes around the word works… it “works” – unfortunately, a lot of people take it at face value. Continue reading Fi on a non-Google phone is like mowing your lawn with a weed eater….

Down the SDR Rabbit Hole

I’ve always been intrigued by Amateur Radio.  I’m not specifically talking about HAM radio even though that is certainly part of it.

As a boy I traded a telescope for a OLD “world band” radio and spent a lot of time doing stupid stuff like setting the EXACT time on my watch to the WWVB signal.  Honestly, there wasn’t really much to listen to in North West Arkansas in the 70’s on a 50’s era radio, but I tried.  Keep in mind that we didn’t have the internet, so the only way you could find a station was to slowly tune through the bands listening for something that wasn’t static – which meant you had to tune over the station WHILE it was broadcasting (which can be a bit of a trick when only a few stations broadcast 24×7).  Of course you COULD buy a book or subscribe to a magazine that listed some frequencies to try out if you had the money to spend.

Later, I found a copy of an Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) book in a thrift store and spent hundreds of hours looking though it, dreaming about how cool it would be to be able to actually do the stuff they were talking about.  Unfortunately, the cost of getting into amateur radio was a deal breaker for me.

In high school I actually went “all in” and bought a CB radio with “significant” antenna and got my CB license (yes, they actually licensed that back in the day).  My call sign was KAKJ4409.

Since then I’ve always found an excuse NOT to get too involved in radio (yeah, I’ve bought a low end Radio Shack scanner, the not so occasional FRS and digital $35 world band receiver at Walmart, etc.  – but I’ve not gotten “into it”).  I’ve considered getting my ham license, but I’ve always found an excuse not to – I didn’t want to learn Morse code, the radios were too expensive, etc.

By this point I bet you are wondering where this is going, well…  I’ve recently gone down the Software Defined Radio (SDR) rabbit hole and I want to document my decent.  For those of you who don’t know, SDR uses computer software to decode a digital version of the radio spectrum.  To do this, you need a device to receive the radio waves and convert them to digital.  Until fairly recently this piece of equipment was incredibly expensive and really only available to the military and research folks, but not any more.

Several years ago, several companies started producing hobby SDR cards.  Then a security researcher figured out that a USB TV tuner that costs about $15 can function as an SDR radio when paired with the right software.  This is the specific rabbit hole I’m headed down.

I’ll post follow up articles as I work my way though the jungle of open source SDR software and I’ll try to leave enough bread crumbs that you can follow my path if you find yourself so inclined.

Happy DX’ing.

Android WebKit Car Analogy

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.Google throws nearly a billion Android users under the bus” and “Why Google won’t fix a security bug in almost a billion Android phones” but what I haven’t seen is an article that explains the situation in a way that people who WANT to blame Google seem to be able to understand so I’m going to try to explain this using an automobile analogy.

Imagine that Google makes automobile motors that many auto manufacturers use in the cars they sell. Some manufacturers want higher performance motors, so they replace the standard intake and cam with “improved” versions.  Other manufactures want more creature comforts in their cars, so they strap on AC units and other accessories.

Now it turns out that there was a problem with the motors that Google provided to manufacturers 18 months ago. To make things more interesting, the manufacturers didn’t actually have to pay ANYTHING to Google for the motors Google provided. Additionally, Google has offered to replace all of  their previous models at no additional charge twice since the faulty motors were shipped.

The manufacturers have chosen to not replace the faulty motors because they thought they were “good enough” and they would have to apply their chosen modifications to the replacement motors before sending them out. Besides, if people really want a new motor, they need to buy a new car. Right?

Keep in mind that this analogy is flawed.  For instance it implies that Google is actually providing hardware. They aren’t.  A more accurate analogy (but one less likely to be understood) is that Google is providing the software for the car’s computer.  All of the mechanical parts (including the electronics for the computer) are produced by the car manufacturer, but there is a bug in the code that Google made available to the manufacturer. Google doesn’t even know what kind of computer the manufacturer has chosen to install in their car.

My question to you is:  when you buy a car and it has problems with the motor (or computer), who do you go to for service?  I expect the vast majority of people would say the manufacturer (or it’s dealers) but many of these same people seem to want to put 100% (or more) of the blame on Google for the webkit issue. Logic seems to elude some people….

Is Google responsible for the bug? Sure, it was in their code. Is Google responsible for the bug not being fixed in your phone? Nope! They fixed the bug in later releases and your phone manufacturer choose not to release that fix.

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