Save HOtel PEnn

Monday is a meeting of the New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchise. In addition to their normal duties of approving permits for sidewalk cafes and cell masts they are hearing Vornado Realty Trust's applications for zoning variances and other special planning exemptions for the building they plan to replace the Hotel Pennsylvania with. This hearing constitutes the last opportunity for 2600 and supporters of the Save Hotel Penn campaign to oppose Vornado's plans to demolish the hotel. Of course, if you follow either of those blogs then you quite likely are already aware of this.

For those who plan to attend I have a few suggestions (having attended a few similar hearings in the past and consulting with several planners and community advocates):
1. Dress like you belong or the role you are playing (for the social engineers this should be simple)
2. Follow the protocol. Speak when you are called, speak respectfully, keep your statements focused on the matters at hand and on the purpose of the committee, don't argue or make a fuss if you run out of time.
3. If for some reason you will attend but can't or don't want to speak you can submit written testimony. Be aware though written-only testimony will be given less weight when the committee makes it deliberations. Every bit helps though.
4. Passion for your issue is good, but don't over do it.

For those of you who won't be in attendance but would like to have their name noted as supporting my statement (or possibly the statements of another attendee supporting Save The Hotel) send an email with your name and boro of residence to me by 0900 Monday the 23rd. [I know, I'm not crazy about the real name thing but this is what they want and I won't be able to put your name down without that information. You can reach me at nite[dot]0wl[dot]2600[at]gmail. All of this information will be kept in the strictest confidence and will be removed and forgotten after the hearing.
No promises but I want to do everything I can to make sure we put on our best showing at the hearing.


Android 2.2 and the Motorola Droid

Because I've noticed quite a few of the NYC 2600 crowd have Droids now I thought I would write up a short piece on the changes you can expect with the new Android 2.2 update rolling out this week.

First: If you have rooted your phone or loaded a custom ROM, there will be some difficulty with the upgrade, depending on what you have done. Custom ROMs and bootloaders will outright block the installation of the official 2.2 update, if you had simply rooted the stock Android builds (as I had) any changes to files in the /system folder (and possibly other areas outside the /sdcard directory will usually cause the installation to fail (in my case replacing the original sh with a symlink to a 3rd party copy of bash caused validation failures during installation until I restored the original copy of sh to it's original place and name).
If you want to get root access back after the update Easy Root (from unstableapps.com) is the easiest way, although it will cost you a couple of dollars but works just fine and currently is the only means of gaining root on the stock 2.2 build that I am aware of. Not crazy about having to rely on a pay app that uses an obfuscated exploit to gain root written by a developer who won't share his method with the rest of the community but it seems to be the only game in town right now and I wanted BusyBox back.

The big changes. You loose the old style App Drawer but exchange it for dedicated soft buttons for phone, browser and an app listing (similar to the app drawer) and two additional home screens (total of 5 now). Delving into the settings menu you now have additional options for your lock screen (the old pattern lock, numeric pin and alphanumeric password are available); Wireless Settings now contains some new options including USB Tethering (more on that later) but lacks the hotspot capabilities of some newer handsets. I have yet to test it thoroughly but there still doesn't seem to be a fix for the WPA/WPA2 AES problem which is a disappointment as you will still be restricted to APs/networks running with TKIP Only encryption.

USB tethering won't be of much use to most of the people I expect will see this as it requires a special additional data package from Verizon to enable it, without it you just end up staring at a page listing pricing options for the tethering plan. Also it won't do you much good on Windows as currently there is no client software to enable the 3G connection (Ubuntu seems to detect it just. I find Azilink still works just fine and PDAnet and Proxoid should still work (assuming you had gotten them working properly in the first place).

Overall the change to Froyo is positive, it brings some useful features like the new locking options and software buttons for the phone functions on the home screens, but does do away with a few features you may have liked.


Polls and ISPs

First off, I thought people might be interested in a chance to vote on Linux Journal's 2010 Reader's Choice awards. They have categories covering hardware vendors, cellphones and gadgets, IDEs and CMS, distros and all manner of other selections where you can pick your favorite products, services and projects in the OSS/Linux world. If you are interested, click the image above. You will have to submit an e-mail address with your votes but they promise not to spam you with it and I trust them, besides, I'm sure you have at least one throw-away or spam magnet e-mail account to use if you really want to be sure.

Now on to another issue, ISPs and their services. After around a decade I have finally decided that Verizon's DSL offerings just don't cut it anymore (admittedly that might have something to do with the fact that I am now running a Tor relay and seeding torrents of linux distros and videos from The Next HOPE). For the last couple of years we have been trying to get Verizon's FIOS service but they refuse to offer it in my area and still only offering a 1.5Mb/256Kb DSL line as your top tier plan just doesn't cut it. Unfortunately I have been unable to find someone with better service at a reasonable price (probably because almost all the DSL providers in my area are just resellers for Verizon (yay! an extra layer of useless customer dis-service people on top of the already useless ones that actually have some ability to do something). The handful of other (ie non-DSL) broadband providers all want to gouge me and take over my TV and phone service. So, despite some misgivings, Time Warner now has my ISP business as well. I wonder how well their 'digital phone' offering will work with my Western Electric set.