While I’m in a timezone that’s rotated 12.5 hours from my home timezone most of my communication is by necessity asynchronous. Not a problem, I have email magic all over the place. Emails on my phone, run my own imap server, server side filtering, a beautiful little bot to sit there and filter it all. Email in general is an archaic and aging beast hopefully not long for this world, but people use it. So I’ve used it. And used it enough that generally I can deal with the issues, and have a few different ways to deal with them.
However I’m in the middle of a situation that’s pretty taxing as far as infrastructure goes. Cellular networks are actually kinda spotty here, and 802.11 networks are both few and far between, and basically treated like demilitarized zones. The number of ports you can assume you can communicate over approaches 1 as you increase the number of base stations you sample from. Generally, you can use port 80. Sometimes I can manage to get imap outbound, not always. Almost never get smtp outbound, and frequently don’t even get SSL smtp outbound.
But that’s okay, right? We got the cellular networks. The good ‘ole wild wild west cellular networks. They’ll let you send just about anything just about anywhere on just about any port. Guess it’s the confidence that comes with having your credit card number, they figure they can trust you with their network. So I want to send something on port 25 outbound from my phone, you betcha I can. Or can I?
This morning I was trying to catch up on a bit of email before diving into the rest of the day. The hotel network is, well, interesting to say the least. So I was lying on the bed using my E61 to get the job done. Or trying to. The network was particularly spotty this morning. It should have been annoying, but it ended up being crippling. I went to load one of the messages (I’m using the built in messenger app from the E61) and suddenly got dumped back to the start screen. Odd, cause the messenger app was still running. I went back into the messenger app and it was frozen. Couldn’t exit it, couldn’t get it to respond to anything, a friend I was IMing with asked if I got the SMS they just sent. Apparently SMS wasn’t working either. Hold down the red hangup key to kill all active connections (good tip for you Nokia addicts out there) and nothing happens. That’s usually the last resort, so things must be pretty well screwed. Annoying, but I’ve come to expect it. So I reboot my phone and keep going.
A few minutes later, it happens again. This time I decide I have to be insane. The application can’t hard hang like this and just never come back, not an application that controls a base phone function like SMS. There’s gotta be some watchdog or something in the OS that would figure out things have gone sideways and kick over the thing. I’m just impatient, right? So I leave the phone like that as I go down to get some breakfast, it’ll be fine by the time I get back. 45 minutes later I walk back into the room and the things is still crapped out. What the hell!?!?
So I SSH into my server, setup a few forward rules, and check to make sure that the GMail App doesn’t crap out when it’s got an intermittent network connection. Guess what? It doesn’t. What’s amazing is that after all these years I can still laugh about the fact that the supposedly vastly superior experience offered by the built in app, as opposed to the obviously inferior experience of the limited sandboxed java app that is GMail, is still something I’m going to have to listen to some fuckwit “industry expert” drone on about at some point.
There’s a lot going on right now in mobile. And it’s easy if you’re working in the environment to feel like this is a golden time when everyone is finally getting their paycheck for having put in the years of effort. Because the environment is doing well it’s going to attract a hell of a lot of competition from people who you didn’t have to compete with before. People who aren’t going to listen to all the reasons you have that explain why things can’t be done. People who are just going to run out there and get them done anyway. Frequently while you’re still laughing about how horribly they’re going to fail when they realize how difficult your industry is. Next thing you know you’re living in a van down by the river.