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Ask Slashdot: Scripting-Friendly Smartphones?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the also-must-have-infinite-battery-life-and-candy dept.

Android 197

An anonymous reader writes "I am choosing a smartphone for work, moving up from a long history of just-a-phone phones. This coincides with moving into an environment where I will have a desktop machine in my office, rather using my laptop — so I'll VPN in from home, and am looking forward to not trucking my laptop around everywhere. BUT ... this means I now won't have my laptop all the time. I have gotten used to scripting various little things that make my life easier, and would like to carry that over to the phone. For example, periodically check that a certain machine is online and backing things up the way it is supposed to; if the lab monitoring system sends me an email that the -80 freezer is up to -50, play a sound and run the vibrate system in a specific, arbitrarily chosen pattern; when I press this button, record an MP3, when I release it prep an email with it attached, that sort of thing. Does such a beast exist? Has anyone used one and if so what do you think? Bonus points if you know if I can use it with Rogers (Canadian wireless provider used by my workplace)." I've heard good things about (but never used) the payware Android app called Tasker; what other recommendations do you have for running the world from a smartphone?

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197 comments

seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733315)

some people over think everything, don't they?

Re:seriously? (4, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | about 2 years ago | (#40733327)

Sometimes.

I'd argue this is part of the geek/hacker mindset, and while it's a valuable asset, we have to remember that this places us outside of the mass market in some fairly significant ways. As a direct result of this, we're no longer the "target market" for consumer electronics.

Re:seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733383)

Exactly.

Re:seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733573)

How the hell did you get by the lameness filter?

Re:seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733625)

Quite.

Re:seriously? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733755)

Your mom.

Re:seriously? (5, Insightful)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 years ago | (#40733463)

No.

The vast majority of the people is used to under thinking about everything.

Re:seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733725)

Oh yes. We at slashdot are so much smarter than the common pleb.

Give me a break. The only thing greater is the undeserved ego.

Re:seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733737)

Well, it depends on your personality :

- Some people are action oriented, and will act before thinking ( under thinking)
- Some people are emotionally oriented, and their actions are driven by their emotions
- Some people are mind oriented, and they overthink everything, avoiding action until the last moment.

Everyone is useful in their own way.

Re:seriously? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733969)

Well, it depends on your personality :

- Some people are action oriented, and will act before thinking ( under thinking)
- Some people are emotionally oriented, and their actions are driven by their emotions
- Some people are mind oriented, and they overthink everything, avoiding action until the last moment.

Everyone is useful in their own way.

-Jocks
-Women
-Nerds

Re:seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733501)

I used to virtually solve differential equations to know why that lady behave like that with me! Later I found I'd rather interpret it using simple rules: lust, jealousy, dislike...

In regard to phones and gadgets I would put tens of precious hours to find a phone that does everything well only to use just a few of them later.

Re:seriously? (4, Funny)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40733615)

Amidst the incoherent rambling I suspect, and look up to confirm yet again, that it is Timothy who has posted this trash. Is this the boss's son or something?

Re:seriously? (2)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 2 years ago | (#40733981)

Yes, but this isn't an example of overthinking - he wants to invest a few hours of his time into saving hundreds of hours later down the line - that's a good thing. :)

An inherent limitation of the form factor? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733323)

Have you considered that perhaps the screen real estate, and perhaps the fact that most soft keyboards take up half of the screen, prevents mobile phones from being used as dev platforms?

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (2)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40733429)

With a bluetooth keyboard and external display you could use your phone for dev, but I'd have to ask why. On the other hand, as an admin tool its great. I have often sshed into my home network to take care of one thing or another. For a professional sysadmin on call, scripting from the phone could will make the difference between needing to drive into the office on the weekend or not.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733511)

A professional sysadmin on call should have multiple devices ready to roll, and not just depend on one dinky one.

There's a reason samurai had two swords, or cowboys carried a boot knife...

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40733667)

Are you trying to tell me that a professional sysadmin never goes to a party on Saturday night? You are obviously not one, or you're an ancient one. In either case, just don't worry to much about sshing on your phone ok?

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733697)

Not if he's on-call he doesn't. Or if he does, he takes a laptop with him.
If he's not on-call, then it's not important enough for him to have to use his phone to do it.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (4, Informative)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40733871)

I think you're a little confused as to what "on-call" actually means. It is not regular work. You don't handle tickets, respond to emails or any of that. On-call is for emergencies, and it is typcially uncompensated. Your job is to respond if called. Otherwise you can do what you want. You are not by any means expected to stay sitting in your room hanging onto a laptop. Or if you are and you're not getting paid straight time for it, it's time to freshen up your resume.

Now that you understand what on-call is, if all you need to do is reset somebody's password or similar "emergency" and you can do that from your phone, then just do it and get on with life. Of course if you prefer to drive into the office instead then feel free.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (3, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40733961)

I think you're a little confused as to what "on-call" actually means ... it is typcially uncompensated. Your job is to respond if called. Otherwise you can do what you want.

This must be some new meaning for "on call" with which I am unfamiliar. We pay our people to be on-call for specific off-hours periods, and that pay is by the on-call hour and in addition to their base salary. If they are actually called on, then they get yet another additional payment, depending on how long it took to address the issue. Those eligible for on-call duty are also free to decline any or all on-call duty, if they wish. We expect our people to remain sober and capable when on-call, even if they are attending social events such as parties. This has a price, as it should.

Which industry/country do you work in, where on-call time is free (and possibly compulsory and/or unlimited)?

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (4, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#40734111)

every salaried job, that's what!

I've never been offered extra money to take 'pager duty' (as it was historically called). I hated it, I won't willingly do it again but its still the norm to pay one annual salary and still expect lots of 'free time' from your slaves. I mean employees. I did mean employees, really I did.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40734109)

I think you're a little confused as to what "on-call" actually means.

No, it is you who is confused. What you've posted as on-call requirements would violate labor laws in most, if not all, States.

In any event a professional system administrator would have a jumpbox with all their tools setup, and all the smartphone would do is provide some type of connection to that system. Possibly ssh, possibly web-based, just depending on how fancy you wanted to get and what kind of tools you may need.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733775)

What's this "party" thing I keep hearing about?

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (4, Interesting)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 years ago | (#40733485)

My brother uses a Milestone 2, and now and then he get himself doing some server administration over SSH while commuting on public transportation.

Of course it sucks, but it sucks less than trying to use a Pad or Notebook on that shitty bus seats. :-)

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (4, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40733719)

Some soft keyboards have transparency, so can take most of the screen while you keep seeing what is below. And some have hard keyboards, some of them pretty good, or can use a bluetooth keyboard. The N900 is more a pocket computer than a cellphone, but could do work for what is needed (and was script friendly too)

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (4, Interesting)

pantherace (165052) | about 2 years ago | (#40733791)

It's not an inherent limitation of the device.

It's that the keyboards almost universally are horrible for it, because they are designed for things like natural speaking. Their processing of symbols is subpar.

The same is true of most small bluetooth keyboards, or built in keyboards. Frankly, my Zaurus SL-5500 from 2003 has a better keyboard on a mobile than almost anything that's come since. (And in fact, the only things I can think of that rival it that I have encountered, are also Zaurus devices.)

I have found one that I don't think sucks so far, it's "hacker's keyboard" on android. (Most important things it has that seemingly every other keyboard lacks are tab and arrow keys... easily accessible. It has some limitations though, and you'll almost certainly want to enable portrait 5-line keyboard) Though I usually use it more with my table as opposed to with my phone, though it does work there just fine, I use the phone more for email/texting/etc, so having a keyboard (swype) which is better for those things as default means the other isn't used as much.

Re:An inherent limitation of the form factor? (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | about 2 years ago | (#40734029)

This is actually one of the reasons why the N900 was such an excellent choice.

Just root it and use SL4A (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733329)

Any android phone that can be rooted + SL4A.

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733345)

Or any rooted Android phone + a ssh/telnet client.

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (1)

Jello B. (950817) | about 2 years ago | (#40733689)

Why does it have to be rooted?

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733967)

Because presumably you're going to want to have a terminal with full access to the phone.

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (1)

kh31d4r (2591021) | about 2 years ago | (#40734025)

Why do you want that if you're going to SSH to another machine anyway?

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40734055)

Uhh, because it might be nice to be able to do both?

Re:Just root it and use SL4A (2)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 2 years ago | (#40734013)

So that you can properly automate functions on the phone itself - many scripting apps can access root-restricted parts of Android, and are therefore quite a bit more flexible when the device is rooted. As a simple example, just take a look at GScript.

Your choices are... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733333)

Nokia n900 would be my first choice for reasons that are obvious.

HTC HD2 would be my second choice. Laugh if you must, but the interface HTC slapped over WM 6.5 makes it halfway decent and the APIs are open for pretty much anything you want to put on it.

Re:Your choices are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733515)

WM6.x really is the only way to do this as asked, as far as I know

Re:Your choices are... (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 2 years ago | (#40733881)

I loved my HTC HD2
Once I put Android on it - they even have 4.0.4 now. Very awesome.

Re:Your choices are... (5, Informative)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | about 2 years ago | (#40733977)

It's as you said: Nokia N900, hands down.
You get:
1. Fully unlocked phone, unlocked bootloader and real Linux.
2. Loads of "hacker" tools and apps.
3. Busybox ash(stock) or full Bash if you want.
4. The phone part is fully scriptable with dbus commands. There's even a dbus monitor daemon to run a script when a certain dbus signal is sent.
5. Hardware keyboard, decent specs(CPU's a bit weak, but greatly overclockable), and good screen.
6. Debian Chroot gives full LXDE system right on your phone if you need it.
7. Real web-browser functionality: tablet-friendly stock microB(FF based, renders like FF 3), Firefox Mobile, Chromium(desktop version basically), Opera

Really, it seems to be the only option.
The N9 might also be doable, but there you have to enable developer mode, and have no hardware keyboard, screen's poorer(AMOLED vs LCD), and it's just more hassle.

Android Scriptin (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733371)

Don't forget about sl4a, it's still a legitimate project.

Re:Android Scriptin (4, Informative)

bjwest (14070) | about 2 years ago | (#40733461)

Don't know who the dumb fuck was going through modding all these posts down, but (s)he needs to have their head smacked.

This is what I was going to suggest. Using sl4a [google.com] allows the use of Python, Perl, JRuby, Lua, BeanShell, JavaScript, Tcl, and shell. That pretty much covers all the good scripting languages except Rexx, and I haven't heard much about Rexx in years.

Of course, if you stop and think about it, Android's entire API is a scripting language, so...

Re:Android Scriptin (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733717)

> Don't know who the dumb fuck was going through modding all these posts down, but (s)he needs to have their head smacked.

Never underestimate jealousy.

Re:Android Scriptin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733937)

Jealousy? Of what? Being the prom king/queen? If only mod points can be converted to cash or bitcoin?

Re:Android Scriptin (3, Informative)

timothyb89 (1259272) | about 2 years ago | (#40733865)

For added fun, Tasker has SL4A integration, so you can have Tasker run arbitrary scripts when various events occur. SL4A also lets you (in addition to its own APIs) lets you install, e.g., additional python modules, and the Java-interpreted scripting languages (BeanShell, Rhino, and probably JRuby) let you directly invoke the Android APIs. The latest Tasker release also has JavaScript support and exposes more device functionality to it than SL4A's APIs do.

I'm not really sure what all of the hate for device scripting is about, Android is surprisingly scripting-friendly, and it actually has some viable end results.

Re:Android Scriptin (1)

jampola (1994582) | about 2 years ago | (#40733877)

Thanks for this Mr. 5 Digits. I can (and actively do) script some simple Bash scripts to check things over VPN like the OP but having a way to (potentially) use existing Python scripts on my Android daily driver could make my life just that little bit easier! Xie Xie!

Re:Android Scriptin (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733593)

While sl4a can do some things you can't do otherwise, don't forget it is an alpha quality software -- that is, it is quite unreliable. It crashes often, it uses archaic APIs, runs slowly and uses megatons of memory.

This is also true of Tasker -- while versatile, it is a resource and battery hog. There is a trial version on the website, so you should get it and give it a try. Maybe it isn't useful enough for you.

There is also a cheaper Takser - AutomateIt (nagware) and Automateit Pro. This overlaps somewhat with Tasker, but can do some things tasker can't. It is, however, more lightweight that Tasker and does not crash my phone so often.

Finally, you can use shell for some things, but it isn't very useful. Android Terminal is a must.

Overall, prepare for a lot of frustration -- nothing works reliably or well. Still, better with them than without.

Nokia N900 no contest (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733373)

The Nokia's N900 (not the newer 900) is a full linux distro that happens to also function as a phone. It is the best computer I have ever purchased.

Re:Nokia N900 no contest (4, Informative)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40733645)

AC is quite right (I came to point out the exact same phone actually).
Another great point is the hardware keyboard; it's really a paint to attempt to script or code or use ssh on a touchscreen-keyboard.

The OS is not just a Linux kernel with new stuff strapped on; it's a descendant of Debian GNU/Linux inside, so unless you're a windows user, you won't have any issues hacking from this phone.

Re:Nokia N900 no contest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733813)

You can always load your scripts from a remote location after you finish working on them. He didn't specifically say he was going to script on the device -- just to execute scripts.

Re:Nokia N900 no contest (1)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#40733909)

I have used sl4a on my HTC EVO 4G Wimax. But I found that it is one of the models that will not work with a bluetooth silicone keyboard. This really burns me up and I have tried a couple in stores.
For one model, the market app would not install.
Another model, it would pair but not connect.
If anyone knows a keyboard (silicone or not) that would work with it..
Anyway you should note there are issues such as battery and what happens when connectivity is lost.
For example in a gps tracking app, you would want to buffer and send a batch of observations at once.

Well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733393)

I think your best bet would to be to stop being a fucking muppet and just "truck" a laptop around with you. Right tool for the right purpose. If weight is a problem, fucking man up or just get a light one. I hope you haven't spawned.

Re:Well... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#40733399)

Maybe he's not allower t obring his personal laptop to his new job?

n900 (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733395)

n900. it's open source and has a full slide out keyboard for when you have to write a script on it an emergency. normally i prefer to write such things on my desktop then use ssh to get them over to the phone, but it can be done on the phone itself too.

Any large screen high resolution smart phone. (2)

colin_faber (1083673) | about 2 years ago | (#40733401)

Really any large screen high resolution smart phone will do the trick. Basically you want a phone (most of the time) and a terminal some of the time. On screen keyboards suck. high resolution makes them easier to pack into a small foot print but doesn't address the big issue of lack of real estate. For this, I recommend (as small as you can get it) a blue tooth keyboard. Personally I use an old iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard. Small enough to carry around in the car with me, or in my pocket, if I really really need to get serious work done. If that's not an option and it's on the fly well on screen keyboard has to do the trick. Good luck, the galaxy s3 is pretty slick, albeit big, Right now I use a razr and it's performance has been pretty solid (though much to be desired in the screen).

Re:Any large screen high resolution smart phone. (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40733649)

Not really, not *any* high-res phone. He'll definitely need an open OS (open meaning that he can hack it and do whatever he wants, not open-source), and he'll most likely need an ssh client among other things. It's better to look for a phone which has those thing out-of-the-box, rather than trying to force some other model work as something it isn't.

Re:Any large screen high resolution smart phone. (2)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 2 years ago | (#40734071)

How exactly do you set up the keyboard when you want to work (physically)? I used to have one too, but it was too flimsy to use on my lap with the phone on it (there was a flip-out cradle of sorts built in - seemed to be made for much smaller, lighter phones though), making a laptop the better choice for when I was out and about... I always saw the appeal of having a full-sized keyboard in your pocket, but finding a place that would actually allow me to use it (and prop up the phone so that I could actually see what I was typing) was difficult. A laptop, on the other hand, I could use on, well, my lap :p

I'm down to carrying around a Galaxy Nexus and a Thinkpad everywhere these days, so it's a choice of either using the touchscreen (which sucks) or the real deal - I _would_ like a way to type properly on the Galaxy Nexus, though... any suggestions?

N9 or N900 -- full *nix (5, Insightful)

hardaker (32597) | about 2 years ago | (#40733409)

The N9 is a wonderful phone, can certainly be scripted (I ssh into mine all the time to do things), but lacks a physical keyboard. The onscreen one is great, but because it takes half the screen it makes the shell-window smaller. (really, you might want an N950, but those "don't exist" and getting one is difficult, plus the antenna issues make it less useful as a real phone).

The N900, now hard to locate, has a great screen, a great keyboard and is the predecessor to the N9. But they have a known issue with the USB port breaking over time, so if you do actually succeed in finding one to buy don't expect it to last forever and ever. But this is 2000+ where things aren't expected to last longer than a few years.

sigh

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (3, Informative)

oik (790336) | about 2 years ago | (#40733621)

Seconded. I have both phones now and have moved to having the N9 as my phone and the N900 just be my pocket/travel *nix box. I've not (touch wood) seen any problems with the USB port but it's something which is a known issue. The N900, while not perfect, is a damn good little machine.

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (2)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40733657)

Indeed; the N900 actually descends from the "pocket computer" idea, and they finally added phone functionalities; not the other way round, so it's a pretty complete computer. Hardware keyboard is the real big difference between the two, and will, most likely, be the feature that tips the scales (according to preference).

Let's hope Jolla makes some nice N900 successor! :)

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733771)

This might be helpful...Windows phone. I can SSH with it and use VPNs and also has a C# program. Its not that bad. My laptop has Vista Ultimate running Unix as well. The little known desired feature I really love about my Alienware running Vista Ultimate. I think the Windows Lumia 900 is a N900 with Windows loaded on it. Specs sure look like its the same device. My Windows phone is also very hackable.

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733793)

Agreed - the N900 is unmatched when it comes to extensibility and weird hacks. Some of the weirdest things I did with my phone just because I can include installing the phone SDK on the phone itself (when have you last typed ./configure, make, make install on a phone?), recompiled the kernel to include CD-ROM drivers so I can use an external CD writer to burn a CD with the phone instead of a computer, etc. It can basically do anything.

Even though the model is really old and has a few issues (I've already had to replace the USB port and the screen) I can't find any satisfactory replacement. I just hope a new N900-like phone/computer arrives before parts for the N900 become scarce.

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40733731)

You should try Finger Term in the N9, transparent keyboard, so you can type over the screen, the main problem is that your fingers aren't transparent. The N900/N950 hardware keyboards are better anyway, but the overall experiencie of N9 could worth the difference.

Re:N9 or N900 -- full *nix (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733955)

The N9 indeed.

Last week while traveling, I could not access the wifi in the hotel with my laptop (MBP) but the N9 had access.

Simply sudo on the N9, enable ip forwarding through the USB port in the kernel, connect USB cable to the laptop,
and the network was up and running.

The N9 runs your favorite scripting language out of the box, and has root login without the need to jailbreak.

Another server + SMS + Tasker (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#40733419)

My suggestion is Tasker, but unless there's a mail parser plugin I haven't come across (or unless you write one), it won't take actions based on the content of e-mail messages. It will, however, react to SMS message content. So one way to handle your custom notifications is to write a script that runs on another always-on, always-connected machine. Have it receive and parse the e-mails and when one of them meets your criteria, have it send you a text message with relevant content, then have Tasker do whatever is appropriate when that message arrives.

To make sure your script-running server is up, use something like Ping HostMonitor. You can also use that to monitor the status of any Internet-accessible hosts.

The biggest downside of this approach is that it relies on SMS to reliably notify you. You might also want to have Tasker send an e-mail acknowledgement when you get the SMS, and have your script keep re-sending the texts periodically until it receives the ACK.

Analyze elsewhere and send texts (4, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 2 years ago | (#40733423)

I've done similar things, where I want my phone to tell me if some external activity has happened or has changed beyond certain parameters.

I do the analysis elsewhere, such as on that desktop PC, and the alert consists of sending a text message to the phone (or multiple phone numbers). Google for the how, it's a common practice and easy (and free) to do. Depends on the carrier, altho some sites claim to figure that out for you, but I just figure each one out and avoid them. this does mean that if a phone number changes carrier, I have to change the script, but since so far I have only sent texts to my own phone, it's no biggie. Just have one central script to send the actual alert.

Re:Analyze elsewhere and send texts (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#40733835)

agreed; do the scripts on some perma server somewhere that is always running, always has power, is trustable to be relied on, etc.

your phone is a thin client. have it receive emails or some alert, but all heavy lifting should be on a server.

this is not a hard thing; why was this a slashdot question? (don't answer that)

Don't script the phone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733435)

You have a desktop sitting at work that can handle all of the scripting. Then use something like Growl or Growl for windows can then just notify you of events your desktop is taking care of. If youre in a pitch then SSH or VNC into the desktop and send commands.

Scripting on the phone is a waist of time if you have a full desktop and the scripts already setup. Unless your looking to play and learn something new.

write your own (1)

Erpo (237853) | about 2 years ago | (#40733437)

If you're comfortable with scripting, you may want to write your own android app to do just what you need. Just make sure you buy an android phone that can install non-market applications. To test this in the store, ask to see a running phone of the model you're considering, and follow this procedure:

1. From the main screen, tap the menu button.
2. Tap Settings.
3. Tap Applications.
4. Look for a checkbox that says "Unknown sources - Allow installation of non-Market applications", and make sure you can enable it.

I realize this solution isn't for everyone. You would have to learn Java if you don't know it and learn Android programming, which isn't that hard. Otherwise, you could set up a special server with a regular OS and run your scripts there. If there are exceptional conditions, your server scripts could send an email to a special email address. You can quite easily configure your android phone to play a special ringtone when your "exceptional condition" email account has new mail.

As far as easily attaching sounds to an email, you may have to roll your own app for that. Someone more knowledgeable than me may know of an app to do this, though.

Re:write your own (1)

tangent3 (449222) | about 2 years ago | (#40733527)

And if you want to develop the app right on your mobile phone, you can use https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aide.ui&hl=en [google.com]

Re:write your own (1)

dr00p (56154) | about 2 years ago | (#40733589)

WOW! Thanks for that :)
I was thinking about trying my hand at some android programming, and my only home "computer" is a asus transformer tablet :)

Nokia N9 (2)

Dekonega (1606763) | about 2 years ago | (#40733465)

Nokia N9 is what you need. Doing stuff on it is simple (everything can be accessed throught built-in bash shell) and it gets the job done unless you need bazillion of apps outside of the usual Twitter/Email/Facebook/etc. scenario. -- Sent from my Nokia N9

Against the flow (3, Interesting)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#40733481)

You probably won't get many recommendations for BlackBerry but a BlackBerry combined with a PlayBook may just be what you are looking [blackberry.com] for.

Android Scripting Environment (4, Informative)

Cramit (609487) | about 2 years ago | (#40733531)

Android Scripting Environment is a layer that allows various scripting languages interact with the Android API. It supports a bunch of languages and allows for a decent level of control over the Android device. http://code.google.com/p/android-scripting/ [google.com]

IFTTT is your friend. (4, Interesting)

wintersdark (1635191) | about 2 years ago | (#40733545)

I'd recommend a two-pronged approach, if you're looking for something user friendly and not requiring building an intermediate server.

First, check out the unbridled awesomeness that is If This Then That: http://ifttt.com/ [ifttt.com] It allows you to create simple (or complex) triggers based on all manner of inputs with all manner of outputs. Email, SMS, Social Networking, etc. I use it with a "private"(read: used only for this, and nothing actually private is tweeted) twitter account to pass data about. I originally used SMS, but I moved to twitter later as it's remarkably convenient and can be adapted easily to a number of different devices, whereas SMS is limited to phones (for the most part).

Then, on your sexy Android phone - I'm using a Note, personally, it's the closest I can get to a tablet but still be able to comfortably put it in a pocket - use Tasker to intercept and act.

Really, though, the first thing I'd do in your shoes is seriously investigate IFTTT. It's very easy to use and flat out awesome.

Re:IFTTT is your friend. (3, Informative)

wintersdark (1635191) | about 2 years ago | (#40733579)

Unfortunately, I can't remember how to edit a post. Excuse my ignorance, I don't post often.

Anyways, check this IFTTT.com recipe out: http://ifttt.com/recipes/46081 [ifttt.com] - it searches a gmail account, and sends results as SMS messages to your mobile number.

So, you set it to search for From:yourworkaddress or Subject:FreezeTemp or what have you, and poof! Whenever your freezer is getting toasty, you get SMS messages.

Re:IFTTT is your friend. (1)

Raenex (947668) | about 2 years ago | (#40734113)

Unfortunately, I can't remember how to edit a post.

You can't, and it's a feature that prevents people from changing the conversation history. Preview is your friend.

Scripting Layer for Android (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733575)

Check out Scripting Layer for Android (SL4A) [google.com] .

S4A (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733595)

Scripting for Android [google.com] seems to fit the bill nicely. It allows you to use several common scripting languages and provides an interface so they can create make Android do things (e.g. show an alert).

I am confused a bit.... (4, Insightful)

tanveer1979 (530624) | about 2 years ago | (#40733613)

Why would you want to run the script on your phone?
Of course there are apps for that.... but then why? Here is what I do. I use VPN (Cisco VPN is the one supported in most corporate environments, and is available on linux), and then just ssh to any machine I want.
There is talk of even remote desktop kind of client coming to android.
Alternatively, you could just ssh to the machine you want to access, and then do as you please.
I use a Galaxy note, and since the screen is 5", its very usable. However, on smaller phones(like my older optimus one from LG), such stuff was a pain.

So all your scripts will run on the server, in your lab, and email will be sent to you. Its far more easy to set up these scripts on the computer in your lab. Heck, you could write the scripts locally, and then ssh to your server and put them there.

But if you still want to do stuff like access email, parse through it, and then do something(ssh to server blah blah), you may as well write your own app. On the market, most such apps will do only a part of what you want.

Somebody has suggest N900(linux), and if you want everything on your phone, a linux phone is what you are looking for.

Re:I am confused a bit.... (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40733661)

A "remote desktop", as you put it, is available for plenty of others mobile OSs already, generally using VNC, though there are some other, less popular, protocols floating around.
I've no idea where other OSs stand related to the Cisco-VPN support though, since I tend to stay clear of all proprietary protocols while I can :)

Re:I am confused a bit.... (2)

tanveer1979 (530624) | about 2 years ago | (#40733913)

In the corporate environment, Cisco VPN is extensively used, and even in companies where all development happens on linux platform, Cisco VPN is like a de facto standard.

Windows Phone (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 2 years ago | (#40733653)

Windows Phone has TouchDevelop [touchdevelop.com] from MS Research, not sure how comprehensive it is but it does give you on-device scripting of functionality.

Re:Windows Phone (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40734137)

but not background scripting which is what he wants. on windows phone you would have to tie it to ms's push notification system and have a server handle most of the work, at which point you could be just as well sending sms messages. you really can't script different types of responses to different types of emails fetched on windows phone reliably currently, while touchdevelop seems to be oriented at simple ui scripts which fetch data from server and display it.

as ridiculous as it might sound to some n900,n9(linux, not nokia 900) or a symbian cheapo phone fit better for they allow true multitasking(and full net stacks) even without rooting.

Timothy the comedian (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733665)

Pay? Android? Surely you just. Hasn't it been proven that fandroids are just dweebs who want free software, forcing just about everything worth a crap to be ad supported on that platform?

Re:Timothy the comedian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733753)

Pay? Android? Surely you jest.

FTFY.

Re:Timothy the comedian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733889)

sure beats OVERpaying for stupid functionality that should be in the os in the first place, like with winphone and ios.

My solutions: (2, Interesting)

zoloto (586738) | about 2 years ago | (#40733677)

Since you're on rogers: http://www.rogers.com/web/content/iphone4s [rogers.com]
I suggest:
Prowl: For push notifications. It's free and you will find the perl script handy. There are some powershell ones floating around somewhere too. http://www.prowlapp.com/ [prowlapp.com]
Prompt: CLI. If you jailbreak (highly recommended) you can ssh to localhost, it's better than any Terminal app in cydia. http://itun.es/i624Jj [itun.es]
There are others but I never use them. My coworker and i opted for a home brewed app that handled a lot of our needs by phone in the event we had to be called about something off-hours.

why script from your phone? (3, Insightful)

bmalia (583394) | about 2 years ago | (#40733747)

Seems better to have a separate dedicated machine that runs the scripts and monitors everything and send email alerts that you can receive on your phone.

Re:why script from your phone? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#40733823)

This also addresses the fact that the dedicated box surely has a more reliable connection than the phone does.

Missing a notification of a that a script ran is much preferable to the script not running at all.

Native Linux Distribution? (2)

fatp (1171151) | about 2 years ago | (#40733761)

How about a native (ARM) linux distribution. To name some (semi-)automated installation tools

Linux Installer
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.galoula.LinuxInstall [google.com]

Debian Kit
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.dyndns.sven_ola.debian_kit [google.com]

Complete Linux Installer (NEW)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zpwebsites.linuxonandroid [google.com]

on{X} for Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733803)

Microsoft has something called on{X} for Android that allows you to use Javascript for scripting. It's not clear how extensive it is, but it might allow you to do some of the things you're thinking of. See here:
    (doc) https://www.onx.ms
    (app) http://aka.ms/onxapp

Notify My Android Looks Good (2)

CTenorman (1410283) | about 2 years ago | (#40733807)

Though I don't use it myself, notify my android looks very good. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.usk.app.notifymyandroid&feature=search_result [google.com]

Also, it integrates with tasker. And once you get tasker into the game, there's not much you can't do.

Re:Notify My Android Looks Good (1)

jampola (1994582) | about 2 years ago | (#40734141)

I second this! This does EVERYTHING you need provided that you script on a remote machine (which IMO makes more sense) - I use it all the time for monitoring database usage, uptime, disk free space and that's just a splash in the water. There are classes for PHP, Python, C, .Net, Ruby to name a few. I don't work for them but it was the best $3 I have spent in a while.

Keyboard is important (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#40733933)

You can get Debian running under chorrot very easily on Android. However I am not sure if this is what you want. I actually got Debian running in a chroot environment on my old Archos 101 tablet. I can tell you that the main problem I experienced was typing the commands. Typing on a glass screen felt very different to typing on a keyboard. Somehow I lost the ability to touch type... That was no fun when you try to issue command in bash. Then I got a USB keyboard for the tablet, but it looked even more awkward than a netbook. I think if you are serious about scripting, get a netbook with 3G connection. The bottom line is that your new phone have to have a keyboard.

Symbian for Scripting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733943)

Symbian smartphones are the best I've found for scripting.
They work great on Rogers, Rogers even sells some in bundles.

A business phone with full side slide QWERTY keyboard like the E7 would be your best bet.
Rogers or Tbooth might get you a '$0' bundle on a multimedia phone like the N8. You can always use a bluetooth keyboard for the serious typing.

seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40733989)

If you are concerned about monitoring setup a server with Nagios. Hook up an SMS modem or use an email-to-SMS gateway so that you can get email and/or SMS alerts. If you want to keep all of your scripts handy then install them on said server and access it remotely using SSH, UltraVNC or dare-I-say-it-on-slashdot RDP (if you're worried about security put it behind a VPN). That way when you drop your smart phone in the toilet you can just login to any internet-connected computer and everything's there. Welcome to the private cloud!

Scripts belong on a PC ? (4, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#40734045)

I have no clue why everyone is rushing to have you put scripts on a smartphone, which can be lost, stolen, run out of battery...

You do your scripting on a PC at work, and only receive reports on, or do *emergency* remoting from, your phone. At most you tweak your phone so that if it receives an email/text with keyword "ALERT" from sender my.scripts.at.work, it does something noisy.

Any phone can do that, it's a matter of finding the right size/features balance. I'd go for a big screen, and maybe a hardware keyboard if you think you'll be doing a lot of remote editing, though the best phone keyboard is a lot worse than any laptop's, so don't plan on using it too much.

Why do this direct from the Phone? (2)

slater86 (1154729) | about 2 years ago | (#40734089)

Rather than using the Phone to do the monitoring and polling, I'd consider using a service on the network at work and then make your phone a client of this service.
An example would be to use Nagios to do the monitoring and then use one of the countless Nagios Clients available to read the monitoring state from the service. You'll get the added bonus of knowing what happens if your Network coverage goes away to fill in the blanks after the event and be able to escalate to someone else if you're not available.
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