Tag Archives: Reference Material

Android Integration

As nearly as I can tell, I’m about the only person in North America who isn’t on Facebook. (Evidently all three of my brothers have joined – though apparently none of them are fully aware of the others’ presence yet.) But I have gone and joined a different cult — I now have a Google Android-based telephone (the T-Mobile G-1).
For me, one of the most appealing parts of the Android phone is the way it integrates your phone book and calendar with Google’s contact manager (built into GMail) and calendar. That’s a fairly killer application for me in that it makes everything a whole lot more portable. The only problem is, GMail isn’t my primary means of contact. I’ve had my Dactylmanor address for more than eight years and prefer to use that one.
GMail offers a partial solution to this in that you can set it up to send messages from another address. The down side to this is that messages go out saying they’re from the GMail address on behalf of the Dactylmanor one. So when other people see it (primarily folks who are using GMail as their main address), they tend to capture the GMail address in their contact lists. If they then write to me at GMail instead of Dactylmanor, it could be a while before I see it.
Being forced to move to GMail as my primary email address would have been a deal-breaker for me. A lot of people know to contact me through Dactylmanor and I really don’t want to deal with managing two addresses. (It’s been more than four years since I got rid of my landline phone, but I still occasionally hear about people calling the old number.)
So I went looking to see if there was a way to get an Android to work with non GMail address. One of the free services Google makes available is “Google Apps for Your Domain“; essentially, they provide a version of GMail, Calendar and their online Documents and Spreadsheet tools that work with a domain name you own. (For example, dactylmanor.org!) I figured that would be my best bet.
The first stop in my investigation was a thread on the Android Community Forums where someone was asking the exact same question I was: Does Android work with Google Apps for Your Domain?
And the answer is a resounding yes. Brilliant! (Apparently Google didn’t plan to do this, but later changed their minds.)
The first thing you have to do is setup your email to go to Google’s mail server. The instructions for that show up in the administration panel when you activate the email system. It’s mildly tedious, but fairly straightforward. You do need to have the ability to set custom records in your domain’s DNS server. (Pair makes this fairly simple.)
When I’m at home, I prefer to use Mozilla Thunderbird for my email rather than Google’s web interface. Setting up a desktop email client is also fairly simple, though given the number of them in existence, it’s not possible to document the step-by-step for every system out there. Google’s instructions provide the basic information for server settings, plus a double-handful of the most common clients.
Throw in the Lightning calendar addon for Thunderbird (as well as the provider for Google calendar), and at this point you have something equivalent to Microsoft Outlook, except that along with Windows, you can also run on Mac, Linux and a few other platforms.
Bringing the Android phone into the mix requires that you dig into it’s settings a little (Home Screen | Menu | SD card & phone storage | Factory data reset) and click the button for “Factory data reset.” (Yeah, that step’s a little scary.) When the phone starts up again, when it asks for your Google account, you instead enter an email address and password for your newly Google-hosted email system.
The phone synchronizes its contact list, calendar and email with what’s on Google’s servers and voilĂ ! The Android is now ready to do your bidding.

Migrating to Vista

Two weeks after the new computer (A Dell XPS 420) arrived, life has finally settled down enough for me to start moving all my stuff. Moving the data files was easy enough (I figured out years ago that a LAN is the easiest way to do that), but getting Apache up and running so I could work on some of my web sites turned out to be “painful.”
I’d been running v2.0.50 of the Apache HTTP server on my XP machine for the past five or six years, so my first attempt was to just rerun that install and be done with it. No such luck. The install ended with a message stating that the service hadn’t been installed and nothing further.
My first thought was that Vista’s tightened security was probably responsible, so I logged back in as an admininistrator and ran the install a second time. Still no dice.
Hoping to find some tips for installing under Vista, I headed over to the Apache Project’s web site and discovered that the current version of the HTTP Server was 2.2.8. Aha! Perhaps the new version has some adaptations to handle Vista? (Reading the site later, I discovered that the newest version of Windows mentioned in the online install tips is Windows Server 2003, so perhaps not. Then again, nobody likes to write documentation – myself included – so I don’t really know.)
A quick visit to Google however, searching for the terms Apache, Vista and Install led to a suggestion that perhaps User Account Control (UAC) was to blame and suggested turning it off during the install. Voila!
So, here’s the steps that worked for me:

  1. Login as an administrator.
  2. Go to Control Panel, Go to the “User Accounts and Family Safety” applet, Click on “User Accounts” and then select the option to turn User Account Control off. (You’ll have to reboot at this point.)
  3. Run the Apache 2.2.8 installer, using the recommended settings. (In particular, make the server visible to everyone on port 80.)
  4. Point a web browser to http://localhost/ At this point, you should see the message, “It works.”
  5. Go to c:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\conf and make whatever changes you need to the http.conf file. (Make a copy first, and forget about simply copying the entire file from an earlier version, though you may be able to copy sections. At a minimum, you’ll probably want to change the DocumentRoot to something outside the Program Files tree. You’ll also likely need to change the permissions in the <Directory /> section a few lines further down. )
  6. Once you’ve changed the http.conf file to your satisfaction, log out from the administrator account and log in again as a regular user to make sure the server is still accessible.
  7. Optionally, login again as the administrator, repeat step 2, and re-enable the User Account Control.

I still need to go back and set up PHP, but this was sufficient for me to get back to some more pressing web site work.

IP Test Blocks

These IP network blocks were set aside for private use (for testing networks) and don’t appear on any (properly configured) public network. This makes them ideal for use on home networks or internal corporate LANs *.
Class A: (Up to 16,581,373 individual IP addresses)
Class B: (Up to 65,023 individual IP addresses)
Class C: through (Up to 255 individual addresses.)
The Class C block is actually a set of 255 Class C networks.,, and so on. Only the last octet is used for an individual host (computer, router, etc), the other three are used to specify the network address.
All of these blocks can be subdivided (or “subnetted”) by using a subnet mask. The “default” subnet mask includes only the network portion of the address. So for,the default mask would be But you could use something like to break it up into 255 small networks, each of which would have, at most, 65,023 (that’s 255 x 255 – 2) hosts on it.
A curious reader may wonder, “Why is it 255 x 255 – 2? Why not the whole 255 x 255?”
That’s because one address on each network (the one where the host bits are set to 0, e.g. is reserved as the “network address” and another one (where host bits are set to all 1s, e.g. is reserved as the “broadcast” address.
*You should almost always (some corporate settings are excepted) set up your private network to use one of the network blocks discussed here. Setting up your private LAN so that it uses other people’s IP addresses would have the effect of hiding the other poeple’s web sites and such. (For example, if your home network used the network, you wouldn’t be able to reach WordPress.com, and what fun would that be?) Setting up a public network using someone else’s IP block would likely get you into trouble with whoever was providing your Internet connectivity. Don’t do it.