Planet maemo: category "feed:2ab7df3bd50c3ff3965ec8d25aee2167"

Marius Gedminas

Nokia 770 + USB power injector

2010-03-03 11:37 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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A coworker made me a USB power injector for my Nokia 770 (I'm useless with a soldering iron). Here it is in all its glory, next to the tiny USB keyboard I plan to use it with:

Nokia 770, tiny USB keyboard, USB power injector

Five days later I discover that it doesn't work any more. Actually, it works, but the battery is dead. I left the battery connected to the voltage regulator, and that was enough to drain it.

Wikipedia says that carbon-zinc 9V batteries have a typical capacity of 400 mAh. ThoughtFix measured the circuit power readings at 4.62 mA with both USB ports disconnected. That's enough to drain a 400 mAh battery in 86 hours or 3.6 days. And here I thought it would last for months...

Time to buy a new battery. And this time I'll keep it disconnected when I'm not using it.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

Maemo Summit 2009

2009-10-11 22:37 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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The second Maemo Summit is over.

Nokia surprised everyone on the first day by handing out 300 pre-release N900s to the participants. I'm so happy now that after a long period of wavering I finally decided to come to the summit! The device is much better than I expected/feared (and I haven't even put a SIM card in yet). We're supposed to provide feedback and will have to send the devices back to Nokia in 6 months. (Nokia insisted on loan contracts signed in blood, kidding, but there are contracts.)

The tiny pixels are beautiful. It's what, 266 pixels per inch? Even older 225 dpi devices spoiled me: both the first generation iPhone and the first generation Kindle displays seemed very coarse and pixellated.

The user interface is very smooth. Having a composition manager improves apparent responsiveness: even if the app is swapped out and not ready to redraw, switching between windows appears to be instant since the picture is cached. And there's no flicker while the apps are redrawing. (Flickering during redraw is one of the main reasons I did not buy a S60 phone and stayed with good old S40.) Speaking of swapping, it's barely noticeable. You can run more apps than fit in RAM without having to suffer. The flash memory is noticeably faster than in a N810. And there's more of it (32 gigs: 28 gig partition for user data, the rest for the system: swap, applications, config files, etc.)

The design and usability of the user interface have improved a lot since the N810. The UI is pretty. Many of the apps are now convenient to use. Pervasive kinetic scrolling is sweet (except when you have really long lists or web pages, then it takes forever to reach the end).

Finally there are PIM-y things people missed in older Maemo releases: calendaring, contacts that can record all kinds of information (such as phone numbers).

All right, enough gushing. There were some irritating things too. For example, Bluetooth support is buggy/incomplete in the pre-release firmware, so it's hard to transfer files. Calendar/contacts sync with S40 phones does not work either. GPS is utterly useless when you're offline (no maps, or at least I haven't found a way to pre-download and cache them; also very long fix times without network assistance). Since I have no desire to pay extortionist roaming charges of my provider (2.5 EUR per megabyte), and haven't had a chance to go look for a prepaid SIM card, I usually have either WiFi or GPS coverage, but not both.

As you can guess, playing the device diverted a part of my attention from the presentations somewhat. I tried to compensate for that by reporting on the talks on IRC (using xchat on the device). I think the strategy backfired; IRC is rather disruptive and the channel is quite busy lately.

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Marius Gedminas

Tying out Fennec Beta 1

2009-03-20 21:41 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox, released a new version (beta 1) for the Nokia N8x0 Internet Tablets recently. Here are my first impressions after about 15 minutes of use:

  • It supports the virtual on-screen keyboard now, so would be actually usable on the N800.
  • Panning the page is very fast! Unfortunately, opening pages is very slow.
  • It eats a lot of memory rather quickly and bogs down when the system starts swapping.
  • The user interface is going to be awesome, once the speed and memory problems are fixed.
  • Going back in history is cumbersome when you have to pan to the side of the page. The hardware back button doesn't seem to work.
  • It has a nice large icon, but there's no small version, and this makes the application organizer in the control panel look weird.

JFFS2, which is the file system used for internal flash memory on NITs, compresses all data, which makes free space comparisons weird. I had 5 megs free, freed up 20 more, then installed Fennec (which, the Aplication Manager assured me, required 10 megs) and ended up with 5 megs free.

I'd include a screenshot, but ad-hoc wifi doesn't work between my Thinkpad and my N810 for some reason.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

E-books are the future

2009-02-05 21:51 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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John Siracusa talks sense about e-books (via Charlie Stross):

Did you ride a horse to work today? I didn't. I'm sure plenty of people swore they would never ride in or operate a "horseless carriage"—and they never did! And then they died.

I like the bit about dedicated e-book reader devices missing the point. I'm a huge e-book fan (reading them almost exclusively since about 2002 on various handheld devices), but even I cannot justify to myself buying a bulky one-purpose piece of electronics for $lots for the sole purpose of reading books. Get something universal, like a Nokia N810 or (if you hate freedom) an iPhone. And stay away from DRM-ed stuff.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

N810: death and rebirth

2008-10-13 00:19 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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My beloved N810 died last Tuesday. Well, not died died, but the screen stopped working. The topmost plastic layer is fine, but the LCD is probably cracked underneath. This probably happened while I was in an Apple store watching a friend of mine buy an iPhone. Coincidence?

I ordered a new one from Amazon that evening, and it arrived on Thursday. It had the oldest possible OS2008 version (and an incorrectly-formatted internal flash card), so I had to reflash it, and then install the OS feature updates one at a time, with forced a reboot in between. Untimely breakage of extras-devel didn't help either, and neither did the broken maemo-mapper package in extras. (Both are fixed now.)

Almost all of my data was on the miniSD card (including a week-old backup). To get the rest I had to blindly get the old N810 online and open a browser page (measuring distances from the corner of the screen) to get past the hotel wireless nag screen, and then guess its IP address, so that I could ssh in.

It thought maybe I could use arping on its MAC address to get the IP, but had no luck there. It didn't respond to broadcast pings either. Finally I had to ping every IP in my subnet individually and then grep for the MAC address in my kernel's ARP cache. Oh, how I wish Maemo came with avahi-daemon preinstalled! ssh mg-n810.local would have been so much simpler!

I'll try to get the old one repaired.

Update: thp describes how to get avahi-daemon on the tablet.

Update 2: the old N810 is repaired (screen replacement cost me 510 LTL, which is ~200 USD, at the local Nokia service center). It now serves as an Internet Radio station at home.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

Users and Developers

2008-09-20 10:23 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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One recurring theme that I noticed during the Maemo Summit was people apologising for not being developers. A running joke during some of the talks on the first day was people describing themselves as disabled because they were not, themselves, developers.

That's just wrong. Users should not be ashamed for being users!

I'm a developer, but I often want to be just a user. I want software to just work. I wish there was no need for bug trackers. I wish users did not need to know about source packages or patches. I want to hack because I want to, not because I need to.

Until that becomes reality (if ever), I prefer the ability to make use of my developer experience to make things better. Hence my enthusiasm for open source, bug trackers, source packages and patches.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

Maemo Summit 2008

2008-09-20 07:33 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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Nokia kindly sponsored my trip to Maemo Summit in Berlin.

Unexpectedly was asked to give my LinuxTag presentation during the lightning talks. It did not go very well. Note to self: advance preparation helps, at least if you know you're going to present something.

Met PyPy folks (Maciej and Holger). Had a mutual "what on Earth are you doing here?" reaction. Learned a new quirk in the Python language (try: ... finally: does not set sys.exc_info()).

Impressed by one guy (sorry, but I'm really bad with names) giving a presentation from the N810, with OpenOffice.org Impress in a Debian chroot, over a SIS USB2VGA dongle. Apparently he created the whole setup in half an hour before the actual talk.

No free wireless at the hotel. Paid wifi options include 25 EUR for 24 hours or 30 EUR for 30 days. Can I have just the 29 days for the 5 EUR? No.

The WiFi at c-base was fast and almost flawless. Missed half of the talks while checking my email and blogs. I'm addicted to the Internet. :(

Still able to get up before 6 AM. The US trip has done wonders with my daily schedule.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

Asus EeePC 900

2008-06-21 19:56 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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I unexpectedly acquired an Asus EeePC 900 last weekend. Lovely piece of hardware.

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Categories: /home/mg/blog/data
Marius Gedminas

Out of touch with reality

2008-06-13 20:01 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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I used Windows at work until January 2002, when I changed jobs and went to Linux full-time. I barely remember what life was back then. Driver CDs you had to install before plugging in new hardware, shareware apps that you had to pay for and couldn't see how they worked, web pages full of blinking advertisements. Magic voodoo rituals you had to do to fix your IS when it broke down, that you had to do by rote without full understanding of how it all fit together.

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Marius Gedminas

LinuxTag 2008, day 4

2008-06-01 13:23 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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The last day. Saw a bunch of interesting talks about freedesktop.org, Ekiga, GNOME and Ubuntu. Jono Bacon's talk was very interesting. I think if Nokia is interested in building a healthy developer community, they would do well to talk to Jono about it.

Got a USB gender-bender from Kees Jongenburger -- now I can plug in USB devices to my N810, provided that they don't require too much power (extra software required: usbcontrol from Maemo Extras). I owe you one Kees!

Discovered that the GNOME booth does in fact have T-shirts for sale, they're just not out on display like in other booths. Sadly, since I discovered that during the last hour of the last day of the conference, only extra large T-shirts were left. Spent my last 10 EUR in cash on the T-shirt anyway. ;-)

Met MaryBeth Panagos from OpenMediaNow, learned about interesting happenings with Gnash, open media codecs and Ubuntu Mobile. Raised my hopes for a brighter future. Showed off my N810 and expressed my hopes for Gnash replacing the closed Adobe Flash player on it. It won't happen any time soon -- everyone wants it now!, but there are few developers actually working on it.

Went to a very geeky cafe/computer club c-base for the Ubuntu BBQ. Almost didn't find the place, but one of the LinuxTag guys happened to be going back at just the right moment to show me the path hidden behind the bushes.

Feeling content now. Well, missing free (or at least paid, but working -- boo, Swisscom, boo!) WiFi at the hotel, but other than that I've had a wonderful time.

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Marius Gedminas

LinuxTag 2008, day 3

2008-05-31 16:17 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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After getting my presentation out of the way, I was finally able to relax and really enjoy LinuxTag. I hadn't realised quite how stressed I was about the talk. I'm really happy now that I agreed to come.

Watched an amazing demo in the LinuxMCE booth. I always though it was some kind of a media center app for watching movies, but it turns out to be a complete home automation system where you can control the lights, security cameras and, of course, multimedia, with a large variety of devices (remote controls, mobile phones, VoIP hardware phones, Nokia Internet tablets). Still, I'd have to get a house first.

After the conference I went out for a beer (or, rather, a cup of Earl Grey) in the city with Gary "lcuk" Birkett and Malgorzata Ciesielska, who is doing her PhD on Nokia/Maemo community organisation/collaboration. Had a really nice evening.

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Marius Gedminas

LinuxTag 2008, day 2

2008-05-30 10:55 UTC  by  Marius Gedminas
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The day just flew by. We had all the Maemo community talks. Some people have asked me to put my LinuxTag presentation online, so here it is: What do I want from Maemo?.

In the evening we went to a nice outdoors cafe in a large and beautiful park (Tiergaten) and talked about various things until 1 AM.

My email is piling up, and Google Reader is overflowing.

Categories: /home/mg/blog/data