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Left and Right

October 30th 2007, 08:10

One thing that I really wanted from the outset with my N95 is the ability to rotate the display to landscape without having to close the keypad (in applications other than the web browser). One little app for other handsets exists called RotateMe, allowing you to rotate the display based on the pressing of a hotkey.

Well, good news from yesterday that the guy that created RotateMe is doing a N95 version. Even better is that it makes use of the little sensor in the phone that the camera uses to make sure pictures are the right way up - in other words it’ll rotate the display based on what way the phone is being held without pressing any buttons. Very nice.

The N95 Blog has a video of it in action. Go take a look for geeky cleverness. Shame we have to wait a month to actually get it on our phones.


Smaller text please

October 25th 2007, 10:10

Just a passing thought, but one thing that always gets me a little about Nokia’s interfaces is that they insist on using fonts that are large enough to fit no more than about half a dozen lines on the screen. I know that they do this to make things readable for everyone, but what happened to the days of being able zoom the interface in and out (like back in the EPOC days)?

The interface can handle smaller fonts - there are third party tools that force rescaling them. It’d just be nice to be able to see more than 4 text messages (as an option) on the screen at once without resorting to unpredictable hacks…


Mowsing the (Mobile) Web - Mowmarking as you go

October 23rd 2007, 09:10

With a N800 and N95 in my pocket, if I’ve got access to a wireless connection then it’s great - I can view most web sites easily enough on the N800 screen and browse almst as if I were at home in from of my desktop. If I’m forced to use my mobile phone’s GPRS connection, then loading times, screen size and how many bytes I’m downloading become an issue (yes, I still have a contract that doesn’t really consider data as an economical use of my phone).

I’ve been exploring the various sites out there aimed at being viewed on mobile devices (they seem to be everywhere now, http://mobile.google.com, http://m.facebook.com - though don’t expect them to ‘just work’ on a PC). However, the vast majority of sites don’t offer a mobile version, and so its time to turn off images and hope the site fits into the screen and RAM my N95 has.

This is when I happened upon Russell Beattie’s Mowser comes in useful. It will happily take apart web sites and redisplay them in a usable manner that will work nicely on a mobile device. It shrinks images, rearranges content and so on, without actually breaking the site (usually). It’ll even act as a reasonably simple RSS feed reader.

Sadly, it lacks a feature for storing bookmarks. Russ tells me he’s got some ideas for ways to store links, but that could be a while off. In the meantime though, I’ve cobbled together my own little site specifically for storing (and vaguely organising) Mowser links. Behold Mowmarks. At the moment it’s probably a bit rough round the edges - it has a very basic user account system, and passwords are never stored unencrypted so by all means have a play. It should look ok on most mobile browsers as well. All the links are aimed towards Mowser, but I’m open to requests and suggestions for improvements.


Overcrowding

October 6th 2007, 08:10

When I get my hands on a new mobile device - and by ‘device’ in this context I refer to a gadget with an operating system that I have some room to customise - one problem I invariably have is that I have to perform some kind of hard reset on it before too long. This is largely because I have a habit of going hunting for things to load onto my new device to see what its capable of, and to give myself as many options as possible for things that I might find a use for in making my day to day life easier.

Of course, I’m not made of money, so a lot of these things end up being demos and whatnot (not a huge issue with the N800 and its plethora of free software available). Either way, I end up with enough on the device that its easier to take note of what I actually use, wipe it back to the state it was in when I got it, and just put on what I want.

So, beyond the core functionality, here’s what’s on my current ‘devices’. The main list for each device will nicely show what I actually use and a quick thought or two, and I’ll try and put some idea of what else is actually on there too afterwards.

Nokia N95

  • Messenger - MSN on my phone. Other people seemed to get this with their phone, but I had to install it separately
  • Y-Browser - Useful file browser while waiting for FExplorer to get itself together for S60 3rd Edition.
  • QuickOffice - Upgraded to v4 with editing capability. Not really used it much, but its useful as one failing of the N800 seems to be there’s nothing that will work with Word documents.
  • Putty - By far my most used extra tool, for getting into my server over SSH, and logging into IRC as a result.
  • OperaMini - Proxied, lower bandwidth web browsing is always nice.
  • TSMobiles - Terminal Services client for logging into my Windows box at home while roaming.
  • Panoman - Shame about the limited resolution, but panoramic photos are nice.
  • DivX Player - The newer Nokia phones actually have screens with enough resolution to display detail in video.
  • Deep - An 3D expansive underwater game with clear influence from classics like Elite.
  • Tower Bloxx, Tornado Madness, Pyramid Bloxx - One button addictive gaming from Digital Chocolate.
  • Frozen Bubble, Bejeweled, Tomb Raider, Meteos, Insaniquarium, Lemmings Return, Chess Genius, Sim City, The Journey, Resident Evil, Download! Beta, NSysInfo, SExplorer, Y-Tasks, Web Server, Papyrus, Font Magnifier, MobiReader

And all of that is after I cleared it out once not too long ago…

Nokia N800

  • XTerminal - Always nice to be able to get at a command line on a Linux device. Gainroot gives me the power I like.
  • Claws-mail - The N800’s native email client sucks, and this gives me better automatic filtering than Outlook does on my desktop.
  • Gnumeric - Not really needed a spreadsheet yet, but this seems pretty fully featured if I do.
  • Xournal - I was tempted by Maemopad+ for a while, but this has won for the moment for quick note taking.
  • rdesktop - Though the N800’s virtual keyboards are useless when connecting to a Windows box with this, you can always pull up Windows own on-screen keyboard and use that well enough.
  • Gaim - Access to MSN is always nice.
  • MicroB - The Mozilla rendering engine in the web browser. Nice for a few sites that don’t quite work with the native rendering.
  • Skype - Not used it yet (the N800’s camera is a bit on the poor side), but I keep meaning to try it out.
  • MPlayer - Movies on the N800’s amazing screen - you can’t go wrong.
  • QuickSynergy - Ok, so I need to fiddle to get a mouse pointer to work, but the ability to use my desktop PC’s keyboard to type on my N800 is nice.
  • Maemo WordPy - one of the reasons I chose WordPress for my new blog
  • VNC Viewer, Maemo Mapper, Abiword, gconf, Puchi, Camera, GPE Calendar, GPE File Manager, Zip/unzip, DiskUsage, Keyboard, UKMP, UKTube, FBReader, Kagu Media layer, Mirage, Video Center, Maemo Recorder, XMaeme, lybniz, Maemo Periodic, Pidgin, Pipepanic, Nako, Lbreakout, Nethack, XGalaga, AisleRiot Solitaire, Four Rivers, Sgt-Puzzles (a couple of dozen little puzzle games in their own right)

The easy to access, easy to find, easy to use repositories of free software for the N800 are just way too tempting sometimes… I think I may need to reflash my N800 sometime and start again…


Back in the Blog

October 5th 2007, 05:10

I’ve been a bit of a Nokia fanboy for a few years now. My friends know it - every year come upgrade time, I spend weeks looking at all the handsets, expanding my awareness beyond whatever has been my recent focus.

Generally I’m a Symbian/Series 60 geek. I used to have a Psion Series 3a and a Series 5. Beyond that I stepped out of mobile computing for a time, while it shifted its feet under the weight of mobile communications, as Nokia (and others) started to find its way alongside Symbian.

Anyway, here’s my track record of devices since EPOC because Symbian (and a few words on each)…

Nokia 9210 - ahead of its time, a ‘brick’ of a phone, but well worth it for the technology inside. Shame about the low memory and bugs, but it was some years ago now. [Where is it now? In a cupboard, not working - possibly battery dead and won’t charge]

Nokia 3650 - when it came out, it’s circular keypad was praised by enthusiasts for being novel, and now I see the same individuals asking what on earth Nokia were thinking in their 2007 blog pages. It took some getting used to, but as my first Series 60 device, I was pleased at the time. It took a pretty decent photo of Canterbury Cathedral at night too (though that was the only good picture I got out of it). [Where is it now? In its box under my desk, having just been returned by a friend that needed a handset to borrow for a few weeks]

Nokia 6670 - an update to Symbian to kill off some bugs, and a normal keypad. It brought me back into reality a bit, and away from the novelty factors. It gave me a ‘normal’ handset, that had the features of Symbian under the hood. [Where is it now? On loan to a friend that’s not local any more]

Nokia N70 - the NSeries is heralded by Nokia as its multimedia devices, and the way they advertise them (or did back then) they seemed to be suggesting they were good at multimedia at the cost of other functionality. Well, it was a step up from my 6670 in every respect, and I got a good deal, so no arguments here. I always felt like it was a device that surpassed those that were before it, but with photo and video features that outdid most other handsets at the time.  [Where is it now? In my drawer, doesn’t seem to work, maybe a dead battery]

Now, let’s move on a little to what I have now. For the first time ever, I find myself carrying two devices around with me - a phone since earlier this year, and a ‘PDA’ as of a few weeks ago. I lie, I did try carrying a Windows Mobile device around with me once in the past, but the novelty wore off quickly.

Nokia N95 - It does everything, and it does everything pretty well (certainly better than my N70). It’s got a decent camera, wireless, decent software, and so on. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve read the reviews. Ok, it has its niggles and bugs, but compared to what came before it (and most of what else has been around since) it really is ahead of the game. More than just a multimedia device, it really is an everything-device.

Nokia N800 - My new ‘toy’; calling it a ‘PDA’ isn’t really accurate as it wasn’t designed as such. It’s an ‘Internet Tablet’ officially, and is a pretty funky little device. The fact it runs a variation of Debian Linux means it’s a hacker geeks dream - you could in theory do just about anything with one of these. More on what I do with this (and my N95) in later posts…

So, that’s an introduction to what I’ve owned in the world of Nokia devices for now. Let’s see where this attempt at a blog takes me in the future…