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Week In Review 52W2009

It was Xmas week so nothing much happened. Except people going batshit crazy about the iSlate rumours which people claim boosted Apple’s stock but I only see 3%. Oh, and Amazon made a killing on ebook sales for the Kindle while B&N buckled under the post-Xmas puny load. Oh, one more thing, some idiot decided to blowup his crotch on a plane so the TSA idiots made some more stuff up to try and keep people from flying.

/wir | edited on 2009/12/29 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 51W2009

  • TeliaSonera now has LTE commercially available in Oslo and Stockholm. The non promotional prices are around the 60EUR mark which isn’t insanely high considering not too long ago 1.8Mbps with crapy service was over 30EUR. Meanwhile, LTE keeps pounding on UK with O2+Huawei doing a network trial. It’s closed and I bet it’s being pushed by Huawei but it’s better than nothing.

  • In more high bandwidth new, the french government is going to invest in getting 100Mbps to 70% of the population. Or, as I like to call it, the FranceTelecom/Alcatel bailout plan. I don’t see the point anyway as the french government plans to be more busy disconnecting people than connecting them.

  • In a move that shames western world Microsoft was finned in India for using power to obstruct justice. In a nutshell, a judge ruled that if Microsoft wants to persecute an individual they must deposit a legal fees fund to cover the defendant’s expenses in case he wins. The point is ensuring a fair trial, which is a constitutional right in India, as opposed to RIAA^WMPAA^WMicrosoft just dragging poor people through court and well, winning. And when in China, be chinese. That at least is what Microsoft thinks after ripping off a competitor’s site. Microsoft meanwhile as claimed it was done by a local contractor and they don’t want anything to do with it, but hey, it’s Microsoft!

  • And in a WereIlliterateFundies move, Australia is pushing ahead with mandatory ISP-level Internet Censorship thus joining the ranks of China, Iran and of course, North Korea. Next stop, do away with pesky elections I guess. As always, the strawman here is child porn which is clumped together with educational material about drugs or euthanasia. Basically anything the Government finds distasteful.

  • And in a stupidest^Wlowest bider move, the US Army doesn’t encrypt it’s video feeds so you can tap a Predator live feed with a satellite download modem/software (that used to be popular you know!).

/wir | edited on 2009/12/22 -- permalink, click to comment

Avatar (3D)

Avatar (in 3D!) is phraking awesome. It’s so well rendered you forget you’re watching CG despite the fact it’s a whole different imagined planet. It also means we can now do whatever we want with images. We can commercially synthesize images that look real.

Then, of course, it’s a huge massive effort to remind us all we have advanced in 5 thousand years is in the way we’re able to kill far away people. That and the varnish called “democratic western society” about not killing and not stealing amongst ourselves.

/tech | edited on 2009/12/21 -- permalink, click to comment

Nokia N900

The Nokia N900 is the first Nokia tablet that’s also a phone. It’s also the first (and probably only) Maemo5 device. Maemo5 is a debian based mobile OS with a Gtk+ based custom desktop called Hildon.
If I were to be droped in the wilderness with just one phone, the N900 would be it. Actually, it would be an Iridium but you get my meaning.

note: a limited number of first run N900 have what I gather is an arcane hardware problem which results in frequent reboots, specially when sleeping/resuming. My first unit had this issue, swaped it for another one from the same batch and the second one is ok. A number of other owners are reporting similar experiencies. Maemo talk thread

The N900 isn’t a brilliant phone as phones go but makes up for it by incorporating skype, google talk and generic sip into the phone app. Same goes for sms which is actually [telepathy] and can handle anything from msn to irc. Odly there’s no mms support out of the box but if your carrier allows access to the mmsc from the internet apn you can just fire off mms as email if you really need to communicate with 2004. That being said the phone app does the voice done and once you realize you can just type contact names on the home screen to find them in the address book everything just flows pretty easily.

The builtin browser is Fennec, Firefox mobile as oposed to some variant of webkit in iphone, android and s60. Firefox plus the 800x480 resolultion gives the most desktop like browsing experience you can get on a mobile. It even comes which Flash9 which means not only annoying ads but also full featured youtube as opposed to the digest version you get on a iphone. There’s also some extensions being ported like adblock (life saver on 3g), evernote and geolocation which s actually usefull on a mobile. Fennec can render the desktop version of google wave if that gives you an idea about the engine.

The UI is interesting and snappy enough if you don’t overdo the multitasking. One interesting feature is the expose-like window view which takes advantage of the 3d hardware and tiles the actuall windows instead of app icons. That’s particularly usefull while waiting for a page to load or something to happen on some app to do something. The model alert interface helps here too cause its a yellow line across the screen, can’t miss it even with a lot of windows open.
The top bar borrows a lot from s60 but the notification system could do with a bit of androidization. While messages flying across the screen are snazy they’re not the best solution. Something more like growl would be much better.

The 32Gb of storage (plus microSD card!) begs you to dump tons of media into the N900 and the media player does a pretty good job. It plays most avis out of the box and if you enable the extras repo you get even more codecs. The TVout is good enough to use as a standard def media player. The only disapointment is the lack of support for the xpressmusic heaphones but there’s no reason for the hardware being different and I’m sure support will come along.

But the fun part is it’s Gtk+ so if you’re a Gnome developer you’re right at home. People are also starting to port desktop stuff to hildon and it’s showing up on the extras repos. The plumbing is what you expect from linux: init, dbus and X11 (no, seriously, X11) so porting stuff over is a matter of redoing gtk_ UI elements as hildon_ elements.

Nokia clearly missed the mark with placing the N900. It’s being marketed as a high end or flagship and people are complaining about stuff like the lack of mms cause people just assume the features will be there. However the N900 is mostly a palmtop computer, a really small netboot if you will. Being a phone is the “oh, just one more thing” of the N900.

Useful stuff

More repositories:

  • SDK Tools: deb http://repository.maemo.org fremantle/tools free non-free
  • Extras Development: deb http://repository.maemo.org/extras-devel fremantle free non-free
  • Extras Q&A: deb http://repository.maemo.org/extras-testing fremantle free non-free

Extras follow the debian lifecycle, start in devel, move to testing and then graduate to extras. Beware of enabling testing and specially devel cause you may update to buggy versions of installed apps. Extras have a number of usefull stuff like more protocols for IM (telepathy plugins), ssh/vnc and media codecs so you might want to enable it even if you’re a casual user.

Documents, Sounds and Videos live under ~/MyDocs as .documents, .sounds and .videos.

Google Latitude browse to http://www.google.com/maps/m?view=data&mode=latitude&source=mog&gl=uk which is the webview the iPhone uses. If you have the geolocation browser plugin (extras-testing) it will even automatic updates.

/mobile | edited on 2009/12/20 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 50w2009

/wir | edited on 2009/12/15 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 49w2009

  • News this week was obviously Codebits 2009. Geek out!

  • Nokia figured out having 3 pages of catalog only confuses people and is going to reduce the smartphone lineup in half in 2010. They’re also promising to take the Symbian UI to a new level and deliver Maemo6 devices in 2H2010 which is about one year from now. Speaking as the owner of a N900, lets just hope for better Q&A than the one Maemo5 device they managed to produce.

  • Google now has a public DNS. If you were paranoid about giving Google your searches, how about your A queries ? Anyways, Google snatched up 8.8.4.0/24 and 8.8.8.0/24 from Level3 and setup global service at what probably are the best dns server IPs ever, 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

  • Guys who are both artists and music industry insiders have interesting stories. Tim Quirk had a band and now works at Rhapsody and he wrote a great article on how Warner Bros robs artists all the way. Warner Bros actually lies to him digital sales made through Rhapsody. It’s not they need to cause due to the way major record labels “foster” new bands the balance is over 350k USD negative. They do it just because they’re lying conniving pirate scumbags and want a) to steal from artists b) cook the books so that digital sales appear weak. I suddenly feel the urge to download all the music I get my digital sights on.

  • And shortly after making internet access an universal service, the Spanish government gave its Minister of Culture powers to shutdown any website without due process for, you guessed it, copyright infringement claims. This makes things so much easier! WhistleBlower forum ? Copyright infringement! Pesky newspaper ? Copyright infringement! Company competing with “friendly” company ? Copyright infringement!

  • In a rather interesting case, a Danish guy wants to go to trial for breaking DRM. He ripped the DVDs he owns and turned himself to the Danish-RIAA (hummmm … danish …) which just ignored him. Now he gave up himself to the Law and wants to defend himself in court.

  • In free enterprise news, the Somali Pirate Stock Exchange is now open for business. Yes, you can invest in privateers and get a share of their profits. If you have a RPG or box of AK-47 ammo that you’re not using they’ll happily use it in their next raid and then divvy up the booty with you!

/wir | edited on 2009/12/08 -- permalink, click to comment

Week in Review 48W2009

/wir | edited on 2009/12/01 -- permalink, click to comment
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