wow, the beta browser for n800 is awesome! the previous version couldn’t log in to blogger, but now I’m tapping out a post! I got this browser by enabling “red pill mode.” This is how you put your application manager in non-consumer mode so you can get the cool stuff. The n800 is really ffor geeks. Everybody using it should probably be in red pill, but with great power comes the ability to break things, so I see why it ships in blue pill.

Stupid Maemo Tricks

I’ve been spending the last several weeks trying to figure out best way to blog from a N800 internet tablet. I now have a solution, but, alas, it’s stupid.

I signed up for a super secret gmail address. I set up the built-in mail client to use that address. I saved the email posting address for blogger and flickr in my contacts list.
I can upload to flickr by emailing pictures in. The subject is the title. The body is the description. tags go on new lines marked with “Tags:”. Not bad.
And I can email posts to blogger, but as far as I know, I get no tags.
The posts sit in the email outbox until I stumble upon an open wifi network. Then they get sent off to the appropriate places. So I can blog and do picture stuff when I’m offline.
This is really sub-optimal. There’s a nice-looking cross-platform uploader called glimmr, but I can’t build it on OS X because the configuration script is not cross-platform and I’m lazy (deadly combo). And there’s a blog client, but it crashes for me. Oh well. Better than nothing.
I’m off tomorrow.

Avoiding Highways with Maemo Mapper

Ok, so let’s say you have a nifty N800 and the killer-app Maemo Mapper. You can use it to download routes (aka: driving directions). But, as you’re on a bike, you’re not so keen to take the A4 or 280 to get where you’re going. Fear not, you can download routes while avoiding highways!

Go to the menu in the Mapper. Select route and then select download. A dialog box opens. At the top of the dialog box, there is a textfield which has a URL in it. Most likely, the URL there points to gnuite.com. At the end of the URL is some CGI stuff, like &blah=%s . Scroll to the very end of the url and append the following text to it:


Then, you can download routes to your heart’s content, all of them highway free. If you change your mind about highway avoidance, just remove the added text.
The Mapper application saves your settings, so if you want to stay highway free forever, you will not need to modify this again – with all the usual exceptions to such a statement.

Mobile Flickr Uploader PRD

I know, this is so exciting for all my readers, be they composers or folks wanting to know if my face has healed from it’s meeting with the ground (no, it has not, thanks for asking), but instead, it’s a list of requirements for a flickr uploader for my new tablet! Yay! Why am I writing such a list? Because no suitable uploader exists and so I’m going to have to find one close, modify it (maybe) and then compile it to work on my tablet, which is theoretically possible on my intel macmini, maybe.

  • Automatic re-sizing
  • Batch tags
  • individual tags
  • descriptions
  • runs in background such that it saves all information until it gets a good internet connection and then it starts uploading away
  • keeps log of progress

Ah, all those months of working in marketting really paid off in that I’m a Product Requirements Document pro now! . . .

HOWTO: Get gmail via POP on the N800

(There’s always a missing step.)

First and foremost, just delete the gmail attempt you made before stumbling across this webpage. You can have two gmail accounts going, even if the not-quite-working version isn’t the default. I don’t know if you have to delete all your other accounts or just the other gmail accounts. (This is the missing step).
Next: enable POP in Gmail.
Then, open mail on your device and do the following (from: http://www.internettablettalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-6104.html)

  1. In the email app menu, select Accounts -> New Account
  2. On Screen “1/4”
    Account Name: gmail
    Account Type: pop3
  3. Screen 2/4
    User name: recent:@gmail.com
    Email Address: @gmail.com
  4. Screen 3/4
    Incoming Server: pop.gmail.com
    Outgoing Server: smtp.gmail.com
  5. Screen 4/4. Click Advanced.
  6. Incoming Tab:
    Retrieve: Messages and Attachments
    Leave Messages on Server: [x]
    Password Authentication: Normal
    Security: SSL
    Incoming email Port: 995
  7. Outgoing Tab:
    SMTP Authentication: Login
    User name: recent:@gmail.com
    Security: SSL
    Outgoing email Port: 465

NOTE it is important to use “recent:@gmail.com” as the login name because
this will allow MULTIPLE email clients to get mail from gmail via Pop (eg,
when using BOTH the N800 and Outlook). If “recent:” is not used then only ONE Pop
client will be able to get the emails from the server (first come first serve).

HOWTO: Flash your N800 with a Mac

Basically, follow the instructions here,
especially the part about the backups and where to download the flasher (the 770 flasher for OS X works with the 800 too) and where to download the image to flash.

However, there is one crucial step not mentioned on that page. After you do your backup and download the flasher and the image, you need to unplug your tablet from the wall and from the computer and turn it off. Take out the SD card. Then, run the flasher. When the flasher says it’s waiting, plug in the device to the USB. Hold down the home key (the one on the front with the poorly drawn house on it) while pressing the power button. Make a note of holding down the home key, because it’s rarely mentioned in documentation.
For some reason, I had to try running the flasher app more than once. The first time, it had a USB error. The second time, I tried to run it with the tablet already in the ready-to-flash state. I would have turned the tablet back off to try all this, but it doesn’t seem to want to turn off before flashing when it’s in that state. I don’t know what happens if you have it like that and can’t get the flasher to work. Does it return to normal if you pop out the battery?
After the flash is complete, turn the device off, pop the SD card back in. With mine, it asked me for some date and time and the restore application popped right open. I restored everything, regardless of date. The utility does not backup software and everything on the device is wiped, so I’ll have to re-download everything. Alas.
Reviews of how well it works post-upgrade will be forthcoming.

Gear Review: Nokia N800

I just got the tablet PC recommended by the Linux Journal. Although Nokia makes it, it’s not a phone. Also, it runs a different OS than Nokia phones. It’s been a while since I had such a phone, but I recall an excellent interface design and great reliability. They must have hired a different team to do the N800. Or maybe it’s the same team, but morale is low since management sent the tablet team to do a “fun” exercize in aligator wrestling and the team lead was tragically eaten. (It was a sad day for Nokia’s Elbonian devision. Most of the team stayed on, but they burn with silent resentment.)

I want to make a large, blanket statement right now. Computers are crap right now. All of them. The Mac is pretty good, but it keeps getting more and more closed. Want to hook up a bluetooth GPS to your shiny, new iphone? Too bad, Jobs says you can’t. The 21st century Henry Ford knows what you want to do and offers you only that, even if it’s not what you want to do. Also, you can get any color iphone you want as long as it’s black. All their devices get more and more closed. Their (consumer) tools are more and more closed. Want to make a web page? Hope you like the “made with a mac” look.
Windows? Don’t get me started. My jaw drops with fresh horror every time I hear what windows users are forced to put up with. I don’t understand why they use computers at all, given such provocation.
Fortunately, Linux is here to save the day! Well, maybe just Ubuntu linux, but anyway. Yay for saving the day. Too bad it won’t really run on my existing hardware.
The N800 runs a flavor of Debian linux. Did that sentence have any meaning for you? Then you’re a geek. Sorry. If it didn’t, don’t surf away yet! It shouldn’t have to make sense. This is a freaking consumer device. I just want a GPS thingee (via a seperate wireless little black platic thing) to help keep me from getting lost on bike trips and something that I can use to do some mobile blogging while on the road. I don’t want to risk my laptop being in another crash, so I got a little web device. It’s reasonable to expect a consumer to know they need software (and possibly extra hardware) for their device to do GPS stuff. It’s reasonable to expect a consumer buying a web device to have some familiarity with cruising around on the internet. I think that’s nearing the end of what’s reasonable.
It’s not reasonable that it ships with a broken operating system. Asking folks to flash a brand new device is not reasonable. (Sorry for the jargon. Notive how it’s confusing? Not reasonable! It means to use a different computer or a special program to change the device’s software to do an upgrade.) Not providing a CD with said flash program (for all common consumer OSes) is not reasonable. Requiring the use of another computer to flash it, is on the borderline of reasonability. And not having any kind of flasher for Mac users is not at all reasonable. They’re all linux-y, but they don’t release the source for the flasher. So they don’t have it, I can’t get it, I can’t build it myself.
The N800’s “killer app” for GPS map stuff looks really nice when it isn’t crashed, not working, or not talking to the GPS. Let’s be fair, it might be because I’m running a broken OS. The web browser is doing something wrong with cookies, so I cannot figure out how to update my blog. Err, since basically, I got it for blogging and map stuff, it’s 0 for 2 right now.
But it’s got mini usb, so at least I can plug in my camera, right? Hahahaha, no. The miniusb is useful for when you want to flash the device (don’t do that on the subway or you risk fines) and for when you want to use it as a memory card reader for your regular computer and for nothing else. It can’t charge the device. It can’t take a keyboard, a mouse, a joystick, my phone, my camera, nada. Ok, but the N800 takes memory cards. This strongly implies that I can take a picture, pop the card out of my camera, pop it into the N800 and post it to the internets. If my camera uses MiniSD cards. It doesn’t. It takes a sony memory stick.
Ok, so possible work arounds involve: 1. Buying a new camera (not a terrible idea since mine has not been so healthy since I dropped it a week or so ago). 2. Finding some sort of USB-> bluetooth converter. (Would be hot! want one anyway! Any usb keyboard becomes wireless! sexy! (Does this device even exist?)) 3. Inventing a sony memory stick -> miniSD converter. Notice that I used the word “invent.”
Yeah, so the N800 is pretty much useless to me unless I sink even more money into this or spend a bunch of time trying to find work-arounds. The whole point of it was to be cheaper than replacing a dead laptop after a crash. But it has to really be cheaper. I mean, I don’t want my laptop to die (ever, yikes. Live forever!) but a new laptop would be faster and better and I’ll probably buy one eventually anyway. So the maximum cost of the PDA thing needs to be based on a complicated equation involving the likelyhood of a fatal (to laptop, not me) crash, the cost or laptop replacement and the length of pre-upgrade life remaining in said laptop.
People really love these things. Fair enough. But it’s not a consumer device! I wanted a consumer device! I wanted something that I could turn on, double click something and see a pretty map of my neighborhood! I wanted something that would deal with my google logins the right way, so I could just post to my blog. I wanted something that could transfer data from my camera to flickr, that could copy data to and from my bluetooth phone and to and from my bluetooth computer without having to use wires. I wanted to plug in a home-brew keyboard. I wanted something that could just use the same USB-based charger as my phone and ipod and other devices. These are all things that consumer web device should be able to do. Right out of the box. Without requring google searches of forums dedicated to hacking the damn thing.
Sadly, my free software ideology and stubbornness is going to cause me to keep pounding on the damn thing until it WORKS damn it. I’m a hacker after all. These problems have solutions. Non-consumer-level solutions. If you’re not a hacker, don’t buy this tablet.