Busy making things: github, links, photos, @mc.

Getting the most from your N95

Posted: June 26th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile | 3 Comments »

Nokia N95 image gallery

The folks at WOM World have let me borrow a Nokia N95 for a few weeks. I’ve been very impressed with it so far, but I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned over the past few days:

Read every bit of Steve Litchfield’s top Nokia N95 tips. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. This contains everything from obvious tips for new users to subtle nuances that even an experienced S60 user might overlook.

Also worth mentioning are Steve’s S60 freeware listing and S60 essentials. There are some tried and true apps that have been around since the 1st and 2nd edition days as well as some newcomers.

Fire up the download app from the main menu. This makes downloading several apps that I’m excited about extremely easy: Nokia Podcasting, Nokia Sports Tracker, Gizmo for S60, and Widsets, which didn’t work on my locked 6682.

If you spend as much time as I do in IRC, grab mIRIGGI. I truly miss WirelessIRC which I’ve used more than any other app on my 1st and 2nd edition devices, but mIRIGGI seems to be improving steadily with each release.

Start memorizing those Nokia Web Browser shortcuts, they’re a lifesaver.

Don’t forget to customize! In particular setting up the menu items that are displayed when you hit the Multimedia button (Multimedia button -> Options -> Menu items) can provide you quick access to the apps you use a lot. Another crucial customization is the standby mode apps (Application button -> Tools -> Settings -> General -> Personalization -> Standby mode -> Active standby apps and Shortcuts. This is crucial for those apps that you use on a daily basis. You get to choose a total of 8 between the 5 up top and the two softkey apps on the bottom.

Don’t forget those apps tucked away in the corners. You can set up your N95 to use VoIP calls in additon to GSM calls by following these instructions (or by using Gizmo for S60). You can look up your location using the GPS data app in Tools -> GPS data. This is handy if all you want to know is your lat/lon. Don’t overlook the Video centre app in the Multimedia menu either (don’t forget to add YouTube videos by selecting Add new services).

The Nokia Podcasting app also has some great audio and video content. I’m a big fan of the Marketplace podcasts as well as some of the video podcasts availble in the Directories menu of the podcast app.

You have a 5 megapixel camera with an amazing f/2.8 Zeiss lens, so make use of it! See Steve’s notes about sharpness on the different scene modes. So far the N95 has been taking great pictures in mixed-light conditions indoors and the flash is great for closer indoor photos too. The lens is pretty wide-angle so don’t be shy: fill the frame with your subject! The only gotcha that I’ve noticed so far is that if you’re taking landscapes don’t forget to the Landscape scene mode which seems to set the auto-focus to infinity as well as tweak other settings. For just about every other type of photo the Automatic mode has been working perfectly for me.

I can’t wait to dig deeper in to the N95 but I’m having a blast so far. Stay tuned as I take a look at the N95 from a couple of different angles.


2007: The year of “The Real Internet”

Posted: June 19th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Web Services | 6 Comments »

I know that 2006 and every year that came before it was supposed to be “the year of the mobile web”. Maybe it’s time to change that a little. 2007 will be the year of “The Real Internet.”

As with most things mobile, “The Real Internet” has been available on Nokia devices since 2006 in the form of the Nokia Mobile Browser, based on the same open-source technology as the iPhone‘s Safari.

Later this month, Apple will unleash “The Real Internet” on its iPhone to much fanfare.

Today Opera released a beta version of its new mobile browser that aims to bring “The Real Internet” to all devices that can run J2ME. This means that “The Real Internet” can come to a wide range of devices, be they computing monsters or low-end free-on-contract phones. The new version of Opera Mini allows users to zoom in and out much like Safari on the iPhone (albeit in a much less sexy way). There is a video demo and an online emulator if you’d like to check it out.

So there it is, 2007 (or 2006 in Finland) seems to be shaping up to be the year of “The Real Internet.”


Accessing iPhone built in services from Safari

Posted: June 12th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Mobile | 45 Comments »

During the iPhone demo at yesterday’s WWDC keynote, we saw several examples of accessing the iPhone‘s built in apps and services. I thought I’d go through the demoed features and break ‘em down a little:

Tap on a phone number to call

This technology dates back to the wtai:// pragma from the WAP/WML dark ages and has since been codified with the tel: uri scheme as outlined in RFC 3966. The tel: scheme is used with XHTML MP and existing mobile browsers (here’s an example from one of Brain Fling’s presentations). I would hope for consistency sake that Apple makes use of tel: but there’s a chance they might go for the unstandardized-but-used-a-lot callto: instead. The callto: scheme is used by Microsoft Netmeeting and Skype on most desktop systems.

Tap on an email address to invoke the native mail client

It’s mailto: folks, let’s move along.

Tap on an address to launch the Google Maps app

I’m assuming that this is being handled via a proprietary URI scheme which the Google Maps app is registered to. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be gmaps:// or something else, but it’s going to be as simple as creating a link to gmaps://q=20+Infinite+Loop+Cupertino,+CA (or something very similar). This functionality is the most intriguing to me as a geowanker, but my gut tells me that it just boils down to a URL scheme.

During the demo, leaving the Google Maps app returned to the home screen instead of going back to Safari, so an extra click was required to get back to the Safari webapp. No big deal, just an interesting tidbit.

So what’s the takeaway for a developer looking to target the iPhone? The long and short of it is that nothing’s really changed since before WWDC. Write yourself a webapp and target the iPhone. What about access to all those built in services and apps? The good news is that it’s nothing special, it’s stuff you’re used to dealing with, and (with the exception of a new uri scheme for Google Maps) there’s really nothing new here. The bad news? It’s nothing special, it’s stuff you’re used to dealing with, and (with the exception of a new uri scheme for Google Maps) there’s really nothing new here.

Update: Apple has released developer notes for the iPhone. The winners are tel:, mailto:, and (interestingly) they’re just hijacking calls to maps.google.com and sending them over to the google maps app.


All DECT out

Posted: June 5th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile | 4 Comments »

A few weeks ago my wife and I decided to replace our 5.8GHz two-handset cordless phone system. We got them for a great price but didn’t realize until after we had trashed the packaging that only one handset could be used at a time. That was a pretty big showstopper as it means one of us is tied to the corded phone in the kitchen.

While ambiently looking at phones at our local Best Buy, I came to a wonderful realization: DECT has finally made it to the US mainstream. I have friends in Europe, so I’ve known about (and been envious of) DECT for years. DECT has more in common with a GSM phone than it does a microwave. There are specs that deal with audio codecs, and there’s a Generic Access Profile which allows for at least a chance of interop between different manufacturers’ devices.

We eventually settled on the Panasonic KX-TG1034S with a total of 4 handsets, and we absolutely love them. I’ve used higher end Panasonic multi-phone systems over the years and I’ve always been happy.

Some of the things I’m particularly pleased with in our unit is the ability to edit the phonebook on one phone and synchronize it to all other phones linked to the base station. I can’t tell you how much time that will save us in the long run. I also like that I can check voicemail from any handset rather than trip over my junk in the den in order to hit the play button. I can also clear the caller ID of a missed call on one phone and that will propogate out to the other devices. These are (I believe) proprietary features that probably won’t work on a non-Panasonic system, but they’re quite nice indeed.

Like every wireless device in the US, DECT phones here run on a different frequency than everywhere else in the world (are you suprised?) They run at 1880-1900MHz in Europe and 1920-1930MHz in the US. It looks like DECT was approved at that frequency range back in 2005 but I’ve only noticed devices on the shelves for a few months now. DECT devices in the US are labeled “DECT 6.0″ which seems utterly silly given that 6.0 has nothing to do with frequency (like 2.4 and 5.8 do), it’s just simply a marketing tactic (6.0 is clearly better than 5.8).

I’m glad that we’re slowly catching up on yet another wireless standard over here and I have nothing but good things to say about our new phones.


Reason 3,287 why I hate setuptools

Posted: June 3rd, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Open Source, Python | 5 Comments »
root@monkey:~/inst/simplejson# python setup.py install
The required version of setuptools (>=0.6c6) is not available, and
can't be installed while this script is running. Please install
 a more recent version first.

(Currently using setuptools 0.6c3 
(/usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/setuptools-0.6c3-py2.4.egg))