Month: April 2004

  • Ewrt: High End WRT54G Firmware

    Via dailywireless by way of Wi-Fi Networking News, Ewrt looks like an excellent alternative firmware for the Linksys WRT54G.  It was forked from the Sveasoft distro (the bleeding edge Samadhi2 stuff is now non-free) and includes NoCatSplash, traffic shaping, SSH/telnet management, and lots more.

    This looks like a great alternative firmware for the WRT54G.  The WRT54G is on the top of my tech to buy list.  It’s so hackable.

  • XHTML in Easy Steps

    XHTML in Easy Steps
    XHTML in Easy Steps (subtitled Web Pages for the Desktop & Mobile Internet) is probably the best book on modern mobile markup that I’ve ever seen.  The book is part of Barnes and Noble‘s in Easy Steps series.  These books are $10, no BS guides to the subject covered.

    They remind me of what I would have liked the Visual Quickstart Guide series of books to be.  I’ve looked at serveral Visual Quickstart Guides, but have never been able to jive with the format and layout of the books.  They feel too cluttered, and too “hey look what I can do” for my tastes.

    In contrast, the in Easy Steps layout is simple but functional.  There’s usually some full page text discussion at the beginning of the chapter, followed by several examples.  A typical example page will consist of XHTML and CSS listings followed by (get this) the design as displayed by the Nokia browser as well as what it looks like in a shrunk down IE window.

    How freaking cool is that?  The author gets across basic XHTML markup concepts while keeping the user focused on “how is this going to look on a phone?”

    The huge thing for me is the audience that this book is geared for.  It’s not designed for bleeding edge developers who are eager to learn advanced mobile markup.  This is a boook that your mom might pick up if she had the sudden need to learn XHTML.  It’s going to be the cheapest tech book I’ll buy all year.  It’s absolutely wonderful.

    My hat is off to you, Mike McGrath and whoever is behind the in Easy Steps series.  Good move.  Freaking genius move.

    Update: it looks like Barnes and Noble has exclusive distribution rights in the US, but the book can be purchased for under 8 GBP at

  • Finding Bad Feeds in Your Rawdog Feed List

    Rawdog has been segfaulting on me for awhile now.  It was definitely not Adam Sampson’s fault, it was totally mine.  I aparently copied and pasted an HTML link to my feed list instead of an RSS feed.  Oops!

    Anyway, I’ve not been able to get my RSS fix for some time, and I finally got around to writing a few lines of Python to diagnose the problem.  In about 9 lines of code I’m able to read my config file line by line, check to see if the line represents a feed listing, grab the url from the line, print the feed url, and parse it using Mark’s feed parser (the same version that Rawdog is using).

    The feed section of a Rawdog config file (usually in ~/.rawdog/config) can look like either of the following:

    feed 60
    feed 1h

    The top line is what the older version of Rawdog uses, the lower line is what newer versions of Rawdog uses.  Luckily each line is “feed” + <time> + <url>, so the string can just be split and I can grab the URL with foo[2].

    Here is the result of my two minute hack to figure out where the segfaults are coming from:

    import feedparser

    f=open('config', 'r')
    for line in f.readlines():
      if line.startswith('feed'):
        foo = line.split()
        print 'parsing ' + foo[2]
        data = feedparser.parse(foo[2])

    This will skip over any comments (lines that start with #) and other directives in the Rawdog config file.  I ended up making a backup, running the checker until I came across an error, commented out the offending feed in the backup file, and then removed all feeds in the file I was checking up to and including the offending feed.  This way I wasn’t hammering feeds in the beginning of the list.  Rinse, later, repeat.  It wasn’t until down at the bottom that I found the link that was causing the segfault: a link to one of my posts.  Sheesh.

    But hey, with a few lines of python and a few minutes, I’m back up and running.

  • KVMJab: Still Kicking!

    If you find or hear about an open source J2ME/MIDP library or app, it tends to either be extremely out of date (from 2001 and designed for early MIDP1.0) or so bleeding edge that it doesn’t work on most devices.  I was pleasantly suprised to find KVMJab, a Jabber library for MIDP 1.0 (though it should work fine with MIDP 2.0), alive and kicking.  There is a new release of the source code just a few days old that is updated to work with Sun’s Wireless Toolkit v2.1.  It looks like much of the source has not been touched since late 2000 or early 2001, but if it works, it works.

  • Free Wi-Fi on the National Mall

    The Washington Post:

    Frisbee-throwers and lawmakers alike could soon be able to access free wireless Internet on Washington’s National Mall under a plan announced by a nonprofit group on Wednesday.

    Members of the Open Park Project already have set up a wireless access point covering the Supreme Court and the Capitol and say they hope to extend wireless broadband coverage across the capital’s monument-filled core within a year.

    Hey, that totally rocks.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on The Open Park Project.  The FCC already provides free Wi-Fi at their headquarters.  Many local coffee houses also provide free Wi-Fi for their patrons.  For-pay Wi-Fi is also abundant.  There are 38 Starbucks locations, three Borders stores, and seven FedEx Kinko’s Office and Print Centers in the district.  These are all T-Mobile hotspots that can be accessed for as little as $6 an hour.

  • Americans Send Text Messages Too

    Converge Digest has some stats on Verizon and Verizon Wireless’ Q1 2004 stats.  Here are some of the highlights from last quarter:

    • 1.4 million new customers.  They’re definitely one of the benefactors of number portability.
    • Customer loyalty is big.  Fewer customers jumped ship last quarter.
    • The average customer (voice, DSL, or wireless) paid Verizon $48 monthly.
    • They’re ramping up on EV-DO

    Now here’s the biggie: Verizon customers sent 2.1 billion text messages in Q1 2004.  They downloaded 19 million apps to their phones (directly through Verizon).  They sent 21 million picture messages.

    Those numbers are for one carrier (now the number 2 carrier in the US) over one quarter.  The stats mentioned by the BBC yesterday were for all UK carriers in the month of March.  We’re obviously not sending as many SMSes over here as they do in the UK, but we’re catching up fast.

    SMS pricing structures also tend to be different over here.  Most carriers offer SMS bundles.  I’ve got an add-on for my T-Mobile plan that gets me 500 SMS messages for $2.99.  Other carriers have similar plans, or you can just pay $0.10 a pop.

    Dave Winer might not have a use for SMS (other than as an illustration for an RSS vs. Atom argument), but Americans are indeed sending text messages.  Quite a few of them.

  • More SMS Than You Can Shake a Stick At

    BBC News:

    According to the Mobile Data Association (MDA), 2.1 billion text messages were sent in March 2004, a 25% rise on the total from the same month last year.

    That is a lot of text messages.  I mean more than a metric tonne of text messages.  We’re talking more than a humpback whale of text messages.

    If I were a Stupid American, I might not be able to fathom such a large number of text messages.  Luckily I’m a mobile tech geek and that number excites me.  In a big way.

    If only we could figure out that your phone is capable of doing more than just talking.  Stupid Americans…


    <Moof> Netminder: you forgot the “at 5 cents a text, that’s $LOTS, or at 160 bytes a message, that’s $MUCHO per megabyte” at the end of your post

    So true.

  • Fedex Renames Kinko’s

    I reported on the purchase of Kinko’s by FedEx when it happened late December.  Now FedEx is rebranding the stores:

    Memphis-based FedEx said Monday the stores will be renamed FedEx Kinko’s Office and Print Center.

    This is similar to what UPS did when it picked up Mail Boxes Etc.  Good move again, FedEx, although the new name is a bit much to swallow.  Something like FedEx Office Center or Kinko’s by FedEx would probably roll off the tongue a little better, but I understand the need to keep both FedEx and Kinko’s in the longer name.  If they are smart, FedEx will keep the T-Mobile hotspots active.

  • It’s About Communication, Not Chatting

    John C. Dvorak:

    I hate the IMs (instant messages), the paging, the PMs (personal messages), the private chats, the open chats, the IRC, AIM, ICQ, and MSN Messenger. I particularly despise the small talk that is an important part of chat, and I loathe all the phone SMS chatting and its entire infrastructure.

    Dvorak has a rather clueless (but I’m sure valid in some situations) rant about chatting online.  It’s not about the “hi. hi. how are you? fine.” conversations.  It’s about communication.

    Let’s take #mobitopia as an example.  We’re a loose knit bunch of mobile tech enthusiasts sprinkled throughout the globe.  During the day I can expect to chat with Jim.  He routinely IRCs from his mobile phone during his morning and evening commute.  I can check in with Matthew and Frank in Germany.  I wonder if Martin in Scotland has managed to fix his Garmin Forerunner?  When I’m starting to get hungry for lunch, Russ and other left-coasters start popping online.  There are a few people that say “good morning” when I’m getting ready for bed.  Erik doesn’t sleep much, so he’s always throwing my mental clock off.

    On any given day we will communicate constructively.  We trade links, ideas, opinions, thoughts.  If Nokia is holding a press conference, chances are that Ewan, Rafe or Jim will have play by play coverage from a taco.

    Of course we discuss other things (holy crap, did you see episode 18 of 24?  What an ending!).  We don’t talk tech 100% of the time.  That would be too geeky!  But the mobile shop talk and the sense of community that the channel and site have given us keep us coming back.

  • J2ME RSS Readers

    Via Freshmeat, RSS Reader MIDlet allows you to read RSS feeds on your MIDP1+ J2ME device.  The UI seems to make a little more sense than Peek and Pick.  P900 and 6600 users should also take a look at FeedBurner Mobile Feed Reader.

  • Nokia 6600i?

    Via j2k in #mobitopia, Expansys lists a Nokia 6600i as a pre-release phone.  What is the 6600i?  My guess is that the 6600i is similar to the 6620 but for European markets.  It will probably be the 6600 + 6620 enhancements/bugfixes + EDGE + more? + European frequencies.

    I haven’t heard about this, but once it is officially announced, if it is for real, this page at Nokia should work.  That is, of course, if the phone is for real.

    So far I’ve only seen rumors (like the one at, but nothing solid.  Is this a case of Expansys hoping that the rumors are true, or do they know something that we do not?

  • Hardly Newsworthy: Windows on Linux

    SpecOps Labs has been getting a lot of press in the last few days after their “breakthrough” announcement.  Their new software product will allow you to run Windows apps in Linux.

    Pardon me, but haven’t you been able to do the same thing using Wine for years now?  There are also commercial products like Crossover Office and Crossover Plugin if you have specific needs that are not neccesarily covered under Wine.

    I know that Wine isn’t perfect.  It can run some apps, but can’t run others.  Hey, that’s life.  I have a feeling that SpecOps’ David is going to be the same way.  I’d love to be wrong, but I have a feeling that David is going to rock for some things and choke on others.  Just like Wine.

    I’m all about new technology, breaking new ground, and pushing the envelope.  I just wish that the tech media would mention that many of the “revolutionary” things that SpecOps are claiming can already be done, and have been possible for years.

  • Mark Your Calendar

    Lots of releases are due out in the next few weeks:

    • OpenBSD 3.5 is scheduled to be released May 1.  Roll out the CARP!  Listen to the release song too if you get a chance.
    • Tribes and Tribes 2 will be released for free at fileplanet on May 4.  According to the Vivendi Universal press release it will also hit newsstands on a DVD attached to Computer Gaming Word on that same day.  I played the crap out of Tribes, but never got around to picking up Tribes 2.  I’m looking forward to playing Tribes 2 for free, and I’m also psyched about Tribes: Vengeance due out Q4 2004.
    • SUSE Linux 9.1 Professional and Personal should be available for purchase May 6.
  • Freshmeat Tracks SymbianOS Ecosystem

    While browsing freshmeat today, I saw that they have a new Operating System listed: SymbianOS.  I don’t know how long the category has been there, but it was refreshing to see it there.  It also allowed me to stumble upon a few projects that obviously slipped passed my radar:

    • BarcR UPC Code Reader: pretty much in the proof of concept stage, but it has potential.
    • Bemused: control Winamp, Windows Media Player, or Powerpoint via Bluetooth from your Series 60 or UIQ phone.
    • Bomber is a J2ME app designed for Series 60.  It reminds me of a classic bomber game that I played under various names on various platforms when I was a kid.
    • WabbelLab simulates that annoying but addictive game where you try to get the marble through the maze without having it drop in any of the holes.  You can play by tilting your phone.  Tracking is done via the camera.
  • Business 2.0 on Creative Commons, The Economics of Sharing

    I’m reading though the dead tree version of the May issue of Business 2.0.  There is a great article on Creative Commons licensing starting on page 112.  It leads off by highlighting the experience of Allan Vilhan, aka Cargo Cult.  Allan has put his music online at Magnatune under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.  He has since been contacted by a game developer and a design firm and licensed his work for over $1000.  He’s really good.  I’m listening to Alchemy right now and it rocks.

    Magnatune has something going here.  Any artists music can be downloaded for free, but they make purchasing high quality copies of the music (WAV, Ogg, FLAC, MP3 etc) inexpensive and easy.  Listeners can elect to pay anywhere from $5 to $18 for an album, with half of that money going directly to the artist.  The website also makes it extremely easy to inquire about licensing music for commercial use.

    Back to the article, there is also a good interview with Lessig about Creative Commons, copyrights, and court decisions that went “the other way.”  It’s definitely read worthy.

  • T-Mobile US Finally Has the 6600

    Wow.  I thought this was never going to happen.  T-Mobile US is stocking the 6600 for $399.  I might have to look in to extending my contract if that price drops any time in the near future.  I love my 3650 to death, but the poor thing just doesn’t have enough memory to deal with the abuse I give it.

    Thanks to Russ for mentioning it on #mobitopia.

  • Mobilopia

    Russ just pointed out that a new marketing firm, Mobilopia has set up shop at  As far as names go, Mobitopia wins hands down.

    What does Mobilopia mean?  Are the markets near sighted about mobile technology?  Or was that far sighted?  I can never remember.

  • Catching Up

    Welcome back from Radio silence.  While I wasn’t uploading to the world, I wrote a few entries that are definitely worth looking at, even if they were written a few days ago:

    • Java Location API: Where are the Phones?  Phones with GPS that implement the location API could be a huge thing.  So far, they’re just not out there.  I’m not up on Asian phones, which I’m sure are light years ahead, but I don’t really see anything in the US or European markets to speak of.  Moto’s i730 does not implement an API to the JSR spec, but at least it has GPS and we can get to the data.  That’s the important part.
    • How Much Does JSR-179 Rock?  My ode to simple and effective API calls.  Of course it takes a lot more than those few lines to “do it right” but it makes a ton of sense.  Moto’s location API isn’t half bad either.  Like I said, I just want the data.
    • J2ME Link Roundup was a linkdump of a lot of the pages that I had been looking at while groking location and messaging in J2ME.
  • Pardon the Interruption

    I wasn’t able to FTP updates for a few days, but I think that’s sorted now.

  • J2ME Link Roundup

    Here is a collection of links that summarizes what has piqued my interest in the J2ME arena in the past few weeks.