Year: 2005

  • My Nokia 770 Is On The Way!

    I just got “the email” saying that my Nokia 770 developer device was ready to rock. It’s been ordered up, more when the device arrives!

    Update: It’s here, more later.

  • Ajax In Your Pocket

    Mobile GMaps

    There goes Google, taking it to the next level again. Their latest offering is Google Local for Mobile. What they’ve done is essentially taken the Ajax model for desktop browsers and brought it the phone using J2ME. The idea is to have a fairly lightweight MIDlet (38k for the MIDP2 version) that then grabs all the data neccesary from the network.

    While this isn’t a horribly new idea, I think in this case it’s all about execution. Check out the tour to see everything that they’ve crammed in to this midlet. Your basic search is there, directions are there, simple smooth navigation is there. The interface is clean but at the same time there is a ton of information at your fingertips. They’ve also managed to cram driving directions in there, which is something I miss from MGMaps. To be fair, MGMaps has had a j2me interface to Google Maps for quite some time now and it’s the most used MIDlet on my phone. More than once it has helped me figure out where I am or where I’m trying to go.

    I’m glad to see Google pushing the mobile space like this. At the same time with mobile devices and J2ME you’re going to run in to some glitches. For example, I snagged the JAD by going to with Opera on my phone. It snagged the JAD and started installing it. After downloading it promptly ran out of memory and quit the installer. This isn’t Google’s fault, it’s the 6682’s known lack of a decent amount of memory. What worries me is that if the installation process failed on a rather high end device, I worry about how it would do on a super generic low end flippy. What is even worse is that after downloading and bluetoothing the JAR to my phone, I don’t get any farther than a bunch of “Loading…” on my screen. It looks pretty and fun in the emulator though.

    While there are still some growing pains to get through, Google is definitely on to something. To get around the problem of mobile browsers sucking, why not just get rid of the browser completely?

    I predict that 2006 will be the year of mobile Ajax. While I might be stretching the Ajax term a bit beyond Javascript and XMLHTTPRequest, I expect to see a new breed of apps and services with that Ajax feel to them hitting mobile devices in 2006. Google’s offering is just (as usual) before its time. On the horizon we also see Nokia’s WebCore based browser which will be more than capable of traditional Ajax, more devices shipping with Flash and SVG support, connected tablets (Nokia 770 and the PSP), and more. Trust me, 2006 is going to be a wild ride.

    Update: Thanks for the comments everyone. On Niels‘ suggestion I tried Other -> Nokia -> 6682 and it worked like a charm. Someone needs to fix the Cingular -> Nokia -> 6682 JAD.

  • Several Announcements from Nokia

    Lots of stuff is coming out of Finland via Barcelona today from their Nokia Mobility Conference. Here’s a quick roundup:

    Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to digest, but I’m really excited. Like Ewan, I think the N80’s form factor along with its quad-band dual-WCDMA-ness could just about make it the killer allover worldphone.

  • How Did I Live Without iSync?

    iSync on my Powerbook

    I really don’t know how I ever got along without iSync. It managed to do in just a few minutes what I didn’t have the patience for: synching the contacts between my three Series 60 phones. I had been putting off typing or transfering contacts to my 6682 because I wanted to give iSync a shot, and I’m glad that I did. Now everything is up to date on my 6682 and as a bonus so are my taco and 3650 in case I feel the need to grab them on the way out the door.

    Active Standby Screen

    Another thing that I’m really excited about is the active standby screen on the 6682. I saw a precursor to this on the Sendo X and really liked it. Nokia are definitely on the right track by allowing quick access to as many as 7 apps without having to click the application button. I have access to five apps on the top (Contacts, Messaging, MGMaps, Python, and WirelessIRC) as well as the two softbuttons (Gallery and Opera). The camera app also opens up if the camera cover is opened. That really is quick access to a nice core set of apps for me, with others still available as before.

    The other brilliant thing here is at-a-glance access to your calendar and your todo list. With a single click on either you can pop up those apps, bringing the total number of apps just a few clicks away on your standby screen to 9. I find myself using the calendaring system a lot due to the combination of iCal/iSync and the fact that calendar events from today show up on my standby screen. It’s also great to be able to set up alerts for certain events. I had been using (and absolutely love) Backpack but like the tighter integration of iCal and it also saves me SMSes (since Cingular charges a bit much for them).

    While I’m happy to have access to the todo app on the standby screen, I wish that the message displayed on screen were a little more helpful. If you only have one todo (yeah right, nobody has one todo) your todo text will be displayed on screen. Once you get past one or two todos they get smoshed in to one line that says something like “Slacker, you haven’t done x things yet.” I hope that Nokia takes a look at this in the future, because a soimple change there can improve the experience a ton. I wouldn’t be afraid to have your active standby screen scroll if you have a bunch of appointments or todos as long as the highest priority todos and soonest events are still above the fold or on the main screen. I can see a list of 2-3 todos and a link to “and x more todos” being much more useful than going from one todo to none on the main screen.

    All nitpicking aside, I’m totally in love. The synchronisation is flawless. It Just Works the first time without any glitches (YMMV). What I really love is that I have a vast amount of PIM information available to me on a device that was going to be in my pocket anyway. I’d say that the 6682 does every major function that a PocketPC or Palm based organizer would for me on the PIM side and it’s more than capable of running an array of apps and games. The 6682 really does a good enough job at enough of the functiosn of a PDA that carrying one would be redundant. The only thing I really miss from a PDA is a higher rez screen and Wi-Fi. I think Nokia has that covered in the new E Series though.

    Update: I forgot to mention that there’s an app on the 6682 designed specifically to help you move contacts and information from your old phone to your new phone. It copies a program to your old phone over Bluetooth and then allows you to transfer it over to your shiny new phone. It’s really a one way street, but the guys in #mobitopia tell me that it works perfectly.

  • We’re Moving to Kansas!

    No really, we’re moving to Kansas. I’ve accepted a position at World Online, the online division of the Lawrence Journal-World. I’ll be working on some award winning sites including,, using my favorite web framework: Django.

    I’m really excited about working with an awesome team of people doing some really cool stuff. And of course I’m completely stoked about working with Django on a daily basis. I’ll talk about what I’m up to when I can but there will be times when I have to keep my lips zipped. I guess now might be a good time to mention that this is my personal weblog and that views/opinions/etc expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

    Needless to say I’ve been a bit busy with getting up to speed at work and planning the move. I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now and had to delete a completely out of date post that I had half written while in Lawrence. Blogging will probably be light until things settle out, but in the meantime keep an eye on my links.

    Strap in, Toto!

  • MTV Buys iFilm for $49 Million


    The deal could mean a lot more downloadable TV programming for Web users and more online advertising for Viacom. “We’re…excited about the partnership potential with our established brands like MTV, MTV2, MtvU, Comedy Central, SpikeTV and VH1,” an MTV executive said in a statement. Video via the Web got another boost this week when Apple Computer unveiled a new iPod that plays videos. The company also plans to sell TV episodes, music videos and short animation through the iTunes music store.

    Effective immediately, will stop showing online movies. To view movies, you will have to tune in to I’m kidding of course. This seems like a pretty big deal and on the surface feels like a knee jerk reaction of “buy it before someone else does.” At the same time, CSI reruns on a video iPod would rule. It seems a bit weird for Apple to have started offering music videos for download from the beginning while MTV feels like a bolt-on.

    “I heard you on my wireless back in ’52…”

  • The Dapper Drake

    Now that Breezy Badger is out the door, I felt the need to find out what Ubuntu Linux 6.04 (the version coming out 6 months from now) had been named. The answer? The Dapper Drake. I’m guessing that the goals for the next release will solidify considerably after UbuntuBelowZero in a week or two.

  • VirtualRadio

    It boggles my mind that with EDGE and the hottest Series 60 phone available in America (I know that’s not saying much) I can’t stream MP3 or Real Audio out of the box. I’ve really been missing the FM feature that the taco has that the 6682 does not. Have no fear though, for a mere 10 bucks you can get streaming audio on your device with VirtualRadio. I was hoping that I would be able to point it to any mp3 stream I could think of but unless I’m missing something that does not look like an option. There is a pretty good list of channels though, and WBUR and WNYC are among them so I can get my Morning Edition and All Things Considered fix if I leave the taco at home. I’m bummed though because both stations air Marketplace at 6:30pm instead of the 6 o’clock time slot that I’m used to.

    I’m bummed about the inability to type in URLs of specific streams if they’re not on the list. I’ve been addicted to WMUC lately for their eclectic mix and local bands. I hear that it doesn’t multitask well (I can’t tell you how much I love playing FIFA to NPR) but it does an impressive job of the streaming thing over EDGE.

    I’m probably going to have to find a new set of popport headphones since teh ones that came with the 6682 are pretty dorky (or I’m just not fashionable enough) and I’ve broken the little connector thing that sits behind your neck and places the microphone in a usable spot in front of you.

    Are there any other apps out there besides Virgin Radio out there that let you stream mp3 or Real? I would kill for an app that let me point it at any stream I wanted. I’ll try Helix again but I wasn’t impressed last time. I’m pretty sure that the built in RealPlayer should in theory be able to stream, but I’ve tried pointing it at a few streams without luck.

  • Unleash the Badger!

    It’s been six months, and without delay, Ubuntu Linux 5.10 (Breezy Badger) is out the door. I’ve been running Breezy for a month or so and aside from a few minor hiccups it’s been treating me quite well.

    Ubuntu 5.10 features lots of goodies including Gnome 2.12.1, OpenOffice.Org 2 beta, Linux kernel, GCC 4.0.1, Python 2.4.2, and a ton of others. Check out the release announcement for more information and download links.

  • Nokia E Series

    Nokia E Series

    Nokia has announced a new business line of phones called the E series. These are all Series 60 devices (3rd edition based on Symbian 9.1). The E60 (middle) is a classic but small candybar phone. The E70 is a 6800-style device with a folding keypad. I remember saying that a 6800 running Series 60 would be a killer, so let’s hope I was right. The E61 is blackberry/treo-style quad band UMTS phone and a huge gorgeous screen.

    These are some jaw-dropping phones. I can’t wait to see these get out the door. These phones are planned for Q1 2006 (which roughly translates to 2H 2006).

  • Skipping Startup School

    I managed to get past the hall monitors and was accepted to Startup School but had to skip it due to scheduling. I’ll be keeping an eye on the blogosphere and the notes that come out of the daylong event. I was particularly interested in attending as a guy who is constantly on the edge but doesn’t always realize it until similar products or services come out a year or two down the road. I did moblogging back in 2002 on my POS WAP-only Sprintphone and have worked on countless other small projects. Every once in awhile I reminisce with Russ about that big new thing that he or I had tinkered with but not got off the ground a year or two ago. I was definitely looking forward to peeking behind the curtain a bit, but hopefully some attendees will be kind enough to write up their experiences.

    In other news, you might get an idea of what Aaron and Infogami is up to if you visit the Startup School Wiki

  • IT Conversations Seeks Python Developers

    Doug Kaye is looking for help in putting together an open source podcast uploader program:

    This is an open-source project to create a client-side application for encoding, normalizing and uploading audio files to the Conversations Network content-management system’s FTP server.

    See the requirements doc for more information. Can anyone lend a hand?

  • Mike and Chrissy

    Away and Married

    Congratulations are in order to Mike and Chrissy. Yesterday, as you can see from their away messages above, they got married. I’m so happy for them and I’m so glad that the day went so well. The weather could have been a little nicer, but everything else came together perfectly.

    Congrats you two!

  • Dissapointing Serenity Box Office Figures?

    I was hoping that the box office figures had been estimated low yesterday, but according to Yahoo! Movies, Serenity brought in just about $10M over the weekend. It’s really sad that flightplan kicked its butt at $15M. I didn’t get a chance to see it over the weekend, but it’s definitely on my list. I’m hoping that buzz builds and this coming weekend is even better. I’m not counting it out yet, I’m just a little dissapointed that the hardcore fanbase didn’t manage to bring enough friends along to boost the box office numbers any more.

    I can’t help but remember that the spectacular (IMHO) Final Fantasy debuted at $11.4M and took Square down with it. I’ll chip in my $9 as soon as I can, I promise.

  • Writeboard Backpack Integration

    Writeboard went live over the weekend. Solution Watch has a nice review of it. While I was hoping that there might be just a little more to it, I love writing in Textile and I’m really quite gaga over its integration with Backpack.

    If you log in to your backpack you should now see a Writeboard tab. You can create new writeboards from there and have them linked to your Backpack account. You can also associate existing Writeboards with your backpack account. While at first this might seem like 37Signals is undercutting themselves (Unlimited Writeboards is one way around Backpack’s free page count), they are really adding a ton of value to their existing product and creating more loyal customers.

    If you trust and honor your customers, they will return the favor.

    Update: See David Heinemeier Hansson’s comment below, as it clarifies that you can associate two Writeboards with your free Backpack account. That still rocks and makes a ton of sense. Thanks for the clarification and comment!

  • RedBox: Huge Bang for My Buck

    Last night we wanted to kick back and watch a movie at home but didn’t have anything interesting on the shelf. We decided to head up the street to our local McDonald’s which has a redbox kiosk near the front door. We poked around for a minute or two then selected our DVD. I swiped a credit card, filled out a quick form with the touchscreen and a DVD popped out of the slot.

    As long as you bring the DVD back by 10pm the next day, it only costs you a buck. Redbox keeps hitting your card a buck a day for 25 days. If you haven’t brought it back by that point, the DVD is yours.

    I’ve got to say that the experience was quick and painless and is a heck of a lot of bang for a buck a day. While we don’t watch enough to make a Netflix subscription worthwhile anymore, a buck a day every once in awhile is definitely worth it. I hope that redbox is making money and expands nationwide, because this is addictive!

  • OpenWRT: Turbocharging My Hunk of Plastic

    Yesterday I installed OpenWRT on a Linksys WRT54GS while evaluating some technology for a potential client. After exploiting an overflow in Ping.asp I had boot_wait set to on and was tftping White Russian RC3 to the box.

    A few minutes later the WRT54GS began behaving like a router again and I SSHed in to it. I quickly ran ipkg update and ipkg install NoCatSplash. After that I edited /etc/nocat.conf and the splash page HTML. Finally some NVRAM tweaks (don’t forget nvram commit when you’re done) and a reboot and a cheap hunk of plastic was up to customer spec with a custom splash page including T&C and AUP agreement.

    In the process of installing and configuring OpenWRT I was amazed at the quality and depth of the wikified OpenWRT documentation. OpenWRT also works on a wide range of newer hardware including a WRT54GS 2.1 that was purchased a few months ago and a WRT54 3.0 that a friend purchased not long ago. See TableOfHardware for a complete list of compatible hardware.

    After such a positive experience yesterday I plopped OpenWRT on my WRT54G at home. It kept most of the settings from the NVRAM, I just had to tweak the SSID and some wireless settings before I could get back online via wi-fi.

    If you want to enable SSH from the WAN port, just uncomment two lines in /etc/firewall.user. I’ve also set up my box to update its clock via NTP by using these instructions. It also looks rather trivial to set up cron jobs.

    I feel stupid for not installing OpenWRT sooner, as I’ve obviously been missing out on the fun for quite some time. The project has improved an amazing amount since I last looked at it. Now I feel like grabbing newer hardware with more storage space and hacking the crap out of it!

    Update: There’s something satisfying about updating your firewall rules via SSH, hupping /etc/init.d/S45firewall and having everything behave as it should.

  • Cingular Crippled the 6682 to Boost ARPU

    I’ve been exploring and playing with my new Nokia 6682 for the past few days but just today got around to setting it up to talk to my IMAP mail server. After setting up the mailbox I went to do something that has become second nature to me: snap a photo and send it via email. I was shocked to find that email is missing as an option under the save menu:

    Crippled 6682

    Say what now? Where did it go? I checked with Jim and his 6680 can send via multimedia, email, and Bluetooth. My only options are multimedia, Postcard, and Bluetooth.

    The only conclusion that I can come to is that Cingular has crippled the 6682 in order to increase its ARPU (average revenue per user) by forcing users to use the ever lucrative MMS. I should qualify this with the fact that yes indeed, I am able to send pictures via email, but it is about the opposite of easy:

    1. Snap picture.
    2. Hit application button.
    3. Navigate to Messaging.
    4. Click on Messaging.
    5. Click on New Message.
    6. Scroll down, select E-mail.
    7. Select Option softkey.
    8. Scroll down, select Insert -> Image.
    9. Find image.
    10. Select image.
    11. Continue as if you had just snapped a picture and selected via e-mail.

    Russ doesn’t think that I should call the above scenario crippled. I think I’m fully justified. While yes, the phone retains the ability to send an image via e-mail. However Cingular have made it unneccesarily hard to do so. They’ve made MMS the only convenient method to send pictures, and MMSes bring in much more money than standard data.

    This crippling of picture to e-mail reminds me a lot of Verizon’s castration of Bluetooth on the V710. Cingular had to go out of their way to remove the e-mail option and I can’t think of any reason for them to do so except to increase revenue.

    If I wasn’t so mad at this point I’d be pretty exceited about the Postcard option on that mail. I’m not sure how much it costs (I’ll investigate once I’ve calmed down a bit) but it appears that this option allows you to send a snail mail postcard of your picture with a personalized message. That’s really really cool, but it doesn’t make me any less angry at Cingular.

  • Blown Away by the 6682

    My Nokia 6682 came in tonight, and I’m completely blown away by it. Compared to the 3650 and N-Gage the fit and finish on the 6682 is absolutely stunning. I was suprised to find full Opera (7.60) installed on the rs-mmc (yes, I’ve already downloaded the free 8.0 update). I quickly got rid of the nast Cingular branded theme and also switched on the active background, which I think I like (but I haven’t had enough time to be sure). There are a bunch of other trial apps included on the MMC including MobiTV that require exploring.

    I’m definitely digging the camera “mode” that the phone puts itself in when you slide open the camera lens cover. I don’t think that picture quality is quite as good as my Sony DSC-U20 but it’s a definite improvement over my 3650.

    The phone is also a lot smaller than any other Series 60 I’ve had. It’s probably not actually a whole lot smaller, but it’s a little smaller and feels even smaller than it is.

    I’m really excited to have a modern Series 60 device so I can play with all of those apps that just don’t work on my 3650 or taco. I’m also excited about taking advantage of the newer Python for Series 60 features that were off limits to me on the 6.0 devices.

    Expect more observations over the next few days but my initial impression is “wow.”

  • Nokia 3250

    There’s been a bit of buzz about the Nokia 3250, the little brother to the Nokia N91 music phone. The 3250 is quite obviously derived from the 3230, an inexpensive Series 60 device that probaby hasn’t sold too many units (though I can’t confirm this) because of it’s bad timing to market and the huge “cheap” factor. The 3230 is an inexpensive Series 60 phone but it really comes off just looking cheap.

    I’ve noticed that Nokia seems to be betting pretty hard on phones with “modes.” For example with the Nokia N90 there is a standard flip-phone “mode” but if you turn the screen and camera properly you’re using it in camera “mode.” I’m not sure if I buy complex mode changes such as those employed by the N90 transformer or the swivel keypad that changes the 3250 from phone mode to music player mode. At the same time I think that simple mode changes are extremely compelling. For example if you open the camera lens protector on a Nokia 6680 (or other phones from other manufacturers with this feature) it instantly stops being a cel phone and brings up the camera interface. That’s simple and beautiful. I’m not sure that the same can be said for the N90 or 3250.

    Part of me wants to argue that any well done phone/music player has to integrate both functions as “core” functions and not compartmentalize them the way they are on the 3250. Without playing with it though I think it’s too early to judge whether it’s a flop or a hit.