Month: March 2007

  • Forum Nokia Remote Device Access

    I’m really excited about Nokia’s new Remote Device Access program for Forum Nokia members, including free members.

    A similar service has been available from Device Anywhere for some time now, but the service isn’t free (but definitely a lot cheaper than purchasing half a dozen test devices). I’m excited that Nokia have opened up a device testing service with a wide array of devices from the 5500 to the N95 to all developers including shareware and open source developers. It looks like I have 40 credits and a half hour with a device costs 2 credits, so it looks like I have the potential to test for up to 20 hours with my free Forum Nokia membership.

    Here are some screenshots from the Java-based interface:

    RDA List
    Nokia Remote Device Access device list

    RDA N95
    Nokia Remove Device Access N95 information

    RDA standby
    Nokia Remote Device Access N95 standby screen

    RDA home screen
    Nokia Remote Device Access N95 home screen

    RDA S60 browser
    Nokia Remote Device Access S60 browser

    RDA maps
    Nokia Remote Device Access maps

    By default the bit-depth isn’t quite the same as the device (see Heikki’s comment below), so there’s a bit of dithering and as expected there’s a slight delay, but it’s definitely the next best thing to having a device in your hands. I was a bit disoriented when I put the S60 browser in horizontal mode and continued to use it with a vertical keypad, but that’s to be expected.

    I think it’s a great testing tool and can’t wait to make use of it in the future.

  • A mobile take on SXSW 2007

    With SXSW Interactive 2007 winding down I’ve started reflecting on SXSW from a mobile perspective. First of all I found myself using from my phone quite a bit in the beginning of the conference as it allowed me the same overview that the pocket schedule did but also allowed me to drill down in to panel details. As I had more time to research my panel selection later in the week I found myself using my annotated (analog) pocket guide more and the mobile site less.

    One of the most invigorating sessions was Brian Fling’s presentation entitled Everything you wanted to know about the mobile web (but were afraid to ask). His slide deck is chock-full of information but only as much jargon as absolutely necessary. There wasn’t a lot of new information in it for me, but I think he’s doing exactly the right thing by firing up this group of alpha designers about mobile design and showing them that it’s not that hard. In fact XHTML-MP is still just XHTML and while there are lots of limitations, CSS is still CSS. He also mentioned several great resources in his presentation including the brand new .mobi mobile web developer’s guide. Also worth reading is the Mobile Web Initiative’s Mobile Best Practices document.

    I also caught a mobile panel on Monday called “Mobile Application Design Challenges and Tips.” Dan Saffer took some great notes on the panel which focused on the trials and tribulations experienced when developing a mobile app. It was nice to hear that several apps were quite successful operating “off-deck” or outside of carrier portals. It was great to hear Matt Jones talk about lower level UI bits and revel in the success of ZoneTag, but my biggest takeaway from the panel was from John Poisson of His advice was to not worry too much about details. Get it out there as quickly as you can, even if it’s simpler than you plan for it to be. Gather feedback from your users and continue to improve the product. This also seemed to jive with my takeaway from the turning projects in to revenue panel: fail early, fail often.

    The other mobile panel that stood out was called There’s no Such Thing as the Mobile Web (Or Is There?) I found a great set of notes on this panel at Eran’s blog. The panel started off discussing if there was a seperate “mobile web” or not and in the end it was hard to come up with a solid answer. It is significant to note that what a user does or expects to do on a mobile device is somewhat different than what a person needs when sitting in front of a computer. Context, location, creating content and retrieving information quickly are essential. It was interesting to get several different viewpoints on the issue: Dan Applequist from the standards and carrier viewpoint, Carlo from the industry analyst side, Michael Sippey from the blogging/content creation point of view, and Dwipal Desai who is focusing on mobile for a little company called YouTube. I was fascinated at how well Six Apart know their users: They focus on richer apps on higher end devices for a service like Vox but emphasize text messaging for LiveJournal because those users tend to be younger with cheaper phones, limited data capability, but usually have unlimited messaging plans. Vodafone are also in a unique position to offer a rich environment with asynchronus communication built around SVGT. Looking forward it’s obvious that there’s a ton of potential for the mobile web (or connected rich applications, or whatever you’d like to call it) but it’s unclear exactly which path we’ll take and what it will be.

    I truly hope that the topics discussed at SXSW this year will encourage these alpha designers, UI experts, and coders to take a closer look at mobile apps and push the limits of the mobile web.

  • PostGIS: From Multilinestring to Linestring

    Continuing on with my PostGIS tinkering, I’ve been further exploring getting data in and out of PostGIS. After recompiling GEOS to get the C API working so that I could start working with the new features in PostGIS 1.2.1.

    One of the problems I ran in to is that gpx2shp really likes to import data as a Multilinestring, while in the simplest case of a single-track GPX file, it should really be a Linestring. After searching a bit, I came across a mention of linemerge which can turn a Multilinestring such as MULTILINESTRING((-95.235071 38.971896,-95.235076 38.971906,-95.235015 38.971848)) in to a LINESTRING(-95.235071 38.971896,-95.235076 38.971906,-95.235015 38.971848), which seems like a saner way to work with single tracks.