1. Sending N900 back to Nokia

    Tomorrow I will send my Nokia N900 back to Nokia.

    But I am not abandoning that platform. It is just because my N900 has few dead pixels on screen. They are grouped in area of “task switcher” button so were harder to notice.

    Bad pixels
    Bad pixels

    Are those bad pixels or just dust? No difference for me as in both situations they are visible.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  2. N900 — second day

    I plan to write blog post on each working day about my experiences with N900 device. Today I planned to concentrate on PIM applications but decided to write about other things.

    Brainstorm

    Brainstorm — the person which invented that was genius. In normal projects if someone wants to request enhancement then bug tracker is used. Bugzilla even has such value in severity field. What is a result?

    Bug like this, this or that got “moved” to brilliant Brainstorm area of Maemo website. Ok, you can add idea of solution there or vote for (or against) that. But you can not comment on solutions or ideas. For some entries in brainstorm there were comments with “discuss that idea in this forum thread” but seriously — how many developers like to use forums? I do not like — prefer to get email notifications from bug trackers where I can comment on bug and vote for it. I can quickly search for all entries where I commented etc. Brainstorm does not give me that. But I do not know, maybe the idea was to make users shut up and be happy with software which they got.

    UI

    Maemo5 UI is slick, nice and finger friendly. Last thing also means that most of screen resolution is used for paddings, margins and frames. Basically do not expect more then 6 lines on list widgets.

    Application manager
    Application manager

    Kinetic scrolling of course is present but also scrollbars are hidden so most of time it is hard to notice how many entries are available. Problem is even bigger when layout object is scrollable — it took me some time to find out where I can change ringtones to the ones which I used on previous phones (I use same ones for over two years). The problem was this screen:

    Settings/Profile
    Settings/Profile

    There are options under them… but no visible mark that user should scroll ;( It was discussed in bug 5750 and bug 5426 but for me it looks like it will not be fixed.

    Portrait mode would improve things a lot but is not available and looks like will not done for Maemo5 (except few applications). Contacts list in phone dialer (the only one portrait enabled app) contains 10 entries. Kinetic scrolling works much better in that orientation and user got also alphanumeric shortcuts to scroll list even faster (due to lack of keyboard in portrait).

    To summarize: UI is nice, but some work should be done to make it more useful.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  3. N900 arrived

    After 4 weeks from ordering Nokia N900 device arrived at my place. Now I have one week to check is everything working and if not then request RMA from Nokia.

    First feelings? Heavy and bulky. It is bigger then each of phones which I owned and feels bigger then N810 tablet (due to thickness).

    Nokia N900 with my other Nokia devices
    Nokia N900 with my other Nokia devices

    OMAP3 processor which is in N900 has lot of power and it is nicely used — transitions are nice, normal DivX movies plays without problems. No lag noticed so far.

    But how about software? This is other thing ;( Some things are just like they were in Maemo — more or less broken by design, some are missing, some things which were in previous releases are missing etc. For example application manager still does not allow to install more then one application at once and still does not scroll on keypress or limit entries on typing (which Contacts do).

    Contacts application integrates also Instant Messaging. It looks like someone read my previous post about defining good contacts application — you have people and can add Jabber/Skype/ICQ/MSN/SIP/etc protocols to each of them. Looks really nice. But lacks any way to automatize merging of entries from different accounts so it took me a while to get most of them merged ;(

    Contacts with IM statuses
    Contacts with IM statuses

    Email application is a disaster. It looks like it does not cache any data so going into my inbox (with just 550 mails) require half minute to get it refreshed — Profimail on my E66 phone handle it much much better. And I still did not found a way to go into inbox->mailinglists->development->oe folder which currently has ~14000 (yes, fourteen thousands) emails. According to talk on #maemo channel Maemo5 email client do not have an option to subscribe IMAP folders yet.

    Email application
    Email application

    Software launcher is changed — no longer editable menu with categories but just set of icons sorted randomly(?).

    Launcher screenshot
    Launcher screenshot

    Good thing is that PIM data got fetched from my Nokia E66 without any problems — I just had to pair them and everything got synced. Bad thing is that so far there is no way to sync with SyncML servers like ScheduleWorld ;(

    I hope that some of problems will disappear after some use and/or in next software releases.

    And one more thing — this is first Maemo device which has Polish language support out-of-box!

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  4. Video calls are important feature of today phone

    When I was choosing my current phone (Nokia E66) one of things which I wanted was ability to make video calls. I did not know what for I will use them but why not having them? Especially when they are treated as normal calls by my GSM operator (except roaming).

    Some time ago I discovered why video calls are good to have. I have small daughter (~20 months now). When my wife has to travel somewhere (or I have to) we use video calls to wave her on good morning or before going sleep etc. Mira’s reaction is always positive and we usually have to be careful as she wants to keep phone and look at caller’s face.

    And so far Nokia failed to implement video calls on N900 device :( So people — fix it or my daughter will force me to take my phone as a backup :D

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  5. I wrote module player in Qt

    It was over eight years ago when I wrote application last time. Since then I had my hands in countless programs, libraries etc. but never wrote something new from scratch. Until recently…

    Some time ago Mickey Lauer presented his module player for iPhone. I like the idea and started thinking about creating such one for my devices. After some discussions about Modland music collection with him I started coding.

    To make things as simple as possible I used Qt framework with Phonon for playing (GStreamer modplug plugin underneath). Current version maybe is not so beauty but it is usable and works fine. Application will be GPL — I used code from Qt demos, read random snippets of code from other programs etc.

    Things already implemented:

    • playing local modules
    • fetching modules from modland archive
    • author/song selection
    • playing next song on song end (with looping on author)
    • seeking
    • volume change (will probably get removed from UI)

    Things to do:

    • error handling (especially fetching related)
    • download progressbar
    • playing counters
    • favorites
    • playlists
    • small screen usability (stacked windows/tabs)
    • and others…
    Current UI
    Current UI

    For readers: what is a real name of Lord Performer? :D

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  6. DDP — does it has any sense?

    Some time ago Nokia offered discounts for their newest tablet: N900 for about two hundred people which were active in Maemo community. For European ones the price is more or less 250€ which looks nice compared to original price which is ~600€.

    But there is one nasty part in it — devices have just one week of warranty. What can be checked during that time? Dead pixels?

    Situation got more strange when I looked at Maemo forum where people lists misc discounts which they found on the Internet… For example Dell had one for $442 which makes it just a bit more expensive then DDP ones but gives you normal warranty.

    This is weird — developers and active people from community gets worse offer then normal users. And additionally all DDP orders are marked as “Critical” which probably is other way of saying “ignore as long as possible” because tomorrow there will be two weeks since I ordered N900 in DDP and all I got was locking of 250€ on my credit card and nothing more.

    Previous developer programs were better at handling users (at least that is what I hear from people which were part of it).

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  7. Some OpenEmbedded/Poky tricks

    During use of OpenEmbedded and Poky build systems I learnt few tricks which I want to start sharing.

    Installing l10n packages for all software in resulting rootfs

    This one is rarely used — I know one company which makes use of it. How does it works? It is called after root filesystem is populated with packages and goes one by one and install “-locale-LANG” for each required language. As you may expect it makes whole process much, much longer. Activation is easy:

    ROOTFS_POSTINSTALL_COMMAND += "install_all_locales; "
    

    Code is available only for building from IPKG packages and is stored in rootfs_ipk.bbclass file. So far that code is present only in Poky Linux.

    Building AUTOREV packages over slow link

    How many times you had a situation when you did a build and many components used SRCREV="${AUTOREV}" setting? Parsing can take eons then…

    But there is a solution. It will cache values of all SRCREV variables so just one parse will be long — next one use cached values. Of course you lose automatic revisions but instead you have fast parsing time which is blessing when most of your work is fixing build problems. Activation is easy:

    BB_SRCREV_POLICY = "cache"
    

    Save disc space by not generating GIT tarballs in DL_DIR

    How many of you readers share your DL_DIR (directory where OE stores all fetched sources) with others? For those who answered “not me” there is a way to gain some space by not generating tarballs with GIT repositories.

    By default BitBake clones GIT tree and checkouts it. Then 2 archives are generated: one with just “.git” directory and second with sources — the one which is used in do_unpack task. So why waste space for storing first one? We have it somewhere in DL_DIR/git/ for next time… Activation is easy:

    BB_GENERATE_MIRROR_TARBALLS = "0"
    

    More tricks in next posts.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  8. Driving with Ovi Maps

    My Symbian based Nokia E66 phone has Ovi Maps installed so one day I decided to make use of routing function in it when I was driving to the town (on a road where I did not needed to be guided). BT headset on ear, paired with phone and let’s drive.

    At start road was selected quite properly, the problems started later. Many times it was recalculating route (the funniest was when I stopped at traffic lights it recalculated route and then made it again after driving for 5 meters). Directions changes information were also distracting: “on 200m go left” then “go right” when I reached point. Or “go left,right” when it was straight road or when I had to turn right at crossing.

    I have to admit that after two tries I totally gave up on driving with it and switched back to TomTom device. But there is one good thing in Ovi Maps — it works quite good for walk navigation. I used it in many cities abroad and it handled. I hope that Maemo5 version will work at least that good as Symbian one.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
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