1. Choosing next cellphone

    Nearly two years passed since I started to use my current cellphone: Sony Ericsson k750i. It is great device but I feel more and more limited during using it. For example PIM is very simple (no recurrent events, no attenders) and none of my PDA devices has something more extended.

    PIM — Agendus

    Few years ago when I had PalmOS powered Sony Clie SJ30 I used Agendus application for PIM. Recently I checked newest version in Garnet VM emulator on my Nokia N810 tablet. It is really great and complex application. There is a support for event attenders, contacts linking, contacts history (tasks, calls, meetings) and lot more. Interesting feature is support for “Trip” events — I tested it with my GUADEC 2008 trip. I was able to add timeline for whole conference, bus trips from Szczecin to Berlin Tegel airport (and back) + plane flights and all of that linked as one trip with all components available in calendar, agenda etc…

    Yesterday I installed Windows Mobile emulator and checked Agendus for that platform. It lacks some features from PalmOS version (trips are one of them) but is much better then default WM PIM. I do not plan to check BlackBerry or Symbian versions because they are not on a list of systems which I want to use.

    Which system to choose?

    So the problem now is which cellphone system to choose… I do not want Symbian because most of devices lack touchscreen (iirc only UIQ ones have it), BlackBerry is totally unknown for me and I also do not want to use totally closed phones like I did in last few years. PalmOS is trying to not die but nothing new was done on this platform in last few years so it is also not for me. Looks like the only choice is going to Windows Mobile cellphones.

    Possible devices

    Which one to choose? Most of devices use QVGA screens which is a very limiting resolution. After searching on web and discussing with few friends I have a few devices to check — Toshiba G900 (WVGA, new ~480EUR, used ~300EUR, hardware keyboard, no gps) or something from ETEN Glofiish devices with VGA screen (X650, X800, M800, M810). HTC has only Touch Diamond with VGA screen but it is too expensive.

    Why not Linux phone?

    Because there is nothing interesting now :( Openmoko guys moved from GTK+ to mix of E17 and Qtopia and when I saw result during LinuxTag 2008 it was nothing impressive. To add more confusion there are at least 4 different environments for Openmoko in development (GTK+ based OM2007.2, Qtopia on framebuffer, E17 + Qtopia on X11 and something called “Openmoko underground”). Also formfactor of GTA01/02 is not something I would call “nice” — have a look at any device manufactured by HTC

    And I did not yet saw Linux mobile platform with good PIM… Maemo lack it totally — even GPE contacts/calendar are hard to use due to lack of alarms functionality, Openmoko does not decided yet which PIM they want to support (not that there is something on a horizon)… So sorry guys but I will not buy Linux phone soon.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  2. ATI onboard strikes back

    As we plan to move from Poznań to Szczecin this week we are spending at Ania’s parents house.

    To have better work equipment then my Dell D400 laptop I grabbed some unused components from home to build computer. The list was not so long:

    • 120GB ATA hard disk (it was system one some time ago)
    • DFI RS482 mainboard with 2.1GB ram and Athlon64 X2 cpu (my previous desktop)
    • cpu cooler
    • keyboard
    • PS/2 mouse (which I used before buying wireless one)
    • power supply
    • USB->Serial adapter and some other USB gadgets
    • some cables
    • headphones

    The only thing which was needed to make it computer was case. And this shown that Szczecin lacks good computer shops — I had to visit 4 of them just to buy decent case as most of time they only had cheap ones.

    Anyway I am using this machine for few days now (connected to old 17” CRT which I used in 2006) with on-board ATI graphics card. It has many names… “RS485, ATI Radeon x1250 Chipset” etc… And this is crap never mind which drivers are used ;(

    First I started with “xf86-video-ati” one. Version shipped in Debian ‘sid’ (6.8.0) is very old and reports that I have the same monitor connected to VGA and DVI outputs. Result is not funny. Driver from “experimental” is much better. But 1024x768@85Hz resolution which is default is not so nice — 1280x1024@85Hz is much better but needs to be set by XRandR call or tweaking of X11 config file.

    So I tried to use official ATI driver: “fglrx”. As usual it required patching to build with last release kernel (2.6.25) but patches are already in Debian so it took less time then my last fight with NVidia driver. Effect is also strange — this time monitor started in 2048x1536@60Hz which is just insane on 17” CRT. After switching with XRandR to sane 1280x1024@85Hz it is much more usable.

    Good side is that I do not need to use this machine too often so it will stay like it is for some time. When we move it will be one of my build machines.

    And if I ever will have to use it I will put NVidia card into this — they at least works perfect in X11.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  3. Funny gadget from LinuxTag 2008

    During LinuxTag 2008 I got one funny gadget during visit on Sun microsystems stand. Nothing too fancy — just time, date, seconds like in watches from 80’s.

    Sun watch front view
    Sun watch front view
    Sun watch back view
    Sun watch back view

    The whole fun is in power — any liquid. Instruction suggests beer, soft drinks, salt water, tea, coffee — standard liquids found anywhere. It can even use clean water but this will end very fast (I tried that first due to lack of other liquids). Currently it is powered with salted water which is electrolytic enough for few days (instruction suggests changing fuel once per week).

    This is nothing new — back cover has “(c) 2004’ but that does not change situation that it is funny enough to take space on my monitor stand for some time.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  4. Feel the power of USB with Nokia tablet

    Over year ago I wrote post about USB — connected most of my devices/gadgets into desktop USB ports and checked how system reacts to it. As Kees Jongenburger gave me USB AF/AF adapter during this year LinuxTag I decided to do the same with N810 tablet.

    Required software

    In theory nothing is needed as N8x0 tablets are equipped in USB On-The-Go port and proper support is enabled in kernel. To make things easier users can install USBControl (available in normal Maemo repositories).

    But there is one problem — default kernel is compiled with OTG whitelist enabled. As a result some classes of devices are rejected — for example all my USB Hubs. After disabling of CONFIG_USB_OTG_WHITELIST (and recompilation of kernel) they got supported.

    Attached hardware

    I decided to not connect everything USB I have but most of it. Resulting list (names in brackets are added by hand):

    Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000 (Nokia N810 internal USB Host)
    Bus 001 Device 004: ID 058f:9254 Alcor Micro Corp. Hub
    Bus 001 Device 005: ID 058f:6362 Alcor Micro Corp.
    Bus 001 Device 007: ID 0c76:0007 JMTek, LLC.
    Bus 001 Device 008: ID 0409:005a NEC Corp.
    Bus 001 Device 020: ID 1457:5122 (OpenMoko GTA01 phone)
    Bus 001 Device 021: ID 046d:0b02 Logitech, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 023: ID 046d:c70e Logitech, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 024: ID 046d:c70a Logitech, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 026: ID 0409:005a NEC Corp.
    Bus 001 Device 027: ID 0403:6001 Future Technology Devices International, Ltd 8-bit FIFO
    Bus 001 Device 028: ID 0fce:d016 Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB
    Bus 001 Device 029: ID 05e3:0606 Genesys Logic, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 030: ID 0a81:0205 Chesen Electronics Corp. PS/2 Keyboard+Mouse Adapter
    Bus 001 Device 031: ID 1130:0202 Tenx Technology, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 033: ID 0a46:9601 Davicom Semiconductor, Inc.
    Bus 001 Device 034: ID 13fe:1d00 (2GB pendrive from GUADEC 2007)
    

    In other words:

    • 3 hubs (2 of them were powered, one had 7 ports)
    • Ethernet card (dm9601 based)
    • serial port
    • PS/2 -> USB adapter for keyboard and mouse
    • 2 pendrives
    • Bluetooth adapter (those 3 Logitech entries)
    • panic button
    • Openmoko GTA01 pda/phone
    • my cellphone
    • multi slot card reader

    Obligatory screen shot

    Screenshot must be — especially when it shows that GUI was not ready for this amount of devices. But thats expected — in normal situations no one connects more then one device (especially when USB hubs are not supported).

    List of devices connected to Nokia N810 tablet
    List of devices connected to Nokia N810 tablet

    Conclusion

    USB Host ports are handy in devices like N810 tablet. Would be nice if there would be possibility to update firmware from thumb drive like it is one few other devices.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  5. Stuck at 600MHz

    During this week I work on my Dell D400 laptop. It uses Pentium-M 1.6GHz processor which has few work frequencies available due to acpi-cpufreq kernel driver. The lowest one is 600MHz and normally this machine spends most of time with that speed but goes up when there is some work to do (due to ondemand governor which I mostly use).

    But since yesterday it is not so nice… During boot CPU is often detected as 600MHz one:

    [    0.693310] Detected 598.133 MHz processor.
    

    instead of nominal speed:

    [    0.693310] Detected 1594.845 MHz processor.
    

    I tried rebooting but even if there was boot at nominal speed it sooner or later got stuck at lowest:

    root@maluch:/var/log# cpufreq-info
    cpufrequtils 002: cpufreq-info (C) Dominik Brodowski 2004-2006
    Report errors and bugs to linux@brodo.de, please.
    analyzing CPU 0:
      driver: acpi-cpufreq
      CPUs which need to switch frequency at the same time: 0
      hardware limits: 600 MHz - 1.60 GHz
      available frequency steps: 1.60 GHz, 1.40 GHz, 1.20 GHz, 1000 MHz, 800 MHz, 600 MHz
      available cpufreq governors: powersave, userspace, conservative, ondemand, performance
      current policy: frequency should be within 600 MHz and 600 MHz.
                      The governor "performance" may decide which speed to use
                      within this range.
      current CPU frequency is 600 MHz (asserted by call to hardware).
    

    Weird it is… And this is not overheating because 44°C is nothing strange for this machine. Maybe CPU fan require replacing… but this also means splitting laptop into small parts to get access to it :(

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  6. I found “nice” thing

    Few days ago I gave my 2GB pendrive for my wife as she was going to fotolab to make some photos. It contained our wedding photos. Today I mounted it on one of my systems and discovered “nice” thing on it…

    In root directory there were two files which were not present there before — MS32DLL.dll.vbs and autorun.inf which executes first one. From first look it does not make too many harm for Microsoft Windows systems — looks like it only change window title for Internet Explorer so many people will not even notify but I wonder how many fotolabs or other such places put even more nasty things on client’s media…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  7. LinkedIn and checking email addresses

    Some months ago Ross Burton wrote about checking email authors on LinkedIn:

    I generally thought that LinkedIn was pretty useless for people like me. I have a community of like-minded associates available via Planet Gnome and so on, so apart from collecting friends it is pretty useless.

    But recently it’s been becoming quite useful. For large companies it generally appears to be company policy that contact with open source projects is done via anonymous email domains, like GMail. This obviously makes it tricky to guess where someone is from when they appear on a mailing list… but LinkedIn to the rescue. Search for a name and hey presto, their CV!

    Today I got interesting mail… It was technical question about my blog post “Recent Poky changes” where I wrote about updating QEMU in Poky to handle ARMv6/v7 rootfs. Question like question — but why it came to my OpenedHand email instead of private one? This is private blog…

    The interesting part was mail author. As it came from private account which does not tell me anything so I did search on the LinkedIn. Result was nice — one of PDA vendors. I wonder when they will release phone with ARMv6 processor.

    Anyway I answered and decided to share answer with other people which want to run ARMv6 Linux under QEMU. So to get it done few things are needed:

    1. recent Subversion snapshot of QEMU
    2. patch for Linux kernel to enable ARMv6 for ARM Integrator PB devboard
    3. ARMv6 rootfs
    4. some time to configure kernel

    All those steps can be handled with Poky (or OpenEmbedded) of course. Kernel for “qemuarm” device use properly patched kernel — just kernel config change is needed to enable ARMv6 support. To get ARMv6 rootfs you can adapt “qemuarm” machine config to use proper optimizations (“tune-arm1136jf-s.inc” instead of “tune-arm926ejs.inc”).

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  8. Back in KDE 3.5

    Some time agoI wrote that I am considering switching back to KDE 3.5 after few months with KDE 4.0/4.1-svn. Finally I did it.

    Reasons are the same as in previous post — lack of stability and I for now I do not see bright future for KDE 4.1 (but this can change after release if developers will work on fixing bugs instead of adding new features/rewrites). With 4.1 svn snapshots there was guessing ‘what is broken today and how badly’ — mostly Plasma desktop was more or less unusable. For example panel which works in 4.0.72 stopped working with 4.0.73 unless enlarged to normal size, second panel nearly never worked (or even made Plasma crash each time).

    So for now I am back on KDE 3.5 with few components from 4.1-svn (window manager, Okular, Dolphin) and wait for 4.1/4.2 releases to have something to test.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
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