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[1 Sep 2011 | | ]
Nothing lasts forever

Although the journey we have all taken with Maemo has been an amazing one, we do have to admit to ourselves that everything with a beginning has an end; and that end may just be in sight.
I know I personally wish I could hold onto my N900 forever, even when it must be replaced I know that I will hold onto it and still use it frequently, but how long does that all really last?  Although Maemo is an open system, and a very open one at that compared to the competition, there are still closed elements to it.  These elements are controlled by Nokia, and heavily restrict what we can do to keep the longevity of our devices going.  It has been proven that Nokia do not open up these parts of the system, as they still have not done so to older versions of Maemo and care even less now then they did before.

 We could always continue on as we are now, but how long would that course really keep us happy, as we start to feel restricted in our actions, seeing everything around us evolve while our platform remains stale.  While Maemo was ahead of the crowd at its release, and still age’s well, there is only so long it can steam along on the aging hardware of the N900.  What’s more is the hardware itself isn’t built to last forever, I myself have had my handset replaced a few times already, the most one lasted for was 12 months.
But what about the community?  I have always preached about the community, and I still think it is an amazing one, but with the limitations already listed, how long will the pillars of the community stick around?  What happens when their device bites the dust and a simple solder job will not suffice?
We all will need to face the facts that nothing lasts forever, and as the N900 fast approaches its 2nd birthday, it’s an anniversary that will be marked by sadness as more people will break away from the device, or break their device.  I am hoping …

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[31 Aug 2011 | | ]
Questions and Answers – Nokia N900

As I look around the place, I often see many questions pop up related to the N900, features, issues and troubleshooting.  Many of these questions seem to be directed into the ether of the unknown, so I thought I would open up and give people a chance to ask Nokia N900 questions directly.

I will do my best to answer questions or anything written here (and not in Facebook), and if I don’t know the answer, I will attempt to find one (or maybe someone else reading will know the answer).  The answers given are things I would do myself on my own device, but do carry the disclaimer that if your device manages to blow up a small moon, it is not my fault. So let me have it, and I will do my best to be the friendly neighbourhood spider pig.

Applications, Software »

[30 Aug 2011 | | ]
qutIM for Nokia N900 – a different kind of messenger

I don’t know about everyone else, but I love how all the chat features are integrated into the heart of Maemo, when I can just look into the contacts menu and see who is where.  But this approach isn’t everyone’s cup of billy tea, and has its own limitations.  This is where qutIM for Nokia N900 helps out all the tea drinkers out there.

qutIM takes the old style approach to instant messaging.  It feels reminiscent of ebuddy which I used to use on my old N95, which isn’t a bad thing, and it works rather well.  Functionally qutIM does the same thing as any of the other plug ins that can be used on the N900, but it differs as it uses its own UI.  The upside to this is that you can see you contacts statuses, display names and even set your own status far more specific then just busy or away.
The one thing I was afraid of with having a client like this for messaging is that when closing, would that kill everything too?  But with qutIm it doesn’t, it will continue to deliver updates and can be accessed again from status menu.  qutIM currently supports protocols for IRC, Pidgin, Jabber, ICQ and more, and has decent portrait support to boot.

While defiantly fun to play around with, and to experience something a bit different, I think I will continue to use messenger from my contacts, but since those protocols seem to mess themselves more often these days, perhaps we will all end up using qutIM one day.  As long as I can remain online but not talk to anyone, I will remain content.

Applications, Featured, Software »

[29 Aug 2011 | | ]

For the life of the N900, there has been a stream of mediocre Facebook apps popping up.  Each app had its unique purpose, from being good at checking in, or easy updates, but nothing on the whole that stellar.  When a device sports a built in browser like MicroB, the apps better be good, so with that we see how the latest fairs. Let’s have a look at fMobi for Nokia N900.

fMobi has been out on Symbian^3 for some time, is newly released on Maemo, and will soon come to Meego.  First impressions here are fairly good, things working well once permissions are allowed through Facebook.  The start screen has the familiar blue we have all come to know and love, and icons that show the simplistic feel that seems to be happening these days.  The navigation that occurs when you’re browsing is great and all the menus work well.  Sharing a status or checking the news feed is very easy, but sometimes slow to load.
The beauty of this app, is that it displays all the information you really want to see, in an efficient and aesthetically pleasing way.  Many flaws in other apps have been the omission of certain features, and it’s great to see that isn’t the case here.  There are off course a few things that can’t be done in the app, unliking and blocking the news feed are a few but that’s where MicroB steps in.
As would be expected for such a recent release on the N900, a few issues did arise in the use of fMobi.  The slow load times really started grinding on me after some time for certain menus, photos being one which is unfortunate as photos are also MicroB’s biggest weakness.  fMobi also seemed to randomly crash at times, but it hasn’t been too common to be much of an issue.

Overall, a very positive experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing updates in the future to make this the very best Facebook experience that N900 has to offer.  With all the changes that happen on Facebook, MicroB is defiantly lagging behind but …

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[29 Aug 2011 | | ]
Care Service matters – Repairing Nokia N900

As much as I want to try and hide it, every device has its flaws.  When it comes to choosing a device we must weigh all the pros and cons of not only the product itself, but the company, and how it deals with its customers.
Recently my Nokia N900 has managed to surface its flaw, one that is well documented.  It’s the charging port, the little Micro-USB port that is attached by only a terrible few solder spots.  Now this is a flaw that only affects a small percentage of users, and I just happen to be unlucky.  This kind of flaw surfaces simply from use, due to the tight grip of socket and need for daily charging; what’s worse is the warranty is out by just a few months.

 Now this is the part where the company comes into it, because although Nokia Care made me aware of my lack of warranty, they did mention I could make a call to the Nokia Care line to sort things out.  The Nokia Care line, aware of the flaw advised me they would still repair it for free, even though it’s out of warranty.  It was actually a very pleasant conversation.
This is just one instance when Nokia has rewarded my trust in them, and I have had very little negative dealings with Nokia Care, although I know this isn’t the case with everyone.  It’s the reason why if possible, I will always choose Nokia, because as a company I still trust them.  I trust they will do the right thing and even when there are problems with the devices, the service comes in to make everything perfect.  There aren’t too many companies that have my trust like this.

Games, Software »

[28 Aug 2011 | | ]
Warcraft II on the N900

Want another chance to revisit some of those awesome childhood games?  How about the amazing Warcraft II for Nokia N900?  Warcraft II is brought to you by the Wargus app, which runs on the Stratagus engine.  All the special moments from Blizzards 1995 DOS classic are here in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.  In a time where Orcs were truly the evil guys, before they were just misunderstood and simply pawns of the Burning Legion.

If you haven’t played this game before on the PC, then you cant really play this game.  Firstly that you need the files from your old Warcraft II cd, and the other that it wouldn’t make much sense, and a mouse is a little more intuitive to use then the touch screen.  I did find it reasonable to play though, while dragging, tapping and double tapping my stylus.  I wouldn’t want to play this without a stylus and keyboard though, so that’s unfortunate for basically any other phone.
With that, Warcraft II felt right at home on my N900, beyond a few double tap issues everything went rather well…  Oh, and getting eaten by dragons.  There were no major frame rate issues, and it was very easy to install.  All one needs to do is…

–          Copy the Warcraft II cd files (DOS version, battle.net version doesn’t work) to /home/user/MyDocs/WAR2
–          Install Wargus from the Application manager (this will take some time)
–          Run from the menu

I know I have mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of games that take such a time investment on my N900, but this is an exception.  It plays well, you can save and pickup later and you get to be Orcs!  If you want to look into it in more detail, you can over here.

Now you can relive the glory days, and guide the Horde to victory against those meddling Alliance scum!  For the Horde!!

Applications, Software »

[27 Aug 2011 | | ]
Lucky number Cleven

First of all, I must start out by saying that this app is for learning purposes only.  Hacking is evil and only you take responsibility for your actions on this “Nokia N900 Hacks” post.  Neighbouring networks are not free game, and this should only be used on your own network. With that, I have recently been playing around with Cleven for Nokia N900, a GUI for aircrack-ng, which is a wireless security testing tool.  Aircrack-ng is something that I shyed away from previously, mainly due to effort and my love for pictures.  Cleven has resolved both of these issues, so now here we are.

Cleven is very straightforward to use, simply enable to options, scan, and your away.  Aircrack-ng works for WEP on the basis of capturing encrypted packets.  Once enough packets have been collected it is able to decipher the password.  Most people know that WEP is a very weak security standard, and it didn’t take long for my N900 to tell me what the password I set was.  WPA is a far more secure standard, and a dictionary approach is used.  After running this for a reasonable amount of time, I was unable to crack my security once switched over to WPA, which is a good thing.
A minor note is that the data retrieved is saved and takes up space, if left too long it can fill up your whole opt folders, which is bad and may or may not have happened to me.  Once you have gotten the information you want, it’s good to delete the files from the options menu.

This experiment has shown me one thing, that WEP is terrible.  That’s all I was really interested in going into this; Cleven and Aircrack-ng showed me this amazingly.  Its one thing to be told something, it’s another entirely to actually try it for yourself.  If you want me to tell you something, it’s that if you are still using WEP on your router, change it now.

Applications, Reviews, Software »

[26 Aug 2011 | | ]

It’s never a bad thing being spoiled for choice, and when it comes to web browsers we indeed have a few to choose from.  Opera browser is one such choice, and it has always had a fairly good reputation, and I do appreciate them making such good browsers for mobile devices.  I even recall using Opera on my N95 in lieu of the rather average built in browser.

Opera 11 boasts a very modern looking UI, features usually only seen on a PC, and runs at a decent speed too, unlike Firefox.  It’s good to see that even once the choice to run Opera is made, we are once again spoiled, with a slew of configurable options to choose from too.
The zooming options are rather well implemented, being buttons on the screen, leaving my volume button for volume which I love, and the Opera webpage boasts that it does not suffer from any checker boarding.  Checker boarding is something that I deal with often with MicroB, and its great that it isn’t present here, which current usage has shown to be true.

One point where I found MicroB still trumps Opera is that MicroB can still render many full sites better, and doesn’t jump into mobile sites.  Facebook for one is where MicroB does well, but Opera simply jumps to the silly mobile version.  If the mobile version is what you want though, it runs very well on Opera.
Opera 11 is a fantastic browser, and I would recommend it to anyone to give it a spin.  For me, it is my backup browser when MicroB decides to have its time of the month.  You can grab it from the Extras-testing repository and all warnings to anything you pickup from extras repositories.  So what are you waiting for?

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[25 Aug 2011 | | ]
Wristwatch of the future?

You may have seen around a year ago when Apple released its sixth generation of iPod Nano, that people started using them as watches.  This seemed like a look into the future, and while the concept is an amazing one, the current implementation is somewhat still lacking.  In the end, the device was still limited to what it could do, you were just finally ‘holding it right’. Another watch concept has recently shown up over on Hack a Day, based on Arduino, which is an open source single board microcontroller.  It consists of a pilfered Nokia LCD and other circuitry.  The fun part of this watch is that it is connected to a N900 via Bluetooth, and has a GUI for showing missed calls, messages, email, and is being worked on to support the Maemo media player.

The concept is one of brilliance, and Apple bias aside, I would still prefer one of these in a refined form then an iPod Nano on my wrist.  The idea of having my phone do all the work and my watch managing it is amazing, and would do wonders for battery life.  The other advantage of course is being able to leave the N900 in your pocket all the time and just having to check your watch as needed.
From a first look, there doesn’t appear to be an actual time feature as of yet, but one would be rather easy to implement, and would complete this watch of the future.  Of course the design would need to be refined further to scale it down and make it appropriate to wear out, but I still love that concept as a whole.
If I could connect everything to my N900, I would.  Working on tech to have such synergy with each other is what the big companies should be doing and if this amazing device brings about some form of consumer product, I think I would be lining up for one with the same fanaticism and dedication some do to buy their fruit.
 Check it out more over here

Applications, Featured, Software »

[25 Aug 2011 | | ]
Think outside the box – DropN900

I was only introduced to Dropbox  fairly recently, and right away I was fascinated by it.  The idea of having your data accessible from anywhere is typical cloud that seems to be all the rage these days.  Not only that though, but the seamless syncing of files impressed me most.  All my most used files being accessible from multiple PCs is great, but can I have Dropbox on my Nokia  N900?
Well, apparently my N900 can play along, and it really does make sense, being a mobile PC.  All those other phones wouldn’t know what to do with this kind of power!

To use DropN900, all you need is a N900, and a Dropbox account (I would never have guessed).  DropN900 works perfectly from the get go, once pointed to an account you can access all of your lovely files wherever you are.  You are even able to upload files, and do a full sync.  I had a minor issue with the syncing as it kept telling me I needed a WLAN, even while I was connected to one.  That was swiftly fixed by simply unchecking that option.  It also appears that there is no seamless syncing of files like what occurs on the PC, which I don’t mind too much as it would simply eat away at my precious resources.  If I need to access my Dropbox, I can easily just run the app.

With Dropbox being free for 2GB of storage, it’s a fun thing to play around with, and may just come in handy.  Don’t we all have a few files that we would rather off our hard disks and accessible anytime?

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[24 Aug 2011 | | ]
Power on the go – ZAGGsparq Sale

This article goes into the sale discount on getting ZAGG Sparq. When you buy the ZAGG Sparq from this link you will get ZAGG Smartbuds for free. Most of us know from using smartphones that the battery life on these beasts isn’t what it used to be back in the 3310 days.  Back when it was all simply calls and the occasional game of snake, a phone battery could last a week on a single charge.  With the introduction of full colour screens and always on internet connections, most of us need to charge our devices every night, and in the case of the N900, sometimes more frequently.
To combat this, there are a few solutions people employ.  One is the leave chargers all around the place, which works if you are always close to a power outlet.  Another is to carry multiple batteries to swap in, which is effective but somewhat cumbersome.  The other way, and most elegant if not close to a power outlet is to pickup a portable charger for your Nokia N900, so you can charge your device at anytime, anywhere – ZAGG Sparq for Nokia N900 is the solution.

The ZAGGsparq comes under the last of those options, offering a 6000 mAh battery which is able to charge most phones up to 4 times on a single charge.  Simply plug into a power outlet whenever you can, and enjoy the knowledge that your baby will be safe and charged for sometime to come.
A convenient way to keep things running with a simple USB connection and even better, currently ZAGG are throwing in some quality ear buds valued at $49.99.  If you ever were considering a mobile charger in the past, now would be the time to jump on it.  Works with that groovy N9 you’ve been eyeing off too. Check it out over here.

Firmware, Headline, Maemo 5, Software »

[22 Aug 2011 | | ]
Another Linux OS at its end

I have always had great respect for webOS, it was an amazing system that was ahead of its time.  Sadly some things don’t quite catch on like they should and now webOS has gone the way of the Sega Saturn. It’s a sad day indeed when it seems like HP only recently forked out around $1.2 billion for Palm, and already they have dug its grave.  While HP kind of hints that something could come of the system, they have pretty well ditched it themselves.  The death of a competing OS would usually be a good thing for us Nokia N900 lovers, cutting down on the competition for our variations of chocolate, but in this case I feel we end up losing more then we gain.

WebOS was built in a similar fashion to Maemo, laying its roots in Linux and openness.  It is that relationship that has helped both OS’s benefit from each other, between porting apps, to playing the games.  It’s a little sad that both of these systems will be going the way of the Dodo, but maybe that’s just where the market is going now?
At the end of the day, did it seem like HP really supported webOS?  In the same way that Nokia seems like it has supported Maemo, or Meego?  Even if they did or not is irrelevant and the perception of people is what is really key.  To most people, all of these products appear to not matter to the parent companies, and that there is disastrous apparently.  Maybe Meego needs to learn a thing or two before it makes headlines for the same thing?

Featured, Headline, News »

[15 Aug 2011 | | ]
Competition gets fiercer – Google to buy Motorola

While not exactly wholly related to the N900, an interesting story that has popped up recently is Google’s desire to buy out the handset division of Motorola, Motorola Mobility.  This is interesting news as it stands to change the face of the smart phone industry, and could mean trouble for Nokia or not..if Nokia gets purchased by Samsung. C’mon Samsung…pleeease..buy Nokia! It’s cheap now! But now let’s have a look at Motorola aquisition by Google.
Motorola as a company have been somewhat of a hit and miss company until lately.  Before they struck it big in 2008 betting on the Android OS with their Droid smart phone, their last real hit was the RAZR all the way back in 2003.  Since then, Motorola has been hanging around, but still only managing around 3% market share.

It will be interesting to see what Google can do at the reins of their own handset company, and it can only mean good things for Android.  As companies like Microsoft and Apple band together to try and fight with the ever frustrating patent war, this move will help to strengthen Google’s position, picking up some 17000 odd patents.  With a cost of around $12.5 billion, it’s not exactly cheap, but a small price to pay for such a hoard of patent delights.
What does all this mean for Nokia though?  Well, at this point it’s probably good that they didn’t go with Android, but it still doesn’t make the current choice the right one.  Nokia still has a very uphill battle with their Windows Phone strategy, and this move by Google on buying Motorola is only going to strengthen Android.  I still have hopes for Meego, and will continue to clutch to those hopes as long as possible.  Overall, this development will hardly affect Nokia, compared to the damage it does to itself.
Source: Google Blog

Featured, Release Info »

[14 Aug 2011 | | ]
Nokia showing off Windows Phone devices soon?

They say history repeats itself, and in the coming weeks and months in particular we will all find out how true that is.  Nokia, a company which went from a simple goods supplier of the Finnish Army, to the most dominant mobile phone company in the world may just come full circle.
Nokia showing off Windows Phones isn’t anything new, after all we have already had a glimpse at the Sea Ray, a Nokia N9 which simply runs on Windows Phone.  But if you are to believe Stephen Elop’s ignorance when he asked everyone to put away their cameras before he showed it, it was not an official unveiling.

Well, that all changes soon, the good people over at Techie-Buzz have found an invitation for a joint Nokia-Microsoft party on August 17th.  Reports also state that this event will be held at GamesCon in Cologne, Germany.
Looks like all of the hard work on Nokia’s part has come down to this, all of the flip flopping, double backing and confusion.  The fruition of a plan beginning with a burning platform, and the future of a company has come down to this.  Soon we will see if Microsoft really is the future of Nokia.

Featured, Headline, News, Release Date, Release Info »

[14 Aug 2011 | | ]
N9 Australian release date?

So I’ve just had a delightful trip into Nokia Care, where I’m told most people don’t like much.  I do wonder why, and upon noticing that the ‘please don’t abuse our staff’ signs are no longer up from last visit, perhaps things are becoming more fun?
Anyway, during my visit I was served by a fella who was also interested in the N9, and planned on getting one as soon as it was released.  What I learned from my visit, is that according to order records, the store will be receiving a whole bunch of NFC ready accessories around mid September.  This is one such link to inevitable release of the N9, having NFC itself, but isn’t anything solid.  It’s not unheard of for companies to release accessories well before the release of the device in which they are made, look at AMD for instance.  The good part is that after a bit more of a chat, I was able to find something far more promising.

After some innocent questions, I eventually stumbled upon the answer.  The Nokia N9 will be released in Australia on the 15th of September, according to internal files.
Now, that’s not helpful information for the rest of the world, but it is a start.  Once it comes to us people in the land of the future, it shouldn’t take too long to spread to everyone else.  I am still surprised that Australia isn’t getting the N9 six months later then the rest of the world like usual, but I’m not complaining.  Now to start counting down the days.