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[20 Nov 2011 | | ]
Where’s Wally… Changelog? – Security Update and CSSU

For those using N900 with Community SSU package you may have noticed that your N900 wants to update to some kind of unknown version ‘21.2011.38-1′. What to do?
First of all the update is meant to update your certificates, removing the ones that were compromised, increasing security of your device (so you won’t end up installing software that was signed by invalid certificate). What if you’re using Community SSU and don’t want to brick your phone? There’s no simple answer to this question. I don’t have all of the answers, but let’s try to make it simple in this simple rules:
You don’t use CSSU. You can calmly update your N900, it shouldn’t brick after update.
You use CSSU stable. Well, this is longer story, according to developers you may meet some system issues after updating core system from Nokia having stable release of CSSU. The best way here is to wait for update of CSSU that will include all of security updates from Nokia.
You use CSSU testing. This is simple, at least it was for me. I wasn’t thinking much when upgrading, testing is testing, I was prepared to have some issues with new versions of software released by Nokia itself. Surprisingly it came with absolutely no glitches. Now I have this marvellous ‘21.2011.38-1′ version and it goes smoothly.
One thing before I get to footer. Remember to make full backup before you try to update firmware of your N900. I mean it: FULL BACKUP! This way you won’t end up with piece of plastic and silicon dioxide that you can kill some cockroaches with. This way you can always re-flash and bring back backup files.

MJ (see my own blog at j4b0l.com)

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[30 Oct 2011 | | ]
The best things remain in underground

Have you ever thought why all the best action movies involve organisations staying in deep underground for long time, starting huge revolution and changing the world? Why shouldn’t N900 go the same way?
Most of you probably know Matrix. One guy reaches higher level of consciousness and becomes saviour of the… let’s say of everything. But he starts among small group of underground fighters, willing to make world a better place. Open source is also like that. Loads of movies, computer games base on this idea and almost every time it works like a charm. Why not this time?
Nokia 770, Nokia N800, Nokia N810, Nokia N810 WiMax edition, finally Nokia N900, every single one of these devices became, in some way, an underground fighter for freedom on mobile phone market. The only fighters? Well, no, if we have a look at history we can find Openmoko project dedicated to mobile. Other areas of software development also have their own fighters, with most successful one – Linux – and minors like Haiku, more specialized like OpenWRT and many more. So can we save the N900? Sure, we just need to stay focused on our destination and keep fighting even if we have to stay underground for some time.
So what do we do now with our N900s? First of all we need something immortal, like idea. And we have it, the process have already started. Just like Linus started something developing his open source kernel, we have our own open source mobile. Now let’s gather people willing to fight for Maemo and form the ‘underground’, we can do it. Let N900 underground be, join us, be the part of new ‘silence before the storm’!

Maciej ‘j4b0l’ Jabłoński

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[8 Oct 2011 | | ]
‘Meet the editor’ – sounds scarry

Hello boys and girls! I think it’s time to finally reveal a piece of me, the guy who wrote quite a bunch of articles here. Let’s start with the very beginning…
Birth date, noone cares about birth date in nowdays age of broadband connections and anonymous access to global community, but I don’t mind. So my date is 1985-02-18. And yes, I’m like 26 at the moment.
Why this blog? If you like my posting you should be thankful to my friend, Dawid (it’s not a typo, it’s polish equivalent of David). He’s also pretty much involved but I was carrying a bit more free time to share in my ‘backpack of life’ so I was sharing my thoughts with you.
Why am I so involved… long story short is placed on my own blog, where I’ll try to explain what am I doing right now and what exactly is my background in many software-development subareas. For starters just have a look at:

my blog in general

a bit of ‘about me’

Anthing else you want to know, why am I so zealously devoted to N900 and Linux-based stuff? Anything out of my interests? Anything at all? Well… place it in a comment, I’ll try to answer but I won’t guarantee anything

BR, MJ

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[7 Oct 2011 | | ]
Portrait of the King

Have you ever seen meedieval castle with lots of potraits hanging around? Every single one reminds of great man, someone who did something really significant for country, region or family. Today let’s focus on some other portrait, the one related to our favourite phone, Nokia N900.
Portrait dashboard is something we could already see after previous CSSU update, so the only remaining thing was to propagate this feature to homescreen, which finally happened. Because everyday I see less and less news on N900 I feel obliged to mention it for the ones who haven’t yet updated.
I was a bit surprised that after update my N900 just switched to portrait mode after rotating it, but widgets, shortcuts and bookmarks were a bit messed up. It’s still not a problem, because portrait has its own setting for each homescreen, so you can easily rearrange all of your widgets on screen and make them look exactly as you want. Unfortunatelly some of really wide widgets (like 5 days weather forecast) just won’t fit in portrait, but I can live with that, can you?
Another tiny issue with portrait mode is loopable wallpaper, if you haveone that loops in landscape, it will probably make you feel uncomfortable, but for me it’s perfect situation for new inventions, wallpaper that will be loopable in potrait and landscape at the same time. I’ll surely share with you when I find some time to make one ;).
That’s enough for starters, our King is still alive, still breathing and has own portrait ;). Now that you know what comes with the latest update, just try it!

MJ

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[14 Aug 2011 | | ]
While I breathe, I hope – Community SSU status

I’ve been away for quite some time, some of you may remember me from before, for the rest… I’ll leave this mistery unsolved for a while. But I’m back, with a bit less time than before, so I’ll be visible only time-to-time with my thoughts on Nokia in general and N900.
The qutote from Cicero in topic is not accidental, after Nokia made some astonishing decisions about future of Maemo, MeeGo and (yuck!) Windows Phone 7 I doubted in all of this community gibberish. I’m Open Source fan for quite some time and Nokia’s idea to abandon mobile Linux of their own, made me think it will be forgotten. But as we see from activity in Community SSU repositories on Gitorious, people are still interested in developing something new for N900 (and Maemo). So let’s have a look how is it going right now…
Since first release of CSSU we’ve already seen 9 major versions, including bugfixes, improvements and new features. The most wanted ‘portrait mode’ is already implemented for some parts of user interface, like status menu or Settings panel. Even task switcher automatically rotates available applications if available (and pretends to rotate if not), reorganising switcher to be usable in portrait mode.
Okay, so we have something new, but there was no update since May, so why the big words about hope and such? I’m following Community SSU activity feed and for July only commotion is like for April, May and June in total. I think that’s good forecast for another CSSU release soon.
Summarizing, there is still hope for N900, but we shouldn’t look for it in Nokia, but in community, as long as it exists. And since I’m still breathing, maybe i can find myself useful, do you have any ideas?

MJ

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[14 Mar 2011 | | ]
I’m not there but I’m still trying – customization once again

Some time ago I was reinstalling firmware on my N900, but because of things happening around MeeGo, Nokia and Microsoft some things I haven’t found time to even customize my N900 once again. So let’s get back to business.
What new can I find after playing with N900 for over a year now? It appears that quite some interesting things. First of all, the one I was subconsciously missing for a long time – default clock customization. This can be done with Advanced Clock Plugin, neat set of modifications for statusbar clock.
First of all, my favourite part, you can put date to your statusbar clock, no need to place additional widgets on homescreen just to check what day is it. Digging through options reveals additional settings, few types of clocks that allows to display next alarm time or to change appearance of clock to some custom bitmaps, like nixie clock (just like the one for homescreen) or even Klingon for Star Trek geeks
Finally if you want to use more than just one feature you can configure clock to display differently on every homescreen you have, so you can have date on one, alarm on second and Klingon on some other just for fun.
To be honest I haven’t reinstalled all of the UI tweaks after cleaning my N900, but this looks like one of the must-have modifications.

MJ

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[4 Mar 2011 | | ]
Nokia N900 Community updates – what’s new

Nokia N900 community updates repository is still alive and I think it’s going in really good way and much faster that official releases once every few months. Now I can download new update at least once a week and have real new features.

Last CSSU update I have is so-called PR 1.3.3.7-6.5 and apart from ‘hidden’ bugfixes that I cannot even notice sometimes there are few really nice features introduced in comparison to stock PR1.3 by Nokia.First of all the thing that lot of people was asking for, portrait mode. It appears for new applications, step by step but much faster than before. Right now we can have settings main screen and few settings applications in portrait. Status menu also appears correctly in applications in portrait. You can see complete list of changes on maemo.org CSSU wiki page.

Among the changes you can see .ini file mentioned. It stores configurations for some graphical features of the UI. If you don’t want to fiddle with low-level configuration in text file you can use one of applications available in extras-devel catalogue: CSSU Features Configuration or CSSU Transitions Tuner. Have you seen video with dashboard made to be scrollable and have large windows in it? Now you can have it on your N900.
As you can see CSSU is going much faster than official updates, let’s hope it will be like that for longer time.

MJ

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[2 Mar 2011 | | ]
Nokia is not with us, but Qt still lives

We all know the decisions of Nokia and Microsoft, we know that MeeGo is not main Nokia smartphone operating system anymore. I was also thinking that Nokia will abandon Qt at all and it will become one of many forgotten mobile technologies. Apparently I was wrong, at least a bit.

I’m aware that porting libraries between platforms is quite common. Programmers want to have their favourite tools in palm of the hand, so that we have for example java and icedtea on N900. This time Qt (currently owned by Nokia) is going to Android. I’ve seen few projects trying to make this port but none of them was big success. Finally I’ve found Necessitas, you can check it out on Qt labs blog.
This makes me feel better, when Nokia-MS fusion (I know, cooperation not fusion) came to reality I was a bit confused what to do with my newly acquired Qt certificate. but maybe with Necessitas I can move (as programmer) to another platform without need to develop bunch of new skills and maybe soon we will have more Qt applications ported to Android and some of Nokia products will prove itself useful.
I’m waiting for something more than recently released alpha version, which still may be buggy, but I have great hopes related to this port.

MJ

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[22 Feb 2011 | | ]
What would you like to have for birthday?

We’ve passed 18th of February few days ago, my birthday. After all of this commotion around Nokia, Microsoft, MeeGo, Windows Phone 7, Stephen Elop and most probably (okay, this is just my theory, I’m disguisted so I can follow my rampant imagination) some conspiracy, I’ve almost forgot about gift for myself
For the last few years I was really happy with every gift I’ve got, but the most reliable and most useful things was the ones I’ve bought myself. Just for me, because I knew what I want to have. This year I’d like to have some things from nokia-n900 store.
I’m in pretty weird time right now. I was working for Nokia on MeeGo, which seems to be dying without any official statement. On the other hand I still love my N900 and I believe it can still be really useful. I’d really like to have it for much longer, relying on community updates. So what else can I do in hardware area?
Well, I’d be glad if someone could give me another portable charger, like solar one. In our store you can find few chargers, for emergency use time-to-time and for long trips without access to power outlet. Luckily such charger often has few different connectors or plugs, so you can actually charge many more devices than just N900, just have a look at solar chargers at nokia-n900 store. Maybe someone wants to prepare late gift for me
Or maybe one of your friends is having birthday soon and is practical geek-type like me… At least don’t forget to wish him/her the best

MJ

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[16 Feb 2011 | | ]
Nokia have failed but MeeGo seems to be alive

Last news from Nokia are not nice, going to Windows Phone 7 with Microsoft is obviously not good news for us, but MeeGo is wider than just Nokia, Intel and AMD (most probably filled with anger ) are still working on this platform. Since I’m sitting in the middle of this commotion I’ll give you some more news on MeeGo.
MeeGo was meant to be not only mobile phone system as its predecessor Maemo 5, but also for other mobile devices, tablets, netbooks and many more. Minding cooperation with Intel and AMD this platform should be as wide as mobile devices market. That’s why we can still hear some news about tablets with MeeGo on board. PhoneReportTV have just released video showing user interface for new tablet, just have a look.

This looks nice, content oriented device, giving user more control of the content, without need of taking care of applications looks neat and quite staightforward.

MJ

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[13 Feb 2011 | | ]
Nokia strategy – what about N900 and MeeGo?

During last few days Nokia came up with few interesting, yet disturbing decisions. Cooperation with Microsoft, huge change in smartphone platform plans, sudden change of heart with MeeGo platform, so what can we expect with N900 and Linux smartphones from Nokia?
Let me start with quote from one of my favourite computer games:
The village is dying. The signs are everywhere. Withering crops… dying brahmin… sick children.
There is hope, however. A slim hope that few know of.
First of all I’m having mixed feelings about strategic cooperation with Microsoft. First of all switch in management, new CEO – Stephen Elop, originally president of Microsoft Business division, this was first sign of upcoming changes. I’m not saying that Microsoft is the greatest evil on whole world, but after acquiring such manager it was unavoidable that Nokia and Microsoft will cooperate soon. On the other hand I’ve seen emphasis on MeeGo during conference in Dublin last year, cooperation with Intel and AMD seemed quite steady.
Second thing is status of MeeGo, I feel that it will remain in the same state as Maemo from the very beginning, it will show up on one phone, most probably the one that leaked some time ago in pictures, mostly because of all of Windows Phone 7 strategy for Nokia smartphones. Let me remind you of some old Maemo devices, like Nokia N770 (internet tablet), which came with Maemo 1 and 2, next device Nokia N800/N810 with Maemo 3 and 4. Why this inventions were not continued on other devices? Same thing happened with Maemo 5, in my opinion pretty nice system for mobile phones, if it were continued and furtherly developed it could be really succesfull on newer phones, with more features, it could even compete with other popular platforms. But no, Nokia starts with something new, releaases on small market and finally abandons it.
Now I’m really loosing faith in Nokia. The hope I mean lies in our hands, in what we can do now, I think that giving N900 and Maemo 5 maintenance to community was the best thing that could have happened. Now we have the power …

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[4 Feb 2011 | | ]
Qt Certification in practice – my experience

Today I’ve became certified Qt developer (so today I’ll spend some time for self-promotion), my experience is now confirmed by propper authorities, so I can go back to coding for Nokia N900 and maybe other Nokia phones or even desktop computers (okay okay, and blogging sometimes ).
You may ask how does it look and what is needed to pass Qt Essentials exam. I was pretty stressed for some time, since it was part of my work plan, so I needed to pass at first attempt. I’m working in MeeGo Touch Framework for over a year now and I have some previous experience in Qt, these facts were my strong points. But on the other hand, while working on specific project you never use every single part of such complex framework as Qt, it touches actually every part of possible application functionality.
So what’s the secret recipe for passing the exam?
First of all taking Qt tainings from Nokia, free material available covers really huge part of Qt and it’s vital to at least know what the trainings cover. It’s good to take the training from someone who knows what to focus on, even when having all of the documents or presentations someone more experienced can show you what is important and how to organise your knowledge.
On the other hand it’s nice to have some real experience. To be honest practical part of what I know, the things that I’ve already done and I’m still doing using Qt, all of this became more understandable to me. Some of coding practices are not nameless habits anymore, I can say that now I know what I’m doing
Summarizing, to take the exam and pass succesfully I’d advise taking some training and courses, reading a lot and having some practical experience. It helps a lot, it helped me.

Maciej Jablonski, certified Qt developer

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[1 Feb 2011 | | ]
PR1.3.3.7-1 – Community Seamless Software Update

We can already consider that official PR1.4 update is just unconfirmed myth, but recent news shows that we can still get some more updates for Nokia N900. Community released its update repository for testing, stable version is still somewhere in the future, but we can already see that some work is being done, current version is also known as PR1.3.3.7-1 update.
After recent reflashing I’ve decided to take the risk and installing testing version of updates. Full instructions how to apply update can be found on maemo.org wiki along with other usefull informations. First of all, as its still considered unstable you need to be prepared to encounter some bugs, but also with using testing you can expect to have something new more frequently.

How does it look in practice? At first glance I haven’t seen anything new or modified, but I trust that bugfixes are really there. I’ve also encountered one bug, after update keyboard shortcuts didn’t work on homescreen, including screenshot Ctrl+Shift+P and the one I use the most – dashboard shortcut Ctrl+Backspace. Quick investigetion got me to bug report, which wasn’t fixed in Community SSU package yet, but it has complete solution for the problem described in comments for bug Bug 11813.
So my fellow N900 users, my suggestion is not to wait for any official PR1.4 firmware update, since it will probably never come from Nokia. It’s better to monitor status of Community SSU untill it becomes stable or if you’re not patient enough try testing version.

MJ

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[27 Jan 2011 | | ]
N900 is down – my chance for recovery in practice

Yesterday was my first day at work after sick-leave. I use my N900 as alarm clock, but when I woke up I thought I’ve slept it over. Some time later I realised that sound wasn’t working at all, no tone on call, SMS, mail and media player kept saying ‘unsupported format’ for all the music I use to listen to. What to do in such situation?
First of all don’t panic, try rebooting your phone, some services, like sound system may crash if you use your phone without reboot for long time. It didn’t help in my case.
Second thing to do is uninstalling recently installed applications, widgets, plugins, especially the ones from extras-devel and extras-testing because they may have done some changes to your system configuration or fill up your filesystem. It didn’t help me either.
Next, if you’ve made some power-user chages, try to remind yourself what have you changed and revoke the changes. I did some, this was most probably reason for my sound failure. Unfortunatelly I’m not a backup-person, I keep to promise myself that I will be soon to prevent such situations, but I’m too lazy. I think this was it, so not much to do, time to reflash…
Before reflashing try to copy everything that you have on your N900 (at least phone memory, since you can take microSD out for reflashing). You can also make backup using backup application and place it in safe place. I’ve also tried using Nokia Ovi Suite to make backup but it didn’t go up by even 1% in like 20 minutes, so I’ve done everything manually.
Finally reflashing itself, I’ve used the flasher-method, the simplest one with following parameters:
./flasher -f -R -F <image_file>
and it worked fine and it didn’t erase exactly everything, let me summarize results:
Erased data:

Installed software and software catalogues settings
Custom boot animation and led patterns
Mail settings and messages (gmail account, not sure what happens with exchange)

Data left untouched:

Data in MyDocs catalog (everything that you can view by plugging to computer) and apparently also in users home directory (with applications settings)
Ringtones settings (but not alarm tone)
Contacts with SMS and IM messages

This …

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[24 Jan 2011 | | ]
Qt for Nokia – get trained

I was writing about Qt few times ago, with some examples how to use it on N900. Apart from that it’s framework to be used with more Nokia mobiles like N8. Because Nokia ties its future with Qt I think it’s good idea to get familiar with this technology, because it may be future for Ovi by Nokia and many more. So let’s think about possibilities.
First of all you can attend one of many events related to Qt, try googling a bit more to find one in your area. If it’s organised by Nokia you can even join a contest, my work collegues did some time ago and it appears to be very good opportunity to show yourself as good developer, team leader or at least show your ideas to wider audience. First of it I can think of is Innovation Contest, just check it.
Second of all trainings, it seems like Qt trainings are happening everywhere around, so you can have a bit easier beginning. You can try the one related to Innovations Contest or for example well tested Qt Essentials Training and certification system.
Finally, when Qt went Open Source it’s developing quite nicely giving more and more possibilities, not only for mobile devices but also for desktop, with a bit of luck you can create something used on desktop computers, phones, laptops, tablets and many more. Current Qt status gives quite good idea of expansion it has made last few yars, from small visualisation library to complete framework for almost every digital device around. I think it’s really nice to at least try.

MJ