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[3 Aug 2011 | | ]
Keep on modding – QtLockscreen for Nokia N900

Sick and tired of that old boring lockscreen?  The one that only has the time, date and a slider?  Well, here we have a little mod that changes all that called QtLockscreen, a highly configurable lockscreen replacement.
QtLockscreen out of the box works just fine, replacing the boring old default one in all instances of its appearance.  The new look is much sleeker, and comes with media player controls, but that’s not the best part.  As with anything N900, the best part is that you can mess around with this as much as you want!  A word of caution though, as it doesn’t yet have a GUI to play around with settings, so its all messing with file code.  Being in the extras-devel repository, no one but you takes responsibility if your device goes nova.
If you are comfortable tweaking with some files though, go for it.  Everything can be played around with, from background images, fonts, sizes and more.  QtLockscreen currently works with the default Media Player, Open Media Player and Mediabox.  It didn’t work with any of the other media players I have floating around.  Another issue I had with it was that occasionally the old lockscreen would show up, but then after going back into standby and hitting power again, QtLockscreen made a reappearance.
Not exactly a staple app, but a very nice way to add a bit of a personal touch to that lockscreen.  If you want to try it out, have a read here first.  Now back to tweaking my lockscreen some more.

Featured, Software, Themes, Wallpapers »

[12 Nov 2010 | | ]
N900 Live and Flash wallpapers

Quite some time ago I was reviewing Live Wallpaper for Nokia N900, I wasn’t amused by this interface modification, it was buggy and not my style. But it moved forward quite a lot and allows to do few new, nice things.
At first glance Live Wallpaper welcomes you with Matrix-like falling letters on you first homescreen. But the most important thing hides in settings panel, where you can set different live wallpapers for every homescreen. The choice is quite wide, including standard wallpapers like matrix  falling letters or few city views or even X screensavers (if you install additional package Xscreensavers for Livewallpaper), well known from desktop computers and even this is not the best thing!
When you choose Flash from LiveWallpaper category you can set your own flash animation as homescreen wallpaper. Visit flash wallpapers talk.maemo.org thread and check available examples. I’ve tried with the first one, Warld of Warcraft wallpaper. Is just as simple as: download the .swf file, upload it to any directory on your N900, go to settings panel and in Live Wallapaper settings use LiveWallpaper category and Flash theme, when you can set the path to your custom flash animation. And voila, you have your own, animated desktop!
This small modification looks really fancy, but every superhero knows that great power comes with great responsibility. It’s constantly played flash animation, so you can expect a bit more CPU usage than without it, it’s up to you.

MJ

Featured, Reviews, Software, Themes »

[12 Oct 2010 | | ]
Do it your way with N900 – even more with Theme Customizer

Long long time ago… or just some time before my leave I’ve reviewed Black Plastic Theme Pack for N900, which was first major step to theme customization. This time I’d like to present Theme Customizer – another way to change default (or theme specific) fonts, sizes and colours. Let’s begin the next chapter in personalization and customization…
If you remember the Plastic Theme, it gave opportunity to change few aspects of theme, like global font size (relative from base), desktop shortcuts background visibility or colour theme. This time range of settings is a bit wider. Just have a look at the screenshots, you can adjust every colour of user interface yo your needs, change global font size, pick icon theme from available sets, turn icon backgrounds on or off or size of grid for homescreen elements snapping. But the thing I really like in this customizer is changing size for homescreen icons and web bookmarks, perfect for using with thick fingers. After all of this changes, just like in case of Plastic, there is need to reboot the phone.
The nicest option I’ve found is changing backgrounds for few system applications on the fly, without need to reboot. You can change it for clock, application manager, media player and lock screen, easy way to make your theme more system-wide or put your favourite picture everywhere you can on your N900.
Right now I have already pretty well customized Nokia N900, but as I say ‘customization never ends’. I’ve already seen few nice things to have, but this is something for next time and one of upcoming evenings.

MJ

Featured, Maemo 5, Software, Themes »

[28 Jul 2010 | | ]
Okuda theme – futuristic look for N900

Captain’s log – Maciej Jablonski, stardate… well, today.
Nokia N900 themes are developing quite fast recently. There is much commotion and progress with regular themes and highly customizable Black Plastic Theme Pack. Recently Okuda theme appeared with really nice futuristic look.
If you watch science-fiction movies you can spot huge black touch screens or holographic displays with bright-coloured round-cornered interface elements flying around. This is exactly what Okuda theme brings to almost every single part of N900 UI. Stylish wallpaper with blue border, fancy icons for status area, custom system icons, everything looks like it came straight from USS Enterprise.
The best part is that this theme doesn’t end on wallpaper and color set, if you open App manager or Media Player you can see that every single area is nicely covered and consistent. Look-and-feel changes everywhere if it’s only possible. Since Plastic this is the first time I’m really satisfied with what theme brings to the phone. Just have a look at screenshots!

MJ
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Applications, Featured, Software, Themes »

[23 Jul 2010 | | ]
Free applications improvements are not a myth!

I’m reviewing lots of applications, themes and games for N900 and sometimes I’m adding my personal likes, dislikes and expectations. If I recall correctly that at least few times I’ve wrote ‘I hope that in future versions it will..’. But words and expectations is one, reality is… actually quite promising.
My first article on this blog is about Maepad – multi purpose notepad application for Nokia N900. Today we can see that application is really getting better. Once I’ve mentioned vi-like keybindings for Maepad and it wasn’t the last improvement. The flow of events with constant need of portrait-mode applications encouraged developer to include at least checklist portrait mode, belive me it’s awesome while shopping. Lots of minor changes, updates in translations, as for free application it’s getting better and better.
Now something more rapid, if you’ve read about Black Plastic Theme Pack and you use extras-devel catalogue you should already know that this is changing almost every day (!), 5 updates a week is minimum I’ve seen for this theme (I’m not updating every day). When I first installed there was custom transitions, theme itself and small application to configure. In time more color schemes came, configuration was moved to more appropriate place, installation or update doesn’t ask you for theme features choices, so it goes faster and something that was missing in every previous theme – custom fonts. Right, you can now change UI font using Black Plastic!
This is only example and as you can see applications are really improving, some slowly, step by step, some more rapidly almost every day, but there is a real progress. This proves that ‘I hope some day this app will…’ is not always futile

MJ

Featured, Reviews, Software, Themes »

[1 Jul 2010 | | ]
Black Plastic Theme Pack review

When you take a look at previous Nokia N900 theme reviews you can see that most of them was changing background, color scheme and looks of interface elements. This time we have something more interesting in Black Plastic Theme Pack.
At first you can see glossy theme with dark elements, though it’s pretty clear with bright fonts, so nothing to complain about. Dashboard and menu icons are changed, not only recolorized as in most of themes I’ve mentioned before. Media Player and App  manager backgrounds are not so revolutionary but fit well in dark and glossy design of theme.
The most interesting, eyecandy element in this theme is the fact that it introduces ‘custom transitions‘. In simple words you will see some of the animations changed, like for the dashboard wallpaper isn’t blurred, just zoomed a bit, and for menu zoomed even more. Phone rotation animations are also little changed, but it’s harder to notice, it’s rather change in animation parameters.
I like this theme, I use it for a over a week now and I’m really satisfied. It doesn’t tire eyes, is clear and easy to use in every application, phone and conversations. Even fever-limited perception wasn’t obstacle and animations are really nice looking. It’s really good start for advanced theming with custom transitions.

MJ

Featured, Reviews, Software, Themes »

[13 Jun 2010 | | ]
Nokia N900 Carbon theme review

Welcome back in theme review series. Long time no see, but more themes coming and more to review, so let’s see what can we have in Carbon theme for Nokia N900.
Carbon theme, as the name says, makes user interface look line modern machines built with carbon fiber. Dark grey motif looks pretty clean with bright, contrasting font colors. Carbon fiber structure appears as background in most important applications like App manager or Media Player and in homescreen, making it clean and tidy. Buttons mostly look smaller than in most themes, their background makes them look like leveled with rest of interface with groove around. Text colors are nicely cooperating with dark background. White letters for main elements and blue for minor are visible and easily readable.
In my opinion such set of colors and widget looks doesn’t tire eyes, it’s easy to work with such theme even for long time. Carbon theme makes good duo with black-grey-blue-white coloured wallpapers, like Bleach wallpaper I’ve made some time ago. Try it yourself and if you’re looking for theme for your own wallpaper see other reviewed themes and feel free to ask, I’ll try to find of maybe even make such theme.

MJ

Featured, Maemo 5, Software, Themes, Wallpapers »

[6 Jun 2010 | | ]
My loopable wallpapers for N900 (tips and hints)

After some time spend on N900 customization I’ve developed few ways of creating loopable wallpapers from materials I can find over the net. Let’s see what you can do to make your favourite thing visible on your N900 homescreen.
Method 1 – Similar images with similar background
First of all you can obviously mix few wallpapers to act as 4 parts of one big, loopable image. To do this you need to look for wallpapers with the same (or at least similar) background on left and right edge. If background is similar, you can put images together on big (3200×480 pixels) image and cut to smaller images. Example here shows 4 images from Bleach anime series, as you can see background on side edges is always black (I find it the easiest to use black). It’s just the matter of placing images on every 4 of homescreens (order is up to you).
Method 2 – Placing small items on prepared background
You can see my second example, 4 screens, each with different item, but you can also use family pictures (more than one per screen), symbols, place them on any loopable background (or single colour background) and upload to your N900. For me it was just the matter of placing 4 images from Fallout game series.
Method 3 – Long items
There is possibility to cut long item into 4 parts and make it appear as it is one on your wallpapers. You can use picture of your favourite snake, mage’s staff from fantasy series, favourite knight’s sword like Excalibur, long-barelled rifle or anything long enough to fit 4 desktops of N900. Because I like eastern culture I’ve taken katana sword and as you see background in both ends is the same colour so even switching between last and first part is quite smooth.
If you have any questions, suggestions, need for detailed tutorial to do something similar, feel free to ask, I’ll try to cover all of the questions.


Trademarks mentioned in this article (Bleach and Fallout) are properties of their respective owners.
For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial
Please visit Nokia N900 …

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[4 Jun 2010 | | ]
Few words on themes with PR1.2

New things are coming to theming world. But first things first, if you have problem with changing themes (no theme list window), just read forward.
Recently, after PR1.2 update came to my N900 I was having quite annoying problem with themes. When I tried to change theme there wasn’t any popup, window or anything. I’ve found that themes were moved to other place to save place for installing applications, but everything seemed fine. After that I’ve tried to change the theme by changing symbolic links directly (current theme is pointed with link in device configuration) and it worked. A little bit of googling and finally I’ve found solution. Some time ago I was writing about Widgets Gallery and problem was located in this packages (package set for libdui library). If you have it installed and theme picker doesn’t pop up just uninstall it, it helped me, now works like a charm.
And what’s new in theming… well I was a bit surprised but positively. now there is possibility to create themes for instant messaging, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work for my SMS conversations, but for all of IMs it changes appearance nicely. Initial theme is packed in Shaded chat theme (currently available in extras-devel and extras-testing) in application manager, so feel free to download and test it and if you want maybe you can make your own theme!

For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial
Please visit Nokia N900 Forum

Shaded chat theme

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[24 Apr 2010 | | ]
Nokia N900 themes

Some time ago I’ve begun a kind of series of theme reviews for N900. You may have already noticed some articles related with this subject, showing author’s favourite Maemo 5 themes in general.
In previous posts you can find mostly free N900 themes available in application catalogues. Sam posted his own Top Nokia N900 themes while I was writing about Matrix theme with my own wallpaper to make UI in general more personal. Recently I’ve decided to use a little more effort to give you more complete view on what you can get from one exact theme before downloading and installing.
If you’re still not satisfied with what you can get and you’ve searched all the web, you can always try to make your own theme. There is already tool for this, Theme Maker written in Java so it runs on various operating systems, including Linux, Windows and MacOS. Still I find this software a bit unstable so I’ll rely on themes ready to download from catalogues and Ovi store.
Summarizing, I will continue describing themes in more detail, just as I’ve done with Contour Nerv and Buff, all of this reviews you can find here, in Nokia N900 themes category. If you’re looking for something specific let me know what color palette, what kind of styling you’re interested in, I’ll try to find such theme and write in-depth review.

For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial

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[14 Apr 2010 | | ]
Nokia N900 free Contour Nerv theme

This time I have there rather simple, monochromatic, but futuristic and interesting at the same time. ‘Nerv’ part of Contour Nerv theme name may already give you some idea on what to expect, but let’s take it in some order.
At first glance you’ll see where the ‘contour’ came from. Orange borders around black objects are everywhere. Background with hexagonal field and some signs fitting the same background-border idea remind of some futuristic science-fiction computer interface, like from Star Trek, or some cyberpunk anime. It’s quite good first thought if I’ve understood author’s intentions correctly, sice Nerv was hi-tech paramilitary organization in one cyberpunk story, anime fans should know which one ;).
Theme isn’t making any revolutionary changes to UI, but I think it’s pretty readable, with good contrast, elements are clear even with minimal backlight on screen. Contours are giving good idea on interface elements boundaries, using fingers on touchscreen seems easier when I see where exactly I have element to tap or drag.
Contour Nerv theme gives a good view on simple, but futuristic concept, without many annoying details or inconsistencies, I like this kind of monolytic approach to theme creation. If you want a good and simple theme I can recommend Contour Nerv.

For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial
Please visit Nokia N900 Forum

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[13 Apr 2010 | | ]
Nokia N900 free Buff Theme review

If you want to fully customize your N900 you’ve probably already spent hour’s looking for good theme. I think I can help you a little by the means of review for some of available free themes. Let’s start with free Buff Theme.
On first sight this theme shows calm set of sandy brown and blue elements. Everything looks pretty clean, desktop widgets are readable, shortcuts placed on blue fields, bookmarks have contrasting black border and white caption. Wallpaper is simple and tidy, vertical strips are good base to create loopable wallpaper without much effort, but if you watch carefully one of strips is double-sized when switching desktops, most users won’t even notice that minor issue ;).
One of the most interesting parts of this theme appears when you go to App manager download section. If you’re familiar with Icon sets for Linux desktop you may recognize these icons as a part of Buuf icon theme, a bit grotesque cartoon images, used as category icons in this theme.
Complete view on this theme shows well-thought-out concept and pretty good implementation. As for me it makes good alternative for my standard theme and wallpaper when I decide to change it some day. Try it, maybe it will be your favourite.


For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial
Please visit Nokia N900 Forum

Featured, Software, Themes, Wallpapers »

[19 Mar 2010 | | ]
Do it your way with N900 – my theme and wallpaper

If you follow the blog and all of the posts, you probably noticed that Sam mentioned some good themes and wallpapers few times. I like most of this stuff, really good looking, well balanced and readable, but I like having N900 really personal device, so I will say my piece.
First of all I pay attention to something I like to call ‘consistency’. This covers my view on balanced color space, similar graphical solutions for every part of interface, overall smoothness of theme or wallpaper. If theme uses different palette on every screen I just can’t stand it, it’s not my way. I also cannot bare some color sets, like bright orange background with lime elements on it, it just hurts my eyes ;).
On the other hand I like going back to times when most screens were monochromatic, with green backlight and visible scanlines. In addition I’m big fan of Fallout games, where this type of display was widely used in interface. Since I have no time for making full theme I decided to choose one of available and make good wallpaper for it.
At first I’ve tried to find theme that suites my scenario, this step is pretty hard because it’s trial-and-error process. First choice was Melody theme (see Sam’s article), after some time I’ve found Matrix theme, which was a bit more fitting, lime and black theme. In the mean time I’ve found pipboy theme (Fallout fans should know what is it about) but it wasn’t very good choice, orange background and green and grey UI elements doesn’t fit my needs, I like App manager icons though.
Second thing is background, simple, minimalistic and mine, see the screenshots. I’ve putted some simple pictures, converted to monochromatic and added scanlines. And poof – my theme/wallpaper set is ready! Maybe you have some ideas of personalization combinations? Share it on Nokia N900 Forum.

Fallout is registered trademark of Bethesda Softworks.
For more info on devel and testing catalogues visit Application catalogues tutorial

Applications, Featured, Headline, Maemo 5, Reviews, Themes, Wallpapers »

[13 Mar 2010 | | ]
Top 3 Nokia N900 themes

Themes, what about themes on the N900. As there are not so many themes available, my top 3 are relatively easy to list. For the N900 being such a short time on the market and no easy theme creator tool available yet (please read my post about the thememaker), it will take a while before there will be a considerable quantity of themes to choose.
A theme not only contains wallpapers as background, but also all the buttons, icons, layouts, etc. can be modified to a new theme. It needs really creatives to do some work, time, and enthusiasm, because the fewest will share their creations for free. That’s okay for me, my opinion about is anyway that such work should be paid. Maybe someone is going to create a own N900 theme website, where you can purchase themes in the future, and designers can sell them on this platform. Maybe I should start this one . I know that Ovi Store is naturally one sharing place, and the Maemo platform too, but concentrated to one site, it could be much more efficient.

For myself and my number one, I am using the original Nokia theme from the phone, with an own background, I created. The second one I like very much is the marina theme, which you can find in the Maemo download section. It is kind of sophisticated, stylish and smooth.

At last on my list is the green melody theme. This is also a nice one mainly the green color I like a lot.

What are your favorites?
– sam | visit our Nokia N900 forum –

Headline, Maemo 5, Software, Themes »

[26 Jan 2010 | | ]
AZ Theme Review for Nokia N900 – The first paid theme for N900!

Our folks of MMMOOO keep on working very hard. After the amazing Color City Theme and the coming soon game Magic Check, they have come through a new theme. Today we got what they have called the AZ Theme and their description is: “Classical & brush style A to Z matrix chart with dedicated vivid green, make your N900 just standout in all of other models.”
This Nokia N900 theme has a very nice combination of colors all framed within the green range and the green really looks harmonic along with the black N900 body. The AZ theme is already available and you could download it from here. It’s priced at USD 3.99 only and you are able to pay through PayPal.
[Source: Nokia Blog Portugal]