Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interview with qwerty12

Mobile Tablets! is pleased to present this exclusive Q&A session with Internet Tablet Talk member, qwerty12.

qwerty12 is one of the newest members of itT. In the short time that he has been involved with the tablets, he has made a real impact on the community. His range of contributions includes several software ports, assisting Penguinbait and b-man with porting Android (in a usable form) to the N810/N800, and of course, for finding the back door to a pre-release of Diablo!

I'm sure that everyone reading this would love to have a few minutes of qwerty12's time. I consider myself fortunate to have him agree to do the following Q&A:

1. How long have you been a Maemo user, and what lead you to purchase a tablet?

I've been a Maemo user for about 7 months now, and I was registered on Internet Tablet Talk for about 3 months before that. I remember going on Internet Tablet Talk and seeing penguinbait unveiling KDE for the tablets, fanoush with his page of maemo hacks and the effects of Canola.

But I had no money to get an N800 then so I went onto other things (Modifying my phone and my router). Then the N810 had been announced and the price of the N800 dropped sharply. This was my chance to get one and I went for it.

2. From what I've read, you are one of the youngest members of Internet Tablet Talk. Do you think that is an oddity, or are the tablets well suited for people within your age group?

I would have to say that is an oddity. Everyone in my school is under the impression it is an phone and no one had heard of it before they had seen my tablet. The only other person that I know has access to one, is my friend's uncle with an N810.

3. You appear humble with respect to your contributions within the internet tablet community. You're obviously fairly talented. Did you pick up your skills on your own, or do have any formal training?

Well, there have been times where I have been not so modest... Before experimenting with the tablets, I used to mess around with my phone and I just started picking up things. I have read a lot of Linux books years ago and I guess bits of those books come back to me from time to time. But I mostly taught myself, I like to look around in the filesystem and see what I can change etc.

4. Your recent involvement with penguinbait in porting Android over to the tablet made internet news. Has this made any impact on you at all, or is it par for the course, so-to-speak?

Well, I was quite surprised by how much attention it recieved. Android had been available for tablets before, just not in a easily usable form. It was b-man who introduced me to the android on N810 page and he asked me for some help mounting the android and to keep it quiet.

Later, on the maemo irc channel, I get a PM from penguinbait saying that b-man said I had gotten android working and I was confused because I never had said that, but penguinbait said he had an installer working, it was just the kernel that was messing up.

I offered to take a look at the kernel and I went onto the site and I spent a good few hours getting the android kernel patch (from android-on-n8xx) ported to the diablo kernel sources. This allowed me to have an working android - minus the touchscreen. Penguinbait reported the touchscreen worked for him on an N810 and he released it. I remembered the N800 touchscreen was different to the N810 and I started porting the N810 touchscreen fix to the N800.

5. Speaking of Android, I know that there is a pretty lengthy thread on itT which gives the installation instructions. Can you give us a quick summary of the status right now? For instance, is the N800 touchscreen now working?

The SDK used is an older version. This means quite a bit of newer android applications will not run on the version that is in the installer. With some knowledge, it is possible to run the current version but we chose to use the older version because the current one runs much slower due to Android now using page-flipping which the LCD controller in the N8*0's do not support. The workaround for that makes it run quite slow.

6. Are you planning any further projects with penguinbait?

No, although I'm available if he needs a tester :P.

7. Do you see yourself staying the course with the tablets, or are you eyeing any other platforms right now?

I'm staying on course with the tablets. I don't find any other portable Linux platform is as good as maemo. And with developers making new and brilliant applications everyday, I'd be hard pushed to change.

8. You have obviously caught the attention of Nokia, as evidenced by your recent invitation to attend the upcoming Maemo Summit. If approached by Nokia, would you have anything to suggest to them in terms of improving the tablets?

All I can suggest is that the N900 isn't as backward as the N810. The N810 has some good improvements over the N800 (GPS, Keyboard, Transreflective screen) but the odd usb connector, no fmradio as in the N800 and the soldered 2GB internal card were definitely a step back for me. Combine the two properly, add proper 3d hardware acceleration, a2dp and a GPS that doesn't need A-GPS to support it; rather compliment it, will be a winner for me.

9. Do you have any unique uses of your tablet that you'd iike to share?

Not really, I just use it for going on the internet and playing Duke Nukem 3d and playing GBA games on it (now I don't have to carry my old gameboy and the N800).

10. What are your future plans? Do you have any idea what you want to do in the future?

Can't really say anything on this one, I just plan on going College after finishing school.

Thanks for taking the time to participate in this session, qwerty12.


Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark slashdot

Monday, July 21, 2008

Upcoming Exclusive Interview with qwerty12

Mobile Tablets! is pleased to announce an exclusive Q&A session with Internet Tablet Talk member, qwerty12.

qwerty12 is one of the newest members of itT. In the short time that he has been involved with the tablets, he has made a real impact on the community.

Tune in to see what qwerty12 has to say!

Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark slashdot

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My WiMAX Experiment - Part 6: Summary and Final Thoughts

My experiment in the Rogers Portable Internet over the past several weeks has left me with mixed feelings.

On the positive side of things, it has enabled me to be connected while at work as I illustrated in Part 2. However, in its present modem form, it is bulky and fairly non-portable. It was neat to get a flavour of a WiMAX enabled N8X0 via my in-car experience of Part 5. I thought it was pretty slick to be downloading maps while I drove.


1. Offers some mobility in Canada without using expensive data via cell phone. For a fixed second location such as what I required, it is adequare.

2. The price is fairly good - $20/month for 10 GB which is cheaper than any data plan I can get with tethering in Canada.


1. The Portable Internet Basic that I had was slow. 512 kbps is nothing to write home about in today's day and age. For mobile versions of popular sites, it was adequate.

2. Not really portable. My in-car setup showed that using this modem in a car is impractical due to its size.

3. Frequent loss of signal has meant that my connection hangs in sometimes critical points of surfing.

4. The flavour of WiMAX currently retailed by Rogers and Bell does not allow the modem to handoff to the next tower - a severe limitation for true portability.

5. VOIP - forget about it.


Primus Canada is trialing a newer version of WiMAX that runs on 3.5 GHz in Hamilton, Ontario. This may be the type of WiMAX that allows handoffs. However, that trial is limited to Hamilton, and there is no indication when a nation-wide rollout would occur.

If Rogers and Bell upgraded their networks to allow faster, more reliable connections with the ability to maintain connections while travelling - it would then come down to price. For instance, you can currently get a USB 3G modem from Rogers, which costs $50/month. It only gives you about 300 MB of data. The speeds are much higher, and it runs on cell technology, so coverage is excellent. Coupled with a Cradlepoint router, this would be a faster and more portable internet solution. Of course, tethering from a 3G cell phone would be better also, but recently, tethering in Canada has become expensive.

My conclusion:

I started off this experiment without a hypothesis really. I did not know what to expect. What I found is that given better hardware (faster and more portable), and a more advanced network, this would be a viable mobile solution. For instance, a pocket sized WiMAX modem could be coupled with a Cradlepoint router.

Alternatively, something like a N810WE with a more advanced network would probably be fine for me. I am however beginning to think that 3G makes more and more sense. For existing tablet users, something like a USB 3G modem. And for a future tablet, an integrated 3G radio.

If there is a network upgrade in Canada, and I can get my hands on some newer hardware, or a N810WE, I would love to redo this experiment. Until then, I think I will reconsider my WiMAX subscription.

Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark slashdot

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My WiMAX Experiment - Part 5: On the Road!

Part 5 of my WiMAX experiment deals with the in-car use of my N800 with the WiMAX modem. This is actually not a usage case for me. I only use the WiMAX modem at work. As you'll see, the setup is large, cumbersome, and totally impractical. However, I thought that it would give us all a taste of what is possible with the N810 WiMAX Edition.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend that anybody try this on their own. Driving, tabletting and filming do not mix!

Video #1: Maemo Mapper

The video didn't turn out as well as I would've liked.... mostly due to the ambient brightness and the fact that the N800's screen is not trans-reflective. I deleted all my downloaded maps, and then started driving around to show off the fact that Maemo Mapper was downloading them as needed while I drove. If you are familiar with Maemo Mapper, I used the 'auto download' option for the maps, and if you look closely, you can periodically see the download progress bar in the upper right part of the tablet's screen. My in-car setup is quickly shown in this video also. Unfortunately, my PDA mount is broken, so I rested the tablet on the cup holder.

Video #2: Application Download

Another neat thing I tried was downloading and installing the bomberman application while driving. It was a fairly quick thing to do, but I was caught starting off in 3rd gear!

When the modem enters the coverage of a new cell tower, the connection gets dropped. In my experience, I could not reacquire a signal until stopped. The Rogers Portable Internet is called 'Pre-WiMAX', and cannot handoff to another cell tower. I am not sure if they have started to upgrade to the flavour of WiMAX that will be used by the N810WE.

If they have upgraded, I would sure love to test out a pre-production N810WE as part of my experiment. Alas, that would require some generous folks at Nokia and Rogers to be reading my blog.... :)

Stay tuned for Part 6 of my WiMAX experiment, where I will summarize my thoughts on this technology and its use on Nokia's Internet Tablets.

Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark slashdot

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

N800: Restoring On-screen Keyboard following BT Keyboard Disconnect

Many times after disconnecting my i-Go Bluetooth keyboard, I am faced with a problem - The on-screen keyboard does not pop-up when required. This happens sometimes, and I am not sure what events lead to this behaviour.

It turns out, I am not the only one experiencing this. Maemo Bug 2850 deals with the same. I found comment #8 interesting, as it provided the fix.

It turns out that you can type the following within xterm, and the on-screen keyboard will re-appear:

gconftool -t bool -s /system/osso/af/slide-open false

I added this command to the list within osso-statusbar-cpu. Now, whenever my on-screen keyboard disappears after I use my bluetooth one, I am a few clicks away from restoring it. Sure beats having to reboot or to use the command line!

Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark slashdot