Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry N8X0 Drivers to All !

Carsten Munk, our distmaster sent me an IM this morning. It looks like he and his Mer team have received the fabled OMAP2 graphics drivers from Texas Instruments. They have had some success in meshing the drivers into the OS, and things are going forward on that front.

I'm sure it is not a straightforward task, so let's give the Mer team some space while they work this all out. Things will get interesting for the legacy N8X0 devices!

Happy Holidays to all !

(Post created on my N900 using the wonderful MaStory blogging application)

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Friday, December 4, 2009

N900 + - So close, yet So far...

On a hunch, I decided to scan available GSM operators from my N900 this morning in Toronto. Wouldn't you know it, 'CAN 490' was displayed showing a nice little '3G' symbol beside it !

But alas, when attempting to connect, I was denied.

Some Googling of CAN 490 revealed that it is indeed Windmobile (Globalalive Wireless).

Come on Canada - we need choice now! Let Windmobile throw the switch.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Maemo Minute

A friend was over on Sunday. His iPhone rang, and he took a call. After the call, I showed him the loaner N900 that I have. After playing with the media player, multi-tasking, desktop, and liking the 'call type' selector, he commented: "This is sick! It's like a Mobile Computer".

To which I replied "Precisely".

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Maemo Summit News: N8X0 OMAP2 Graphics Drivers

Although the primary focus of the Summit was Maemo 5 and the N900, there was some very welcome and long-awaited news for legacy OMAP2 devices. Texas Instruments announced at the Summit on Friday that they would be releasing the graphics drivers for the processors powering the N800, N810 and N810WE in the next 2 weeks. This is great news for the community, as it means that it will be possible to jazz up the UI for Mer and Maemo 4. Classic tablet owners may have some fun in store for them in the near future.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Maemo Summit 2009-Thank You!

I would like to publicly thank the Maemo Community Council and the Maemo Devices team for all their hard work in organizing the Summit at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. The event was a great success.

Not only were all the arrangements well done (hotel, airfare, food, summit venue, photo/video recording, after hours party), but so were all the presentations by Nokia, Distinguished Guests, and Community Members. Of course, the most tangible thing from the weekend in Amsterdam was the loan of the beautiful N900 from Maemo Devices. Everyone was Ecstatic when Ari announced that all 300 non-Nokia participants would receive a pre-production N900 for 6 months for evaluation. I am still pinching myself ... did that really happen?!

Listening to all the talks on Friday and the Community talks on Saturday and Sunday left me with the feeling that Nokia is building some serious excitement around Maemo 5, and in particular, the N900. With the N900 in stores soon, Nokia can start to shift some attention to Maemo 6 (Harmattan). Indeed, that appears to be the case, as evidenced by the number of Maemo 6 talks that were there. I've said this before, but the future of the Maemo line looks promising - Thank You.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Maemo Summit 2009 - Amsterdam!

I am fortunate enough to be able to attend Maemo Summit 2009 as a sponsored attendee. I am an ordinary community member, like a lot of you out there. As such, I am hoping to share as much as I can with you all via Twitter and my blog.

To see my tweets:

For all tweets from Maemo Summit, follow the #maesum hashtag, or look at

It is an exciting time for Maemo, and I am excited to be a part of it.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Brainstorm at Work: Personal Dataplan Monitor

One of the most amazing, yet largely untapped avenues in is Brainstorm. That is the place to dream up ideas, propose solutions, and shape the future of Maemo applications. Recently, Community Member zerojay, dreamed up a dataplan monitor widget for Maemo 5. Soon after, a Brainstorm idea was filed, and work began. With fiferboy (of Personal Menu and Personal Launcher fame) doing coding, and joshua.maverick helping with graphic design, it was a truly Canadian solution. The result is an awesome dataplan monitor widget for Maemo 5 - see for yourself:

It is fitting that a dataplan widget for Maemo 5 is brought to our community by a bunch of Canadians - have you looked at the price of our data plans recently! Congrats guys! I am looking forward to using this when I get a Maemo 5 device. When will that be? Hopefully soon.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

RX-51 Revealed!!

Thanks to chilko, from for linking to pictures of the elusive RX-51 aka Rover. Looks like it is marketed still as a N Series device. Waiting for an announcement and release dates now! Stay tuned...

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Friday, August 7, 2009

RX-51 on FCC!!

FYI, Engadget reporting the RX-51 passes FCC for T-Mobile USA

How soon can I get one?!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Community Spotlight: Randall Arnold (Texrat)

The former (now has had its share of discussions 'gone wild' with respect to new product launches, no product launches, rumours on next products, d-pad location/absence and the like. And usually at the centre of those discussions was our very own Texrat. Randall Arnold (Texrat) is a proud user and promoter of the Maemo based Internet Tablets. Formerly employed by Nokia, where he was involved with the successful launch of the N800 at CES 2007, Texrat brings a unique combination of persuasive discussion, technical insight and plain old humour to the discussions in the forums. Let's get to know the rat a bit better, shall we?!

1. So, Texrat, what is your background in terms of your education, and work experience?

Most people don't know I was a plumber for 10 years, from household repair to large-scale commercial construction, starting at age 15. Obtained my journeyman license at 21 and scored the highest on the testing of anyone the company employed. During that time I went to community college to become a drafter-slash-robotics technician. I got the opportunity to join Texas Instruments as a cooperative education student in 1987 and it changed my life. I spent 7 fascinating years in their former defense division, and then after they sold it to Raytheon I bounced around the product development world until I happily landed at Nokia in 2005.

2. I know that you were employed by Nokia, and were involved with the launch of the N800. What exactly were you responsible for? Were you involved with the N810 as well?
I started as a Quality Feedback Analyst at the Fort Worth Alliance factory in September 2005, responsible for SQL Server database design and upkeep, statistics report development, production process improvement and local application development. When it became obvious the US plant had no future, many prominent people left pre-emptively and our staff shrank. That got me more involved with process improvement for a while, which was a lot of fun. I helped solve a pilfering problem for Wal-mart, for instance.
After the closure was formally announced, my manager (Donna Neary, the best boss a guy could ever hope to have) rebranded me as a Quality Engineer. I inherited the 770 and became enthralled. I recognized immediately that this was a potential game-changer and threw myself into gaining a deeper understanding of the product than I was required to. And when I was given the N800 to babysit, I was in seventh heaven!
My job with the N800 was to catch defects at the front door and inside the operations, and keep them from leaving the building. I wish I could tell you the successes of our hardworking auditors but I am required to keep the gory details under my lid. Suffice to say we were highly successful in minimizing field failures. Amazingly so. When you hear of quality defects, I can assure you they made up a tiny, tiny percentage of the whole. Plus, the factory closed not long after and production relocated so we can't take credit or blame for the products produced after January 2007. ;)
I had no direct involvement with the N810, but was rewarded with one for what a senior manager described as the most successful product launch in Nokia's history. I take great pride in that. Too bad it was forgotten by November 2008...

3. Working within the giant Nokia corporation on Internet Tablets must have been exciting. Are there any 'all-nighter' type stories, or other interesting anecdotes that you can share with us with respect to the work you were involved with on the tablets?
I was salary so no overtime pay, but I worked double shifts some days to get 200 N800s out on time and to CES with zero defects-- with zero complaints. I was that enthused about the device. Plus I was hoping someone would notice and give me a chance to stay with the company somehwere after the plant closure. Someone did. ;)
The production process auditors and product inspectors had never seen anything like the tablets. I had to develop a test plan from hell to make sure everything was covered, and training was intensive. I give kudos to some very sharp people under my direction. One was even rewarded with an N800 by me for really stepping up. I could not have pulled off my part without them.
Oh! and I got to cook ten N800s in a high-temperature oven to gage the reaction of heat on the LCD reflector. There was concern the Texas sun could warp it. Five of the LCDs had some obvious warp. I was allowed to keep all ten and made several co-workers very happy... even with the slight warping. The rest of the story is that LCD reflector thickness was subsequently doubled.

4. OK - I am going to ask, and please tell me to bugger off if you cannot answer this (due to any lingering NDA, moral or ethical obligation, etc). Do you know what was the Easter Egg on the N800, and N810?

Video out was supposed to be one, I was told, but that's all I know. And I can't even validate that. As we are all aware now, video out was impractical. If there were others I don't know of them.

5. Devices running Maemo 5 haven't been released yet. There is a lot of pent up emotion over at related to the fact that nothing new hardware-wise has dropped in our hands since the N810 almost 2 years ago. Do you consider this time period normal for this industry? Can you share any of your own thoughts on the subject?
You are touching on my biggest beef with the project! I am not going to blame the Maemo folks though-- not their fault. The product development and release schedule comes from higher up and is part of Devices. But no, I don't consider the gaps normal at all. You won't see them, usually, in Nokia's other lines. There's more I could say on this but won't. Sore subject.
I'm on record on my blog and other forums as supporting an N800 refresh. I asked about this as an employee and never received an answer. Obviously I was not owed one at the time.

6. Fremantle - what are your expectations for this iteration of the OS? I know Nokia is attempting to make the devices more mainstream with each iteration. Do you think Fremantle will have enough whiz-bang to lure people over to the Maemo display cases at their local electronics stores?

I have mixed feelings on Fremantle. I love the features it will bring but hate that it's transitional. I do think it has the eye-candy appeal for mainstream consumers that wasn't quite there with out-of-the-box Diablo. But sustainability is the key here, and I'm still not completely convinced it's going to be there. Trying to be hopeful though.

7. Some information surfaced a few months ago, revealing that the Maemo 5 lead device (RX-51), codenamed Rover, would be a phone and not an Internet Tablet as we know it. If true, I think it makes good product strategy since you can grab more users with a full-featured phone, rather than a phoneless-tablet. There is certainly a market for Internet Tablets as we know them, otherwise most of us would not be lingering around t.m.o. What is your opinion - do you think we will see a tablet, or an evolved tablet-like device from Nokia running Maemo 5?

Again, this goes back to the release gap issue. Some readers may recall I advocated a multiproduct platform, similar to the E series and regular N series (I think making the tablet an N series device was a huge error). In my opinion you best serve the customer with at least the easy choices. Consider that you can get full-featured Nokia phones as standard flip style, slide, "candy bar" and some unique variants like the venerable E70. This is what your various market segments expect. I think something similar is necessary for tablets. You may have noticed that the tablet community is sharply divided over "slate" format versus keyboarded. Supplying both simultaneously is a no-brainer. By the same token, sure, offer a cell-enabled variant BUT keep one or two with the legacy functionality as well. So in short: gaps bad. Overlap and platforming good.

8. Unfortunately you had some time off from regular employment. That is a tough situation to be in. But I hear that you are working again now - congrats. It seems that you've taken up blogging in that time. How is your blog doing - in terms of visitor stats, Planet Maemo karma?
Not well, usually. ;) I see that some articles I felt were Maemo-relevant were thumbed down by a few folks. I even teased them about it in one post. But I don't take that to heart. The comments section of the blog is my feedback focus. Right now the read-to-comment ratio is horrible but I am processing what feedback I have received and plowing that back into subject matter. That appears to be working: I just hit 612 readers in one day after the "Why I love my Nokia internet tablet" article (small for the big guys but huge for me) which was a significant improvement in eyeballs. Now to translate that into tongues. Karma is fine but not inspirational.
The hardest part with Tabula Crypticum has been shifting from the approach and coverage I could use in my former Nokia internal blog to something for public consumption. I've always leaned toward transparency (Quim Gil is groaning right now, with good reason) and I have to watch that now. There's so much I want to share but can't. But I do have a huge backlog of Nokia articles that can be repurposed and if I can recover them from backup without too much work I may do so. I also want to thank Quim for pushing me to even do a public blog. I just wish he would stop in some time and visit. ;)

9. You've also taken up music recording! And it actually sounds nice. Can we expect a tablet-ballad at some point? Or is that just too nerdy?
Heh... I have been writing lyrics for over 40 years but just got serious enough during my "time off" to get my first album going. Thanks for the compliment, too. I enjoy making music more than almost anything. I'm even trying to learn music theory and quit hacking.
I have managed to steer mostly clear of novelty songs but who knows-- maybe I can sneak in a geeky tablet reference without it sounding trite. Or maybe I'll just write something just for the tablet community. In fact I'll team up with Tim Samoff. ;)

10. Anything you want to say to the internet tablet community? Here is a chance to set the record straight, ask for a presidential pardon, make an inspiring speach... anything.

I just want to say I love you guys. Sincerely. The tablet community fussed all over what I considered my baby and really made it shine. I have never associated with such a passionate, dedicated, talented group before and I sure hope I am fortunate enough to meet some of you in person in Amsterdam. I applied for sponsorship and I'm crossing my fingers...

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI:

Thanks Texrat, for taking the time to participate in this Community Spotlight.

There are few on that attract large virtual audiences when they jot down a few thoughts in a discussion thread. Texrat is at the top of the list of people that do just that. Anyone who has seen his discussions, or spoken to him about Internet Tablets quickly sees the passion that he has towards these products. So much so, that he has spoken openly numerous times about how he sees this line of products evolving. The fact that he is still promoting these products after his employment at Nokia is a benefit to us all. Keep watch for his Maemo related blog posts on the Planet - they are highly informative... just watch out for the odd one dealing with blog statistics! ;)


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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mer for Nokia Internet Tablets: The Undiscovered Country

Many of us were excited when Nokia officially unveiled a few features for the newest Maemo 5 operating system at the Maemo Summit in Berlin in September 2008. The feature list for Maemo 5 included support for TI OMAP 3 processors, Cellular Data Connectivity, High Definition Camera and Hardware Graphics Acceleration. The future looked bright for Nokia's Internet Tablet line. Then reality set in for some of us: Nokia would not be officially providing Maemo 5 and future OS releases to the N8X0 and 770 lines of Internet Tablets. Significant hardware differences was one factor leading to this decision, and Nokia's future business strategy was likely another. Rage ensued in the tablet community! This so-called sham was compared to the 770-to-N800 transition, where Nokia support for 770 users initially stopped at OS2006 (later, 'Hacker Editions' of OS 2007 and 2008 appeared, and were made available on Nokia's own firmware upgrade site).

Enter Mer. The Mer project aims at bringing Maemo more in-line with mainstream Linux distributions (in this case, Ubuntu), bringing as many of the Maemo 5 features back to pre- Maemo 5 devices, and expanding the device-base of Maemo to include things like the OMAP 3 based Beagleboard, Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket LOOX Pocket PCs, Neo Freerunner (of OpenMoko fame) and soon, the Zaurus. In addition, Mer will be as open as possible, both in terms of openness with its community, and with respect to its software source.

The project's two leaders, Carsten Munk (Stskeeps) and John Bloom (JohnX), agreed to the following Q&A session which I hope will be of interest to you all.

1. Having used Mer since version 0.7, I can see that is has come a long way. Obviously Mer development is time consuming. How much time do you devote to Mer in a day?

Carsten: I devote most of my idle time outside of work, classes and masters thesis work to Mer - being a facilitator for the activities there's some times where I concentrate on the work and sometimes where it's enough to just be nearby my tablet once in a while to discuss matters.
John: In my case it's a lot more varied. Some days I sit down and work on Mer stuff for most of the day. And sometimes I go a couple weeks without touching Mer stuff at all. Recently I completed a trans-continental move, so now hopefully I'll be able to devote a lot more time to Mer.

2. The Mer Team is about 30 people. How do you coordinate activities amongst yourselves? How do you set priorities for what issue you will tackle?
Carsten: We have taken a hint from, to use SCRUM (or a variant of it), where people chip in with what activities they want to take on (from a backlog, see ) or the mentors in each area can delegate to people in the team if they ask for something to do.

There's also the issue of keeping people in the team informed. Originally we used Jaiku (microblogging) where it was the idea that when achievements were made you microblogged about it. The Mer team members are spread over several time zones so it's difficult to keep track.

This has now evolved into the mer-chatter mailing list, which is basically microblogging through e-mail - send many, short messages, most information in subject and maybe elaborating a little in the body of the e-mail.

We also post to the mailing list through an IRC bot - and people can receive the messages through a digest too, or look up in the archive (

John: From the point of view of someone who wants to get involved in the Mer project, they can take a look at the Sprints page (that Carsten mentioned above), and see what needs to be done. If they find something they're interested in working on, it's easy for them to jump right in, asking questions as they go.

3. Can you detail the support that you are getting from Nokia? In addition to the open source bits that you are including in Mer, what closed bits have you received, or are expected to receive from them? Have any new components from the Maemo 5 SDK's made their way into Mer yet?
Carsten: Current status can be described as following:

* Nokia has sponsored travel+accomodation for five community members dealing with Mer (cladius, me, johnx, lbt, rm_you) to get together as part of the Mozilla Maemo Danish weekend - alone the monetary value of that is a huge and much appreciated support :)

* Nokia has put out several code drops (pre-alpha, pre-alpha2, alpha, beta1, soon to be beta2) of the open source code and we have included these code drops in Mer as they have come in (beta1 still in progress)

* Nokia has essentially said that they don't see a problem in distributing Nokia software to Nokia tablet users - which is an impressive statement by them (see

* Nokia is sponsoring and the employees running it, which we use as our infrastructure technically as well as organizational - who are very helpful to the project.

(there's probably more but this is what I can remember at 10am :)

4. Can you provide us with a definitive word on the status of the graphics acceleration drivers for the OMAP 2? Is it true that Nokia is assisting in getting those closed bits to the Mer team?
Carsten: Well, it's actually an item out of my hands - do note that Nokia is assisting in getting those bits to the Maemo community, not exclusively to Mer. Quim said on IRC he will go to talk to TI during May. What we have done from Mer point of view is suggest ways to deal with this, see

5. My own opinion is that Mer in its current state (version 0.12) it is not ready for prime-time yet. What issues do you feel need to be resolved before it is ready? What show-stoppers, if any, need to be overcome?
Carsten: Show-stoppers are pretty simple: we need some people with GTK knowledge to work with us for a while to get some things rolling - as we have some tiny bugs in Hildon Desktop that are annoying. Rest is powerlaunch scripting (behaviour) and control panels. There's a longer discussion in the (Mer 0.12 release thread) including a discussion of the showstoppers.

6. When I interviewed Andre Klapper back in late 2008, he indicated that the Mer team was welcome to use Maemo's bugzilla to enter and track bugs. Are you currently doing this?
Carsten: Yes, we're under "Extras" in the bugzilla and Andre and co has been excellent in helping us out with getting things working. We even get delegated some WONTFIX'es ;)

7. Mer comes pre-installed with a few applications. Are the Mer repositories building up, or is more focus on Mer itself for the moment.
John: Right now the focus is on Mer itself. We want a solid base that won't change too much before we start putting a lot of applications on top. We're also looking at how to integrate with Extras in terms of making it possible for developers to write one source package that compiles for Maemo and Mer. Hopefully this situation will improve with time. We want to be using our favorite apps on Mer just as much as
everyone else.

8. Speaking of repositories. From what I gather, Mer is based upon Ubuntu Jaunty. Can the Ubuntu repositories be used as-is for things like resource-efficient command-line applications? I imagine that anything with a GUI would have to be Hildonized first?
John: We have the Ubuntu repositories enabled by default and command line applications and tools are no problem at all in almost all cases. As for GUI tools, do they need to be Hildonized before they can be used? Not necessarily. Hildonizing certainly helps applications to be more touchscreen friendly and fit in with the look and feel of the desktop better, but apps that already look OK in an 800x440 window should run and be usable to some degree without any extra work.

9. OK I have a personal pet peeve with Mer's Midori web browser on my N800! I still cannot enter any text within webpage fields. I suspect that this is not an issue for the N810? When will this get resolved?!
John: We'll be switching to Bundyo's Tear web browser after a couple things get resolved. That should fix the issue nicely as well as adding a whole bunch of tablet specific features, such as drag-to-scroll, a touch friendly UI and good usage of screen real estate.

10. Where do you see the Mer project going after stable distributions are commonplace.

Carsten: My personal hope is that the Mer project will help put the Maemo platform everywhere - and to group together efforts in the various device communities. If we can put Hildon on a lot of different devices easily, and bring along all the applications with ease, it can only be a good thing :) Maybe you'll see a Hildon application made for the Zaurus running on your N810. Or Maemo Mapper on a X86 MID. Imagine the possibilities.

Also, consider that Mer is not "just" a Fremantle backport project. The original idea was to revolutionize and reconstruct the Maemo platform - in order to make it more tolerable for developers, community, users, etc. Maybe Mer might actually the future of the Maemo platform? Who knows? Nevertheless, we are only packagers of the
excellent work the Hildon and Maemo teams at Maemo SW (and contractors) are putting out, but we try to do this in a new way and develop ways to make it easier to work with for developers, community, users, etc.

11. Anything you both want to say to the Mer and Maemo communities?
Carsten: We wouldn't have gotten this far without all the small and big contributions made by you to the Mer project and I hope you'll help us to get to the finish line (a fully day to day usable OS on your tablets) - we still need a lot of hands.

John: I think Carsten said it better than I could. Thanks for all the help, testing, positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, everyone. We're getting closer everyday.

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI

Thanks Carsten and John for taking the time to participate in the interview.

The development of Mer excites me. It is an amazing display of a community coming together to shape its own future. It is obvious that the Mer team is working extremely hard to get a polished working product in our hands.

Mer as an operating system excites me. Mer looks quite polished, and I have no doubt that it will be a polished and usable operating system once some of the hurdles are overcome. Some of the highlights that stand out to me:
  • Hardware graphics acceleration on the OMAP 2!
  • Ubuntu's beefy repositories!
  • Mer in other everyday devices - Think about Mer-based set-top boxes, SOHO servers, media players, and beyond!

For those of us that will not be continuing along with Maemo's progression past Diablo, I encourage you to install Mer, update it with each release, file bugs, suggest enhancements, port applications, and quite simply - help out in whatever way you can. The Mer team is looking for someone with GTK experience to help out ... if you are that person, or you know of someone who is, let the project leaders, Carsten and John know.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Interview with GeneralAntilles, the Maemo Community Council Chair

Mobile Tablets! is pleased to present this Q&A session with GeneralAntilles, the first Maemo Community Council Chair. GeneralAntilles is one of the most infamous characters in the internet tablet scene - largely for his dry and matter-of-fact demeanor. He might rub some people the wrong way, but there is no denying his love for this platform as well as the effort and energy that he volunteers into all aspects of these devices. Considering his very busy schedule, especially over the holiday season, I feel fortunate that he agreed to do this interview.

1. As I understand it, you are in your early 20's. Can you tell us what you are currently doing outside of the Maemo world (i.e. are you working, getting educated, a combination of the two, or something else)?

Currently I'm a Junior studying Computer Science at Florida State University. I don't work during the semester, so I usually work at a local new & used bookstore over breaks to scrape together enough cash to get me through each semester.

2. As with many of the members of the Internet Tablet community, you appear to be quite knowledgeable in the areas of Linux, computer hardware, etc. Is this self-taught, or do you have formal education in any of these areas?

Self-taught inasmuch as I didn't receive my knowledge from formal education, but that's not to say that there weren't a lot of very helpful people along the way. ;) My background is in Macintosh, but the 770 was my first real foray into Linux, and Maemo is where I've picked up all of my Linux knowledge to date.

3. Congratulations on becoming the first Maemo Community Council Chair! Since the Council's inception, we have likely had many new members join who may not know what this Council is all about. Can you tell us what the mandate of the Council is?

Well, the Council's basic goals are to facilitate communication between the community and Nokia (and vice versa) to make sure Nokia understands the community's motivations and issues, and that the community understands Nokia's; to act as leaders for the community to help provide direction to and the Maemo Community; and to just plain get stuff done.

4. Do you or your fellow Council members have an area of expertise that you handle independently, or do all Council members deal with each issue?

We each have our own areas of experience and expertise, but we don't really have predefined areas of responsibility, and most of us don't really have a particular "role" we fill. Arguably, there's really only one person who would fit into a specific description, and that's Tim Samoff, since he might be called the graphics person. He's been handling most of the Council's end of the redesign, and was involved in selecting the new logo before the Council was formed. The rest of us, well, Andrew Flegg and I are sort of the "community" people, while Simon Pickering and Eduardo Lima are more the "developers", but there's overlap between everybody.

5. Can you give us an idea how much of your time you spend on Maemo related activities each day (e.g. participating in the forums, mailing lists, Bugsquad, Council activities, etc)?

It varies a lot depending on my non-Maemo-related workload, but Maemo-related activities usually occupy a high percentage of my time. Probably somewhere in the range of 1-5 hours a day on average—depending on what I happen to be working on. Maybe a little more if you factor in idling on IRC. :D Usually I at least check the latest bugzilla, wiki and mailing list activity in the morning and evening.

6. What is the exact mechanism that community members can pass issues up to the Council for discussion with Nokia? And what is the method that Nokia's comments make their way back to the community?

If there's something specific, the maemo-community list is the best place to raise it. Collectively the Council pays attention to almost all of the data exchanged day-to-day in the Maemo Community, so if an issue pops up somewhere you can be almost certain one of us will see it and address it if need be. If Nokia has input on an issue, the best place to voice it is right in the discussion (just as they do now).

7. Do you make any distinction between *users* and *community members* when it comes to whether people are heard or not (e.g. related to an individual's Karma)?

Well, I certainly weight a respected community member's opinion more heavily when forming an opinion on an issue than someone with whom I have no prior experience. This isn't dependent on a silly metric like karma, of course, but on my knowledge of the person and previous dealings with them. As far as considering as issue, though, for me, it really has less to do with the person raising the issue than whether or not the issue is a valid one and would benefit from the Council's help.

8. Can you give us an example of a community issue that has gone through the process of being voiced to Nokia/Maemo via the Council, and back again to the community? Something that gives the community members a sense that this process is working?

The first issue we pushed just after the election dealt with the repository setup for SSU (multiple repositories with inconsistent contents), it has since been addressed and fixed, but I'm not really certain how much of that had to do with Council input. ;) More recently we've been working with Nokia (Quim, in particular) to help push a community backport of Fremantle, which hasn't yet had time to show results, really.

But, of course, the Council's responsibilities encompass more than just dealings with Nokia. Tim and Andrew are pushing the updated style and layout, Andrew and Simon are working on patching the Application Manager, Eduardo and myself pushed Canola into the Bugzilla, and we all helped push and collect translations for the new categories list.

9. You've recently started to play around with the OMAP 3530 based Beagleboard. Based upon this, and what we know of the Maemo5 device (RX-51) - would you say you are excited at the prospect of having those performance numbers in a tablet?

Hell yes! :D Anybody who's followed any of those "N900" speculation threads should know exactly how excited I am about the OMAP3. It really, truly is light years ahead of current generation hardware. Huge performance improvements in everything from web browsing, to video decoding and OpenGL. I'm about as excited about the next tablet as one can get about small consumer electronics. I think it's going to become quite apparent why publishing an official backport of Fremantle for OMAP2 isn't really feasible for Nokia once people get the new hardware in their hands.

10. Speaking of the RX-51 - there is alot of discussion going on about Fremantle over at Internet Tablet Talk. One of the sticking points with 770 and N8X0 users is the confirmed lack of an official Nokia Fremantle distribution for those wonderful devices. Quim and yourself have been prodding the community to rise to the challenge and make Fremantle happen on these devices since the platforms are moving towards more open source components. Can you give us a rundown on where exactly you see the community helping out? For instance, which components should be targetted?

Carsten Munk, and John Bloom were already hard at work with Mer well before the call went out officially, and have, amazingly, stepped things even more since. There are a lot of disparate efforts ongoing in different areas that fall under community efforts for a backport, coordinating these efforts will help a lot. Replacing Nokia's "differentiation" products (closed-source applets, connectivity, themes) with free, and open-source replacements is an important area to work on, and will have benefits not just for a community backport, but all users of Maemo and any derivatives.

11. I am going to venture into a slightly personal area. I think it will be enlightening for users to hear what you have to say about this topic. I know some users on Internet Tablet Talk do not have a positive impression of you, which is based upon how you have replied to posts in the forums. I think the saying is that "you do not suffer fools well". What is your strategy for separating the forum trolls from those who are angry due to legitimate problems they are having? What about the naive newbies that sometimes ask questions about advanced issues, only to have you tell them to stick with the default software? Do you paint them all with the same brush, or do they trigger different styles of response from you?

It's hard to really get a useful impression of somebody from a few forum posts, and I think some of that negative perception stems from people making judgements on just a few forum posts. I'd ask anyone making a judgement about someone else to avoid making their final judgement with so little information.

Tone is everything when you're evaluating whether somebody is actually an honest newbie or just a troll. If you come in ranting and raving about how much the device, the software, the documentation, and (especially) the community sucks, then don't expect a positive response from people. On the other hand, if somebody says, "Hey, I'm having trouble with this, I looked at the documentation, I searched around a bit, but I don't really understand what I need to do to make this work. Can you help?" I'm more than happy to help, unfortunately people often start out with, "Everything and everybody here is stupid, this thing sucks, and I demand that you help me!" which, personally, makes me much less inclined towards helping. ;)

As for the newbies who ask about stuff that's really beyond their skill level, it all depends. I'm more than happy to help people learn new things and explore areas beyond their current skill level, but I have to make a judgement call based on their posts as to whether they're likely to be willing and able to do it. The reality is is that some things simply aren't intended for general consumption. Booting from a flash card isn't a simple procedure, and you do a disservice to people by directing everybody who shows the smallest interest into trying it. You'll save people a lot of time and frustration if you recommend what's appropriate.

12. If you don't mind my saying, you looked a little stiff in your previous avatar. It did not go unnoticed on Internet Tablet Talk when you changed your avatar to something that was friendlier looking. Was this a conscious decision to make yourself look more approachable? Or was it just a picture change, without any hidden meaning?

Hehe. That's actually the picture I took for use in the Council presentation at the Summit. I thought it was a better picture than the old one so I went ahead and made the change. Nothing more to it. That said, it is interesting to see people's reactions change based solely on an avatar. ;)

13. What are your top 3 tablet applications (other than anything installed by default), and why?

In no particular order: Maemo Mapper, FBReader and Canola. Maemo Mapper and Canola for those long road trips, and FBReader because reading ebooks on these things is one of the best things ever.

14. Anything you want to say to the Internet Tablet Community?

I'd like to say how awesome it's been seeing this community grow over the past 3 years. :D I wont pick any particular names to thank (you know who you are), but there are a ton of great people involved here and it's always a fantastic experience working with them. I'm greatly impressed by how far we've come so far and very excited to see exactly how far we'll go in the future.

I do want to single out the Nokians among us who go above and beyond the call of duty and put so much of their time into this community. I know you're frequently in a tough place stuck between the community and Nokia, and I know you don't get the recognition and thanks you deserve for putting yourself in that position, so I'd like to make sure you know how much we appreciate you being here and thank you for it. :)

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI

First of all, thank you GeneralAntilles for participating in this interview.

I went out on a limb at the start of this process by asking GeneralAntilles to indulge me as I wanted to tread a bit in the area of the public's perception of him. As we all know, he has come off arrogant in forum posts, and there are certainly those who make their negative opinions of him known. I wanted to get a feel for how he deals with this issue. I've never had any contact with him prior to this interview, so I did not know what to expect. He was pretty cool about it. He even offered this quip which he used to describe himself: "I yam what I yam, and that's all I yam.". For those of you that missed the reference, that was a Popeye line.

The conclusion that I have drawn from dealing with the General is that he is all about how you carry yourself. In a text based community such as ours - implied tone is everything. We should all keep that in mind in our dealings with everyone, and hopefully it will lead to a more vibrant community.


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