Feet up!

2006-07-27 links

Taken from Jim’s del.icio.us links

[Fri, 28 Jul 2006 06:30] | [linkblog] | #

Blogging with Backpack

New adventures in Python, well that’s the theory anyway.

I’m experimenting with using Backpack and Nokia’s Lists app for blogging. I’m finding it really useful for both roughing out and finessing posts, and the markup syntax is Textile based which is simple to use. Possibly the best bit is that I can write stuff pretty much anywhere, i.e. if there’s a web browser or my phone to hand I can write.

The only crufty bit currently is publishing the stuff onto my blog, I’m running the pytextile renderer with pyblosxom, so all I’m doing currently is copying and pasting from Backpack to a new file. The next step is to automate this process, so I’ll be lashing up a quick python script which will use the Backpack api to check my Backpack pages for new posts and publish them. That should be straightforward enough, let’s see…

[Thu, 27 Jul 2006 22:47] | [blogging] | #

My New Phone

Woah, it’s a flip!

Yes indeed, and perhaps even weirder is that it’s EVDO rather than WCDMA and not even a smartphone, but hey what do I care about subtleties like that. The phone and 6 months worth of calls and swift data are free courtesy of Sprint’s ambassador scheme.

I guess my biggest problem is that I’m about 5000 miles from the nearest EVDO network, so to that end I’ve got Matt Croydon checking it out for me.

Like Paul Stamatiou and Michael Mace, Matt’s pretty impressed with the service but less so with the phone – a Samsung A920. Perhaps this is one of the biggest flaws in the US’s route of diverged phone standards in that the US public only get access to a small subset of the broad range of phones that the rest of the World takes for granted.

However it’s good to see that there are networks willing to let people loose with a free phone and data to get some usage figures on how an uber-geek might use their network. I wonder how many folks in the Ambassador scheme used the Samsung A920 as their primary phone though…

[Thu, 27 Jul 2006 07:29] | [mobile] | #

2006-07-25 links

Taken from Jim’s del.icio.us links

[Wed, 26 Jul 2006 06:30] | [linkblog] | #

More Virtual Dapper Drake

So following on from my earlier adventures running Ubuntu’s Dapper Drake under Microsoft’s VirtualPC I decided to try VMware instead.

The free VMware Player installed painlessly, and with their pre-built Ubuntu Image I was up and running in a matter of minutes.

However, the pre-built image (virtual appliance in VMware parlance) is for the Breezy Badger release of Ubuntu, rather than the latest bleeding edge Dapper Drake version that I wanted to try. That’s no problem though, just change all mentions of ‘breezy’ in /etc/apt/sources.list to ‘dapper’ then run apt-get update and apt-get dist-upgrade and voila a nice shiny new Dapper Drake install.

The official instructions for a Breezy to Dapper upgrade are a little more lengthy and worth following if you have problems.

The only other problem I had was with the clock running too slowly, which appears to be a known VMware issue which is easily reolved by adding clock=pit nosmp noapic nolapic to the kopt= line in to /boot/grub/menu.lst (keep this line commented out!) and then running update-grub

And best of all, if the standard virtual-appliances don’t suit your taste then it’s easy enough to create your own with tools like VMX Builder. Thanks for the tip, Craig.

[Tue, 18 Jul 2006 22:14] | [tech] | #

2006-07-14 links

Taken from Jim’s del.icio.us links

[Sat, 15 Jul 2006 06:30] | [linkblog] | #

2006-07-13 links

Taken from Jim’s del.icio.us links

[Fri, 14 Jul 2006 06:30] | [linkblog] | #

iPhone on the way?

iPhone – the apparently perennial slow news-day space-filler always seems to invite further speculation. It’s easy to witter about how Apple might have a new wonder product hidden up their sleeve, but no-one seems to move the argument forward.

The reasoning why the iPhone might be great is based on the seamless experience of iTunes and the iPod, but if you consider another of Apple’s products .Mac – and from Rui’s step by step critique you can see that Apple aren’t exactly excelling with this product.

What interests me most about Rui’s coverage is not the mainstream woes for Mac users – insecurity, synching problems, speed, standards avoidence, and general cruft – but the great potential for mobile integration, he notes a handful of areas where .Mac isn’t as good as it could be or where mobile oriented features would fit very nicely, such as IMAP IDLE support, addressbook and calendar synching with SyncML, and moblogging to take advantage of the Mac’s native support for 3gpp standards. All laudable additions, and not that hard to sort out.

So back to the mythical iPhone, is it coming soon? That’s hard to say, but perhaps we should look at the state of .Mac’s phone oriented features as a significant pointer as to when the iPhone will appear.

[Thu, 13 Jul 2006 21:13] | [mobile] | #

2006-07-11 links

Taken from Jim’s del.icio.us links

[Wed, 12 Jul 2006 06:30] | [linkblog] | #

Push mail the easy way

Whilst thinking further about the Nokia E61 and Sony Ericsson M600 I was wondering whether their email functionality would actually be any use for those of us who don't pay to use a proprietary push email system or run a costly solution like Microsoft Exchange, i.e. normal Joes who just use standard mail servers with POP3 or IMAP access.

There's a simple solution: IMAP IDLE. Rui has a great collection of IMAP resources, including RFC:2177 the IMAP IDLE command.

Here's a sample IMAP IDLE session using telnet, the commands I typed are in bold, with a few of my comments in italics, all the rest is traffic back from the server.

jim@server:~$ telnet example.com 143
Trying 192.168.1.68...
Connected to example.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
* OK [CAPABILITY IMAP4rev1 UIDPLUS CHILDREN NAMESPACE THREAD=ORDEREDSUBJECT THREAD=REFERENCES SORT QUOTA IDLE ACL ACL2=UNION STARTTLS] Courier-IMAP ready. Copyright 1998-2005 Double Precision, Inc. See COPYING for distribution information.
we'e connected to the server, spot the word IDLE in the capabilities?
? LOGIN jim password
? OK LOGIN Ok.
? SELECT INBOX
* FLAGS (\Draft \Answered \Flagged \Deleted \Seen \Recent)
* OK [PERMANENTFLAGS (\* \Draft \Answered \Flagged \Deleted \Seen)] Limited
* 606 EXISTS
* 0 RECENT
* OK [UIDVALIDITY 1152176239] Ok
* OK [MYRIGHTS "acdilrsw"] ACL
? OK [READ-WRITE] Ok
? IDLE
+ entering idle mode
time passes ... and a new email arrives!
* 607 EXISTS
* 1 RECENT
at this point we could use the FETCH command to grab the new message, but for simplicity we'll just bale out
DONE
? OK IDLE completed
? LOGOUT
* BYE Courier-IMAP server shutting down
? OK LOGOUT completed
Connection closed by foreign host.
jim@server:~$

As you can see, the basics of getting the IDLE command working for a client are pretty straightforward, and the best bit is that native email client on a number of phones such as the Sony Ericsson P910 and the Nokia 6680 already appears to support IMAP IDLE. So who needs a Blackberry? :-)

Updates: A quick thanks to Rui who confirms that most recent Symbian and Sony Ericsson phones (such as the K610i) should have IMAP IDLE support, and also to Martin for investigations that prove our hosting provider JaguarPC supports IMAP IDLE - all for a mere 8 bucks a month.

[Thu, 06 Jul 2006 21:36] | [mobile] | #

Bloglines giving you more control

Hurrah, it looks like Bloglines have finally resolved their 301 handling. Also they've announced a Publisher Tools programme to help Bloglines to work better with your blog. It still needs the "publisher" to be a Bloglines user, but it's certainly a start.

Now what about some of their other problems?

Update: The "claim my feed" process is a complete pain in the arse, and I've not managed to get it to work yet despite the required codes appearing in both my feeds and htm. This is not the sort of freedback that Bloglines were after, but I guess it's best they know.

[Thu, 06 Jul 2006 13:06] | [blogging] | #

Is UIQ holding back the M600i?

Sony Ericsson M600I had an interesting experience the other night, a quick play with a Nokia E61 and a Sony Ericsson M600i. Not an in-depth review, nor even a 15 minute guided tour of the two devices, just a quick hands-on play in the pub. Is this a relevant experience? I think so, it's not that disimilar to a the brief experience in a phone shop that is often many people's sole knowledge before deciding which phone to buy.

Conclusions? The E61 was much as expected, it's an S60 phone so all the usual buttons did all the usaul things, I had a quick ferret around to spot some of the new features, but all in all I wasn't too bothered. The form factor and lack of camera rule it off my wishlist from the word go; the phone is actually lighter and smaller in the hand than I'd expected, so that was a pleasant surprise, but the missing camera is still the deal breaker for me.

The M600i is a different kettle of fish altogether, it looks like a phone, not a device to chain you to the workplace. The dimensions are very pocket friendly, think flattened K750, and you'll not be far out. Then you get to using it, and I had one of those "where do I start?" moments. Sure I've used UIQ a little before, but never for more than a few stabs and scribbles with a pen.

For starters, look at that keypad, where's the function keys? There's no joystick, no softkeys and despite the qwerty nature there's only one more button than on my my 6680's keypad (one less if you include the 6680's softkeys in the button count). Compare the M600 to the E61 and the difference is immediate, the M600's touch screen isn't really there to enhance the user experience, or to woo Treo die-hards (both of them). The touch screen is an integral part of M600 usability, it's kept the button count low and hence the dimensions within sane bounds.

This comes at the price of instant out-of-the-box usability, only previous UIQ users or the rarely spotted manual readers are going to be fully using this phone from the word go, for others there's a steep learning curve. Will most users remain on the nursery slopes or get beyond basic usability? Is this another case of smart phones in a dumb world?

[Thu, 06 Jul 2006 06:18] | [mobile] | #

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