Friday, February 11, 2011

The burning "platform"

When I first read Elop internal leaked memo, I thought the "plaftorm" that was burning was the whole Nokia as a company. And the way it was going ahead needed to change.
I thought it needed to act faster and be more flexible.

Instead he actually was referring to a platform the way we technical people use it: the Symbian Platform.

I didn't think about that. Symbian is Nokia as much Nokia is Symbian. I never would have thought they, too, would abandon it at one point.
I liked their idea of using Symbian on featurephones and smartphones while adopting a complete Linux stack (Maemo first on the N900 and MeeGo now) on their top-of-the-line devices (those they used to call "mini computers").
It made sense.

So I laughed at those who believed in rumors about Nokia embracing the WP7 platform. Because that, to me, meant dropping Symbian and MeeGo and I never believed it would happen.
Indeed, it didn't. But it's like it did.
They will continue to bring Symbian phones to the market.
They will continue to invest in MeeGo.

Issue is, as Elop said, these next two years are a transition period for Nokia.
What that means, to me, is that they haven't yet decided to took the plunge. They want to see how it goes.
Will Microsoft brand new platform really save Nokia's ass? True it's a compelling new platform with a sparkling shiny new UI paradigm (something even Apple's is missing), but it's still new.
Or will MeeGo really be the shiny true alternative to Android, iOS and WebOS (not to mention the RIM's one based on QNX) ?
Instead of focusing on one, they choose to pursue all of them and see which one will work best.
They sure have the money to do it and, with Microsoft's new platform ready to ship, also the time to do it.

I mean, I can understand that. Symbian was designed for a totally different hardware specs in mind and it shines in that (try to run a complete Linux stack, WebOS, Android or iOS on a featurephone), but it was NEVER designed to scale. It showed that and Nokia needed an alternative.
They tried Maemo.
That meant embracing the Open Source culture. And as we all know, that takes time. We are stubborn, they are as well.
True Maemo was mature enough, and by pushing it more it could have succeeded, but Nokia didn't believe in that. May be that was a misstep.
Maybe they had grander ideas in mind. Maemo as a scalable OS (from smartphones up to Netbooks, passing via the tablets...much like HP's trying to do now [brilliant]).
And that was probably what pushed them to merge Maemo in Moblin to make MeeGo.
But again, doing that properly, with a strong Open Source culture in it, takes a lot of time.
We all have seen it in Linux on the Desktop. We're slow. And that is not good for Nokia.
They needed something yesterday. And we were too slow.

That's why, I think, they went to Microsoft (or, maybe, the other way around, more in a minute).
They'll have a shiny platform (that is really promising, btw) right now (meaning we may see a Nokia WP7 mobile device by the end of the year?) and they can still continue experimenting with the open source community and MeeGo. At one point that platform may be powerful enough to drop WP7 again and embrace it fully.
But they clearly don't believe in that, yet.

There probably wasn't much choice either. WP7 still could allow them to differentiate from other hw vendors (everyone's selling an Android phone, few are selling WP7 phones).
And that maybe what pushed Microsoft to give Nokia more control on the hw than it gave the others.
Microsoft NEEDED a stronger ally after they've lost HP.
HTC seems to be mainly interested in Android and LG is too moody, perhaps.
Nokia's perfect for Microsoft. It's exactly what they needed. And they wanted it badly enough to give Nokia more control.

So, yeah, the big news is that they jumped from the burning (Symbian) "platform". But they didn't really made a big change yet. They are still waiting. Thus the "transition" period.

This is the way I see it.
So, what does this mean to us as MeeGo/Maemo Open Source community.
That's just guessing now. It may turn well if MeeGo proves itself. I mean IT IS a much nicer platform than Android or iOS. Slightly more flexible than webOS. But it needs much more than that to succeed in this world.
After all, Linux on the desktop IS far superior to anything else, but that's not enough and Canonical is understanding that.
The Open Source approach gives you freedom, but it slows you down. Democracy is such a bitch sometimes.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Synching your N900 with Google (Mail, Contacts, Calendar) with no third-party tools or service.

Today I was thinking...that it's time I keep my phone in sync with my Google stuff (e-mails, contacts and calendar)

I started by clearing up my Google Cntacts ( as they'll be later loaded into the device and because it's much easier to work from a desktop than from the device itself.
If you already have (and most probably that is the case here) contacts on your device, I'd suggest to export them in a file, mail them over to yourself and load them in Google).
Google contacts also helps you spot duplicates, but it's not the perfect tool in the world, so go scan your contact list once more.

As for the Calendar, be warned that only the main Google Calendar will be synchronized over. I cleared that a bit and moved a few events over.

I then went on the N900 and cleared the N900 calendar. You can skip this step as explained later.

To sync Mail on your N900 you have two valid options: use regular Gmail account in the default N900 Mail client (Modest) or use Nokia Messaging. The latter brings push e-mail, but if you don't care, then just set-up a Google Gmail account and you're done.
Also Nokia Messaging brings you a better control on when to synchronize your e-mail (like which days, what hours, if in roaming, minimum battery charge and intervals).

I configured IMAP on Google Gmail and configured which folders (labels in Google terminology) I wanted to sync. Registered with Nokia Messaging and entered my Gmail credentials. On the N900 it's just a matter of selecting Nokia Messaging and enter its credentials.
What's cool it's that Nokia Messaging shows as one single mail account in Modest, but it can be configured (on the Nokia servers) with multiple mailboxes (Nokia's terminology for Mail Account). I do let him handle my account as well.

For Google Calendar and Google Contacts I use the Mail for Exchange (MfE) client provided with the N900 itself.
This client is really picky (it's a bug, but that's all we have) so follow the instructions carefully.

First of all it expects a clean calendar and a clean contacts roster.
You don't have to do either now.
Anyway, start MfE and enter you Google credentials. Note that "User name" HAS to be your full e-mail address (actually I didn't without the suffix, but that's what the whole Internet agrees upon). Leave Domain empty.
On the next screen type in:


Leave the other untouched:

Port: 443
Secure connection: Tick

On the next screen UnTick e-mail (we've already covered that and it won't work anyway).
Leave calendar, tasks and contacts ticked.
As "First synchronization" choose "Delete items on device" (I found out it needs it, you may be lucky and try to leave them, but if you exported and loaded them on Google, you won't need them there now anyway).

On the Next screen tap on Advanced and scroll down to "Calendar and tasks".
If you didn't delete the N900 calendar as above, you will need to use a different one.
Tap on "Calendar" and choose "Create new". It will create a new "Mail for Exchange" calendar when synchronizing.
Keep in mind that if you get any errors and need to re-start, you NEED to have a clean calendar (either manually delete it from Calendar or Create a new one).
I never ticked completed tasks, so I am not sure it works.

Click on Save and go to the Next page.
It should synchronize everything with no errors.

When it has completed, tap on Finish and then on Details, sometimes it doesn't sync Contacts, if that is the case, tap on Synchronize Manually, it should sync them this time.

Unfortunately in my case, MfE forgets the configuration when I close it, so I don't know if it works stable over the days.
But before closing it I did try to update contacts and calendars and they were correctly kept in sync everytime I clicked on Synchronize Manually.

So, there you have it, hoe it works for you as well!

PS: later I'll update the post with screenshots and clean it up a bit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First MeeGo conference is around the corner

So, the first MeeGo conference will be upon us in two months and it's time for me to wrap up what's been going on with me and the transition from Maemo to MeeGo.

First of all, I hoped to have more spare time to dedicate to the completion of the Maemo version of Xournal. The latest version in extras-devel still need some fixing and at least a bunch of features before pushing it to Extras.
I still plan to finish it BEFORE starting some work on MeeGo.
Weird enough, even though I didn't touch it lately, some users are reporting crashes in Xournal. I do experience it myself.
I have, on my N900, the latest dev version (not in Extras, but with not many new changes) and it has always worked fine until few weeks ago I got a message from a user complaining it was crashing for him.
At first I thought it was an isolated case. But then I grabbed my N900 and Xournal was crashing on me as well! As soon as the File Dialog tries to appear, it crashes.
I have no idea, yet, of what is happening. It clearly seems some other app we've both installed changed some shared library. I'll have to try on my girlfriend's N900 and see what's happening. Her version (older, I think she's using the Extras one) seems to work fine and she hasn't installed that much crap anyway.

So, the plan is to complete the Maemo version, push it to Extras and then start working on the MeeGo version.
Hopefully by that time, the MeeGo SDK would be stable enough.

Only big issue is, again, time. I already dealt with a customer go-live deadline in July and moved to East Canada to follow a new customer go-live process since then. I can't speak of any go-live date as this is confidential, but I can tell you that a news we recently got ourselves will mean even less spare time for me and thus Xournal.
But I still think I'll manage to fix this issue, add a few feature to Xournal from the desktop version and push it to Extra before the conference.

Speaking of which, I do wish I could attend and I did apply for sponsorship, but I am not sure it'll get accepted. Flying from Canada is expensive and my contributions to MeeGo sum up to none so far.
However, that won't mean I will stop supporting Xournal and working on it for Maemo and/or MeeGo :)

That, I guess, is good news for Xournal users, right ? :)

Last thing, a user on the Xournal thread on is willing to help and I still haven't got time to wrap up a small e-mail highlighting the parts of the code where he should concentrate most... that says how much spare time I've got :/

Anyway...I'll make it work :)
Sooner or later, I'll make it work and have a final stable version of Xournal on Extras with a few new useful features.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MeeGo 1.1 Handset UX (unstable) running on the N900

Today I was thinking...that it'd be nice to share a video of the recently "released" unstable version of the MeeGo 1.1 Handset UX running on the N900.

So, with no further ado, here is the video:

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Testing Windows Live Writer

Yeah, I know… it’s Windows, but this Windows 7 has been cool on my Dell Mini 9. So far, so good…

This is were we live now