Januar 2008

Conferences Ahead

So I have promised to travel much less this year, however some trips are inevitable. For the first two quarters in this year I’m looking forward to participate at least at the following conferences:

If you have a chance, then drop by and lets have a chat. Don’t be shy — people say, I’m a nice guy 🙂

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The Nokia N810

As reported in previous installments of this column, the Maemo team picked me for a developer discount on the new Nokia N810 internet tablet (thanks again, folks!). I also own a 770 but skipped the N800, so this has been a huge jump for me.

The good

The N810 hardware is pretty good. It features a fast processor, a nice display (not as highres as the one in the Neo1973 though), and a superb audio subsystem. The overall look and feel of the device is very convenient — well done, industrial designers at Nokia. Maemo grew a lot during the past years, I’m looking forward to write a couple of applications (in Vala, of course) and do my share to make Maemo and OpenMoko share parts of the platform.

The bad

I’m not feeling good on the keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, for me it’s pretty important to have one, but I miss the feel. The Zaurus C3x00/C1000 keyboard was better, let alone the Psion 5mx/Revo series. So there’s room for improvement. Also, I’m still not satisfied with battery life during real-life usage. This device is so great that I want to use it… a couple of hours a day. If you really do that you need to recharge daily.

The ugly

This device is so fast that — together with nice software — it could be an incredible user experience. Alas, Maemo still thinks Gtk+ is the way to go and this is a seriously limiting factor. Thankfully some bright guys from Nokia Research, namely the INdT, already started going a much more promising route. Canola2 on the Nokia N810 shows two things:

  1. The Enlightenment Foundation Libraries provide a great subsystem for fluid interfaces on Linux.
  2. Modern devices are fast enough that coding application logic in Python is a viable option.

An annoying factor is also that there’s still a whole lot of closed source contained in the operating system distribution. Also, scratchbox is cumbersome — I prefer OpenEmbedded which makes it more easy and standard to compile additional packages.

Summary

All in all, it’s a good experience and a very nice device. We can learn a lot from this nice project. And I hope that eventually we can do better… but watchout: Nokia doesn’t sleep 😉

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