Smartphones are computers that happen to be able to make phone calls, and that leads to some interesting possibilities. I've been trying out the new HTC Hero thanks to the lovely folk at 3MobileBuzz who sent me one to have a look at for a week. The Hero uses Google's open source operating system Android, which is based on Linux and is optimised for smaller devices. HTC mobiles are available on many of the mobile phone networks, and they are not alone in using the Android operating system on certain models, manufacturers such as Motorola have recently joined them. The Hero is 3's first Android device and the model I looked at also has a bundled Spotify subscription (worth £9.99 per month), it currently costs £97.86 upfront with a two year contract that will cost you £35 per month, so this is toward the premium end of their range. Quite a bit of cash to hand over, but what do you get for your money?
Programming a computer is actually quite an intellectually stimulating way to spend time, you also usually end up with something to show for your labour. Getting into programming now though can be very confusing, there are so many computer languages out there, where would you start? An additional problem is that this is not the 1980s anymore, printing out “Hello World” ad infinitum is not going to impress anyone. This is where “Quickly" comes in, a new template based programming system making its first appearance in Ubuntu 9.10. It is designed to be easy and fun and is there to help you from getting an initial program together right through to distributing it.
Netbooks are often thought of as just being "little laptops", but that is not the entire story. The rise of these ultraportable machines at a time when mobile broadband was becoming both more affordable and popular has arguably created a much closer relationship between these machines and the Internet, with consumers using them to check up on social networking sites, use web applications such as Google Docs and keep up to date with their email. The physical characteristics of netbooks, such as the small screens, have driven innovation in netbook interfaces up until now, but recently some alternative ideas have begun to surface about what a netbook experience should be like, with new ideas such as making web sites and social updates "first class elements" of your desktop. An interesting example of these new ideas in action is Ubuntu Moblin Remix.
Every time I look at my netbook I keep thinking I've got a new machine, and an expensive one at that, but I haven't, I just installed the new Ubuntu 9.10 (code named Karmic) Netbook Remix on it. The upgrade cost me nothing, not even £25, and I've still got an operating system with designer good looks, a new user interface that even more elegant and user friendly than before. Installing it is easy and everything just seems to work out of the box. The changes in this new release of Ubuntu though are more than just skin deep, and show signs of the cloud based future ahead for computing.
I've been using Rockbox, which is an open source replacement firmware for various MP3 players, for some time and really like it. My Apple iPod Video was a treat to myself, somewhere to put my large-ish music collection so I could enjoy it on the go. After a while though it seemed to get slow, it lost its shine a little. It was time to give it a fresh lease of life with some open source firmware that would bring new features (including the ability to play OGG format files), more customisation, and easier file transfer. Rockbox is available for many MP3 players and older iPods.
Our relationship with the mobile phone is changing, and it is not just the high end phones that show evidence of this. The Sony Ericsson T715 is a new mid range phone available on 3 that comes preloaded with lots of features that will enable you to enjoy the web on the move, including built in Twitter and Facebook clients. You can also make calls and write texts on the phone, but that isn't very interesting; what is more interesting is that this is a great phone if you are into the "constant checking culture" now thought by 3 to be driving mobile broadband usage. Thanks to the kind folk at 3MobileBuzz I was able to try this phone out and see what it has to offer.
From the olnet.org site:
The aim of OLnet is to tackle gathering evidence and methods about how we can research and understand ways to learn in a more open world, particularly linked to Open Educational Resources (OER) but also looking at other influences. We want to gather evidence together but also spot the ideas that people see emerging from the opportunities.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is supporting The Open University to work with Carnegie Mellon University to develop OLnet.
Fun? Video chat? Google Wave? That's right, the Wave is not just about collaborative Wikis and seeing what the other person is typing. A really interesting feature of the platform is the ability to add extensions, one of the first of these is 6rounds, an extension that plugs in a full video chat facility to the platform, but not just that, it also provides the ability to perform tasks together. Interestingly, the extension has its roots in Speed Dating, but it looks like it has a great deal of potential, and like many Web 2.0 applications is built using open source technology.
Today I got my Google Wave invite and was able to activate my account. There has been a lot of hype about this product (to say the least) so it was interesting to be able to finally have a go at using it, so I thought I would type up my first impressions based on only a few hours use, so treat it as a raw first impression rather than a highly considered opinion! This is a tool that I think has great potential for people collaborating on projects, especially if they are located in different time zones and cannot meet face to face very easily, but to use it effectively though does mean climbing a learning curve.
Today I installed the beta version of the upcoming Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 on my Asus EEE PC. So why illustrate this post with a picture of a foam hand with the word "goal" written on it? Well, as you may or may not know I like to attend ice hockey matches from time to time and whenever a goal is scored is is fun to wave around this foam hand in celebration. When I had a look the new Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 today I had a similar feeling of excitement! This is a real winner.