Art students are sometimes thought of as being "a bit different", often with a distinctive look and a flair for the visual unmatched by their peers. If the INQ Chat 3G was a person it would be an art student with its distinctive visual identity that sets it apart from other mobile phones. Like an art student it has to achieve this style without breaking the bank making it suitable for people who might want a stylish mobile phone but do not want to pay smartphone prices. The INQ Chat 3G comes with a physical keyboard and its functionality revolves around the idea of keeping people in touch through a range of services such as email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook so it may well appeal to the multiplatform chatterboxes amongst you. It also has some surprising features like GPS.
Since my last blog post on the Nokia N900 I have been experimenting more with this Linux powered device and thought it was time to go a little further to see what it could do. Just over two years ago I wrote about using the Asus EEE PC as a “server in your handbag” running Apache 2, MySQL and PHP. I could not help wondering if such a feat was possible on the N900, after all it is a Linux machine, a small computer, but running the LAMP stack on a mobile phone? Maemo, the N900's operating system is a derivative of Debian, but the packages needed have not (yet) been ported, however, there was another route: Easy Debian.
** Update 3rd May 2010: The instructions here also generally work for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, for notes specific to this version see: Boxee and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the Acer Aspire Revo ***
A lot has happened since I wrote my post back in June about setting up Ubuntu and Boxee on the Acer Aspire Revo; a new version of Ubuntu has been released and today (7th January 2009) the new beta version of Boxee was officially released to the public. The new version is a major overhaul and represents quite a different, enhanced user experience from the alpha. So I thought I would do a new version of the post to reflect these changes. Fortunately, Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) has introduced many changes that make getting the Revo up and running much easier than under the previous release of Ubuntu.
Just before Christmas I had a delivery of a large mysterious black box. There was no obvious way to open it, on the top was engraved “Nokia – connecting people” and on the front a mini usb socket. Also packaged was a USB lead and a card telling me that this was a Nokia “hackerbox” and telling me a web site to visit for clues on how to open it. I managed to connect up the box to my computer and got a terminal session going to “log in” to the box, admittedly I used Google to find out how to get in (as I am not very good at puzzles!). Dramatically, when the right command was issued, the top of the box popped open and a puff of smoke emerged. Inside was a the Nokia N900, a Linux powered mobile phone, accessories, a plastic fox and a nice bit of cake.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I have had some ups and downs with Novatel's 2352 Intellegent Mobile Hotspot. It was a rocky start, but the story has a happy ending. This is a small device that combines a mobile broadband modem with a WiFi hotspot allowing you to connect up to five devices to the Internet while out and about without the need to install drivers. It is along similar lines to 3's Mifi device, in fact outside the UK it is called a “Mifi”, so maybe we should just say “it's a Mifi”. I tried it out with various tests to see how it performs.
Plug a Windows computer into your network and you will need some sort of anti-virus program to keep your computer functioning properly and your data safe. To most of us the anti-virus program is that little icon that sits in the system tray that chugs along help to keeping the computer and your data safe, it updates, generates alerts occasionally but we don't give it too much thought. However, behind that icon is an interesting story an ongoing battle between malware authors and anti-virus companies. Recently I got the chance to visit McAfee's Research Labs in Aylesbury, England. I don't normally cover Windows topics, but this was too interesting to miss.
Today Samsung announced that they are launching their own smart phone operating system called “Bada” (which is Korean for “ocean” apparently). No Android or Symbian for them, instead they have decided to go their own way with an ambitious new platform all of their own, and it is proprietary too (possibly an odd approach now?). When I heard about Samsung's plans I was curious so I went along to the launch event in London to find out more. There they outlined their vision for the platform and announced a developer competition but curiously did not show us any Bada handsets.
The Semantic Web is the concept that you can add machine readable meaning to you website to make it easier for computers as well as humans to understand what is going on with your content. If you look at this page you will find it easy to tell which part of the page is blog content, where my name is etc., but for a machine this is not so easy, they will only see something like “bla bla bla TITLE bla bla bla” and often will be limited to trying to find content based on keywords. The whole Semantic Web idea is the subject of major research efforts and much debate over how far it can go, but the good news for Drupal site administrators and readers of their websites is that Drupal 7 will be offering support for some of this technology out of the box.
We all know that it is important to write documentation for our code. It is not the most exciting aspect of programming but sadly it is needed for those times when we have to fix or change something six months after writing it and have no recollection of how the code works or maybe of writing it at all. Fortunately there is help at hand, you can document a lot of your PHP code semi-automatically with a handy tool called PhpDocumentor. If you have programmed in Java before and used Javadoc this will be very familiar to you. It is not readily available pre-packaged through apt, but fortunately it is reasonable straightforward to install.
A thought that hasn't left my mind after my recent trial of the HTC Hero smart phone is a creeping suspicion that the days of the general purpose mobile phone are numbered. Up until now we have tended to carry one mobile device with us and used it for all occasions. It was fine for when at work, and on an evening out. It didn't matter what we where wearing or where we were, we would just have one phone. Now mobile devices are providing more and more functionality, and that functionality will differ in importance according to your situation. Is it logical any more to stick with one phone?