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Week in Review 4W2009

/wir | edited on 2009/01/26 -- permalink, click to comment

Week in Review 3W2009

  • Without much surprise (after the discovery of hw support) people have figured out multitouch on the G1. Now it’s just a matter of making the Android UI more multitouch aware and T-Mobile will have a new marketing bullet.

  • Nokia is switching Qt to LGPL. The only reason left for not using Qt is being C++ :)

  • Low tech problems require low tech solutions so Solvatten invented a solar powered water purifier that’s actually solar powered directly. No silicon, no moving parts.

/wir | edited on 2009/01/20 -- permalink, click to comment

Book review: Outliers

Outliers: The Story of Success , by Malcolm Gladwell, is a book about how people got where they are. It’s about dispelling the american capitalist myth of the self made man and the boy who can grow up to be president.

The underlying theme of Outliers is there’s a number of people with enough IQ or skills to get to the top of industry, professional sports or any other field but only a limited number get the necessary breaks and have the fenomenal number of opportunities needed to get to the top.

If you’re serious about raising a child Outliers is a definite must read (as opposed to tons of psyco-mumbo-jumbo out there).

Get Outliers: The Story of Success from Amazon UK.

/books | edited on 2009/01/18 -- permalink, click to comment

Book Review: The Tipping Point

In The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell outlines his theory of how trends and ideas jump from the forward edge of society into the mainstream. Throughout the book Malcolm describes the required three types of people, the way context changes everything and how the stickiness of the message make the difference between being ignored and being huge.

Malcolm Gladwell does an excellent job illustrating his theory with vibrant examples and life stories. Everything seems to be a covered, from Paul Revere’s ride to Airwalk shoes. One example is particularly interesting because it was covered from a totally oposite angle in Freakonomics, the New York abrupt crime drop in the 1990s. The drop in New York was sooner, faster and more abrupt than most anywhere else in the USA. Levitt and Dubner argue the tipping factor that made New York’s crime rate start falling in 1990 was the legalization of abortion 20 years before, in 1970. As usual, their case is fully backed by numbers and statistics leaves no margin for doubt. Gladwell on the other hand looks at the social side of the equation and point to one specific event and a context change. Near Christmas of 1984 one seemingly middle class white man got on the crime infested NY subway and made himself an easy target for 4 young black muggers. He then proceded to shoot all 4 with a revolver. Shortly after the New York Transit Authority started a new policy of creating a no-crime context in the subway, cleaning up the cars and cracking down on fare beating. According to Gladwell the way the shooting event was iconic and the change of context changed the criminal prevailing mindset into an order mindset.
Did the social effects Gladwell describes shave a few percentage points off the impact of abortion ? Is Levitt’s explanation the whole story and extraordinary events and context don’t make a difference in the long run ? (truth be told, Levitt’s statistics are well anchored in nationwide data so there isn’t a considerable margin for error there. can both explanations be related and not oposed ?)

Buy The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference from Amazon UK.

/books | edited on 2009/01/18 -- permalink, click to comment

Aspire One notes

(cross)Building the kernel on a real machine

  1. Grab the kernel source package from the Acer AA1 Linpus repo. If your version (uname -a) for some reason isn’t fish around to the correct package.
  2. Pick a directory to hold your AA1 stuff, say ~/acer, and unzip the source into it
  3. Copy the kernel config from /boot/config* on your AA1 (mine is config_080627 - might change on future updates) to your real computer
  4. Go into the kernel source dir and say

    export INSTALL_MOD_PATH=~/acer/
    export ARCH=i386 # this is only important if you're a diferent arch
    make mrproper
  5. Copy the you got from the AA1 (config_080627) to .config and say

    make oldconfig
    make modules
  6. Now you should have all the “default” modules built. If you don’t, you screwed up somewhere
  7. Say make menuconfig and chose the modules you want
  8. Say

    make modules
    make modules_install
  9. You new modules are in ~/acer/lib/… . Copy them over to the /lib/modules tree in the AA1

Note: This will not let you use VirtualBox or VMWare or the likes on the AA1 as you didn’t setup a build tree there!

Instaling extra packages

The very first thing you do is

yum update fedora-release

cause there was a little snafu with the security of the signing keys and that will transition you to the new repo (8.5) signed with the new keys. Remeber to be careful with what you install and do not do yum update.

The “extra” stuff like mplayer comes from DAG instead of freshrpms just to make things a bit more insteresting….

Getting rid of the broken NetworkManager

NetworkManager and nm-applet that shipped originally nearly worked but an updated totally broke it and I was ifuping eth0 for life and network. Good news you can update do fc8-updates NetworkManager which actually works (apart from nm-applet dying on susped which I haven’t figured out yet) and knows about some 3G cards.

  1. Get current gnome-menus and redhat-menus from a fc8 mirror
  2. Say

    rpm -Uvh --force --justdb gnome-menus-2.20.2-1.fc8.i386.rpm redhat-menus-8.9.11-2.fc8.noarch.rpm 
    #replace the version numbers with whatever's current

    The param —justdb is very important. NetworkManager requires these but they conflict with the linpus menus so you tell rpm to record on the database they’re installed but never actually write any files to disc.

  3. Say

    yum update NetworkManager
  4. Edit /etc/rc.d/slim/ and comment out the line (add a # to the beginning)

    sudo /usr/bin/nm-applet &

    at around 1/3 up of the file.
    Then edit /etc/xdg/autostart/nm-apple.desktop and change the line

    Exec=nm-applet --sm-disable


    Exec=sudo nm-applet --sm-disable

    In my boot nm-applet was starting before gnome-keyring and with the wrong environment so it couldn’t fetch wireless keys. This makes nm-applet execute from the proper place (except on linpus/aa1 it needs to be made root) and WorksForMe.

Not using the Acer Email client

The “Acer Email” that comes preinstalled on the AA1 looks like an old version of Evo. Don’t use it as it’s a un utter piece of crap. As an example, if you use an IMAP server that says explicitly it doesn’t want plaintext passwords on an unencrypted connection Acer Email will send your password in the clear anyway. That will not only not work but also means there’s a good chance someone else is reading your email if you did it over a open wifi.
TaoOfMac has instructions on how to install thunderbird (or any other, it’s easy as long as you can yum it) and how to edit the acer desktop menu.

Getting Bluetooth HSDPA to work

First, you need the bluetooth kernel modules. You can either build them yourself as I instructed above or you can get my bluetooth modules pack and unpack it as root into /lib/modules/ .

Then you need the bluetooth stuffs. Do

yum install bluez-libs bluez-utils bluez-gnome

then edit /etc/rc.d/slim/ and add

sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth start

after the udev-post line. Execute the bluetooth start command on a shell and start the bluetooth-applet.

Pair your phone your the AA1 using the bluetooth applet. Go into preferences, make your computer discoverable and add it from your phone. You should get a PIN dialog on both sides. Proced as usual.

Go into a shell and do

sdptool  search DUN

you should get something back like (if you don’t try making your phone discoverable)

Searching for DUN on xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx ...  
Service Name: Dial-Up Networking
Service RecHandle: 0x1004f
Service Class ID List:
  "Dialup Networking" (0x1103)
Protocol Descriptor List:
  "L2CAP" (0x0100)
  "RFCOMM" (0x0003)
    Channel: 2
Language Base Attr List:
  code_ISO639: 0x454e
  encoding:    0x6a
  base_offset: 0x100
Profile Descriptor List:
  "Dialup Networking" (0x1103)
    Version: 0x0100

Edit /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf and add

rfcomm0 {
bind yes;
device xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx;
channel 2;
comment "My Phone";

where xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx and chanel number are copied from the output on the command above. Execute

sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart

Start system-config-network (yum install it if you didn’t already), go to the Hardware tab, press New and fill in /dev/rfcomm0 on the Modem device input, press OK this should be your Modem0. Go back to the Devices tab, press New, give a nickname to your new connection and check “Allow all users to enable and disable”, go to Advanced, choose Modem0 as your modem port and fill in the appropriate GPRS config line for your provider on modem initialization string,


in my case.
Save and exit system-config-network. If you followed the instructions correctly and I didn’t leave out anything you should be able to do on a terminal

ifup yourconnectionnickname

and ppp0 should come up.

I tried long and hard to get NetworkManager to work with bluetooth dial up network on my phone, failed, decided it would be way to much trouble hacking it in and went low tech. There’s a nifty (albeit slightly broken) xfce4 applet called modemlights that’s perfect for the job. Install it

yum install xfce4-modemlights-plugin

and add it to your panel

xfce4-panel -a

The current version is buggy and ignores Device so you have to fill in /sbin/ifup yourconnectionickname and /sbin/ifdown yourconnectionnickname on the command inputs. Your lockfile should be /var/lock/LCK..rfcomm0. Done, clicking the little phone icon on your pannel should bring up the connection.

/tech | edited on 2009/01/18 -- permalink, click to comment

Week In Review 2W2009

/wir | edited on 2009/01/14 -- permalink, click to comment

The S60v5 landscape fail

s60v5 nokia 5800 in landscape mode

Epic UI fail Nokia. What lead you to believe that’s a good use of screen ? People can read sideways, I’m sure you can figure it out.

/tech | edited on 2009/01/12 -- permalink, click to comment

Nokia 5800 screen stencils

I was trying to do some UI mockups for an app on the 5800 and Nokia’s site isn’t exactly forthcoming on information about the exact size of the 5800 display. So I had to dig around a bit. I composed images from the nokia site, captures from the emulator and basic math on to a rough guide to screen, text and buttons dimensions on the 5800. You can download it here, enjoy.

/tech | edited on 2009/01/11 -- permalink, click to comment

Palm Pré

As opposed to my predictions CES didn’t end in tears for Palm and the Palm Pré is actually decent and webOS can actually be a fitting successor to PalmOS. Their success will be down to two things (after they make the Pré relevant to the world with GSM of course).
First is the Pré price point. This is a very bad time to release a new interesting gadget, there’s the global recession, there’s the iPhone and there’s Nokia felling threatened and flooring the smartphone prices so unless you get your price point really right your shinny new gadget becomes a footnote.
Second, and hopefully there’s still someone at Palm that remembers that, you got to treat your developer community really really well. Palm seems to have started well with standards based UI and they mention “an eclipse based IDE” which may turn out really well or really bad. But the tipping point is the community, Palm knew how to foster it, Handspring didn’t. At some point Palm was able to swallow Handspring.

/mobile | edited on 2009/01/09 -- permalink, click to comment

Week in Review 1W2009

/wir | edited on 2009/01/06 -- permalink, click to comment
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