Nokia’s silliness

No, I’m not referring to Nokia’s involvement with Qt, nor I’m going to speak about the N900 (which still tempts me somewhat). I’m speaking about the good old classic Nokia phones and accessories.

Last week a friend of mine tells me about a special code to get a 20% discount on all Nokia hardware, and since I was looking for a pair of bluetooth headsets (one for the Nokia E75, and the other for the Siemens VoIP phone, for when I have to wait for an hour on the phone be it for personal situations or, most likely, business reasons) I decided I could go with either one or two depending on one particular factor: whether Nokia was ready to send me one with an UK power adapter.

My reason for wanting a bluetooth set with the UK adaptor is that since I’d like to go back to London (and actually I already booked tickets and room for going back at the start of November with a friend of mine), I would be needing either to use again the adapter or to get an UK Nokia power adapter… since I have about ten different Nokia adapters home, and they insist on giving me a new one with each purchase, another Italian adapter would have been superfluous, and at that point getting a UK one would have been a good choice, in my opinion.

So anyway, since I’m a registered freelancer with a valid European VAT ID, I wanted to have a proper invoice for the headset(s), so that I could then declare it a work expenses (it is). Strangely enough, while Italian eshops never had trouble with invoicing me, European shops often seem to have trouble; some have different websites (like Alternate and Apple’s); other have no way to send me a VAT-valid invoice, and in the case of Nokia’s, they ask me to call them. Well not a problem for me, calling to order stuff.

Not in general at least; the problem is that the operator who answered was definitely not Italian. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with foreigners, not even with those working on call-centers and the like; everybody got to work, and if they are hired to do that job, I’m fine with that. But at least they should ensure that the guy can understand what he’s being told. In this case, he really had no way to it seems.

First of all, he wasn’t even sure whether he could order me the BH-104 headset with the UK adapter… he seemed to ask, either to someone else or me, whether that could be possible, and then said “No, I don’t think so”. Sigh, well okay, I’ll just get one instead of two then (the other I’ll get once I am in London). I start giving him my data, starting from my name… he asks me to repeat it a couple of times… I finally spell it letter by letter, using the classic Italian method for spelling: city names. It seems like my friend here didn’t know them either… indeed, he wrote down “Iettno” as name, rather than the correct “Pettenò”… not a good start is it?

After 40 minutes on the phone for something that, online, would have taken about 5, I get to do something else waiting for the confirmation email (where I finally see the wrong surname); I open a request at Nokia right away to tell them that they got the wrong name, address (number 155 rather than 125) and even the name for the credit card (which is still my old name, not the new one). I also ask again please if they can replace the SKU# with the SKU# of the UK version, but I get no answer. I’m told a confirmation email would arrive when the order is shipped, so I don’t give too much credit to the fact I read nothing, I expect the order to be cancelled (since Visa should refuse the use of the CC with the wrong name, at least so I thought)…

I read or think nothing about it till today; this morning an ex-schoolmate of mine, whom I have seen a few months backs after probably around ten years, and who lives at 800m from my home, calls me up “I just received a package from the Netherlands directed to you… the courier was going to send it back because they couldn’t find the address… I’ll bring it to you this afternoon”. Now, a couple of words thanking Murphy that at least left one thing right, and to my friend who received the package. Obviously, this was the Nokia’s headset.

And here another bad surprise: not only the name is wrong, but the operator didn’t write down my VAT ID! Which makes the invoice unusable as work expense! Terrific!

Okay, okay, at least the headset looks good, I try to pair it with my E75… to no avail. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? I call up a friend of mine to help me out (since he was coming here anyway) and he tries with his E61 (my old one)… works fine; he tries the same with my E75… nothing. Okay, let’s see with the E71… it also works fine at the first try. Fun ensures.

A quick google around later, I found one interesting forum post with an “out there” trick: deleting the SMS Inbox (and outbox as well). Well, what had I to lose? 500+ messages in my inbox… they are there just because it’s too cumbersome to delete them each time, they have no value to me, so I just clear them out… I try with just the inbox first and… uh it works.

What the heck!

Now, Luca actually brought in a good point: my SMS inbox came ported from the E71; and it passed through a firmware update as well; it’s not too far fetched to expect that the database would be in need for some kind of vacuum or something; or maybe while the messaging application could deal with older data format, the bluetooth one couldn’t. Since bluetooth messages are sent like any other message, it’s possible that the two are linked and that might have caused the trouble. In any case, this definitely shows that there is something totally wrong with Symbian!

Really, are we serious? Nokia you made me waste a non-null amount of money with your mistake. I’m definitely going to complain until I can get somebody to at least explain to me why that had to happen in the first place. I start understanding how it is that this trimester has been negative, if this kind of problems is getting common. I definitely didn’t remember this with Nokia.

Cellphones… sigh!

There is a lot of talk about the Linux-based cellphones out there, I guess lately mostly due to Nokia’s release of the N900; I sincerely am sticking still with the Nokia E75, after switching last year to the E71 (well, it’s not my fault if 3 is giving me chance to switch phone paying it 14 of what it’s worth on the market…), but I start to wonder if it was a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong, the phone is good, as mostly is the software on it; unfortunately there are quite a few problems related to it, although I really don’t know how better/worse other systems can be:

  • While most of the software in the phone let me choose the “Internet” aggregated connection as default connection (something very good Nokia added with this release of their S60 firmware), the mail client doesn’t… that means that it continues asking me which connection to use when it has to check the mailbox. Yes, I could tell it to use the direct connection, but then it would try to use it even when I were outside of the standard 3 network coverage, and that’s definitely bad. Plus I prefer to use WiFi if I have it available.
  • Again the mail client: it doesn’t tell me whether there are subfolders with unread messages, I have to check them all by myself, which is quite boring when you want simply to see if you got mail.
  • The browser is a bit puny sometimes; yes it works most of the times, but there are a few things that do bother me tremendously, one of which is the fact that, while it remembers passwords set in forms, it doesn’t remember HTTP digest auth passwords! Which is what I’m using, ça va sans dire.
  • The Contacts on Ovi application (an XMPP client) is definitely strange; even though I have the latest version, sometimes it goes crazy with the contacts, and there are people who I used to have as contacts in there that I cannot find any longer; the fact that they don’t allow to just use any XMPP account, but just Ovi accounts, doesn’t really help.
  • Non-latin characters cannot be displayed; not only Japanese text (for track names of Japanese music for instance), but also little things like the dashes (—), typographical quotes (“”) and arrows (→) cannot be displayed, neither in the webpages nor in the mail messages. This is pretty upsetting to me since I ♥ Unicode.
  • And most importantly, writing applications for Symbian is nigh impossible, at least without using Windows, since I don’t see anything changed since then. And since I’m a developer, sometimes I’d wish I’d be able to just write my own applications for the stuff I need.

Now I guess I’ll have to start considering some ideas on what I’ll go with next time. The choices are most likely iPhone, Android and Nokia’s N900; neither look really short-term to me because they all involve pretty expensive phones — I didn’t pay more than €120 for my current phone. But before I can even think about a decision, I need some further information and I’m not really keen on going on to find it right now because I can barely find the time to write this while I wait for two compiling processes to complete, since I’m fully swamped with work, so I’m writing them here and maybe some of you can help me with them…

Are they able to switch between 3G and WiFi connectivity as needed? Can they blacklist 3G while roaming, and then whitelist a specific network? (This is because when I’m under another 3 network, outside of Italy, the Nokia detects roaming, but the same local tariffs apply so it really should feel like home network for the phone as well).

I know that the iPhone does, but what about the other two? Do they support IMAP with IDLE command? Since GMail implements it I expect at least Android to…

Do the other browsers remember authentication information?

Do they have a IM client compatible with Jabber/GTalk? I guess Android does, I hope so at least. I would prefer for a native client, not something that connects to a middleware server like Fring does.

Can they display Unicode characters, which include Unicode punctuation and Japanese text? I’m told the iPhone does…

Can they sync with something, and I mean that with keeping as much information as possible about a person; I have a very complete Address Book on OSX right now; I haven’t imported it in Evolution in quite a while, I should find a way; neither Ovi Sync, Google Sync and Yahoo! Sync seem to work fine with the amount of details I keep around; Google is probably the worst on that account though. Being able to sync with Evolution directly is definitely a good thing.

How possible is it to write applications for them? I have read very bad things about the Palm Pre; I know that the iPhone has a complete SDK (which I should also have installed already but never used) but it only works on OSX; I do have that system but I would rather work from Linux, so I’m curious about the support for the other two. There’s an Android SDK for Linux but I have no clue how it works. Important detail here: I have no intention whatsoever to crack (“jailbreak”) the device; if I buy something I want that to work as good as possible without having to fiddle with it; if I have to fiddle, then I might as well go with something else, which is probably my main reason against getting an iPhone.

Bonus points if I can write open source applications for the device, since that’s what I’d very much like to do; I’d rather write an open source (free software) application and eventually “sell” it for a token amount on the store for the easiness of installation than write a closed source application and keeping it gratis.

Among other features I’d be needing there are support for Voice over IP (standard SIP protocol) over-the-air (that is, over 3G network as well) and the ability to deal with QR Codes. More bonus points if there is a way to access QR Codes decoding from custom applications (since that would allow me to refine my system tagging to a quite interestingly sophisticated point.

More: having a software able to reject calls from a blacklist of numbers (including calls without a caller ID) would also be appreciated, since I haven’t stopped it since that call (and I keep updating it with numbers of nuisances as needed). Even more bonus points if there is also an SMS antispam that can kill the promotional messages that 3 sends me (they get old pretty soon, especially considering I’m using a “business” account).

Now, all the functions might as well be handled by external apps not part of the firmware, that’s actually even better since there’s a better chance that they’d be updated rather than the firmware. But obviously if I have to spend another €150 just to get the software I need I might simply decide for another family.

At any rate, if you can help me with the future choice, I’d be definitely glad. Thanks!

Tagging… computers

You might remember that some time ago I was looking for some kind of hardware registry to handle some kind of database with the configuration data of various computers I support from time to time for friends and customers.

Unfortunately the only solution I found – GLPI – is written in PHP for MySQL, and both are taboo pieces of s…oftware for me, so I simply ignored the whole issue for quite a while. This till the past few days because one computer I patched up in July came back to me: the disk was faulty already, and I warned the owner at the time that it might not have lasted long, and now it was dead in the water.

What became a problem was that the same person brought me three computers at the time, and I had to find out which one of the three this one was when I went looking for the correct Windows XP Home installation CD; luckily I was able to find it by grepping for the product key, but that really upset me since it took me more than it should have to recognize the computer; it’s easier when I have a direct relation between owner and computer, but that wasn’t the case.

So I went looking for some solution; the first problem was, obviously, finding a way to “tag” the computer; either by using some serial number already visible, or by going one step further and create one of mine. Since not all computers have serial numbers, and they are pretty wild to find sometimes, I decided it was much simpler if I were to create my own code for them; but if I used a mnemonic code, it would be understandable by the owner as well, and might actually wonder why I did choose such a name for the system. One step further: I used as identifier a mnemonic’s MD5, so that it could only be seen as 32 random hexadecimal digits.

At that point you might wonder “how the heck are you going to be able to type in all the digits every time you search for the box? Well it’s actually much easier than that: I set up a private URL on my personal server (protected by HTTP digest), using that 32-character string as filename, and then encoded it… in a QR code thanks to Nokia’s service at that point it was only a matter of printing a label (I have them at home) with the code on it, and then attach it to the box. Thankfully, my E75 mobile phone is able to read such codes, and has Internet access, so just opening the barcode reader application and scanning the label is enough for me to access the page with all the details I need.

Of course in this picture I’m still lacking the server-side support; since GLPI is no-go for me (because of the PHP/MySQL dependencies), I first considered using a Wiki; of course it had to be something using what I already had on the system, which meant, mostly, Rails, so I tried Instiki upon Alex’s suggestion. Let me tell you it was a bad choice. It was really meant as a very quick and “dirty” approach: no authentication embedded in the application, added support for SVG and MathML directly into the (X)HTML, included the log on each page, no way to customize the appearance without changing the view files directly… and added to that, pretty unreadable on the phone.

At that point, I remembered that I dislike webapps for semi-static content so I thought about it a couple more minutes: I’m the only one who has to edit that data; I only need it to be searchable when I know what I’m looking for; I usually go around with my laptop; and git is pretty sweet for handling websites. So I ended up just using static HTML pages (for a moment I thought about using XML and a custom XSLT; while I haven’t decided against this just yet, it’s not really that much of a priority for me; if I were to publish fsws then I might actually consider adding something along those lines so that it could be seen as a standard and then used to import/export, maybe auto-generating some data directly on Linux (like logging the PCI IDs and stuff like that). But for now this will do.

Google and software mediocrity

I haven’t commented very much, if at all, on most of the new Google projects, which include Chrome, Chromium and Chrome OS; today since I’m currently waiting on a few long-running tasks to complete, I’d like to spend my two eurocents on it.

You can already guess from the title of this post that I’m really sceptical about Google entering the operating system marked; the reason for that is that I haven’t really seen anything in Google strategy that would leave us expecting a very good product from them in this area. While Google is certainly good in providing search services, and GMail is also my email provider of choice, there are quite a few shortcomings that I see in their software and that does not make me count on Chrome OS being any more good that Windows XP is.

First, let’s just say that Google Chrome is not the first software that Google released for the desktop; there has been quite a few other projects before, like for instance Google Talk. Since I have a personal beef with this, I’d like to go on a bit about it. When Google launched their own Instant Message service for the masses, through GMail and a desktop, called Google Talk and base on the XMPP protocol, there has been quite some talk around because, while using the same protocol we know as Jabber, it didn’t connect to the Server-to-Server Jabber network that allows for multiple Jabber servers’ users to communicate; with time this S2S support was added and now a GTalk user can talk with any Jabber user, so as a service, it’s really not bad at all, and you can use any Jabber client to connect to GTalk.

The Windows client, though, seems to be pretty much abandoned, I haven’t seen updates in a while (although I might not have noticed in the past month or two), it lacks quite a few features like merging of multiple usernames in a single contact and stuff like that. Now, at the same time as releasing the Windows client, or about the same time, Google released specifics for their extensions that allow audio (and video?) chat over XMPP-negotiated connection, and a library (libjingle) for other clients to implement this protocol.

The library, unfortunately, ended up having lots of shortcomings, and most projects decided to import and modify it, then it was forked, at least once but I think even twice, cut down and up and so much mangled that it doesn’t probably look anywhere like the original one from Google. And yet, the number of clients that do support GTalk audio/video extension is… I have no idea, Empathy does support it if I recall correctly, but last time I tried, it didn’t really work that well. As far as I know, libpurple, that is used by both Pidgin and Adium, and which would cover clients for all the major operating systems (free or not) does not seem to support them.

Now, why do I consider GTalk a mediocre software does not limit itself to the software that Google provides, it’s a matter of how they played their cards. It seems to me that instead of trying to push themselves as the service provider, they wanted to push themselves as a software provider as well, and the result is that beside Empathy (which is far from an usable client in my opinion), there is no software that seems to be implementing their service properly. They could have implemented, or paid to implement or something like that, their extensions in libpurple and that would have given them an edge; they could have worked with Apple (considering they are working with them closely already) so that iChat could work with GTalk’s audio and video extensions (instead iChat AV from Leopard uses a different protocol that only works between Macs), and so on.

What about Google Chrome? Well when it was announced and released I was blocked in hospital so I lost most of the hype done in the first days; when I finally went to test it, almost a month later, I was surprised at how pointless it seemed to me. Why? Because for what I can see it does not render text as good as Firefox or Safari on Windows, it’s probably faster than them, but then again most people don’t care (at least in Italy, Internet connections are so slow you don’t notice), and there is one important problem: the Google bias of the browser.

I think lots of people criticised the way Microsoft originally treated Internet Explorer and their Internet services before. to the point that now Microsoft allows you to set Google as provider for search in the default install. Well, I don’t see Chrome as anything much different: it’s a browser that is tailored to suit Google’s services, and of course the development of it will suit that too. Will it ever get an advertising block feature, like is available for Firefox, Konqueror and Safari? Probably not because Google takes a good share of revenue out of Internet-based advertising. Will it ever get a delicious extension? Probably not because that’s a Yahoo! service nowadays, and Google has its own alternative.

Now, I don’t want to downplay the important technical innovation of Google chrome, even when they are very basic like the idea of splitting the tabs by process; and indeed I think I have read that Mozilla is now working on implementing a similar feature on the next Firefox major change; this is what we actually get out of the project, not Chromium itself.

Then there is Android; I don’t think I can really comment on this, but at least for what I can see, there is not really much going on with Android: nobody asked me yet if I develop for Android, while I got a few requests for Symbian and iPhone development in the past year or so. Android phones does not seem to shine with the non-technical people, and the technical people at least in Italy are unlikely to pay the price you got to pay to get the Android-based HTC phones with Vodafone and TIM.

By contrasting with Nokia, Google fragmented the software area even more. While Google already provided mobile-optimised services on the web, and some Java-based software to access their services with J2ME-compatible phones, they also started providing applications for Nokia’s Symbian-based phones. Unfortunately this software does not shine, with the exception of Google Maps, which works pretty well and integrates itself with Nokia pretty decently; in particular the “main” Google application for Nokia, crashed twice my E75!, I ended up removing it and living without it (the YouTube application sort of works, the GMail application also “sort of” works, but with the new IMAP client is really pointless to me). So we have mediocre software from Google for Nokia phone, and probably no good reason for Google to improve on it.

But there are also things that haven’t been implemented by Google at all, for instance there is no GTalk client for Nokia phones, or a web-based version for mobile phones, which would have been a killer feature! Instead Nokia implemented its own Nokia Chat, which now became Contacts for Ovi, which also uses XMPP, which also has S2S, but which does not allow you to use GTalk accounts requiring you to have two different users: one for computers and one for the mobile phone. And similarly, with just partially-working Google Sync for Nokia phones, in particular with no support for syncing with the Google Calendar, and with a tremendous loss of detail when syncing contacts, Google loses to Nokia’s Ovi sync support as well.

Now, I’m not a market analyst and I really like to stay away from marketing, but I really don’t see Google as a major player for Software development, I’d really have preferred they started improving the integration of their services with Free Software like Evolution (whose Google Calendar integration sucks way too much, and whose IMAP usage of GMail causes two copies of each sent message to be stored on the server, as well as creating a number of folders/labels that shouldn’t be there at all!), rather than having a new “operating system”.

There are more details I’m sceptic about, like hardware support (of which I’ll leave Mathew Garrett to explain since he knows the matter better) and software support, but for those I’ll wait to see when they actually deliver something.

I’m in yur ALSA… killing your dirties

dscn1341.jpg

Well, maybe not right now.

Since I doubt you’d be able to understand what I mean from the lolcat-speech title, let me try to summarise it in a language that nears a lot more what people actually speak (yes I know it’s still going to be too technical for some of the readers, but I guess that cannot really be helped).

Last night I couldn’t sleep, for a series of reason, not last that to make sure I could implement some stuff for my job while waiting for the actual definitive specs, I took three coffee cups, which while making me feel very nice, stops me from sleeping; not so nice when your neighbours woke you up two days in a row fighting, but I can manage.

Since at the time I was waiting for the chroot to complete some builds so I could check and submit a few more bugs (the count of “My Bugs” search on bugzilla now reaches 1200 bugs and has some reserve too), I decided to try something different. I already have been adding to my git repositories changes to a few libraries I contributed to in the past enough buildsystem so that --no-undefined is added, so last night I decided to go with doing some work on ALSA upstream repositories.

I already had checked out three of the repositories when 1.0.18 was added to the tree, since I had to fix an --as-needed issue and decided to just go on and submit all the patches to upstream for merge, this time I checked out alsa-lib, added --no-undefined and then started some analysis with ruby-elf tools cowstats and missingstatic, as well as removed a few compiler warnings, just to make sure I wouldn’t be distracted by faux problems.

The result should now be that the alsa-lib and alsa-plugins libraries have a few dirty pages less, and that the code is a bit more solid than before, with added static and const modifiers where needed. It wasn’t much of a work, but I forgot once again to add -s to the git commits so I had to rewrite history to get the Signed-off-by header to all the commits; if somebody knows how to set git per-repository to always use -s when committing, I’d be very glad.

On the other hand, this task shown me that cowstats still had and has some problems, in particular, it lacked a way to separate .data.rel from .data.rel.ro sections data. This is important to distinguish between the two since .data.rel.ro is fully prelinkable, which means after a prelink it would always be loaded from the disk without further relocation, while .data could still cause copy on write because it can be changed at runtime even after relocation.

This is even further understood by noticing that shared objects built with GCC under Linux have .data, .data and .data.rel.ro, but no .data.rel which is instead merged back into .data itself. But because of this the “real” data count in cowstats is entirely out of reality. I’ll have to rewrite that part most likely.

Anyway, I’ve done my best and hopefully tomorrow more of my patches will be merged in, so that alsa-lib’s dirty pages get reduced again. Unfortunately even after my changes, with all the plugins enabled, and in the worst case scenario, libasound.so will go on requiring more than 28KiB of dirty pages per process (minus forks and various preloads). Which is not nice at all. Prelinking can reduce the dirty pages removing these 28KiB (which are all of .data.rel.ro), and then it would just require a couple of pages.

There is one question though that now is driving me nuts: hasn’t Nokia worked on ALSA for their N800 tablets? I know alsa-plugins has a Maemo plugin (which I also cleaned up a bit last night, as it had quite a few hacks on the autotools side, and an unwarranted use of pow() instead of using left shift), but I’d expect Nokia to know better about having so many dirty pages…

Anyway, for all the remaining users, I strongly suggest you look into removing some of the plugins that ship with ALSA, like the iec958 plugin if you don’t use digital pass-through. By cutting down the amount of built-in plugins you should be able to reduce sensibly the memory that alsa and the applications using alsa would be using on your system.

-I also wonder why didn’t I add an USE flag to disable the alisp feature- Sorry, of course I wouldn’t be able to find an alisp USE flag if I check the output of emerge -pv alsa-utils. D’oh!. Why does ALSA need a LISP interpreter anyway?

The importance of an address book

When I was in Junior High (or rather the Italian age equivalent), I used to have a small address book with the phone numbers of the few people I knew. At the time, cellphones weren’t so widespread, even in Italy, and we were too young to use them for the standards of the time.

In the first years of High School, cellphones started to spread around, I ended up having one, and I had a Filofax-like organiser that I used to write the numbers and the addresses on.

At the third year, I actually prepared a simple table with addresses and numbers of all the class members for us and the teachers.

I guess I always had the feeling I needed to organise my contacts’ information so I could access it easily.

I used to keep an almost complete contact list on KDE’s Kontact, before it lost its data a couple of time and I had to recover it from a backup. Since then, my “master” address book has been OSX’s. The nice thing about OSX’s Address Book is that it’s very easy to sync with my phone, so that the phone book there is just a copy of the one in OSX. And since OpenSync supports Evolution and my phone, I can copy the stuff back on Enterprise.

The problem here is that iSync uses a vCard 3.0 format that seems to allow customised labels on phone numbers and addresses, while the phone only keeps the standard ones. iSync also does not allow to set the “preferred” number or email address, so every time I call or send a message to someone in my phonebook, the phone asks me for which number to use. But it’s a minor issue.

Last week I started cleaning up my phone book, and filled the blanks. Like the birthdays. Even though neither Symbian nor OSX merge the data from the address book to their calendars, it’s still useful to have it written down there (I then manually file the birthdays on Google Calendar).

The relatives names are also useful: even if I don’t have a contact for them, it’s much easier to look up a name there if you forgot how the sister (or brother) of your friend is called; or if your friend have a sister (or brother) at all!

But what is the point of all this? Well, I’m afraid I haven’t seen a portable device that has an address book good enough for me. I already written about some annoyances with Nokia but for what I can see, it’s still the best choice between iPhone and Windows Mobile, at least for what concern the Address Book (synching the Windows Mobile with OSX requires paying for software, synching iPhone with Linux is unlikely at all, to begin with; and yes I do want the two systems to share the same Address Book).

I decided to lease a phone through 3 (my provider) for when I’m in the hospital, and I then decided to go with Nokia again; the nice thing is that I can change the phone if I don’t like it, without changing the lease or spending more money on it. I decided to go with an E71, the updated model of the one I am currently using (the E61). I’ll write once I have tried it whether it works with vCard 3 yet, and whether it supports a few basic features, that I think should really be considered mandatory on advanced mobile address books:

  • custom labels for phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and postal addresses: people might just have home, office and mobile numbers, but offices might have multiple phone numbers, especially public offices; (note of colour: E61’s address book supports multiple phone numbers but NOT multiple addresses);
  • support for second names: the Nokia E61 is a very strange system on that note, when I added my second name to my contact on OSX (more about that I’ll write in the future), the E61 still seen me as “Diego Pettenò”, on the other hand, using Nokia PC Suite to copy over the address book to my mother’s 6288, it appeared in there with my full two names;
  • support for nicknames: very important; I have many people who share their first name, and a few who share their last name (I have seven people named Alberto, four named Marco, five named Andrea — that’s a male name in Italy), it’d much easier to identify them by writing their nickname rather than their name, but neither Symbian nor the iPhone address book accepts lookup by nickname, even though they have it saved in;
  • handle multiple possible inbound contacts calling: my sister and my brother in law, obviously, have the same home phone number; when a call come from that number, obviously the phone cannot be a psychic and it cannot tell me which one of the two is calling, but it would be nice if it shown at least two or three possible candidates rather than showing me the raw phone number at that point; for what it’s worth, I don’t want to remove the phone number from one of the two because when I’m looking for specifically one of the two, I open the contact page on the address book, and call first home, then the personal cellphone; if one of them didn’t have the home number I’d have to switch between two contacts;
  • show the contacts’ birthdays when they happen on the calendar: please, it’s the most basic of the features, Outlook 98 had it!

On a different note, I still haven’t found a way to easily synchronise my phonebook with the Siemens S450IP cordless: I know I can upload and download the phonebook as a single vCard file with multiple contacts, but each contact only can have one number, which makes it difficult to handle an address book that is organised with multiple numbers per contact (home, work, mobile).

Looking for a Nokia cable

Okay just a quick and dirty post for the lazyweb, to see if somebody has ever seen the cable that can be seen in these two photos:

Nokia 1200 - What's the connector?

Nokia 1200 - What's the connector?

It’s a Nokia 1200 mobile phone. The port is almost certainly an USB connection, from the size of it; the headset is using the TRS connection on the right, rather than the four pins one.

I’m interested in this because, if it’s a USB connection, and the phone works in gnokii, I can at least load and unload its address book from a PC, which is quite easier to deal with than the keypad.

Thanks to anybody who has a clue!

Ruby-elf and documentation

After my checklist post I got asked for some documentation about ruby-elf tools like cowstats and missingstatic.

As it turns out I wrote little to no documentation at all, and I relied exclusively on the scripts being self-documenting, for the most part. Probably not a good idea if I want to have a broader audience.

For this reason, I think I’ll start by writing some man pages for the tools, hopefully today or tomorrow, before I get to the hospital again. I’ll see also to actually release a version of this so I can add it to portage too, so that it’s actually available for developers who are interested (for now you can get it from my overlay as dev-ruby/ruby-elf-9999.

I also started working on improving the way cowstats decides what whether a symbol is in a copy on write section or not. Before I only used the name of the section and, as it turns out, I used to ignore the TLS sections (no, not SSL successor but Thread-local storage).

The TLS problem is solved now but I decided using the name of the section to decide whether it’s CoW or not is not very feasible. I added code that checks the type and the flags of the sections, to an extent, so that it ignores automatically all the sections containing executable code, and all the read-only sections. It also considers .bss and equivalent sections just by type rather than by name (if I did this in the first place I would have supported .tbss in the first place too).

On a different note, I forgot to write that while I was hospitalised, my Nokia decided to go crazy and corrupted the fring app I was using to chat from the E61 itself. I think (and from one side hope) that the MiniSD I was using was broken, because then the rest of the phone would be fine. The problem is that the internal memory is very tiny and the MiniSD that Nokia gave me with the phone, which I just put back in it, is half full of Nokia’s own software, like the MailForExchange launcher (which I don’t care of, or TravelMate). I think I’ll have to pick up a new MiniSD hoping that will work. Last time I bought a Corsair 1GB, this time I think I’ll stop with a Trascend one as they never failed me up to now. Interestingly enough, at my supplier, the MiniSD card would be pretty cheap (€5) while the shipping costs would be over that price. I should check if they have cheap SD cards too, in the stores around here they are tremendously expensive still (€10 for a 2GB card!).

About Nokia Chat

I was surprised and almost happy to read today that Nokia released an IM application for S60, especially since it uses XMPP. If you remember, one of my concerns was the fact that there was no decent XMPP client for S60 .

Unfortunately, I’m afraid Nokia hasn’t gotten better at their game yet… the demo they released works only on some of their models. Of course thanks to my luck, my E61 is not between them.

How can this happen? Are the devices that different that they cannot run the same user application? Sorry but I think PCs have a much wider range of hardware and yet most applications would work on all of them.

I suppose the problem has to be seen in the fact that every other generation use a completely different firmware, which can be subtly incompatible with the previous and next ones. This because Nokia decides not to update the software in their phones one a replacement model is released .

Guess what? It backfires, as it seems like providing one application bundle that works on all S60v3 phones at once is impossible, even for Nokia. And I’m not even asking to support all three of the S60 generations at once…

Oh well, I hope they’ll add E61 support sooner or later.
Although the fact that it requires a Nokia account upsets me a bit, will I be able to just sign in with my GMail account? Or will I have to keep two accounts around? It would suck if I had to, just like it sucked when I had to use both GTalk and Gentoo’s Jabber server (before GTalk opened to s2s).

Sun burns!

No I’m not cursing Sun Microsystems, although I’m still having some trouble with VirtualBox. It’s just that The Sun really burns. I was convinced by some friends of mine to go to the beach last Friday, and I ended up burning myself on the back. It’s getting better now but I’m not used to this.

Geeks should stay clear of the beach!

Okay this explains why I haven’t written at all in the past few days: I passed the whole day in bed. Now I’m better and I’ll probably write some more during the day.

The most important update now is that the second release candidate for rbot is in Portage, and it restores the NLS support even for the released versions. Thanks Tango and the rest of the rbot developers!

Okay, I’ll return on these matters later, now I’ll take a shower to see if it relieves the last drops of pain from the burn, and then I have to try the new Chat program by Nokia, to see if they actually were able to do something good for once.

I will also have some comments about Fedora 9 later so stick around ;)

The longest week of the summer is starting!