Random notes from mg

a blog by Marius Gedminas

Marius is a Python hacker. He works for Programmers of Vilnius, a small Python/Zope 3 startup. He has a personal home page at http://gedmin.as. His email is marius@gedmin.as. He does not like spam, but is not afraid of it.

Mon, 12 Oct 2009

Maemo Summit 2009

The second Maemo Summit is over.

Nokia surprised everyone on the first day by handing out 300 pre-release N900s to the participants. I'm so happy now that after a long period of wavering I finally decided to come to the summit! The device is much better than I expected/feared (and I haven't even put a SIM card in yet). We're supposed to provide feedback and will have to send the devices back to Nokia in 6 months. (Nokia insisted on loan contracts signed in blood, kidding, but there are contracts.)

The tiny pixels are beautiful. It's what, 266 pixels per inch? Even older 225 dpi devices spoiled me: both the first generation iPhone and the first generation Kindle displays seemed very coarse and pixellated.

The user interface is very smooth. Having a composition manager improves apparent responsiveness: even if the app is swapped out and not ready to redraw, switching between windows appears to be instant since the picture is cached. And there's no flicker while the apps are redrawing. (Flickering during redraw is one of the main reasons I did not buy a S60 phone and stayed with good old S40.) Speaking of swapping, it's barely noticeable. You can run more apps than fit in RAM without having to suffer. The flash memory is noticeably faster than in a N810. And there's more of it (32 gigs: 28 gig partition for user data, the rest for the system: swap, applications, config files, etc.)

The design and usability of the user interface have improved a lot since the N810. The UI is pretty. Many of the apps are now convenient to use. Pervasive kinetic scrolling is sweet (except when you have really long lists or web pages, then it takes forever to reach the end).

Finally there are PIM-y things people missed in older Maemo releases: calendaring, contacts that can record all kinds of information (such as phone numbers).

All right, enough gushing. There were some irritating things too. For example, Bluetooth support is buggy/incomplete in the pre-release firmware, so it's hard to transfer files. Calendar/contacts sync with S40 phones does not work either. GPS is utterly useless when you're offline (no maps, or at least I haven't found a way to pre-download and cache them; also very long fix times without network assistance). Since I have no desire to pay extortionist roaming charges of my provider (2.5 EUR per megabyte), and haven't had a chance to go look for a prepaid SIM card, I usually have either WiFi or GPS coverage, but not both.

As you can guess, playing the device diverted a part of my attention from the presentations somewhat. I tried to compensate for that by reporting on the talks on IRC (using xchat on the device). I think the strategy backfired; IRC is rather disruptive and the channel is quite busy lately.

posted at 01:22 | tags: | permanent link to this entry | 9 comments
Congrats with the new toy! Nice gesture from Nokia.

Compensating lack of attention by starting IRC -- I've no idea how it can possibly work.
posted by Albertas Agejevas at Mon Oct 12 01:41:19 2009
IRC reporting was really appreciated, thanks :)
posted by Corsac at Mon Oct 12 09:01:45 2009
AFAIK, N900 comes with offline maps for the area that you buy the device (e.g. Scandinavia). With that pre-production device, you were not so lucky.
posted by Mox at Mon Oct 12 09:26:56 2009
Interesting. Have you already tried running Python on the device? Is it installed by default?
posted by Pekka Klärck at Mon Oct 12 10:49:38 2009
Because you mentioned incomplete/buggy Bluetooth support: If you want, please vote for the bug about adding Bluetooth file send support to the file manager:

https://bugs.maemo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=5300

Thanks!
posted by thp at Mon Oct 12 11:51:41 2009
Pekka: python 2.5.2 is installed on mine, not sure if it was there out of the box or if some app pulled it in as a dependency.

I've heard at the summit that Python is a very popular choice for Maemo apps.
posted by Marius Gedminas at Tue Oct 13 08:51:59 2009
Nice summary.  Was nice to see marius at summit as well - always a bright face with a buddha smile.
posted by Arnim Sauerbier at Thu Oct 22 06:40:33 2009
Some blogs mention announcement of soon to be released graphics drivers for N800 and N810 during this summit. Maybe you have heared anything about this and when/where/what company would do it?
posted by Ričardas Barkauskas at Wed Oct 28 19:29:34 2009
Yes, I think it was mentioned during the Mer presentation: TI announced a semi-free 3D driver (free kernel component, closed userspace library) to be released "in a couple of weeks".
posted by Marius Gedminas at Wed Oct 28 19:36:11 2009

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