[VIDEO] Nokia N950 Detailed Hands on

The you-will-see-but-can’t-have Nokia N950 MeeGo powered developer only phone has been spotted in the wild. In this hands on video from Thailand, the reviewer gives a detailed look into the next-gen Nokia device that is bound to be loner in its class. 
After watching this video, only one question comes to mind; Steve Elop, why, oh why? 🙁

The N9 – A parting gift from Nokia before ending up in Microsoft stables?

The much awaited, “market disruption” MeeGo powered device promised us by Steven Elop, after his February 11 elopcalypse is out. And it brings with it more questions for both Nokia and potential buyers than answers.

Another N900?
As an N900 user, I found myself asking the question: what’s the guarantee that Nokia won’t pull another N900 on those that by the N9? After all the N9 runs Harmattan, a successor to Maemo 5. Is Nokia going to keep supporting this MeeGo baked Maemo after it starts shipping its WP7 line of devices?

If it suddenly decides to abandon it like the N900, is it going to keep the closed components of the code to itself such that independent developers cannot continue with support, just like on the N900?

To be fair to Nokia, the N9 packs some pretty impressive albeit not wowing specs in its slick design. But will that, coupled with the application development platform Qt be enough to lure developers to the phone? We wait to see.

Pacifying the bashers?
Is the release of the N9 more a pacification of the bashers of Nokia than anything to do with market share? It will not be far fetched to say it’ll be hard for the N9 to make any significant difference in the overall smartphone market. So then we ask the question, is this more of pacification of Nokia critiques than anything else.

Let’s not forget that after the Feb 11 elopcalypse, Steven Elop had to organize another press conference to clarify the first one thanks to the unprecendeted bashing of the company in the media; both main stream and the blogosphere. So is this phone just to pacify those voices?

Strategy fit?
It’s also very hard to see where in the currnt Nokia strategy (yes they do have one :D) that this release fits into. WP7 is the primary platform, Symbian will still lurk in the corner for a few years, and MeeGo was supposed to be the market disruption wedge.

But can the N9 really be described as a market disruption device? If the N9 should be a surprising success, will it cause Nokia to once again rethink its overall strategy such that Linux and open source once again get to be the center of the company’s business? How much resources is Elop willing to devote to the marketing of a Linux device seeing he owns a stake in Microsoft?

There are a lot of unanswered questions in the wake of the release of the N9. It wll be difficult to see how Nokia intends to market devices powered by two very separate and highly competitive platforms with starkly different ideologies and ecosystems.

When all is said and done thus, the conclusion that can be objectively reached is that the N9 is more a parting gift from Nokia to the Linux and open source world before its full immersion into the WP7 tide more than anything else.

But will the market agree?

Tweed Suit – A heavy weight twitter app for the Nokia N900

Tweed Suit is a desktop style Twitter client and RSS reader for the Nokia N900 internet tablet. Users of the popular Twitter client Tweetdeck will immediately feel at home with this app.

It features all the usual Twitter features;

  • A home feed
  • Mentions
  • Direct messages
  • Lists
  • Searches among others. 

You can also use it an RSS reader and directly share items through Twitter. Tweed Suit uses column layout that works well for desktop, tablet or handheld devices and is currently available in Extras Testing on the N900.

Nokia Kills MeeGo and Symbian- Finally

Nokia has finally nailed the coffin for Symbian and MeeGo by announcing it will cut R&D staff dedicated to those two platforms, with some being transferred to Accenture, obviously to get them out of sight till Symbian dies a slow death. Well we all saw it coming didn’t we? The moment the so called burning platform memo was expertly “leaked” to Engadget, some of us were convinced Nokia had finally lost it.

Cutting the jobs of those in charge of these platforms underscores Nokia’s move to dump those two OS in favor of MS WP7. As to what Nokia means when they say “we plan to ship 150m more Symbian devices…” I don’t know. Cutting the jobs of the people in charge of the OS and claiming you will ship devices powered by that OS will only result in leaving users with no support from Nokia, a fate that has befallen N900 users. It’s not clear from the post also if Nokia will go ahead to release the so called MeeGo device they promised this year or if ever.

Take a sip of water and you’re behind in the pack. Blink your eye and watch the pack move in a different direction.

No Nokia, you did not take a sip, you kept committing one corporate blunder after the other. Finally, joining hands with Microsoft was the only route the management of the company could think of. Like one commmenter said in the linked post above,

This is so sad. Nokia’s problem wasn’t caused by the engineers who are losing their jobs. If anything, Nokia was known in the industry for having some of the best engineers. Nokia’s problem was caused by poor upper management. In this Microsoft deal upper management found a way to keep their jobs. The brain transfer from Nokia to their competitors is only going to make Nokia’s situation worse, but at least upper management will have jobs for the next couple of years. Bravo (…clap…clap…clap…).

Nokia’s case can be summed up in a local Ghanaian parlance that goes thus “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” which roughly translates as it’s not always those who do the work that enjoy the fruits of it.

[Release] MIR Translator – Translate text captured by the Nokia N900 mobile camera

MIR Translator is an application for translating text in photos taken by the N900 camera. It experiments with novel interactive techniques to perform text recognition. Currently the app supports translation to and from over 30 different languages. Video Demo:
Requires internet connection to work.
Package is available in extras-devel. Be sure to restart after installation if FCam drivers were not previously installed. Maemo packages URL: http://maemo.org/packages/view/mir-translator/
The app relies on the text recognition happening off the device and in the cloud. This allows the application to support the maximum number of languages possible while keeping the install size as small as possible (~1.5 MB). It also improves response times, given a fast connection and server side.
Features:
  • A viewfinder is used to capture images with the camera. The user selects text to translate.
  • If the recognition is erroneous, the user is able to correct the recognition via manual segmentation, manual thresholding, and manual candidate selection.
  • Supports more than 30 input and output languages.
Limitations:
  • Somewhat limited performance. This is because the recognition service resides in the cloud as a web service. I am hosting the service myself, so server capacity / speed is as a result limited.
  • Recognition accuracy is currently quite dependent on the quality of the input image. That is, images should be well and evenly lit and have good contrast. It’s best if the text is sharp, with typographic-like fonts and non-complex backgrounds.
This project fell out of a project I was doing in school (its actually my first maemo app!). I’ve recently adapted it to be deployed publicly, so its in an early development phase. Naturally there will probably be some bugs, and there is much room for optimization. I don’t expect the application to be powerful enough for the general case of translating arbitrary text– but simpler cases should be do-able. Deploying it publicly is fun and I’m hoping it speeds feedback + development.
I’m keeping the web service up and running on my own student funds — its not cheap! Any and all small donations are greatly appreciated (Donate Link: Donate). Hope you enjoy the app! 
From TMO .

[Release] Open Media Player for Nokia N900

Muhammad Abu Garbiyeh, the lead developer of the Nokia CSSU has announced the alpha release of Open Media Player, a multimedia player he’s been working on for sometime now. Below is the full announcement as made on TMO.

Been showing this on the forums a lot, figured it’s about time I make a release.
Please note that this is an alpha release, the mediaplayer turned out to be a
bigger project than I expected

What’s not working (yet):

  • Categories view in Videos.
  • Resuming from paused position in videos.
  • libplayback, a notification will go through and will mute the player.
  • Deleting items from a playlist messes up numbering, fix planned.
  • Share and delete buttons in videos.

What needs to be done:

  • “Cheats” that will make the mediaplayer seem faster to the user (the stock player adds a song, starts playback, then adds all the other songs when you click a song, the implementation here is to add all songs then start playback, this is slow for the “All songs” view.
  • Detecting the current item in the Entertainment view (my QML skills are meh).
  • Implement mime_open (gnomevfs is always returning NULL for some reasno…) so other apps like qmltube can open media in the player.
  • Deleting albums/artists (deleting songs and playlists should work)

What’s new (not actually a lot):

  • Sharing songs via Bluetooth and E-Mail (thanks to CepiPerez for the dialog from filebox).
  • Portrait mode (obviously )
  • QML entrainment view, being in QML, this takes more memory and a bit more CPU time for transitions (even though they’re HW accelerated).
  • Closing the mediaplayer will not stop playback, this is configurable in settings (main view -> title bar menu -> Settings).

What’s planned:

  • Playlist creator and editor (stock implementation sucks).

All existing MAFW-based apps will work fine with this, the stock widget will open this mediaplayer, media-im-status-updater will fetch metadata correctly, etc…
To “replace” the stock player (if you don’t want to do that, use the script below).
Place the binary in /usr/local/bin/

Code:
<font face="verdana">nano /usr/share/dbus-1/services/com.nokia.mediaplayer.service</font>

Change /usr/bin/mediaplayer to /usr/local/bin/mediaplayer, note that this will cause mime_open to stop working until implemented.

BT headsets (with buttons) should work fine (tested with a BH-503).

To use alongside the stock player (tapping the stock widget will open the stock player):
Place the binary in /usr/local/bin/

QML files are to be installed in /opt/mediaplayer/qml/
I usually update the mediaplayer whenever I add something, so here’s a handy script to update it (or install it)

Code:
<font face="verdana">root apt-get install wget #if you don't have it installed. wget http://mohammadag.xceleo.org/public/maemo/install_mediaplayer.sh chmod +x install_mediaplayer.sh ./install_mediaplayer.sh</font>

Then whenever I release an update, use ./install_mediaplayer.sh to fetch it and overwrite the old version.
Want an icon in the menu? Run the script with –desktop-file (./install_mediaplayer –desktop-file).

Once all bugs are fixed, this will probably make its way into the CSSU, but right now, it’s a bit early.

Not sure if screenshots are necessary, it looks exactly like the stock player but with portrait mode.

Bug reports expected (lots of them) and are welcome.
Thanks to nicolai for the C++ MafwSource and MafwRenderer adapters.
Thanks to Venemo for the UI for the FMTX dialog (which is actually a rewrite, the stock one flips the player to landscape).
If you have jacekowski’s fmtxd, feel free to kill the checks done (headphones etc…) in the UI, it’s in settings.

Source is of course on gitorious: http://gitorious.org/qt-mediaplayer/mediaplayer

MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

The wait is over!

We are proud to announce the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011!

As successor it will follow the good example of the community driven Maemo Coding Competition 2010. Quim Gil wrote lot of good things about this “grass roots community success”.

To make this year’s competition bigger and better, we urge all MeeGo enthusiasts to organize events during the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011 in their Local MeeGo Network. We are sure that Intel and Nokia are going to assist you doing that. Please contact us, to get in touch with Intel and Nokia.

The Local MeeGo Network Berlin has planned the following events using the name “MeeGo Freeday“:

Coding Qt
Qt is a framework for a cross-platform application development. Qt is pre-installed on our beloved Nokia N900. Software development using Qt is also possible for MeeGo, Symbian and WebOS. All these platforms support Qt. There are also libraries for desktop systems, like Windows, Mac OS and Linux available. Unofficially, it is also running on Android and iOS.

Therefore, Qt is a very good base if you want to publish your app on as many platforms as possible!

You never coded using Qt? You are already a Qt pro and want to work with Qt developers? You still have questions? Then come to the Qt Workshop on 01 April 2011 in the c-base in Berlin! The Qt gurus of Qt Berlin are present and help you with advice and support! By all this Qt-iness don’t forget the next step: publish your app in the largest MeeGo AppStores: Intel AppUp and Nokia Ovi.

Nokia Ovi Workshop
Therefore, on 15 April 2011 there will be the Ovi workshop also in the c-base in Berlin. In this workshop Nokia’s specialists will teach you the process of publishing your app to the Ovi-Store.
Then you are a true Ovi professional. And who knows? Maybe there will be new info about Nokia’s secret MeeGo / Maemo device?

Intel AppLab
On 29 April 2011, we bring you the Intel AppLab to Berlin (of course also in the c-base)!
During the AppLab coding examples are shown and you will submit your app to the Intel AppUp store. At previous AppLabs developers got MeeGo hardware to take home. This time? Come and see for yourself!

Think global, act local
The MeeGo Coding Competition is not an event restricted to Berlin! Everyone can and should participate! Just as in Berlin, Local MeeGo Events and Intel AppLabs will take place in other cities countries. Moreover, the events in Berlin will be streamed live.

But apart from the educational events and the fun at coding what it’s in for you? … A lot!

Developers of promising apps will probably receive a MeeGo device.

If you will be selected by the community as one of the main winners, you will fly to the MeeGo Conference in November and sleep there in a nice hotel. There you will meet a lot of like-minded. Without having to pay a single cent.

If Nokia likes your app, they will preinstall it on their first MeeGo device!

But even if you won’t win one of the main prizes, that does not mean you get nothing! We will have cash prizes this time, too. Independent of sponsorship funds, last time the community extensively donated. About $ 1000.00 came together! Will we be able to beat this record-sum this year?

Procedure and rules of MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

To ensure that the event runs properly, there are a few essential rules:

  • Only individuals may participate. Companies are excluded from the competition because of equity reasons.
  • If you have coded your app in the team and you win on of the travels to the MeeGo Conference, your team has to designate a person as the winner.
  • Any number of apps can be submitted and elected as winner.
  • Apps must be uploaded as executable including at least two screen shots and a brief description on a yet to be named website to be take part of the election. The applications have to run on default hardware running on an official version of Maemo or MeeGo.
  • All applications, which are created and uploaded during the duration of the Competition will take part in the election.
  • For existing programs, only progress which has been made during the Competition will be considered.
  • When porting apps. only the work of porting will be considered, unless the original program comes from the same programmer and was developed or extended in this period.
  • The Competition runs from 01 April 2011 to 30 June 2011. After that the winners will be selected by the community.
  • Only users of maemo.org and meego.com who are registered for at least four months are entitled to vote.
  • There is no legal right to win.

More details regarding the election process to follow.
All new information regarding the Competition will be published first on http://meetmeego.org and shortly afterwards here.

Ready? Set, go! Grab your PC, start to hack and show us your app!

You still have questions? Contact us!
http://twitter.com/meetmeego
http://facebook.com/meetmeego
info@meetmeego.org
or here!

Thread on Talk.Maemo.Org.

How to Force Portrait Mode on N900

By default, the N900 is basically set in landscape mode. To force applications to portrait mode, do the following.

If you’ve not done so yet, add and enable all repositories.

Install the Community Seamless Software Updates
Install a small package called CSSU Features. You can either search for it in the app manager or use the terminal

root (assuming you have Rootsh installed)
apt-get install cssufeatures

Go to the newly installed Cssu features, scroll down to Forced App auto rotation and choose all apps.

Click on the update button.

From now, all applications will be forced into portrait mode if the phone is so rotated.

Caveat
Please know that the CSSU is still under development and you intall it in the knowledge that you might have to reflash your device should you brick it in the process.

I’ll not be responsible for any nuclear war started as a result of a bricked or broken device…:-).

The N900- Why I chose Maemo over Android

Towards the end of last year, it became clear to me that I needed to change my handset. My next platform of choice was Android apparently since I felt my love for Nokia’s Symbian had come to an end. However, I ended up grabbing Nokia’s N900 powered by Maemo, not because Android is bad but because Maemo is what I actually thought Android was.

Being a Linux user, I’ve gotten used to having absolute control over my system, a system that’s created for hacking and experimenting, one that gives u power in the real sense of the word. I found all these and more in Maemo.

As a very intensive mobile internet user who at the same time does not really see the need for a netbook, a tab or pad (I’ve a lappy, that’s enough), I wanted to have the best of both worlds: the functions of a full fledged computer in a mobile phone.

My initial choices were the Nexus 1 and the HTC Desire HD. But a careful comparison between theses phones and the N900 got me to choose the latter. Though both platforms are Linux builds, I have this view that Android is aimed specifically at the mass market while the N900 is aimed at power users.

One might argue a lot in favor of Android, citing points like app availability , ease of use, number of supported devices, market share among others. Sure Android does win in all those cases, but it’s really hard to argue out the power of Maemo to someone who does not use Linux on their machines.

For instance, I still don’t know of any better application/package management system like Debian’s apt-get, which is the default on Maemo. Add the power of the terminal and you really are in charge. To sum up, it all comes down to power over my phone. With the N900, I feel I have absolute power over my device out of the box. I also like to have a device that was created with hacking in mind.

So yes I’m an Android proponent and fan, but Maemo goes a step ahead to prove the raw power of Linux as a universal OS. By the, this post was entirely written on the N900 using an app called MaStory.