I’ve written more than a few Nokia N800 Articles and figured that a central location listing them might be appreciated.
On Saturday, I went GeoCaching with an expert Geocacher (over 1000 caches found and logged). We went to a trail that I’ve hiked twice before, so I knew the terrain and was prepared for the effort required. At least I thought I was prepared. It turned out, I was not.
I have a Nokia N800 that gets tethered via Bluetooth to a GoPass GPT800 Bluetooth GPS Receiver SiRF Star III. At the time of purchase, this was a highly regarded GPS receiver chip.
My sister had a hiking-specific GPS unit from Garman with a big antenna. I don’t know the exact model, but think it is a metal grey color with black and white screen. No color, since that uses too much energy.
My brother-in-law uses a few applications and scripts that he wrote to grab GPS point data for any geocaches near where we are planning to be. His scripts also grab hints and comments from other enthusiasts.
So, we’re hiking on the path and we both have waypoints/POIs entered into our units marking the cache locations. I keep walking on the path, then my sister heads off into the brush. Not just a few feet off the path, but out of voice yelling range. We both have whistles, which is good hiking practice. My GPS was still telling me to continue on the path. She found it. I didn’t realize the cache locations wouldn’t be fairly near a trail. Since I’d already hiked these trails with my GPS tracking enabled, I had that prior track loaded into my map and could see approximately where the best place to take off into the bush would be.
GPS units appear to be designed for movement, somewhere around 10mph or faster seems ideal. I can’t walk that fast. When we stopped to get readings, mine jumped around a lot – hundreds of yards. Further, if the GPS signal gets lost due to trees, hills, whatever, then mine takes you back to a previous location as an initial guess. With tracking enabled, the map gets really busy with a pseudo-star pattern of lines.
Cockpit Error – i.e. user error ;)
On about the 3rd cache, I realized that the built-in compass for the GPS software wasn’t really working the way I thought. Fortunately, the same tool that my whistle is on has a compass, signal mirror, magnifying lens, thermometer and an LED flashlight . It is a really handy little plastic tool for hikers to have. I don’t mind that it is cheap, it does work. The compass was more than accurate enough for my needs, but sadly, the GPS location was still off. My sister kept making a beeline to the caches and found almost all of them in this area.
I’ve decided that geocaching with my current setup isn’t fun. I get frustrated when technology doesn’t work as expected. To resolve the issue, wiping the original OS2008 included with the N800 will be needed. I’ve been unable to update the GPS mapping tool software since it was loaded due to some underlying libraries that couldn’t be updated too. A fresh OS install with the newer release will be good and get me out of Application Manager hell. Maemo 5, here I come. Then I’ll re-visit the same location and see whether the new software helps with the accuracy of the GPS. Knowing where some of the caches are located, will be helpful.
If this doesn’t work, perhaps it is time for a new bluetooth GPS receiver. The current receiver is really good for driving – seriously, so that $35 was well spent.
You can manage your google data here https://www.google.com/dashboard/. This is good. I don’t really use all the google apps, but seeing all the searches I’ve made over the last few years and the trend data, was eye opening. I elected to wipe my data, then pause all future capture of that data.
What other data did the dashboard show? I have removed anything personally identifying below.
There was a list of 3rd party sites with access to this data too. I didn’t recall authorizing any of them. Data removed and future 3rd party access prevented.
Major kudos to google for allowing us to manage our data and privacy settings.
I did leave some of the private data out there for use. It isn’t important to me. Your internet use may tell others things that are better not shared. Suppose you search on a medical term because a friend tells you a story about his mother. That search term is saved and tied to your account. What happens if 5 yrs later you end up being medically diagnosed with that illness? Your insurance company may start legal discovery efforts, or just pay google for the data. Now they refuse to cover your treatment since it was a pre-existing condition. Even if you don’t care about this, you know someone who does. What if you search for foods that are bad for you or visit weight loss web sites for 5 years? Expect your insurance company and the govt to have access to this data. If it is stored, it will get out.
It should be noted that if you aren’t logged into your google account, the data captured doesn’t appear to be correlated with your account. That doesn’t mean it isn’t captured by your IP address or a google cookie, stored, and correlated. Further, you can’t manage the data with the dashboard. Google writes about this other data
Today, google is a little less evil. Until they let me remove my data from other peoples’ accounts (contacts, phone calls, email addresses), I’ll still avoid using google with an expectation of privacy.
11/8: The Washington Post Security Fix guy has an article on this now too.
According to the Washington Post security guy, Facebook applications have been hacked. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time.
If you are using Facebook or MySpace, I have to ask, “Why?”
I’ve attempted to create both video and audio webcasts. None of my attempts have turned out well. They didn’t turn out badly, but I’m unwilling to share since I’m not proud of them either. Primarily, my issue is with a complete lack of talent for this medium. It is what it is.
However, as an end user of both video and audio webcasts, there are a few things that providers should do that they often don’t do to make the consumers happier. Boooo.
What media providers should do:
- Use RSS feeds to share the last 5-50 webcasts.
- Use standard formats to share all content.
- Allow the widest possible viewership by allowing downloads of the content
- Always provide a patent-free format
- Provide transcripts – for text searching later, not as the primary format for incompatible media formats
RSS makes life easy for your viewers/listeners. Other aggregators are find too, like iTunes, but you don’t want to prevent some people who wanted your content by preventing, YES, PREVENTING them from using some service they elect not to use. Not everyone wishes the use aggregators, the reasons do not matter.
Use standard formats for the content. Standard formats are those supported by 99% of the viewer / listener devices. These formats exist.
- For audio, there are a few acceptable formats. MP3, WAV, and OGG are it. All other formats are proprietary and need to be avoided.
- For video, there are a few more acceptable formats. FLV, MPEG2, MPEG4, xvid, MKV container with . Perhaps it is easier to point out unacceptable video formats: MOV, RM, WMV, QT, SilverLight and browser only formats are all unacceptable. RealMedia and QuickTime formats are worse than Microsoft. Microsoft’s older formats are small, efficient. RealPlayer and QT formats require heavy apps to use which behave like viruses. Have you tried to remove realplayer or quicktime from your system? It isn’t easy. Unacceptable. Don’t make users download a plugin either. If an old version (0.98 or earlier) of VLC plays the video, it is probably fine for distribution. VLC should be the content format test, period.
Allow the widest possible viewership. This means you need to allow people access to the content in the way THEY choose. Many people place audio and video casts on portable devices to listen and watch during their commute times. Millions of people do this every day.
Why use a patent-free format? Some of the most vocal people insist on completely free access. I’m not one of those people. It is fairly trivial to create patent-free formats on-demand. You don’t need to keep those formats around, just allow the user to select them.
So, if you are providing video or audio casts, please make them available to the largest possible audience by following the guidelines outlined above. Please.
What brought this on? I visited a website where I PAY for the content and some of that content is video-casts. I was unable to view or even hear it. Unacceptable. It seemed they went out of their way to make it so I couldn’t gain access to the content either. They are a big company, so my request for compatible formats will probably go unsolved. Their website is extremely complex and fancy. For the most part, it works extremely well, even from an old Linux machine.
Which content providers drive you crazy?
This question has been asked thousands of time. Is Programming Art or Engineering?
The answer depends on whether you program
- for fun or work
- for yourself or for someone else
- something you need or to specifications
- for games or productivity
- because you love programming or to pay the bills
My first professional programming experience was 90% engineering and 10% art. We weren’t allowed to be too creative because maintainability and easy to understand were critical requirements of our code. Real-time avionics code shouldn’t be inspired very often. Once, I had to make a complex calculation run in 1 cycle when it was over running the allowed cycle time. Real-time code has stringent time requirements. That meant significant optimization was needed to fit the longer calculations into the allowable time. The cost was maintainability and I think only 1 other person out of 8 reviewers actually validated the complex equations used. A few months later, 512 test cases validated the results perfectly. Due to the nature of this code, everything was performed following stringent processes.
Later, I worked with a very talented team were we’d whiteboard a design then made it happen. This was 80% art and 20% engineering. Occasionally, we’d create a UML diagram and work on some new stuff that had never been done before. Very interesting work with very little process.
Next I worked in a 20 person company producing database access software. Blah. Boring. I think the boring part made it more engineering than art. When I started there, they had ZERO process and had trouble reproducing the code, much less predicting when a new feature or bug would be ready for use. I introduced process to help predictability. Since we created the requirements and the designs, it was higher art. Perhaps 30% and 70% engineering.
I hack some code for fun now, no professional programming anymore. That hacking is to solve a problem, an itch, as it
were. Most of the time, these are 10-30 line scripts and not really very complex. 100% engineering. Every once in a while, there is a new problem that I’ve never seen or solved before. When the solution comes to me, there’s a little happiness … call it art or inspired. Those are 90% art and 10% engineering. I have a process, but it isn’t formal.
So, you see there really isn’t a single answer to whether programming is art or engineering. There appears to be a correlation between the amount of process involved and the amount of art that I assign to the effort. Perhaps this differentiates between art and engineering?
Does the programming language make a difference? Is Ruby art, but Java engineering? PHP? Perl? Shell? Fortran?
What do you think? Drop some feeback.
This article brings up what I’ve said for years about Cloud Computing. Know how you get your data out so you can fire them for another service. If you don’t know how to get your data out, don’t use it.
If you use forceSales.com (or any of the other Cloud Computing providers) – how do you transfer your data to a different solution? If you use IaaS, Infrastructure As A Service, like Amazon E2C, you probably don’t really have a problem, since your team will know all the tools being used. SaaS providers really need to be carefully considered, however.
Lease Car analogy.
This question is sorta like asking someone who leases a new car every 2-3 years, how much do you pay for a vehicle over your lifetime? They won’t know, but they will think it isn’t very much. When you point out they are spending 3x or more than people who purchase a vehicle pay in total, then they get it. Similarly, they will be angry that you pointed out the wasted money. I’ve run into the same issue when discussing cloud computing with current users. They don’t want to worry about it, the cost is fine, and they don’t have any idea how to get the data out.
Delete the Data
Finally, are you certain that when you take your data and close your accounts, that the provider doesn’t retain it?
Be careful out here.
In this thought provoking article, Indian science writer Pallava Bagla provides a one-sided, trust-everyone description of red tape causing delays with US payloads on the recent Indian moon mission. In the purely scientific world, where there aren’t any political considerations and everyone in the world is good, his arguments make sense. I’d like to live in his world, but you and I don’t.
The US has agreements with countries other than India. Perhaps Pakistan needed assurances that India wouldn’t get any knowledge that could be turned to military use? Getting multiple countries to talk takes time, agreements take longer. Perhaps those assurances for Pakistan could be leveraged for other US desires? If India had heard the details of this, would that have condemned the India/US agreement completely?
US Export Laws
The US is a country with laws. Those laws apply (mostly) to everyone and there are very few times when the President can simply order something to occur. Agencies may be told what the outcome should be, then it is left to those agencies to find a way to get to that desired outcome, legally. I’ve seen that in my time at NASA. Sometimes bad ideas and bad science are forced onto the agency for political reasons. Sometimes the agency loses track of the political issues and jumps ahead for the science aspect, then gets pulled back. The best NASA administrators tend to be very smart scientists with good political skills. The contractors involved simply want to make money first and gain knowledge second.
Many space science inventions have multiple purposes: scientific, commercial and military. Many scientists only see the scientific uses. Commercial secrets also have national boundaries when those secrets have military applications. Almost everything used in space has multiple military applications. It isn’t the decision of a company to determine which secrets can be shared with foreign countries or companies. I’d like to think we (the US government and US companies) have learned from prior mistakes., but without any oversight from outside the directly engaged parties, I fear we will. BTW, I worked at a different Loral subsidiary than the one who lobbied to sell China satellite technology.
I don’t profess to understand US foreign relations with either India or Pakistan and definitely don’t understand the difficult dynamics when all three countries are involved. However, not including those concerns in the article is a disservice to readers. Calling it red tape isn’t accurate.
The real issue is that prioritization often isn’t enough. When the ISP receives more traffic than they can handle, it becomes a denial of service for everyone and almost all traffic is impacted. They have 2 choices, be aggressive about closing low priority traffic (p2p) by sending RST TCP packets or let that part of their network crash. Obviously, some of you will say they need bigger pipes, but that takes months to design, then months to build and they’ve been doing that for years – it isn’t getting any better. So, do they let their network crash or be nasty to p2p traffic?
With Net Neutrality, all traffic has to be treated the same; all packets are treated with equal priority. That means that when P2P traffic ramps up, web surfing, email, VoIP, VPN traffic all need to be RST just like P2P to keep the network working. It isn’t just P2P traffic, video traffic from Hulu, Youtube, Netflix and other sources also add to the traffic. Think of all the customer phone calls to the ISP that will happen. Think of all the VoIP traffic dropped? That will create lots of calls and complaints to the FCC for action since the ISP is obviously in an agreement with the phone company to prevent VoIP providers from working. It doesn’t matter that all traffic is impacted or that the ISP is trying to reduce the impact for most of their customers. The least evil thing the ISP can do is selectively RST p2p traffic since much of that is downloading copyright material anyway. I don’t have the traffic stats, but let’s say that only 50% of p2p traffic is for copyrighted material. That’s still a bunch. BTW, I think it is much higher, perhaps 90%. There are only so many Linux users getting the latest distro legally via p2p out there. The rest is music, TV, and movies being pirated, IMHO.
This Net Neutrality thing will force ISPs to create tiers of service and lower the price for customers who accept lower tiered packages. Similarly, those users with higher traffic needs will be charged greater amounts for the privilege. I wouldn’t be surprised should all VPN access be blocked without the highest priced plan – since VPN is used for business use. I’m surprised that the big ISPs haven’t already created Full Access and Protected Access internet plans.
- Full Access is obvious – all the internet has to offer, minus the things they already dropped like USENET.
- Protected Access would block all inbound traffic, setup a proxy to block porn and websites that aren’t child friendly, and control which client machines can access the internet. No P2P would work, neither would VoIP or VPN. You wouldn’t be able to run any servers (which are probably illegal in your ISP contract anyway) and no game servers.
- A further capability could be to place you behind a corporate NAT router and have corporate-like PC management. Imagine your home network as part of a huge company network with patches pushed when IT decides. It can be done today. I’ve seen companies manage over 100K users in this way. I’ve seen what happens when a virus gets in too. They shut off the network for an entire campus, perhaps 5k users, while they got control of the virus.
Some parents would pay extra for this Protected Access, even without 100% assurances that you are protected.
Full disclosure – I DO NOT work for an ISP. I have designed networks and equipment monitoring systems for an ISP.
So, is Net Neutrality a good thing when you understand these other impacts?
If you are a smart phone user AND a Linux nerd, you WANT a Nokia N900.
Here’s a very detailed review, perhaps too detailed.
The highights are:
- CDMA (tri mode) and GSM (quad mode) cellular phone with 3G data speeds
- WiFi supported
- Linux – full multitasking; listen to music, surf the web, download files, and 5 other apps at the same time, no need to close apps to do something else* take that Apple lovers
- GPS and GeoCache-ready apps
- QWERTY Keyboard take that Apple lovers
- SDHC expansion memory, easily swapped, 32GB internal plus external slot
- 800×480 screen take that Apple lovers
- 3D graphic acceleration
- 5Mpix Camera with near HD-quality video
- User swappable battery take that Apple lovers
- Plays almost any video or audio media take that Apple lovers
- 1,000s of free Linux apps – lots of software is an understatement; xterm, PDF, RDP, VNC, games, Office/Productivity, IM, RSS
- Excellent VoIP and Skype support (Ovi, Google Talk, Jabber, and SIP) take that Apple lovers
- Connects to your MS-Exchange server including Calendaring
- Oh, and all the things you expect from a PDA – contacts, calendars, email,
The review compared the keyboard to that of another Nokia phone, but I’d like a comparison with a Blackberry QWERTY keyboard, which I consider FANTASTIC for thumb typing. I’m curious about built-in security features too, though a lock code is standard.
The only downsides to this device are:
- Data plan needed (monthly cost)
- Unclear that any subsidy will be provided by any cellular provider.
- Unlocked price – $584 on Amazon. Ouch.
- Screen size reduced from 4.1" to 3.5" so it is about the size of an iPhone.
- No voice dialing?
- Java was not shipped with the device, but it is definitely available.