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oFono – The future of Maemo and a few predictions

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A few days ago Intel and Nokia announced that they are collaborating on an initiative to develop what seems to be an open source telephony platform named oFono. This raises a lot of questions, Why are Nokia helping to develop another open platform when they have Maemo and the newly opened Symbian OS to contend with? Why are Intel interested in anything in the open source world outside of Moblin and their netbook strategy? And in the face of the ever expanding world of Android, what does this mean for Maemo?

Well, the future isn’t exactly clear but it could mean a boost for Maemo. Exactly why is clouded in mystery somewhat.

oFono.org

Lets be clear, oFono isn’t a new operating system, it is an initiative to develop telephony solutions in an open manner. From the oFono.org about page:

oFono.org is a place to bring developers together around designing an infrastructure for building mobile telephony (GSM/UMTS) applications. oFono.org is licensed under GPLv2, and it includes a high-level D-Bus API for use by telephony applications of any license. oFono.org also includes a low-level plug-in API for integrating with open source as well as third party telephony stacks, cellular modems and storage back-ends. The plug-in API functionality is modeled on public standards, in particular 3GPP TS 27.007 “AT command set for User Equipment (UE).”

OK, with that out of the way, what does this mean for Nokia, Intel and Maemo?

Commonality

Traditionally Maemo has had nothing to do with telephony outside of implementing ‘everything but the phone’. The internet tablets have GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth, in fact one of the most common questions I get asked when I’m in public with the Internet tablet is, “what kind of phone is that?”. But with the new collaboration between Intel and Nokia there is a consensus that maybe, just maybe, the drive between the two companies could produce something special.

But the something special part is what is currently under debate. Intel are primarily a chip designer and producer. Although they have many fingers in many pies they signaled their intent by backing Moblin, a project, from their own website, described as an initiate to produce an operating system for “netbooks, MIDs, and automotive”. What does this have to do with Nokia’s Symbian phone software or their Internet tablet software? Exactly nothing. So where do the two companies potentially overlap?

Well, with a little give and take they could be shoe-horned into one other. Nokia’s internet tablet could be considered too small for a netbook but with a couple of inches screen real-estate and a better keyboard could be considered a reasonable netbook? Moblin’s OS on stripped down internet table hardware in the dashboard of you next car purchase? The heavy-weight status of Intel behind Nokia’s struggling platform ensuring a rosier future for both? Lots of questions without a lot of answers at the moment.

A Bright Future?

In the undertones of the Nokia community they see the potential. A car based solution called Canola is the perfect solution for many a car journey. It’s just waiting to be picked up by the likes of Ford or Audi. Nokia’s strides with Maemo 5 and an OpenGL ES/Clutter based interface would be wonderful on a netbook or MID. Nokia’s experience with the ever present Symbian OS gives them a huge share of the market already familiar with what they have to offer. So what is the answer and is there such an answer in existence yet?

Predictions

Here are a few bold statements. If they are wrong then its a case of 2 + 2 = 5, if they are right, and I suspect there is a lot of truth underlining this here, then a clever connection of the dots has already spelled it out. So what will happen to Nokia and Intel’s foray into the telephany, MID, automotive, internet tablet, and netbook arenas?
Crystal Ball Predictions
Here are LinuxUK’s predictions.

1) Nokia release Maemo 5 on OMAP 3 hardware. Slide out keyboard and slightly smaller but clearer screen. Clutter based interface is an instant success as Nokia demonstrate the power of 3D effects on a small but very functional device. HSPA interface is first treated with contempt as people are tied into a contract with no phone services. Nokia brag about Skype and hope the concerns go away. Camera is amazing BTW.

2) Nokia soon after announce Symbian and Maemo live happily together. Based off of their efforts with QT, they bring cross-platform to a thorny beginning with apps designed for both targets.

3) Nokia announce a partnership with a major car manufacturer to produce in-car entertainment devices using Intel based chips. Appeasing both Moblin and Maemo camps, announces that its an open platform for both parties. Open source car tech, wow!

4) Meanwhile, Intel announces a MID based on its own hardware but utilizing hildon and various parts of Maemo software. oFono telephony software slips into the MID form factor.

5) Nokia announce, in partnership with Intel, they are looking at bringing telephony to their Maemo platform. Early adopters of the Maemo 5 based hardware rejoice. They may get a phone after-all.

6) Telephony stack is ported to Maemo 5 hardware, Intel and Nokia bring out a sexy phone, much sexier than the internet tablets based on Maemo, for the masses. Internet tablet users convince themselves they bought their tablet because it didn’t have a phone but quietly admire the new device.

7) Android, looks on in disgust, quietly scared.

8) …?

Reality

I believe the the major clout of Android and Google means that they believe they will win the phone OS war. In their targets are iPhone, Blackberry and the act of converting the dumb-phone Nokia users into smart phone users. For Nokia’s sake, I hope they are wrong. I truely hope Nokia and Intel can combine to produce a platform to rival Android. Yes, internet tablets are cool, but they don’t sell units. Shifting units is what is going to win this war. Lets not forget <a href="http://www.limofoundation.org/"LiMo. An effort to bring an open source operating system to phone users. I would bet my bottom pound that most LiMo users have never hear of, let alone read the GPL.

There is a fear that Nokia will die in the age of the smart phone although Nokia has been producing smart phones for longer than any competitor. I hope for Nokia’s sake that their foray into open source, namely Maemo, combines with Intel to bring them out the other side firmly holding an open source phone/tablet to rival Apples and Google’s emerging dominance.

Update: It seems that Intel is indeed looking at the mobile space as a way of expanding its business model. A post on UMPC portal has good commentary on Intels road map which has just been leaked (Intel even use pictures of Nokia’s phones in the material).

Written by Jamie Bennett

May 17th, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trim trailing spaces in GEdit

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One item from the list of good coding standards which always seems to catch me out is that lines of code shouldn’t have trailing white space. Some editors offer functionality to prevent this, GEdit doesn’t by default. A quick search took me to a page of plugin’s including the ‘trailsave’ plugin. When enabled, this plugin trims off all white space from the end of lines; exactly what I want. One small gripe is that it trims off the last line of a file if it is empty, not ideal.

In the spirit of open source, I modified the code slightly and you can now get the remove-trailing-white-space-but-not-the-last-blank-line plugin from here.

Unpack the two files into your ~/.gnome2/gedit/plugins directory (create one if its not there) and start up GEdit. Select ‘Plugins’ from the Edit->Preferences menu and enable the “Save without trailing space’ plugin from that menu.

Written by Jamie Bennett

May 8th, 2009 at 9:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Recent Reading – March/April

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Ok, as promised I’m trying to read more. Here is the list for the last two months reading.

    1. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
    Well, as this is one of the most read (and often lied about being read) books I though I should take a look. A tour-de-force of writing skills that paints an amazing picture of a bleak future (for the time). A book that you must read but don’t expect sweetness and light. Starts off good, lulls a little in the middle and finishes with a strong surge. The last few pages left me a little wanting at the time but on reflection, they did exactly what they were supposed to do.

    2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    I started this with little expectation and despite the books simple message; successful people are the ones born with quite a bit of intelligence, work extremely hard and have some extraordinary breaks in life, I really liked this. Written well with a good if steady pace, another book I’d recommend.

    3.The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland
    Well, this book has got a good reputation and without knowing anything about it I though I would pick it up based on that. For me, its slow to start and I admit that at times, I lost track of the various characters names as the story unfolded but the final third of the book had me hooked.

    4.The Undercover Scientist: Investigating the Mishaps of Everyday Life by Peter J. Bentley
    This book caught me by surprise. Another one that I had no idea about before I picked it up but it wasn’t what I expected. The book is written as a day in the life of an unfortunate person who has his unfair share of problems. Where the science comes in is in the explanation of what is actually going on in each of these scenes. A lot of the science behind this I already knew, but being in the science field already its to be expected. All in all an entertaining read in a format that makes you smile once in a while.

    5.Bell labs, the jewel in the crown by Narain Gehani
    I don’t like to criticize books too much so I’ll leave it at dry, dry, dry; avoid.

    6.7.8.9. Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
    Now a 30 year old man and teenage vampire/werewolf romance saga’s don’t usually go together but I can honestly say I’m unashamed in liking every one of these books. I started the 4 four books wanting to know what all the hype was about, I didn’t manage to put them down until all four books were read, cover to cover. A great tale that appeals to all ages although I do feel I’m well in touch with my teenage girly side ;) For the sceptical (like I was) read twilight and I dare you not to read the other 3 books (breaking dawn was my favorite BTW but probably because there’s more action in it than the others).

    10. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray
    Umm, ah, I .., ah shit, read it because the other half recommended I should read it. As always, she got it wrong ;) Terribly obvious and utterly boring book. Before I get flogged by the feminists that say all men should read it, I did read it, assimilated the contents, rolled over and farted after drinking a beer. OK (it was entertaining at times though I admit).

Written by Jamie Bennett

May 1st, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jaunty Released

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It seems Jaunty has hit the Canonical servers now.

Go get it!

http://www.ubuntu.com

Written by Jamie Bennett

April 23rd, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Royal Mail now deliver curries!

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This is what the postman brought me today at work, a Mas Parental Curry Pack from Rafi’s Spicebox. I’ve heard about Rafi’s before from a few friends and being the curry fan that I am, I decided to try it.

Rafi’s basically do all the hard work for you, adding the spices, chopping the chilli’s e.t.c, all you have to do is add the meat and any other ingredients that you want. This particular curry bag requires some coconut cream and chopped tomatoes too.

Mmm, now to get home and cook it!

Written by Jamie Bennett

April 16th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

rsstorrent version 0.3

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I’ve released version 0.3 of rsstorrent after some good user feedback.

After looking into the problem with content-disposition responses from some tracker sites it became clear that the actual files that were being downloaded were .torrent files, just without the .torrent extension. One dependency removed (wget) and a quick bit of python code and now rsstorrent appends the extension to these files enabling your torrent client to use them.

Go get the files from http://code.google.com or directly from the git repository at GitHub.com.

Written by Jamie Bennett

April 8th, 2009 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Entertainer 0.4 released

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Version 0.4 of Entertainer has just been released. There are an amazing 50 bugs that have been fixed since 0.3 showing that the team is firmly committed to ironing out those teething bugs that creep into any new project.

Some of the highlights include:

  1. Full screen support.
  2. Improved translation support (7 languages with partial support for many others).
  3. And don’t forget the many many fixes!

See the release announcement here.

Plans for the future include full clientserver support, mouse (and future finger) support, kinetic scrolling and many more.

Hop on over to the Entertainer mailing list, join us at irc.freenode.net (#entertainer) or checkout the Launchpad.net page for more information.

Written by Jamie Bennett

April 6th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

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Start them young!

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A 13 year old boy named Dmitri Gaskin has just given a short talk at DrupalCon DC. What makes this even more amazing is the fact that Dmitri has already been developing drupal software for 3 years (this site is based on drupal) and that last year he was a Google Summer of Code mentor and will be again this year!

When work is seemingly getting you down and you think you are struggling to get to the dizzy heights of open source stardom even though your trying hard, think again. At 13 years old I think I was still playing with action men!

Written by Jamie Bennett

March 27th, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

rsstorrent version 0.2

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Some rss feeds contain url’s that use something called content-disposition. From the HTTP/1.1 spec:

"The Content-Disposition response-header field has been proposed as a means for the origin server to suggest a default filename if the user requests that the content is saved to a file. This usage is derived from the definition of Content-Disposition in RFC 1806 [35].

content-disposition = "Content-Disposition" ":"
disposition-type *( ";" disposition-parm )
disposition-type = "attachment" | disp-extension-token
disposition-parm = filename-parm | disp-extension-parm
filename-parm = "filename" "=" quoted-string
disp-extension-token = token
disp-extension-parm = token "=" ( token | quoted-string )"

All this means is that when you request a file from a site that uses content-disposition, you probably won’t get the filename that you expected. This used to trip up rsstorrent, until now. As a quick fix, I have enabled wget support which is used when rsstorrent comes across content-disposition in the header field of any torrent address. This may not be the best solution but it does work. I’m looking for a better solution but wget is a pretty ubiquitous application and fits in with the lightweightness of rsstorrent. It does mean that rsstorrent now depends on wget and while I was at it, I upgraded pythons urllib module to urllib2 as urllib is being depreciated.

Go download the latest version from code.google.com or get the git repository from github.com.

Written by Jamie Bennett

March 24th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

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Ubuntu running on the Nokia N8x0 tablets

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Wow, just wow. The fruits of the arm port of Ubuntu are starting to flourish, behold, Ubuntu 9.04 on the Nokia N8x0 tablets.

Written by Jamie Bennett

March 15th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized