Tag Archives: N810

Maemo community outreach: Dallas open source Saturday

This morning I officially kicked off my version of Maemo community outreach efforts, by joining my first meetup of the Dallas Open Source Saturday group.  We met at Los Lupe’s TexMex restaurant in Addison, north of Dallas.  The seating was decent and the breakfast tacos were very good in my opinion, but drawbacks for the location included lack of wifi, too much loud music/talking and inability to use TV for presentations.

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The gears of Maemo

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Since starting this blog after my last job loss I’ve taken Nokia to task over what I perceive to be shortcomings and errors, particularly in staffing and ambitious enterprise projects like Ovi.

But in the spirit of fairness and balance, and in preparation of my trip to Amsterdam for the Nokia-sponsored Maemo Summit 2009, I want to take a moment to acknowledge one team that I believe is doing a fantastic job: Maemo.

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Why I love Nokia’s internet tablets

The wild bunch at maemo talk know well by now that I’ve been a hardcore advocate of Nokia’s internet tablets ever since a fellow engineer quietly placed a preproduction 770 on my desk a few years ago.  I have been on a rabid one-man mission to promote the touchscreen tablets ever since.

At least, it felt that way in the halls of Nokia, where as a quality engineer I found myself the sole evangelist for getting the tablet technology into corporate and industrial uses.  This was a consumer experiment, I was told, and the product agenda was very limited.  The same applied, I soon found, to the size and scope of the hard-working Nokia developer team involved.

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An alternate history for Nokia’s internet tablets

Many readers of this blog already know of my involvement with the launch of the Nokia N800 internet tablet.  I took a high personal interest in the product line that went beyond my normal duties, because I saw a great deal of potential for the devices and their technology.  That interest led me to constantly suggest ideas for software applications and use cases.  Unfortunately for me, there was a development agenda in place that allowed little room for additional exploration.  This agenda was deliberately conservative and is just now enabling maturity in the device family, four years after the first true Nokia Internet Tablet (the 770) was introduced.

But what if Nokia had taken a radically different approach?  That thought (along with musing over related possibilities) has been eating at me a lot lately as speculation around the next device grows.  So for sheer sake of a wishful, whimsical writing exercise, I decided to construct an alternate product timeline with the benefit of my own hindsight and opinions combined with a vast accumulation of user input.  Note that this is not intended to be reflective of reality!

So without further ado, let’s rewind a few years and play with the idea a bit (all hyperlinks are actual and not part of this fantasy)…

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Is Nokia’s Ovi sizzling or fizzling?

Some months ago I last touched on the prospects of Nokia’s relatively new internet service, Ovi.com, and recent news made me believe it is now time for a follow-up.

The first item to touch on is the revelation that Ovi will be scaled back a bit in scope.  The media sharing portion has apparently not gained enough traction in the time accrued thus far, so further development will be halted at least for the time being.  As with anything in these economically-uncertain times, it’s difficult to speculate on whether this is truly the start of a permanent drawdown in that service or perhaps just a temporary retreat.  Personally I hope Nokia does continue the service, even though I admit it’s up against some very entrenched competitors (such as the very popular Flickr).  As I opined in the previous article, there still remains quite a bit of potential in parts of the world not fully served by established providers that are popular in the US, Europe, etc.

Nokia could still gain respect and admiration (and surely users) by providing that holy grail of internet services, the single-sign on experience.  Imagine a one-stop-shop front end for all the various media services out there!  True, there would be logistical and possibly legal hurdles to clear but the prospect is exciting nonetheless.

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The Case of the Phantom Tablet

In the past several years we’ve seen many companies offer up their vision of The Next Big Thing in personal computing.  The goal to get PCs increasingly portable is one admirable attempt but any drastic changes to the interface status quo tend to be met with consumer resistance.  Screens and keyboards can only get so small before they become cute but useless novelties.

One exception is netbooks, the currently most compelling segment of portable personal computing.  These little-brother laptops are rapidly cannibalizing more conventional computing platforms.  Their attributes of low cost and high portability combined with a reasonable attempt to maintain usable interface real estate has contributed to a truly impressive success story.

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Is 2009 the year for open source?

Companies are shedding jobs like crazy, including strategic ones in IT (which to me IS crazy) and of course my own recentlyNovember 2008 job losses indicate the United States may soon be retesting near-Depression era unemployment rates. President-elect Obama says he has an ambitious infrastructure-oriented plan (which we desperately need) that in part addresses our nationwide broadband capabilities as well as energy-savings potential.  But why not go further in that area?

A surefire way to get operating costs down is to incorporate more and more open source tools into the systems backbone.  This includes Linux on servers and the desktop for starters.  Purchasing Maemo Linux-driven Nokia internet tablets to replace desktop phones (using Voice over IP, or VOIP) is a good next step– especially since the tablets are essentially highly mobile mini laptops with myriad uses.  The N810 WiMAX Edition model would be perfect for the DC area since the service is being deployed there.

The US government is the ideal candidate for this sort of move for many reasons, cost savings to taxpayers just being one.  The fed is said to still employ many antiquated systems and software so there is far less legacy and inertia involved in going open than in a commercial situation.  In addition, taking the open source route could remove at least one layer of potential conflict-of-interest that may lie with vendors who have contributed to political campaigns.  I doubt open source developers and distributors contribute on the same scale!

There is encouragement to be found in analysis showing open source enterprises to be prospering in this economic downturn.  I would view that as common sense, but it’s good to see validation.

If incoming president Barack Obama is serious about putting Americans to work, saving energy and cutting cost, it’s time the fed took open source seriously.  That would be change we geeks can believe in.

Update: the N810 WiMAX Edition tablet has been cancelled by Nokia.