Posts Tagged: software

SixApart, Fare The Well

In March of 2003, I heard Ben & Mena Trott talk about their blogging software that they started in 2001 after both lost their jobs in the DotCom Bust – Movable Type – and their new company named after the fact that their birthdays were only six days apart, SixApart, at SXSW 2003 and decided to try it out in April of 2003.
Seven years later I am still here, still blogging with Movable Type, still using it as a CMS for clients, and still hoping against bizarre hope that Movable Type and SixApart will continue to innovate in the blogging space. A silly hope now that WordPress has clearly won many hearts and minds, but I do like MT better for a variety of reasons.
Today TechCrunch leaked that SixApart had been bought out by VideoEgg for its advertising network and both would become a new entity known as Say Media.
Various bits of the blogosphere are a bit up in arms about this, although many SixApart / Movable Type veterans are warily watching what will happen next.
For a few months, I have been planning on moving my blog to a VPS, upgrading to MT5, and using HTML5 for templating. All of this planning would also include a major redesign to better integrate my mobile photo blogging with text blogging that I do.
Now these plans will be on hold. I will wait and see what is up. I don’t want to spend 40-80 hours on a major redesign and upgrade 7.4 years of blogging only to have the software be unsupported in a few months.
Just in case the new Say Media, formerly VideoEgg formerly SixApart, axes Movable Type, I went an purchased an Expression Engine license today, because I know EE already supports mobile blogging. Due to the complexity of a move and a whole new platform, as EE’s templating is rumored to be a pain, versus the free time I have to spend on such an endeavor right now, as well as loyalty to my favorite blogging engine, I will wait and see.
In the meantime, I would like to say a Big Thank You to all the SixApart employees, current & former, who over the last 7 years have made my blogging life happy: Ben & Mena Trott, Anil Dash, Mie Kennedy Yaginuma, Byrne Rese, Jay Allen, Tim Appnel, David Jacobs, Arvind Satyanarayan, Ginevra Kirkland, Beau Smith, and many others. As well as the whole community of Movable Type bloggers, developers, designers, and other enthusiasts who have weathered a great many storms together.
Thanks for a great 7 years, y’all rock.
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Update from 9/22/10 at 8:10am : Maarten Schenk at Movable Tips reports that Six Apart in Japan will continue with the development of Movable Type. MT is very popular in Japan and as Maarten reports it has been the most active hive of MT dev and innovation for sometime, so it makes sense that they will continue on. Go read: Movable Type and “Six Apart” live on… in Japan!
Update from 9/22/10 at 8:48am: A tweet from last night as I was writing this article:

I really wish @sixapart had sent an official announcement out to bloggers, devs, & customers before the tech press leaked the buyout.

Actually, this morning this is the part that makes me the most frustrated, is why didn’t SixApart send an email to licensees and the ProNet mailing list before letting this get leaked to press? If everything is alright, then longtime customers and developers should be the first to know so that the rumor engine doesn’t get started.
Update from 9/22/10 at 12:59pm: Today at 10:33am, David Jacobs, the VP for Services and Products at SixApart, sent an email to the ProNet mailing list entitled “The Future”. I won’t reprint it here, but basically he reiterates that SayMedia will be continuing to support and develop Typepad and Movable Type, which should have been sent before Michael Arrington scooped the story. Don’t say to me, “How could they have know that Tech Crunch would have printed in the night before the announcement?” Companies need to tell their own story first before the press hears it from their sources and tells it for them, particularly in the Echo Chamber that is known as San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Nokia Booklet 3G : Day 16 : The OS Wrap Up : Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu vs. Jolicloud

Oceanis Background app allows one to change the Windows 7 Starter background Boot choice screen with Windows 7, Ubuntu, and Jolicloud Jolicloud Desktop screenshot

Screenshot photos taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

Wed 02.10.10 – In the last two weeks of trialing the Nokia Booklet 3G that WOM World/Nokia sent to me, I have had a range of great to ok to just bad experiences with the Booklet, but all of them have been predicated on the Operating System (OS) and not necessarily the Booklet itself. I am of the opinion that the Booklet is a great little mini-laptop that is beautifully designed but hampered with a crappy OS in Windows 7 Starter. It would be great if Nokia were to install an OS that had the same level of polish, attention, and design that the Booklet itself has.
Here are my thoughts after two weeks of testing, installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling alternative Linux based Operating Systems in the form of a Pro & Con comparison of the hardware, and the various potential OSs of Windows 7 Starter, Ubuntu, and Jolicloud:

Pros for the Nokia Booklet Hardware:

Beautiful hardware design
3G with a sim chip port in a netbook is excellent and frees one up to be able to work on a computer anywhere
Lovely screen
I like the chicklet style keyboard, even if a bit narrow
Truly long long long battery time: 10-12 hours. I have yet to run it all the way down.

Cons for the Nokia Booklet Hardware:

I don’t like the touchpad, rough surface, works poorly in Win7
Overall: The Nokia Booklet 3G is a lovely, little mini-laptop. The only thing cuter is Jackie’s pink Eee PC. The Booklet would be cuter than the Eee PC if it came in hot pink or deep purple.
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Pros for Windows 7 Starter:
Native 1280×768 screen resolution
Cons for Windows 7 Starter:
Wow! Win7 Starter sucks.
AT&T Sim chip does not *just* work for the 3G side, Al and I had to add our own settings & it still didn’t work. It finally did about 3 days later.
Multitouch on the touchpad does not work or works very badly and intermittently.
Win 7 on the Booklet is slow. Sometimes molasses in a blizzard slow. Unexceptably slow.
Can be quirky on start up and starts in Airplane Mode with wifi/3G turned off. Odd but true.
Windows 7 Starter does not let the user do a lot of normal tasks like change the background, so I had to download a specious 3rd party app to rid the desktop of the Win7 logo.
Overall: Windows 7 does NOT live up to the hype. While it may appear to be an improvement over XP or Vista, any OS is an improvement over those two, so it is not saying much. Windows 7 Starter is a bad little OS. Nokia’s biggest mistake is not the 1 GB of RAM or Intel Atom chip speed on the Booklet, but the inclusion of Windows 7 Starter as the OS as the Windows Bloat slows down the hardware. If Nokia wants to be in bed and having relations with Windows (each to their own), then for the price of the Booklet, they should have Windows 7 Ultimate as the shipped OS, as it is more polished and for the $600 price unlocked the Booklet does deserve a polished OS.
Did I mention how damned slow Windows 7 Starter is to do any task? Ugh.
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Pros for Ubuntu via Wubi:
Super fast install of Ubuntu via Wubi which uses bit torrent.
Wow! Ubuntu is much nicer than Win7 Starter! Can I say that again?!
AT&T sim chip 3 G data *just* works in Ubuntu after you answer 3 questions, no fiddling with properties & preferences.
Multitouch does work on the touchpad and it is *fast* (it worked on the first two times I installed Ubuntu through Wubi, but not the last two times)
Ubuntu is fast on the Booklet, none of the hesitating or slow loading of Win7.
Ubuntu comes shipped with over 25 applications that provide a wide range of office, graphics, web, and developer tools and programs, including Nokia’s QT.
Cons For Ubuntu:
800×600 screen resolution. As of Jan 29, 2010, don’t try the kernel mod fix to make the res 1280×768 as recommended on the Ubuntu wiki, it makes for a very unstable install, wait for the Ubuntu dev folks to make a stable fix.
Sometimes the multitouch works great, sometimes it runs too fast.
Overall: Ubuntu is my favorite OS for the Nokia Booklet 3G hands down and miles ahead of Windows 7. While at the time of writing this, I could not get the native screen resolution to work with the Ubuntu fix, the Jolicloud folks did, so the Ubuntu folk should not be far behind with a workable fix.
The best part of Ubuntu on the Nokia Booklet is that the OS has a light footprint which makes for a fast Booklet and even though light & fast, Ubuntu is powerful and comes with or one is able to download easily any and all developer tools to really work on the Booklet with Ubuntu. I can code and deploy Django, Google App Engine, and Nokia’s QT with Ubuntu, which I would not be able to do fast or easily with Windows 7 Starter or Jolicloud on the Booklet.
I really do think that Nokia should do a co-promote with Ubuntu’s Canonical and ship a version or a dual boot of Ubuntu customized / polished up for the Booklet, as it is provides much more programs and functionality than Windows. For all the naysayers that don’t think Ubuntu is polished enough, if Nokia were to work with Canonical, much of the polish problems could be solved within a few weeks with a team of devs & designers on the project. The main points are to make sure the native screen resolution and multitouch always work, as well as the syncing with one’s mobiles. If one really wants Windows, then provide a dual boot. Many folks would be happier with Ubuntu after 30 minutes of using it, not just a geek like me.
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Pros for Jolicloud:
Native Screen Resolution of 1280×768 out of the box (or install as the case may be)
Different User Interface desktop layout
Apple/Mac style keyboard shortcuts work to close windows (ctrl+w) & exit programs (ctrl+q). Ubuntu & Windows do not do this.
Touchpad is fast for moving the cursor.
I like the black background & the colors & icons are easy on the eyes.
Cons for Jolicloud:
First time I tried to install last week, it kept quitting. It worked tonight, but it was very slow.
Slow start up load
Froze completely the 1st time I asked it to use the AT&T sim chip for data connection, had to force re-start.
2nd time I tried to use the AT&T data, it froze again. Not working.
Different User Interface desktop layout
Multitouch does not work, two fingers won’t scroll
While Jolicloud is built on Ubuntu, it does not have as many programs & applications available without downloading or using the package manager
Jolicloud takes over any install of Ubuntu on the Booklet and I had to uninstall both to reinstall Ubuntu to get it to load again.
Overall: Jolicloud has a great deal of potential, esp. as a netbook OS for non-power/non-geek users. The User Interface has quite a bit of polish, the native screen resolution of the Nokia Booklet works on startup on Jolicloud, and I love that some Mac/Apple gestures & keyboard shortcuts just work. The downsides to Jolicloud of non-working 3G, missing programs & tools that Ubuntu ships with, slow load time, and the lack of multitouch on the touchpad make Jolicloud unworkable for me as a geek user who would like to use the Booklet as a mini-laptop that is a mini-dev box. But I will not discount Jolicloud as their developers are ambitious & very responsive and many of these issues may be solved within the month or two.
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Conclusion:
I may expire waiting for Apple to deliver a cute, tiny, light, fully powered 10 inch MacBook Pro. Nokia has done the next best thing by making a cute, tiny, light, well designed 10 inch Nokia Booklet 3G. But… it is under powered with a bad operating system in Windows 7 Starter that slows the machine down and makes for a bad user experience. Sorry, but the Windows 7 experience does not cut it, even in the upgraded $80+ Ultimate version.
As with many Nokia products the hardware is beautiful, but the OS is either lacking or the wrong fit for the beautiful hardware. In the case of the Booklet, Windows is a wrong fit, but there are options out there and Nokia should give the customer a choice of a great user experience with the Booklet.
Nokia needs to step up their game and either develop a kick ass version of the Maemo OS for the Booklet, which would be delicious, or work with Ubuntu to make a Nokia branded version of Ubuntu that would make the Booklet experience a delight to use and worth the $600 unlocked asking price.
At this point, I would love to buy a Nokia Booklet 3G if it had a great OS, but not if it comes shipped with a bad OS at $600 when I could get a pink Eee PC at $275 and install Ubuntu on it for free.

Nokia N900 – Views from the Pundit Analysts, Maemo & Python

Nokia N900 - Macro Mode - Mini Roses
Photo taken today by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N900

Tues 12.01.09 – Rabbit rabbit. With the greeting to the new month out of the way, I would like to alert you to several interesting takes on Nokia’s strategy and mentions of the N900:
GigaOm’s very own Om Malik had a chat with Nokia’s Tero Ojanper√§ last week and Om now has a wee bit more faith in Nokia’s direction. Read it at, “For Nokia’s Ovi, the World (Minus the US) is Enough.
Analyst Michael Gartenberg questions What’s the future of Nokia? on Engadget’s Entelligence:

“Second, Nokia’s services strategy is as muddled as the fruit in Don Draper’s Old Fashioned. Ovi sounded good when it was announced but it’s now gone through so many iterations, with different services added, dropped, and changed that it’s hard to know what’s in and what’s out. Comes With Music has been reported as having as few as 107,000 users worldwide, and Nokia’s put off bringing it to the US this year, leading me to wonder what kind of future it has as a service. The N-Gage project not only resulted in two failed phone designs but the service itself is on its deathbed.”

As a Nokia mobile phone owner, I have felt quite burned over the last four years by Nokia’s frequent changing around and dropping software and services. I won’t even invest any of my data at Ovi, as I don’t want it to go away in 2 years when Nokia has changed its strategy again or the project manager has moved on along with the marketing manager to another project and the new folks in charge don’t care and move on to new divisions themselves.
The big reason that I am so excited about Maemo is that Python comes already installed and integrated on the Nokia N900, so I can code my own apps and not worry about will they be supported 12-18 months from now. I don’t code in C, C+, Objective C, Java or Symbian, so most of the world of mobile application development is closed to me, but I do code in Python. While one can install python on Symbian and run a PyS60 app on a Symbian phone it is not without hassle and if you want to share the app, then the other person has to install Python on their phone too, thus creating a large barrier to entry.
Roland Tanglao and Croozeus are also both excited about pre-installed Python on the N900. Yesterday, I was on the Maemo.org website looking at the various apps available for download and the ones in development. The best part was finding out that many of the apps that I would want to use or contribute to are coded in Python. One of the great parts of any Open Source and/or Linux community is the ability to contribute to projects and to the code base, and now for me it is even better that I can contribute in Python. Furthermore, I am very excited that Maemo community has an active PyMaemo sub-community.
Yes, the Nokia N900 may seem a bit too geeky to some, but in the long run, I do think Maemo will bring in developers who have been alienated by Symbian’s high barriers to entry and the whole certification / app signing troubles, developers who will have more choice in programming languages, more choice in how to contribute & distribute. More choice means more mobile applications available to everyone.
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Related N900 Posts:
Nokia N900 : The Artist Phone
Nokia N900 : The Gold Standard Test
The Nokia Flagship Face Off : Nokia N900 vs. Nokia N97 : Part I, Night Video

How to Change the Directory that Movable Type Uploads to When Using the Atom Protocol (Lifeblog, PixelPipe, etc)

I don’t know about you, but I have had a little list of blog upkeep items that have been on my to do list for ages, but haven’t had the time to research and then execute them. After thinking about a few of them for some time, oh like a couple of years, I decided recently to make a real paper list and make it happen.
Here are the things I wanted to do:
1) Figure out how to get thumbnails of images to appear in the excerpted version of this blog’s RSS and Atom feeds.
2) Think about how to keep the evil sploggers (spam bloggers who scrape feeds) at bay AND keep my regular feed readers happy with a good feed. I have had my private full feed for at least two years now & announce it frequently but folks who want a full feed didn’t know about it.
3) Even though Perl is not really my friend, I have wanted to figure out how to alter the Atom script for this blog so that when I use Lifeblog or PixelPipe to mobile blog from my camera phone to this blog that the photo will be uploaded into the file directory of my choice and not the default main blog directory.
A few weeks ago, I dedicated a few hours to attempting to bending the Atom and RSS feed templates to my will. Unfortunately, Movable Type 4.x is very dependent on the Asset Manager for knowing where the images are, and due to challenge #3, I was not able to fix #1 with any satisfaction, as all the fixes required the Asset Manager to know where all the images are and by default the Atom script uploads all assets/images to the main blog directory, which causes a messy main directory with my daily mobile blogging. To solve this, I have been manually moving images to a proper image directory and then updating the blog post later, thus the Asset Manager can’t keep up with me. Poor thing.
Persistent artist vs. computer program. Who is going to lose? In the long run, the program. Until I solved problem #3, problem #1 was a null point.
I solved #2 by resetting my public facing feeds to be a bit bigger excerpts that would show the images but would excerpt any article over a certain length. I use the .htaccess file to stop any lifting of images. And I still have the private complete feed for anyone who emails me and lets me know that they want the url.
Today, I decided to conquer the moblogging directory issue and attempt to make Perl bend to my will.

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Nokia’s Updater

Nokia N800

One of the things that I love about Nokia’s Nseries line of phones is that they are mini-computers with a phone, camera, and internet connection. On top of all of that, one can update the firmware / software of the mobile device just like one can update their computer’s firmware or software.
Does your mobile start to get a little slow after a while or have blips & burps or freeze or crash? Well, if it is a Nokia, you can download the Nokia Updater to your PC, plug your mobile into the data cable and then into the computer, back it up, and then Update. Couldn’t be simpler, right?
Well, if you are me, an ardent Nokia fan, but also an owner of 2 Mac computers (15″ MacBook Pro & a 12″ PowerBook G4), you have a wee bit of a problem when it comes time to update one’s phone or internet tablet… it is called… how to borrow a PC… Trust me, do not, DO NOT, whatever you do, think you can run Nokia’s Updater from the Windows install of Parallels on your MacBook Pro. JUST SAY NO. I have a lovely little N80 brick that no amount of the Kings Men or repair people will put back together again…
Now every time an update is announced for the N95 or N800 tablet, I am VERY VERY VERY reluctant to even think about updating, even though both need it. I call my brother, ask if I can borrow his work PC laptop, drive over there, run the Nokia Updater application and find out if there is an update available. The N800 has had several updates since it arrived in October and the N95 (RM-159) has only had one last July, even though all the other N95’s in the world have had at least 3-5 updates since then.
My N95 is starting to sssslllllloooowwww down. It really needs a good firmware shot in the arm or in the patooty. I would love for it to focus and shoot a photo faster than its current stop, focus, focus, focus, pick nose, focus, focus, hey-look-theres-a-squirrel, focus, focus, hey! maybe I should take a photo speed. It is driving me crazy. The lower the light, the slower the focus with our friend the N95 v.1.
Mind you, my N95 is faster than my N80 was, but now that I have tasted the delights of the N82, the N95 is looking and working old & slow. Dang! It is only 6 months old and cost me a lot of $$$. Where is my update? Where is my update that I can do natively from my Mac?
A few days ago, I went and checked to see if there was an update available on the local borrowed PC for my N95. No new update. So sad.
But there was an update available for the N800 tablet. Ok, let’s update.
Updating. Updating.. Updating…
Nokia’s software tells me to turn off Tablet, disengage the cable, and reboot. Ok.
No go. No turn back on. Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Look at borrowed PC. Swear. Swear again. Crap.
Google problem. Find that there is a Mac hack to flash the firmware updates for the Nokia 770 and 800 available. So, I download it to my MacBookPro, download the last update and the newest update. Use my Mac to flash the N800 to its last update and… it turns back on… it works… it restores its data. All is well in N800 land, thanks to Mac!
Then I try to use my Mac and the flasher software to update the N800 tablet to the OS 2008 Tablet software. All is well. It works. Birds sing.
Then I use the Mac flasher to send it back to OS 2007 as a test. All is well. Take N800 tablet to borrowed PC, attempt to flash the OS 2008 tablet firmware using the PC. Bricked again. Crap. Use Mac to reflash. All is well again. Birds sing.
Moral of Story? Use a Mac. PC’s suck, esp. ones running MicroSquash. (My Dell with Ubuntu Linux is very nice. Linux gets less love from Nokia than Macs do.)
Moral of Story? Hey Nokia, increase your market share and profits by supporting Macs! Give your Mac owning fans some love. Do not accede all the market to Steve Jobs and the iPhone.
Moral of Story? I would like to see all Nseries devices get updates at least every 3 months. If I am going to spend over $500 US, I would like consistent support for at least 2 years.
Moral of Story? I want a Nokia Updater that works with my Nseries mobile device natively on my Mac.