Archive for the 'keyboard' Category

'RogerSWhen I first encountered the Nokia Internet Tablet, I thought, “Gosh what a great e-reader!” I've

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used each NIT as an e-reader but I learned what it's great at is, well, doing the internet thing. As its name suggests.

I thought GPS was a natural win. The big screen made maps easier to read than on most dedicated devices. Still, I used my tablet for email more often than GPS.

The voip calls with visuals blew me away. Except no one with a tethered connection bought into cam-calling.

The 770, the N800, the N810 — these were all complete computers! They meant I didn't have to lug around a laptop just in case I had real work to do. But I did most of my real work on a real computer and my wife never got the hang of using a NIT. My son's friends found the iPod Touch easier for surfing and he never cottoned to it.

With its touch screen, I didn't need a keyboard, but I liked the N810 keyboard. The keyboard made apps easier to port anyway.

And Flash! Once it became clear that “internet” meant surfing without sideways scrolling, email, and videos on YouTube, the internet tablet excelled at giving me the internet.

Well, excelled in lots of circumstances. Without a cell-plan data connection the walkaround web had no impact on NIT users. The Apple iPhone has a minuscule segment of the smartphone market but generates 50 percent of mobile web use. Apple's genius wasn't in the interface but in browbeating AT&T into affordable web access.

Does the Nokia Internet Tablet have a real future? We have a $200 netbook and it's easier for conference notetaking than an N810. I have an Amazon Kindle 2 and I can get books for it that aren't available for FBReader on my NITs. Half the cars have GPS built-in now anyway. So what's the sweet spot for the Internet Tablet?

Doh!. The internet, same as it's always been.

Except these days, “the internet” means Twitter, too. With multi-tasking so I can tweet full-screen and use multiple screens to follow several hundred people (in more than one group). With keyboard and touch-screen and audio and photos too. And from anywhere I might be, um-m, walking around.

I can tweet from a phone now, thank you very much, but making sure it fits is no piece of cake. Tweeting means editing down to 140 characters without having to struggle. And reading (following), tweeting and surfing simultaneously? Hey, where's my computer again? At least Maemo was built for us to do more than one thing at a time.

I expect there will be lots of cellphones released this year that have keyboards and screens of a satisfactory size and cameras. Just having good specs won't draw much attention. But if the next NIT can ace the Twitter test and fly the Flash flag, it'll be very much in demand.


Not being British, I use the English (US) virtual keyboard, which puts a plus sign (+) and an equals sign (=) in the two spots next to the zero in the numeric keypad on the on-screen keyboard.

Choosing English (UK) as your first language in the Text Input control panel

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gives you a different keyboard layout, with a hyphen (-) and an equals sign in those positions, as well as other changes with the keys shifted. And of course, other language settings have different characters for other keys as well.

Obviously the virtual keyboard simply uses different mappings for the different choices. I keep thinking I should be able to change the English (US) mapping to use a hyphen with the numeric keypad.

Others have explained that creating a .xmodmap file in /home/user/ lets you remap the keys on a Bluetooth keyboard.

Is there a similar solution to the virtual keyboard mapping? I really, really want that hyphen.

Update: Solution delivered! Timothy provides a detailed

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explanation in the comments to this blog. Thanks!

Second update: I’ve been practicing the alternative case gestures, as described in the Maemo Wiki page, HowToInputMethod770, in section 1.4.1 Gestures, and as MikeB reminded me in a comment to this blog item. When you press a key, wait a beat, then drag up, you get the shifted character. This works for =/- as well as for lower-case/upper-case letters and so on. I’ve been using it for parentheses and some caps, and it’s great — except that I am only succeeding about 80 percent of the time.

Apparently when the pressure of my stylus is deemed inconsistent, the virtual keyboard interprets my “gesture” as a double-tap and give me two lower-case letters. Meanwhile I’m still pressing and moving up and then double-deleting and starting over, and in those cases it’s not faster. I’ll see if I get better at this or if the keyboard/touchscreen is just too finicky.

OK, I’ve begun to soup up my Nokia 770. So far I’ve sprung for a keyboard, 1GB mmc card and a travel WiFi router; and now Thoughtfix’s posts on GPS and Chainsaw76′s map work have me thinking about a GPS receiver. Not to mention wanting to upgrade to a Bluetooth phone.

I didn’t think I would want to stretch the 770 in so many ways.

To tell the truth, I started out reluctant to even flash a new firmware image. It wasn’t till the third image came out that I even did that. And when I first got my 770, I thought I should restrict myself to just the built-in apps so as to better understand what the typical user would experience. That was both a strategy and a tentative response to a new Linux computer.

Well, that decision lasted about three days. A vanilla 770 isn’t enough.

Actually, the first thing I did with my 770 was to change Home’s appearance — I looked at the four color schemes, wishing I could build my own (must be a way to do that), removed the News reader, web shortcut, and internet radio, and changed the background image to one of Jayne and Sam perched in the red maple in front of our house. Small things, completely superficial, and btw springing from the distinct need to feel I was the master of my Linux destiny.

So, three days in, I began to install and then later to uninstall apps. FBReader and Plucker Viewer came first (naturally, given my bent towards books — I’ve worked in publishing for my whole career). Then games, a lot of them. I’m not really a gamer [1]; but I play a couple and I sometimes need to engage one of my children so some games are for them. Installing was easy, and finally I had added more apps to the device than it had come with. The 770 was beginning to feel like my computer. Of course, I wanted more.

So then came Joe, the text editor, and vim. What, a text-to-speech engine? Flite went on. And Granule for flash cards. The GPE-PIM trio. Happiest day? When Tomas Frydrych casually let slip how to install fonts. I put in a dozen I can’t live without (Maiandra, Trebuchet MS, Gardiner’s hieroglyphs). Comfort food for the eyes: Look, I control how text looks on-screen! I tried things out, I removed what i wasn’t using.

It didn’t take much encouragment to venture under the hood. I installed XTerm (had to for the fonts) and did the command-line thing. Sure, it’s not so daunting, but I really really would like to give up the command line. I installed the cpu/mem/screenshot applet in a slight euphoria, because it meant I could take screen captures without becoming root and going through elaborate contortions that I didn’t understand (does that old method involve a web server? I still can’t figure it out). With a steely eye, I put in Midnight Commander to do simple file management things like move files to a directory hidden from File Manager.

So for the first few months, modifying my 770 meant finding apps that did neat things I wanted to do. I was pretty content and put some energy into e-book-building apps on the desktop. I thought I had everything under control.

Part 2: I learn the reality.

[1] Confession time: All the blog items about games during the long period before release weren’t about the games — they were about the screen grabs! We needed pictures! What did things look like? We needed to see! And lots of games were being ported. Nice thing about it is that I started reading Marcelo Eduardo’s blog, A Handful of Nothing, which I really enjoy, and from there a number of other Brazilian blogs written by INdT developers, including etrunko’s (void *) and Renato Araujo’s Tux em Recife.

Lots of people have reported successful use of the Nokia Su-8W Bluetooth keyboard with their Nokia 770, and likewise with the Think Outside Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard. When I couldn’t find a good price for the former, I happened on a deal for the latter, $68 plus shipping from Amazon, and I was sold. It arrived today.

Connecting the keyboard and 770 isn’t complicated, as several people have reported, but I couldn’t find all the little pieces of information in one place. Because of that, even though I know others have done this, somewhere, I’m putting all the steps down here. In this case, information redundancy on the web can’t hurt. And just skip this if you’ve heard it before.

1) Put the batteries in the keyboard.

2) Go to Tomas Junnonen’s site, Nokia 770 hacking, at and install the 770 Bluetooth UI plug-in there.

3) Install the plug-in. If you went to Tomas’ site with your 770, you can choose open when you click the link and that will bring up the application installer and

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you can install it directly from the website. Otherwise you can save to your mmc card, or to your PC and transfer, then install from your downloaded copy.

4) Restart your 770. Btw, that means turn it off, then turn it on, I suppose. Is there a one-step restart I don’t know about?

4a) (left this out when keying up this post, but encountered it right off the bat): If you’re Offline, go back to Normal mode. Offline turns off the Bluetooth radio. (Brand-new users: Press the on-off key to call up the Device Mode menu, which includes a toggle for changing between Offline and Normal modes. You have to be in Normal mode to use WiFi or Bluetooth.)

5) Click the new BT icon that shows up, and a one-line menu lets you connect your Bluetooth keyboard.

6) Somewhere in here you need to press three keys simultaneously on the Stowaway keyboard — <Ctl>–left <Fn>–right <Fn> — the Control key and both the green and blue function keys. I guess I do this shortly after step 5 while the plug-in is looking.

Presumably this works similarly on other Bluetooth keyboards, except for the keys you press.

After that, smooth sailing.

Except for the 770 not recognizing keyboarding as activity and dimming the screen after thirty seconds. Time to look for that hack that sends a signal every thirty seconds to defeat this. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Edited to add: Oh, and be sure to click in the Notes window to get a cursor. No cursor, no place to insert text.

Thanks to the different posters who have discussed their BT keyboard experiences, and thanks especially to Tomas Junnonen!

Edited later to put the new URI for the updated ver plugin. There are changes in how it behaves — more automated. I’ll revise the text to reflect these changes soon.

Edited later: Information on how to set up the Freedom Mini keyboard has been posted at the Maemo Wiki by Lon Willett. Includes his xmodmap file, too.

Andrew Flegg (aka aflegg), writing at, describes his experiences installing and first impressions using the Think Outside Stowaway keyboard. Having used a Stowaway in the past, I like

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the way it feels, looks and works, so this is my preferred choice for an external Bluetooth keyboard. He provides some useful ancillary information (Ctrl+Fn+Fn to get the keyboard into pairing

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mode) and some useful observations.

With all the things the keyboard brings, there are three provisos to such a purchase, which Andrew notes —

  • the “special” keys don’t work, though Andrew suggest .xmodmap in the /home/user/ directory might fix that
  • non-Hildonized applications on the 770 (the Linux Citrix client is one such recently discussed in our forums) don’t pick up the Bluetooth or the 770′s virtual keyboard (discussion on maemo developers list on this), and
  • the 770 doesn’t register BT keyboarding as activity and dims the screen after 30 seconds of typing the same as if you had not clicked anywhere on screen.

When I was looking at Joe as a text editor, I saw all the keyboard shortcuts use the <ctrl> key. Hey,

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there’s no <ctrl> key on my Nokia 770′s virtual keyboard!

So I wondered if there is any way to effect changes to the virtual keyboard because there are many missing keys — not just the <ctrl> key but also the <alt> key and the function keys (I’ve been wanting to try F11 with Opera on certain pages).

More than that, since the keyboard is virtual, I was wondering if it is possible to customize it at all.

For instance, I use the hyphen a lot more than I do the exclamation mark and would gladly exchange their relative positions. And where is the em dash?

I’ve got to believe this is something that should be available in a configuration file.

In comments to his first detailed impressions blog on the Nokia 770, Nicolas Roard at Random thoughts of a Camaelon wrote:

you can already use a bluetooth keyboard, although I didn’t try it. The virtual keyboard is actually fairly good and easy/fast to use :-)

On the other hand, the HWR engine is crap.. well.. the recognition is not that bad, but you’re limited to a small zone to write (not the whole screen) and it’s a bit annoying to use. Plus it doesn’t seem to make word-recognition, so sometimes the result is a bit weird… all in all, using the virtual keyboard is better, faster and more accurate.. :-/

(See our earlier item on Nicolas’ report.)

In a comment to Reggie's news item at Internet Tablet Talk, fermunky sent a photo of his Nokia 770 connected to his Bluetooth keyboard, noting “I am so happy this worked. This is the first app I could actually install to the device, and it worked!”


At Mike Cane's request, he also posted photos of the Nokia 770 stand, showing how iit folds up for carrying.




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