Archive for the 'walkaround web' Category

Maemo Talk

Today, we're launching Maemo Talk!

Think of it as itT v2.0. It's an ad-free site that will report on everything Maemo. It is not officially part of nor affiliated with Nokia, but the site aims to showcase what's happening in, as well as from other Maemo enthusiast sites.

It's still

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work in progress. There are a few more things we are revealing soon so, keep an eye on the site. Also, we need volunteers to blog about Maemo and the Nokia N900.

Let us know if you want to be part of the team.

Check it out:

Comments and suggestions welcome as always.


'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.


'RogerSThese days more of what I have to say about the Nokia Internet Tablet gets said via Twitter than at Internet Tablet Talk (and

A blog post usually takes me a couple hours to create, from working out what I have to say to cleaning up the version transmigrated to the forums. A bit less when I don't make a graphic too. Being shorter — under 25 words — tweets take me only 5 to 15 minutes to compose.

No room for folderol (even though that's my specialty as a blogger). No visuals expected. One link per item not only suffices but pressures you

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to say less; two links I've never done.

And with my hummingbird attention span, I finish a tweet and soon I'm on to the next think. But I have a couple dozen more-or-less-completed blogs that were never posted for want of the final . . . polish I'm inclined to say, but really it's more a final galvanizing-to-life. A lot of work for no result.

There's another reason, which relates to something Krisse posted recently. The world at large is unaware of the NIT's sterling features, and just explaining what they are serves a real use. But the proportion of NIT owners who are developers is so great that the message is distorted in our forums. It's like Oxford or Stony Brook — all university, no kindergarten.

So this thought leads me to two others. Is there any practical way for to stream Internet Tablet-related tweets along with its other NIT/mameo coverage? (And any desire for people to see it here?) I leave

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this to the community at large to discuss because I won't be writing a blog post about it.

I will, however, be writing about whether Twitter might not be the real internet app that the Internet Tablet was made for. The next one, anyway, the one that fits in your pocket, has a keyboard and 800-pixel-wide screen, and connects to the internet wherever you happen to walking around. Instead of today's thought (“How might benefit from Twitter”), maybe the essential issue is how might the Internet Tablet benefit Twitter users.

Twittery graphic from Ryan Putnam at Thanks!


For the last ten days I've been putting an Amazon Kindle 2 through its paces, wondering how desirable a dedicated e-reader is.

The resolution of the Nokia Internet Tablet screen is 225 pixels-per-inch; on the Kindle 2, it's 167 ppi. In a one-inch square, that means there are nearly twice as many pixels on the full-color NIT screen; too, video plays marvelously there. “White” on the 16-level-gray-scale K2 screen is, well, light gray; animation is not possible; and video doesn't even enter the realm of speculation.

Yet the K2's 6-inch-diagonal screen encompasses wonderfully more text than pocket-sized devices. And that is no small thing. In these electronic times I have re-subscribed to the print edition of the New York Times, added magazine subscriptions and now carry NYPL and Montclair library cards in my wallet; still, 90 percent of my reading is done on-screen. The pencil-thin K2 capitalizes on our need for reading to be mobile beyond any previous device.

As for portability, the K2 doesn't just talk the talk. Native-born to the walkaround web, its purchase enables you to browse all the non-moving-pixel parts of the internet from anywhere within reach of Sprint's 3G wireless network, for no cost whatsoever. And buy books at any hour, with immediate access.

In so many ways inferior to an Internet Tablet, but not without charm. However,

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that's not a Kindle 2 pictured below, but a prototype of the so-called CrunchPad, Michael Arrington's quest for a $200 “Macbook Air-thin touch-screen machine that runs Firefox and possibly Skype on top of a Linux kernel.”


The more you learn about the CrunchPad, the more it justifies the same label put on the K2, “monotasking hardware.” Continue reading ‘A device for every situation’

I like being able to use my Nokia Internet Tablet as a computer, so that in a pinch I can work in a spreadsheet or edit some word-processing file.

But I got over the notion that it would be a computer for me and not primarily a web and e-reading device a long time ago.

Yes, the NIT really brought the price of a carryaround Linux computer way down.

But today I see[1] that Target has an Asus 7-inch EEE, complete with wifi, keyboard, 800×480 screen and 3 USB ports, for $270. BestBuy has the Asus 8.9-inch EEE (1024×600) for $300. And soon BB will be selling the 10-inch MSI Wind (1024×600, 120GB drive, 1.6 GHz Atom processor and Windows XP Home) for $399.

These are computer-first, carryaround-second devices, with pricing that seems to have sped past Nokia's. If computing were my primary portable need, I'd be looking at them instead of the 8-ounce pocket-sized NIT.


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stand out in the crowd, the Internet Tablet needs to be the best at what it does best. Versatility counts, but let's keep in mind what our primary need is, what we want to see first when we turn the device on. And really shine at that.

So, yippee! that the N810 WiMAX Edition is out, and hurray! that HSPA is in the works. Getting the internet — even walking or driving around — that's what it's all about.
[1] Via


I met Reggie in Berlin before the Maemo Summit, and he was working on his presentation, What Users Want (which will be posted soon, btw). I looked over the notes that Krisse Juorunen of Internet Tablet School had sent him and made some suggestions. I thought about how the tablet is being used today and how it might be used — which was exactly what Ari Jaaksi asked a group of Maemo users the next evening.

I ended up putting my thoughts down on paper (unable to use the hotel's power converters with Nokia's AC-4U battery charger!). I hadn't put in for a speaking slot, so making notes was just a way to keep my head in the topic while Reggie was working on his slides. He didn't finish till 4 a.m. on Thursday night, so I kept writing. Here is what I wrote up but didn't say at the Maemo Summit:

What more do we want?
In Ari Jaaksi's talk at OSiM World, he characterized the reception of the 770 Internet Tablet as people asking, “What is this PDA that doesn't have PDA functions? What is this phone that isn't a phone?”

No one had seen a mobile device like this, explicitly designed for internet use: a full computer without a keyboard, without a hard disk, which fit in your pocket and was light enough that it didn't act like an anchor.[1]

A computer you could use standing up. This was cool, but what was truly revolutionary was that you could surf the internet while on the move. Continue reading ‘Talk-talk: What I didn’t say at the Maemo Summit’

Three years ago, the Nokia Internet Tablet was revolutionary: it had a screen wide enough to display a web page, it cost way less than you'd expect, it was meant for carrying around in a way that no laptop/notebook ever had been. WiFi was engendering the walkaround web.

Add a webcam, GPS, keyboard; make it faster, more reliable; keep churning away at the migration of free-libre-open-source software. Three years down the road and the tablet team has not stopped pushing the envelope.

But is Nokia's tablet revolutionary anymore?

My son's friend does as much or more with his iPod Touch (16GB model for $269.99) [1], — even though it is more restricted in what it can do.

Both Apple's and Nokia's tablets forgo disk drives, emphasizing the screen. But the the iPod touch and its progenitor, the iPhone, instantly persuade you that a keyboard is unneeded and unnecessary. The media aspects — video and YouTube video, music and accessing music via the web — push other considerations aside: the idea that the lame telco phones suffice for the walkaround web couldn't be more effectively (or contemptuously) dismissed.

Contrary to the optimistic predictions, ubiquitous and free WiFi hasn't materialized yet. For now, the walkaround web depends on a tablet screen and a data-cellphone connection. That's where the iPhone is situated, not the Internet Tablet, and by its sales figures you have to concede that bundling the connection with the screen appeals to more people than separating them.

I'm reminded of the quote from a French revolutionary leader [2], “There go the people. I must follow them. I am their leader.”

Um, the people are heading off in another direction.

Are we going with them? And if so, what is necessary for the Nokia Internet Tablet to remain in the forefront of the tablet revolution?

Dropping the price would keep it there. (For a while, anyway.) Some people have argued the interface ought to abandon the computer GUI heritage and adopt a big-graphic Apple-like approach. You know you'll see phone companies offering some Apple-influenced devices soon.

And there's the phone.

Some while back, I wished for an impossibility — a slot in the NIT for a SIM card, so it could connect via a telco data plan. Why not just make it a phone then, a la the iPhone? I don't know. I guess I want it to be a tablet, not a phone, unless I'm using a voip connection.

Subconciously, I must have accepted the argument that Nokia is approaching the iPhone feature-set from two directions — smart phones that would become more and more computery, and the Internet Tablet, which would be always a complement to (and not a replacement for) a cellphone.

But without ubiquitous online access, the NIT just gives us the semi-revolutionary walk-around-the-office-or-home-only web. So, one way or another, that has to change. Maybe it means we'll see a phone added to the NIT. Or phone/NIT bundles from the carriers. Or WiFi-hotspot/NIT bundles.

Unless it gives me the web everywhere, the NIT falls into the merely convenient and not revolutionary category.

Of course, there is one way we're still participating in revolutionary activity. That's via the FLOSS/Linux connection. The keyboard on the N810 may be a step backward from the perspective of the interface, but it greatly simplifies using a ported Linux-desktop app.

And that's a big deal. Partly because it ensures an inexhaustible supply of software. And underlying the web and our incarnation of it, the walkaround web, is our understanding that it has flourished because of the open nature of that earlier revolution.

Whereas “open” is not a word that appears in frequent proximity of “Apple.” The iPhone is engendering what we might term a Disney revolution, one in which the benefits accrue mostly to one company (which provides more entertaining or novel experiences to us customers than we got before).

When you see Nokia giving its $800-million investment in Symbion to an open-source foundation, you know that it is acting in its own financial interests. Nothing else could explain such sums. The tablet/phone OS field is weighted in favor of Apple and Microsoft and Google, and so Nokia is looking around to see who its friends are.

That would be us.

We're Nokia's friends. Us, the Maemo community, the FLOSS community, the Linux believers.

The revolutionary mob, as it were.

I believe the Nokia tablet is going to thrive in direct proportion to our community's success in promoting/extending/liberating Maemo. Because Nokia may not ever release a $100 NIT with a SIM-card slot, but some enterprising Asian manufacturer likely will. And running Maemo on all those Microsoft-spec'd UMPC's is going to bring even more people into the fold who are interested in tablet-sized apps working better. Every improvement developed on the outside will benefit the Internet Tablets that Nokia makes, and a larger pool of tablet users (especially Maemo tablet users) means a larger potential audience for Nokia to sell to.

And maybe the N810's built-in GPS and cam calling will finally get the attention it deserves.

So I'm looking forward to the meeting in Berlin next month. Will it be a revolutionary congress that dissolves into infighting and factions? Or one that presses forward to spread the revolution?

[1] 16GB refurbished at, shipping included.

[2] This was said by Alexandre Ledru-Rollin during the 1848 revolution, and not the 1789 revolution.


Developer Justin Dolske has compiled Thunderbird (aka Shredder) on Maemo and checkout the results:


How’s it run? Fairly well, from my brief testing. The UI isn’t optimized for small-screen mobile

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usage, but it seemed responsive enough that I’ll try using it in coming days.

I wish he would share his experiment.

Read his full blog entry.


I've just had a crisis of convictions — returning my laptop to the publishing firm I've worked for since 2001 meant I needed to buy a computer quick.

And the deciding point came down to this: How much computing power did I need away from home?

You have to know that my friends expect me to separate from them when boarding the train to New York so I can sit in a laptop-friendly seat. They've also seen me skip a not-yet-full PATH (subway) train on the next leg into the city and wait five minutes for the next departure so I can open up the laptop for twelve more minutes of screen time.

Did I truly believe a weblet like the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet would suffice for my mobile computing?

Or has my fervent evangelism been tainted by way-cheap access to the Nokeys* I've used and by a top-of-the-line 17-inch laptop that my employer nefariously supplied me with, ensured its constant access by having me work at home two days a week?

Would I spend my suddenly scarce dollars for another laptop, intending to cart it most everywhere as I've been accustomed to for the last four years?

Or would I buy a sufficiently powerful desktop for less money and rely on my N810 for all my mobile computing?

This from someone who has written well over 90 percent of my ITT postings on a laptop. Who spends his free time looking at websites in Khmer (a script not supported by the Nokia weblets) and who works with multilingual texts every day. Whose eyes are aging and who consequently has a 14-point minimum font size set in his browser. Who installs on average one new program a week with a footprint of 30MB to 150MB.

Fabulous as the Nokia Internet Tablets are for spontaneous surfing, e-book reading, voip calls**, games, GPS geocaching, listening to music and watching video***, it's not a full-service device. I can't type 20 words per minutes on its keyboard, much less 100 wpm (as I do on a full keyboard). Can't run any topic map software (needs Java). No great XML and XSLT editors. And so on. How much would this lack hurt me away from my desktop? Could I manage to do what I had to do on the run with one or another weblet?**** The walkaround web is wonderful but what about trips? Could I go days without a full-powered computer?

Ah, who am I fooling?

I bought the desktop, which was half the price of equivalently powered laptops. For any kind of on-the-go now, I'm a weblet guy, body and soul.

* I've paid 99 Euros each for the 770, N800 and N810 as they appeared over these last three years (roughly $115 to $140) as part of Nokia's seeding of the weblet development community. An N810 for $140 is a magnificent machine, there's no doubt about it.

** I use Gizmo for my second line permanently now. When I'm on one- and two-hour conference calls, it's really proved its usefulness by freeing up the main line for my wife's calls.

*** TV mostly, via the HAVA player, Today in the kitchen and Charley Rose in bed.

**** OK, at the moment I have five NITs. But some of them I bought to give to family. Really! I just haven't gotten around to it.


'Walking Why web pads, internet tablets and ultra-mobiles aren't the same thing Screen Media FreePad, from a Norwegian outfit. The FreePad had a 10.4-inch screen, 800 x 600 resolution, built-in WiFi and “cordless telephone services”; and it ran an embedded Linux. No disk drive; if you wanted, you could attach a USB keyboard. The rest of FreePad's hardware was feeble by today's standards but practical for 2000. Even back then the group I was working with expected to buy the FreePad for just $800 (in quantity).[1] Eight years ago, and only $800. WiFi was in its nascent stages then, but if you were describing an organization-wide device (as we were) and not a personal weblet,[2] that probably wasn't what kept the FreePad from succeeding. What did? Or maybe easier to answer now, from the perspective of time: What is a walkaround-web tablet? What does it look like, what can it do, what is required of it? Continue reading ‘A manifesto for the walkaround-web tablet’



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