Archive for December, 2007
Though people have been using the beta version of it for quite some time now, the stable version of OS2008 for Nokia N800 was officially announced on the Maemo website couple of days ago. Also released was the first update to OS2008 for Nokia N810. Read Reggie’s post about it on itT. My initial impression is that the update process is not documented correctly by Nokia[see note below]; OS2008 looks nicer, performs faster and many of the important applications are already available for it. Canola 2 Beta is officially released while I am typing this post!
You can participate in the discussion about this release on Internet Tablet Talk forum thread. Half of the posts there complain about the lack of proper infrastructure on Nokia’s end to meet the download demands of Nokia tablet community. There are several alternative ways to download the update posted in the same thread if you are facing the same download problems with Nokia’s servers. MaemoPeople.org also posted links to OS2008 torrent downloads for N800 and N810.
There is a detailed review of OS2008 for Nokia N800 – filled with pictures – on tabletblog.com, so don’t miss reading it. Many people seem to have positive experience about this update so far but those who don’t seem to be all too happy about it are Ricky Cadden of tablet-guru.com and Jonathan Green of Maemoapps.com; Ricky is not impressed with the application restore process as the download speed from the Nokia repositories is too darn slow(which is not really related to OS2008 itself) and Jonathan notes that the stylus keyboard doesn’t pop-up when restore option is used right after OS2008 is installed.
List of links starts here(to be expanded further):
- OS2008 Applications and Repositories for N800 and N810.
- Nokia’s official website for OS2008 (Browse to it from N800/N810 to access more goodies)
- Want to try some cool wallpapers? Maemo UI team has some for you.
- Nokia’s Internet Tablet Video Converter for Windows platform(Beta).
- Tablet Video Encoder and Media Streamer
- Canola 2 Beta
- Some cool games for OS2008: Crazy Parking, Bomberman, ScummVM games, GPE Sudoku. More games for OS2008.
- How to develop applications for OS2008/Chinook:
Some interesting questions:
- What was the spacecraft’s name in the TV show “Firefly?”
- What is Slashdot’s slogan?
- When did you start playing video games?
- What was the name of the dragon in “The Hobbit – There and Back Again?”
- What Star Trek race has exceptional hearing?
- Did you read comic books after age 15?
- Have you ever stayed up until sunrise while playing on your computer?
I have written about unboxing and my very first impressions about Chumby – yet another Linux powered portable device – in my previous post. As promised in that post, here are more details about the device itself, more specifically, some different ways in which a Chumby can be put to use. This post is about the positive side of the Chumby experience; I will write about the negative experience in the next post. I do recommend reading the first part about Chumby linked above and then comeback here to read more about it.
What Chumby is – and is not.
If you are new to the town, Chumby is:
“a compact device that displays useful and entertaining information from the web using your wireless internet connection. Always on, it shows â€” nonstop â€” what’s online that matters to you.” [Chumby.com]
What you also need to know right at the beginning is that (1) it is not a battery operated device: it needs to be plugged into a power outlet all the time to work; and (2) it is mostly a read-only device where you add your favourite sources from web (in the form of flash “widgets”) and then let Chumby do its job. You can interact with it, of course, but be forewarned if you are planning to use it to browse the internet using it, for example, because it is not possible yet and will not be in the near future. Many people impressed by its feature list are placing the order and later when the reality dawns up on them, are ending up frustrated. (Note: people have tried to get rid of the permanent AC connection and run Chumby on battery power but it is not for the regular users.
To help make an informed purchase decision, let me go through some of the popular uses that a Chumby device can be put through. These are by no means the only ways to use a Chumby, as by design, and because of the underlying Linux core, Chumby is supposed to be extremely customizable in terms of how you can use it, but the following examples should give you a good start. You can find lot of pictures of and introduction to Chumby in my previous post and more information on the Chumby website.
Five great ways to use Chumby
- Chumby as a clock/alarm clock. You might not want to spend $180 to buy an alarm clock but Chumby does look very cute; can display clocks with 25+ different looks and styles(currently; you or your friends can make a clock with your own custom style with minimal knowledge of Flash); one of the clocks can even “chime” every 15 minutes like regular clocks; you can use your favourite song(or soundtrack from SAW IV :D) as the alarm sound; and you can set two alarms at a time, which means two family members can set their own alarm times independent of each other. But Chumby is not just an alarm clock :)
- Chumby as a Digital Photo Frame/Web 2.0 updates. Again, who would like to spend $180 on a photo frame? Even if it can display any of the millions of photos available on the web? Or in fact run a slideshow of some of the best photos available on Flickr or Photobucket? Hmmm…perhaps the photos from your birthday party? a trip to Sri Lanka? college reunion? Think about the possibilities to show-off the best moments of your life ;)
Let’s look at it from another angle. You can set Chumby to display statuses and updates from your web profiles too: Facebook status and friends’ updates, Twitter tweets, EBay auction bids, Craiglist, Netflix queue/new releases etc. Support for other popular web 2.0 apps should be available soon – think about Jaiku, Pownce, blog visitor analytics, Remember The Milk/Backpack etc. You can also set it to display weather forecast for the next few days. It can even display the email fetched from a POP server.
- Chumby as an RSS Feed/News Reader. If you want to wake up to the latest headlines from NYT, Huffington Post, Google News; or if you are technically inclined, then to Wired, Slashdot, TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, GigaOM; then Chumby can be your best bedside companion(non-living at least!). You can select the sources from which feeds/news stories should be displayed on Chumby, and also for how much duration and in what order they should be displayed. Lot of news sources are available as Chumby widgets currently, but the Chumby widget directory is set to burst open in the near future with more web content than you would like to handle.
A note of warning though: plan to use Chumby only to have a look at the most important headlines/summaries from your fields of interest. Don’t expect to be able read the whole news stories on it; though it is possible in theory, but as things stand currently, it will be a frustrating experience to try to do so in my opinion. An example is the Digg widget. It is useful if all I want is to have a look at all the important Digg headlines. But regular Digg users will feel frustrated when juicy titles scroll over the Chumby screen and they can’t click on them to go to the main story page or can’t digg or bury the story. (Same applies to other news sources like NYT and Wikipedia, though they scroll the text down slowly so that you can read more than just the headlines.)
- Chumby as a gaming device. It’s now time to admit it: all the motivation behind any human activity can be attributed to the attempts to turn every invention into a fun device. Chumby is built to be a fun device. Sudoku has two secret goals of its invention: a) conquer every possible device on the planet; b) taking help from (a), don’t let any work from ever getting done. Reports say that so far it has been largely successful in its goals, so you can guess that it is available for Chumby too. Besides Sudoku, there is Slide puzzle, Space Dodge, Dizzy Zub Zub. My pick? Chong! Play it, beat Chumby and come back and tell me how much fun it is :)
What makes the prospect of gaming especially appealing on a Chumby is that you can use its touch interface as well as the motion detector to interact with the games. Only a handful of games are available currently but I am expecting a lot more interesting games to be developed in the next few months(now that the Chumbys are available to everyone in the US at least).
A tip for playing games on Chumby: whenever you want to play a game displayed on the Chumby screen, squeeze the top of the device to go to the Control Panel and tap on the “Stay” button to make the game sticky. The game will not be removed from the screen now until you tap the “Stay” button again to make it un-sticky.
- Chumby as iPod speakers or a music device (and IPTV?). To be honest, this was my fallback option at a time when I wasn’t really sure how much the “static” Flash widgets could really be of real use to me(I know now!). If nothing else, I had thought, I can always use it (1) as speakers to the three different iPod devices that I own; (2) as a music device by streaming media from a media server like SlimServer; and then wait for the community to do something cool with it :) Connecting an iPod is as simple as connecting it to Chumby’s USB port and then playing songs using its touch interface. Sound quality is not too good though, definitely can not be used as a dedicated music device. Tuning to Internet radio stations is an easier option if you don’t want to install and configure a media streaming software. How could it have missed the FM tuner chip though?! I hope it will be added at some point in the future. Though there are many other ways to play music on it but none of them are straightforward at this point of time.
Chumby can play videos from Youtube and other sources too as long as they are in the Flash format, but not many video sources are available in the directory presently. It has a huge potential to be a portable IPTV in the future where you can pre-configure and watch streamed flash video much like you watch the traditional TV shows. At this time, I can not count it as a major feature for lack of easy choices in terms of video sources(not much other than Youtube and Anime videos for example).
Among other things, you can also chat with other Chumby users, share electronic greeting cards with them and use it as a web server. Or do stuff like this.
As you can notice, I haven’t talked about the hardware/physical aspect of Chumby in this post. For such information, go to Christine.net, Engadget, TechCrunch(these are all old articles) and Chumby.com itself. As I had noted in the first part, this is the second of the three part series about the Chumby device; in part three of it, I will write about my disappointments/complaints with the device(there are many! for example, text to speech and good video support are high on the list) and how some of them can possibly be addressed. I am not sure about it but I might also make a separate post showing how to setup Chumby with all the goodies discussed above(clocks, news feeds, games, iPod etc.).