How to make your Nokia 770 think it's a Nokia 800 (OS 2007 upgrade)

If you read the comments on the Nokia 770 Review – mobile internet without holding a PDA brick to your ear, you’ll see that the following themes pop out:

– The need for a full browser : the default one (Opera mobile) doesn’t play well with Ajax, so you’re hoping that there is a functional HTML only website version available (e.g. there is for Google mail , but for a lot of other websites you’re sunk). Big problem for James.

– Skype rather than just plain VOIP for free telephone calls. Yes , I know it’s feeding the corporate monster, but it’s the one that I happen to use.

– A general feeling of being slow /being left in a Cul de Sac: Not a problem for me , but Ken is reporting that it has been discontinued.

Nokia Internet Tablet n800

Upgrading to the latest version of software (Nokia OS 2007) should solve the problems to a greater or lesser degree. It gives you a Skype client. It allows you to run a Firefox based browser. It gives you more choice of programs , both commercial and open source. Problem is that it isn’t officially possible.

Some details of how to do the upgrade are at http://nokia770.com/370 . Remember , it’s called hacker edition for a reason. While I don’t think you’ll lose the information on your flashcard, don’t quote me on that. Basically, you download the unsuported version from http://tablets-dev.nokia.com/ then use the standard PC based installer to transfer it to your Nokia 770. Et Voila! It thinks it’s an Nokia 800. I’m still playing with it , so don’t be surprised if there is another post in 10 mins cursing it …. initial impression is that it runs (noticably) faster.

Best option is to be like Elly and marry your Linux tech support.

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Mobile Internet without holding a PDA Brick to your ear

For a (semi) Techie, I’m not that much into gadgets. Until now , there are only three that I’d class as ‘must haves’.

  • Vodafone Broadband internet card – it means I can get the Internet on the train. Living in Drogheda with a lot of clients in Dublin, this means about 10 hours extra a week when I’m now connected.
  • Hard Disk TV recorder – most of the good shows are on after 10pm. I’m up early most mornings and that is way past my bedtime.
  • A Phil and Ted. You either know what this is , or you don’t , but if you have one you’ll swear by it.

Nokia 770
Now I’m going to add a fourth : the Nokia 770 , bought solely on Damien’s recommendation. It’s not a phone , more of a big screen that you can add your existing phone (it connects pretty automatically via bluetooth, and will use any available wireless network). It solves the problem of using internet on your mobile ; before you had to choose between a normal-ish phone with a tiny internet screen, or a large screen but having to hold a brick to your ear to make calls. It’s almost small – about the size of 2 decks of playing cards.

I was getting a bit worried before it arrived as Elly has one and is cursing it, but it solves two problems for me:

  1. If on the train / other location, and can’t use my laptop (e.g. I didn’t get a seat and I’m standing up), then I can still get (fairly decent) access to email and other online services (Google Maps, Del.icio.us bookmarks, LinkedIn Social Networking being the ones I’ve tried so far).
  2. When I couldn’t be bothered getting out the laptop (e.g. 5 minutes before a meeting), it’s useful for a quick check.

So, it’s not perfect , but it does the job that I want it to do ; for a little over 100 Euro – Bargain. Yes , it could be quicker, but it does a fairly good job of showing most websites (including this blog, the main site and the wiki). It’s a pity it doesn’t have flash, nor play the BBC internet radio , but I’m sure I can get downloads for it. It does do GoogleTalk for free Voip calls and have other internet radio stations. And , if you’re bored you can use it as an MP3 player. Battery life (4hrs) isn’t great, but (a) the charger is very very light and (b) if I need internet that much I’ll use the laptop.

An added bonus is that I’ve been looking around for a simple ‘Contacts Management’ solution. The 770 has one built in , with more that you can download /access online. Not holding my breath that it will solve this problem as well for me (would never have considered a PDA before), but icing on the cake if it does.

As a personal quirk , I like the fact that it’s an open platform (it’s Linux based). What it means for normal people is that there are plenty of 3rd party downloads if there (I’ve added a PDA and a console to monitor web servers) without having to pay through the nose. While I’ve dabbled with development for mobile devices, that wasn’t the main reason for buying this thing.

It will be interesting to see how Conor, Niall , Walter and Gordon are getting on with theirs. And to answer Michele’s question, the email client is ok , but I’ll end up usign Gmail (they’re hosting Firstpartners email , no synch issues.)

Update: Ken also has a review, with real life pictures (give a better flavour of the size of the thing, even though the screen is much sharper in real-life.

The secret world of the Irish Blogger …

Now that I’ve get the mobile internet thing cracked, I find myself wandering around public areas, eyes downcast in the manner of somebody looking for change to get the last bus home.

Dublin Connelly

The reason is the effect of the battery life of the mobile internet (HSDPA) card. Before I got 3 hours plus out of my laptop (unless I was running Oracle on it , in which case I got about 20 minutes tops). With the card, it’s about 2 hours. This means that while (at a gasp) I can cover a train journey from Drogheda to Dublin and back again, any delay means that I’m looking for a power outlet. Hence the I’m-not-really-looking-for-loose-change situations.

Spatial Ireland have loads of Google Maps, but no mashup covering ‘free powerpoint locations that won’t blow your laptop’. While I may put together a Mashup (if the guys from DartMap can do it then so can I), here’s the list to kick start things.

  • Dublin Connolly train Station, in Oslo Coffee Bar near the ‘Bean and Gone’ coffee shop end. Currently blogging from here – signal good , but the coffee is woeful.
  • Irish Rail commuter trains, look for the single seats near the toilet – there’s a 50-50 chance of there being a plug there.

Anybody have others to add to the list?

Update: Vodafone should give me Sales commission. While trying to as discreet as possible (if that’s the word for a red card and lollipop aerial hanging out of your PC) 2 people spent about 5 minutes each asking where they could buy one. Just shows that Ireland Offline is right about the (unmet) demand for broadband.

Mobile Blogging is Go!

Finally , after 6 attempts, we now have mobile data access up and running. Todays events unfolded as follows:

  • O2 refund cheque finally arrived at 9am this morning via Registered post.
  • Yours truly runs down to nearest Vodafone shop to get his sweaty paws on a Vodafone HSPDA / 3G card.

Surprisingly , given the travails of the last 6 attempts, it just works.

10 months on and still no refund from 02

Lessons learned from the ongoing Saga.

  • Dont buy anything from Totterdell’s (who 02 normally suggest) their customer service is attrocious. Go direct to the 02 shop and don’t hand over your money until you see the 3G working on your laptop.
  • Mobile Data is more complicated than mobile phones. If your technical support takes more than 30 days to diagnose the problem (which is probably my Dell Inspiron), why do you then refuse to give customers their money back (because it is outside of the 30 day refund period)?
  • Don’t believe anything 02 support tell you – I was promised a refund back in August (and have the statement to prove it) but have just spent a week having to explain the case all over again, including the bit where the excited customer rep tells me the refund has been approved (excuse me for not jumping up and down , but I’ve heard this one before).

So , this time, if I send a letter (again) to 02, I really will get the refund. I’ll then be able to put the 149 Euro towards something that actually works, like this (much better) offering from Vodafone.

Vodafone logo

Update (1): The vodafone product is HSPDA (=Broadband mobile). I have a ‘good friend’ who has one of the new Dell 4G Embedded Laptops, and the coverage from Dublin to Drogheda (along the Rail line) is excellent – HSPDA all the way ,except Malahide , where it dropped to ‘only’ 3G.

Update (2): I have been told by 02 Customer service (Today, 7th December) that the cheque is ‘in the post’

What is Java Me and do I need it?

James Corbett asked on this post

Any advice on mobile java (Java ME, formerly J2ME from what I understand)? I’m thinking of developing a mobile app, or rather getting someone to develop it, and it strikes me that Java ME is the most widely supported platform on consumer mobile

J2me picture

Java ME is the version of Java that run’s on small devices (like Mobile phones). Speaking as a Java consultant , here’s my thoughts on it:

  • Java Me is a cut down version of Java , so any Java Developer should be able to help you out. There are also a range of Emulators (things that run on your PC pretending to be a phone), so you don’t have to have 20 mobiles sitting on your desk for testing.
  • I think there will be a big demand for the sort of Games / Gadgets / Gizmos that people can show off on their mobile phones (look at the money paid out for simple things like Ringtones). The trouble is the route to market – how do you get your gizmo onto somebody’s phone and get them to pay you for it. It’s a lot easier if you have a friendly Telco like Vodafone or O2 on board.
  • Strictly speaking , Java ME is not the most widely supported mobile platform – that honour goes to XHMTL , a stricter version of normal web pages. This is the approach that Google takes with it’s mobile Gmail product. This also has the benefit of running on phones like O2’s imode.
  • There is the small problem of not every version of Java that runs’s on a mobile phone is the same – there is multiple versions, differences between the handset companies and even a couple of different subsets of Java.
  • Personally I’ve stayed away from it, given that mobiles will be powerful enough within 18-36 months to run the full version of Java. Any major investment of my time learning J2ME would be thrown away at that stage.

So , in one line: If you really need the extra power of Java on the mobile, it should be doable. But think long and hard about delivering it as a Web Application (using XHTML) instead. All depends on what you are trying to do.

    Buying an 02 3G data card? Don’t say you haven’t been warned

    Let’s get one thing straight: The people from O2 have been excellent, and they’ve gone well beyond the call of duty in trying to get my data card working with my laptop. Trouble is , after 5 months (delay partly my fault), I’ve still haven’t any mobile data access.Now onto the juicy bit, here is why you should *never*, under any circumstances, consider buying a 3G data card direct from them.

    • If you buy direct (telephone / internet) 02 technical support is completely phone based. Laptops are a lot more complicated PDA’s, blackberry’s or 3G phones. This severly limits the help they can give you. If I get asked one more time ‘are you sure the card fits in the slot’ I’m going to …
    • – 02 have a better alternative : The 02 Experience stores (not the smaller O2 shops , but the bigger ones that can sell you 3G solutions) can let you see the card working before they buy. Trouble is they are a different company (it would be like asking a Vodafone shop to fix your O2 card). Still the guys at the 02 Grafton street store spent 90 mins to diagnose (one of the ) problems.
    • 02 Don’t actually sell you the cards, but use Totterdells (of Bray). Unlike the O2 people , Totterdells have a different attitude, including a ‘get stuffed’ quote on the first phone call. Things didn’t get better after that.
    • Because you’ve bought the card from Totterdells and the service from O2, who gives you money back when things go wrong?
    • If I can’t get one of the cards working, nor my friends (one of whom sets these cards up on a daily basis for one of the major Irish banks), what chance does Joe Blogs?

    So the current situation is either (a) 02 come up with a way of seeing and fixing my laptop directly or (b) they give me my money back as their ‘mobile data solution’ has never worked. I’m not keen on either , as I just want to be able to blog from the Train.

    Watch this space.

    Update Monday 3rd July: No Callback from O2 about the promised refund. I’m disappointed as this is only the 2nd time the tech side of 02 have let me down.