Ruining a perfectly good phone

I had just finished tuning my ownCloud sync setup, when – after years of smooth, unharmed operation despite numerous cement-terminated falls – the better parts of my N9’s gorilla glass finally decide to break apart as the phone left the the bike mount mid-ride. It seems the mount broke due to modifications I made as it kept pressing buttons unintentionally.


Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on a another (retired) N9 next week so I can useĀ  that phone’s display to replace the broken one, which is nice as I wouldn’t know which new phone I would by right now, for some reason the Ubuntu Edge I ordered never shipped.

This way I can continue using SyncEvolution with my little script to sync with ownCloud which uses some MeeGo D-Bus magic to pop-up a short message informing me when the sync is complete. As I failed at ash arithmetic the script feels a little clumsy, but it seems to do what it should.

It does rock indeed

So this is the obligatory blogged-on-the-N900 blog entry, straight from the maemo browser running all that WordPress JavaScript. So far, I am pretty amazed, although it’s only one day and I didn’t have much time to play with it. Software and UI are much more polished than I would have expected, and browsing the web works so much better than with any other mobile browser I’ve used so far.


It’s on its way! I have finally ordered one of these fine mini laptops that can serve as cell phones, too. Now I’m sure that Adrian will taunt me for buying a device that comes with my favorite audio daemon pre-installed, but hey if it works as it should I’m OK with that. What convinced me to get one of these phones is that I will be able to install Debian packages, that it features an XTerm hotkey that will open a shell from anywhere and that it should be useful without relying on my Google account.

Bad Thinking

Even though I had hardly used it, my Dell Inspiron laptop broke after two years: now it will only run with the AC adapter plugged in and the battery removed. Even worse, I had to by a new AC adapter and a replacement battery to find out that it’s actually the laptop that is having issues.

Google also told me that this is rather common with Dell’s Inspiron models. As a laptop without battery is rather pointless, I decided it is time to start looking for a new one – so now I am the proud owner of a Lenovo ThinkPad SL500. ThinkPads have gained the reputation of being solid business laptops over the years, however the ThinkPad fan base has decidedĀ  that the SL series is not worthy of receiving the ThinkPad brand – at least if the comments to this announcement are representative. A common theme seems to be to call the SL models ThinkBad laptops.

Now that I’ve been using my new laptop (the NRJAQGE edition with nVidia graphics and the higher LCD resolution) for a few weeks, my take on the SL500 is this: you get quite a load of laptop at a reasonable price. While I agree that it doesn’t feel as tough as for example an R61, it is still pretty solid. Some of the changes introduced with the SL series are questionable though: the glossy top is definitiley a good surface to collect hundreds of fingerprints but it fails to deliver the hip look Lenovo has probably tried to achieve.

I’m currently running Karmic on the SL500, which supports most of the hardware. What is not working at the moment is the UMTS card, the fingerprint scanner and the Lenovo buttons. There’s a patch available for the buttons and it looks like it could be included with the next kernerl update.

New Hardware

Recently I got equipped with a shiny new Lattitude D830. It came with a WUXGA display and nVidia’s latest Quadro NVS 140M monster to fill all those pixels. After having read some installation reports I decided to install gutsy on this machine.

The installation went smoothly and (although I haven’t done thorough testing) everything seems to run out of the box. Well, except for sound. A common workaround for this is to compile a current alsa-driver snapshot. It didn’t work for me at first as for the gutsy gibbon the snd-hda-intel module is now being installed in a non-standard position:
Which caused a conflict with my newly installed version. After deleting the ubuntu module sound works, however the volume control does not always behave as expected.

Overall, performance is very nice, however it is really frustrating that even with such a powerful machine it is not possible to play one of Apple’s full HD clips without frame drops. Unfortunately it seems like we will not be seeing anything from nVidia in terms of hardware acceleration in the near future – for now I’m hoping that ffmpeg will introduce multithreading support for h264 decoding some time soon (this thread on ffmpeg-devel looks promising).