• Why I think Amarok rocks....

    I just purchased an Amarok hoodie andt-shirt; and I couldn’t be happier supporting one of my favourite open source projects! What makes it so good? Have you ever heard of Amarok? Chances are if your an OS X or Windows user; you haven’t. All this is about to change! The amarok team are busy porting it from it’s UNIX underpinnings to Windows and OS X.

    Whats to like about Amarok then?
    also is cool phonetically: am a rock!

    • Album covers in full glory (see picture right)
    • Full lyrics support; even for the most obscure songs you have laying around!
    • Wikipedia integration: truly a gem; you can do what Amarok says “Rediscover your Music” in looking up artist, song or album in the free encyclopedia.
    • Playlists form the backone of the player; great for people like me who like to compile sub-sections of songs for car journeys and the like!
    • Smart playlists: you get playlists which can update based on how your rate them; which artist or what genre; sorting conditions ar infinite! Example is a 5 Star playlisat with all my top rated tunes!
    • Dynamic playlists: built from your static and smart playlists; it can show the last X songs you played and Y upcoming. So I could select my 5 star faves and my Strokes favourites; set it to show 5 last played songs and 15 upcoming. I never need to edit the playlist again as it will auto choose and update the list!
    • Statistics: Show all your stats on your collection! From favourite artists to most played albums: it’s all there waiting!
    • & Tags: Tag and compiles your music listening tastes with integration in the most popular social music site online!
    • IPod integration is second to none (as well as many 0ther popular players!)! Amarok will convert it to mp3; sync podcasts and playlists; transfer ratings and even submit listened tracks to!
    • All the added extras: Equaliser with presets; Random and Repeat capability; Visualisations! You can even sort you collection by mood with Moodbar installed!
    • Scripts!?! One of the coolest thing is scripts: think Firefox extensions only slightly more powerful!
    • Built-in editing of song names; album names and all info! Don’t bother telling Amarok to add the music you just ripped; as long as it’s in your music folder its automatically picked up and added!
    • An intuitive interface: built for function and power: Amarok is almost perfect in its balance between feature and function. The OSD )On-Screen Display) with show you any details your playlist does; like Artist Name; Album name; Rating and how long a track is!

  • A few days with A Nokia N810


    I last discussed the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet in October; when details were only starting to filter out. It wasn’t expected for Nokia to introduce an upgrade to the N800 Internet Tablet (which I also reviewed here) so soon. I certainly don’t envy the position of a small team getting the hardware and software for a mini-computer right in such a short space of time. But needless to say the N810 feels right; in fact it feels more right than the N770 which I thought had the best design of all (be it functionality not so much style). The N810 has bags of style; in a flashy brand-new-car sort of way; it looks expensive and I believe Nokia plays to this in their pricing.

    Well the best new feature has to be the operating system: OS 2008. It is clean; stable enough and illustrates beautifully in a Apple Mac sort of way when hardware and software are matched beautifully you get an unrivaled product. But that runs on N800 also; so why bother with the N810? GPS is inbuilt for one; but the mapping software is pretty horrible. Luckily the Open Source MaemoMapper is the original (and still the best) GPS program for any maemo platform (OS 2007, OS 2006). No offence to WayFinder but their software isn’t ideal and feels like a shabby port to the Internet Tablets; like it was ripped off another device and thrown at Nokia’s devices. Nokia also dropped the ball in other areas; such as keylocking and the home applets: home applets are little bubbles of information you immeadiatly see on the N810’s home screen. The problem you ask? The move (by design; older OS ones were fixed) and the keylock made to keep them stable is not functional as I believe it could be. Why can’t I set an auto screen lock when I flip the keyboard back in? That kind of commission is what I’d call a ‘schoolboy error’.


    Apps make any device and the N810 has a few good ones; but nothing totally wow or killer just yet. Skype as many people are aware is semi-included in the device (after a download) and as of yet unlike its desktop Linux counterpart; it lacks full video support (on a device with a decent vga webcam camera

    • no sense here!). There is also full GoogleTalk integration; with SIP support coming up (perhaps with full video on SIP; maybe as of yet with GoogleTalk if they adopt SIP?). Other than that great apps include FBreader a great Windows/Linux ebook reader; and some fun pass the time games like TuxPuck, IceBreaker and LXDoom can be downloaded. What about the apps included I hear you ask? Well the Web Browser is quality from Mozilla and far outshines the Opera browser which graced both the N770 and N800. Updates are not really noticeable in the core non-essential apps like Email (an awful excuse for an email client), RSS reader (decent enough) and Filemanager. To the core I suspect they made a bevy of changes; but I’m not that hardcore so I’ll skip technical details like that; needless to say its startup time was reduced; battery life seems longer; and it feels more responsive on OS 2008.

    So should I buy it? If you don’t have a N800 I would say definitely go for it; as long as you thinkimage the price is right. As with any tech device; shop around for a bargain on the price over Nokia’s retail listed price. Who is it aimed at? People in college like me who like to keep in touch with friends; read their pdfs docs; and cringe to be away from some sort of connectivity. This also applies to business users who would have similar uses with clients; but unfortunately the necessity of a second device in non-wifi connected areas kills this devices true potential until Nokia decides to inbuild 3G or Wimax.

  • Nokia N810 Tablet to hit the shops soon...

    Nokia have announced an upgrade to the N800 Internet tablet, called the N810. I suspect its called that because it is more of an incremental upgrade than a total visual refresh it was going from an Nokia 770 to N800. Here it is:


    (Picture Courtesy: Internet Tablet Talk)

    It sports a nice new hardware keyboard; inbuilt GPS (For satellite mapping) and OS 2008 (an upgrade to the operating system it runs). The N800 will also benefit from OS 2008, which will include GoogleTalk, Skype, Mozilla browser, among the usual such as its email client, media player, file manager, control panel, assorted games and an image/PDF viewer. The one feature it will emit is an inbuilt FM Radio, which was axed to make the N810 a smaller tablet. It still retains the best screen size for web browsing, bluetooth connectivity, and of course Wifi which is central to the tablets existance! No word on what easter eggs are included if any; on the N800 it was a radio and the N770 it was the microphone. Engadget has a great writeup on it, choc-a-bloc full of high resolution photos with size comparisons to Apples iPhone.

  • Apple Mac OS X: the most popular Desktop Unix?

    Apple does it again: explosive growth in the computer market, no doubt in part to its Macbook/Macbook Pro line of laptops. As Ars Technica points out:

    As predicted last quarter, however, Apple broke its tie for third place with Gateway by shipping 1.33 million units and growing by a whopping 37.2 percent (double that of any other US vendor) from third quarter 2006 to claim 8.1 percent of the US market for the quarter. These numbers also continue the company’s trend of steadily gaining market share every two quarters for at least the past year.

  • Linux and Patents: Just Patently Wrong

    So I read the news Novell and Red Hat are being sued for patent infringement. This is all about multiple workspaces that can hold various graphical user elements, a Xerox Parc patent which dates to the early 1990’s. Xerox Palo Alto Research center invented the graphical user interface in the 1980’s, only to been, licensed and used by Steve Jobs in Mac OS Classic. Now IP Innovation, a submarine patent troll, who make no products and bought the patent want their payday. The logical step is to go after the biggest infringer to set a precedent for your patent, and then make your way to all the smaller companies who infringe. Well logically of course that would be Apple or Microsoft. Apple has already paid them a reported 20 million dollars, and well no-one knows what Microsoft has done, but this fish is smelly. From the Register Article:

    The complaint, available here as a pdf, says “the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server all breach held patents. The companies seek increased damages for the willful infringements of their patents and an injunction to prevent further infringements”.

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