Not my usual sort of keys

Aug 13, 2010 / 0 comments

In a week I'll be in California. I'm not packed, though I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure how exactly what I need to take, what I want to take, and what I really shouldn't take.

One item I've been uncertain about are keyboards. When Simon went to France for a year he took a UK keyboard with him, but then they have AZERTY which is substantially different. There are a number of US keyboards lying around the office so a few weeks ago I switched to one for work to see how it went. I think I'm bringing a stash of UK keyboards with me. Annoyances with the US keyboard:

  • Enter is too small. I have this problem on my EEE 901 as well. Usually this manifests as me typing lots of half written lines on IRC.
  • The " moving location is actually much more irritating than I expected. Likewise ~
  • And, the decider, PERSON RAISING BOTH HANDS IN CELEBRATION simply doesn't flow as easily. On a UK keyboard it's left, middle, right. On a US keyboard it's right, left, right.

California here I come

Jul 15, 2010 / 0 comments

On Thursday 19th August I will be leaving Northern Ireland and relocating to California. I'm keeping my current job with 3PAR (who I should point out are actively hiring in Belfast), just moving west by a few thousand miles. I'll be working in the Fremont office, but based on advice from most people I've talked to I plan to live in San Francisco.

I've got a few trips over to England planned between now and then which will give me an opportunity to see people before I go. Also I'll be at DebConf, where I hope to try and meet a least a few other Debian people from the Bay Area and pick their brains for advice about where to live & things to do.

This is something that's taken a lot longer to come together than I originally expected. I'm very glad it finally has, but obviously there's a degree of trepidation about the whole process. If I seem somewhat disconnected from reality for the next few months rest assured I'm sure I'll be back to normal soon enough once I've moved and found somewhere to live.

SPI 2010 AGM & Board Election

Jul 10, 2010 / 0 comments

As SPI secretary I announced that nominations for the SPI board were open at the start of the month. The nomination period closes this Tuesday (13th July) with voting opening up on Thursday 15th. This year over half the board is up for election - 5 seats (currently held by Luk Claes, Joshua D. Drake, Bdale Garbee, Joerg Jaspert & Martin Zobel-Helas). So far I've received only 2 nominations, though I'm aware these things are often left to the last minute, so hopefully more will appear in the next few days. All anyone who wants to stand needs to do is drop secretary@spi-inc.org a (preferably PGP signed) email nominating yourself and providing a position statement (which will all be published once the nomination period is over).

Oh, and if you're a contributing SPI member please do remember to vote once voting is open!

Linux on the mobile is the way forward

May 26, 2010 / 0 comments

I decided last night to upgrade the firmware on my G1. I've been fairly happy with my lightly hacked Android 1.6 (basically the stock T-Mobile image rooted and with a couple of apps added) but I'm interested in whether Froyo will bring performance improvements and the office is now full of Desire users so I figured I'd install 2.1 to see if it was any good, and prepare for 2.2. I went for CyanogenMod as it seems to be fairly sane ROM put together by someone with some clue.

Of course I decided to ignore some of the instructions; particularly the bit about doing a factory reset first. Most of my data is easily backed up, either to Google or locally, but I wanted to keep my SMS+MMS history. There's nothing really that interesting there, and the SMS stuff is backed up automatically via SMS Backup, but still. It was a challenge. What I ended up finding was that if I didn't do the data deletion then Contacts wouldn't work, but I'd keep the SMS/MMS. And if I did the data deletion everything worked fine but I didn't have the SMS/MMS history.

I fired up adb to have a look around the filesystem, to see if there was something obvious. And there was! I found /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db, which is actually an SQLite database of received messages. So I booted up with the old data present, logged in, tarred up all of /data, copied it across to my desktop, reset the phone and deleted all data, waited for it to boot, extracted mmssms.db from the tarball and put it back on the phone. Result! My message threads reappeared. Turns out that wasn't enough for MMS, but that was solved by copying the contents of /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/app_parts/ across as well.

Yes, I accept this is kludgey and most end users aren't going to do it, but a couple of points:

  • I'm flashing an unsupported ROM. I expect things to potentially break and not be able to complain to anyone about it. I'm very happy that it's an option, having had issues in the past where an operator wouldn't release an updated Nokia ROM for months after its release even when it fixed major issues.
  • This is something I wouldn't have been able to do under WinMo or Symbian. I've had a world of pain in the past moving between phones, even when using Nokia's PC Suite to try and copy stuff from the old one to the new one. Being able to get a full shell on the phone is hugely useful for dealing with this stuff when it goes wrong or you want to do something slightly different.

While the above is Android specific I'm fairly sure WebOS on the Pre or Maemo on the N900 would offer me the same level of power and control. I think I've just convinced myself that alternative smartphone OSes are no longer viable options.

Random election related numbers

May 13, 2010 / 0 comments

We appear to have a government again, which is always helpful. Let's see how they do. While all the deliberation was going on Dad and I had a ponder about exactly what your chances of voting for a winner were. The Guardian helpfully have the results dataset available, so I nabbed that. They may have updated it since I did; it certainly seemed to be a bit off compared with the BBC. Anyway.

29,577,337 - total votes cast.
13,982,219 - total votes cast for winning MPs.
7,279,220 - total votes cast for winning MPs in the new government (ie Conservative or LibDem).

So there was a 47.27% chance of a vote being for a winning MP, but only 24.61% chance that a vote was not only for a winning MP but also one that ended up being part of the coalition.

Another interesting number; 220 seats were won with 50% or more of the vote, 540 with more than 40%. That's higher than I expected.

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