Inspiration (or books that I recommend without even knowing them)

Years ago, when I was getting into ‘designing’ web pages, well, not in my very first day´ s of doing so, but during the later ones, let´ s say in 2005 or 2006, i accidentally hit this great online magazine named “A List Apart” looking for some advise for doing i don´t know what.

Soon there will be ‘a book apart’. On HTML5. And as I feel like getting a beautifully layouted book on that topic, I will buy it. And I recommend you to do so as well, without knowing the book.

So head over to “A Book Apart” and preorder Jeremy Keith´s “HTML5 for Web Designers”

And as the topic is inspiration, I´ve got another great link that everybody into web design or development should have on her or his bookmarks list: 24ways.

Me again WebDev!

Sorry, but I couldn´t think of a more stupid headline. But it is very descriptive, as I started to work on my CSS and (X)HTML skills again, as it recently turned out that I could make some money with doing a little bit of valid frontend work. Besides it´s a lot of fun, as it has always been (I don´t know why I ever stopped this), and it keeps you busy. And with my mum being sick (lymphoma) I´ve got reasons to keep myself busy as hell.

With this site being my personal blog (not more, not less) this means that I could end up making the look of this place a little bit more vivid, especially to exercise stuff I am new to (like HTML5, jQuery, SVG, CSS3)…. You´ll see.


Finally I got myself a Palm prē after this Toshiba TG01 dissapointment, and well, what shall I say? It’s yet another dissapointment? Well, that would be the truth, almost. The prē is a package of promises, but Palm didn’t manage to fullfill them. My complaints are those that you’ve probably heard a couple times. Quality issues for example. The sliders bottom is sharp enough to cut cheese, which is really bad because it makes using the tiny keyboard even more unpleasent. And the slider itself could be more snappy – as there is no soft keyboard, you have to slide the phone open whenever you feel urged to type something. It’s annoying. HTCs Android first timer (for those of you that forgot it: The first two iterations of Android (1.0 and 1.1) didn’t have a software keyboard as well) did much better. And this isn’t one of the first prē’s – it’s a shame Palm didn’t manage to address these issues yet – rumors have it that they managed to do better with the Prē Plus – but still: Without HP Palm would have failed, and this mismanagement regarding the quality issues might have very well killed Palm.

Let’s skip hardware without mentionning the good points (lovely form factor), and move on to software. WebOS is a nice platform, no doubt about that. But it isn’t that mature yet, if you ask me. And there are some things, that do annoy me. Example? Take the lack of something like APNdroid, which is so nice for Android, not just to save money (you can’t use the Prē without a data contract), but as well to prolong battery life. Take the mail client, which annoyed me by not threading mails. I am really locked into Android apparently – and if there is one more device of the current smartphones out there that I would try, it was probably be the Motorola Milestone.

I buy a Palm Pre and HP buys Palm

While there is no more text needed, I have to say that I am pleased that it is HP that buys Palm: While HP is powerful (in terms of capital and distribution) Palm has all those nice patents and WebOS, which is (with all its flaws) certainly one of the todays greatest operatings systems.

While I don´t believe in HP with Palm integrated (I hope that they don´t waste the Palm brandname) being the next Apple, I am pretty sure that HP aims to get closer to Apple with this aquisition in terms of becoming a brand that delivers excellent, innovative products (they do so, just have a look at the design of their “Envy” notebooks). That´s probably why this transaction is good for the future of WebOS: While Android is something that everybody can adopt and customize, WebOS is something special, differentiating. If you think that this conclusion is pathetic, you might be right, but you have to accept that I consider you´re wrong.

I am just happy about this right now, because I believe that HP and Palm fit rather well together, it´s two US american companys joining each other. There could have been worse team ups for Palm, and it was very important that this was announced now: Every single more week with Palm struggling would have damaged Palms´ platform.

Thinking about the Pre.

The Palm Pre has been released before a long time. Admittedly, the european release of the GSM Pre is not that long ago (fourth quarter of 2010), but as the Palm Pre was presented on last years CES in Vegas, the device feels already pretty old. It’s the gadget hunger that drives me to looking at different devices – it’s pretty affordable on eBay right now, you get new (or almost new) devices for ~200€.

There are many reasons for Pre prices dropping so quickly. I could name them here but Engadget did a write up recently (naming several other issues Palm should address), so I don’t have to sum it up entirely. One problem was (or still is) hardware quality (sliders, power buttons, screens – all broken too often for a premium device), an other is (apparently, from what I read) software stability. And WebOS is a unique platform. While I fell in love with it when I saw it for the first time, WebOS has (in comparison to iPhone OS, Android or Windows Mobile) a rather small userbase, which leads to what you might guess: There aren’t as many apps as on other popular platforms, rumors are telling me that it are still less than 500 here in Germany.

Still, hopes are high that this situation will change, as Palm just introduced paid Apps to its european ‘App Catalogs’ and because of the PDK which is said to make porting iPhoneOS Apps easy.

But this is just the App situation. Let’s have a look at the Hardware. The Pre Plus, which is going to be released in Europe this month, in May or June is not a big change compared to the original Pre – it is just (as you might have guessed) a tweaked and tuned Pre, featuring a better keyboard, no “pearl”, and twice the ram and flash memory. Considering the Pre Plus, the Palm Pre is still a good choice for the budget gadget guy, because the difference isn’t that big.

So will I drop some money at a Pre? It’s very likely.

Toshiba TG01 – Impressions

The gadget hunger won again – and so I got myself a Snapdragon device: A black Toshiba TG01 “Tsunagi”.

Yeah, it is a Windows Mobile Device. Yes, there is no Android / Linux port for the TG01 right now. But still: A 4.1″ 3G (MID size) Snapdragon slate, less than a centimeter thick – I could not resist.


The formfactor is really impressive. It is just as pocketable as my G1 – or even more pocketable, as it is really so thin that people almost won’t see you’ve got a phone in your pocket. But that doesn’t mean that the hardware is perfect – the resistive touchscreen of the TG01 is a good one – but I would still prefer the capacitive one of my HTC Dream. One more bad thing: No 3,5mm audio jack, and the USB port (the only port of the device) is placed on the side of the device. Small pockets and a headset? No way. No need to mention that the slimness leads to a small battery and that should lead to a “not that great” battery life.

Switching the device on you will see a customized Windows Mobile – depending on your operator you might see a special, operator made home screen replacement, e.g. SPB Mobile Shell or Toshiba’s stripe UI.

Besides this the button placement is not perfect: The camera button is directly on the other side of the volume buttons, so if you press the camera button it might happen that you press the volume buttons as well.

Windows Mobile 6.5

With the TG01 being my first Windows Mobile 6.5 device, I have to admit that I like what Microsoft did to make the UI seem more competitive – comparing this to 6.1, it is a pleasure to use – though it is in my opinion inferior to Android. The whole platform is inferior in my opinion, due to its age and a lack of APIs. Looking at the TG01, you will find out that the inbuilt G-Sensor won’t work with some games or applications that work with, say, HTC devices.

Further impressions

While Phone quality and sound are ok with the latest Swiss Orange firmware, the device feels pretty slow, considering it has an advanced 1GHz ARM v7 SoC. Scrolling isn’t even as fluent as on my good old T-Mobile G1 – but I am pretty much convinced that this is a simple OS matter – the Windows Mobile 6.5 CE 5.2 kernel is pretty old, it is still close to 2005´s Windows Mobile 5 kernel. The ARMv7 instructions don’t seem to have a noticable impact on the devices performance – though compared to the Windows Mobile devices I had before it is without a single question the fastest one.

More soon..

The Gadget Hunger or Openness

I have to admit something today: I suffer from what I would call “gadget hunger”. Even if a device really does what I want, I become bored pretty soon, and want a new device. And guess what, there is often plenty of nice new hardware though it´s often just the hardware – the software is so often locked down as hell, that the device suddenly becomes less interesting for me – that’s the only thing that helps me staying solvent, because there is not much that’s as bad software without even the option of community driven fixes.
So I love this mobile devices. Well, it isn´t just mobility (Example: Recently I learned that there are not only rollable computer keyboards, but rollable piano keyboards as well), but somehow it´s mostly mobile computing devices.
Computing is the possibly the keyword, or explanation why I want rather open devices. As long as you have to stick to one certain OS, you might not find the appropriate software for a certain usage case. Or just not the software you would prefer if everything would be possible. Let´s face it: There is no perfect OS. And another point: It´s fun to play with different software. It´s fun to see software evolving. The hardware might be very promising, but if I can´t even try the next version of the devices OS running on it (though it would technically work and even if it is just Windows Mobile), I will try to get rid of the device. This, just to name an example, happened to the Samsung i780 i once had, gorgeous hardware, much nicer than the Openmoko Freerunner that I just keep because it is so open.

So let´s talk about openess, or let´s call it flexibility. I believe that regarding mobile computing devices we have two kinds of flexibility. The one is hardware features, like device architecture (speed, number of different devices using similar hardware) or connectivity (3G, WLan, BT, USB (Host or Device)), the other is the software that runs on the device per default.
Let´s talk about the software, because it´s less self explinatory than the hardware part in my opinion. Why? Because it is not that obvious as it might seem. Knowing little about this openness thingie, you might e.g. believe that Linux devices are more open than those running Windows Mobile. But in many (or even most cases) it is not.

A good (but rather deprecated) example are Motorolas EZX phones. A team of able developers wanted to free these phones since they hit the market in late 2005. Still there is nothing like an open distribution for these devices – as the OpenEZX project is focussed on the kernel and the now nicely supported devices have become rather old (and boring). Now why did it take so long? First of all these devices had a 2.4 kernel, so porting was supposedly not that easy. But there is another problem, that makes it tough to port SHR or Android to devices like the LiMo running phones: bootloaders, plenty of them, requiring signed images. Often there is no easy way to install additional native (non-Java/J2ME) software and though this is changing (App Stores), you will not be able to easily install software that helps “openning” the devices. Recent LiMo Devices like the Samsung H1 and M1 for Vodafone´s 360 social media platform still have non writable partitions (using compressed filesystems like cramfs) containing the core OS.

Let´s compare this to the (dying) Windows Mobile platform: Maybe you heard of HaRET (Hardware Reverse Engineering Tool), which is a (not only) linux bootloader launched just like a Windows Mobile application, usually used to load a kernel and rootfs from SD – no changes to the actual hardware have to be done, no need to hack a variety of bootloaders (at the risk of bricking your device) as long as you have a HaRET version that supports your phones hardware platform.

Time to get back to the start, gadget hunger, or why i started to write this unreadable crap: Recently I spent some time looking for a cheap snapdragon device – and because I did so on ebay, because I ´ve got no problem with using used stuff, as long it is cheap, I ran into the Toshiba TG01 aka “Tsunagi“, the first Snapdragon phone, though one could call it Pocket PC, MID or slate as well, as it is a damn thin (9,9mm) 4,1 inch touchscreen device. And yes, I am tempted to buy one of these, even though there aren´t even “real” attempts to run Linux on the TG01 – there is hope, as it is ported to HTCs´ HD2 (HaRET) and because there are several Android devices out there using the Snapdragon platform as well. And it supports USB Host right of the box ;-)

Admittedly this post would fit linmob just as good or better, but I had to post something here. I really have to learn to write about things that are not gadgets or bad storys again.. ;-)


brimborium is already one month old. It took a long time until I started this website, and still I don’t think that I write enough – I’ve got a lot to do, as university examinations come closer and closer. To write more, I will switch to WordPress – I prefer Habari, but as WordPress offers better (and more) plugins, and now there is an official WordPress App for Android, WordPress has become even more attractive.

The look of the site will not change too much, though I am working on something that one could call artwork and some new layout features – but as I didn’t start the layout work yet, I can’t promise anything but more content.

Let’s have a nice february!