Ubuntu Touch after it’s end

As you may know, the Canonical (the company which develops Ubuntu) halted all development of the Ubuntu Touch earlier this year. That is, no new devices (phones, tablets) for the Ubuntu Touch systems, no system updates, no new applications. Some users already reinstalled their devices with the Android. And Canonical also halted development of the Mir display server and their complete Unity desktop (all these things were the base of phone GUI system for the Ubuntu Touch).

But there is a great effort of UbPorts folks – it was initially a group interested in porting of the Ubuntu Touch to other devices.
They not only released updated system images for most of previously supported devices but they also working on further development of the system and it’s applications.

Ubuntu Touch on a big screen

There is also a new App Store – the OpenStore was initially meant for applications that cannot obey security rules defined by Canonical (for example apps that need direct access to some hardware) but now it’s a home for all Ubuntu Touch applications. And there is a good flow of new applications: not only most of the interesting applications from old official App Store has been migrated here but also new ones have been appearing.

Of course, there are no new devices but the old can be still used.

Piel Frama Case + Jorno keyboard

I personally have wo Ubuntu devices: the phone (the bq Aquaris E4.5 – the low-end one) and the tablet (the bq M10HD – the best one available) and both are still useful. The E4.5 is my sole mobile phone and serves me very well. Actually, I haven’t noticed any stability nor other problems in last 12 months. There are some issues with Bluetooth input devices (the GUI may restart after the device is connected) but I haven’t used the keyboard with the phone for a long time (I even lost the keyboard and didn’t noticed that…). The Bluetooth speakers seems to work without such problem. To be honest, I finally have managed to remove all unnecessary stuff from the phone (to save space – it has only 8 GB of storage for everything * including the OS) and not there are only applications that I really use on the phone.

The tablet is an another story – the last update of the Ubuntu (in January 2017, I think) broke the external screen support. So now the X11-based applications work well on an external screen but the native (mostly) fail. So one can use the device in the desktop mode only if the internal (10″) screen is enough for his/her needs. There is also still the issue related to virtual keyboard for X11 applications – only specially prepared ones can use in. So the Firefox and the OpenOffice are OK but applications which are installed by the user can only work with an external hardware keyboard. And it limit’s the device usefulness on the move. This is not ideal, but for light work it may be OK.

So I actually use both devices: the phone on a daily basis and the M10 tablet mainly for testing of new applications and for lighter tasks (for example, it’s still better for WWW browsing than any of my computers except the Lenovo X61). During holidays I even used it as a desktop (on a stand with a keyboard, a mouse attached and speakers attached) without issues. It can use also the USB keyboard and mouse the GUI works without restart if no Bluetooth is involved…) but then it cannot be charged at the same time.

I’m still not brave enough to reflash my M10 tablet with the new system image from UbPort…

So things are not that bad as they may look.

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Ubuntu Touch after it’s end

Slovak Paradise

This year we decided to visit the Kysel gorge (or valley) in the Slovak Paradise. It’s the place which was closed in 1976 after a huge fire and re-opened just in 2016. The most of paths in the Slovak Paradise are equipped with ladders, chains and other supporting elements which helps tourists to go there.

The Kysel is different as there is a via ferrata. So some equipment is required here. But it’s not so hard (in my opinion it’s A/B level).

We decided to start in the Píla and go through the Piecky gorge and then to Kláštorisko (there is a pub and they offer also an alcohol-free Radler). Then we dived to the start of Kysel (yellow path to the Biely Potok) and entered the ferrata. There is a big board with instructions (the same as on the http://www.npslovenskyraj.sk).

Well, the start is rather boring:
Kysel 1

But some time after the start the actual ferrata starts (with a steel rope and a steel steps which are similar to the ones used for other paths). And there is a lot of old wood:

Kysel 2

One has to climb through the wood. But it’s easy on all such places. There are two small waterfalls (its said that they are much bigger before the fire) and after many nice places there is a close part of the gorge – it’s called Temnica (“a dark place”):

Kysel 3

This part is not very short and there is a creek at the bottom (sorry for image quality but there wasn’t enough light and my 14-years old camera had problems here):

Kysel 4

There is still a lot of space, actually (I wasn’t able to take picture of the tightest place):

Kysel 5

After some time, there were sighn of sunlight:

Kysel 6

And then, there was a light part. Just a nice walk along the creek. We thought that it was the end:

Kysel 7

But the final part is climbing by the Obrovsky Vodopad (the Giant waterfall) which is probably the biggest one in the Slovak Paradise (only the lower part is on the picture):

Kysel 8

Higher part of the waterfall is here:

Kysel 9

The bridge at the top includes also a warning that this is on-way path only (from the bottom to the top) and the doors that can be easily opened only if person goes in the right direction.

Even there, one is still not at the end of the gorge:

Kysel 10

We continued to go through the Maly Kysel gorge (which is smaller and shorter). There is even a geocache but I forgot about it. Then we continued to Palc place and back to Píla.

I have tried to prepare a map of the walk and the result is here:
Kysel - túra z Hikeplannera
Show on the map (Hiking.sk)

Unfortunately, the Hiking.sk application ignores the via ferrata so it connected some points outside it. If you see the map on the lik then you can find the via ferrata between the places “Kysel, ustie” and “Obrovsky vdp. mostik”. An the yellow path to the “Kysel, ustie” is a rather descent path (not very comfortable one). We needed under 10 hours for the whole path (including the via ferrata). The linked schedule does not include about 2,5 hours which are needed for the ferrata.

Fortunately, there was a nice refreshment place in the Pila village in the place where the path enters this village.

Next time I have to find the cache at Maly Kysel…

Slovak Paradise

Holidays in Austria

Idylic Austrian village

We (me and my wife) were (once more) in the area of the Salzkammergut in Austria. We came by train (about 6 hours with 2 changes from Ostrava to Obertraun) and spend time in some light hiking and visiting of via ferratas (klettersteig) near the Obertraun.

Hallstatt from the viewing platform

The first nice thing is that Hallstatt city is very close so one can go there by walk (3-4 km). Thus we visited the salt mine with its attractions (sliding on wood and the train inside the mine…) and then walked to a waterfall on the Waldbach stream. The walk is pretty nice and the waterfall is even better.

Waterfall over Hallstatt

There are other nice things (caves inside Krippenstein mountain, a small klettersteig jus near the Obertraun and two more near the Hallstatt and even three more at the Krippenstein). But in the limited time we only visited the caves and then the Katrin klettersteig near the Bad Ischl. It’s accessible by a cable car from the city (a 45 min of walk on a forest path is required from the cable car station) and it is relatively light (B/C) and with nice views (many lakes are visible, and the Bad Ischl, too). At the cable car station there is a nice restaurant with great food (please note that after the klettersteig I can eat and drink anything that I can see so my assessment of the quality can be influenced by this fact – but I still thing that the food was great) and there is a possibility to hiking to several surrounding hilltops (about 1200~1400 m, the cable car is around 1200 m)

Bad Ischl

P.S. For the computing: the phone (with Ubuntu Touch) is enough for checking weather forecast and the Palm III is fine for reading. We have had a tablet here but find no use for it…

Holidays in Austria

Fossil Wrist PDA

The Fossil (also sold as the Abacus) Wrist PDA was actually a full-featured but miniaturised version of older Palm pocket computer. It even has the same screen resolution.

The smallest Palm PDA

This particular Fossil Wrist PDA smartwatch is the model 2.0 from about 2004. I have got this one for a cheap but is is a bit weared and the Back button is damaged (so it is impossible to switch the programs). It was also necessary to replace the battery (compatible bateries are available for modern sporttesters).

It’s passive black-and-white display seemed to be obsolete when it was introduced (the comparable Palm PDA computers – Palm III, V and the m500 lines were from 1998-2000.

Its main problems were (and still are) moderate battery life (1-3 days) and its weight (over 100 grams – a comparable PDA was about 180 grams). They also aren’t water resistant. The 1″ screen is also not optimal for many users (there is a mode with bigger icons – only 4 can be shown – but the rest of probrams has still the same size).

There are other issues – the integrated stylus is very small and it is uneasy to target the UI elements (menus, buttons) with it. Also the calibration procedure requires a lot of precision and patience. But the writing itself is not that hard as one can use whole screen area to enter Graffiti characters (so the actual writing area is not much smaller than on an usual Palm device).

Anyway, it offers to have a complete Palm-compatible PDA on the wrist. It supports Graffiti data input, most of Palm OS applications. The stylus is included, of course (it’s hidden in the belt). Obviously, there are some limitations: unavailability of some standard hardware and software buttons – so one cannot control some programs and cannot even open the program menu – it’s a case of the CSpotRun.

But there are rich (for it’s time) connection options: miniUSB connector (both for charging and data transfer) and infrared port – thus one can exchange data (and even applications!) with other Palm devices (and not obly with them) without any trouble.

In comparison with modern smartwatch stuff it is not so bad: it has better than average battery life and it is actually a full computer with ability to locally store data (calendar items, contacts, passwords,…) and create and edit them. It probably still can be synchronised with computers (at least with Linux ones as it is long unsupported on the Windows platform).

I normally use the Pebble smartwatch which has much better screen, is is lighter and has extreme battery life. But is’s mostly for reading only (it has no easy way to enter/edit data or to store them locally). As I don’t use connection between the Pebble and the smartphone, this old Fossil can be better for me in many cases. But I need to address it’s technical problems first (well, I have to find a way how to repair it’s buttons…).

Fossil Wrist PDA

IRIS Indigo(s)

In recent months I have got two SGI IRIS Indigo machines: an older one with the 32bit MIPS R3000 CPU and a newer one a much more powerful MIPS R4000 processor (the firs 64bit CPU which was available for the SGI computers).

The boxes are both pretty snappy. Of course, when it comes to raw CPU power, they may be a bit slow. But for most normal applications they are more than OK (I have the IRIX 5.x on both). But even the R3000 one is not slow (it has a 33 MHz CPU). For example, I spent last night in debugging of my program for the GNU Octave and it wasn’t slow. There is a problem with 3D stuff – my machine has no Z-buffer card so many IrisGL and OpenGL programs or refuse to start at all (the FSN, for example) or they have some problems (the Andy Johnson’s Battalion). But a lot of things works well. Actually, I haven’t have too much time to play with it 3D graphics here. I will do it in a future, I hope.
I also did installed the MeshTV visualization software but at the moment I have no software which is able to output it’s SILO data format.

It is quite hard to use such machine for WWW browsing (the Gopher is OK, though). Available programs even cannot connect to most sites (the HTTPS support is too much outdated here). Fortunately, there still are some sites which are optimised for older browsers. So I installed the Netscape 3.0.1 for IRIX and started to use it.

The interesting thing is that the box is very quiet. It’s two SCSI drives are noisy at all which is quite unusual. It’s much quieter than my main workstation (the SGI O2).

The Indigo with the R4000 CPU arrived last week and only today I have managed to set it up. There are some damages from shipping (they broke the frontal doors) but it works. It is interesting that the CPU is a PC model (no secondary cache) which is known to be too slow in modern systems (the Indy and the Indigo2). But this system is fast (at least it feels fast). This machine came with the “Entry” graphics which is really basic: no (Iris|Open)GL hardware, just 8bit colors with dithering and only the 1024×768 resolution (and nothing better or worse). But it has a normal VGA connector which is nice (the 13W3 connector is here, too). So it’s more a general-purpose workstation for 2D tasks than a workstation for 3D modelling.

Actually, I’m thinking about making it my main machine for non-internet and non-3D tasks as it is possible to run here the most of things that I need (the LaTeX, the XFig, teh GNU Octave, Gnuplot and most of my own program codes). But I will see…

IRIS Indigo(s)

Walking and Seeing

A somewhat non-technical post today. We tried to make a light walk near the Slezka Harta water reservoir (north of Moravian-Silesian part of Czech republic, near the Bruntal city). There was a snow storm past days ago and there is still some snow (it’s April 21, so it’s not usual – even for this lower part of the Jeseniky mountains).

We saw lot of animals, mostly deers, does and many birds. But a very few people, fortunately.

Running doe

We tried to compare our Pebble smart-watches (my wife has a Time Steel one and I have the Pebble 2) – both work well, mine have a heart-rate monitoring functionality which is interesting but they have faulty compass. The Time Steel ones are great and perfectly working (even after more than year of continuous usage.

We also tried to compare our cameras – my favorite (the old but relatively small and AA battery-compatible) HP Photosmart 735 and the Sony DSLR-A200 which is bigger but it should by better in any aspect (and which is preferred by my wife).

So, there is the Velky Roudny vulcano taken by the HP:

Velky Roudny (2)

And there is the same hill taken by the Sony:

Velky Roudny (1)

Walking and Seeing

Remembering Palm Foleo

You might remember that around 2007 there was announcet an interesting palm product – a Foleo mobile companion. Essentially a subnotebook with Linux which has designed as an add-n to the Palm Treo smartphones. The Foleo had a comfortable keyboard, a large screen (at least compared to the Treo’s screen) and worked as an extension of the phone. It has it’s own WWW browser (which most probably wasn’t dependent on the phone) and used e-email, calendar and office applications shared with the phone.

The main idea was that user should be able to works with it’s data, e-mails and documents or on the phone or on a larger but still very portable device. Tehere is a lot of places where laptop-style device can be used: in trains, in airports, hotels and so.

Palm Foleo from Wikipedia/Wikimedia

Well, the things went wrong as in the same time the netbook hype was started (do you remember the Eee stuff from ASUS? – after all, some of their netbooks were very nice – we still have Eee 901 at home and it still has some use). The netbooks has similar size and battery life but they were much more universal than a very specialised and phone-bound Foleo. Thus the Palm decided to kill the product.

Anyway, some of the machines got to the wild. On can find photos at Flickr or even auctions with never used Foleo.

Well, the Foleo is dead (and the Palm itself is dead, too) and it is irreversible. But is there a modern device with similar idea. Well, two of them: these Chromebooks have somevhat similar idea – they are WWW browser-centered devices. They are less bound to a phone, though.
But there is a something called Superbook which is pretty close – it’s a notebook-style device which is actually an extension of an Androuid phone. I’m a bit curious how it will be succesfull.

Remembering Palm Foleo