Ubuntu Phone in Use

Well, I still not use the Ubuntu Phone as my main phone. I have sent several SMSs and somewhat more e-mails from this device and I use it as a camera and as a feed reader.

The main part of the time that I spend with the device is testing what it can do and how comfortably.

Below are my observations and notes:

  • RSS Reader – Shorts – is great. There are some minor things that can be better, but nothing important. Searchning could be nice and more configuration options, too (to set default view at startup, for example).
  • Notetaking app – Reminders (now renamed to Notes) – is near as good. Better cut and paste functionality could be nice, and some export options can help, too. I often need to select a part of note (a text or an image) and paste it to other application (an email client, for example).
  • E-mail client – Dekko – is OK but I have problems with default view. It simply shows nothing and I have to find the ‘inbox’ folder… maybe it’s my misunderstanding of something? The Gmail webapp is nice but it doesn’t work off-line. But when it works then it is better than the Dekko. The only caveat is that the e-mails are too wide and I have to rotate phone to landscape in order to read them easily.
  • WWW browser – some JavaScript things don’t work (it’s not a big deal) but it doesn’t remember passwords which is extremelly annoying. It also lacks possibility to search on a page, among others.
  • Documents viewer – works well but only on a limited number of file formats: no DJVU, no office formats.
    Contacts – there is probably no way how to sory contacts. Sorting by first name seems to be suboptimal.. Also the Dekko doesn’t user data from the Contactd, unfortunately.

The environment itself is relatively stable but there are issues:

  • after switching from the Airplane mode it is sometimes impossible to enter PIN
  • in some cases the applications are mysteriously closed – it looks like out-of-memory cases but there is no warning or explanation
  • it is better to restart the phone every day to prevent dome of the abovementioned problems.

And at the end there is my wishlist:

  • Easy CalDav/CartDav synchronization
  • Pebble Smartwatch support
  • Off-line navigation (partially solved by presence of the OSMScout)
  • Real text editor in GUI (with syntax highlighting)
  • Tool for (at least) viewing of office files

That’s all for the moment…

Ubuntu Phone in Use

Shorts (the program)

One of the my unresolved problems is a easy and reliable RSS feed reader. There are many of them and the greatest were and are the on-line ones. But I tend to use such software mostly off-line.

I use the snownews where possible (on my O2 and on my NanoNote) but has one big problem: it can read only the RSS feeds. There is a plug-in to read Atom ones but it is a bit unreliable. I tried to use several programs for this purpose but without success. In fact, I read feeds only on the O2 and sometimes on the NanoNote.

At the moment I don’t use any Zaurus for on-line tasks as their WiFi cards are unable to connect to any modern WiFi networks around me :-(

RSS Ubuntu Touch.

But with my new phone I decided to replace the NanoNote where possible (my Nano has still some mechanical issues and I don’t want to break it completely) so I decided to try use the Aquaris for this task.

I find one nice program – the Shorts. In the first moments I had to problem to understand what it does but after some testing I have found that it does exactly what I want: it reads feeds and saves them for off-line use. One can easily add new feeds (it supports searching so exact link is unnecessary). It is not much configurable but I even not have an idea what should be configured here.

So far I find only one issue – it is not possible to delete the unwanted feeds. The rest of the program is perfect.

P.S. If you can understand the Czech language, you can read my shortreview of the Ubuntu phone at Penguin.cz.

Shorts (the program)

Firts touch with Ubuntu Phone

Recently I find an opportunity to acquire a second-hand Aquaris bq 4.5 Ubuntu Edition. So below is a first batch of my experiences.

Ubuntu Touch lockscreen

The phone is nice and simple and really well done (for such class of things, of course). A great “Reminders” application comes pre-installed (and it has Evernote sync). It’s not (only) for reminders but it’s a very good notetaking application like the Evernote.

Ubutnu Touch: launcher

The basic OS is quite nice (easy to use). The problem is lack of applications and there also other glitches:

  1. Many things assume than one is always connected (even Today scope every time searches for someting on the net – that’s anoying).
  2. No off-line navigation or map application.
  3. No integrated CalDAV/WebDAV/CartDAV sync (there is syncevolution which can be used but only form the command line – and it’s pretty uncomfortable on a touch-based computer).
  4. Most applications are just polished web pages (so they don’t work off-line), even the GMail app.
  5. The WWW browser does not remember passwords or other entered texts.
  6. There is a quite nice ebook reader and a pair o PDF viewers but no way to view DJVu, dox/docx/odt or other office file formats.

Beskydy from Klimovice (Koenigsberg)

That’s all for the moment. Still playing with it…

Firts touch with Ubuntu Phone

Do things in a modern way

Recently I was on a short trip. Of course, I tried to find some geocaches. As I forgot to load some them into my GPS device at home, I had to do it on the road. With a good wifi and a modern Android tablet it should be no problem. But:

  • The tablet refused to write files to the GPS (attached via USB cable). It was recognized OK but it was read-only for some reason.
  • It is not possible to write anything to a MicroSD taken from GPS and inserted into the tablet (it is possible only into the Android/*** directory – which is not that the GPS device expects…).

Gosau See

So I had to enter the coordinates manually and save the help as a POI note. Thats’ really user-friendly :-(

Next time I will know that carrying of a tablet is pointless.

Do things in a modern way

Some BASIC programming: Gauss ellimination

During my attempts to test the MK-90 I have written a simple (thus ugly and ineffective) BASIC code for the Gauss Elimination Method. The data (a left-side matrix and a right-side vector) are located in the DATA statement.

REM Data input:
10 DATA 3 1 2 3 2 1 3 3 3 7 5 5 5
25 LET N = M-1
30 DIM A(9,9)
35 DIM B(9)
36 DIM X(9)
40 FOR I = 0 TO N
50 FOR J = 0 TO N
60 READ A(I,J)
90 FOR I = 0 TO N
95 READ B(I)
100 NEXT I

REM Forward run:
300 FOR J = 0 TO N
310 FOR I = J+1 TO N
320 LET C = A(I,J)/A(J,J)
330 FOR K = 0 TO N
340 LET A(I,K) = A(I,K) - C*A(J,K)
350 NEXT K
360 LET B(I) = B(I) - C*B(J)
370 NEXT I
380 NEXT J
390 LET X(N) = B(N) / A(N,N)

REM Backward run:
400 FOR I = N-1 TO 0 STEP -1
410 LET S = 0
420 FOR J = I+1 TO N
430 LET S = S + A(I,J) * X(J)
440 NEXT J
450 LET X(I) = (B(I)-S)/A(I,I)
460 NEXT I

REM Results:
500 PRINT "Results:"
510 FOR I = 0 TO N
520 PRINT X(I)
530 NEXT I

It should work in the old PDP-11 BASIC, and with the old Soviet BASIC (DVK computers, MK-90 and so). It is not suitable for the MK-85 because it supports only 1D fields (and also because it wastes the memory with unnecessary stuff which is a problem for the MK-85).

Elektronika MK-92 with MK-90

And, of course, it is compatible with the Bywater BASIC which I recently have compiled for all my main computers (the SGI O2, the NanoNote and for the Linux-based Zauri)

Some BASIC programming: Gauss ellimination

What is in my bag?

There is a group at the Flickr which is called “What is in my bag”. Some people are showing their stuff here and sometimes it is interesting that people can take with them. I’m not a member of this group. But I find that an evolution of so-called necessary things can be very strange.

My current equipment (which is in my shoulder bag) is quite simple:

  • keys and a wallet (no surprise here, I think),
  • two pens (a Rotring Tikky II and a combined laser-light-stylus one),
  • small notepad,
  • iPhone 3G with a wired headset,
  • a calculator.
  • The calculator is actually a BASIC-programmable pocket computer (the Elektronika MK-85 or the Casio FX-700P). It is usefull when I want to compute something. The phone is good for music and as a calendar but there is no good programming environment nor the calculator for the 3G (I mean one that can actually be installed and can really work here). Also the calculator has battery life which can be measure in weeks or years, unlike the phone.

    If you are curious why I carry so less devices with me, there is a simple reason: I travel to my work by walk (one way is less under 3 km) which makes no use for any reading/browsing device. And at work I have a deskop so I can do most of work on it. If I need to work outside my office then the phone and the calculator i usually just enough. That’s it. For longer trips I usually take a tablet or the Zaurus, of course.

What is in my bag?

Some random thoughts

I’m still trying to find an optimal software and hardware for me. Of course, it is a never-ending process because the needs are constantly changing.

I was a (relatively) long-time user of the remind calendar program. It’s a CLI program with huge possibilities and it was more than optimal for me for a long time: it is small, and extremely flexible. It has only one disadvantage: it is meant for personal use – it means than it is not so easy to synchronise it between several different devices and it is very hard to convice non-UNIX users to use it, even for read-only use (rsync and diff are not options for everyone…).

Thus I was forced to use the WebDAV protocol and the tools that are available on different platforms that I use online:

  • Mozilla Lightning on IRIX (that’s extremelly slow on my SGI O2)
  • Thunderbird on Linux or W7 (at work)
  • default calendar app on iOS/Android

Honestly, all these tools are far inferior to the remind. The only advantage is that the calenar can be shared with other people.

For programming I still use the Vim (or vi if necessary) plus a command-line C compiler (the GCC in the most cases). I started to use the BASIC to be able to program my older machines (Elektronika calculators or Atari Portfolio) but I still tend to program the stuff in the C first and then to rewrite it to the BASIC. It’s a strange approach but so far it forks for me. To test BASIC codes on a desktop I use the ByWater BASIC interpreter. Older versions of this interpreter can be easily compiled on the IRIX.

And I still use the GNU Octave for math stuff and for work-related utilities. It’s easily available and it works well (at least for me).

That’s all for today…

Some random thoughts