The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'nokia'
Nokia to buy Trolltech, the Norwegian company behind the Qt C++ user interface library (as used in Linux desktop KDE and numerous multi-platform applications including Google Earth and the Last.fm client) and the Qtopia mobile user interface platform. Nokia has pledged to continue the development of Trolltech's software and its commitment to open source, and this step could give it more of a foothold in the Linux mobile phone market. The future for Nokia's own Maemo toolkit (based on Linux and rival user interface library GTK) looks less certain.
If Bruce Schneier (writing in Beyond Fear) is right, Nokia have a rather subtle technique for ensuring that their original mobile phone batteries offer better performance and value than third-party replacements:
Nokia spends about a hundred times more money per phone on battery security than on communications security. The security system senses when a consumer uses a third-party battery and switches the phone into maximum power-consumption mode; the point is to ensure that consumers buy only Nokia batteries.
(via Architectures of Control)
So that was Eurovision 2007. A bit of a surprise; the Serbian entry which won it seemed rather lacklustre compared to some of the others, but romped home in the voting, presumably due to Serbia being located in a geographical/demographical sweet spot. Interestingly enough, Eastern Europe dominated the voting, with the highest-scoring western-European nation being well in the bottom half of the rankings.
There were a few highlights: Georgia's entry started off as a traditional torch song by a woman in a red dress, but then morphed into eurodance, and then the dancers whipped out swords and started dancing about, Cossack-fashion, with a wild glint in their eyes. France eschewed the usual white-gowned piano balladeer in favour of a troupe of Dadaist mimes in Jean-Paul Gaultier costumes, highlighting the ridiculous side of Gallic culture. (Fat lot of good it did them, they ended up something like third-last. I guess it's back to the chanteuse and pianist next year.) Romania's entry was a bit like France's on a budget; five blokes dressed like the habitués of a slightly unsavoury tavern, singing "I love you" in every language on earth. The music was vaguely gypsyish, and sped up dramatically towards the end. Neighbouring Bulgaria's started off like Dead Can Dance with extra percussion, and then went electro. And, of course, there was Ukraine's entry, with its sequined, uniformed drag queen, looking like Elton John crossed with Austin Powers. It had camp and kitsch in spades, and raised a few questions. What, for example, was the significance of them counting in German, and did they really sing "I want to see Russia goodbye", and if so, how did that make it past the vetting process?
The lowlight was probably Ireland's entry, which was pure, unadulterated Celtic kitsch of the most obvious variety, and quite deserving of its final position at the bottom of the board. This year, though, nobody got a nul points, and they limped home with 3 points or somesuch. Britain did a bit better, largely thanks to Malta giving them 12, though their song was stuck firmly in the mid-1990s. And the teeth on that stewardess were frightening; granted, Scooch, as uninspired as they may be, were a lot less cringeworthy than last year's entrant (a middle-aged bloke pretending to be a teenage hip-hop street thug, surrounded by dancing "schoolgirls" who, apparently, were borrowed by Turkey this year). And I'd have to give a dishonourable mention to Russia, whose entry was a piece of soullessly machine-extruded commercial pop, trading on sex appeal (sample lyric from the three immaculately coifed girls doing the singing: "put a cherry on my cake and taste my cherry pie"; ooh-err!) lacking any of the madness or wrongness that makes for an interesting Eurovision entry.
The other competitors: Belarus (incidentally, the last remaining state with a KGB) had black-clad female dancers scaling walls like assassins and John Barry-esque strings over its power ballad. The full might of the Swedish culture industry was unleashed in the form of 1970s glam rock attired in monochromatic retro cool. Latvia's entry was in Italian, and like a low-rent version of The Divs. Germany had a bloke named Roger Cicero (son of Herr und Frau Cicero, I presume) doing a Sinatra-lite swing number, in German. Armenia's entrant seemed to follow, stylistically, in the footsteps of that other great Armenian singer, Charles Aznavour, only with an overwroughtly woeful and somewhat strained ballad. And Turkey's entrant was a short, hirsute man wearing a red jacket and a broad grin, surrounded by belly dancers Terry Wogan persisted in pointing out were British. Presumably giving the United Kingdom something to be proud of even should they have ended up with nul points.
While some speculated that Lordi's astounding triumph last year (reprised in the Lord-of-the-Rings-esque opening video) would have opened the door for a flood of hard-rock/heavy-metal bands, this did not entirely come to pass. Finland followed up their win with a new genre, which could be dubbed, Tolkienesquely, MOR-Goth, consisting of torch songs with emo-esque lyrics and plenty of black clothing and gothic makeup. The other main Lordi-influenced act was Moldova, whose song sounded like the sort of alternative-rock song that ended up on Hollywood action-film soundtracks in the late 1990s; all minor-key strings, crunchy metal power chords and drum loops.
The promotional videos played before the musical numbers were done quite well, executed as whimsical stories featuring elements of Finnish culture. Some of the odder ones featured a goth riding a rollercoaster, hackers coding computer demos at the Assembly festival, a heavy-metal festival full of corpsepainted teenagers, a troupe of clowns giving an athlete an instant makeover so he could enter a restaurant, a twattish-looking bloke in DJ headphones playing the pipes at the Sibelius monument, and Santa Claus playing chess with one of the Moomins. Oh, and lots of mobile phones (Nokia, of course); the Finns, it seems, use them at the dinner table, and even propose marriage with the help of their cameraphones. Other than mobile phones, heavy metal appears to be a big part of the Finnish national identity; other than the promos, there was the entertainment during the vote-counting break, which featured the heavy-metal string quartet Apocalyptica, as well as acrobats.
Last but not least, one has to mention the astonishing phenomenon that is Krisse, the somewhat frightening-looking young woman with the pink puffer jacket and big ponytails plucked from the audience to interview competitors, stumbling through questions and going on about herself (sample question: "on a scale of 9 to 10, how beautiful am I?"). For some reason, she reminded me of Leoncie.
An enterprising hacker, noticing that his Nokia 6230i mobile phone has both an imaging sensor and Bluetooth, much like a wireless mouse, has written a Java applet that uses the phone as a mouse. It's not perfect (the imaging sensor is not designed for focussing so closely, so it needs a high-contrast surface), and currently requires a special custom driver on the computer, though he is working on making it behave like a standard Bluetooth mouse.
The hacker, going by the name of "Pyrofer", also has a number of other projects up, including a 1541-emulating memory card reader for the C64 DTV.
The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a hand-held, Linux-based, WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled web-browsing/email appliance, is out. In the UK, it's selling for £245, and appears to be out of stock already. It costs twice as much as the other hackable, Linux-based gadget, the GP2X, though has wireless communications technologies (which the GP2X lacks altogether) and more than four times the screen resolution; however, external storage is limited to the smaller RS-MMC cards, as opposed to the somewhat larger SD cards the GP2X takes; also, while it's likely that someone will port MAME to it, playing arcade games with the nagivation pad probably won't be as comfortable as with the GP2X's controls. I'd have one of each, had I £370 I had no better use for and a jacket with infinitely capacious pockets.
And here there is a round up of reviews of the Nokia 770.
The Nokia 770 looks nifty. It's not a mobile phone, but rather a thin client, with a touch screen, web browsing/RSS reading/VoIP facilities; it can connect to the internet via WiFi, or by Bluetooth through a mobile phone. Even more interestingly, the system software is entirely open-source, based on Debian Linux and GNOME with a Symbian-esque GTK-based UI named Hildon. Full developer tools are available for downloading.
Of course, the 770 has its downsides, such as the lack of storage facilities more substantial than a MMC slot; though even with these shortcomings, it looks extremely hackable. (You could try playing cat and mouse with Sony on getting user code running on a PSP, or you could get a 770 and run what you want on it with Nokia's blessing.) MusicThing already lists one application for it, as a control surface for music performance.
Meanwhile, Nokia have committed to allowing use of all their patents in the Linux kernel.
Nokia have made available VST plugins simulating their mobile phones; the Nokia Audio Suite contains a softsynth which can simulate a number of phone sound chips, and an effect which can simulate the tinny little piezo speakers of those phones. They're ostensibly for ringtone composers, but there's nothing stopping musicians from using them. Unless, of course, the musicians in question don't use Windows.
In the race to sell reprocessed Congolese coltan to teenagers who already have some, mobile phone manufacturers are grappling for new, fun and fashionable must-have features to put in the latest models. The latest innovation from Nokia is "airtexting". Phones with this feature are equipped with a row of LEDs down one side and an accelerometer; when waved back and forth, the LEDs spell out text in the air, which is claimed to be ideal for picking up in nightclubs and/or heckling speakers/performers without shlepping around a huge LED display. (via bOING bOING)
Some hints for those wishing to compose polyphonic ringtones that work with Nokia phones:
- Get this PDF file; it describes, among other things, which instrument sounds are available and which ones are mapped to other things. So if your harpsichord ends up sounding like a grand piano, you'll know why.
- A General MIDI sound module doesn't sound like a Nokia phone, though it's close enough for testing (especially if you keep in mind what's mapped to what). The godawful Universal Sound Module softsynth that comes with Cubase is useful enough for this task.
- If your tone won't play on your phone, it's probably too large; try cutting it down a bit. I think the limit (for the Nokia 3200, at least) is somewhere betwen 8 and 15K.
- Remember: it's a ringtone. Get rid of any intros, elaborate filigrees and buildups and get to the meat of it. It's probably going to play only for a few seconds (unless you're the kind of wanker who lets their phone ring out so that everybody on the train can hear how k3wl your tone is, of course, in which case you should probably be garrotted).
I just noticed that my Nokia 3310's text-messaging dictionary has "múm" before "mum". Someone at Nokia must really be into Icelandic glitch-pop. (Either that or they assume that 99% of their market spells the word "mom" like the people on TV do, and those who don't are a smaller mobile-phone market segment than indiekids.)
Commodore 64 emulation for Nokia futurephones. It appears to use the Frodo emulator for Symbian or EPOC or whatever it calls itself. I've run a version of this on a Psion I picked up a while back, and it wasn't very usable, though that's because of the monochrome screen. (via bOING bOING)
Journalist almost freezes to death when trying to use a Microsoft Smartphone mobile to call for help after a ski accident in the Scottish Highlands. He was eventually rescued when a passerby lent him her Nokia phone. Proof that bad UIs can endanger your life. (via bOING bOING)