When I had my first pocket computer (a Palm III in 1999 or so), I discovered
that while I could live without my appointments and TODO list in
my pocket, I really liked being able to carry books around and
read them without adjusting lighting, and with adjusting the type
size to the state of my eyes. Since then, I’ve upgraded
the pocket device several times, including twice when the current
one wasn’t even broken.
Most recently, my Nokia 770 died with the White Screen of
Death. I had really liked it as a reader, with the size and
resolution of the screen being at a really good point, where you
can still get a reasonable fraction of a page on it at a readable
type size, but it still slips into a pocket easily.
When I bought it, I had hopes of being able to use the other
features, and found I mostly didn’t. The music player didn’t play
music loud enough, I didn’t feel like working hard enough to sync
the calendar with the google calendar that’s easiest to use on the
desktop and laptop, the sites I wanted to browse when I could
connect wirelessly seemed to use flash…
So when I had to replace it, I considered the Nokia 810, for
which the software is a bit better supported and which includes
features that aren’t on the 770, but also thought
about the ipod touch or a netbook.
In the end, I decided that the right screen size was the
important thing, and went with the 810.
As a reader, it’s at least as good as the 770. The screen is
the same size. I miss the built-in hard case, but the vinyl
envelope seems to work pretty well, and the foldout stand actually
does make it easier to use as a reader. The FBReader version
seems to be behind the one on my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop, which is a
pity since there’s a new feature that lets you download books
directly from some of the online free libraries that would be
Of the normal PIM functions, the only one I really wish I had
was the calendar. I’m pretty good at keeping my immediate future
in my head, but I’ve several times double-booked by depending on
that, and it would be good to not have to.
The built-in calendar seems pretty basic. For instance, I
haven’t figured out a way to configure it so that the daily view
shows you evening appointments.
However, there is an application called erminig which will
sync your google calendar with the GPE calendar. (This is not the
calendar that comes pre-loaded, but it can be easily installed
from the application manager.)
I installed this in my first set of installs from the
application manager, but stopped fiddling with it when my first
attempt said it couldn’t connect to google.
This week on the maemo-users list there was a long thread
started by someone who had bought an 810 and had been unable to
find an application he really wanted to use enough to be worth the
trouble of putting it in his pocket. At various points this was
about to degenerate into a flamefest, but a number of people
answered seriously about what they use their nokia tablets for,
including a couple who said they used erminit.
So I started another thread asking how they’d done it. Nobody
really said anything helpful, except that if I could get to google
calendar via the browser, it must be something wrong with the
erminig configuration. So I found the config file and looked at
it, and sure enough, it had my password in the clear, and it
started with a capital letter. The real password begins with a
lower-case letter. Fiddling with the shift key didn’t seem to
On my next dog walk, I realized that I could just enter some
other letter as the first letter, and then delete it, so I did
that and was successfully able to connect to google. Then the
next issue was that my 8 PM Monday recorder lesson was listed as 1
AM on Tuesday, but that was obviously a time zone issue, and I
fixed it. So now I have a working calendar that I can carry in my
pocket. I’ll let you know if there are problems with the syncing,
but so far it looks pretty good.
I get annoyed at people who complain about the quality of Free
Software and don’t report the bugs they find, so I did spend the
time this morning to register at maemo.org and fill out the bug
But if you run into anyone claiming that the 810 is ready for
consumer use out of the box, you can tell them this story.
Another application I downloaded immediately, and even went to
the computer store and spent $8 on an adaptor for it, is the one that
allows a USB keyboard to plug in to the 810. This does seem to
work, but I haven’t used it yet. If I were to figure out how to
install emacs, it would be more useful.
I haven’t even bothered to install the app that would let me
use the camera. I hardly ever use the one on my cell phone — the
pictures that have been on this blog were taken with a real
I was interested in trying the GPS feature, and it did find my
latitude and longitude and let me look at it on a map, but in
order to get navigation you need to send somebody some more money,
and it sounds like if you’re going to do that, a special purpose
GPS device is still a better deal.
I haven’t yet tried the PDF reader, and most of the browsing
I’ve done hasn’t worked well without my glasses. But maybe
they’ll turn out to be of some use.