Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bigger is Better... Right?

It appears the mantra of "bigger is better" has gripped developers of the late as the handsets we see keep getting larger and larger. When most of us first saw the HTC Evo

we thought "Wow, 4.3 inch screen? That's huge!" We were used to seeing smart phone devices such as the iPhone, Nexus One, or N900 that at most sported a 3.7 inch screen. Personally I had assumed this was as large as our mobile handhelds were going to be getting for awhile.

I was wrong, twice over in fact.

In case you are unaware earlier this month the HTC Evo's record for the largest touch screen mobile device was shattered by Dell's Streak

Which boasts a 5 inch touch screen. Now I guess it is still within reason to carry a 5 inch device in your pocket, it provides a good viewing size that is at the same time still decently portable. How long will the Streak hold the "largest screen" award for?

Apparently not very long.

ViewSonic announced today that come October of this year they would be releasing a 7 inch android tablet with "full phone capabilities"

Just me or does something with a 7 inch screen seem obscenely large to be holding to your face to make a phone call with? Personally I am content with the 3.5 inch screen on my N900, if I need any more viewing space than that I am willing to wait the 20 seconds it takes for my netbook to boot.

What do you think, how large is "too large" for a handheld device? Are these larger screens useful or are we getting to the point where our "phones" are really trying to do/be too many things at once?

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mugen Power N900 Extended Battery on the Way

If you are an N900 owner then you know one of the largest drawbacks to the device is the somewhat disappointing battery life. With heavy usage I've found I can drain the stock battery in my N900 in just over two hours. Searching around online I came across Mugen Power Batteries for the N900. Their extended battery sports 2400mah and should last much longer than the stock battery. Expect a comprehensive review once I get the battery and get a chance to run it through it's paces.

~Jeff Hoogland

Pearson Education - You will NOT use Linux

Summer is winding down and fall semesters are starting all around the country. My girlfriend started classes this week and one of her online classes required her to purchase access to the Pearson Online Education system. After she paid out the $55.00 it costs to gain access to the website she clicked through to the login screen and was greet by this lovely page

I felt like bending over and saying "Thank you sir! May I have another?" After dealing with a similar issue on Blackboard, I'm starting to get the feeling that education companies dislike FOSS operating systems. I told her to try and login anyways - The website refused. Upon clicking on their "system and browser requirements" link I was presented with the following page

Apparently I was wrong about this issue being similar to the one I had with Blackboard. At least Blackboard supported FOS browsers on Windows and OSX. That's right, not only does this Pearson Education system require Windows or OSX it required you to use Internet Explorer or Safari. In case you missed it, towards the bottom of the above screen shot

The kicker? The "MyLab" courses are rendered using Javascript and Flash. Those are both cross-platform technologies last I checked (that both ran perfectly fine in Firefox).

Now I understand that it can take a lot of time and resources to support another operating system/browser. Even if Pearson isn't willing to "support" Linux/Firefox users on their website they could at least let us login using the operating system/browser of our choice after seeing their warning message.

Finally, here is where you can contact the Pearson Education system:


If you have a moment, please shoot them an email like I am going to, stressing the importance of cross-platform for technology - especially in an educational setting. Also for those all mentioning the user agent switcher, this is just a band-aid to a greater issue. It contributes to the idea these companies have that people only use Internet Explorer (or Safari on OSX). It is as bad as buying a system that has Windows on it and then not returning the Windows license when you intend the system to run Linux.

~Jeff Hoogland

Bordeaux helps support Wineconf 2010 and FreeBSD

Projects die without dedicated people to manage them and having funding for an FOSS project allows for those dedicated people to spend more time devoted to the project itself (instead of working that silly "day job"). If you have been by my blog before then you know I write about Wine software every so often and on a few specific occasions about Bordeaux, a commercial Wine product.

Now through October 3rd, 2011 Bordeaux is running a special donation promotion to help out a couple of important open source projects. The first of these is the annual Wineconf, that is to be held in Paris, France this year. The second is FreeBSDNews.net, a good news source for what is going on in the BSD community. The third and final project is the FreeBSD foundation itself, which is a non-profit organization.

As long as the donation sale is going on 50% of the cost of Bordeaux, which is only $25.00 at most, will be donated to one of these projects. Linux and Open Solaris copies sold will donate to the Wineconf and Mac, FreeBSD, and PC-BSD sales will be donated to the BSD projects listed above. Bordeaux is also the only commercial Wine solution to offer support and "official" builds for the BSD and Open Solaris platforms.

If you are unsure what Bordeaux is/if it is right for you be sure to check out my hands on review of Bordeaux 2.0.4 If you already have already purchased Bordeaux (or another commercial Wine software) then remember - you can always just donate right to one of the above project anyways.

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

N900 OtterBox - Hands on Review

Ever looked at your N900 and think "You know what this needs? It needs to be bigger!"

Yea... I didn't think so. I felt the same way, but I also knew that the $500.00 investment I had made in my N900 was worth protecting. Now, casing a sliding phone is not as easy as casing something that has no moving parts, such as an iPhone or the Nexus One. Because of this not all cases that are designed for the N900 are created equally, in fact prior to the OtterBox I had owned a soft rubber case for the N900 that was a very poor quality.

Thankfully the OtterBox was of a much higher caliber. Composed of two sturdy, hard plastic pieces the OtterBox clips firmly over the front and back of your N900.

The OtterBox has a good design to it. There are openings on either side of the casing so the speakers can be heard properly and the openings for the MicroUSB and 1/8in port are each covered by a rubber stopper. The latter of these two features is very useful if you are like myself and often leave your N900 rest in the cup holder of your car where condensation can build up. This water can leave rust damage over time on your hardware. The top part of the case also does not obscure the Nokia or N900 logos at the top of the screen

Over all the case does not lend that much more thickness to the phone and the small amount it does add I feel is well worth the extra protection the casing offers should my N900 take an unexpected tumble to the ground. There are only two minor draw backs to the case. First is if you use the kickstand on your N900 often the view angle is reduced by a fair amount due to the extra thickness.

Second, the hard plastic case around the 1/8in (audio/video out) port is kinda narrow. The default ear-buds that come with the N900 plug in just fine, but a fatter 1/8in connection does not fit (I often use my N900 for audio playback).

And finally - in case you hadn't picked one up yet, the OtterBox for the N900 also comes with a pair of screen protectors designed to fit the N900's screen. This way should you like to carry around your N900 in your pocket you don't have to worry about spare change or your keys damaging your hand held's screen. You can pick up an OtterBox designed for the N900 at the cost of $25.00 over on Amazon.com (More Amazon savings with these coupons). If you ask me the case is worth every penny, but in the end it is your device! So if you want to risk it taking a fall unprotected that is your choice ;)

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keep the "Linux" out of it Please

Android and Ubuntu are arguably the two largest Linux success stories to date. Ubuntu with its soaring success over other Linux-based desktop solutions and Android with its seemingly single handed domination of the mobile market.

What makes these two distributions so successful?

Anyone who owns a company or sells a product will tell you - you can have the best product in the world and no one would use it if you don't have the right advertising to back it up. Now, semantics and marketing are not the only reasons these distros have been so successful, they are genuinely good products, but there is no doubting that good PR doesn't hurt. This brings me to an interesting question:

What does Ubuntu's advertising have in common with Android's advertising?

Neither of them make any mention of that frightening word "Linux". Don't believe me? Take a look at the Ubuntu and Android homepages, do you see the word "Linux" anywhere to be found? This is not by chance, this is by design. The Blog of Helios asked an interesting question a few months back:

Is the Linux brand poisoned?

Canonical and Google certainly seem to think so. What do you think? Does the Linux name need to be left off a product in order for it succeed? If so, why do you think this is?

~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why this Linux Fan roots for MeeGo - not Android

Some people will tell you fragmentation is one of the main things that is holding back Linux from desktop adoption. Not having a unified name, packaging system, or heck even desktop environment often confuses new users and puts them into overload - Too much choice can be a bad thing.

Android is currently the only real player in the Linux mobile market. Now don't get me wrong, I am glad Android jumped in record time to right near the top of the smart phone market. I'm also glad that through this success it has put the power of Linux into the hands of millions of people (many of whom are none the wiser about their penguin powered device).

If Android is doing so well, one might ask - why does there need to be another Linux variation present in the mobile market? For starters, just as too much fragmentation is a bad thing having only one choice I feel is equally as bad. MeeGo will provide an alternate mobile platform that is Linux based for those of us who prefer something different to Android. There are a few reasons I personally prefer what MeeGo is to become instead of what Android is today.

First, MeeGo is backed by the Linux Foundation - a non-profit organization. Google has a lot of fantastic free services (heck this blog is even hosted on one of them), but the goal of these services as many of us all know is data mining (plus Google is about as far from a non-profit as you can get). I'd much prefer an operating system running on my device that is by people, for people. Not by people, for data mining.

MeeGo is going to have a real package management system. It is RPM based, but still it is better than simply having a "market place". The applications that are to be installed via this package management system are also to be written and compiled the same other native Linux applications are - using any language that is supported by the operating system. Instead of using a java layer like Android does.

Lastly, because MeeGo is backed by the Linux Foundation I'd bet most anything that they won't be forking the kernel like Google has done with Android. Having a mainstream kernel running in MeeGo will help ensure that other distros with a mainstream kernel will also be able to run on the same hardware with the least amount of issues possible.

Now I am sure the MeeGo hand held project is going to change and mature a lot over the next few months before we see it officially released into the market, but I'd be willing to bet that most all of these changes are going to be for the better and will only add to my above list. Do you think MeeGo is going to be able to compete with Android getting into the market this late?

Also, in case you noticed it - yes the horrible pun in the title is intentional.

~Jeff Hoogland

HOWTO: Unlock your AT&T Tilt for all Networks

Something I hate more than anything else in the world is a software lock on hardware I own. If I bought something I should have the right to do anything with it that is within it's physical capabilities. Earlier this year I wrote how to get Android running on your HTC Tilt, if you followed that guide (or one like it) you will need to flash your Tilt back to Windows Mobile in order to unlock it.

All you need in order to unlock the device is a foreign (non-AT&T) sim chip and the willingness to partake in a little bit of social engineering. First things first, power down your Tilt and pop the battery out and write down the 15 digit IEME number of your device. Next, from another phone that is active you are going to want to call the

AT&T International Contact Number - 1-916-843-4685

They are open 24/7/365, so call whenever you please. If you have a current account with AT&T (or know someone that does that will let you use their information) you can get to an operator much faster. Once you finally get a real person your call should go something like this:

Me: Hello there, I am going to be doing some traveling outside the U.S. and I need the unlock code for my AT&T Tilt phone so I can use it in other countries.

Operator: Hold on just a moment let me see if I have access to that unlock code.

(Brief pause)

Operator: Yes, I can provide you with that unlock code. I will need the IEME number listed on the back of your device under the battery.

Me: Provide the IEME number

Operator: Worked like a charm, here is your unlock code. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No that is all, thank you.

After you have the unlock code, simply power up the device with the foreign sim chip and it will prompt you for an unlock code automatically. Enter the code you where given and poof! You are all set to go, your AT&T tilt will now work on any GSM network.

~Jeff Hoogland

Friday, August 20, 2010

It is a Windows World

"If you don't like Windows so much then don't use it!"

This is something I have been told more than once (sometimes in not those kind of words) by various people when we have been discussing operating systems. As much as I would like to take their suggestion, the fact is I can't. The sad fact of the matter is, it is a Windows world for desktop computing. Microsoft has a monopoly on the marketplace and this isn't about to change anytime soon.

My most recent dealing with Microsoft on my own personal computers came about when I bought my tablet PCs. They both came stock with Windows 7, meaning they had an inflated price tag to cover the cost of the software. Neither of the systems are currently running a Microsoft operating system - the way I like it. Now, fair is fair so if I wasn't going to use the software they sent me with the laptop - why should I have to pay for it? So I boot the laptop and navigate my way to the Windows EULA. Browsing through the license carefully I find the paragraph I am looking for towards the bottom, it says the following:

"By using the software you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed."

Now I didn't want to return the laptop as a whole, but I wouldn't mind getting some cash back for the copy of Windows. So I call up Asus and get your typical level one run around

Asus: Hello this is Asus how can we help you?

Me: Howdy There, I just received my new Asus EEEPC and the Windows license says that if I cannot agree to it then I need to contact the manufacturer to get a refund for the software.

Asus: You want to return Windows? Your computer will not work without Windows being installed on it.

It annoys me that they would even say this. I've bought Asus computers that don't have Windows on them before, this person knows as well as I do that I do not need Windows for my system to function.

Me: Actually I am going to run an FOS operating system on the laptop, so I don't need Windows for it to function. How do I go about getting my refund for the copy of Windows?

Asus: You need contact Microsoft to get a refund for Windows, it is their software.

Me: Really? The EULA clearly states to contact the manufacturer for the refund. Asus is the manufacturer the EEEPC not Microsoft, correct?

Asus: Yes, but Windows 7 is Microsoft software so you will need to contact them for a refund.

Me: Do you have a supervisor I can speak to?

Two supervisors later I was finally told I needed to contact the place I had purchased the laptop from in order to get a refund on the entire unit. At this point I was three hours into this and was ready to just return the system and get something non-Asus. So I contact the company I had purchased the laptop from and they inform me they have a zero refund policy for opened laptops.


I placed a call back to Asus (thankfully I had the supervisor's direct extension this time) and inform them on this. They apologize and inform me there is nothing they can do about this. They again suggest I contact Microsoft for the refund on Windows because "Asus does not process refunds" even though the EULA says they should.

The EULA is a binding agreement like a contract, if I can get into trouble for breaking it so should they, right? Is it even worth my time to try and sue Asus to get my money back? Maybe next year when I am done with school.

~Jeff Hoogland

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CWTV adds Support for Streaming to Linux

Back in March I had mentioned that one of the only issues I had to deal with when converting my girlfriend's laptop to Linux Mint was that her favourite TV show would not stream to Linux. The reason for this is that CWTV, instead of using Adobe Flash, uses Move Media player to stream to Windows and OSX (Move does not support Linux). Because of this if you are on a Linux system you would simply receive an "operating system not supported" message when browsing the page with the stream.

Shannon VanWagner and myself (and hopefully more than a few others) wrote emails to CWTV, asking that they support all operating systems equally with their live stream. Meaning if Move Media player refuses to support Linux, they should still offer a stream via flash.

Never doubt that your voice matters. CWTV will now stream on your operating system of choice so long as said operating has a flash enabled browser.

Hopefully this is a sign of Linux gaining more support as a desktop operating system from larger companies. Who knows, maybe other companies such as Netflix will follow suite at some point in the next year with Linux desktop variations such as Meego and Chrome OS coming into play very soon.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, August 12, 2010

32 bit vs 64 bit Linux - Which to Choose?

Do I want 32 bit or 64 bit?

This is a question I have fielded many times, it is one most new Linux users ask before they even download their first Linux ISO. There is a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer:

You want 32bit.

Ok - now for the long answer. There are several things to consider when deciding if you want to use 32 bit or 64 bit on your system.

Hardware Support:
Does your processor support the 64 bit architecture? Most all modern processors do, but this is something you should double check if you are unsure about your particular chip.

While it is true that most all open source applications have both 32 bit and 64 bit installers, more than a few closed source applications do not. Adobe Flash is one of the most commonly used of these and another that I personally have had issues with is SMART Tech Software I use for school. Sure there are work arounds for some of these, but they are far from perfect.

The main reason for choosing a 64 bit operating system on a desktop system is so you are able to utilize more than 4gb of RAM. Well, thanks to PAE your favorite Linux distribution can recognize up to 64gb of RAM with a 32 bit installation - which should be more than enough for most desktop users.

Unless you are compiling software or encoding audio/video often there really is very little speed difference between the two operating architectures. Meaning that most people who just use the computer for everyday tasks such as webrowsing will not notice a difference between the two.

For the average desktop user the applications issue, especially with flash - something most of us use everyday, is the driving factor to use a 32 bit version of your Linux distro of choice. If you are using your system as more of a work station (compiling and decoding) then maybe the 64 bit version is a better selection for your needs.

Are there any other things you consider when making the choice between downloading a 32 bit or 64 bit version of a distro?

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thousands Play Starcraft 2 on Linux

I play Starcraft 2 on Linux and apparently I'm not the only one. At the end of last month I wrote a brief guide for getting Starcraft 2 working under Linux using Wine. In the last ten days that guide has gotten nearly nine thousand views and currently has ninety comments.

Now I've talked before about why I think there is a market for creating games for Linux and I think my above statistics only reinforce this idea. Don't believe me? Think about it this way - lets assume half of the people (4,500) who have checked out my guide have purchased the game and would prefer to play it on Linux. The game currently retails for 60$ USD.

4,500*60$ = 270,000$

That would be over a quarter of a million dollars from Linux gamers (in just over a week of the game's release). Are you telling me it would cost more than a quarter of a million dollars to bring a game, that can already run 100% using OpenGL, to the Linux operating system?

I doubt it.

I know more than a few Windows users who would drop the OS in a heart beat if they could play their Blizzard games under Linux and I know there are plenty of Linux users who would start buying Blizzard games if and only if they started creating native Linux installers.

So what do you say Blizzard? Comon - give us a native version of Starcraft 2 on Linux! It is 2010, people are using more than just Windows and OSX on their personal computers!

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, August 5, 2010

HOWTO: Perfect Terran Proxy Build Order - Starcraft 2

Today we take a short break from our normal broadcasting to talk about a bit of gaming strategy.

In Starcraft 2 a "proxy" means you fore-go building in your own base and instead build your unit producing structures nearly on top of the opposing player. Timing is everything when using a proxy, so it is best used in maps where you know the starting location of your opponent(s). The following proxy build order is something I have been perfecting since the game was in beta and with the right amount of micromanagement I have found it rarely looses.

If you have never read a Starcraft build order before, the number before each listing is the number of SVCs you should have before building each object. In this particular build order the item listed in bold should be constructed in your starting base.

8 - Barracks
10 - Supply Depot
10 - Marine
10 - Barracks
10 - Marine
10 - Marine
12 - Bunker

The two key elements to any successful proxy are speed and micromanagement. As soon as the game starts, select five of your six starting SCVs and have them get to mining - the sixth SCV (your builder) should begin making his way to just outside the enemy's base. At the same time while all this is going on, get your first two additional SVCs building at the command center.

Most maps are large enough that by the time your builder SCV is outside the enemy's base you should have 150 minerals to get your first barracks building (if not wait a few moments). While that is building you should have time to build two more SCVs, followed up by a supply depot back in your home base.

As soon as your barracks finishes it should start producing marines - all of your barracks should be constantly producing marines until the match is over (which in a perfect world will be just a few more minutes). Now you have to wait around a few moments to gather resources, your first marine should finish and you should get your second training. Sometime between your first and second marine you should now have enough minerals to get your builder started on a second barracks. While he works on that make sure your first barracks continues to pump out marines and to ensure a steady cash flow once you get into combat you will want to produce two more SCVs as soon as you have the funds.

With 12 miners going you should have enough minerals to get a flow of marines building at your second barracks and throw down a bunker just outside their ramp. Right about the time you get your fifth marine your bunker should be finishing up - this is where the micromanagement begins. Take your group of five marines and attack forward into their base. If you meet heavy resistance, attack and then fall back to your bunker - if your opponent is a poor player (or not paying attention) you can bunker your marines and easily kill off their units.

That is the core of the build and typically enough to throw most people off their game. The key in winning the game from this point forward is to keep almost constant pressure on the other player by attacking with your continuous flow of marines. In terms of expanding more, you should have more money than just two barracks can drain, I typically construct a second supply depot at my starting base, a few extra SCVs, and then a third (and possibly a fourth) barracks at my proxy.

If you are having an issue with pushing all the way into the opponent's base right away, I've found constructing a second bunker at the top of their ramp you can retreat to does wonders. Also important to remember is that if you kill off all of a player's offensive units gun it for their mining line before destroying their buildings. A decent player will most times order their miners to attack what is left of your marines - do not let them surround your squad. Micro back and forth (lure them all the way back to your bunker if you can) dealing what damage you can to their miners in the mean time.

That is the jist of it - pour your stream of marines into their base until they quit or are wiped out. Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you - if you find something that works slightly better, let me know! I am always looking to improve my game :)

~Jeff Hoogland

Wanted: A Decent, FOS, Cross Platform, Permission-Less, File-System

This is something I desperately want. Don't get me wrong, I think file system permissions are fantastic (they are one of the many things that make Linux superior to Windows), however one place they can be a true pain is when dealing with removable media. Don't believe me? Format your favorite flash drive to ext4 and enjoy having to change file permissions every time you plug it into a new computer. I use Linux on all my home computers, including my media center. Most of my video files are stored on a external 1.5TB ext4 hardrive, which means whenever I decided to watch movies on my laptop off the drive I have to crack open terminal and run

chown -R jeff /media/Storage/

Which is only a minor inconvenience for someone such as myself. For a new Linux convert (or someone who doesn't want to deal with terminal) this is a huge turn off (maybe even a deal breaker for the operating system).

Oh and then there is the other lovely issue of most Linux file systems not being readable on Windows and OSX. Now, even if you are like myself and only use Linux on all of your personal computers - you are aware that the rest of the world does not work this way. Most times when using a computer that is not your own it will be non-Linux based.

The current solution? Format your drive to FAT32, it is permission-less, cross platform, easily fragments, and almost a decade and a half old. It blows my mind that we are still relying on technology every day that was introduced with Windows 95. In addition to being dated FAT32 is limited to holding files of a maximum of 4gigs in size. Meaning all those Blueray rips and most DVD iso files will not be able to be stored on a partition of this type.

What do you think the reason is that we have not see a decent, FOS, cross platform, permission-less, file-system created to date? It seems like it is something the computing world could truly benefit from having.

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wine vs Native - 3D Performance Benchmarks

In the past I've done Wine on Linux versus native Windows 7 benchmarks for 3D applications. Source engine games are some of my favorite benchmarking applications. Since Valve ported Steam to OSX earlier this year and I recently acquired an OSX PC I figured this would be an opportune time to see how Wine performance measures up to a native client, not only on the same hardware - but on the same operating system.

My benchmarking tools this time around will be Counter Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2, as they both run native on OSX. For Wine software I used the recently released Crossover Games 9.1

Counter Strike: Source
  • 1680x1050, Wine - 44.16fps
  • 800x600, Wine - 48.59fps
  • 1680x1050, Native - 54.02fps
  • 800x600, Native - 56.22fps
Team Fortress 2
  • 1680x1050, Wine - 43.88fps
  • 800x600, Wine - 49.58fps
  • 1680x1050, Native - 50.56fps
  • 800x600, Native - 58.47fps
As you can see - the numbers are fairly close (at least closer than they are with the Windows vs Linux Wine benchmarks). With CSS Wine scored 81% the speed of the native version and in TF2 Wine was 86% the FPS native version. It is fantastic the progress the Wine project has made over the past few years, to the point where it can almost keep up with a native version of modern games - even so I would love to see native ports of these games to my favorite operating system.

~Jeff Hoogland
Please note while these benchmark scores presented are accurate to the best of my abilities, they only represent my personal hardware and software configurations. Your results on your own system(s) may vary (and if they do, please share them!).

N900 Faster Application Manager - Review

If you have ever installed an application on an N900 using the default application manager you know that while it is functional it is not the fastest of processes - especially if you are installing multiple applications. Enter the FOSS project, which you can currently find in the extras devel repository, Faster Application Manager. As the name implies FAM is a graphical interface for apt-get in Maemo and it lives up to it's name of being quicker. The GUI is simple and functions well, the main screen presents you with all the options you need to add/remove/upgrade software on your Maemo device:

When trying to find applications to install FAM offers several different methods of searching:

As well as by category:

And of course by name as well:

Installing software is just as easy as in the default application manager. One of the largest advantages FAM has of the default manager is that it allows you to mark multiple packages for installation (as opposed to installing each program one at a time). The installation process is fairly straight forward. Select your package(s) to install:

Wait for it to check for dependencies:

Confirm you want to install all of said dependencies:

And wait for everything to install:

FAM will also handle upgrading packages that have a newer version available, simply mark all of the ones you would like to upgrade (just like when installing packages) and hit apply. One thing worth noting though is that when the update notification appears it will open by default in the normal application manager - to upgrade packages via FAM load FAM and select Upgrade Applications from the main FAM menu.

Finally, FAM also provides a graphics interface for enabling/disabling/adding/editing/removing repositories.

All in all FAM is an excellent application and it is much faster the default application manager. In fact the only real draw back to FAM currently is that it does not support installing applications from the Ovi Store as of yet. Also worth mentioning is that unlike the default application manager FAM supports portrait mode when you tip your device into a vertical position.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tech Support: C Drive on Your Linux Phone may be Corrupted

I know first tier tech support at most all companies simply read from a script when trying to sort out the issue a customer is having. I understand why this is, nine times out of ten one of the few items on their list will resolve the issue. That being said, a couple weeks ago I went out on a limb and purchased Joikuspot for my N900. Joikuspot is an application that is suppose to easily allow you to share your 3G connection via wifi.

Keywords there are suppose to. After I shelled out my hard earned dollars for the application, I downloaded and installed it on my N900. Once it finished I eagerly loaded it up and told it to start sharing my internet connection via wireless. Everything appeared to be working as I connected my Ubuntu laptop to the ADHOC network I had created from my N900. Much to my dismay I discovered no data would transfer over the wifi to my laptop. After confirming that my 3G connection was working I then proceeded to try the connection on four other laptops - all of which also failed to receive any connection through Joikuspot.

Ok - fine. I know software can behave differently on different devices, so I contact their tech support. After going through the normal setting checks and even reinstalling the application I finally got this response:

"You could still try to reset your phone. That has helped some of our customers.

Sometimes it may happen that a program corrupts the C: drive of your phone and then some data can be lost and some applications may not work or work only partially.

On a Symbian Series 60 based phone, two key sequences will allow to restore your phone to a cleaner state:
Normal Reset (*#7780#) : Restores ini files from rom but preserves user data (photos, 3rd party apps etc)
Deep Reset (*#7370#) : This reformats completely the C: drive. All applications and files stored on this drive will be lost and clean default files will be rewritten."

I was slightly at a loss for words. Now even though the N900 can boot a variety operating systems - a functional Symbian is not currently on this ever growing list. It was clear that the person providing the tech support had no idea what an N900 was (or what operating system it ran). Now, I still took the suggestion to heart and reflashed my N900 to factory defaults and still Joikuspot failed to work. Needless to say I am in the process of acquiring a refund for this dud of a product.

I would ask for better tier one tech support personnel, but I know this is never going to happen. My only request is that if they are going to continue to hire morons that they at least be kind enough to provide them with a better script. Anyone else ever received misinformed (or borderline moronic) tech support advice that was clearly from a poorly written script?

~Jeff Hoogland