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Journal Journal: Nokia N900, liqbase, open source and onedotzero

For the last couple of months I have been working on a secret project which involved using liqbase to create an interactive controller on the new Nokia N900 which was used at last weeks onedotzero adventures in motion festival.
This involved getting to know the device and its capabilities and making sure we were able to give the best experience possible.

Its been quite a ride and together with the guys at Nokia, Weiden & Kennedy and Karsten Schmidt from Postspectacular we pulled off an impressive digital feat!
The Identity is an incredible ultra widescreen 3d message with flowing ribbons of text taken from tweets and messages and can be manipulated and controlled by the N900 device. It was a sight to behold everyone who played with it did so with a massive smile on their faces!
The onedotzero festival is a collaborative coming together of creatives, digital artists, executives and technical folks and hope the connections everybody made will continue far into the future.
This installation took place at the BFI on Londons Southbank and will continue now on its tour around the world, hopefully evolving and growing in strength.
The Nokia device performed flawlessly, allowing the public to smoothly control Karstens vision and everyone left everyone with a smile on their faces!

Amongst the excitement and buzz there was a more humble symbolic achievement, this onedotzero application the first liqbase application to reach 1.0 status. Those following my work will realise how proud I am of this moment :)

There were exciting new applications discovered and different inventive ways of working which the Nokia N900 device will allow us to achieve.
I came away excited about the future and hope the connections we made will expand and prove fruitful in the future.

Whilst at the festival, Nokia also unveiled a new initiative called the Nokia Push N900.
A bunch of hardware hackers from tinker.it were given a brief of making inventive applications using the Nokia N900 device and the team did not disappoint coming up with some cool hacks - from a speak and spell which sent text messages, to a view master 3d and even an old school radio and a rolodex linked to the local contacts on the device - they looked like they had a great time creating these examples, but that is only the start - they want YOUR ideas for inventive hacks and if chosen, the best will be displayed in flagship Nokia stores around the world, so hardware hackers - get involved and make a proposal!

Video overview here:

Photos from the amazing 3d identity software Karsten created:

onedotzero info, find out whether it will be coming to a city near you

liqbase information:

User Journal

Journal Journal: liqbase :: shaping up nicely

since starting liqbase one of the most important aspects for me is how my Nokia device feels when using it.
I am pleased to say it feels good!

the entire liqbase playground is shaping up even better than I could imagine and everything I am attempting to achieve is slotting into place.

I have now restored the core mechanics into the system and everything flows as before, but now with the framework operating at peak efficiency I can take a step backwards and admire the bigger picture:


I can now draw again and I have an awesome calendar and image viewer. theres also an extremely friendly tagcloud system which is simply a joy to use. the zooming works exactly like I thought it would, obviously work will continue and I will have all original functionality and more in the release.

A tremendous search capability has emerged with a natural organic layout bringing different components together which will literally blow your mind!

I still have lots to do, but I am getting help now from numerous quarters.

zach has just started his google summer of code residency and has begun creating his network monitor skeleton and is helping document the framework.
kot is constantly reminding me about linux in general and how stupid I am for putting fixed paths in the app :p
keesj has started to publicly track the .git and is looking at the packaging and how to actually bring liqbase into a more standard debian layout.

the encouragement I receive from all quarters lets me know I am doing the right thing :)

its gaining stability and strength now, I can see more of what I would like to do with it. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nokia ovi - finger friendly? 5

Last week (23rd April) I arrived in Finland to visit Nokia.
I spent a full day with the Maemo team and some of the Fremantle stars participants we were leaving the building when an accident occured.

I got to the large all glass front doors at the entrance to the building.
They had a very small handle on them.
I pushed on one of them and found it to be locked
so I pressed the button just below the handle thinking it was an unlock.
when I reached back up and put my hand through the handle it started to move outwards.
it sliced the end of my finger open - like opening a banana.
my bone was exposed and the finger nail is destroyed and skin around it torn.

After running outside (the door was open now) and jumping around and yelping in pain the Nokia guys and other members of my party were looking at me wondering what had happened.
It was only when I turned round that they noticed something serious had happened - a CSI'esq spurt of blood went up and across my face.

I got to the hospital and had many stitches to get my finger back together.

Every single person who has heard has been mortified and Nokia have to date done everything possible to help me and to prevent this kind of injury occuring again.

I want to give a big thank you to Jussi and to the ambulance drivers and the doctors and nurses in the hospital and also to the hotel receptionist who upon hearing apologised as if it was her personal fault.

Since the accident the door handles have been taped off then removed, every employee in the building has been notified of an incident, the doors are being redesigned and warning signs placed onto every automatic door.

it is with a certain sense of irony that i say I am helping nokia ovi to become finger friendly :)

xray image: http://liqbase.net/fingerfriendly.jpg

Now I am just about to have my stitches out, I have had the most painful week of my life to date.
As a software developer working with touch devices I find my fingers are most important.

Since arriving home, a lot of people have asked me why haven't I sued Nokia for pain and negligence.

My initial answer was because I am not American, I am British and I have a stiff upper lip.
But it goes beyond that - I don't need to sue anybody, my experiences to date have been that Nokia are an honourable company and will do the right thing anyway.

I might have considered it had there been no reaction to my injury, but I have seen the cogs of a corporate machine work quickly and effectively to take care of a problem they didn't think they had. As the event has gone through I have heard about events and notifications effecting the building as a whole and people from different departments working together to find a permanent solution to the problem. I am certain once it gets high enough an official apology and further recompense will be made.

That doesn't take my pain away though, I have a poignant reminder of my time in Helsinki and when I return I will just beware of the doors.

User Journal

Journal Journal: liqbase progress update 1

liqbase is my vision for a usable touchscreen interface.
over the last 9 months it has started to take shape into a really comfortable home for all my (and yours too soon!) applications.

During the last couple of months I've had my head down coding towards curing the hacks and making liqbase into a polished nice framework for all the applications I want to write for my nokia tablet.

I have split the code into 3 main pieces and created a library of the core graphics elements and a host applciation containing the ui manager.
The third part is dynamically installable compiled application widgets and dialogs.

I can create and use entirely new items quickly and easily and try out ideas without having to even think about the core library or ui application.

A new video has been placed on youtube showing my progress.
Its by no means finished but its taking shape nicely.


I have started to bring in the current applications and will be creating new ones (i need that camera..) and we will have a playground that will make us all smile soon enough :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: linux :: one year on

it was exactly 12 months to the day since my nokia internet tablet arrived.

I've started to bring together the ideas and principles I've thought about for many years into a cohesive and compelling touch based framework.

I'm coding in C again! Its so different to the visual basic I've spent the last few years using, but its kept my mind sharp by having to think in extremely optimized units.

Best of all this year I've made loads of new friends and been to new places and I've learnt about all the cool things we can do in linux and talked about everything we want to do in the future.

What a year its been!

I'm really looking forward to the Christmas break to get some time to spend on liqbase, theres a lot to do but the classes are gelling together nicely.

Merry Christmas everybody, hope you are safe.

Journal Journal: software patents. where are they hiding? 8

Should I be worried about software patents?

I have thought about touch screen user interaction for a long time now, and have written numerous visualizations and interactive controls over the years.

I have a kickass collection of functions and algorithms for all areas of the system but I have never specialized in one specific place.
This year I have started to open my source and release these little ideas and have sent coded up implementations into the wild.

Some of the code is novel, some of it is mundane, other pieces are just weird but give a pretty effect :)
I've found a nice home within the nokia maemo linux community and my software has been well received amongst its members and beyond.

I bet somewhere I've stepped on somebodies toes and have their patented algorithm in my code.
In reading up about them this evening I find out that the chances are, if you have done anything more than hello world you will have too!

How would I find out what patents I have in my code?

Should I be checking every single function I write against the central registry?


Journal Journal: liqbase - faster than paper

paper is slow.

when I am talking to my friends or sitting in a meeting at work, I like to have a pad and pen so I can doodle and take little notes or reminders for later. When I am going for dinner I write everyone's order. When I am on the phone to a customer I have to take notes.

These notes are not intrusive and we go through tonnes of paper with them every single year.

How long do we spend searching for that scrap you wrote your dinner order on? or the todo list from the last meeting? What did customerx say when you spoke to him?

how many napkin ideas have fallen into the wastebasket never to be seen again?

I want to keep them all and let you use them and expand upon them.

liqbase is faster than paper.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The wow factor :: liqbase 1

A couple of weeks ago I returned from the first maemo.org summit.

At that summit a number of very special things occured.
I met up with people I had only spoken to online and drank lots of beer, and secondly my software was recognised.

I was able to show my vision for touch based devices and I was bowled over by the reaction.

I have been writing a piece of software for the last few months now, called liqbase - its designed to make the most out of a touch device and actually put control back at your fingertips.

Its still just a hack, there is no polish and it needs a lot of work, but its out there.

The Nokia Internet Tablets run a variant of linux called maemo, with a thriving community at the maemo.org site we code and hack our devices because we can.
I didn't wait for anyone else to fix it for me, I didn't wait for next gen hardware, I made the most out of what I had and went ahead and tried myself and am more than happy with the results so far.

Its been a long hard slog this year, I've hacked and cursed and laughed and cried along with my friends, but I've managed to do something which works like a touch screen is meant to.

I want to take it further, Nokia wants me to take it further, maybe, just maybe we can manage it.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Liqbase - open source virgin 2

Its time for my worlds to collide.

I have spent the last few months playing with my Nokia N810 internet tablet, and whilst it is an amazing piece of kit I was underwhelmed by the speed of the graphical rendering.

Since its a linux box I decided to have a look at what I could do.
The results of this is a technology demo called liqbase.
It manages to do fullscreen blits and nice kinetic effects which have felt lacking on this device until now.

I decided to do a little bit of lateral thinking and ended up creating a small graphics library using the x11/XV YUV overlay which is normally used for movie rendering.

I'm impressed with the performance I'm getting (25fps 800*480) and it makes my tablet feel fast.

I've picked up C again, and actually managed to use linux properly for the first time and most of all had a great time doing it.

So far, its been a closed source endeavour, but thats been not wanting to side track myself with supporting functions which were not staying anyway.
I made my decision this morning and I am releasing the code later and whilst I'm nervous I think its the right thing to do.

Open source FTW :)


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