It’s been a challenging week with my n900. Not for anything the device has done (it’s still the same wonderful machine!) but for what I have tried to do with it.
The first thing was trying to transfer some of my DVD collection. Except the laptop happily tried every encoding method going without telling me that the reason it was goofing was that the DVDs were encrypted. So I wasted a lot of time, effort and emotional energy on something that was never going to work.
The great bit was the community. People were absolutely amazing. Over 20 people piled into the thread to make suggestions. They talked me through doing things on my laptop I would never have dreamed of. I know my friends at work all think I’m some sort of tech-guru... I was made firmly aware just how ignorant and inexperienced I am. But everyone was wonderful. The process eventually reduced me to a blubbering wreck in frustration. And even there I found a community member to hold my hand and let me cry on his shoulder.
The good news is that I have it working, and am now in the process of transferring my entire collection of 60s and 70s children’s TV over. I think that’s about the right sort of stuff to have there. I doubt I’ll want to watch a blockbuster movie on that screen, but 5 minutes of Wombles in the doctor’s waiting room or 15 minutes of Bagpuss to put me to sleep seems ideal.
Then on Saturday, the e-book reader arrived in Extras. N900 doesn’t handle DRM files, so you can’t buy from Kindle or E-reader. But just about any book in the public domain is available. I have stuffed Mo full of Austin, Dickens, Bronte, Conan Doyle, Chesterton, Wilde... and will go on with Verne, Wells, I shall not be short of reading. In fact, I’ve read half of Dorian Grey since yesterday. I fear with that and the videos, I may never do any work again.
You might (if you have that sort of memory) recall my saying that I had this idea for an accelerometer game involving sheep and sheep pens while on the bus to the airport in Barcelona. Well, less than a month later the very first build of ‘Sheep’ was promoted to extras-devel last night: but before it was, I got to test it.
Doing that required a whole lot of linuxy things I’d never done before. First, I had to find my way round doing things in Xterminal. I’d been there once before, and run a single line of code. Now I needed to be a whole lot more competent.
And then I needed to ‘Become Root’. (I think that’s the right term). For the non-linux (and me) I think of is as like a body: most of the time when you interact with people, you wear clothes (That’s the regular user interface). Your doctor might ask you to remove them so he can examine and prod your body (Xterminal). But a surgeon will remove your skin to get right inside to fix or change things: becoming root is the equivalent to surgery. And about as scary. And almost as risky if you do something wrong. Though I suppose people-surgeons can’t just ‘reflash’ the patient in extremis.
So on Saturday night I Became Root for the first time. I compared it to the same sense of nervousness and personal growth as losing my innocence. Only more fun. And with nicer company.
My heartfelt thanks go to Hopbeat, who held my hand throughout on IRC, patiently bearing with my ignorance, my folly and my typos. And to Lcuk, who held my other hand, talking about ordinary mundane things, keeping my feet on the ground so I didn’t have a panic attack.
And by the end of the evening, I had sheep. I cannot put into words what it feels like to see something you imagined (on the back of a bus) actually materialise on screen. I’m not a dev, I don’t write code, and I can’t even draw a sheep. But the amazing ‘sheep team’ have made it possible, and soon we will have a version in testing for people to try shepherding sheep into pens by tipping the device. I feel humbled, excited and so, so grateful to people for running with the project.
So... Maemo has taken me to places in both my laptop and my n900 that I never thought I’d get to.
And if any ever says the community are not kind to ignorant n00bs, I will personally tip sheep-poo onto their device.
- Being Maemo – the next challenge.