I’ve been reflecting this week on the extent to which I am a different person from the one who took delivery of My Mo.
Back in October, when I placed the order for my n900, I knew very little beyond that it was a linux based device, truly open, with a great spec and supported by an awesome community. The one thing I was sure of was that the device was capable of a whole lot of things that I would never be able to do. That didn’t bother me – any piece of tech is capable of far more than the user needs: the trick is to know how to use the ones you do need.
So when Mo arrived, I knew he had this thing called an ‘Xterminal’. I took it for granted that that was sort of the equivalent of the ‘command prompt’ in windows – certainly not for ordinary users like me. The other thing I did was promise myself that I would stick to apps from either Ovi or Extras – no facing the demons of testing or devel for Mo.
I remember the very first time I opened the Xterm and ran a line. It was the command to view the exact battery status. The fear, excitement and sense of achievement remain with me – I did it and didn’t break anything! I’ve written on here before about the experience of gaining root for the first time – along with the first time I installed something using the Xterm rather than the installer as it wasn’t fully packaged. Now I’m at the stage where I actually remember the command to check memory status (I check rootfs routinely after every installation). This from the person who was so, so certain that I would never, ever need that little box.
The same is true of my ventures outside of extras. I generally keep the testing and devel repositories disabled, but I have been in there. I’ve even got a couple of additional repos entered, where I’ve picked up special bits and piece: the iplayer service I mentioned in my last post involved collecting something from a private repository, configuring a load of stuff in Xterminal, and then each time I want something new, going into the terminal again to download it. I have half a dozen apps either from testing or devel that I am testing or using – Witter (Great twitter app), Rapier (Bible reader using the Sword library), fMMS for sending and receiving media messages and of course our wonderful Maesheep, to name but a few. Some of the apps I downloaded from testing are now in extras, which is great to see.
Where is a frightened, cautious person I used to be? Well, still there. There are apps I want which are still in development which I have not yet tried: Tweakr for extra profiles, and Shepherd for time-scheduling apps, connections etc (and those extra profiles once you’ve got them). I’d like to do the customising bit with the little flashing lights, but sadly I’m a coward on that, too.
But overall, N900 has taken to me places I never thought I would go to. I have done things with it I never dreamt of. There is more to do – one day I want to try one of the emulators and run palm or debian on the device. I will never run out of new things to try!
Several of my Maemo friends have been going to new places, too: Fargus is turning DVDs into amazing quality video to make the most of n900’s screen. Texrat has been dreaming up a game - oddly not one with gears and pulleys – though not far off: something about water management with wheels and locks (watch this space for more news on that – that one will follow on from the sheep, I think!) Frals has been visiting the home of Nokia for support with fMMS (brilliant!) and Hopbeat has been whistling at his phone in the latest development for Maesheep (we’re worried he may get locked up for that!) And Lcuk has been at the FOSDEM event in Brussels, meeting other n900 users and discovering he’s famous!
If I’ve missed anyone, nudge me – You’ll get a mention next week! And make sure you get in the new Maemo Weekly News – a great round-up of all that’s going on in the Maemo world: thanks to Jaffa and Reggie for the first couple of issues and to all involved in that project, too. Send them a tweet @mwkn for anything you think should be in next week's round-up.
So here I am, n900 in hand asking myself “Where do I want to go today?”
- Boldly going... where I never thought I’d go.