Nov

21

Here I am, right here

16 years ago, mid-November | 7 Comments

Some time ago I wrote what I called the “Ramius” edition of my tracker application for the TomTom Go. The limitations of the Go SDK caused more than its fair share of grief and I shelved the project, hoping to revive it later. Now I’m thinking that it’s time to bring it back to life.

At the moment I’m selling my house in The Netherlands and moving back to the UK. Until the house sells I flit between the UK and Holland every couple of weeks. I’ve taken to using the Chunnel for this because it means I can drive through the night rather than have to bend to the ferry or flight schedules. The trouble is, my wife gets worried that I’m going to crash and burn. She does this every time I do the trip, in either direction. She wont go to bed until she knows that I’ve at least got to the Tunnel.

I brought the original code out of my archive and started looking at it, removing anything that was TomTom specific. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a workable solution fairly soon, I may butcher the openmoko-agpsui2 application a bit too, just to add a face to the tracker application code. Obviously, it will need a network connection of some sort so I’ll be looking at starting and stopping a gprs connection, or using wifi when the GTA02 arrives.

On the topic of gprs and network connections, I was mulling over some points in my mind about this. Nobody wants their Neo to pull an iPhone, and give us all large bills because of roaming, so there needs to be some mechanism where the user can deny or allow access to things like gprs connections. These could be based on dates, times, even locations with the built in gps. The problem is not that it is difficult to do, the problem is that we need to be able to force applications to use an API to open gprs and wifi conections, and possibly even access the gps. There’s a whole kettle of fish here. Openmoko is opensource, not the Google kind of ‘opensouce’, the real kind. That in itself poses a few questions and perhaps some not so nice answers.

If we want to force people to use an API, then we have to make sure that they can only use the API and not bypass it. If they can bypass it, it’s useless because the malicious ‘l33t h4x0r’ is going to abuse your connection. The problem is, since we are opensource, the same abuser can simply replace the API. Sure you still have to install the application, but just think about it. Right now how many places do you update your Neo from with ipkg? If any one of those gets compromised or the owner deliberately alters packages, the first you’ll know of it is when you bill hits the mat with a thud rather than the usual ‘ftht’.

We can think about signed images or signed packages etc but that is not really going to help, this is opensource. As an application developer I’m going to want to publish applications, I don’t really want to have to get them certified or signed by someone else just so other people can use them. If you alert the user that an application or package is not signed, you know that they’ll just click ‘ok install it anyway’ and ignore it.

I think I’m going to have to ponder this one a little longer.



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November 21, 2007 14:49

Nov

18

A face in the machine?

16 years ago, mid-November | 2 Comments

Some people have been seeing things. Faces. Faces in their Neo’s. Don’t worry, it’s not your imagination it’s me, and I mean that literally, peering at you from under the clock. It’s not some vanity thing, it simply means you’re running one of my builds and allows you to quickly identify that fact.

If you ssh into your Neo and you are running one of my builds, then you will also find a file called

/etc/release

with the release date and time of the image, for example

ScaredyCat release qtopia-image-200711181035

The file appears in both my Qtopia and ScaredyCat builds but, as always, the standard Openmoko builds I do are unaltered so do not contain anything other than what is normally there – at this point that’s nothing, but may change in the future.

If you want to change the picture it’s a fairly simple procedure, either replace the file

/usr/share/pixmaps/wallpaper.png

with the file you want or change the gconf entry

/desktop/poky/interface/wallpaper

and make it point to the file you want to use. For example,

gconftool-2 –config-source=xml::/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults –direct –type string –set /desktop/poky/interface/wallpaper /media/card/mypicture.png

You will need to restart the Openmoko-Today application which, for most people, will mean a reboot of ther Neo.



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November 18, 2007 20:21

Nov

16

Freak charge failure?

16 years ago, mid-November | Leave a Comment

After getting a little frantic over my Neo battery life it appears that it has magically cured itself. I had decided that I’d try to eliminate the software side of thing as a cause for my charging issue. Rolling back to a 20071109 version of one of my own builds showed that the Neo was charging perfectly, rolling forward again and it was still happily charging.

Having left it running all night sampling the battery voltage once a second with no failure or reboot, I’m convinced that it was just a freak failure.

Hopefully other people monitoring their battery using the same method will report their findings so we can see if there is any sort of pattern in this.



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November 16, 2007 10:55

Nov

15

Neo Battery Failure?

16 years ago, mid-November | Leave a Comment

I’m a little worried about my Neo 1973, or more precisely it’s battery. We all know that the Neo doesn’t last particularly long with its battery, even after powering down, unless you take the battery out for a few minutes first. The problem started a few days about when my Neo seemed to reboot itself for no apparent reason. I noticed it about three times and thought nothing of it. Until now that is. I’m wondering how many times and for how long the battery can take being plugged into my laptop, getting charged and discharged on an almost daily basis. I’m trying to work it out, my Neo arrived on July 31 2007, If I estimate 1 charge / discharge per day that comes out at only 107 recharges, which is surely well under the life of a battery?

Looking at the graph below it appears that my battery is not charging while the Neo is powered up, or at least, it’s only getting enough charge to keep it at a fairly static level – ie not actually charging over what it takes to run the device.

I’ve Updated the graph because the Neo lost its charge competely, the graph should show this clearly and seems to mirror the results from here

I used a simple bash script to check for the voltage from

/sys/devices/platform/s3c2410-i2c/i2c-adapter/i2c-0/0-0008/battvolt

every second and then dump it to a file on my laptop. The Neo was plugged in via usb. To me the graph, measured over an hour, looks like it’s falling.

So it looks like either my battery and/or the charging circuit is damaged or I’m reading the data wrongly. I’m going to run the battery monitor for a day or so, or at least until the neo reboots itself. Once that is done I’ll put the second battery that I got with the advanced kit and see how that does in the same tests.



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November 15, 2007 13:51

Nov

12

Booting the Neo 1973 from SD

16 years ago, mid-November | Leave a Comment

After a somewhat lengthy session trying to get a Neo to boot from and image on SD I’ve finally managed to get it working. It took so long because u-boot is broken. Having taken the risk of flashing u-boot many times I finally found one that works properly and, after flashing, the Neo booted perfectly from SD. Sadly for one person, also trying to achieve the same on their Neo, they have a brick after flashing a bad u-boot. Incidentally, when I say ‘booted perfectly’ what I really mean is it part booted and then I got a kernel panic. This was caused by it not being able to mount the root partition which although I’d created as ext2 didn’t work. A quick reformat as ext3, a recopy of the appropriate files, and it booted without issue.

The good news is that I now have a dual booting Neo with Qtopia and Openmoko, although I don’t know how badly booting like this this will affect the current very poor battery life. At least I can now test either as I want without flashing I might even buy myself a bigger SD card and partition it off and have a number of bootable versions, who knows maybe Android will get on there.



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November 12, 2007 9:42

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