N900 tweaking

I’ve been tweaking my N900 quite a bit (just because I can).

Power management. Sadly there are some issues with some wifi routers related to power management. If you find yourself with connections timing out, the solution is going to settings, internet connections. Then edit the problematic connection and go to the last page which features an advanced button. Then under ‘other’ set power management to intermediate or off.

With that sorted out, you’ll want to be offline most of the day. So don’t turn on sip/im/facebook unless you need it and switch it off right after you’re done. Push email is nice but with 15/30 minute polling your battery will last longer.

To gain insight, of course install battery-eye. This plots a graph of your batteries power reserves. Finally, you may want to install a few applets to dim the screen, turn on/off wifi, and switch between 2G and 3G. You can find these in the extras repository that is enabled by default in the application manager.

Apt-get. The application manager is nice but a bit sluggish and it insists on refreshing catalogs after just about each tap. Use it to install openssh and make sure to pick a good password (or set up key authentication). Then ssh into your n900 and use apt-get update and apt-get install just like you would on any decent Debian box. This is why you got this device.

Finding stuff to install. Instead of listing all the crap I installed, I’ll provide something more useful: ways of finding crap to install.

  • Ovi store. Small selection of goodies. Check it out but don’t count on finding too much there. Included for completeness
  • Misc sites with the latest cool stuff:
  • Advanced (i.e. don’t come crying when you mess up and have to reflash): enable the extras, extras-testing, extras-devel repositories from here. Many useful things are provided here. Some of them have the potential to seriously mess up your device. Extras-devel is where all the good stuff comes from but it’s very much like Debian unstable.

Browser extensions. The N900 browser supports extensions. Install the adblock and maemo geolocation extensions through the application manager.

Use the browser. Instead of applications, you can use the browser and rely on web applications instead:

  • Cotchin. A web based foursquare client. Relies on the geolocation API for positioning.
  • Google Reader for touch screen phones.
  • Google maps mobile. Includes latitude, routing and other cool features. Relies on the geolocation API for positioning.
  • Maemaps. Pretty cool N900 optimized unofficial frontend for Google Maps.
  • Hahlo. A nice twitter client in the browser.

Doh! and phewwwww

This morning I had some more fun marking locations in Google Earth. I documented more holidays. Then I managed to lose all my additions by crashing google earth. It reset to the version I saved last evening. It turns out, it doesn’t actually save anything until you exit properly. :-(.
Next time, I’ll be saving and exporting a lot more often. Luckily I did some exporting just before it crashed. The exported file imported perfectly. But I came very close to losing a few hours of work. :-).
Anyway, I now have placemarks for all my summer holidays since 1998. The turkey and sweden vacations already have a lot of text on my photo site, so I did not bother to write much text. Both greece vacations will get some more attention later on.

Update 07-12-2006: Google introduced a feature that allows you to display kmz’s on Google Maps. This has now been integrated into the xsl so you can now view the kmz in Google Earth or Google Maps. Also I created a nice zip file distribution with some documentation (download here).

kml2html.xsl

A nice feature in Google Earth is that you can export your placemarks as a kmz file. This is just a zipfile with a .kml file inside. This file in turn is just a xml format that Google uses to list your placemarks.

I spent some time creating a nice xsl file with which you can use to convert these files to html. I use it to publish some of my own placemarks on my website. Effectively, it turns Google Earth into a content management system for publishing information about places.

I do the transformation statically using an ant build file. But you can of course also let the browser do the transformation. However, search engines probably have difficulty handling the kml format. Also, not all browsers can do xsl, e.g. mobile browsers and screen readers. This is why I prefer to generate the html.

The stylesheet has the following nice features:

  • Generates link to Google Maps for each location. It also creates a link to Google Maps pointing to the original kmz file (note you need to set the base url in the build file for that to work)
  • Generates the coordinates of the location formatted using the geo microformat. This allows firefox extensions such as operator and future browsers that support microformats to detect the coordiantes.
  • Produces nice semantic html (makes it easy to style using css).
  • It works for nested folders of placemarks and structures the page using nested unordered lists.
  • Preserves any html you type in the descriptions in Google Earth. So you can add links there and have them appear in the html.
  • Of course includes a link to the original kmz file.

Update. Since posting this I made several updates to the xsl and the css. The link above always points to the latest version of the stylesheet. In the zip file you will also find the css and a ant build file. As part of this update, I also rewrote the text above.