New phone, Moonlight almost upon us and other little tidbits from the week

on Saturday, November 21, 2009
First off, Moonlight news: 2.0 is almost upon us (or upon you, in any case). The official release date is not set yet, but it is going to be in the next two weeks, so if you have bugs that need fixing for the release, speak now or forever hold your peace. Well, not forever forever... you know what I mean :)

A simple phone

This week I got supremely frustrated with my phone(s). I have a very friendly Nokia 6288 which is unfortunately locked-in to Vodafone, and as some of you might know, I got a new phone number from a different operator, which means I can't use my Nokia until I unlock it... and in this country, it's not an easy thing to do. In the meantime, I have some unlocked phones, but they're for emergencies only, really, when I'm travelling and just need to use a local card for a bit, not at all something that I would like to use on a regular basis. And I did try to use them, but it turns out I need a little more from a phone than what a Nokia Prism can provide... boy oh boy is that thing slow :P

Choosing a new phone for me is always hard... it beats clothes shopping in difficulty level/time spent hands down. I take *months* to make up my mind, and of course, by that time they're deprecated and new models are out, so I can never decide :P So this week I was stuck in a shopping center, getting frustrated with my crappy phone yet again, and I happen to walk in to a Fnac store, which the mobile phone section right in front of me. They always say you shouldn't shop for food when you're hungry... well, it turns out that applies to looking at pretty gadgets while being frustrated with your own gadgets, too.

I started browsing, not very impressed by the selection, and I come to a corner with a pretty litte thing called HTC Tattoo. I don't know if it was the name, or the silly android logo on the silvery back of the display model or what, but before I realized it, I was walking out with a new phone.

I love it, it's everything I needed and a ton more. The only gripe I have with it is lack of a foldout keyboard, but the touch keypad is surprisingly accurate for it's small size, so I'm not missing it too much. The parts I like best are having mp3 and ogg as my morning alarm and ringtones, the twitter/facebook/gtalk/gmail/imap/flickr integration with everything and the gorgeous display. Oh yes, it makes calls, too :)

Two seconds into playing with it I found a bug in the messaging software, where when you send an sms, it gives you the option to send more by having an empty box and a send button, and if you hit the send button, it will send an empty sms without any confirmation :P That was pretty much the only hiccup I've had with it so far, it's been a pretty smooth ride. I'm sure I'll have a lot more problems once I start hacking on it though :D


Thursday Google released the source of ChromiumOS. That evening I basically couldn't get to sleep, so I figured I might as well go do something boring like trying it out on my EeePC - watching stuff build usually does wonders for my sleeplessness.

Building the thing was pretty straightforward, and in a short while I had it running from USB on the Eee 901. But, alas, no wireless - the 901 comes with a ralink, whose drivers are still relegated to the staging area of the kernel, and it turns out ChromiumOS doesn't include those in the build. So I had to go back, reconfigure the kernel to add the ralink drivers and build again, then build the image, load it on the stick, and boot again - et voilà, wireless was up and running.

Next problem... how to get it to connect to a secure AP - it's not like you can login without network on ChromiumOS (well, yes, you can, but I'm stubborn and don't wanna), and there's no way to configure anything from the login screen... fortunately, wpa_cli was available from the terminal, so after a few choice commands, it connected to the AP.

But still, no login. For some reason the connman DNS proxy refused to talk to the DNS on the router, so it wouldn't resolve any hosts (and it doesn't log anything! there's no docs for it, nothing... essential system-level software that fails without telling me anything is annoying!).

At this point I decided to get it running from the HD, to make it easier to configure stuff, and the installation of the system to HD was completely painless and fast. Another reboot, and we're up and running from HD. Still no DNS, so terminal again to hack up resolv.conf and set up nameservers. ChromiumOS doesn't save wireless configurations, so every reboot means another set of wpa_cli commands, which is annoying. But hey, I have a lot of patience. Or I'm masochistic... one of those.

Finally, net was running, tried to login and... no dice. A quick look at the logs reveals that curl is failing trying to load security certificates :/ At this point I gave in a bit and connected the eee to the ethernet, just to make sure. Same thing. Looks like it's either trying to connect to a stale server, or there's something wrong with my build. So I've seen the login screen (very blue), but nothing else. Maybe tomorrow I'll take another stab at it - I'm curious how the desktop is done.

Didn't help much with the sleep thing, but it was fun. :)