Google Music Beta

00:23 by akylas. Filed under: Software

About two months I was accepted into the Google Music Beta. I signed up while on my Chromebook, and while I like to think Google gives preference to those who sign up for their betas on Chrome OS machines, I doubt that’s really the case. One would think that would be the case, right?

Once you’re accepted into the Beta, you’re given access to the web portal and the desktop application.

Google Music Beta User Interface

Google Music Beta User Interface

All the desktop application is responsible for is uploading your music back into the Google cloud. You simply specify the location to find your music and if it detects any in there (of a certain format), it’ll upload them. It really does nothing else, and that’s not really saying a bad thing. Also of note, I would expect Google would do a checksum of your song and correlate that to the same song someone else might’ve uploaded, but that’s not the case. All your music has to be individually uploaded. It does take quite some time, even if you’re on Cable/DSL.

As far as the web interface is concerned, it looks and works great. It’s pretty simplistic on what you would expect for a media manager: It simply just lets you listen to your music, and does not offer much else as far services, which I like. It does not shove recommended music in your face, or populated your library with music that’s not really yours. The website works on all the web browsers I’ve tried thus far (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox) without a hitch, although I would expect this from Google.

Google also has produced applications for their Android devices that allow you to listen to the same library, over 3G or over WiFi. I tested it out on a Samsung Galaxy S II, and despite it’s choppy interface, it works pretty well! It’s a bit heard to navigate and occasionally gets hung up, but this is their beta of course.

Overall it has helped me in many circumstances where I found oddly myself without a device that has my music library on it, or if those devices are dead. I only have approximately 130 songs in my online library at the moment. I hope to add more, but I probably won’t until I find myself sick of my selections on there at the moment. Whether or not I’d pay for this service, I’m not sure. It certainly comes in handy when using my Chromebook, but for all other situations I usually have my Zune on me.



Converting .d64 images onto floppy disks

21:08 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware,Software

The first thing I did was hook up my XA1541 cable to my Windows XP machine. If you’re looking for instructions on what to do to actually get the images onto floppies, do the following steps prior to hooking up the drive the first time:

  1. You first have to download opencbm. Download and unzip that in a folder.
  2. There’s an executable that installs the drivers to recognize the 1541 drives when they are connected to the PC. Install those.
  3. Unless you like working via the CLI, you’re going to want to download cbmxfer.
  4. Unzip those files into the same directory that contains the opencbm executabkes.
  5. Shut down your computer.
  6. Hook up the 1541 drive using the Xx1541 series cable to the LPT port on the machine of your machine. Turn on the 1541 drive and then turn on your computer.
  7. Once your machine is back up and running, open cbmxfer. Configure it as appropriate.
  8. Click the ‘Status’ button. If you get the drive information in the field in the lower right hand corner, you’re good to go.
  9. This is now the relatively tricky part. The first two and a half hours I used this application, the 5.25″ floppies I used either were not formatted correctly, or my drive(s) simply did not like them. I would get occasionally write errors, and many instances of 74,DRIVE NOT READY,00,00. If you get that, and you know your drive works fine, it’s probably your disks. Before I copy a .d64 over, I always format the disk. If it fails formatting, I don’t use it. Format it, then image it. Works great after that.

    I’ve loaded up GEOS 2.0, and geoLink now. They’re working great with my 64NIC+ !



A brief look at the Nokia N800 and Maemo

23:21 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware,Software

This was one of my favorite devices. I first ran across Maemo (the Debian-based operating system it runs) when a friend showed me the Nokia N770, the first in the Nxxx series, while Geocaching. It was running an open linux system in the palm of your hand! Back then, the PDA OS du jour was Windows CE variants and Palm OS. It was my first introduction to the platform and I had never heard of any other PDA with a linux distribution on it that we can easily gain root to by opening the shipped terminal on the device and simply typing “sudo gainroot”.

Nokia N800 running Maemo 4

This was several months after the N800 released and around the day the Nokia N810 was announced (the device in the series after the N800). The moment I got home, I researched it further online and bought it a few days later. It only took a couple days to arrive and boy was I pumped when it arrived.

As mentioned earlier, the Nokia N800 runs Maemo 4 (or Internet Tablet OS 2008 as Nokia liked to term it back then). It originally shipped with Maemo 3 but with an update, you were able to bump the platform up to 4, then eventually 4.1. Maemo 1 and 2 were Nokia N770 releases exclusively, roughly released in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Of course, all this information you could look up on Wikipedia, so I’ll skip over that stuff.

Why did I like it? Well, it meant I could pretty much run any Linux application I wanted to–for the most part. It had to compile for ARM, but that just meant that I could load the sources onto the device and use gcc to compile it on the device itself. Anything UI related got tricky, and I often depended on other users packaged bundles for that part. Nokia encouraged the community to develop applications (and for the most part, unofficially port existing applications over that would be a little muddy if Nokia offered said applications officially). More often than not, if you really wanted an application working, or try to find if a popular application existed, you could just head to the Internet Tablet Talk Forums and either do a search, or post asking for what you’re looking for. Sometime since I acquired the N800, the InternetTabletTalk forums seemed to have been picked up Nokia themselves and became part of the official Nokia forums.

So what did I primarily use the device for? It made for an excellent SSH/telnet, VNC, rdesktop, nmap (among other networking utilities) device for work and home. I’d be able to carry this device around places where simply a laptop was way too cumbersome to bring, and Of course, the occasional run of Doom, Quake, Quake 2 never hurt. The device was extraordinarily useful when I was in Australia for a few months. I was able to walk into a State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, sit on the side on a couch in a noisy part of the library, connect the device to free WiFi, and then Skype out to call back to the States. The desks and provided computers were always full, and a laptop was sort of cumbersome if you weren’t at a desk.

I never utilized e-mail on the N800, mostly because the device had issues connecting to the two Exchange mail servers I’ve tried connecting it to. Plus, the device didn’t have compatible VPN features at the time with the network I would’ve needed to access. It had great on-site uses though.

In my opinion, the device excelled due to it’s unique position in the PDA marketplace among the available platforms–but only with hobbyists who actually understood what the device was. The normal user wasn’t really going to go out and pick one of these devices up, especially since phones with “similar” feature sets were making their way out of the door. Hence, not many people know this device, or Maemo, exists unfortunately. People enjoy making comparisons to the Apple iPhone when talking about anything in 2007 but the iPhone didn’t start eating heavy marketshare until the iPhone 3G was released with App Store support in the summer of 2008.

Since acquiring the N800, I currently have in my possession the latest (and possibly the last) device in the series, the Nokia N900. It is now one the devices I make sure to carry in my backpack all the time, among many others. The significant newest feature of this device is that it supports 3G, so you’re really never left without an Internet connection. Many other improvements have been made, but you can find all of those on the linked wiki.

This post is really preparation of the many posts I’ll be doing in the future on MeeGo running on the Nokia N900 (and possibly other devices), which is the merge of Maemo with Intel’s OS Moblin. Maemo 5 is the last release of Maemo, and the work done on Maemo 6 has been merged into MeeGo.

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