Got Power?

Got Power?As seems to be the case in many airports these days, there is Wi-Fi coverage all over the lounge area in Terminal 3 at London’s Heathrow, but you’d better make sure you have a full charge on your batteries if you plan to use it as even at the dedicated BT and T-Mobile hotspot ‘zones’ the power sockets have no juice.

And forget finding sockets anywhere in the main waiting areas – there’s none to be found (they’re all hidden under special covers in the floor). I have to wonder what the point of providing the Wi-Fi is if they don’t also provide the power for the laptops.

Still, it did work well for a quick connection from my N95 earlier – I connected to the BT Openzone, fired up Truphone and made some free international calls to let people know I’d arrived safely!

Free Portable Music – Legally

Slacker + DevicescapeI’ve spent the day walking around downtown San Francisco testing the new Slacker Portable Player with Devicescape enabled firmware on it so I can sync my radio stations at public hotspots as well as at home.

Notice the top line of that that screen shot where it says “Signing in” – that’s Devicescape at work, getting me online here at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Market Street. And once it is done, it logs me out too.

For those that haven’t heard of Slacker before (where have you been?), they have a flash player for your browser that lets you choose one of their radio stations to listen to, or customise one of your own. The portable allows you to sync a few stations onto a device you can put in your pocket and then take with you. Internet radio for when you’re not connected. Next time you’re near Wi-Fi, just connect and it will re-sync getting you new tunes to listen to.

How is this free? Well, they limit the number of times you can skip forward per hour, and might also throw in some commercials (though I’ve yet to hear one). If you want the freedom to skip as often as you like, or the guarantee of no commercials, they have a monthly subscription premium plan too.

No Service

No ServiceArrived at Sugar Bowl this morning to discover that my iPhone has no service here. Oddly though, my N95, which is also on AT&T, does have coverage, and in fact pretty much full signal strength.

Luckily, here in Judah Lodge there is free Wi-Fi (SSID: EXWIRE or exwire depending on where you are). That too is a little strange as the same network is available in the main lodge, but there it is a paid hotspot network instead (which I have now added to Devicescape’s collection as well).

Also, if you’re going to provide Wi-Fi, especially paid Wi-Fi with a 2 hour minimum and day pass option, you really need to make sure that there are plenty of power outlets available as well.

Parking Lot Snow

Parking Lot SnowNot actually as bad as I had expected given the forecasts on my iPhone before I left for Toronto. Instead of snowing as forecast, today was in fact beautifully bright and sunny. It was cold though. Very, very cold. The highest temperature I saw reported on the car’s external thermometer was -5°C. There was snow on the ground, but the roads were clear for the most part.

Right now I am sitting at Toronto airport, hooked onto the airport’s Bell hotspot Wi-Fi thanks to Boingo. I also have my Nokia N95 hooked onto the Wi-Fi through my Boingo Mobile account, allowing me to make Truphone calls to folks back in California for free. And, of course, Devicescape manages the login here from the N95 (and also earlier on my iPhone when I checked my email).

Devicescape Updates

I have a couple of Devicescape updates for everybody tonight (and I’ll also post some more photos soon, but you can check most of those out in my Flickr stream anyway.

Nokia Videos
The video to the right is a video shot by our friends at Nokia that shows Devicescape logging in automatically at a T-Mobile hotspot. Here’s another one shot at San Jose airport.

Both of these videos used the T-Mobile network, but Devicescape also works on most of the other hotspot networks you’ll find around the world.

SF New “Mobile” Tech
The other thing I wanted to mention was that I presented at SF New “Mobile” Tech last night here in San Francisco. If you were there, thanks for coming (especially all the folks who already had Devicescape running on their devices).

iPhone Update

Devicescape for your Apple iPhone
First thing, Devicescape announced today that the iPhone version of its hotspot login software will be available very soon. Check out the Devicescape blog post for information about getting on the list for downloads if you’re interested in trying that out.

iPhoneOpener
Since there are now much simpler ways to get the iPhone ready for third party software, I suggest that people don’t use my iPhoneOpener software anymore for this purpose. Instead, I recommend iNdependence for Mac users looking to get ssh/sftp setup, and the Nullriver Installer.app for those on Windows or Mac OS looking to just add cool third party apps to their iPhones.

Devicescape on Apple iPhone

Devicescape User InterfaceAfter a few days of work, I now have a pre-alpha version of Devicescape‘s hotspot login agent running on our iPhone. It is not ready for release, but it is doing basic logins, and has a simple UI (though mostly a status screen at the moment).

The screenshot shows a connection to a FON AP, but I have also logged in to our in-house test hotspot, the T-Mobile one in Starbucks across the road and a German T-Mobile hotspot we have in our shielded room for testing against.

Still more to do on this (at the very least a button for logging out of the network would be useful), but it is a start.

None of this would have been possible without the progress made by the folks at the Phone Dev Wiki of course, especially on the toolchain.

Thanks also to Eric Sadun for the screenshot utility.

iPhone Progress

Lots of progress recently on the iPhone front (been busy with that, and a couple of other research projects for work, hence the lack of posts). Tonight I uploaded the source for a little tool called iOpener that combines the jailbreak function with the installation of the dropbear ssh server.

It is based on the well documented iPhoneInterface app developed by the folks at the iPhone Dev Wiki, but removes the shell function and replaces it with pre-programmed commands (the same way the jailbreak app automates the process of getting out of the chroot jail). It also employs the same trick as jailbreak to enable iTunes to function correctly as well (and therefore also supports the latest versions of iPhoneInterface).

For now you can download it from here. I’ll re-host it somewhere on bluedonkey.org soon. Next target for me is to get Devicescape‘a hotspot login application running on the phone… Since we have a Mac OS X version, I’m hoping it will port easily now there is a toolchain in existence.

iPhone Application Development

New iPhone ApplicationMaking some progress on getting applications installed on the iPhone. There is still a lot of work to do though, and the team over at the iPhone Dev Wiki (you can find them through their IRC channel: #iphone @ irc.osx86.hu, or using Google, but they ask people not to link directly) are making a lot of valuable discoveries towards this goal.

The photo, which is real, shows a new icon on the SpringBoard screen; the icon is Devicescape‘s and provides a clue as to what I am trying to add to the iPhone. Currently it just launches the FieldTest app though.

Nokia N95 vs Apple iPhone

iPhone & Nokia N95I’ve had the iPhone for a few days now (and the N95 for over a month), so I thought I’d post a little comparison. There are plenty of other places out there with reviews and comparisons, and the N95 is the obvious phone to compare it to.

The first surprise with the iPhone though is how heavy it is. The N95 feels like a hollow shell by comparison!

Purely from the specs, the N95 has the iPhone beaten. That topic has been beaten to death everywhere, including a series of amusing YouTube videos in the Apple Mac vs PC style.

The UI though leaves the Nokia in the dust (and I’m not even going to talk about Windows Mobile – that should just be purged from the earth). Most of the apps make good use of the UI too, especially the flick scrolling.

Both devices are amazing, but both have their flaws too. The N95 interface is clunky at times, though even the stunning UI on the iPhone has problems – the keyboard is really hard to use. The camera on the iPhone is terrible, though the N95 one has issues at times too (I’ve had days, like today, when the auto-focus just refuses to lock).

The biggest thing that is missing from the iPhone though is simple: no third party applications. It comes with essentially 13 applications on top of the basic mobile phone behaviour. My N95 comes with over 20 applications, and I can add more very easily. I currently have Opera Mini, Google Maps, ScreenShot and, of course, Devicescape.