Thursday, March 24, 2011

WebOS on my Laptop?

I sort of made fun about WebOS on a PC the other day; but after a nice chat with Max, I began to realize that there indeed is a use for WebOS on a PC... on a Laptop to be precise.
  • Imagine a regular Laptop (HP in this case here, if it makes it easier for you :-) )
  • Imagine also that by some magic means you'd tell it to boot WebOS instead of Windows/Linux when you power it on or de-hibernate it.
  • Imagine that you'd have an excellent browser, video player, good-enough email app, good-enough word/excel/powerpoint viewer and editor, ... all that you have on regular iPads or Android-Tablets today.
That'd give you an iPad/Tablet-like instant-on-gadget with a full QWERTY keyboard and excellent battery life.

On the airport, on the train, on your daily commute, ... this sounds a lot easier than Windows for those situations

Some thoughts and pre-reqs on this:
  • You'd need something like a "WebOS key" which you hold to "boot" the WebOS mode.
    Windows must not even start to de-hibernate.
  • WebOS would need to be already running (hibernated to flash, or something like that), not really booted from scratch
  • The laptop would need an extra power-saving mode and maybe clock the CPU down in WebOS mode so save battery life
And if you really need the full enterprisey stuff to create rich corporate boring PowerPoint presentations with pie-charts and everything, you can still boot into Windows, like you used to.

Come to think of it, I might actually want WebOS on my laptopThinkPad.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Numeric HTML Input Field and other HTML5 goodies

Some while ago I've written a little web app at home that
a) needs mainly numeric input
b) is used mainly from an iPod touch / iPad / other mobile device.

On all of those devices, numeric input is cumbersome, because you first have to switch the virtual keyboard into numeric mode.

Yesterday I googled around again for this, and finally found a solution.

HTML5 has some more types to INPUT fields:

type="email"for email addresses
type="url"for web addresses / URLs
type="number"for numeric input

All of them have the effect on the iPhone/iPad that they switch to a virtual keyboard layout that is optimized for the input, e.g.

The email-keyboard on the iPhone will have the @-sign there
The url-keyboard on the iPhone will have the ".com" key; also the . and the / key will be placed more prominently.
The number-keyboard on the iPhone will switch the numbers in the top row.

On my Android 2.2 [1]  HTC only the number mode works, but it gives you a numeric block / phone-style keyboard, which is even better for numeric input.

HTML5 defines some more values for the type like "date", "week", "month", "time", ... and "range" for sliders, i.e. for numeric values with clear and narrow boundaries, but those are rarely implemented as of today.

See Dive Into HTML5 for an excellent overview including browser-support.

Since all of the above are defined only starting HTLM5, they are not "supported" on many current browsers, but the good thing is, that all browsers, that do not explicitely support them, revert to type="text" for unknown input-types.

Also there is a new attribute placeholder:
Placeholder text is displayed inside the input field as long as the field is empty and not focused. As soon as you click on (or tab to) the input field, the placeholder text disappears. (from Dive Into HTML)

Sort of like the search box in Firefox.

So back to my initial problem, defaulting to numeric input on mobile devices.
Just replace  input type="text" with input type="number", there is no down-side to this.
It is user-friendly on mobile devices, and works like it used to on all other browsers.

[1] I'll check 2.3 and 3.0 once my PC is fast enough for the SDK.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Android SDK and a new PC ?

So now that I finally moved to Android, I installed the Android SDK on my home computer plus the NetBeans plugin.
I seems to work fine, I can get the Hello World sample to compile and package and it shows up in the emulator.

The problem is that my 8 years old (!) PC with only 1.something GHz and 1GB RAM is definitely too slow and weak for this. Booting Android (2.2) in the Emulator takes longer than actually buying, charging and starting a physical Android device ...

So I guess I need a new PC now as well..

OK, I wanted to get a new one anyway, come April, so that my current PC can actually celebrate it's 8th birthday...
So proud...

Friday, March 18, 2011

So long...

So long, Nokia, and thanks for all the fish handsets.
Had a great time and fun with Nokia handsets for the last 14 years or so ... But now I'm leaving.

I'm now proud owner of my own HTC Desire Z (not only the test equipment, thanks again Richie).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book: iWoz - by and about Steve Wozniak

A couple of weeks ago I read iWoz: How I invented the Personal Computer and had fun doing it by and about Steve Wozniak.
Only I forgot to blog about it then. So here you go.

Fascinating book... well, when I say that, it will not win the Nobel prize, but it is so full of memories.
That is,
  • if you ever did something in hardware;
  • if you ever (like I did at TechU Vienna) designed some chips (integrated circuits - not crisps or fries)[1] 
  • if you ever designed a small computer system, with CPU, memory, and all the device controllers
  • if you ever had to write BIOS functionality or at the operating system level
  • if you ever wanted to do more with some gadget than the manufacturer intended you to do
  • if you ever spent[2] days optimizing some machine instructions / assembler programs to use 2 cycles less
If you ever were a geek, if the name Steve Wozniak has any meaning to you... go and read this book.
An experience quite close to time travel

[1] by the way my first contact with SunOs
[2] read: wasted

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And Nokia?

Nice observation (by my wife, actually), that - until half a year ago - we used to be a pure Nokia family... for years.
Me, her, the twins... only Nokia.
If there is such a thing as a Nokia fan boy - I probably was one.

Now we are pure Android family (2x HTC, 1x Samsung, 1x Sony Ericsson; see here and here).

IMHO, this says a lot about Nokia.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Became Assimilated...

So, the (Android) Collective got me.
On Wednesday I got a HTC Desire Z to play around with...

Tomorrow I'll finally buy one.

Resistance has never been more futile.
btw: Thanks, Richie.
btw2: and that's about the most StarTrek references you'll ever get from me.
btw3: Thanks, max.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Sort order ?

I wonder what the (intended) sort order was here ?

This is the iPhone/iPad app from Austria Airlines...

Is it really that hard ?
How can you sort on the first letter (obviously, because it is sort of grouped by the first letter) but not on the rest ?
The list is neither sorted in English, nor local language, nor the airport codes.

I don't see any sort order here (apart from the initial letter).