Monday, April 30, 2007

Flash Forward: New Way To Play

For previous Flash Forward posts see:
[1] - Simple Games
[2] - Menus In Motion
[3] - Works Both Ways

As you all may know by now, I've been learning a bit about Flash in hopes of creating some cool Internet Tablet specific content and applications, and I have to say that I'm learning a lot about the capabilities of the Flash player/plugin as well as it's limitations. As you can see, Flash can produce some fun and interesting ways to play, and both the N800 and the 770 can take advantage of much of what Flash can dish out. Not bad for a platform that's contained within a web browser, which runs on top the OS.

I've been exploring the idea of some simple 3D tricks that work pretty well on the tablets that provide more of a "playground for your pocket" than the action packed shoot 'em ups that seem to be everywhere these days. I don't really know how much fun I can fill these little sudo-3D rooms with, as I'm still new to the idea, but I think there's at least a little more that can be done to spice it up a bit. I plan on adding some more details to the room you see in the demo, and possibly even extending the space to other rooms.

So, now that you've seen a little bit of what we've been up to at, just remember this is only the beginning of what we plan to bring to the Internet Tablets utilizing the Flash platform. And as the future hardware rolls out, you can bet there will be some really cool things done when the limits are pushed back even further. I also think that it's simply a matter of time before Flash becomes more of an Open Source asset, where the tools and players are freely available (like the Flex 2 SDK) for even more creative minds to continue the growth of the platform. - 400x240 - 800x480

Sunday, April 29, 2007 Flash Lab Now Open!

Grab your laboratory coats and protective goggles, we're gonna give anyone interested in Flash development for Internet Tablets a peek at what we're working on at We will also have some tips and tricks that may be useful to developers looking into working with Flash games and applications for the tablets, as well as some cool demos tablet users can play with. So, check out the lab and stay tuned for some cool new ideas to come from our latest experiments.

Friday, April 27, 2007

GIMP Running On N800

If this is real (which I believe it is), I wouldn't mind just having even just a dozen of the features GIMP offers on my 770.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flash Forward: Works Both Ways

For previous Flash Forward posts see:
[1] - Simple Games
[2] - Menus In Motion

Let's face it, Maemo development has become quite challenging for those that wish to continue support for the 770 while at the same time venturing into new territory with the N800. For those that may not know, the 770 and N800 Internet Tablets look quite similar, but different enough internally to cause many problems with the applications developed for them. And as most tablet users can testify, there are already too many issues with application installation for each device as it is. I believe Flash applications holds the key to avoid the hassle of installation altogether. And because both devices (as well as other mobile devices) support Flash, there's less trouble for developers to offer their applications to the multiple devices and multiple platforms. However, Flash is not without it's limitations.

For many devices, Flash is constrained to the particular web browser of each device. This is not particularly disadvantageous, as many believe that the web browser will become more of the core of future mobile operating systems anyways. But even though the 770 and N800 are "Internet" Tablets, and should be able to take full advantage of all aspects of current web applications, there's still a major reliance on traditional desktop-like applications. Another limiting factor of Flash is that as a newer device comes along, no matter how similar it may be to its predecessor, will be able to power higher versions of the Flash player of which most likely won't be accessible to older devices. The good side to this is that older Flash content will work fine on the newer hardware, but the bad side is that even Flash development will have to eventually shift towards the newer devices.

So, we gain speedy development (or a good way to prototype more advanced development), OS agnosticism, avoidance of troublesome installations, and mostly smaller file sizes (among other advantages). However, until we start to see Flash as less of a "platform within a platform" environment and more of a standalone UI/application engine, or less limited to just web applications, it will be just as difficult to produce the dynamic applications many desire as any other programming environment. I've been looking into some potential uses for this great platform for the Internet Tablets and other mobile devices lately, and to give a bit of an idea what can be done, I present some simple demos for those with either device to check out:

Star Field
Fader Menu

Stay tuned for more cool stuff from as I get better at Flash.

Next Up... "New Way To Play"

Monday, April 23, 2007

Be Part Of The Mobile Experience?

"Part of you too can live forever if you donate your brain to the NeoNeuron Foundation, which firmly believes that 'after you're gone you'll still be here'. Our 'extended-life' program is unique in that you'll be helping to provide much of the needed processing power for the next generation's mobile devices. Think of it as the future of open source, or just feel comfortable that even after most of your body becomes useless, you'll still be able to help shape the future young people of the world with some of your neurons embedded alongside others in various NeoNeuron powered devices. Give willingly to the future of the Bio-Neuro Network movement what the Internet of the past has given you."

Okay, this sounds like a pretty scary marketing pitch from a non-existent (yet?) company that hopes to profit from your loss in a very strange, yet very possible way. Can you imagine a future where you can donate your brain towards powering gadgets of the future? What if we find that the brain still stores parts of our consciousness even after we die? If possible, what would the effects of our residual consciousness be on the devices which happen to effect society? These and other questions may very well be common ones in the future as we journey closer to actually producing efficient "biological processing units" in the labs, but I pose them now to those daring enough to attempt to answer them. You may find yourself coming up with more questions than answers.

Until next time, may the future keep scratching at your brain. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flash Forward: Menus In Motion

Last week we looked at how we can learn from the simplicity of the user interfaces of Flash games for mobile devices. This week we get into how flash could provide for a more dynamic way of presenting navigation menus for these mobile devices.

Although there's still some areas where static menus are appropriate, the limitations on what's possible have been pushed back significantly with the advent of web technologies such as Flash. The ability to create fluid, flowing, more interactive menus has effectively brought another dimension to navigating the small screen. However, only recently have we begun to implement the Flash menus and other navigation options as part of the mobile OS and not just inside the mobile browser. Maybe it's because of our naivety about how Flash works, or maybe it's because of our disdain for all things Flash due to the popularity of utilizing the technology to present annoying ads on the web. Whatever the case may be, it has slowed the acceptance of what I believe to be a very useful platform that holds a lot of untapped potential.

There's still way more Flash games than there are Flash applications, and way more Flash applications than cases where Flash is used as the UI for operating systems. I think over a short time this will change, but it has to start with Flash developers and people unafraid of committing to the platform as a viable solution to programming more of a variety of applications. A lot of work has been done to move in this direction lately, but we could always use more. To give a sense of what's possible here's one example of interesting Flash menu:

Nagano Institute of Design Gallery - Uses mouse scroll wheel in a unique way. I'd like to see something like this in mobile devices using similar scroll wheel functions.

I'd also like to see more mobiles like the Samsung Ultra Smart F700 that supposedly will us Flash as the UI.

So, we've seen a bit of what we can achieve with some simple navigational controls using, and a little on how flexible we can make menus for mobile Flash applications and operating system UI. You're probably wondering where we're going with this theme. Well, since I've always been a fan of Nokia's Internet Tablets, we'll be talking about Flash development specifically for those devices in the next post.

Next Up... "Works Both Ways"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Linux Devices User Group Launches!

A wise friend of mine once told me that you can never have too many paths to a favorite place. I think the same can be said about devices like the Nokia Internet Tablets that run Linux. The recent launch of LDUG looks to grow and become a great resource for information about current and future Linux Devices, as well as a good opportunity to meet up and geek out over our favorite Linux toys. I hope LDUG will provide an adventurous path for more people to experience the wonderful world of Linux and the growing variety of devices that suits their needs.

Monday, April 16, 2007

F-Origin HaptiTouch Marketing Video

I look forward to seeing this in my collection of mobile devices with cool user interfaces. Please, please, please, someone bring this to market soon. :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Flash Forward: Simple Games

I've written before about how important Internet standards and protocols are to the future of Internet Tablets and mobile devices in general. And as these devices get to be more powerful, I believe Flash will continue to be a major asset to the mobile space and further enhance the mobile experience in unique and amazing ways.

Over the next several posts, I'll be reviewing some flash games that not only provide simple mobile entertainment, but also provide a sense of what is possible from a user interface perspective. Combined with other web standards, flash could possibly provide a sensible alternative to much of mobile interfaces and even parts of the operating system. It is an even more logical idea today with mobile devices better capable of handling multimedia content and able to connect in more ways to networks.

So, let's get to the games...

Launch Fighters
This is your basic Space Invaders type game where you save the planet by defending against waves of enemies trying to attack. The graphics are simple, the frame rate is a bit on the slow side (770), but the UI is simple enough for the game to not only work on the intended iriver clix device, but also on devices like the Nokia 770 and N800. Simple left, right, down (shoot), and up (menu) provides all the controls needed to interact with the game. Of course, unlike the iriver clix, the Internet Tablets have access to a touch screen, which could potentially add more options to the UI control of the game if needed.
Play | Adobe Mobile

A simple Blackjack game, again using only the directional navigation to interact with the UI of the game. With well labeled controls and highlighted options that add another dimension to the game, it's easy to see that there's a lot of flexibility in what you can create with just a directional interface using flash.
Play | Minigate

Next Up... "Menus In Motion"

Monday, April 09, 2007

5 Features That Should Be In Future Mobile Devices

- Large Touch Display
Not just any ordinary touch display of course. I'm thinking ultra thin, ultra energy efficient, and possibly implementing some sort of tactile feedback technology as well. Current screens are quite good, and definitely much better than those of the past, but I think there's plenty room for improvement of the visual and interactive experience that make up a large part of a mobile device's usability.

- Long Lasting Battery
Battery technology is one area that has been in need of improvement for some time now. Ironically, it's also on of the biggest deciding factors for people looking to purchase a new mobile device. With so many features being squeezed into mobiles these days, it's understandable why the technology that powers it all never seems to be enough. There are some pretty interesting ideas for better battery solutions out there, and it's about time we start seeing some of them come out of the labs and into the market.

- Easy To Use Interface
This one's a bit tricky. How do you improve the user mobile interface without changing too much? I think the key answer to that question has always been to create a connection and communication bridge between the developers and the users of the devices. Of course that's easier said than done, but it needs to be done never the less. Back and forth communication between developers and users ensure not only the success of a device, but also provides a good foundation of customer support, marketing potential, and the overall progress of interface design as a whole.

- Flexible Customization Options
Being free minded and free spirited, it's almost insane for mobile device makers to believe people of the world should be limited in what they can or can't do with the devices they purchase. Although many manufacturers and service providers are beginning to realize how much this affects their numbers of customers, there are still those that have limits on features such as Bluetooth, wifi, and connectivity functions in general. Also, giving the individual user the freedom and ability to personalize their mobile experience provides a sense of comfort when using the devices, and that's something that's hard to put a price tag on.

- Powerful Processor
This is a no-brainer. You need a more powerful, more efficient processor to enable the current and future applications to function well on mobiles. The days of only voice, text, and some images capabilities are over. We are in the age where we want to be able to watch video, listen to audio, and capture pictures and video content all on the same device, and that type of use demands more power. More than likely the most expensive part of this whole equation, the benefits should still be able to outweigh the cost of the final product. It may take a generation or two to get the right mix of functionality and cost into these mobile processors, but it will be worth it in the long run.

So, although there are devices that currently implement one or two of these five key elements, it will be the total combination of the features that will bring us another step towards the greater mobile experience. I believe we're moving in the right direction with the current progress of these devices, and I am excited about the future because of it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

No Further Support For The 770

Well this news sure got some people pretty upset...

It's been great to have the 770 all this time, and until it dies I'll keep using it, but the news that Nokia is shutting down support and won't be providing further updates to the 770 line is pretty grave to early adopters. I saw the N800 launch as being quite messy in terms of how it was handled, and from the comments early on about it, it seemed to me that this would be like starting all over with the new OS being quite incompatible with much of the software developed for the older one.

This caused me to be a bit suspicious and wait a bit to see how quickly Nokia resolved many of the same issues (and even some new ones) with the N800 as the 770 had before it. I'm still not convinced to purchase the N800 with the current rate of support for the device, and it's approaching the point where I'll wait till the next new tablet to be released in order for me to even think about upgrading again.

Now with the news that support for the 770 has come to an end, I see even less reason to upgrade to the N800, not more. This was a very poor move on Nokia's part. They've done the very exact thing many were hoping would never be done again, the premature abandonment of a great device. As for the future of Internet Tablets as a whole, I hope they continue to get better and that the company(s) that make them continue to get better at supporting them.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Design Proposal For Maemo Website

Design for maemo website
Originally uploaded by TuomasKuosmanen.
"Proposed front page layout and design for, bear in mind that this is work in progress, thus feedback is welcome, encouraged and necessary part of the design :-)"

I think this layout looks pretty nice. The banner looks a bit large for the page, but other than that, it looks a heck of a lot better than the current design. I hope this rolls out soon.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

3pm Hits A Sour Note With Some

As you've probably noticed by now, my Google AdSense account has been disabled and is currently under appeal. Apparently some mean person has a grudge against my other site, 3pm. With the addition of the attack on my account, I also received two offending emails from someone that claim responsibility for the dastardly deed. Rest assured, I'm giving Google all the information I can get on this hater in order to get my account reinstated.

Read more about my feelings on the situation here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

All Jokes Aside...

Shouldn't home Internet setup really be this easy?

Also, check out the new Gmail Paper!