Archive for ‘Learn’


Symbian CardDAV prototype

Cards-256Here it is, without further ado: Cards 0.1
(Update 2013-03-29: I’m in the process of trying to get whitelisted to continue using this API with google, see this blog post)

(Update 2014-02-03: Since I failed adding OAuth and get DAV responses, here’s the source: . In the other news, SyncML seems to still be working with settings like here).

What does it do? it connects to google and downloads vcards from there, then it presents them in a (sorted) list where you can select one to call or email. It doesn’t store them or sync them in any way.

This is proof-of-concept work, of course.

It’s based on Qt4.7.4 for Anna – is it working for you?

I don’t know if I will add more features to this, as my itch is scratched, but feel free to come up with suggestions!

Some things I learned along the way:

QML development is very nice, things evolved very fast and in a good way since the first time I took a look at Qt for Symbian (that was without QML or QtQuick).

The actual Digia Qt documentation is still up for the 4.7/4.8 Symbian parts and you still find Nokia forums with lots of info from people.

The actual coding of this went on for about a month, in 10 sessions of a couple of ours each:)I went from making the briefly reading the CardDAV rfc to coding the PROPFIND request in Qt C++, then started reading on how to set up QML and Qt together in the same project, then trying to fill a ListView with the card info and finally learning a bit about page navigation and adding a login page. The last bit was firing up Inkscape, watching a squircle tutorial and bam! I have an icon too.

Unfortunately for actually synchronizing the agenda or make a call without confirmation I need to write even more Qt C++ code:) Also, the PROPFIND request only returns the IDs of the cards, I had to download them one request at a time (altough in theory queries can be made was not able to get the cards in the first reply itself).

And all this was done on Linux! Thank you Nokia! (I actually had two QtCreators, one for simulator and one for building .sis files, since the remote compiler I used before was pulled out, then I figured how to configure the simulator to run in the second QtCreator)

What I didn’t do is I haven’t read about signing, UIDs, putting into store etc. Maybe I’ll figure this out later too.


Apple: Dozens of missing apps

I am currently using a micro-SIM iPhone while waiting for my Symbian smartphone to get out of service.
So I thought to use this occasion to compare the two, from a ‘what I miss on the Apple phone’ perspective.

The Nokia Store has ‘only’ 120 kiloapps and Apple’s AppStore has over 1 million. However, I still find the Nokia device more useful, and have had some frustration with the Apple already.

I try to explain this difference of features trough a list of ‘included’ Symbian stuff, that the Apple phone either

  • needs an application for (which oversizes the store with 10x variants) or
  • cannot fix through an app

This list also has hardware features that I love to use, exactly to show that “there’s an app for this included on Symbian” is also about features un-fixable by an app.

read more »


Ditching the n85 for a touch-only C7?

There, I did it. Or at least I try to.

I went to my network provider and exercised my “right” to have two more years of overpriced SMS-es, calls and kilobytes at the cost of choosing a phone with a lower price. And I went for C7.

Now, the reason I chose the C7 was to try to start the transition from non-touch to touch-only, and I reckon’d that I would still need the Answer and Reject buttons. I chose Symbian^3 over not having an OS at all, because all the Androids out there thought that having a Search or a Back button at the bottom of their screen was more important for a phone..

Now, what does C7 holds above the n85? Other than being touch-enabled (and D-pad disabled)? It has a GPU indeed and a digital Compass – both being missed on the n85 alright. It has Gorilla glass. (n86 later had a toughened screen and digital compass, but that was less than two years ago so I missed it). Can you imagine? C7 is like a n85 without a keyboard!

What follows is a rant of a n85 user that didn’t go for the E7 because: it missed the answer/reject keys, didn’t had the microSD slot, nor the FM transmitter, neither for the E6 that didn’t have an FM transmitter either, nor did it have a dedicated camera button. So I am stuck with C7, which is also the most cost effective.

The transition from n85 to C7 would look like the transition from MS-DOS to Windows, only without a keyboard.

I myself am a keyboard guy, when using computers. I prefer Alt-Space + E + P instead of reaching the mouse for right-clicking – when pasting in the Windows cmd.exe. I guess other people use the mouse heavily, but also the keyboard.

Now imagine Windows without a keyboard, – that is, with a mouse-enabled (touch-enabled) keyboard. And you want to get shit done!

That is how I feel about touch only. Even on n85, I was able to pair a bluetooth mouse to play Quake – just like in the good old MS-DOS days, when you had to add it to Config.sys or Autoexec.bat etc.

Proof of concept: for running a known installed application (let’s say Shazam), on n85 I typed 742-down-down-enter from the vHome screen, because it has smart-“dialing” for apps too. On C7, I need to either have a shortcut on my screen (not scalable wrt no. of apps) or manually flip through the Applications folder (menu, applications, flip-flip-click).

Other complaints: Zooming in Opera Mini/Mobile is just ‘5’ on n85, while on C7 is double-tap (or pinch zooming) – unless you don’t hit a link – , while scrolling is: D-pad on n85 (2/8 for PgUp/PgDn), and kinetic scrolling – sideways activated – on C7. I don’t know if you get this but: on n85 you move around faster and you don’t hide site content behind your finger, while on C7 you may accidentally click something, you may not read good enough when scrolling the text because your finger is there, you may scroll sideways while at it…!

Oh, and speaking of Google: neither the digital compass nor the multitouch is useful in Google Maps, or Street View. They have their platform to care about now… what’s next, disabling POP3..?


In summary, here’s what’s lost when upgrading:

– keyboard

– autofocus

– hot-swappable microSD



QtCreator on Linux, and Qt for Symbian in general (updated)

I just installed the latest QtCreator with its simulator, and with the Remote Compiler option, was able to see an application actually running on my N85.

Qt not funny

And I have to say I was very unimpressed.

The thing is, this approach of emulating desktop widgets would enable – with some customisation – the creation of a rich user experience in the future (and with massive customisation).

You can teleport your database GUI you made in Qt on Symbian in a couple of minutes (after resizing the window to S60’s resolution).

But.. That’s not the point. I don’t need ‘Forms’ on my mobile.

I would have expected Qt Mobility to have a (new) set of controls that directly translate to what the S60 UI offers. But what I see in that screenshot it’s just canvas painting.. (excepting the menu).

In fact, I would go even further and say that, GUI-wise, this is worse than Web RunTime. HTML and CSS with some JavaScript would be much more customizable !

That doesn’t take away the fact that Qt C++ apps can crounch numbers faster – but aren’t we in the business of online-everything, even on the desktop?

Update1: QtQuick Components may solve this issue in the near future:

Update2: Qt 4.7.0 is not actually available for n85. The smart installer I built with the Remote Compiler said ‘Device not supported’, although S60 3rd edition FP2 is listed there. Oh well, next time I’ll buy something mainstream..


testing wordpress0.8.0

If you see this, it works!


Where does my battery juice go?

Symbian has this super-powers of telling you where your thousand “mAh” go.

Have you just installed a program that you want to run permanently?
Maybe it would be better to check the power impact with Nokia Energy Profiler.

For a quicker guide: start the Energy Profiler, press ‘2’ to begin measurements, lock the phone (like you would when pocketing it) and wait a while longer after the screen is shut down/idle. Unlock the phone, press ‘2’ to stop, then ‘8’ one or two times until you see the medium Watts consumptions. (* and # zoom in or out)

Let’s say a value of 0.02 – 0.03 Watts is best.

Now repeat the steps with your new program left in background (such as facebook, twitter, im client etc). Also don’t forget to check your task manager for what else could be running.


Customize your Symbian S60v3 home screen

The state of the Symbian S60v3 homescreens

Most Symbian devices already pack one or two homescreens, either made by the handset manufacturer or by the carrier you bought the phone from.

My Nokia n85 comes with a choice between three home screens, but other models may have other options too.

The first one is the “Basic” home screen, looking a bit like the S40 one:

Nokia S60 Basic Homescreen

Nokia n85 S60 Basic Homescreen

And the two more modern, with icons and different notifications (but not very configurable).

S60 Horizontal Icons Homescreen

S60 Vertical Icons Homescreen

Then there’s the ones that may be carrier specific, such as in this Vodafone UK home screen, unfortunately not available for download:

These built-in homescreens allow you to do the basic operations such as calling, looking up a contact, checking your mail or scanning for WLANs (in the case of the Icon sets homescreens) but are a far cry by today’s standards, with Big Clocs, weather info, twitter or facebook updates, SMS preview-ing and what not.

Third-party homescreens

This is my attempt at an exhaustive listing of third party solutions available for Symbian S60v3, ending with more details on the one I picked to use for my day to day smart usage of the phone:

Handy Shell

Epocware’s Handy Shell is a powerful commercial home-screen replacement for S60v3. If bought together with Handy Weather, it also displays a nice forecast in the lower part of the screen:

Handy Shell with Handy Weather

  • Home screen:
  • Big digital clock
  • Row with customizable shortcuts
  • Exhaustive indicators
  • Calendar events
  • Weather information
  • Smart dialing
  • 12 Applications screen
  • 12 Favourite contacts screen
  • Photo viewer
  • Screen switching effects (cube, slide, etc)

It’s a pretty functional home-screen, with lots of features and very useful information. What I didn’t liked about it was the fact that you had to manually confiugre those two applications and contacts screens (event the photo, wasn’t the system-provided one).

The other drawback was the price. If it was the best homescreen, I would have payed the $19 for it (I would have had a second thought avout the $24 for Handy Weather, though).

Hiplogic Live

Hiplogic Live is a good-looking but huge download (eats 6MB out of your internal memory) which includes many apps along with the home screen itself, and an App Store to choose some more.

Hiplogic Live home screen

  • One big widget at a time (clock, weather, twitter etc.)
  • Screen notifications
  • Integrated google search
  • 3 Applications Screens (with many preinstalled ones)

HipLogic’s homescreen is one of the nicest looking ones. It is, however, less integrated into the operating system than Handy Shell, as it presents a list of applications that has no real resemblence of what you find on your phone, plus – it has a very awkward way of dialing (as opposed to smart dialing, it requires you to press 2 keys before searching the contact..).

The other problem is having a 6MB application in your phone’s internal memory – it’s the size of Ovi Maps, but with much less functionality.

Plus, the good looks are not equaled by the keyboard functionality: many keys that you expected to work (such as the Delete one, the left-right on the homescreen) do nothing at all).


This is also good looking, like other products from MMMOOO (MyPhone), but it’s actually just an FlashLite application, not a real homescreen (it closes on red button, doesn’t dial, just sits there and fools you into thinking it’s Android).

M1's home screen

M1's Menu

Needless to say that this M1 homescreen provides close to no keyboard support, and the application list there is just a guess on what you may have installed.

Voyager Mobile’s vHome

vHome seems the most feature-wise homescreen  with the smallest footprint out there.

In 700KB, you get:

Voyager Mobile's vHome

  • Exhaustinve indicators + access to their corresponding applications
  • Big digital clock + access to the Clock application
  • One or two rows of configurable shortcuts + access to their configuration by pressing Delete(‘C’)
  • RSS reader
  • Google search widget
  • Weather widget + Access to 3 days forecast
  • Twitter posting widget (not shown here)
  • Configurable right and left shortcuts, with some built-in options used here: a menu (Start) and the list of favourite contacts)
  • Smart dialing (used for applications too)
  • Integrated powerful task manager
  • Task switching on Red button press (now you’re sure that Red won’t randomly close some applications)

The vHome desktop is also offering the standard Nokia indicators, in which case it drops the Big digital clock, and the quick access to the indicators menu is not possible anymore

Menu shown when clicing the Indicators bar (includes Connection Manager when connected)

Native Nokia indicators (the Big digital clock is removed for obvious reasons

You can also see from the screenshot above that the Digital clock has several appearances, accessible by using the right and left keys when the clock is selected (including an HTC SenseUI-like one)

Feed selection and Weather forecast

Just check whatever you like

A cutie

Smart dialing: Whenever you press a key on the numerical keyboard, vHome opens a Contacts + Applications search, which treats each numerical key as any alphabetical combination.

Smart dialing: results from Contacts

Same screen, this time only 2 applications match

Of course if it’s a phone number you’re dialing, it will be dialed disregarding the fact that no contact name matches. But there is also the option for searching through the phone numbers too.

vHome's configurable "Start" menu (you can add a Turn Flashlight On option there)

A glimse from the settings menu (the list ends with a More Settings option;)

vHome is quite keyboard powered: pressing ‘C’/Delete on any of the RSS reader, Twitter, Weather or Google search widget offers to disable that feature, and pressing ‘C’ on one of the applications shortcuts brings the list of applications to select another one in lieu. Compare that with the S60 Icon-screen where you have to go 7 levels deep in the menu to find the list of the six shortcuts.

Customize left/right shortcuts

Pressing 'C' on the second shortcut Icon

Task Manager

Task Manager

Press 'C' to Kill

That’s it for today.


Screenshots for posterity

A screenshot tool for the phone is not exactly something anyone would need, but I will still walk you through this installation – as it’s going to be useful for my blogging needs.

Finding a screen capturing application is as easy as going to the Ovi Store and searching for ‘screen’. (In case you don’t know what Ovi Store is, follow/type ‘‘ on you phone’s browser and you’ll have the old ‘Download!’ application replaced by this:

After that, and after searching for ‘screen’, you will find that the only free application for screenshoting is .. Best ScreenSnap.

I find it amusing, that this is the only free application (the authors of Best * stuff)

You can now proceed installing it: of course, your button will tell “Download” instead of “Launch”, but that’s only because I haven’t found a way to make a screenshot before installing a screenshot application..

The only wart I have with this application (which does the job absolutely perfectly) is that it\s not clear what’s happening when you choose a trigger button: the option look like a regular Symbian multiline input.. but it actually expects you to press the keyboard accelerator you desire:So, NO, I haven’t actually typed ‘CameraShutter2’ in there, I just entered the field and pressed my camera shutter (dunno why it says it’s the second one on my n85).

Oh, and don’t expect any screenshot of the editing field: it’s another chicken and egg problem, you can’t use the screenshot keyboard shortcut while defining another screenshot keyboard shortcut)

There you go, the ‘best’ screen capturing software (found for free) is now installed on your phone.

Oh, and that Ovi Store I keep forgeting about: you have that too doncha? Maybe I’ll rant a bit about it in another post.


I got an N85, but I won’t review it

You may find that in the 2010’s it’s weird to talk about this unknown, non-touch mobile phone such as the n85. This is exactly the reason why I won’t write about it very much, except the next paragraph:

n85 image

I bought an n85 after my wedding, in 2009, to quickly have access to a GPS device while on the honeymoon trip (you know, fighting about whether turning right or left in a foreign country and foreign city is not recommended if you’re on your honeymoon). The 3 months of included free navigation was exactly what I needed, and then, .. there was Symbian.

I am starting this blog just because I am now far more knowledgeable regarding Symbian than I was a year before, and knowing the S60 3rd edition devices (thanks to ) I found out that a lot of people around me have one. And they all under-use their phones.

So there it is.. I will stop talking about the particular model of my Symbian S60 3rd edition phone (referred also as S60 3.2 or Symbian 9.3), and I will start talking about how I use it, all of which should apply to other (if not all) same OS devices.

I will try to post every couple of days, telling you how to: customize your home screen, how to read your Gmail, how to get on facebook, use the phone as a flashlight, turn it into a router or use tethering, compose drum scores on it, record a whole gig through line-in, browse fast with Opera mini or the more ajax-y Opera mobile, navigating with offline maps, share pictures directly to Dropbox or Picasaweb, use it as a pedometer, a GPS tracker or simply as a GPS tachometer, broadcast FM music to your car’s radio and all the stuff you haven’t used (even copy-paste, task-switching, sending vcards and what not).

I will acknowledge the shortcomings though: S60 3.2 has no touch support, and the particular model I’m having has no digital compass or graphics accelerator. Give me a phone with these onboard (as an addition) and I’ll switch immediately.

Till then, I’ll teach you how to Symbian

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