The GPS god is powerful, don't you dare mess with him

Its fairly public that the N810's GPS is a joke. GPS fixes are a rare thing to come by, and the device can't hold on to one for long. While playing with the device, I managed to get a fix the very first time in less than a minute, at the office. Well and good, that was fast! The sad part is that I've never managed to get a fix ever after that. I've sat on the terrace talking on my phone and given the N810 close to 15 minutes to go its part. Its always been scanning, scanning and more scanning. I've seen satellites come and go, but never the fix.

After reading up on internettablettalk, there has been a lot of posts on this topic, and one of them suggested that the problem could be with the state file being that the driver creates got corrupted. Hmm, that's interesting. I fire up ssh, and poke under /var/lib. I saw the files there:

Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib/gps# ls -ltrh -rw-rw-r-- 1 user users 9 Dec 20 19:31 gps_serial_ports srw-rw-r-- 1 user users 0 Dec 23 09:52 gps_driver_ctrl -rw-rr 1 user users 23.3k Dec 23 22:02 nvd_data -rw-rr 1 root root 0 Dec 23 22:07 gps_last_saved_report

gps_last_saved_report was my last state, and the coordinated faithfully pointed to the office balcony where the experiment was done. I promptly nuked the file, and fired up maemo-mapper again. There were no improvements, except for the fact that now the app can't see where I was last at. Being the expert I am at rm jobs, I continued on with nvd_data. Still, no dice. maemo-mapper doesn't like to play.

This is the part where heroics kick in. Tired of the gps goo that I've been going through, I am prompt with a rm -rf /var/lib/gps/*. What's the worst that can happen - the driver sees no files and recreates everything? Very sadly, no. maemo-mapper moved on to interesting territory. Can't communicate with the Serial port. Ugh, I HUPed gpsd wishing to move on with life. Same error, heck even reboot did not fix it. In a final exasperation, I did a move job.

Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# /etc/init.d/gpsdriver stop Stoping gpsdriver Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# ps -ef | grep gps 1936 root 1784 RW grep gps Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# mv gps/ gps.old Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# /etc/init.d/gpsdriver start Starting gpsdrive

There was this thought train in my mind that like any sane software, it'll try to create the file, and crap out when it doesn't see anything. Truth be told it did crap out, but in a far worse way. I saw the screen blink, and whoa, I am rebooting. We get past the hand logo, and onto the desktop. Phew, this is the point where I start xterm, and undo the move. Before I could click on the Applications menu, the N810 went on to reboot. And I kept on watching it went on to do that again. And again. while ( 1 ) { again; }. Okay, now I got screwed. Back to ITT, I see that people have reached this state doing more mundane things like OS upgrade, opening the camera, opening contacts to make an xmpp call. At-least my infinite reboot is a bit more gratifying. I did something to screw things up.

My options at this point was to flash the OS with the default software, and pray that the OS backups work. Settings are more or less guaranteed to get messed up/remain incomplete. Nokia does not have FIASCO images for the WiMAX tablet, so all I am left with is the default updater for Windows. I got that downloaded and installed, and the good part about it is that it takes less than 5 minutes to completely reimage the OS. Still, its a frikking missing directory, there's no way that the OS will be so FUBARed that it can't load. I can't believe that Nokia gets the OS part this bad. Most of you reading this far will scream PEBKAC, but hey this is a goddamn directory. GPS isn't the soul and life of this device. It's in all likely-hood the init.d script returning a non-zero status (and sweet lord I can't believe that I forgot to check it before starting up maemo-mapper for the last time). Why Nokia, why can't you make the OS more resilient? Shame on you!

The great blog fad

[Imported from my old "blog"]

I've been reading a lot about the blog craze that's turning the entire world upside down. I still haven't understood what the whole fuss is about. Its basically someone with too much free time writing about some lame topic. Almost 90 percent of the blogs that I have seen are just extensions of reality shows from people who got kicked out of them. And to top it, blogs have been touted as an intelligent journalism which brings power back to the masses. Tall words for such a pathetic art.

Now that I've got those words out of my system, let us actually dissect the whole thing apart. As you can see, blogs can be fun sometimes. I haven't picked up writing in a long time - to be specific, since high school! Sometimes it might be better to sharpen those old talents again, for the sake of it. After all a tool is as good as the hand that controls it. If people want to crap on about the colour of their toilet paper, so be it. It called free speech for a reason. I have seen some informative blogs, mostly technical since those are what i read up usually. It boils down to an obvious thing - talent. If you are still reading on till now, you may have observed that my ability to cohesively continue on an idea isn't all that great. What it ends up as is a random thought here and there, with lucidity lacking in the paragraph flow. Which brings me to a very important point - language.

I liked it back in school, where things were written on paper. There's no magical ^C/^V or heaven forbid - ^Z. It used to be written the hard way, and an illogical paragraph was wasted time, and a distraction of the flow of thoughts. A smooth and natural writing skills were a necessity for those good marks in English. In this day, an essay on any topic is just a google away. We're so pressed for time to think of something original that plagiarism is becoming a way of life. In the short term, there may be solid benefits from it, but those disappear when the rot begins to set in. Its sad, but its fast becoming second nature to everyone. When was that last time that you sat to think of a solution for a problem at work? I can recollect just a few instances, most of the times, its googling for "sendmail incoming throttle" or "postfix relay parameter" or something else. I just don't find time to sit and read the frikking manual and learn it the proper way. What's that got to do with writing? A lot. It basically defines the type of person that you are, and the way your ideas will present. Haphazard methods might look good, but as I am sadly finding out, I've just lost the flair to write something intelligent.

 So, to summarize this rant, the quality of the average article on blogspot does leave much to be desired, I'd rather that they take some classes in good writing skills, that they actually get some topic that's actually refreshing to read, that the average viewer reading it can say something other that "OMG! ROFL! LOL!". Its a tall order, but let's see.

Back Again

[Imported from my old "blog"] is back again, after a short outage of 6 months! The new site is powered by rediff , so all you guys in India might feel that it is a bit faster. The old backup, along with the data was stored in /dev/null as usual; so I am having the hell of my time creating content from scratch. This time, I've made sure that the site stays up for quite some time, and the backups work! I even demoed a test dr restore of the database, and it went just fine

Now back to the topic, I hope that this time I will find more time to maintain the site and keep it updated. BTW, since you are around, check out the various sections. The backend is integrated with Google Apps , so the first thing you might notice is the calendar. Someday, I might give everyone invites to gmail for :)

You can check the recent photos of mine at flickr . I am working on getting a Joomla module that integrates nicely with flickr, but till then you'll have to make do manually. I hope to write about the recent Delhi trip and the upcoming Kerala and Goa trips. Till then, stay tuned!

 Update: Flickr should be fully working now, thanks to flickr4j . If anyone is actually looking around this site, let me know if there is something interesting that I can add to it. I am sitting idle for now, and anything to kill time is more than welcome ;)