May 6, 2010

GNU Screen + Irssi + PuTTY for Symbian

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 1:28 am

A match made in heaven.

Using IRC in a reliable way has turned out to be kind of a challenge for me in the past couple of months. I had my cellphone connected 24/7 to the IRC channels I needed to idle in. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a 3G country so any voice-calls interrupted the whole thing.

I also wanted to use my laptop for IRC-ing whenever I was at home. But the inconsistent internet connection didn’t make thing any easier. There was always this lingering fear of missing important messages during one of the disconnections. I couldn’t foresee a solution which would fix all of the mentioned issues until someone recommended using Irssi along with GNU Screen.

This not only fixed every little issue I had ever had with IRC but also made full utilization of my love for all things command-line. In summary: I now have this “permanent” IRC session running at an SSH server in Lithuania. Whenever I feel like it, I can “attach” my laptop or my mobile and start using Irssi. If I receive any voice-calls, the IRC session still continues to work and I can “reattach” later on. Simply put, the session continues running even when I’m not attached to it through either device and at any time of the day I can simply connect to it and resume working through that day’s IRC activity.

Here’s a screenshot that shows me connected to the #gsoc channel on Freenode first on my laptop and then on my E71 using the same screen session:

Irssi sessions on laptop and mobile

PuTTY for Symbian is used for SSH-ing on the Nokia phone. If I ever rank top 5 situations where CLI absolutely pwns GUI in terms of efficiency and usage, this nifty setup is definitely going to make the list.

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April 1, 2010

71 days of E71: Top 10 3rd party applications

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 2:05 pm

While I would have sold my clothes, PS2 as well as my soul to get my hands on a N900, I couldn’t strike a practical deal and in the end had to settle for E71. Now, while E71 does not ooze sex by running a full-fledged Linux distro it still does a pretty good job of running Symbian. The specs are fun, the keypad is great and the build quality is nothing but ergonomic love.

After completing 71 days of tinkering with the new phone, I have settled on the choice of apps which would become an integral part of my digital life. I’m listing the top ten here, but the arrangement is in no way meant to be indicative as an absolute index of application quality. These are just the ones that I found useful.

10. ScreenSnap — Honorary Mention

It would be a bit unfair to not list the very application that powers the visual aspects of this post. So here we are with the self-referential snap:

ScreenSnap Screenshot

9. SmsOne — Hassle-Free Flash SMS

“Flash” texts — the ones which always instantly show up on the recipient’s cell and are not saved in the inbox unless specifically made to — have always been a speciality of applications with poor interfaces as well as poorer integration with the rest of the phone. SmsOne, on the other hand, has a simple interface with excellent phonebook integration for making the job as simple as possible.

SmsOne Screenshot

8. Mobipocket MobiReader — eBooks Made Fun

Reading a large PDF file on your E71 is indeed possible, but it takes away any fun whatsoever by forcing you to deal with redundant scrolling and weird font sizes. MobiReader combined with the desktop software Calibre is the ultimate eBook reading experience on Symbian phones.

MobiReader Screenshot

7. Gravity — Pulling Tweets Consistently

The one word for summarizing Gravity would be: slick. Of all the Twitter applications for Symbian — and there are quite a lot — Gravity is the most organized, reliable and pretty-looking competitor around.

Gravity Screenshot

6. PuTTY — That Insane Power in Your Hands

I’m lying down in my bedroom and I want to play this song on the speakers in my drawing room. I’m in my university and I want to start this download on my laptop which is unfortunately back at home. I’m in another city and I want to see the contents of this file which is in my home PC.

I can. Because I have that command-line access at my fingertips:

SmsOne Screenshot

5. mIRGGI — IRC Never Dies

Open-source — being the distributive collaboration that it is — depends heavily on mailing lists and IRC channels for communication. For the latter, mIRGGI works flawlessly. In fact, you can even do fancy stuff like using different network connections for different channels.

mIRGGI Screenshot

4. Python — “It’s …”

For all the comparisons made over the years between Perl and line-noise, Symbian C++ easily beats both by a mile. Which is why your choices are rather limited if you want to program for Nokia phones while preserving your sanity at the same time. Your best bet is to go for Maemo. Unfortunately, that ain’t exactly an affordable option for everyone. The other way is to use PyS60 rely on that programming language which makes every other alternative pine for the fjords.

PyS60 Screenshot

3. MSDict Viewer — Dictionaries which Help

A dictionary is one of the least useful things you can carry around. Even with one of them installed on your phone, they rarely get used. Similarly, the pronunciation guides used in those dictionaries are cryptic symbols at best. Add the ability of audio pronunciations and you suddenly have a lovely app referring which almost becomes an addiction.

MSDict Viewer Screenshot

2. Google Maps — Never Lose Yourself

For people who’re not especially good with directions, there couldn’t have ever been a better solution:

Google Maps Screenshot

1. Opera Mobile — Synonym for Excellence

Even if this list is tailored more to my requirement, get some hundred people to make similar ones and Opera will be the topper in majority of the rankings. Opera bridges that gap between mobile browsing and real browsing and is one of those applications which epitomize how software should be engineered.

Opera Mobile Screenshot

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