Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Google Earth in your pocket

Though I expect many of my colleagues will just shrug and wonder whether I can get any more geeky, it seems that a couple of my geek interests have, probably temporarily, crossed paths.

Over on Ogle Earth there's some speculation as to whether Nokia buying Trolltech might bring Google Earth to Nokia phones, whilst on Internet Tablet Talk the speculation is about the impacts on Maemo.

Well as an Internet Tablet carrying "alpha geek" maybe I can add further confusion, or not, by posting pictures of Google Earth "running" on a Nokia N810.

In truth it isn't actually running on the tablet, the tablet is using the laptop to run Google Earth and using VNC to display the graphics and get the stylus and keyboard input. The end result is much the same though - so long as you've got a wifi connection to a suitable "host". Though not ideal for Google Earth, I've used this method to run applications "in the cloud" using Amazon EC2.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Encrypt your data. How hard can it be? [1]

UPDATE - Development of TrueCrypt was discontinued back in 2014 and has subsequently not been maintained. A number of security flaws have been uncovered and as a result we are reaching out to people to highlight a list of alternatives.

Here's the list (along with further details about TrueCrypt no longer being maintained) - https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/truecrypt-is-discoutinued-try-these-free-alternatives/


In the light of recent events here in the UK[2] I thought I'd investigate data encryption - well try it out. Fortunately my work doesn't require me to handle confidential data, and these days, for the most part, I don't carry much of my own personal information with me. Though I've long been either pragmatic, or perhaps wealthy, enough to consider that the loss of any portable electronics - phone, laptop, etc. would be more of a nuisance from the data loss, than the physical loss. So maybe the data does matter to me enough to consider encryption.

As a scientific programmer much of my life is spent in the Unix/Linux world, added to which I'm a (Linux based) Nokia Internet Tablet enthusiast, so I felt I needed something that would allow me to exchange encrypted data between the Linux and Windows worlds. A quick Google led me to TrueCrypt, Windows and Linux versions available for free download, and the source too, so maybe I could build it for my new N810. To cut a long story short, in between checking on a sick alpaca, I was able to build TrueCrypt for OS2008 - the latest Nokia tablet OS over the weekend. OK, I've not proved it's totally secure, but how hard is it? Not very.

[1] What's the point of rhetorical questions?
[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/01/21/ndata121.xml

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My first week with the N810

I've had my new Nokia N810 for just over one week. It's the gadget in the bottom right of the picture, also shown are a HP calculator from 1985 (which I still use but it lives in my desk drawer) a Palm IIIe and last year's Nokia N800. So what's it like? Well a colleague who owns a N800 described it as "techie bling", which is what HP calculators were in the 1980s, so it's probably a fair description.

Initial impressions are that the keys on the keyboard are too small, the miniSD memory slot is too fiddly, the keys on the top are very hard to find with the keyboard open and the display quality much better than the N800. The built in GPS is interesting, and I'm bound to find uses for it.

Weather satellites

Over the holidays I built myself a weather satellite receiver. It receives data from MSG, Meteosat 7, and GOES 11, via the EUMETCAST relay on Hotbird 6. Not being a satellite TV user it's a few years since I last messed around with kit like this and it's amazing how cheap and simple it is today. Though getting everything working as I wanted it in Linux was more of a challenge. There are more photos of the "receiving station" in my Picasa album.