Tag Archives: life

Voting abroad and document distribution chaos.

In Turkey we are approaching a referendum for a major constitutional change. I’m not going to write about what the change is and how it impacts citizens’ lives, that’s my father’s job πŸ™‚ Instead I’m going to write about how voting abroad for Turkish ex-pats is handled.

I’m only living abroad for ten years and I know before I left Turkey, there was a concept of voting on the border (which includes consulates and physical borders.) About ten years ago us, the Turkish ex-pats, were not allowed to vote anymore for any elections or referendums in Turkey. It looks like this is changing now for better I hope.

For the last few months emails are being forwarded between ex-pats, some major Turkish political, cultural organizations, web sites are spreading the word about this new right to be able to vote abroad. But the way this “spreading the word” is done in such a weird way that I amΒ  feeling very uncomfortable to follow what is really going on.

So far I got 4 different emails pointing to 4 different web sites and none of them are official government web sites. When I go and read the content of the news about this, none of the articles are pointing to an official governmental word about voting abroad. Instead they unanimously talk about filling a form, and mailing it to your local consulate or the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality of Turkey.

The distribution of that form is the main issue here. You are filling a National Form that requests every bits of your identity. Especially this form has to be distributed by only Turkish Government. How can I trust a form that I download from any site?

All the sites I mentioned above, host the form and link to their version of the form. One site hosts it in MS Word format as a .doc file, the other hosts it in Adobe Acrobat format as a .pdf file. One site has a version with pretty graphics, the other one with straight text format… Come on!

(When I was trying to find different versions of the form on different web sites I realized one of those web sites was already hacked by a Turkish hacker group. Now can you trust this?)

I worked pretty much 4 years of my life trying to fix that type of issues with the Turkish government between 2000-2004, it looks like nobody learned anything on electronic government practices.

It’s time for Turkish government to create a central, secure repository for documents, and standardize all government related paperwork. Anything close to this is e-Konsolosluk web site (which was down when I was writing this entry) and that is only for consular services. How to do this is another topic which I will be writing in the near future.

Better news on the n900 battery

I am starting to believe that my battery issues were 2-3 isolated incidents. Lately the phone is staying a full 13-15 hours without any issues with moderate usage: 3g/wifi browsing, media player + FM transmitter and the rest.

One thing I did is to remove the RSS applet and empty the RSS feeds. I almost never use them anyway. The other one is to shutdown the phone, remove the battery, hold the power button for 10-12 seconds, put the battery back and start the phone.Β I don’t know if any of those had an effect on the battery life.

I also contacted the Nokia support, since I still believe that there is an issue with my phone battery. They will send me a new battery. I will have a chance to compare the new one and the old one.

I had a chance to chart a “normal” usage and the deep sleep mode for the phone looks like working pretty good. I’m hesitant about posting more charts to my blog, but I’ll do it anyway to be fair to the previous post. Here are the charts.

Charge

Percentage graph

As you can see: the system load is way better:
System load

More about battery life on my n900

This battery life situation is kinda pissing me off. πŸ™

I wrote a script to get charge, battery %, and cpu load. Made it run every 10 mins to collect the data. I unplugged the phone at 9:40 am. No 3g, no wireless, very few interaction. About 10-20 mins phone conversation. And at 15:30 the battery was completely drained. It gives me 6 hours of battery life under normal conditions.

The handset runs very warm. I found a temp sensor in the /sys folder but I don’t know if it’s telling me the truth since it’s constantly at 38ο»ΏΒ° C. I contacted the Nokia support, I hope they can provide me something. Maybe I have a defect battery.

Here are the charts since I love them… πŸ™‚

Discharge graphic

Battery %

System Load

Nokia n900 review

Background information:
All and all I’m definitely a Linux person. That means my expectations from n900 was primarily to be hackable πŸ™‚ I’m also coming from the world of blackberry. My previous hand-held was 8320. Other than being an extremely well designed smart-phone for business and email, it was pretty much useless for me. In this review i will also try to compare them.

I actually wanted buy the new google nexus one, it turned out that being a T-mobile customer for almost ten years would actually not allow you to qualify for the discount price of $180 with a two year plan renewal. So I said phukitol, and went and spent my $500+ to a Nokia n900 instead of a Nexus One.

N900:
N900 is the flagship product of Nokia for 2009-2010. It’s running maemo as the OS. It’s the “other” linux based handheld OS currently developed only by Nokia (well apart being open source for most parts of it). It’s debian based. So ubuntu/debian users will find theirselves pretty much at home. (System wise of course. UI is completely unrelated)

It has a full qwerty (for US) keyboard. The screen slides up to reveal it. If you don’t want to use the physical keyboard, it also offers a virtual one. It’s kinda weird though because the virtual keyboard is a full screen keyboard πŸ™‚

It also has a great camera. Very good widescreen 800×480 resolution. It works with t-mobile 3g, which is first for me. I had a chance to test the 3g around Washington, DC and Providence, RI. I’m not very impressed. But when it really is on 3g things get super fast.

Goods:

  • Awesome environment if you are a linux person.
  • Great user interface. Very smooth and shiny. Almost never slow and never frustrating.
  • Basic applications are already bundled out of the box. Nokia default software repositories are setup. (Apt-get with a good UI) if you want community supported apps you have to enable the Extras(-devel|-testing) repositories. (Which is setup but disabled for Extras) More infor here and here.
  • Killer web browser. It has the new fennec in it. Fennec is basically mobile version of Mozilla Firefox. So far i had no issues opening any web page! It supports flash player, javascript… If you need one reason to switch from blackberry, this would be it. Zooming, Copy/Paste, Hovering are very well implemented.
  • The maemo SDK and emulator was very easy to install on my ubuntu. I will soon start hacking πŸ˜‰
  • It has all the beauties of a linux box. I mean ssh, sshd, terminal, vi, grep, more, busybox, etc… you get what i mean πŸ™‚ It’s a great feeling to port forward your home machine’s web server to localhost and open the web browser to browse your home machine through the ssh tunnel for example πŸ™‚
  • The media player is very very good. One really great thing is that it has an FM transmitter built-in! You can transmit your songs to any usable FM frequency and listen on a car radio for example. Including the network streaming radios! (Bridge between conventional and internet radio!) It also comes with a good in ear headset with microphone.
  • Great contacts management. With some tricks you can import your google and gtalk contacts and manually merge them. The contacts become a unified messaging system. You can call, gtalk IM, gtalk voice, skype, SIP call from the very same contacts manager. Merging contacts are also very intuitive and easy.

Not So Goods:

  • Battery: It is better than a laptop, but worse than a smartphone. OK, I’m heavily using the phone, meaning browsing, SIP, IM… And I was expecting a not so good battery life, but I wasn’t expecting this bad πŸ™ This is the only thing that is on the frustrating level. With daily usage (whatever that means) I get around 6-10 hours of battery life at max.
  • Email Client (Modest): It’s an OK client. It displays your emails, it let’s you write an email, if you are offline, it let’s you queue them and it knows how to send then when you get online. But it ends there πŸ™‚ There is no search! You cannot search your emails. If you are a blackberry convert, you would be dissatisfied. It needs improvements.
  • Applications: As you could imagine, there are not many applications Γ  la iPhone or Android. But there are a lot of good, stable open applications. For example, there is no google maps. (But there is a nokia maps app which is not that bad) I think with the popularity of this phone, there will be more apps out. Ovi Store is a good start.
  • Keyboard: It’s a good slim keyboard. But the top line of keys are sometimes hard to press because they are very close to the sliding “lid”. There is very little space to fit your fingers.

Overall, I think this phone has a lot of potential. It sleek, very sexy and user friendly. Absolutely a great potential for linux hackers and developers. If I would have an option to return it, I probably wouldn’t. And I’m happy that I didn’t buy a Nexus One. πŸ™‚

Note: Wow it looks like me and engadget did a review at the same time πŸ™‚

WOW OTP Goodness

OK, the title means: World of Warcraft One Time Password Goodness. πŸ™‚

I just got my OTP generator from Blizzard. It has a nice horde colors touch. The activation was very simple. I was expecting that it would replace my static password, but it didn’t. Instead it asks your password first (what you know) then it asks the code generated by the token in a second window (what you have).

It’s very nice to see from a computer game vendor to use two factor authentication. And here is a picture πŸ˜‰

Digital Frame or bust…

I’m writing this entry to push me to finish my neverending story about the digital frame project I started. I’m hoping that the entry will give me some sort of ignition after more than a year.

I had an old Dell Latitude c600 sitting at home and collecting dust. Like many other old hardware I have at home… So I decided to convert it to a digital frame that I can hang it somewhere.

Here are my goals:

  1. Have a low power, low cost digital frame.
  2. Ability to manage it wirelessly.
  3. Make it easy to use
  4. Have fun.
  5. Make an old hardware happy.

The very first step was to dissect the laptop and remove the guts. It turned out to be somewhat challenging, but with the right tools and time, things moved pretty good. I’m not going to go into details on how to dissect a c600, but here is a picture in the late stages of the dissection.

Guts and glory

Next step was to remove all the unnecessary parts like battery, CD-ROM, and some mini pci cards like ethernet/modem combo. I kept the pcmcia slot for the wireless card, and while there, added some leftover RAM to it. After neatly placing them all together, here is how it looks with BIOS setup on. The image is tilted to get rid of the flash glare.

bios view

Now the software step. Of course my OS of choice is Debian/Linux. I installed bare minimum Debian with fluxbox as desktop manager. Al I needed to do was to find a low cpu/memory usage image viewer. At first I thought about not having a Graphic User interface, and use zgv from the console, but then I gave up since it was too much trouble. (Still I think it would be cool to have a console only picture frame, maybe on the next version)

Instead, I decided to use feh. I must say i’m extremely satisfied with feh and recommend to everybody πŸ˜‰ The only issue I had was that the mouse pointer was showing in the middle of the frame which was not a good sight. I used unclutter to get rid of that. (I had to hack the program a bit to my taste)

I wrote some scripts and changed some config files for all this to start automatically. I will share the scripts later when the whole project is completed.

Now that the computer part is done, I need to take the measurements and head home depot or similar place to create some base for the frame and also buy a nice looking frame to place everything inside. So I guess there will be a second part of the blog entry.

Here is how it looks like as of now:

Haris and me