December 2005

Mobile computing and Systems22 Dec 2005 at 21:14 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Slugishness and random soft resets… The banes of the Treo 650… I first attributed the problem to Palm OS being a bit out of its depth on such a complex device. But the randomness was too high – I could not correlate the problem with any specific application nor could my favorite inside source at Orange nor apparently any of the people involved with debugging the Treo there. It had to be a hardware problem.

With time and aggravation came the insight that all these problems might be correlated to SIM accesses. My engineering friend at Orange suggested using a piece of paper stuck in the tray to hold the SIM steadier. It did improve the situation somewhat. Later I found that during a sluggishness event, pushing hard on the tray sometimes instantly gets the system back to normal speed.

So it definitely looks like the system barfing on SIM access problems. These problems should not take place and they are caused by a bad SIM tray design. But the operating system should handle them more gracefuly, for example with a “SIM not available” dialog.

Meanwhile I have found another solution that seems to support the SIM access hypothesis : Cingular Wireless proposes a Treo 650 SIM Tray Replacement that works somewhat like the piece of paper jammed in the original tray. So get that and meanwhile remember to push hard on the tray when sluggishness occurs. I am now looking for a way to get that new SIM tray in Europe…

Systems22 Dec 2005 at 20:53 by Jean-Marc Liotier

The Treo 650 is the synthesis of all that I tried to achieve ever since I first connected my Palm Pilot 1000 (with the Palm III upgrade) to the Ericsson SH-888 I got after breaking my beloved Ericsson GH-388. It is my best defense against chaos and my best ally in Getting Things Done. Without it, keeping pace with an increasingly complex and accelerating life would be a hard problem.

By the way, taking inspiration in the the methods related to David Allen’s Getting Things Done really does improve productivity while requiring less energy and generating less stress. My favorite arsenal for implenting it includes :

  • A smartphone
  • A bunch of wikis – some collaborative, some personnal
  • Ticket tracking systems

The “work smarter not harder” mantra may be overrused but it does actually apply here… I love my Treo 650 !

The integrated keyboard is surprisingly pleasing to use for small messages and quick notes, but be sure to use the Treo with a foldable keyboard with full-size keys so that you can input large quantity of text painlessly. Unless you need to access heavy documents on the move a laptop suddendly does not make much sense anymore…

Photography and Systems22 Dec 2005 at 13:34 by Jean-Marc Liotier is a trivial script I wrote that saves me much manipulation each time I come back to my workstation with removable media full of photos. It copies all images from a removable media to the directory of the day (created on the fly if not existing), autorotates them and sets the permissions right. It is what I use prior to putting the pictures in an appropriately named directory and running to name them according to my standard.

Photography and Systems21 Dec 2005 at 16:33 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Canon Eos digital cameras name their files “img_XXXX.jpg” where ‘XXXX’ is a number beween 0001 and 9999. Considering how many pictures we take, duplicate names come fast. In addition, that name is desperately lacking any meta-information that may help in making the file manageable.

So as part of my workflow I have defined a photo file naming scheme that includes the date, the time and the session that picture belongs to. What I define as a session is a group of pictures with a unity of time, place and/or action. I believe I have found a good choice of minimal meta-information to pack in the file name to make it both unique and useful to humans.

The datetime of acquisition is found in an EXIF tag embedded in the file. I deduce the session from the parent directory name because putting all pictures belonging to a single session into an approprietely named directory is what immediately follows my automated download and lossless rotation routine.

Because I am a very lazy person I have of course automated all that. So here is – a small shell scripts that automates my habit of picture files renaming.

This script takes all files in the current directory and renames them using the following pattern :

For example :
"my current directory/img_6051.jpg" taken the 2nd of December 2005 at 9:07:59 AM (according to the embedded EXIF metadata)
my current directory/my_current_directory.20051202.090759.6051.jpg