Friday, November 04 2016
Tuesday, October 14 2008
TL;DR: Google Fi on an iPhone is iMessage plus Google Wifi calling with awesome international coverage.
Google Project Fi is super interesting as it provides
an actual low cost alternative to other carriers especially if you travel. The free data-only SIM
is also a nice add-on.
Project Fi is exclusively targeting users of Google Nexus Android devices and you actually need one of
the supported phones to activate the SIM which can
be ordered on the Fi website.
I currently use an iPhone SE (mainly due to the device's tech specs and form-factor - I can't stand phablets!) so I was curious if I can just buy a Google Fi SIM and use it in an iPhone or any other phone actually. Of course I'm not the first person to think about this, but the only decent article on this topic is this one. Sadly most articles that are returned for a search on iPhone Google Fi are just totally useless. Even this article is not good.
I decided to just order Google Fi and a data-only SIM and give it a try. I used a Nexus 5x that I have
access to for activating the SIM card. The activation process is really simple. Basically you need to put the SIM card into a compatible phone
and install the Google Fi app. Done.
The activated SIM card can be put into any other phone, I tried an iPhone 5c and it just works.
You automatically get the APN settings (the mobile data settings) pushed to your phone. Cellular data
immediately works! Voice calls work too.
Wifi calling also works, although it (obviously) only works via the Hangout app but it does work. I put my phone into airplane mode and called the number from another phone and yea it rings.
The only service that is a bit unsatisfying is SMS (text messaging). The default option for Google Fi
is to send and receive SMS via Google Hangout. Google Hangout exists for iOS and if you login with
your Google Account that is associated with your Google Fi service you just install Hangouts and everything just works! If you actually want to use the iOS Messages app you can deactivate SMS via Hangout in the Hangout app on your phone. This will allow you to send and receive SMS via Messages. The only issue here is that incoming SMS messages get some Google specific data attached, as shown below. This is a little annoying but is only on incoming messages (you don't look like an idiot when sending messages to other people).
Most of my contacts are on iMessage anyway these days so this is a non issue. Also I'm ok with using Hangouts for SMS since yea iMessage and other messaging apps.
The switch to change between native SMS and Hangout SMS the switch above it does the same for voice calls (to enable Wifi calling).
The broken* incoming SMS, the ~Dgr... is added by Google Fi, this does not show up in Hangouts. Other people have reported that this just went away after short time.
Things that don't work? switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular since this is done via the Google Fi app on Android devices (I actually don't have any idea about this yet).
Altogether Google Fi looks pretty cool and works with an iPhone (besides the hick-up with SMS). iMessage works (it is just an Internet service after all). Wifi calling via Hangouts is nice.
If you are a hardcore iOS/Mac user Google Fi is too much Google for you. I'm a Linux user with an iPhone so Google Fi makes a lot of sense. Desktop calls and SMS via Hangouts is a nice thing to have in addition to iMessage.
Google Fi on an oooold phone (Android 4.0). Hangouts seem to work fine too.
*The data is a BASE64 encoded blob, no obvious data after looking at a bunch of them of an hour or less.
Sunday, June 08 2008
QR Codes are slowly being used here in Germany but on
my recent trip to Japan (Tokyo actually) I found QR codes to be used everywhere, from Mc Donald's to
beer brewers. I've took a few pictures of QR codes and put them into a small gallery over here. I really think QR codes are a funny piece of technology - so I'll keep collecting
pictures of QR codes.
Tuesday, October 02 2007
I'm looking for a new notebook to replace my IBM Thinkpad T42p. I don't
need a new notebook right now but it will need to be replaced this year.
My new notebook will be a ultra portable, that weights 1.5Kg or less.
The screen should be 12" or 13" inch with a resolution of at least 1200x800.
I further need some dual core CPU, 2GBs of memory, and at least 120GB hard disk.
Yesterday I finally had some hands one time with a MacBook Air and an Lenvo
Thinkpad X300 both devices haven been on my radar for some time now. Both
devices have their problems. The Air doesn't have an ethernet port and
too few USB ports. The X300 only comes with an SDD that is way too small
and further makes the device very expensive. Btw. I don't care for a CD/DVD
drive or PCMCIA/ExpressCard. Both devices really are super thin and light -
it really makes a difference to actually hold one in your hand. Now having
seen both devices making a decision is even harder.
I'm also considering something like an MSI Wind together with a big LCD
monitor for my home office. I'll never buy anything from Sony so I haven't
even looked at any of the Vaios.
Thursday, June 28 2007
So Nokia filed a new device with the FCC. The device seems to be
the next generation internet tablet in the line of the 770 and the N800.
The new device seems to have Wireless Lan (802.11), Bluetooth, buildin GPS,
a sliding keyboard and a buildin camera (my guess from the picture below).
The device doesn't seem to have WiMAX (at least the FCC tests don't list anything in
this direction). Right now WiMAX is not needed on a mobile device anyway.
Thursday, June 14 2007
Today Sean Moss-Pultz announced the launch date July 9th for the Neo1973/OpenMoko.
This will be better then the iPhone!
Saturday, May 26 2007
check out the new Archos GEN5 devices
which were released today. There are many new cool features like UPnP
(which lets you stream Audio and Video) and Flash (to play YouTube and such).
Saturday, January 20 2007
today (at ph-neutral) I got my hands on a Neo1973 (OpenMoko) phone and I must say it is smaller and lighter then I expected. This is really good,
I had the fear that it would be kind of big and heavy. Playing with the software was kind of disappointing, it seems really slow. I know
the software is not final and probably was build for debugging.
Tuesday, November 07 2006
From the developer mailing list:
2007-02-11 Phase 0: Developer Preview
2007-03-11 Phase 1: Official Developer Launch (for $350)
Read the full post here: Free Your Phone
Now I'm really excited!
Thursday, October 26 2006
is a new Linux-based mobile phone platform, see the article on linuxdevices. It looks really promising and since
Harald Welte has his fingers on it from the
beginning it is expected that this will be a truly open device.
Funny thing, the OpenMoKo developer/community site
openmoko.org is up but very very beta :-)
Did I mention that I want one of these devices!
Tuesday, August 15 2006
I just found the Nokia 870 or actually
a very promising looking device on Engadget. The device looks much like the 770 especially the screen size and the
five way button on the top right - so it is not to far fetched to think of the 770 successor. The antenna also makes
me believe that this device will be a phone: does this mean this is the first Linux-based Nokia phone
(or did I miss anything)? Hopefully yes, I still can't wait to see a decent relatively open Linux-based
mobile phone (so far every other Linux phone sucked). Hopefully the device runs maemo
since it is by far the best small screen Linux GUI I have see so far. Maybe maybe Nokia brings the real breakthrough
for Linux-based phones.
Let's wait and see.
Friday, June 30 2006
check this out, it is supposed to
be a mobile phone built to be modified/hacked. The hardware specs are pretty standard and are
comparable with the PocketPC-based smartphones (WLan, Bluetooth, camera, usb).
This looks super fun, hopefully it will be available to normal developers like myself.
This defently goes into the I want one category!
Wednesday, May 24 2006
I just found this editorial titled
The Chaos of Incompatibility in Mobile Linux on OS News.
The guy really got it right! The mobile phone manufacturers really screwed up their Linux
I really want a Linux-based mobile/smart phone but I haven't found a decent one yet. As the
author, I don't care about Java/J2ME. It is slow, incompatible and just sucks. These companies
just don't get it, just Linux doesn't do it. They need to publish native SDKs to allow
3rd party applications. Otherwise these Linux phones are not better then any other closed
I personally put my hope on the h63xx
and BlueAngel Linux ports.
Monday, May 22 2006
As I reported before the actual phone of the h63xx works now (for 3 month as I was told by
the guys who got it working). The actual cool part is that there is a complete ready to go
filesystem and boot loader (pre configured) for developers and skilled testers available
since a couple of days if I remember right. I just untared all the files to my development
SD card and booted, it worked right away and I was able to initiate and receive phone calls using
gomunicator. I'm really happy that the project went so far.
The complete tar archive and instructions are available here: Mika's website
I think I have to get involved again with h63xx Linux port project, yea!
Friday, March 31 2006
first, I know that the Flybook is not a brand new thing, but
it is really cool and first of all really small. The story goes like this: my room mate and I frequently
have a discussion about super/ultra portable computers and tablets. As I'm a big fan of PDAs/smart phones
and he is a big fan tablets we regularly have a argument about what kind of device is the best/most
practical. He basically suggested the Flybook - which I didn't know about until then. This device
looks just hardcore right. It is: small PDA-sized, converts to a tablet (with touchscreen);
has a keyboard, a hard disk, Bluetooth, WLan/WiFi, GSM/GPRS (I guess DATA only - it is not a phone),
USB, Firewire and runs on a x86 compatible CPU. What else would you want? This thing is able to beat
any I repeat any other portable device. OK it is a bit pricy and costs up to 2400$. The only other
down point besides the price is that it only has 802.11b and Bluetooth 1.1, but this is hopefully
going to be fixed in a future version (if there will be any). But anyway if I had the money I would get it.
Wednesday, March 29 2006
Every once in a while I check the iPAQ h63xx Linux port page at handhelds.org and today I
discovered that the guys got the phone part running on March 23rd. This is
really good news! Also other essential stuff is still missing.
I really wished I had more time so I could also work on this project.
Monday, March 27 2006
I saw this posting at Engadget about the Samsung Q1 UMPC/Origami and
I couldn't resist looking at the FCC specs including the User's Guide (part 1). While skimming through the pages I found the
thing below, the Windows Security Button. The image is taken from
the User's Guide part 1 page 9. The button is what we have all been waiting
for, Ctrl+Alt+Del all-in-one button, I find this hilarious! I guess they
had to put this on the device to make it easier to get the Windows login
box to pupop so a user can login. I guess thats the most direct sign of
we f**king choose the wrong software for this kind of device
and therefore we had to add some extra hardware. Great this made my day!
Friday, March 03 2006
The Palm PDA is turning 10 today!
Heise (in German) and ZDNet have a nice story about
Palm gives free shipping as
I bought my first PalmPilot Professional in December of 1997 and I still
love these devices, also I now prefer linux powered PDAs.
More about Palm is available here on
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PALM!
Wednesday, March 01 2006
so here are my Origami (origamiproject.com)
In case it is an Internet tablet, my ideas are listed below.
In case it is an iPod thingy: WTF do I know, I don't own/use MP3 players!
* nice display with higher resolution then the 770 (people talking about 800x600)
software and such
* fast CPU, +400Mhz ARM or x86 compatible
* WiFi, Bluetooth and Infrared (even if IR is dead MS will still have it)
* lots of RAM/FLASH but not enough to make the thing usable
* SD card slot, I don't think they go with RS-MMC
* USB port or maybe some iPAQ kind of connector
Either Windows XP (tablet edition) or CE (PocketPC), where I think XP is more likely
to happen because CE really sucks in terms of performance and so. Still the hardware
will be awesome (like the iPAQ hardware) but the OS and software will make it unusable.
Also, will they try to make it an ebook reader or movie player? Yes! So will they
totally cripple it with DRM? Properly. Will they sell tones of them, most likely.
Will I buy one? NO!
Anyway the pictures on Engadget look really cool (the hardware, just to be clear!) so lets see. Anyone
registered origamilinux.org yet?
Friday, February 10 2006
this post is an answer to Varis comment,
also note that I haven't been using the PMA400 as long as the 770.
First each device targets a completely different market, while
the PMA targets the mobile/portable media player market the 770
is meant to be for mobile/portable Internet usage. These differences
are pretty easy to spot: the PMA400 has a build in hard disk and extra
hardware to speed up video and audio decoding and comes with recording software,
the 770 comes with Bluetooth, a web browser and news reader and offers
way better connectivity.
In terms of being the ultimate carry around device I really can't decide,
there are just these significant differences which would make me vote for
both devices. I terms of size/form factor and battery runtime I would
defently prefer the 770 (sorry Matze and Frank!).
Finally I guess both devices are already outdated, since rumors are
out that both companies have been working on new devices for some
time now. I can't wait to see what they have come up with to
impress us even more!?!
Wednesday, December 14 2005
here is a newer version of GKHDAPS a GKrellM plugin for the
Harddisk Active Protection System (hdaps) that comes with
newer ThinkPads. It now supports both temperature monitors.
The reason why I update now simply is that hdaps seems to work properly now (Kernel 184.108.40.206)
before I had problems with really wired kernel crashes.
Sunday, November 27 2005
during my morning news fix I came across Matthew Mastracci's blog where he reports that he got Linux (the Kernel)
to boot on his PalmOne Treo650 (a mobile phone). This is very cool again (not that I own one),
so we have another Linux mobile phone
project. Also he all ready got a handhelds.org page for the Treo650 Linux port.
Now we have four Linux cellphone projects (not counting commercial ones) the h63xx, the HTC BlueAngel, the Motorola A780 and E680 and now
the Treo650. Also Panasonic
reportedly to only build Linux based
UMTS mobilephones in the future.
Maybe also Nokia will ship a Linux based mobile phone after the success of their 770.
I can't wait to have my first truly hack able Linux phone!
Saturday, November 05 2005
the h63xx Linux port
is making progress. Today I got a SMS (short message) from Mika which he
apparently send from his h6315 using gomunicator. This is awesome!
Also right now I'm busy with other stuff (Nokia770) so I don't really have
time to work on it myself. Also now we need to get audio working with
ALSA which is a big project I defently don't have time for :-(
Friday, October 21 2005
ok I admit I caught the 770 flu,
which is really easy if you follow the mobile computing/handheld scene and
read all the blogs and news sites like
Gizmodo. Also this morning I searched
Technorati on blogs which mention
the 770 and of course I found a tone of sites. Many redundant things but
still - it seams to role.
So why do I think the 770 could be come the first really successful Linux
handheld? First it's done by a real big company, ok Sharp (the Zaurus people)
is big too but they didn't had the Nokia experience when it comes to
handhelds (Nokia -> mobilephones). Secondly they actively involve the
open source community from the beginning (actually even before releasing the
device to the public!). Third, the don't do monkey business with the OS,
they don't hide it, they allow reflashing of the device with what ever
Kernel and OS image you want. Some other companies close their Linux based
devices with signed Kernel images etc. Also they didn't go with cheap
hardware since a 800x480 display and 802.11g is quite good. Also the
real benefit for the users will come from the huge open source software
I really can't wait to get my 770 - so I can port my Bluetooth stuff and
implement some ideas which require a nice Linux handheld.
Monday, October 03 2005
just was reading Harald's weblog where he writes that there was so much
feedback on his A780 hacking and that people are all over it. Some how people seem
to want to be able to have a fully controllable mobile phone running software they can
change them self. I myself wanted to have this forever so I started working on the
Linux port for the HP iPAQ h63xx which by the way makes some progress.
The phone is still not usable (which is more of an audio driver issue then a GSM
issue) but this should be fixed soon. Also there are other projects (like the HTC
BlueAngel Linux port) which all ready support making phone calls.
They even have a nice looking phone GUI!
Anyway I think phones running Linux will be one big thing in the future (or at least in
the future of hardware hacking, like the Linksys WRT).
Also I started putting to gether a OpenPhone
website some weeks ago... but this is work in progress!
Saturday, October 01 2005
so today I spent my time getting GSM to work it turned out to be somehow simpler
then we thought. The serial line just needs to be set to the right speed then the GSM
module nicely responds and one can initiate calls and receive calls - the only bummer is no audio yet :-((
see h63xx Linux Wiki for progress
Friday, September 30 2005
so today I merged Bluetooth to my 2.6.13-omap1 kernel tree and did some testing, works fine.
I also played with BNEP (Bluetooth ethernet encapsulation) and it works too, so now we have wireless :)
My MMC card still doesn't work even with the latest driver from GIT but I recognized that NFS is much nicer
for development anyway.
More to come...
Wednesday, September 07 2005
so I finally booted Linux on my h6315 and it works. The only disappointment is that I bought
the wrong MMC card (MMC v4) which is not yet supported (I somehow got the card recognized but
only the partition table can be read - after that it hangs). I still have the NFS option for
getting my rootfs mounted but somehow I don't like this. Anyway the guys on #h63xx-port told
me today that Bluetooth is working and WiFi is almost working.
Maybe I just have to buy another MMC card :-(
finally the h6315 (actually only the european version the h6340 is tested) boots Linux (well it did a while ago but now the
display and touch screen works). There is a test image with
GPE available for people to try it out. Also right now you need a 256mb MMC
card for the filesystem since reflashing is not supported yet. Also WiFi,
Bluetooth etc. doesn't work yet but this should be a matter of time now the
whole thing runs.
gpe-image (read howto)
Now I need to get a big MMC card ASAP to do some testing/development of my own,
originally I wanted to help with the h63xx-port but lack of time and in depth
porting knowledge I didn't do much then pocking around the kernel sources.
Wohooo lets see how fast we get GSM working!
Sunday, July 17 2005
is a feature of the newer ThinkPads, I don't know if this is a T series
only feature. This thing is featured in some of the ThinkPad ads on TV -
the one where one guy drops the ThinkPad of his co-worker and don't loose
any data because of this thing - a silly ad. Anyway this feature is
software based and therefore you need a driver - which is available for
Linux since mid 2005 (if I read the website correctly). The hdaps hardware is basically just a tilt and motion
sensor, where a piece of software needs to monitor the sensor and park the
disk if anything strange is detected.
The Linux hdaps driver of course
can do much more then motion/tilt detection. It has a build in mouse device
so you can abuse the sensor for stuff like playing pinball :-) and there
are other fun applications for testing the sensor.
Anyway I started writing a Gkrellm plugin
for it which works quite good. But from time to time I get a Kernel ups
in the ibm_acpi module (which works find without hdaps), so I decided to
not use hdaps for now. But I really like this thing and I look forward to
get a ibm_acpi compatible version (if this is the real problem). Any one
who ones a ThinkPad should check this out.
Thursday, July 14 2005
is a other cool Linux device I found today - ok it was brought to my attention
by Slashdot. The Zipit is a low end Linux device for instant messaging, chatting etc. Something I can all ready do with my PDAs, but it seems that you can
easily modify the firmware aka hack it!
LinuxDevices has a nice article about it.
This could be a damn cheep ($99) piece of ARM hardware to play with. Maybe I will get one when I'm back in the US.
Thursday, July 07 2005
The Motorola A780 is a Linux based cellphone (something I all ways wanted to
have). I just found a nice article on Symlink.ch
which has some very interesting details about the device. I especially
like the telnet server without root password and the SAMBA server which
shares / (root directory).
Will this be the next big thing for Linux hackers?
I guess the phone is as secure as any other embedded Linux device,
where everything runs as root.
Thursday, May 19 2005
I recently got my hands on an Archos PMA400
(Pocket Media Assistant), a Linux based portable media player. The hardware
of this device is really cool check it out: 30GB harddisk, WiFi, USB client,
USB host and infrared (IrDA). The whole thing is powered by a Ti-OMAP
processor and 64MB ram.
In my opinion the device really qualifies to be a true hacker Linux device, the USB host controller
especially pushes this point! In general it allows one to connect any kind of
USB device to the PMA, which is totally cool (I never saw something like this on
any other mobile device). Just for fun I connected a keyboard and it worked
immediately (makes life easer when examining the device through a console). Also
my Bluetooth adapter got recognized, but the userspace applications are missing
(which you can install your self with little hassle).
The device runs a 2.4.19 kernel and Qtopia 1.7 for the UI. Qtopia also
provides a whole PIM suite which makes the device much more then a media
Archos also released an SDK
and the source for the device, but as far as I know
the boot loader only loads the original preinstalled and singed kernel image,
so running your own kernel takes a little more then just replacing the kernel
Quite a few people all ready ported OpenZaurus software packages to the PMA400
(need to change the filesystem layout inside the packages). Just Google.
As soon as I have some valuable output I will post the results.
Sunday, November 07 2004
everybody interested in this stuff all ready knows about palmOne's LifeDrive but I just read the specs today and wow they finally have a full connected device (it has 802.11 and Bluetooth). This
thing could really get me back to use PalmOS based devices. The build in hard disk is also very very nice, but $500 is a little
much right now. Maybe I can convince myself if the rumors are true and PalmSource switches to Linux, I really think it's true
I read some postings on linux related mailing lists from firstname.lastname@example.org. Lets wait and see :)
Friday, October 22 2004
I'm currently home in Germany and found that I got another copy of the Japanese Palm Magazine again.
OK, so whats up with this Palm Magazine from Japan? The long story is ... several years ago (back when
I really was active in the PalmOS developer community) Palm Magazine
from Japan wanted to include one of my programs on the CD they ship with the magazine. So I asked for one (1)
sample volume as a reference for myself. Since then I'm receiving free copies of Palm Magazine
every now and then.
I really enjoy reading (or actually just looking at) Japanese magazines. I also have several
Japanese MAC Life magazines and two PalmOS related books from Japan. Very nice ;-)
As I wrote in The perfect PDAsmartPHONE I bought a iPAQ h6315. This device is really great even
it runs Pocket PC. Also the battery is not as bad as many websites report. I do use the wireless (802.11) often but it does not seam
to eat the battery too quick. I now really enjoy VoIP with SIP and SJphone.
Also I want to mention the effort to port Linux to the h63xx has started at handhelds.org.