Evaluating iPad as blogger’s only device

As I mentioned in my post about publishing a Paper.li online magazine that I’m running an experiment about using iPad as blogger’s only tool, from idea to publishing. I’m now going to share the results of the experiment, and the workflow I found suitable for my purposes, and working well together with an iPad.

Cause I’m lazy doing the actual write work I tried to figure out a workflow which minimizes the effort of the last push, and concentrates more on preparing beforehands. I’ve divided the flow into four phases: Phase 1 – collecting ideas, Phase 2 – gathering the material, Phase 3 – drafting and Phase 4 – publishing. It’s not that I always go through all four phases and then start again from phase one for another blog post, but I may have several posts cooking up simultaneously. For example I’m currently in the phase three, drafting, of this post when writing it first time, but I have other posts in phases one and two. In the next chapters I’m going through each phase detailed.

Phase 1 – Collecting Ideas

I usually might come up with an idea for a blog post any time and any place. I also tend to forget the idea in half a minute if I don’t write it down. There the iPad comes to rescue. After I bought the device, I’ve been carrying it around where ever I can, and even at home it usually follows me to the same room I happen to be in. So when ever my mind pops up an idea, I can easily write it down right away.

For storing ideas I use Evernote, where ideas can be saved as notes which can include text, images, audio and video. Evernote has an application for iPad which makes it more convenient to use than through the web service. Evernote allows tagging of notes with multiple tags to make them easy to find later. I use one note per one idea, tag it as “blog”, “idea” and with other suitable keywords which describe the content. For instance I used “publishing”, “iPad” and “Evernote” to tag the idea note of this blog post. When ever I feel I have some extra time, I pick any of the ideas and carry it on to the phase two.


Phase 2 – Gathering the Material

Ideas which are carried to phase two, are the ones I feel most confident writing about. Also another criteria to be carried through is that I need to be convinced the ideas are worthy of spending time on finding the related resources and content. For saving the material, I also use Evernote. Usually when I bump into a good website, blog post or even a public email which relates to my upcoming blog post, I use the Evernote Web Clipper to save the resource for later use. I’ll tag it as the best I can, to make it easily findable later. Time spent for well thought tagging is paid back later with a multiplier.

When working with iPad, the Evernote Web Clipper is a life saver, but it needs a little gimmick to get it working with Safari. I used these instructions to have a fully working Web Clipper on Safari. This is the bit where I might cheat a bit, when considering the topic of this post. I also have web clippers in my PC browsers as well, so if I happen to bump into a must read resource while I’m sitting in front of my PC, I might clip it with a desktop version of the clipper. That still happens quite rarely since I have replaced 95% of my PC usage, with usage of iPad since I bought it. Fortunately also with these cases, All the clips will be synced into my Evernote account, which I can access later, and read the articles with my iPad.

Phase 3 – Drafting

Third phase of the flow starts when I think I have enough material to start drafting the post itself. As material I consider my own notes about the subject, related links and tips, photos and screenshots. Usually if I’m attaching screenshots as imagery in my post, I take them in the drafting phase if I can. This gives me most time to draft the architecture of the post, to know which kind of imagery I would like to attach.

If I’m able to take the screenshots with iPad, it’s dead easy once I got it. Pressing sleep + home button simultaneously takes the snap and saves it to your image stream. The native iPad photo app is perfectly capable of doing most of the editing work like cropping, enhancing and rotating. For resizing the image, you’ll need separate app, but I let WordPress app to do it for me when attaching the image to the draft.

The writing of the draft I do straight in the WordPress app for iOS. Only thing needed to do before starting to create the draft is to change the publish status setting into draft, as default, it will be published.


Phase 4 – Publishing
As the final push, there is the actual publishing phase. This is the phase where I create the formatting of the post. The WordPress app has easy to use html interface which allows me to create bold, italic or quoted text. It also allows to create bulleted lists, hyperlinks, code formatting and some more functions I haven’t even needed yet. It has also possibility to preview the post. The preview window renders accurately how your post will look like when your blog’s theme has been applied, and all the formatting takes place.


When I’m satisfied with the looks, I usually proof read it through a few times before changing the status to published.

Recap of iPad as the only tool

As I already mentioned, iPad has replaced most of my PC usage since it goes with me where ever I go. Also the christal sharp and clear retina display gives it most of the capabilities to work with text and images as well as one could with PC. Also I haven’t found a missing app for any purpose I’ve needed, and all the apps I’ve installed so far has been free. These qualities make the device sufficient for quite efficient workflow.

Of course every rose has its thorn, so does this. One quite annoying thing is when I’m editing text, and I need to manually place the cursor to any given point, I seem to always hit one row up or down. Another weakness is actually caused by me. I was cheapskate and bought the wifi only version. I don’t know if the problem is in the poor broadcasting of my Lumia hotspot, or poor wifi receiver in my iPad, but looks like it’s not possible to browse any online content with this combination, for example when traveling by bus. Luckily Evernote comes to save here too, I can write notes offline and Evernote syncs them online when ever it gets a working network connection again.

As a whole, there are much more positive than negative things, so I can recommend iPad for bloggers if you are still figuring out which tablet to buy, or even if tablets are useful for anything at all. I think they are.

How to install SailfishOS SDK on OSX – the Dummy Guide

Two days ago I started to install SailfishOS SDK on my Mac Mini using the instructions from Martin Grimme published in SailfishOS mailing list. As a non-seasoned Virtualbox (or a Mac) user it took me several hours and lots of questions in the mailing list to take me where I am now. Currently I have fully functional SDK installation on my Mac Mini, and I decided to write down this guide to help others do the same. The guide will be based on the bullet point guide from Martin, but will have some additions such as tips and don’t dos from me, to avoid readers to do same mistakes I did.

Step 1: Get Linux Running on Virtual Machine

* Install VirtualBox on your host OS. Give it at least 1.5 GB of RAM. After the whole setup process, you may push this down to about 500 MB, if desired.

* Install Linux in a VirtualBox. Ubuntu 12.10 32 bit works just fine.

Give it at least 12 GB of hard drive space, otherwise it runs out when installing the SDK. Dynamically expendable should be fine. After the installation you’ll be asked to reboot Ubuntu. At least for me, the Virtual machine got stuck for ages in “The system is going down for reboot NOW!” phase, so I decided not to wait and manually powered off the VM, and started it again from the VirtualBox manager. That seemed to be ok.

* Don’t forget to install the guest additions as well, because we will have to use shared folders.

You can install them from the Devices menu, selecting Install Guest Additions.

Step 2: Get the SDK in it

* Install VirtualBox on Linux and install the Sailfish SDK afterwards.

Select 32 bit version of Sailfish SDK, if you installed 32 bit version of Ubuntu. After you’ve downloaded SailfishOS SDK run
sudo chmod +x SailfishOSSDK-linux-32-offline.run
to make it executable and start the installation

* The suggested installation path /home/<user>/SailfishOS is fine. Do not install the SDK into a shared folder as shared folders don’t support creating symlinks.

Step 3: Get the Virtual Machines Out of It

* Open the VirtualBox configurator on Linux and export the two virtual machines ‘MerSDK’ and ‘SailfishOS Emulator’ by selecting ‘File -> Export Appliance’. This will take some time. Move the resulting .ova files to your host OS (Mac OS-X in my case).

* Create a directory ‘MerHome’ on your host OS, e.g. /Users/<user>/MerHome. Inside MerHome, create three directories:

– emulator
– mersdk
– projects

Now you have to copy stuff from your virtual machine to your host OS. I used shared folders for that. You can share folders from your host from the virtual machine shared folders settings, and then mount and unmount them in Linux
sudo mount -t vboxsf mount_name mount_point
sudo umount mount_name

* Copy the SailfishOS/emulator/ssh directory from Linux into the just created directory ‘MerHome/emulator’ on the host OS.

* Copy the SailfishOS/mersdk/ssh directory from Linux into the just created directory ‘MerHome/mersdk’ on the host OS.

* Copy the ~/.scratchbox2 directory from Linux into the just created directory ‘MerHome’ on the host OS.

* Open a terminal on Linux and pack up the targets directory:

cd SailfishOS/mersdk
tar -czf targets.tar.gz targets

* Move the file targets.tar.gz to your host OS into ‘MerHome/mersdk’ and unpack it there:

cd MerHome/mersdk
tar -xzf targets.tar.gz

Step 4: Get the Virtual Machines on Your Host

* Open the VirtualBox configurator on your host OS and import the two recently exported VirtualBox appliances by selecting ‘File -> Import Appliance’.

* Edit the shared folders settings of the ‘MerSDK’ virtual machine:

home -> <your MerHome>
ssh -> <your MerHome>/mersdk/ssh
targets -> <your MerHome>/mersdk/targets

* Make sure that you don’t change the mount names during this action.

Be careful with this one, cause I managed to change “home” to “MerHome” even without touching the target name.

* Edit the shared folder settings of the ‘SailfishOS Emulator’ virtual machine:

ssh -> /emulator/ssh

Make sure that you don’t change the mount name during this action.

* You may optionally also want to activate audio while in the ‘SailfishOS Emulator’ settings.

* Test-run the MerSDK virtual machine on the host OS. Does it come up with the message ‘mounted home and targets successfully’? Then the shared folders settings ought to be OK. Close the virtual machine (saving machine state instead of shutdown is fine).

Step 5: Prepare your workspace

* Add the directory ‘MerHome/projects’ to the shared folders of your Linux virtual machine. This may be done while the machine is running.

* In your Linux home directory create an empty directory with the same name ‘projects’.

* As root, add the following line to /etc/fstab on Linux:

projects /home/<user>/projects vboxsf rw,uid=1000,gid=1000 0 0

Replace with your username and use the GID and UID of the user. On Ubuntu, the first user normally has GID = 1000 and UID = 1000.

If you have multiple users or groups, or want to be sure, you can double check them using id tool
id -u <username>
id -g <username>

* As root, mount the projects shared folder:

mount projects

* Open the VirtualBox configurator on Linux and change the host keyboard key in the global settings to something different than on the VirtualBox on your host OS.

Step 6: Fake VBoxManage Output

* Start the two virtual machines on Linux with the VirtualBox configurator. They will be very slow (as you’re running VirtualBox inside VirtualBox), so you need to have some patience until they’re fully loaded. Fortunately this has to be done only once. You will later never have to use VirtualBox inside VirtualBox again.

* Record the output of VBoxManage that the Sailfish SDK expects:

VBoxManage showvminfo MerSDK --machinereadable
VBoxManage list runningvms
VBoxManage showvminfo “SailfishOS Emulator” --machinereadable

The names of the record files contain the md5 sum of the command, so
they must match exactly.

* Stop the two virtual machines.

* In the Linux virtual machine, locate your VBoxManage program. On my Ubuntu installation, this is ‘/usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxManage’. Become root and move the file to VBoxManage.orig

On my installation, the binary was found from ‘/usr/lib/virtualbox/VBoxManage’.
If you don’t find it from either of the locations, you can locate the binary using find:
find / -name "VBoxManage" 2>/dev/null

sudo su
cd /usr/share/virtualbox
mv VBoxManage VBoxManage.orig

* Save this script as VBoxManage. It will record the output of VBoxManage and later replay that output for the Sailfish SDK.

#! /bin/bash

VBOXMANAGE=`dirname $0`/VBoxManage.orig
COMMAND=`echo “$@” | md5sum | cut -d” ” -f1`

if [ ! -f ${RECORDFILE} ]; then
exit $?

Dont forget to give the script executable rights:
sudo chmod +x VBoxManage

Step 7: Finalize the installation

* Start the two virtual machines ‘MerSDK’ and ‘SailfishOS Emulator’ on your host OS. Their performance will be far better than inside the Linux virtual machine.

* Make sure that your host OS runs a ssh server. Find out the host IP and connect to it from Linux, tunneling the ports used by the SDK.

From Mac OSX you have to tick “Remote Login” from System Preferences -> Sharing to start the ssh server. You can then find out your ip using ifconfig, or use your mac’s local name.

ssh -l \
-L 2222:localhost:2222 \
-L 2223:localhost:2223 \
-L 8080:localhost:8080 \
-L 10000:localhost:10000 \
-L 10001:localhost:10001 \
-L 10002:localhost:10002 \
-L 10003:localhost:10003 \
-L 10004:localhost:10004 \
-L 10005:localhost:10005 \
-L 10006:localhost:10006 \
-L 10007:localhost:10007 \
-L 10008:localhost:10008 \
-L 10009:localhost:10009 \
-L 10010:localhost:10010 \
-L 10011:localhost:10011 \
-L 10012:localhost:10012 \
-L 10013:localhost:10013 \
-L 10014:localhost:10014 \
-L 10015:localhost:10015 \
-L 10016:localhost:10016 \
-L 10017:localhost:10017 \
-L 10018:localhost:10018 \
-L 10019:localhost:10019

This ssh connection needs to be established all the time while you’re using the SDK.

* Start the Sailfish SDK QtCreator on Linux. It should be able to connect and use the virtual machines on your host OS now. You cannot start the virtual machines via QtCreator, though.

* IMPORTANT: Your Sailfish projects must all reside in the projects shared folder so that the MerSDK virtual machine will be able to find them.

Now you are ready to test your connection to the emulator in QtCreator.


If you’re seeing port 65535 in the ssh setting in QtCreators devices settings, go back to step 6. Probably something has gone awry with the VBoxManage recordings, and QtCreator cannot see the running SDK VM’s.

If the previous is not a problem, and the device connection test goes well, but you still see errors like “SailfishOS Emulator is not running”, you can try to hit “yes” when QtCreator asks if it should start the simulator, even if that does really nothing. Also it might need some certain combination of build/deploy/run to get your project run on the emulator, and QtCreator stop whining about not finding the SDK, but patience is good, and I hope you will have less problems with that than I did.

And finally the image I sent to Twitter, as soon as I got it working. I was pretty exited 🙂


How To Become a Paper.li Publisher – Five Simple Steps

Matrixxreloaded is back after dead long silence, enhanced with a few gadgets. One of the most interesting gadget is an iPad, which I’m using right now to write this blog entry. At the same time I’m testing if this works as a blogger’s only tool. The subject I’m posting about is how to create an online newspaper using (free account of) Paper.li service. The service lets you aggregate news from several sources using keywords and hashtags to find content matching your theme. The first paper I created was Qtech, a slightly mobile biased paper about everything related to Qt technologies. The second paper I created was iPadTips, which I will be using as a reference in this article.

Step 1: Create Account

When you land into Paper.li site and end up creating a new account, you are given two options. You can login with either using your Twitter or Facebook account. The service assumes you have one of those accounts, and at least seemingly it doesn’t offer any alternative login method. The same account is used later when logging in after account creation.


Step 2: Create New Paper

After you’ve created your account, your publisher info is drawn from the account you used when logging into paper.li. Now you are ready to create your first paper.


You’re asked to fill in the name of the paper, subtitle and update frequency. I recommend to choose something short which really describes best the contents of your paper. Also subtitle should be short, descriptive and catchy. Don’t worry if you don’t come up with the perfect ones yet, you can change both name and the subtitle later. Next you can select update frequency from weekly, daily or even morning/evening editions.

Step 3: Find Article Sources

This is probably the most important step since what is a newspaper without its stories. There are three main categories for possible story sources:

  • handpicked news categories which include plenty of choices from existing online newspapers and web sites
  • your linked accounts, at first iteration they include only the one used when logging in
  • wild card search from social media including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and RSS feeds


The handpicked news categories are shown by default when you first see the find sources screen. Under My accounts you will see your linked accounts and can select your timeline, lists, saved searches etc. as a sources for your paper. Available source types vary between account types. By tapping the search field above enables you to find hits from social media using keywords and hashtags. Add any of the result feeds as a source by hitting the plus icon on the right. If you are satisfied with the sources and hit next, the first edition of the paper is created. It takes a while to process all the sources, but the content should become visible within a few minutes. When you see the content, you will probably see articles that doesn’t fit into your theme, or even whole categories which have improper or even offensive content, depending of your sources and possibility for multiple interpretations of your keywords and hashtags. Don’t be alarmed, you’re the only one who will be notified about this release, so hardly no one can see the content yet, even though it’s public. In the next two steps we will go through how to finetune the content and remove improper material.

Step 4: Finetune

Now it’s time to hit the gear icon on the top right corner of the page. You will be taken into settings.

  • The Settings tab lets you revisit the paper title, subtitle and update frequency, if you didn’t get them right when creating the paper.
  • The Content tab lets you add new sources or remove existing ones, if you are not satisfied by the contents coming from a particular source. It also lets you to drag the paper.li publish button to your browser’s bookmark bar to let you easily manually add articles to your paper. If you are using iPad like me, you’ll need to hack a bit to get the bookmarklet into Safari. I used instructions from this blog post, but replacing the evernote javascript snippet with this. In this tab you can also select the language of the paper. The default is all languages, which had the impact that half of the articles of my paper ended up being of japanese language. Also here you can add or remove subcategories inside your paper. I found out only technology and education categories offered suitable content for my paper, and removed all other categories. Video and image categories would have been proper if I was going to publish a porn magazine which I wasn’t. If most of the contents of a single category is ok, step 5 can still save you and you don’t need to remove the whole category. Experiment with the categories and update the paper to see the changes.
  • Blacklist tab you don’t need yet, I’ll tell you more on step 5
  • Promotion & Emails tab let’s you select how your paper is promoted. Email is always sent for subscribers every time the new issue is published, but in addition, you can promote it by letting the service automatically tweet about updates if you have linked your or logged in with your Twitter account. You can also invite friends to subscribe by sending email. Only notable downside in the free account is that you can’t review your paper when the new edition is published before the notifications about the edition are sent to subscribers, so you’re better be there to curate your paper when the automatic update occurs.
  • Appearance tab lets you modify the looks you your paper. Thumbnail image, paper background image or color, color theme and font are customizable. For my iPadTips magazine, I used an image of my iPad desktop as thumbnail image.


  • background I left white since I like black/color on white most, but you can experiment with different background, color theme and font combinations. The service offers you a few handpicked color themes which are known to have good contrast on white, but especially if you are using dark background color or image, you could try out one of these websafe colors.


  • On Discussion corner tab you can select if you allow commenting or not
  • Add units – only for Pro account
  • On Stats tab you will see various stats about your paper like the amount of views or subscribers. Also you’ll see how many times your blog has been embedded inside another website in past 30 days

Step 5: Curate

This step let’s you iron out the last wrinkles in the quality of selected articles in your paper. You can delete posts, block persons or websites in edit mode. Blocked websites and people will appear in the Blacklist tab in the settings, where it’s possible to unblock them. Click the Edit mode button in the top right corner to make the last changes.


Now you can hit the X mark on any article which doesn’t seem to fit in the theme. If you find out the topic is completely wrong, you can block the whole website. If you think the author doesn’t provide material suitable for your paper, you can block the author. If you think the article is slightly not suitable for your theme, you can only delete the post and see if the website/author can deliver something more suitable next time, it’s your call. If you are satisfied with the content, you can hit Done editing button and you’re all ready to start promoting your publication through social services of your liking.

If you have created paper.li papers, or ever happen to create one (possibly using these steps), I would be glad to read it, please leave the paper subject and url in the blog comments.

Themes for Harmattan – Part 3: Using C-OBS and submitting to store

In last postings I’ve been telling how to create custom theme for Harmattan, and how to change between installed themes with ThemeChanger tool (http://leimu.drupalgardens.com/content/themechanger by Leimu). Also how to create valid debian packaging for the theme and preparing the package to be built in OBS. This is the last part of the themes trilogy and will give a quick guide for using Community OBS (https://build.pub.meego.com/), or OBS in general.

To get started with Community OBS, you need to contact either X-Fade or lbt #meego@freenode on IRC. Kindly tell them about your project and ask for either of them to enable your C-OBS account. You have to have existing meego.com account to have your C-OBS account enabled, the same credentials will then work in C-OBS.

There are two ways to use C-OBS, the web interface and OSC tool (http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:OSC). There are plenty of tutorials on how to use OBS with OSC, like this here: http://wiki.meego.com/Getting_started_with_OBS. Also I’ve found this cheat sheet very usable: http://en.opensuse.org/images/d/df/Obs-cheat-sheet.pdf when dealing with OSC. Instead of OSC, this tutorial is focusing on how to use OBS from the web interface.

When you login first time to https://build.pub.meego.com/ you’ll see five large icons showing up your quick options. Because we want to create a project to build the custom theme, we select the fourth icon New Project. This project is going to be one of your subprojects of your Home Project. Now you have to give a name to your subproject and a little description of what it’s about. In my case I created project called “themes”. The next hierarchy level under subproject is Package. You can add multiple packages under one subproject, like I’ve done with both of my themes. When you have your new project ready, you can start adding Repositories to build your project on. This time we are adding only Harmattan repositories. It is usually wise to create separate subprojects for different target repositories, especially if their packaging differs from each other, like in case Harmattan vs MeeGo. If I would build these same themes for MeeGo also, I would create another subdirectory for them. This reminds me of something, if I’ve known this from the beginning, I would have named my theme subproject as themes-harmattan, so I could name the other one themes-meego.

Let us have some target repositories. To add one, select Repositories tab from your new subproject view. Select Add Repository in the repositories view. There are two ways to add a repository, either with simple interface or with advanced interface. Only some repositories are available through the simple interface, Harmattan is not one of them. To add Harmattan, you need to select  pick one via advanced interface. Start typing “harmattan” to the project search field, and it will complete with you some options. Select MeeGo:1.2:Harmattan from them. Leave Repository field intact. In the New name field you can give a new shorter name to the repository for your own convenience like simply “harmattan”. From architectures, tick armv7el only, and then press Add repository.

Now you’re ready to upload your package. Go to Packages tab in your subproject view and select Create new package. You have to give a name and description to your package. When you’re done, you can start uploading files. For that, in your newly created package’s main view, select Sources tab. In the last part of the tutorial we test built the package. Now you will need part of the side products of that build. If you don’t have them anymore, you can rebuild the package to regain the needed files for OBS. Only two files you need for building for Harmattan are the source tarball (file with .tar.gz suffix) and .dsc file. They should be found from the one directory up from your build directory. You can now use local file upload feature of the sources view to upload those two files to the OBS. Once you’ve done with the upload, OBS automatically triggers a build when it notices that those files needed for build are both present. To check the build progress, you can return to main view of your package selecting Overview tab. Build status box on the right should show build status for your target repository. If the status is not “building” you may need to click the reload status icon. If you can’t see your repository in build status box some extra work is needed, this has happened to me a couple of times. It means that the selected architecture was not successfully applied to your repository. To fix this, go to Repositories tab. There you see your repository and a note which says that these repositories are inherited from your subproject. Now select the link to your subproject, in my case: home:matrixx:themes. There you see your configured repository again. Select Edit repository from architectures, re-tick armv7el and click the Update button. If everything did go well, you should now see your package under Packages tab building nicely against Harmattan target. If build fails, go back to last tutorial  and check everything is in place. The usual suspect when something fails has been in my experiments, the build dependencies. OBS is much more pickier with those than scratchbox, so you might have a perfectly building package in scratchbox, but not in OBS. When package has “succeeded” build status, you’re ready to add some extra stuff for the app store submission.

The extra stuff needed for the app store submission are described here: http://wiki.meego.com/MeeGo_Apps/Packaging. Shortly, you’ll need at least one screenshot and icon. Screenshot name should end screenshot.png and the icon needs to be named icon.png. Harmattan category section we already covered in the last post. In addition, your package needs to have a proper description. The submit process is highly automated, so it’s important to have that info, and also screenshot and icon names correct to pass the automated tests. The extra files are added same way than the package files themselves, through upload system in Sources tab.

The actual submission is done according to this guide: http://wiki.meego.com/MeeGo_Apps/Submit. Briefly: Go to your package’s main view and click Submit package. You are now asked to fill in the repository where you are submitting, type in: MeeGo:1.2:Harmattan:Apps:Testing. Do not tick the empty check box. After you have submitted your package, you are forwarded to request follow-up page. There you can happily wait a while when refreshing the page and wait the your request changes state from New to Accepted. There should be some email notifying you in certain states of the test run, but I’ve so far received none, so I don’t expect you also getting any. If you are using IRC, you can follow your request on #meego-boss @ freenode, where bot is spamming with all the things happening on C-OBS at anytime. If the request fails, the request page or the bot will tell you what went wrong (missing metadata, name, description…). Everything can be fixed and resubmitted with the same steps. Once the request is Accepted, your package will show up in http://apps.formeego.org/staging/basecategories/n9/pr1.0/harmattan/ in the same category you selected for your package. This is a staging are for all the applications which were accepted to Harmattan testing repositories. They have to go through the Community QA review process, where they need to get 6 positive reviews to be promoted to http://apps.formeego.org/basecategories/n9/pr1.0/harmattan/ .

From http://apps.formeego.org/basecategories/n9/pr1.0/harmattan/ you can also download the Community Apps client if you dont have it already. It lets you browse and download apps in http://apps.formeego.org. While waiting for your app to be promoted, you can do others a favor and rate/review the other goodies waiting in the testing area. You can browse and install also the apps in the testing area with the Apps client by installing appstestingenablerharmattan package on your device. After installing the Community Apps client, it should be possible to install the package via apt-get. Now you can give those goodies a shot and review them with a same go.

I hope this whole shananigan did make any sense, and I will see also other themes in the store soon. There’s already a request from @knobtviker to create a Tron theme, just for lulz 😀

Themes for Harmattan – part 2: Packaging and building

In last post I started series of HowTo create a custom theme for Harmattan, from scratch to the community app store. This is the second part where I’m going to share some tips on packaging, and going through usage of Community OBS, step by step. I just taught myself to use Community OBS for building my apps and I must say, it’s about the time, OBS is really a great tool!

Now, if you are following these postings to create a custom theme, after the last post, you should have a theme ready for packaging. If you are already familiar with Debian packaging, you don’t need any guidance, but this is for those you aren’t that familiar yet. The minimal proper debian package needs only few files to guide how the package is built. Those are called control, rules and compat. In addition you might want to have changelog, copyright and readme. For packages that don’t actually need to build anything, but only extract files from the package to their rightful locations on the device is a handy tool called CDBS (http://build-common.alioth.debian.org/) . I got this tip to use such tool from a friend of mine, Juho, and thanks to him, I have to spent only a minimal time for the packaging process. The advantage of this tool is that you don’t need custom Makefile for your project, and also only two lines in rules file instead of normally needed few to tens of debhelper macros. As con sides, you have cdbs as an extra build dependency, and also you need one extra file to tell, what to install and where to install.

All the packaging files should be placed in a directory called debian, in your project directory. Easy way to create a skeleton for the package is to take some existing package and copy files from there. Another way to create the skeleton is to use QtCreator. Start new project on Qt creator, any kind of project will do, as long as you use the name of your upcoming package as a project name. Then add Harmattan as one of the build targets. Build the skeleton project once. After that, you can delete everything else, but things inside debian folder. Now you can move your theme stuff inside that new project folder and you have a skeleton packaging files. After creating skeleton, with either of those methods, or from scratch, you can start from the easiest file, compat, and change the compatibility value to 7, if it’s not already it. The second easiest file in this case is rules, normally it isn’t, but this time you can remove all the other lines but leave these two:

#!/usr/bin/make -f
include /usr/share/cdbs/1/rules/debhelper.mk

For the control file, you need a little bit more work to match the info with the ones for your package; name, version, category, homepage url, maintainer etc. One thing to notice at this point is that when packaging for Community app store, apps.formeego.org, you have to follow packaging rules which are mentioned here in section 1.4: http://wiki.meego.com/MeeGo_Apps/Packaging

The last file you are going to need for packaging is the .install file. It should be named according to your package. If your package happen to be name “mytheme”, then the .install file should be mytheme.install. The example installation lines I have in one of the theme packages are following:

funkyocean.desktop /usr/share/applications/
index.theme /usr/share/themes/funkyocean/
license.html /usr/share/themes/funkyocean/
icons/* /usr/share/themes/funkyocean/meegotouch/icons/

At simplest, it tells where to install .desktop file (more of desktop file in a bit), theme index file, license and the icons themselves, wildcard can be used to indicate to install all the icons which are in the icons dir of your package. The desktop file includes info of your application. The guide to create valid desktop file you can find from: http://wiki.meego.com/Packaging/Guidelines#Desktop_files

Here’s a couple of lines I added to my theme desktop files to prevent the package icon showing up in homescreen. I’m not sure if they are both needed, and you can experiment by having only of them, but here they are anyway:


Now you may want to add some license, I’ve used one of the Creative Commons licenses. Changelog is also good to have for your release, especially if you are updating the package, it’s nice to have a description of what has been changing between current and last version of the package. Format for changelog you can find here: http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-source.html#s-dpkgchangelog. Now you are ready to test-build your package for sending to OBS for final build. Apparently this came out too long to have OBS n00b guide as is, so I’m leaving it for the next post. That’s how it always is with debian, nothing comes out short, not even with great helper tools..

HowTo: Custom theme for Harmattan, from scratch to Community App store

There is something I want to share with you. I’ve been lately tinkering on customizing Harmattan to look like it’s _my_ phone. There was a time when Widgetsgallery demo app was included in the Harmattan image, and it had a feature which allowed changing between installed themes. Now the app is gone from the image, but the source is still available in gitorious. I decided to bring the most useful feature back and assembled a dedicated theme changer application, taking advantage of the LGPL source of Widgetsgallery. The ThemeChanger app ( http://leimu.drupalgardens.com/content/themechanger by Leimu ) is currently downloadable from Community OBS. Here’s quick instructions how to do it most conveniently from your device:

Add a file named themechanger.list to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and write this line to the file:

deb http://repo.pub.meego.com//home:/matrixx:/themechanger/MeeGo_1.2_Harmattan_Maemo.org_MeeGo_1.2_Harmattan_standard/ ./

Now you can apt-get update & apt-get install themechanger.

If you would like to test the ThemeChanger app out, you’ll need at least one custom theme installed to your device. You can download the ones I did by adding this repository to your device:

Add a file named themes.list to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and write this line to the file:

deb http://repo.pub.meego.com//home:/matrixx:/themes/MeeGo_1.2_Harmattan_Maemo.org_MeeGo_1.2_Harmattan_standard/ ./

Now you can apt-get update & apt-get install either funkyocean or purplehaze packages.

Here’s how they look like:




To create your own icon set, it’s easiest to see what one of those have been eaten. All the installed files are found under /usr/share/themes/funkyocean/ or /usr/share/themes/purplehaze/.

Basically the minimal you have to have is the index.theme file and the wanted amount of icons. My icon set includes icons for the basic pre-installed applications excluding games. In your icon set it’s possible to have more or less icons, depending of your choice. Complete instructions on creating a theme and how to use the ThemeChanger tool is located here: http://leimu.drupalgardens.com/content/themechanger

When you have all the icons (sized 80×80 pixels) ready for your theme, it’s time to create packaging for the set. Easiest way to create a debian package which does not build anything, just installs the icon set files, is to use cdbs tool which is installable in scratchbox. When your package is complete, you can create a project in Community OBS. I’ll continue with detailed instructions on packaging and with instructions for using C-OBS for n00bs like me in the next posting.


Recently I finished my previous project, a Yammer mobile client called Mash. Actually I didn’t really finish it, it’s more like stuck. I published versions for Symbian^3 which is now available in Ovi Store, and also published a version for MeeGo Harmattan, which is still in Q&A while writing this post. N900 has totally lost my home wifi which makes testing the software with it quite challenging. Also for any fun, a friend told me that even reflashing don’t take the problem away, something to do with mac addresses. I could port the client to upcoming Qt Lighthouse Android port, but I don’t own any Android devices, probably making that target secondary for now. Only thing to do is to port the app to MeeGo tablet and netbook which might take a day or two.

It starts to get me feel a bit happy, but empty when the project is almost ended, and now I needed to come up with something else. For a big while, I’ve been pondering of starting a new open source project, and that’s where my new hobby, geocaching did me a favor. I noticed that geocaching.com has a comprehensive list of  utilities provided for geocaching by different parties. Even if the list was long, I noticed the absence of support for Nokia devices there. They are serving the masses from their perspective, which usually means support for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, are there others? No, at least that’s how some people think. I decided that this is a good spot for me to check in. I investigated a bit and found out that geocaching.com is soon going to publish an API, which is already in beta testing and used by the apps mentioned earlier. Using those API’s will also provide a seamless (paperless) geocaching experience for those users who knows that there exists also Nokia phones.

Even though the API is not available yet, I already started a project: OpenCache. Naturally it’s going to be done with Qt, since it nicely gives the possibility to port the application to multiple platforms including MeeGo tablet & netbook, MeeGo Harmattan, Maemo, Symbian^3, and possibly Android. It’s going to utilize QML in the UI as much as it can, and the rest is going to have Qt/C++ under the hood. I already took a closer look at Qt Mobility’s location / positioning API and found it very suitable for this mission. OpenCache can be targeted for every mobile phone which runs Qt and has GPS. They are not too strict requirements, are they? I even saw someone saying at IRC that Qt Core is already ported to iPhone and porting Qt Gui is in progress, so here we come! More targets, yummy targets, omnomnom.. Ok that’s enough, even getting ports for N9, N950 and newest Symbian phones would be cool enough for me.

So, what is it, the OpenCache, it lot depends how broad will be the geocaching.com API. Because I have no idea about that yet, we’ll play how it would go, if everything I need would be available:

1) The navigating, the most important feature of the app would be navigating. This could be actually do without the geocaching.com API, so it’ll be done anyway, even if the API will never be published. I’ve previously used which ever Maps application comes with my Nokian. It’s very good for what’s it meant for, driving with car, or walking. Well, walking is what we need also in geocaching, but hey, Maps thinks you should walk in the sidewalk, not in the forest! It works very fine until you go out of track, and it’s very difficult to find precise coordinates, especially when the update interval of your current position is very long. That’s where own navigation system will come handy. The idea is also to combine a compass, I think most of the middle and high end phones has it built in. The map view would update your position with a smaller interval and also will show an arrow like guiding with a  distance to find the precise place set by coordinates.

2) The cache locations. At the moment,  I haven’t found a way to save landmarks to Maps’ favorites other than inserting coordinates by hand. Also noticed that one of my test platforms can’t even do that simple task decently. The format available from geocaching.com is .loc which seemed to be xml based format, simply offering cache name, coordinates and unique waymark identifier in the geocaching world. Coordinates were already in NMEA standard format which Qt also uses in its positioning classes, so no conversion needed there. We just need to offer a simple way for user to download cache info to the device and for use of our OpenCache app. Very probably the API will provide a nice and simple way for doing that, but if now, they can be even now downloaded from the site, one by one. Some nice categorized folder system would be needed to have easy access to caches of users choice.

3) Cache logging. When you find/not find  a cache, you need to log it. Also if you grab a Travel Bug or Geo Coin with you, or drop either of those to some cache, you need to log it too. Our mission is to provide simple and nice UI for logging these things quickly and painlessly.

4) User info, this is not mandatory content, but would be nice if user could see his stats. Depending of the API, all info available through that could be shown to user.

5) Proposed content: Mystery Helper. Some caches are so called Mystery caches and there are some math, equations and multiple coordinates involved, which needs some paper to solve at sight. It would be nice to replace the paper and create a helper utility to manage the different parts of the mystery, and solve the final coordinates with user given data. This tool would be totally extra, but if everything else is together, it would be nice bonus to provide it on top of the basic tools

I think those were the main points of the idea. For most of the graphics, existing icons would be utilized, or atleast they are kept recognizable, since they are already almost “standardized”  in the world of geocaching.

Oh, and did I forgot to mention it’s gonna be free.. Yeah I did, but have to say it again, just in case. The existing apps for iPhones and such were paid apps, and what would be nicer we could offer from the homeland of Nokia, for users of Nokian phones, free tools to make moving outside more fun.