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Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Found in a drawer: Palm m125

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Palm m125And it still works perfectly!

While rummaging in the back of my odds and ends drawer today, I came across my old Palm device.

Welcome back to 2001! Palm called this a ‘handheld computer’, although I think I thought of it as a digital diary. I put in a couple of AAA batteries and it powered straight on (no proprietary batteries or connectors – yay!).

The m125 had a 33Mhz processor, was the first Palm to include an external memory card. It sold for $250 thirteen years ago, about the cost of a top-end Nexus 7 or a mid-spec iPhone 5S today.

Incredibly, you can still buy them new from between $50 and $150!

Although, before you decide you should read this excellent review from Ed Hardy.

The memory card in mine was still in place and still had applications installed!

Let’s see what we have:

Palm m125 screen and applications

AK Mirror: Could turn your palm into a torch. Maybe on a different model. This has no camera, no flash and a black & white screen. AKeysoft now nothing more than an abandoned WordPress page.

Avantgo. Now part of Sybase and appears to be some kind of mobile content pushing system, if it’s even still being used. That’s a shame. Avantgo was the RSS and Instapaper of its day. – still around and same logo. was bought by Rakuten.

And a couple of games. Dopewars is basically a free-market simulator. It’s still around online, and mobile.  Here’s the Apple version with modern graphics, and an android version that’s much closer to the original.

And just to prove the thing does work, here’s me playing Hardball (a version of Breakout)


Written by Robert

21 March, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Daily Mash has best privacy change notification

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Daily Mash has best privacy change notification

It neatly summarises the vast majority of user attention:

We’ve updated our privacy policy, not that you care. You can read it, or click to get rid of this annoying box and carry on as before.


These coders even made a ‘whatever’ button for Firefox.

Written by Robert

24 May, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Fun

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Hacking Android – HTC Wildfire

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Wildfire running CyanogenMod 7

You’d be surprised how long it took to get this far!

I’ve been experimenting with hacking Android phones recently, either to extend their functionality, or to circumvent mobile phone companies’ annoying blocks.

This post is really just to detail what I did, with the aim of providing useful reference for others doing something similar. It took ages searching forums and other blogs to find a correct set of steps to do this, so hopeful I can shorten the time it takes the next person.

HTC Wildsire

My first effort with this was with an old HTC Wildfire I’d bought from a friend for about £60  (cheap enough not to matter too much if I inadvertently turned it into a paperweight), I was to realise that this was not an entry level task.

Normally hacking an Android phone has three basic steps:

1) Find the vulnerability that allows you to become a superuser.

2) Become a superuser (getting root access)

3) Add all the software you want that the manufacturers didn’t necessarily intend.

In many cases, gaining root access is a well-practised function, that some developers have even packed up into a handy piece of software that does step one and two for you. UnRevoked is a good example for a selection of HTC handsets.

S-On / S-Off

Annoyingly HTC have a security setting to prevent you doing this, which leads to the additional step at the start of removing this (S-OFF). Turning it off should normally be simple, again it’s been done so many times that there’s some software which perform all the steps for you, in this case, Revolutionary will do it.

Except it didn’t work for me because the firmware in my phone was too recent and there was no way to hack it to turn S-OFF. I had boot version 1.01.002, and Revolutionary only works with boot version 1.01.001.

So now I had to downgrade the boot software to the earlier, hackable version. This alone was fiddly and time-consuming, and by far the best instructions for doing so are in the Aritrasen blog.

So after all that, only now, was I in a position to begin the superuser process.

Only I then discovered that there was another stumbling block. The superuser exploit only works on Android 2.1 (Eclair) and my Wildfire has already been upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo), and I had to downgrade that as well (keep following the Aritrasen guide, don’t skip that step, it is not optional).

OK, now I could finally start at step 1, above! Happily the rest of the process was simple and done for me by the software packaged listed.  At this point I chose to use CyanogenMod rather than standard Android as the phone’s operating system because the Wildfire will only support 2.2 (Froyo), but with CyanogenMod 7, it effectively becomes a 2.3 (Gingerbread) device.


It takes a lot longer to boot now than it did (boot screen picture at top of post) and actually pretty much everything about the phone is slower, especially if you want to use Swype, or Opera, but that’s what happens when you start to push the hardware to its limits.

However, I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve made my phone do something it shouldn’t really be able to do, I have a more technically capable Wildfire handset than most other people, and it’s my first play with an Android (ish) phone! Smiles all round 🙂

Can you feel me start to accept the inevitable move away from Nokia? It’s painful for me to say, I think you can.

Wildfire S CyanogenMod 7 desktop

HTC Wildfire running CyanogenMod 7

Written by Robert

28 January, 2013 at 1:01 am

To-do, or not to-do. It’s a good question.

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To-do list

Keep it simple

A rare off-topic post. Because flexibility is fun.

I got to my desk this morning and as I’ve got into the habit of doing, I made a rough list of the things I wanted to do today.

Then I made some tea, and looked at my list to work out which one I should start first. And I thought, yep, this list really helps me focus on what I need to do, and it’s a great visual prompt.

At this point I was immediately distracted by wondering how many other people think so to, so I started search for “Why to do lists are great”. I got four words in and google’s autocomplete came up with:

Why to do lists don’t work

Oh dear.

It seems the productivity industry can’t agree on whether they’re good or not:

Lifehacker notes that some people have so many things to do, they need a range of online tools to help them keep track. (I go for the pen/paper option)

Morgan McLintic likes To-Do lists, but says you need to do more than just write stuff down.

Although Mike Reeves-McMillan goes into  little too much depth for me, suggesting I should “Link To-do Items to Higher-Level Goals”. I think I might spend all day supercharging my list, rather than doing the actual work.

Workawesome clearly loves To-Do lists. Oh wait, no they don’t. Apparently a ‘Done’ list is much better.

This post on the Harvard Business Review blog shuns lists because they are “setting you up for failure and frustration”.

Actually I think the best advice comes from Leo Babauta’s calm-inducing Zenhabits, with some simple tips on getting things done. Basically, take a deep breath, and start a small part of the task.

I feel better now.

Written by Robert

2 March, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Business, Fun, tools

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A sideways look at politics

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I’ve just noticed this from a Times blog post from last month.

The perils of little cameras – you can turn them on their side.  They used it anyway.

Written by Robert

20 February, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Fun, Newspapers

Truly viral – Simpsons avatar generator

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I’m surprised and amused over the number of people I know on Facebook who have replaced their profile pictures with a custom Simpsons avatar.

It’s a brilliant gimmick to publicise the upcoming Simpsons film, and you can get one by following this link.

The show’s been on for over a decade and remains popular all over the world, we ‘get it’ because we’re all drawing on that shared experience. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t watched The Simpsons at some point.

But I wonder if we’re the last generation who are able to do this on such a scale. Given the fragmentation of audiences, is there less likelihood of a critical mass of people to give a viral campaign like this enough scale, for it to mean enough, to enough of the population to make them want to participate?

In the meantime, I haven’t yet changed my profile picture to a cartoon me yet, but I still might.

My Simpsons avatar

Written by Robert

5 July, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Fun, General

Why I get my US news from ‘The Daily Show’

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And I get annoyed when my PVR fails to record it

I can’t put it any better than the American Journalism Review‘s Rachel Smolkin, so I’m not going to try.  I just wish there was a British equivalent nowadays.

There used to be, Radio 4’s ‘Week Ending‘, and going back a long way, ‘That was the week that was‘.

Written by Robert

19 June, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Fun, Media