Thursday, 27 December 2012

Dear Mamo (tribute to my N900)


It was the Christmas of 2009 and the my jail-broken iphone still couldn't scratch the itch that my heart felt for a smart phone. I was frustrated with not been able to sync the songs I bought from Ubuntu's 7digital music store to my phone. I hated the control that Apple exerted over the device that I thought I had full ownership of when I signed the contract with at&t. I needed something different - I needed things to change. So I switched to t-mobile and tried out the t-mobile's myTouch. The experience was painful and ended in sorrow, pain and more disillusion - apart from the fact that I had to sign in to my Google account to make the phone really functional, how do you explain the fact that a Linux based phone had trouble connecting to a Linux laptop, eh?!. I can't recall how it happened but I stumbled across the brand new 'Linux' phone from Nokia. I looked it up and it looked promising enough to me to let go of about $600 (I was young and foolish) to pre-order you. You didn't get here till late January but when you did I wasn't disappointed.


I found it funny hearing other people complain about the lack of support that Nokia gave you in terms of syncing software on Windows based systems. I never really cared for those complaints. I was comfortable with just ssh'ing into you and copying over files directly from my machine. I was okay with ssh'ing from you into my laptops and pulling stuff. Life was simple. Life was beautiful.

Of course there were huddles in our relationship. The 'task' support on your calendar application sucks (no point mincing words) and then you could not really sync to more than one calendar so once my company exchange based email was set up there was very little room for other calendars. Through out our relationship various workarounds popped up with varying levels of success for each of your little idiosyncrasies. I found your 32G more than enough to dump my data on but also appreciated the fact that I could get more space with an SD card. I loved that I could video chat via Skype using t-mobile's network at a time when the iphone still refused to let users make regular skype calls. I appreciated the ease with which I could create a wifi hot-spot on the go so that I could tether my laptop to my phone and VPN into work. I totally loved your built in FM transmitter which meant I could play songs on my car radio/stereo directly from you. I appreciated that you had a FM receiver (normal fare on regular symbian phones I know) where other so-called smart phones had trouble even receiving calls. And when my calls dropped on you, I was rest assured in the knowledge that it was the network's failing and not yours. Then there was your awesome physical keyboard - I wrote many a blog post on your keyboard. I regularly connected you to my Blackberry playbook and used you as an external keyboard. I won't mention the fact that you had none of those useless 'fart' applications that some others prided themselves on. You may not have had a billion applications in your store but you sure had some of the best and certainly useful application collection ever needed by a smart phone.

And you were more than a phone to me. You were my computer, a veritable companion through many-a-hackathon and sleepless night. You were my first true love (smartphone wise) and what we shared will always live on for eternity in my memories (afterall I plan to live forever). 


There was J. She wasn't a big fan of yours and I dare say it was no surprise that she's past tense :p. Meg understood the beauty of your simplicity in ways that made me appreciate her more. She loved your keyboard as much as I did. She loved that you were not pretentious or gaudy but sturdy and dependable. You went about your duties with little fuss and performed beyond the limitations of the creator's shareholders temporal aspirations.

Yes, you had your faults. Before long news had filter through to me about you dodgy USB charging port. In the words of scripture (to borrow an Obama euphemism), "when you see the leaves dropping you'll know it is time". And so it proved for before long, your USB port gave way. And then the magnet in your backdoor that controlled access to the SD card fell off. Nokia, graciously, fixed these issues when I sent you in the one time but age is the one villain we all can't beat - eventually these issues cropped up again.

But for each one of your faults you had many more pluses. You were a programmer's dream machine and before long, you were running a scaled-down version of LXDE Linux. Then NitDroid appeared and you were double booting into Android (at least that appeased the google fanboys if nothing). Then you started running Palm OS games without batting an eyelid. In the last few months you've started running Java apps and Jad files. It's a testament to the beauty of your conception that newer versions of Firefox, Opera mobile, Flash still pop up in the wild for you despite months (and in some cases years) of neglect and disavowal from the official creators of these tools.


You were awesome when it came to multitasking. You had no problem attempting to concurrently run as many apps as I attempted on your meager 256MB ram. You told no lies about your abilities. Your fault was that you tried too hard to be honest. You were never really a phone - you were always more than that. Perhaps, that was the reason you tired so soon - you always gave your all. Slowly it became obvious that you weren't getting any faster. Then the company switched to Exchange 2010 and even MFE didn't work anymore. And when your USB port died again and the SD card magnet fell out it meant I couldn't stick things into you (pun intended) the way I wanted any more. I now had to keep more than one spare battery and charge the batteries via an external charger. It was sad... it was the cooling of the ember

You know you'll have always have a place in my heart. You'll always have space on my study desk too. You won't ever really be replaced. In fact, I'll be switching to your prettier and more efficient little sis, N9. Yes, I know that makes me look like a pedophile to the rest of the world but I know you understand. She's doesn't attempt to be all you were, as indeed she can't, but she's as close as anything out there right now. Her seamless smooth build and awesome swipe gestures put the pretentious Lumia series to shame. I just wanted you to know that she's a capable friend and I appreciate you more each time I double tap her screen to wake for. For she won't be who she is but for the awesomeness of your simplicity and elegance.

I'll miss you Mamo, I will!

I can only hope that in Jolla the memories that we shared and the promise that you showed would live on.

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