Posted by & filed under 3D, France, Personal. 3,205 views

Twenty years ago, I left home and moved to Paris for school. While I had been away to prep-school for a year prior, this was the farthest I had lived from my parents, a 6 hours train ride at the time. I devised a way to stay in touch with my dad by sending him the first chapter of a ‘novel’ that I had began to write telling him he was to write the second chapter then send it back to me. I would write the third chapter, send it to him and so on and so forth. It was an opportunity to work together in a creative framework that I thought we’d both enjoy (Disclosure: it worked for a while but we gave it up eventually).

Twenty years later, recently, I was talking to my godson’s father, Jean-Michel about his son’s enthusiasm for 3D design. I thought that I could attempt a similar experiment with Ulysse, who was one year old when I left France and is now almost twelve. As his godfather, over three thousand miles away, I had always looked for a way to stay close to him when I couldn’t visit him as often as I wanted.

And so it began. Late last year, I sent Ulysse my first 3D scene, done in Google Sketchup with an explanation of the ‘game’ and how it would work. What I sent him looked like this:

Ulysse-Erik-Etape-01 Sketchup file

What do you think? Want to see more? How would you call this process?

Posted by & filed under Android, Mobile, Open-source, Personal. 3,986 views

I’ve been very happy with the Nexus One. Since it’s the official Google Android developer phone, it usually gets the latest updates first, is easily rootable and comes with the bare Google Android experience untainted by the mobile phone companies proprietary bloatware and restrictions (wifi tethering, bluetooth keyboards, …). I’ve had it for a year now and I feel like a change but no phone has been released since then that is so much better that I could justify buying a new handset. Let’s look at what’s out there:

2010 choices: potential Nexus One replacements

  • Sprint EVO 4G: the first real contender to arrive on the market (4G, front facing camera) but arguably too big and suffers from Sprint vendor creep. Must be rooted for HTC Sense-less experience. Not GSM (not international travel with it).
  • Sprint EPIC 4G: another good contender (keyboard, 4G, front facing camera) which also suffers from vendor creep (Sprint and Samsung), doesn’t have 2.2 (yet) and additional charges for wi-fi tethering. Also, not GSM (not international travel with it)
  • T-mobile G2: another good option (keyboard, 4G, GSM) but no front camera. Also seems to be suffering of quality control and design issues (keyboard hinge)
  • T-mobile/Google/Best Buy Google Nexus S: could have been it but the lack of 4G (HPSA+) is just ridiculous on a new phone.
  • Sprint EVO Shift 4G (keyboard, 4G), smaller than the EVO 4G but no front facing camera. No GSM. No dice.

Criteria

So let’s think what are my criteria then?

Front Facing camera

Might seem futile right now but Smartphones are changing the way we relate to and use our phones and communicate with people. Being able to video Skype someone on the run is a great feature. Must-have

Well built

Not much to say about this but in general HTCs seem better built than Samsung though both seem good in general. The Nexus one is solid, thin and has good industrial design, hard to beat. Gotta be good

4G

It’s a 4G world now. Whether GSM (T-mobile/AT&T) or CDMA (Sprint, Verizon), my next phone has to be 4G and its CPU has to be able to handle the data speed. Gotta be fast

Has to run Android 2.2 at a minimum and be rooted

Android 2.2 at a minimum, clearly as 2.3 is now out. The phone must be root-able the day of purchase, I am not waiting on that, I want that right away. If it includes vendor bloatware, I have to be free of it and its restrictions. Gotta be current, gotta be “free”

Not on AT&T

Enough said. Probably not on Verizon either which is still more expensive monthly than Sprint & T-mobile. Can’t drop calls

Nice to have: Physical keyboard

Though the Gingerbread keyboard and Swype are nice, I think a physical keyboard might be nice though it makes the phone thicker. Gota tipe faaast

Nice to have: GSM

Because I travel internationally often, my new phone should use GSM as well. Which means it needs to be 4G on T-mobile. Which would require either a phone purchased from T-mobile or an unlocked Android phone bought in Europe/Asia/eBay. I could also keep my Nexus One for international travel, for sure. Can travel

Battery has to last a day, screen has to be nice, …

I won’t state the obvious like battery life, screen size & clarity, etc. It has to be a good phone. Can last a whol

So then?

What’s my new phone? I am not sure. For now, I am keeping the Nexus One since no other phone is better in all essential criteria and some optional, the Nexus One stays in my back pocket. I am sure some new great phone will come soon. Stay tuned.

Posted by & filed under France. 4,514 views

Let’s keep it simple, traveling abroad with your phone is expensive. Call, SMS or data (email, web, etc) will cost you a lot of money. I travel to France often (work and family) and have tried to figure out the best way for me to get data access while there.

First you’ll need a GSM phone that’s unlocked (T-mobile or AT&T in the US and some ‘international’ phones from Verizon or Sprint). An unlocked iPhone or GSM Android device will work with the added benefit of acting like a wi-fi access point (provided you have MyWi on the iPhone or 2.2 – or an tethering enabled 2.1 on Android) giving you internet access on your laptop or iPad.

So here are the steps:

  • Go to an Orange store (some post-offices, bars & convenience stores have them as well
  • With a passport and credit card (or cash) Buy a (pre-paid) Mobicarte SIM for 15 Euros with a 25 Euros recharge (that you’ll use to pay for the internet option and some voice calls)
  • Make sure they enter your information in the system or you won’t be able to turn on your internet option later
  • Turn off any data access on your mobile phone (not just data roaming) lest you’ll be charged for data access per minute (1 Euro for 2 minutes) until you turn on Internet access.
  • Power off your phone, insert the new SIM, turn on your phone. At this point you’ll be able to make phone calls to french numbers for 50c of a Euro a minute (don’t use for calling outside of France or you’ll quickly run out of credit on your SIM
  • After 24 hours, once the store has transmitted ID information to the Orange servers, dial: #123# on your phone and press the call button (yes, include the # signs) which will take you through a menu in French:
    1. Choose ‘2’ Menu
    2. Choose ‘4’ Vos Bons plans
    3. Choose ‘4’ Votre Multimedia
    4. Choose ‘5’ Option Internet Max
    5. Choose ‘4’ Votre Multimedia
    6. Now you get a description, choose ‘Suite’
    7. Then choose ‘Souscrire’ (subscribe).
    8. Finally, choose ‘Valider’ (confirm).

    This should be enough but you will not get a SMS confirmation of the new option. At this point, you should wait a few minutes and turn data back on your phone. All should be set.

Notes:

  • Transfer is supposedly limited and bandwidth throttled after that but I haven’t experienced this
  • Again, make sure the Orange store agent has entered all your information and you’ve waited up to 24 hours otherwise you won’t be able to enabled Internet Max
  • There is an option for POP3/SMTP for 9 Euros a month that you can add to Internet Max. I am told Internet Max does not include support for these protocols. I don’t use them on my android phone so I can’t attest to that
  • The 25 Euros credit you’re adding to your Mobicarte is used to pay for Internet Max (12 Euros) and give you a few voice minutes to make local calls (restaurant reservations and such).
  • Don’t call abroad with the mobicarte, you’ll use a lot of your credit quickly
  • Once signed up for the mobicarte you should be able to go to the orange.fr web site, get sent a password for your mobicarte account, check and add to your mobicarte credit, options and even enable internet max there (Chicken and egg issue).
  • This worked well for me in September 2010 on an unlocked (T-mobile) Google Nexus One with Android 2.2 Froyo. Wifi-tethering worked
  • This should work on your iPad if you get a micro-SIM mobicarte. In this case, you’ll probably need to enabled Internet Max on a phone prior or via the internet (Chicken & egg problem beware!)
  • You can buy 3G modems (GSM with USB or Wifi) called Clefs 3G+ which probably would work with a Mobicarte enabled as such though I have no tried. Those 3G modems are available as pay per use but not with an unlimited internet option without subscribing to a 24 months contract
  • SFR & Bouygues Telecom offer similar SIM cards but the Orange one seems to be the only one with an unlimited internet access
  • Usual disclaimers apply. I am not responsible for any overage charged to you, damage to your phone, etc. By reading and choosing to apply these instruction, you inherently agree to that

Posted by & filed under Open-source, Web Development, Web Site. 2,905 views

A few year ago, I realized that beyond blogging, WordPress is an exceptional CMS, I started sites with WordPress. Dave Sutton’s Trawler Explorer, REI Paradise, Privateer Divers, Juergensen Marine, Danny’O Mom and Pop art shopThinking Diver and the latest The Cloud Saga are all built using WordPress.

After I built a few of those, I realized there were a few common steps that I pretty much always went through and decided to build a check list.

  1. Change domain’s DNS settings to point to the new server (I happen to host on Linode which I recommend if you need more than just a folder on some server somewhere.
  2. Add Domaine Zone for that domain in your hosting service control panel (Again, I love Linode Manager for any Domain Zone changes)
  3. Create Database in MySQL for the new WordPress site
  4. Install wordpress in server directory, change permissions if necessary
  5. Create an entry in your apache site-available sites and enable it (your mileage may vary if you don’t control your host directly)
  6. Go setup WordPress (hit your site URL for the first time)
  7. Change admin password and user info
  8. Change blog title, description and other parameters
  9. set up permalink to custom structure /%postname%/
  10. set up Akismet with an API key
  11. set up a google analytics account for the new web site, make note of the ID
  12. Choose a basic blank structure theme that you like (or if you’re lazy a nice pretty theme that’s ready to go)
  13. Add and configure the following WordPress plugins:
  14. Go to Google WebMasters, Bin Webmaster & the yahoo equivalent and set up your site with those search engines. Don’t forget to enter a sitemap.

That’s all folks!