Club Admiralty

v7.0 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Club Admiralty Blog

A blog about life in general, in as many languages as I can manage. Ενα ιστολόγιο περι ζωής, πολυγλωσσο - σε όσες γλωσσες εχω μεράκι να γράψω.

iPod - reimagined

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I came across this on Reddit a while back.  I still miss my iPod classic.  It had such a great user interface, you could easily just play any sort of song you wanted, and the beauty of it was that the clickwheel model allowed you to have one-hand control of the device without even looking at it, so you could focus on driving.  This reimagined UI for the iPod Classic should definitely be a thing :-)


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Knome

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A bit of a delayed April Fool's joke that I saw on Reddit a few weeks ago.  Not much happening this year in terms of jokes given the somber coronavirus reality, but this was funny :-)


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New Mac Pro...giant price tag!

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One of my favorite things to do when I was in college (and following an Apple event) was to head to the apple store online and spec out the most recent announcement with everything spec'ed out to the max.  I used to do this with any tower model, starting back in 1997 when I first started looking at the latest and greatest (and my Performa 615CD, with a 68040 processor was rapidly aging).

Back then the most expensive model would set you back around $10,000 (if I remember correctly).  A lot for a college student, but not necessarily out of the realm of possibility for a professional who needed the extra umph.  This year's Mac Pro model, fully maxed, will run you around $53,000.  Jeez...  I really love it, but even the base model is $6,000 (so out of my league...)




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Vintage Tech - HTC Blue Angel, Universal, HD Mini, and Moto Mpx

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Windows Mobile. So much promise...So much frustration ;-)

After a hiatus from Windows Mobile (after mu iPaq), I had decided to try windows mobile again.  At the time HTC seemed to be the golden child of the industry when it came to windows phones.  They made reference designs that other companies could use or rebrand.  One such design, which caught my eye, was the HTC Blue Angel which was rebranded as the Qtek 9090, SPV M2000, Dopod 700, Qtek 9090, T-Mobile MDA III, i-Mate PDA2k, XDA II and so on.  The model came to Cingular at the time as the Siemens SX66.  I really loved the O2 version (XDAIIs), which retained the camera (which Siemens removed because corporate clients didn't want cameras...due to security...blerg...)


  • Dimensions: 125 x 72 x 19 (L x W x T mm)
  • Weight: Approx. 205 g
  • Operating systems:
  • Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. 
  • Processor: Intel(R) XScale PXA263 400 MHz CPU (possible overclock to 600 MHz)
  • Memory: Flash ROM:96 MB, RAM:128 MB SDRAM
  • Memory expansion: SDIO/MMC card slot
  • Camera: VGA camera (except on the Siemens version, which lacks a camera)
  • Standard battery capacity: 1490mAh
  • Display: QVGA Transflective 65k Colour LCD, 3.5 inch, 240 x 320 pixels
  • Wireless connectivity: GSM/GPRS and Wi-Fi 802.11b, plus IrDA and Bluetooth on both models
Out of the box it came with Windows Mobile 2003, but unofficial "cooked" ROMs for Windows Mobile 5, 6 and 6.1 became available on different forums like xda-developers.  Windows Mobile 2003 was still annoying.  Near the end of the device's life, I got annoyed and it met a wall forcibly ;-).  I tried to give it some extra life by loading cooked Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6 on it, but it was too little too late.   I really loved the form factor, but the chicklet keyboard left A LOT to be desired.  I had used a Blackberry phone before this and I actually liked the feel of the keyboard a lot.  I was hoping the same would be true for the Blue Angel, but I was sorely disappointed.  The keyboard actually went mostly unused, and eventually, I switched to a Nokia S60 phone.



Other HTC Phones

There were other phones that HTC made that I loved the design of (but I never got).  Two of these were the HTC Universal, which was a convertible phone. The keyboard was larger, and you were able to use it almost like other messenger phones (like the sidekick) which worked best on the landscape orientation.  By comparison, the Blue Angel felt top-heavy.

HTC Universal Specs (2005):
  • Screen Size: 3.7 in (9.4 cm) Transflective LCD
  • Screen Resolution: 640x480 VGA at 216 ppi
  • Input: 62-key QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen with stylus (included; stylus also available separately for 19 EUR as of October 2008)
  • Cameras: 2
  • 1.3 MP CMOS Camera with LED "flash" mounted on the reverse of the keyboard section
  • QVGA (320x240) CMOS Camera for 3G video calling, mounted beside the screen, close to the hinge
  • Processor: Intel Bulverde (PXA270) 520 MHz CPU
  • Memory: Flash ROM: 128 MB, RAM: 128 MB/64 MB SDRAM
  • Memory expansion: SDIO/MMC card slot (officially without SDHC, with maximum capacity supported being 4GB, but there is unofficial SDHC support from xda-developers - SDHC cards are accepted with Windows Mobile 6.1 or higher and there is another unofficial update to Windows Mobile 5 that allows use of SDXC cards up to 64GB.)
  • Network Standard: Tri-Band GSM/GPRS (900/1800/1900) + WCDMA (UMTS) (2100 MHz)
  • Connection interface: Client only Mini-USB connector, USB charging, USB 2.0 protocol
  • Wireless connectivity: Infrared IrDA FIR, Bluetooth 1.2 Class 2 compliant, WiFi 802.11b IEEE 802.11b compliant, Internal Antenna, 11, 5.5, 2 and 1 Mbit/s per channel, 64-, 128- bit WEP & WPA standard data encryption
  • Standard battery capacity: 1620 mAh (included; the battery is removable)
  • Charging: Mini USB (also used for data transfer)
Touch Pro 


HTC Touch Pro 2 Specs (2009):
  • 3.6" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Qualcomm MSM7200A, Single core, 528 MHz
  • 3.2 MP camera
  • 512MB ROM
  • 300MB RAM
  • SDHC
  • Windows Mobile 6.1
  • 1500 mAmp battery
  • Quadband GSM, 900/2100 UMTS
  • Bluetooth & Wifi
One of the things that HTC started doing (when Windows Mobile as an interface wouldn't really cut it) was to create an overlay UI called HTC Sense. This put a more usable face on top of Windows Mobile's (aging) interface.  I do believe that HTC sense has also been moved to their android line of phones now, making it one of their distinguishing characteristics.

The Motorola MPx

Finally, one phone that I was really looking forward to, but never came out officially, was the Motorola MPx. The MPx may have come out for developers, but it never really saw the consumer market.  This phone was a convertible flip phone.  You could use it in landscape mode with a full keyboard (which doesn't look all that comfortable), or you can use it as a flip phone.    I thought that the forward-facing media keys were innovative for the time, and the dual-hinge meant that you could use it as a 'regular' phone most times, but flip into smartphone mode when needed.  I think it ran Smarphone OS, which was Windows CE-based, like Windows Mobile, but it was different, so I am not sure what the app compatibility looked like

Motorola MPx Specs (2004ish?):
  • Triband GSM 900/1800/1900 support.
  • GPRS Class 8 (4+1 slots), 32–40 kbit/s speed, browser supports WAP 1.2.1 and HTML (PocketIE).
  • Weight: 118 g.
  • Dimensions: 89 × 48 × 27 mm.
  • Main: 2.2-inch (35 × 44 mm) 176 × 220 pixels TFT, 65,536 colors (16-bit), 9 lines.
  • Secondary: 80 x 48 pixels monochrome TFT.
  • Smartphone 2002. Can be upgraded via unofficial firmware, up to Windows Mobile 6.5.
  • Supports 32 presets, polyphonic (24-channel) and WAV for ring-tones (WMA and MP3 support are added with OS upgrades), silent alert: vibration.
  • 132 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 710 processor.
  • 32 MB of RAM.
  • 16 MB internal memory (8 MB available to user).
  • Expansion slots: SD MMC/SD Card slot (1 GB max).
  • Camera:
    • none, optional Viewtake CM35D SD slot camera available separately.
    • Image sensor type: 0.3 megapixels CMOS.
    • Image preview: 160×120 JPEG 10 frames/second.
    • Photo shot format: 160×120, 320×240, or 640×480 24-bit color JPEG.
    • Video file format: 160×120 24-bit color AVI, 8 frames/second.
    • Lens: 180¢X rotation
    • View angle: 60¢X
    • Fixed focus: f/2.8, 4.1 mm focal length
    • Focus range: On-screen 16-bit color 20 cm to infinity
    • Shutter speed: f/2.8, 4.9 mm focal length 1/7.5 ¡V 1/500
  • Software: IA camera 2.0 (includes driver).
  • Connectivity:
    • IrDA.
    • miniUSB port with USB 1.1 support.
  • Dimensions: 26.7 mm × 33.6 mm × 12 mm (without SD card)

Windows Mobile 6.5

Finally, it's worth looking a bit at Windows Mobile 6.5  Microsoft's last-ditch effort to "save" a current product and evolve it, before they went with Windows Mobile 7, which was totally new underneath the hood (I think), with a new user interface (Metro), which meant a complete re-launch of Microsoft's mobile phone line - which...SPOILER ALERT...they managed to bungle as well...

From what I remember Microsoft wasn't fully invested in Windows Mobile 6.5, but it is worth noting that they changed the interface of the OS from something that resembled Windows on the desktop, to something closer to the Zune interface (their failed attempt at a media player).  It wasn't a bad effort, but I think it was too little too late by this time. By this time (2009) iOS was in its third iteration and the iPhone 3GS was close to being out the door (this is my first iPhone since I wasn't all that impressed with the original and the 3G). One of the innovations here is that microsoft now had a store that people could buy apps from them and install without sideloading.  I remember back in my iPaq and HTC days, the only real way to install applications on your Windows Mobile, or Palm device for that matter, was through sideloading.  You needed to buy the software separately, either on CD or via an online store.  Run the hot-synch function while tethered to a computer, and run the executable installer on your PC.  The Apple AppStore really did revolutionize this, and it's amazing that no one else had done this before...

It's too bad really.  Microsoft had a commanding lead, in my opinion, both in the enterprise and in the consumer market (thanks to HTC), but they really squandered it.


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Vintage Tech - iPaq

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Back when I started my graduate studies, I decided to leave the Apple Newton behind (I know, sacrilege, eh?) and get a more "modern" PDA.  While my Newton did support unicode (probably the first platform to do so natively, I think), the unicode was not implemented, so typing in Greek was a pain. I had to either use Greeklish, or use the Symbol font to display contacts (which made my non-Greek contacts look odd).  I didn't particularly like PalmOS (it seemed like a step backward), but PocketPC seemed like a good contender.  Thus, I went to the Compaq website and ordered myself an iPaq PocketPC.  I bought myself an iPaq 3870 which had a few expansion options and came with Bluetooth.  My goal was to pair it with my Bluetooth enabled Ericsson T68 to surf the internet from time to time.

Hardware & Software out of the box

The 3870 looks like the 4th iPaq on this list of devices.  The unit was compatible with Compaq's sleeve system where the iPaq could be slid into the sleeve to either provide device protection or to expand the device by adding a Compact Flash slot, PCMCIA slots, WiFi, an analog TV and Radio Tuner, a camera, a barcode scanner, and my favorite: a sleeve which added GSM/GPRS so you could make phone calls, send texts, and browse the internet from your iPaq.  I think that Compaq was really ahead of its time with these sleeves, and we've only (relatively) recently seen Motorola use this approach with their Moto Z line of phones that use MotoMods.

My device and I think all devices, came with the default screen protector sleeve, which you can see on the second device.  The specs on my device were:


  • Processor: Intel SA-1110 @206Mhz
  • RAM: 64MB
  • ROM: 32MB
  • Bluetooth & infrared
  • SD Card slot for up to 1GB of space
  • Built-in speaker
  • Built-in microphone (there is a button on the left side of the device that allows you to use it as a dictaphone!)
  • 3.5mm audio port
  • RS232 connection (where the cradle connects, and also where the sleeve interface port it)
  • 240x320 touch-screen


This machine was obviously built for business (and heck, as an MBA student it seems like it was a good fit! for a while anyway...).  The software that came with it was pretty business-focused (no surprise) and included things like:

ActiveSync 3.5, Asset Viewer, AudibleManager, AudiblePlayer, AvantGo, Calculator, Calendar, Contacts, Data Encryption Package, File Explorer, IBM ViaVoice Mobile Device Edition, Ilium eWallet, Inbox, Infrared Beaming,  Jeode Java Virtual Machine, ListPro, MSN Messenger, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Microsoft Money for Pocket PC, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Pocket Excel, Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer, Microsoft Pocket Streets, Microsoft Pocket Word, Microsoft Reader for ebooks and audio books, Microsoft Transcriber, Notes, Picture Viewer, Pocket Asset Manager, Terminal Services Client, VPN Client, Vegas Game Pack, Virtual Tour, Voice Recorder, Windows Media Player 8.0 for Pocket PC, Wordlogic Predictive Keyboard, Xcellenet Device Management Agent, iPAQ Task Manager, iPresenter PowerPoint Converter.

AvantGo is an idea that is still with us today in the form of  Pocket.  The idea was that you followed certain websites that were AvantGo compatible (CNN, MSNBC, etc.).  Even if a website wasn't compatible, AvantGo on your PC would work its magic.  Then, AvantGo would create offline versions of the site and load them onto your AvantGo viewer via synching.  This way you'd have your commuting newspaper to read while you were not connected.  One of the things I did end up getting for my iPaq was a GPS puck.  It was a GPS receiver, with Bluetooth, that connected to my iPaq.  This, along with Garmin maps (I think they were garmin) made for my first GPS unit for my car.

Later models of the iPaq included things like built-in wifi, cameras, and fingerprint scanners. I think the last model of the line was the iPaq Glisten, which was a direct competitor to Blackberry (it had a built-in keyboard).

Windows PocketPC 2003

The unit I had actually came with PocketPC 2002 OS, but Compaq provided a free upgrade with PPC2003 came out. Both of these screenshots are indicative of what PPC2003 looked like.  The homescreen graphics were modifiable, so I had Palm, Newton, Apple, and other OS images showing on my iPaq.  When I had an HTC Blue Angel (maybe this is info for another post) I also had other mobile operator logos on my phone.

The user interface was pretty much of its time.  There was a dashboard, which was customizable, which showed the user's information at a glance. By default, you could see your to-do list, your mail (synched via HotSync when you were at a computer), and your calendar appointments.  Applications that you installed had the option to include a homescreen widget, so things like AvantGo also showed up here.  Games that were similar to tomagotchi also had a homescreen presence I think.  The windows menu was how you accessed all of your applications.

There was no Greek (or any other non-latin-based alphabet) by default, but there were plugins (which cost additional money) that enabled this on your phone.  They worked OK.  I never really was 100% satisfied with how Windows PocketPC handled internationalization.  The unit would also slow down from time to time which necessitated an erase-and-reinstall process.  I don't know if this was really helping, or it was all psychological on my part.  I remember friends with windows machines (prior to Vista) that did this periodically to their PCs.

QNX OS

When I got sick of Windows PocketPC, I attempted to breathe new life into the iPaq I had, and someone over at QNX (a real-time OS of the time) had ported QNX onto the hardware as a trial.  I liked the BeOS-style visuals so I experimented a bit with it (probably for about a week), but since it was an experiment or proof-of-concept, it never really had any third-party software, so I flashed PPC2003 back into the device.  I wish this had caught on :-)

Linux OS (OPIE and GPE)

PPC2003 wasn't really doing it for me.  It was OK, there were enough games on the device to make it entertaining, but I had issues connecting to the network over Bluetooth, the device got painfully slow at times, and I kept feeling like I needed to reset it.  I discovered that there was a Linux port (Familiar Linux) for the device, with two different UIs.  One looked like Aqua on MacOS (OPIE) and another one was based on GNOME (GPE).  I loaded this on my iPaq and played with it for about a month.

It was a fun excursion into the Linux world, but I came across the same issue as with QNX.  Granted, more people had ported more apps over to Familiar, so the device was more useful because of it, but it still didn't really scratch the itch for seamlessness.  I did enjoy playing around with mobile linux at the time, and I am surprised that people have yet to crack that nut; I know Android is technically Linux, but I am thinking of other companies like Canonical.

In the end, I ended up flashing PPC2003 back on my device and gifting it to a friend who wanted to mess around with it.  I also ended up replacing both my iPaq and my T68 for a SonyEricsson P800 (a story for another blog post)

Windows PocketPC was killed off by Microsoft when they changed direct with Windows Mobile 7, and their Metro interface.  There had been a plan for a Windows Mobile 6 (PocketPC renamed to Mobile with the 5th edition), but as far as I know that never made it to market.

Do you have any memories of PocketPC?



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Year in review: xbox

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Unfortunately this year the Microsoft Xbox team didn't do a year-in-review graphic for their plays 😢. It would have also been an opportunity to do a decade-in-review, but oh well.  Missed opportunity.  I guess they are working hard on the next Xbox, which is slated to be released December 2020.

I connected my Microsoft account with True Achievements to get a sense of what was played last year on my Xbox.  It's no surprise that Assassin's Creed is my top game.  I was surprised that Bionic Commando was the next big game on my list considering I didn't go out of my way to get those achievements.  It's also no surprise that the months I am most active are months when the semester ends, or is not in session.  The one thing that is missing from TrueAchivements is a metric for time played.  You could have played very little and earned a lot of achievements, or played a lot, and earned very little.  I don't like the badge metric as being the only one that matters.



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Year in Review: Google reviews

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I guess last year I decided to leave some reviews for various venues using Google's "leave review" functionality.  I guess it was a combination of free time and prompts of my phone to leave reviews (seems like I am quite susceptible to such behavioral suggestion...at least for a few weeks) :p


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Year in Beer: An untappd Year in review

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Every year some social sites tend to a year in review with data from your activity on the networks.  This year is no different.  I thought I'd post some of the data that came my way.   Today I have some data from Untappd.  I started using Untappd in 2014 when I went to Edmonton for my Doctoral Cohort's initiation into the EdD program.  I was trying out new beers and wanted to keep track of what I liked, and more importantly what I did not like!  Who knew that there was more to beer than Heineken, Amstel, and Coors?  Anyway, here's a year in Beer!  Not sure if the second graphic zooms, so here's the Flickr link.




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Year in Review: Goodreads

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Every year some social sites tend to a year in review with data from your activity on the networks.  This year is no different.  I thought I'd post some of the data that came my way.   Today I have some data from Goodreads. I always choose a low number of books to read each year.  I'd much meet and exceed my goal rather than not reach anything.  My goal this past year was to catch up with The Expanse series and read a lot of Star Trek.  I am mostly caught up with the Discovery era Novels.  I finished off the Enterprise era novels, and I am mostly caught up on the 24th century (post-crossover).  I am not sure yet what by 2020 goals will be.  I am thinking of introducing some Assassin's Creed this year. I am not sure if this graphic zooms in, so here's a link to Flickr (link)




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Year in Review: Swarm

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Every year some social sites tend to a year in review with data from your activity on the networks.  This year is no different.  I thought I'd post some of the data that came my way.   Today I have some data from Swarm (what used to be foursquare).  Location check-ins don't seem to be as big of a deal these days (with most competitors having gone the way of the dodo), but swarm still persists.  I do like using it because it gives a sense of what I've been up to over the past year.

As you can see most of my year has been pretty "normal" - not a ton of travel, mostly going to and from work.  This past year I did go to Winter Island and The Willows pretty often in the summer.  One of my favorite places to walk, and to also stretch one's legs when on a work break. I hope 2020 has more travels!




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