Saturday, August 28, 2010

OK Nokia, just take all my money.

NOTE: I probably shouldn't even be posting this. As I say later all images/specs of the N9 online are the result of unconfirmed rumors that are pretty widely contested for technical and logical reasons.

The current phone I would like to swaddle and carry around like a baby is the Nokia N9 (picture from SlashGear).

Nothing has been officially confirmed by Nokia yet. We're not even sure the device pictured above is what the phone will look like (there are some pictures online of a black phone claiming to be the N9). EDIT: It sounds like the phone will be available in silver and black (the keyboard will be black on both versions).

Rumored specs: (found here, originally obtained here I think)

    FM transmitter (YES! The one on my N900 has come in handy far more than I ever expected)
    8 or 12 MP camera, depending on where you hear it
    720P video recording
    HD out via HDMI
    Qualcomm processor - (Doubtful, pretty sure Nokia has said they were going to use OMAP 3 processors)
    64GB internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD slot
    720p Super AMOLED screen. It won't have one of these. Seriously, it won't. Probably a 800x480 screen, possibly just AMOLED (not Super).

    Finally, and most importantly, the N9 will have a anodized aluminum finish! YES! Ever since my Tapwave Zodiac, which never got a scratch, never, I've been so hopelessly in love with anodized aluminum finishes. Of course, I do also have a thing for soft-touch plastic...

The release date could be as early as December but will probably be Q1 2011.

Of course, the phone have MeeGo running on it. I haven't made up my mind on MeeGo yet. MeeGo Netbook seems like something I would be willing to put on my T91MT if and when I get some confirmation it works well. I haven't seen enough of MeeGo Handset to make a good judgment on it, but to be honest I haven't really been impressed with what I've seen so far. Also, Maemo 5 is THE BEST mobile OS I have ever used.

I mean, come on. They've been working on Maemo for years, making it better and better. It's finally amazing (to be fair it the N800's Maemo 4 is still light years ahead of anything Microsoft has done, and I still prefer it to the iPhone OS), so they release it on one device, don't properly support it (Ovi Suite anyone?), and scrap it in favor of a brand new OS. MeeGo is coming along nicely, and far more quickly than I had any reason to expect, but it's still a bit of a slap in the face.

I actually stopped in the middle of writing this post to check out MeeGo Handset videos on youtube, and it does in fact seem to have a lot of Maemo 5 qualities. In some places if almost feels like Maemo 5 with a different skin though that's obviously not the case. I just hope that a lot of the things I like in Maemo 5, such as the closing of pop-up menus by touching in the out-of-focus area "behind" the pop-up, make their way to MeeGo as well. Looks like the task switcher, one of my favorite Maemo 5 features, will remain intact, with a few more options.

Also on the Maemo/MeeGo note, the Maemo community is bad-assed and super-awesome. They also seem to love the platform and devices they're developing for. All that considered, I'm sure that if MeeGo's user interface is worse than Maemo 5, and Nokia doesn't work out some sort of a port, then the community definitely will. Because as I've already said, they're awesome.

Okay, okay, okay, this post sat in my browser over night, I did a little more research, and it looks like MeeGo is being built with the expectation that phone manufacturers would like to implement their own UI, and in fact it sounds like Nokia will be putting the UI Maemo 5 has on top of MeeGo. This is what it sounds like to me, and I really hope it's so.

So, all that conjecture and rumor considered, it seems ridiculous that the N9 would have a Qualcomm processor or a 720p screen, as some are claiming, which is fine by me. The one spec I really care about is the FM transmitter. If the N9 doesn't ship with one I might not buy it just out of spite and switch to an Android phone. Everything else looks good. The phone's style is a little hard to place--is it retro? Is it faux-futuristic? It's like something you would see in a sci-fi movie, but probably a rather good one, or at least one with a good design team.

Please Nokia, please make some sort of official announcement regarding this phone. Release the specs. Let me know if I need to start saving money for it. Oh hell, I'm saving up for one anyway.

Till then,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2 Cool Animation Programs

Did a little surfing around yesterday looking for new or updated animation programs. Currently in my spare time I'm using Blender for 2d animation, but I try to keep updated on proper 2d animation programs.

Well I saw that Synfig has been updated a few months ago. It now fully supports importing svg files. I tested it out a little bit, it works great. It handled every svg I threw at it, including a few pretty complex ones. The greatest part is it's a proper import, meaning I seem to be able to edit svg files I import the same way I could edit an image I made entirely in synfig. This is really cool.

Synfig, for those who don't know, is a vector 2d animation program that was designed for professional use, abandoned, then open-sourced. It seemed to sit there for a while, gaining little improvement (probably because the volunteer coders were fixing bugs, not adding features) but it's really coming along now, and seems stable enough for me to use for a lot of my projects.

Unfortunately, Synfig still doesn't support adding sound to the timeline, so you'd have to use a cue sheet or something similar to time lipsync movements so that actually match up with an external audio track. Lack of sound support is a big deal for me, though I understand that it will take a lot of work for them to implement.
Sound assumedly used to work in Synfig, but very poorly so using a proprietary and (now) depreciated library.

That said, sound isn't too big of a deal. Remember that 20 years ago nearly all animation was done by hand, so all lip syncing was done by counting out the number of frames. Lip-syncing in Synfig is still easier than it would have been back then.

The other program I stumbled across is Animata. From it's website's description:

Animata is an open source real-time animation software, designed to create animations, interactive background projections for concerts, theatre and dance performances.

Go to the website and check out the videos on it's front page. Then check out the tutorials over here. Pretty cool, huh?

The main problem I can see with Animata is that, as they say, it's real-time and designed for live performances. There doesn't seem to be a way to save an animation as a video file or as a string of still images. I haven't played around with the program yet, but I'll bet you could use CamStudio or some equivalent to record the animation off your monitor and save it as a video. I don't know how good the quality would be, but it could work.

There you have it, two cool animation programs to play with if you're so inclined. Unfortunately I can't at the moment, I'm still too engrossed with Blender to even think about digging into another app.

For now, anyways.