How to configure Funambol synchronization on Meego 1.2 tablets

Once you get a new device, the first thing to do is to put it into a usable state by transferring the addressbook and calendar. This is the bare minimum, followed by bookmarks and passwords (Meego people: please, put Firefox on Meego, instead of Chromium).

While there is a Sync application in Meego, powered by syncevolution, the user interface doesn’t allow to configure Funambol or a custom server. You can still do it from command line though. Here is how:

start the terminal application and enter the following (as user!):

$ syncevolution –configure –sync-property “username=123456” –sync-property “password=!@#ABcd1234” funambol

Put your username and password, of course and if you don’t have one, get it now for free on my.funambol.com. That’s it, you can run the first sync:

$ syncevolution –sync refresh-from-server funambol addressbook calendar

That’s it. Contacts and calendar are now on my tablet. The email client still needs lots of work but it seems to be doing the bare minumum.

I’m not sure it’s possible and how to sync notes/todo. Any suggestion?

More details about configuring syncevolution.

Contacts for Thunderbird looks great

Contacts for Thunderbird is the Mozilla Labs extension that was first developed for Firefox and now ported to Thunderbird.

Thunderbird Contacts lets you pull in your “web contacts” from sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It also lets you connect to your mail contacts inside of Yahoo or GMail. As each contact is extracted from a site, the Contacts add-on tries to merge the contacts from different sites together into a single contact on your system.

I have played with Contacts for over a year and have been waiting for its integration into Thunderbird. Watch it in action: pure awesomeness! Go get Contacts for Thunderbird.

Intel desperate to further Meego

I spent a few hours listening to Intel’s presentation about Meego and the new app store (another) from Intel. AppUp, the name of the store, is just another store. The only new thing that I remember is that AppUp allows to integrate other stores into this store… For example, if you published an app on AppUp, this will also appear on BestBuy’s app store. Not sure what to make of that: as with many other features of the afternoon, I and others in the audience were not impressed.

Intel will review and validate every app submitted in the store and, contrary to Apple’s total opacity, they have published the validation guidelines. The validation process will take ‘at most’ 7 business days and every updated version of the app will have to go through the validation process again. The developers in the room didn’t like that: it’s a huge problem because if your release has a bug, it may take over a week to send a fix to your users.

Admittedly, this validation process is a hard nut to crack but one would expect that a new app store would at least try. I would suggest Intel to give up the subjective control on the ‘objectionable content’ and relegate porn material in a section of the store behind an additional credit card. I would make this section graphically anonymous and before anybody can access it, they have to enter a credit card number, all the time. Developers that publish bad content out of the porn-wall are permanently banned. Fool proof? No, but neither is the existing system with Apple constantly under fire for its decisions to pass or block apps.

My advice: put automatic checks in place for malware and trust your developers until they screw it up. You can also imagine a crowdsourced moderation system after the publication of the app. A model based on trust may not work but at least it would give Inte’s AppUp a differentiating factor compared to the leading stores.

By the way, if you are developing a sync application, port it to Meego and enter the contest for Best App to Stay in Sync at Intel AppUp(SM) developer program.

It’s all about Contacts: who do you know?

When it comes to doing anything, finding a job, an apartment or a used car, what counts most is who you know. In the old times it was the size of your rolodex, now it’s the size of you digital addressbook. Being so powerful, it’s no wonder that everybody out there wants it: Facebook, Plaxo, Vodafone, AT&T … all want YOUR addressbook because who you know says a lot about who you are, what you like. Also the FBI likes to know that 🙂

It’s good to notice the quantity of efforts from the free software community revolving around your social capital. After my disappointment with the pretty lame addressbook in Thunderbird 3, I was amazed to learn about MozillaLabs Contacts. It’s a Firefox extension that makes the browser aware of your online contacts and friend lists. Why should you care? Because your addressbook is yours and you shouldn’t be sharing it with everybody only to invite them to join yet-another-social-networking-site. As Michael Hanson puts it in his blog post

This information is also special, because it represents the boundary between “my data” and “your privacy”. When you disclose your friends’ email addresses on a website (maybe you want to invite them to a cool new site you just joined), you are trusting the website to keep that address private. […] The disclosure of your friends’ contact information is an important step: we think you should be in control of it.

Contacts also uses the Portable Contacts definition internally. I aggregate and keep all my contacts in sync with Funambol, so I’m thinking that the best way for me to use Contacts would be if I could have it grab the addressbook from Funambol server. How hard would it be to add a Portable Contacts representation of the contacts stored in Funambol? If anybody is interested, I can sponsor the investigation of the issue and the development with Code Sniper grants.

Eben Moglen’s Freedom in the Cloud Talk

I watched Eben’s speech but now I can quote it too thanks to the transcript done by the friends at Software Freedom Law Center. Talking about the problems of the cloud services, Eben hits Facebook hard with his rhetoric:

The human race has susceptibility to harm but Mr. Zuckerberg has attained an unenviable record. He has done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age. Because he harnessed Friday night, that is, ‘Everybody needs to to get laid,’ and turned into a structure for degenerating the integrity of human personality and he has to remarkable extent succeeded with a very poor deal, namely ‘I will give you free web-hosting and some PHP doodads and you get spying for free all the time’. And it works.  How could that have happened? There was no architectural reason. Facebook is the web with, ‘I keep all the logs, how do you feel about that.’ It’s a terrarium for what it feels like to live in a Panopticon built out of web parts. And it shouldn’t be allowed. That’s a very poor way to deliver those services. They are grossly overpriced at ‘spying all the time’, they are not technically innovative. They depend on an architecture subject to misuse and the business model that supports them is misuse. There isn’t any other business model for them. This is bad. I’m not suggesting it should be illegal. It should be obsolete. We’re technologists we should fix it.

As Nicole says, Facebook is Internet for the lazy people that don’t know or want to setup a blog on their own and learn how to use search, RSS or even email. And there are many of those.

So what do we need? We need a really good web server that you can put in your pocket and plug in any place. It shouldn’t be any larger than the charger for your cellphone. You should be able to plug it into any power jack in the world or sync it up with any wi-fi router that happens to be in this neighborhood […]
This is stuff we’ve got. We need to put it together … I’m not talking about stuff that’s hard for us. We need to make a free software distribution guys.[…]
Great social networking, updates automatically, software so strong you couldn’t knock it over if you kicked it, and you know what, you get ‘no spying’ for free. We can do that …

A small, personal, portable device, connected to the Internet with a simple and easy way to receive updates via a push mechanism and sync data between different sources. Something similar to what Funambol’s CEO said in Five Reasons To Care About Mobile Cloud Computing and I sketched earlier thoughts about the same topic. We’re facing interesting and busy times ahead.

Read there rest of Highlights of Eben Moglen’s Freedom in the Cloud Talk – Software Freedom Law Center.

How to sync Mac OS with Funambol (part 3)

I noticed that my posts about using Funambol on Mac part I and part II are two of the most viewed posts on my blog, so I decided to update them with a new tutorial using the official Funambol Mac OS Sync app. Since I was at it I decided to test also Prezi, a pretty good software for presentations.  Although not free-as-in-freedom software, I hope it inspires other developers to write better tools for presentations.

Here is the result: enjoy it!

http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

Will Nokia become FLOSS best friend?

Google’s power is making more people concerned that their motto ‘do no evil’ is not reassuring enough. Fabrizio Capobianco’s blog post summarizes the concerns of the Winston Smith Project. Google is scary because it controls the access point to the internet for 90% of users and because it’s expanding its reach to the mobile network. But G is not the only one trying to blend the separation between your desktop computer and your cell phone: it just happen to be a very visible one. Look at the chart on Funambol’s white paper on mobile sync opportunities and strategies: everybody is doing the same.

Mobile sync opportunities

Microsoft is not less scary, because with its monopoly on the desktop computers it controls the users’ applications and data. Extending their power from the desktop to the mobile environment is within their reach: after all, they succeeded expanding from the desktop to the server. They can do it again, if they play it right. Apple controls and has access to data for millions of desktop+mobile users: maybe MobileMe is not yet widely used but nonetheless the closed and proprietary nature of all Apple things and the quantity of iTunes+iPod users makes them scary enough.

Nokia is peculiar: it has a huge market share on mobile phones, but its Ovi services don’t have a strong companion on the desktop. With all the other operating systems controlled by competitors, Nokia could start collaborating more with the free software community to better integrate Ovi with Gnome or KDE for example. I think it would be a wise move since there are many GNU/Linux desktops out there, and more will come during 2009.’  Will Nokia become the next Free Software community Best Friend Forever, now that Google has become scary?

My high priority free software list

Help FSF build the fund
Help FSF build the fund

The FSF has rebooted the list of High Priority Free Software Projects with a $10,000 grant donated from WordLabel.com. The list contains software that is considered useful by the Foundation to keep computer users away from non-free software.

In the past the FSF has maintained such list directly but this time they ask for input by the community. I tend to agree with the priorities set by FSF, only reshuffling some of them and adding a few of my own. Here is my own personal wishlist:

  1. Gnash, the Free Software alternative to Adobe Flash, not only the player but also the authoring tool. Tools for creativity need lots of work, especially vector animation software and CAD/CAM drawing tools.
  2. CAD/CAM tools are way behind proprietary counterparts. It’s not just a matter of incompatibilities with DWG format. We should lobby Google to release SketchUp as free software, as a start.
  3. Video editing can be improved, but the building blocks are already there, so it shouldn’t be very too difficult to progress.
  4. VoIP and videoconferencing tools are still lacking behind proprietary counterparts, despite the fact that all the building blocks (open protocols, free sw servers and client libraries) are available.
  5. Better graphic templates for OO.org and other office/DTP applications. The tools are already good enough for home/small business use and I’m sure that good looking default templates would help drive adoption allowing one-click to create a good looking presentation or poster for local garage sale.

Last but not least, I think citizens of a Free Society need to start thinking of computers beyond the desktop boxes.’  We should invest efforts to develop more Free Sofware mobile applications and devices (like OpenMoko). And in parallel, make it easy to effectively sync between various applications and devices. BTW, did you notice that there is a bounty worth $2,000 to develop a Free Software application to sync Remember The Milk data with Funambol? Let me know if you want to grab that.

Funambol on Mac OS X, part 2

Update Jan 12th 2010: the best way to sync Funambol on Mac OS X is to use the official Mac OS Sync app. Check How to sync Mac OS with Funambol (part 3).

Yesterday I talked about SyncEvolution as one of the two options to sync contacts on Mac OS X using myFUNAMBOL. Today it’s time to introduce the other option: the Funambol Plugin for Mac OS X, contributed in his spare time by Kevin Lovette (a hacker of the Funambol Professional Services team). Like Patrick started SyncEvolution to be able to sync his SyncML devices with his GNOME desktop, Kevin had the same kind of itch on his Apple desktop and started to scratch it.’  Funambol Inc allowed him to develop this software in his spare time in exchange of knowledge about the Mac desktop platform.

Funambol Plugin for Mac OS X is a System Preference application. You can download the binary (version 0.1), unzipped it and double-clicked on the resulting .PrefPane file. You can install it only for your user or for all users of the machine. Once the plugin is loaded, enter your myFUNAMBOL username and password, and make sure that the URL is http://my.funambol.com/sync/.

On the next tab, Sync, tick Contacts selecting the ‘Card’ option from the dropdown menu. If you want you can also enable syncing Tasks tick it and select ‘Tasks’ from the meny. The other options are not selectable because they’re still not supported. Now you’re ready to hit the Sync Now button and wait for the sync to finish. The notification area has a bug and it doesn’t notify clearly what is happening.

Being in such early stages of development, I’m sure there are more bugs waiting to be discovered. You can help Kevin to improve this software: look at the project pages on Funambol Forge and discuss it on the Funambol Users discussion list.

Funambol on Mac OS X, part 1

Update Jan 12th 2010: the best way to sync Funambol on Mac OS X is to use the official Mac OS Sync app. Check How to sync Mac OS with Funambol (part 3).

While the world goes crazy with the iPhone, I decided to spend some time testing the two options for syncing on Mac OS X using myFUNAMBOL. There are two options available, both are community contributions. Today’s post is about SyncEvolution, contributed by Patrick Ohly.

Patrick Ohly’s SyncEvolution provides the missing link between Mac OSX and SyncML. The application is’  *nix style, command line based, originally for GNOME Evolution GNU/Linux and later ported to iPhone, OS X, Maemo.’  Old school *nix users will find it very easy to setup and run on Apple’s system.

Download the package from the Mac directory (I used the latest version, SyncEvolution 0.7). Expand the tarball and copy the binaryes in ~/bin (modify the .bashrc PATH variable to include your $HOME/bin, as follows).

PATH=$PATH:~/bin

Then create the directory ~/.sync4j/evolution/myfunambol and copy in it the files share/doc/syncevolution/funambol from the original tarball. Since I couldn’t find a way to make Finder show the hidden directories, I used the unix cp and mkdir commands (I’m at home with those, but YMMV).’  Now it’s time to edit the configurations. I use smultron as text editor,

$ smultron /~.sync4j/evolution/myfunambol/spds/syncml/config.txt

Change deviceId to something unique (especially if you’re syncing from many computers or more than one account on the same computer) and add your myFUNAMBOL username and password.’  Then it’s time to edit the addressbook configuration:

$ smultron myfunambol/spds/sources/addressbook/config.txt

change the type to the Mac type and make sure that the sync is configured as follows (unless you need different setup)::

type = addressbook
sync = two-way

That’s it. Now go on with the sync:

$ syncevolution myfunambol

and that’s it.’  SyncEvolution doesn’t support tasks nor calendar yet, but at least the AddressBook support is pretty good and stable. If you are a Mac programmer or you want to try becoming one, help Patrick to add a GUI to SyncEvolution and extend its functions.