Aug 032010

After the recent US ruling which declared jailbreaking Apple devices to be legal, Nokia heads over at symbian-freaks have accelerated their efforts to create custom ROMs.

An user called fonix232 recently posted the following to the Symvian DevCo mailing list – it gives a nice overview and “history” of the recent happenings:

Hacking into the system is just a word for accessing the phone’s restricted areas (c:sysbin, c:private, etc) with a simple file browser. It can be done in many ways.

First, there was the HelloCarbide method. It was based on a system bug, what allowed to access any folder if a fie browser was running in the moment of bugabuse. So people did this, copied Z, and developed a method to install ANY software without the need of signing. That was done by modifying a value in InstallServer.exe, and then placing the modified executable in C:sysbin.

Nokia patched this on N95 V31, so we needed another way. The other way was to map C:sysbin as a different drive (yes it is possible on Symbian) and copy the executables and drivers of an application called ROMPatcher. This application does what it’s name says: applies patches on given areas of RAM. This made us possible to create mods on-the-go. No need for editing binaries anymore, but apply a patch, and it is already modified.

Nokia close this hole again, with firmware 5800 v40. Then, there were no holes. After a little time and lots of thinking, a team called PNHT grabbed my partial research on the Nokia Firmware Format (file extension FPSX), and based on it, with lot of help from an individual developer and modder Il.Socio, they made firmware editing possible for a few phones. This is an easy theory:

Nokia uses ROFS and ROM images in firmwares. ROM is for any base kernel executable – currently unmodifiable. ROFS1 is in CORE, just like ROM, and it contains a few stuff for ROM executables. ROFS2 contains languages, and other resources, like skins, and stuff. And finally, ROFS3 contains any carrier data. Now we have the possibility to edit ROFS2 and ROFS3, directly from the FPSX container. This way, we can integrate our favorite apps into our own custom firmwares, or set some options to other values by default, replace the base skin, port the Omnia HD’s homescreen, and such things.

So hacking is basically opening up the system for modding.

Not much more to add here…

Aug 132009

nokia n97 gps Nokia N97 GPS performance hacksymbian-freak has uncovered a way to improve the N97′s GPS significantly – it involves adding a short piece of wire to the GPS module’s antenna (which is located in the back cover of the handset).

This increases the length of the antenna closer to the ideal length for GPS; and thus improves signal reception.

As the whole change could theoretically be accomplished via a new battery cover, I dare to bet that Nokia might eventually unleash a “second revision” of the battery cover which gets shipped with later production models (and gets sent to customers who complain about low accuracy). Of course, all of this is speculation for now – but there’s little to loose here as you can just purchase a second back cover before sending your handset to Nokia for warranty repairs!

The video below contains further information:

Aug 102009

News about a firmware update (v30) for the XPressMusic 5800 have been floating around the interwebs for some time – unfortunately, the firmware can not be installed via NSU. The screenshot below was made about two minutes ago, and shows Nokia Software Update stating that the outdated firmware is still current:
nokia 5800 firmware update Nokia XPressMusic 5800 firmware update   OTA only

Fortunately, a workaround exists – it is called OTA firmware updates and is described here in further detail. As usual, expect a download volume of about 4500kB for the latest firmware – not too bad if you ask me…

Apr 072009

Bluetooth keyboards have once been extremely interesting: almost every Palm user has had one. Unfortunately, the drivers used were provided by the manufacturers rather than the operating system builders…which has led to a plethora of incompatibilities.

Fortunately, Nokia seems to be hell-bent on implementing the HID standard: while the driver is not complete as of this writing, it is nevertheless said to work pretty well. AllAboutSymbian has got further information – it can be downloaded here

Nov 212008

Don’t ask me why the Nokia N96 has a tiny 950mAh battery – the N-Series folks generally seem to enjoy making crazy decisions. Usually, third-party manufacturers step up and produce expanded batteries which either have a more effective chemistry or require a new back plate.

Nokia could do the latter themselves according to TheSymbianBlog – this particularly daring colleague of mine simply took a BL-6F battery from another phone and found out that it fits the N96.

The contacts and physical size actually fit in perfectly – the only problematic thing is the backplate, which bends out slightly when the phone is shut.

Hit the link above for a video and further info – I guess that I will be out to get such a battery shortly…

Oct 132008

Screenshot0012 What to do with the Barcode Scanner app?Recent N-Series devices have shipped with a pretty weird bardcode scanner in ROM. I always wondered what it does – and can now present a solution!

The tool in question can decode a variety of proprietary bar code formats which can be used to store up to 60 characters of text. For example: a vcard can be encoded, and the resulting code can be printed on the back of a business card to simplify data acquisition.

Hit the URL below to get started:

Via SymbianOne

Sep 232008

I have recently had to travel by train a lot due to personal issues: regaining the time lost traveling by working on new content for my dear readers is a way to better cope with the hardship. Unfortunately, my trusty old Nokia N71 (powered by Hutchison/three) has issues keeping a connection stable while the train is moving fast.

However, this wouldn’t be Tamss60 if we wouldn’t have a solution: I observed that my EDGE-only Treo 680 had no such issues. It thus looks like UMTS signals are more sensitive to movement and unsuitable terrain – forcing the phone into a GSM/GPRS-only mode could theoretically help.

Easily said, quickly done – follow the steps below:

Open Settings
The first step involves opening the phones Settings application, and navigating to the network tab:
0 Improve your phones reception quality 0a Improve your phones reception quality

Disable UMTS
Adjust the settings so that they look like in the screenshot below – but be prepared that the phone will reboot once to reset itself:
1 Improve your phones reception quality

Once the reboot is done, your phone is restricted to non-3G networks. It will log into the Hutchison network without issues, but will work at slower and more stable 2G/2.5G frequencies.

Now that my N71 is restricted to GPRS, it works a little more slowly – but I have yet to see a connection breakdown. The train already drove through a few tunnels, and the network stayed up…if that isn’t a good tradeoff, what is?

Aug 062008

Our friends at HP’s have recently provided the TamsPPC team with a sample of an OfficeJet 470 (we had to return it – don’t worry ;) ). Having such a box in-house of course makes me curious to find out which gadget prints the best…surprisingly, the winner is my good ole’ N71.

The device connected to the OfficeJet via Bluetooth without needing drivers, printing software or anything else – it just connected and started spitting out useful stuff. Click the images below for full page scans:

Calendar print-outs arrive in an outlook-like grid. As for the color scheme: it will likely make HP very happy due to the high amount of blue ink used…the design is debatable and cannot be changed:
0a Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

Contact printouts turn out surprisingly well. Notes get truncated weirdly – but the printouts can definitely be given to low-tech folk who need the contact:
1a Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

Text messages/notes
Text messages and notes share the weird color layout – but turn out usable:
2a Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

2b Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

The device seems to insist on placing the images in the center of the page – stretching them across a A4 page is not possible. Nevertheless, the images from the internal 2MP camera can look very usable in 10×15 – my family has received quite a few and likes them very much:
3a Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

3b Printing with S60 phones   Nokia N71 vs HP OfficeJet 470

Cutting a long story short: the N71 cannot hide its EPOC roots and does an excellent job handling all kinds of print job. People who have a bluetooth printer will be happy to know this, everybody else should IMHO pass it off as a novelty item. Even though the 470 is transportable and battery-powered, the machine IMHO is WAY to heavy to be transported around all the time. People having two flats will appreciate it, however…

Jul 122008

ClearType antialiasing technology has been included into Windows Mobile for quite some time (head over to our sister site TamsPPC for an explanation). Some S60v3 phones support this technology, too – but lack options to turn the function on and off.

Mark Guim from TheNokiaBlog created a detailed write-up analyzing the tweaks and settings found in the S60v3 font engine – give him a click at the link below for the full scoop:

Jun 042008

AllAboutSymbian’s Steve Litchfield has found a way to fix the plethora of Flash-related problems that plague E90′s that received the recent firmware update.

Essentially, the method involves performing an additional hard reset and testing the Flash functionality. If it works, the device may be restored from scratch.

Even though this definitely isn’t what I call comfortable, it seems to be a workable method nevertheless. If anyone of you has an E90, good luck and good fun – I did something similar with my Treo a few days ago…

Dec 032007

Our sister site TamsPPC has just posted a tutorial on connecting a Series 60v3 phone to a PocketPC; thereby allowing the PocketPC to use the phone’s internet connection:

For me, this is especially useful as it grants Skype access on the go – no idea why Nokia didn’t provide a native Skype client yet, but my ipaq can skype really well over the N71′s 3G link! The delay is noticeable, but manageable…

Nov 222007

Ever since phones with camera LED’s hit the market, users debated if the LED’s really had any ‘reson-d-etre’ except acting as a torch. The images below were made with a Nokia N71 in a room approximately 10m wide; and are uploaded in an unaltered fashion(click for full version):

Night mode
With flash
nightwf Night mode vs flash   what works better for night shots?
Without flash
nightnf Night mode vs flash   what works better for night shots?

Normal mode
With flash
normwf Night mode vs flash   what works better for night shots?
Without flash
normnf Night mode vs flash   what works better for night shots?

In the end, none of the four pictures can really compete with a digital camera – but that’s not what a mobile phone camera is intended to do IMHO. The images shot in normal mode are almost worthless; the LED flash barely managed to light up my suit 1.5m away. Night mode images still have very high noise levels(see fullsize images); but are bright enough to be at least barely usable. The LED flash did nothing except distort the colors of my suit.

Thus, today’s lesson is: if you can keep the camera steady long enough, use night mode – your images will become significantly better! The LED flash did not show beneficial effects anywhere – let’s just keep using it as torch…

Oct 272007

Our review of Opera 8.65 for Series 60 mentioned that opening an existing link in a new window is not possible as of now. However, thanks to TamsS60 reader Qasim, I can now present you a way to make it work.

Open the settings form of Opera, then navigate to the shortcuts tab. There, choose your key of choice – and assign it to Open in new Window.

From now on, pressing this key when a link is highlighted will do just that – enjoy!

Jul 262007

T-Mobile Austria’s configuration for the Nokia N71 is made available on request. It works…but annoyingly terminates your GPRS/UMTS connection after approximately 5 minutes without data transfer. If you use an application like PuTTY for Symbian, this can become very annoying…but TamsS60 has a solution for you:

Open the Settings application and go into the connection sub-menu:
0a Disable network connection time out on a Nokia N71

There, choose Data Call. Set Online time to unlimited…it should look like in the picture below:
0b Disable network connection time out on a Nokia N71

With these ‘modifications’ in place, my N71 stays connected happily to a SSH server for hours without any activity – adios, network timeouts!