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Time For a Hobbyist Smartphone?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the grassroots-tricorder dept.

Cellphones 207

theodp writes "Over at Scripting News, Dave Winer has a hobbyist phone on his wish list. Innovative phone manufacturers, Winer suggests, should 'make a smart phone with a really great scripting language, with all kinds of scriptable tools on board. Instead of disallowing scripting, disallow apps that can't be scripted. Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in, but it should also be easy to write scripts on the phone itself. Dave concludes, 'We've already seen the Jobs phone. Now it's time for Woz's.' Having ditched App Inventor, it would appear that Google isn't interested. Microsoft Research has the idea, if not the right implementation, with TouchDevelop (video). Any other existing or in-the-works projects that might fit the bill?"

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Moron (2, Interesting)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#44840471)

He forgets that authoring and creating things on Tablets is annoying.

And I don't mean "get off my lawn" annoying either, they're just poor tools for those tasks. They rock at redditing and slashdoting, however.

Current programming tools suck, that's why. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840605)

That's true for current methods of developing software. Which is typing in code.

Programming hasn't changed very much in 50 or so years. And I think it's ludicrous that we're using a language to prgram a computer to do mathematical operations.

What we really need is a symbolic programming "language" and it would rock on a touch screen.

Why not go directly from dragging and dropping logic to machine code directly? There is no physcal law that says we have to program computers the way we do now.

These "verbal" type of programming languages are so 20th century, inefficient and just old fashioned. Their time has passed.

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840675)

My knee-jerk reaction was to disagree, but I kind of see where you're coming from. I think the reason we haven't changed is because the current methods work "well enough," so there's no real push to change.

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840695)

What we really need is a symbolic programming "language" and it would rock on a touch screen.

Sounds fun []

I was aware of APL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840885)

But APL is from the keyboard language era with its own symbols - i.e. typed in language. Just look at teh keyboard layout from the link posted. It's still tied to the typing language paradigm.

I'm talking about pictograms or something. Something beyond what NeXt tried to do in the early 90s.

And make more intuitive. Meaning, just by fiddling with it, one can learn to program in a matter of minutes. Want to access data? Touch the database picture and drag it over until it "connects" or something.

Programming computers has been stagnent for decades. There's all this research on human machine interection but nothing on programming - except in robotics.

That new robot that came out recently, you program it by moving its arms.

That's it. No coding, no keyboard - it's very intuitive - you "show" the robot how to do what its supposed to do.

Why not do the same for that accounting, medical, or some other apps

Prograph (2)

drerwk (695572) | about a year ago | (#44841349)

See []
I loved using this in the mid 90s. I was 5x to 10x productive. But there was no diff available, no way to do SCM, it was hard to come back to code I'd written 6 months before and refresh my memory of what it did. And it was next to impossible to collaborate will a team. I was forced to use [] using some horrible tools (Kennedy Carter iUML) in the 2005s - same exact problems.
Now iBuilder or what ever the I tool is in XCode is pretty nice. But building software that works, is maintainable, is extendible, and so on is a hard task - I don't think it is the lack of drag and drop tools.

graphical symbols, not APL! (2)

optikos (1187213) | about a year ago | (#44841425)

National Instruments LabVIEW as graphical control-flow (e.g., looping, branching) constructs []
ROOM+ObjecTime (now IBM Rational Rose Realtime) as graphical object-oriented & nested state-machines []

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (4, Insightful)

snookerdoodle (123851) | about a year ago | (#44840839)

You do know this is a True Holy Grail that people have been trying to build for a long, long time, right? Object orientation was, at least partially, supposed to be a step in this direction.

I think Smalltalk had promise (and still does), but it seems I'm the only person who actually likes it. :)

I think LOGO kinda sparks people's imaginations. I remember a product called "Object Center" on our Sparcs in the 80s or 90s that was really just a class browser. Then I saw Interface Builder on a NeXT and thought that was gonna be it. But it has turned out to be really, really hard.

You would be a hero if you developed a working, practical, usable graphical (which I think you mean by "symbolic") programming language.


Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44840907)

That's true for current methods of developing software. Which is typing in code.

This is the same article that gets posted every 6-8 weeks under different names.

The whole point of these things appears to be to provide a modern day version of a Commodore-64, and get people interested in programming, and get them engaged, by having an environment where it's easy to do small hacks.

Radical new methods of developing software aren't going to get you employed until they have already been widely adopted, after which they are neither radical nor new. We tried this with 3G computer languages, and then with 4G computer languages, where you ended up linking icons together, and there have been lots of other attempts.

The OP should feel free to found a couple of companies, and good luck to them in getting their new paradigm adopted.

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a year ago | (#44840951)

There have been a couple nice stabs at creating more or less flow chart object based programming and scripting packages based entirely on visual concepts. The missing part for a touchscreen though is still going to be real estate. There just isn't space for the kind of UI which is efficient for this kind of creative content. College students love Google Docs for collaborative work, but you can't produce a properly formatted thesis with it's interface efficiently, similar issues.

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841315)

What about something like PARTS Workbench [] ?

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841511)

One reason - you still have to be a 'programmer' to program. Any tool is only to make it a bit easier but you still have to think like a programmer and write like a programmer to generate anything more complex than a trivial toy/example program. Visual languages wont change that.

Programs have X amount of detail defining them and visual tools just stretch it so much bigger.

Ever try to use one of the visual languages and create anything slightly complex ? It visually bloats the visual representation so that you get distracted scrolling around trying to find the parts that need to be connected/strung together. Encapsulation you have to zoom/expand which then fills up too much of the screen.

  Its too clumsy with the I/O devices we have now -- maybe if we had visiual glasses with 20000x10000 reolution and eye flick zooms/head turns(and neck injuries) and verbal inputs to get back to spots we wanted to work on but had to go off to find a piece we needed....

Code fits in my high resolution area of my eye vision (like 5% by 5% and I count on visually scanning lots of code constantly for the large programs Ive worked on. Swollen visual representations you simply cant see enough at once.

Ever try to do some semi complicated logic equation using one of those visual block interfaces ?? 2/3 lines of code and the equivalent visual takes up the whole screen and has lines heading off to who knows where (when the text words was all you really needed to see and the rest is overblown window dressing.

Re:Current programming tools suck, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841899)

Programming hasn't changed very much in 50 or so years.

So you're still feeding punched cards to your computer?

Re:Moron (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44840817)

Check Scratch [] for an example of user interface of creating (in particular, for scripting) that could work pretty well in a tablet environment.

Re:Moron (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840903)

This sort of comment appears often on Slashdot. Having grown up on TI-8x calculators, I find mobile phone screens plenty large to sustain a programming environment even with on-screen keyboards. The magic is in the IDE as it was for TI-8x -- menus with shortcuts instead of typing every character. This wasn't only economical for saving keystrokes -- it also meant you could fit more relevant information on a tiny screen because symbols could be viewed instead of longer language equivalents. It was also familiar to people who had used their calculator as just a calculator -- the menus were the exact same between programming and calculating!

TI-BASIC didn't support many of the now-common programming paradigms, so I expect there'd have to be adaptation (e.g. flexible menus instead of fixed menus for interface or class based paradigms) but there's been cases where the IDE has turned a rubbish language into a brilliant one. (C++/C# with Visual Studio leap to mind -- I've programmed in C++ in vi for years, but in Visual Studio I'm double speed if not more)

Oh, and a tablet? Plenty of screen space. ;-)

Re:Moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840957)

From the article: "Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in, but it should also be easy to write scripts on the phone itself."

Yeah, no one wants to write code on the phone. It might be cool, in a pinch, to make a slight adjustment to your script though if you're out and about. I agree that seems like a high cost / low return feature, but I don't think it warrants a response of "Moron".

Re:Moron (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about a year ago | (#44841175)

I think it depends. Most days if I am going to be doing a presentation or any type of coding work, like today, then I want my laptop. But I did buy a waterproof cover for my iPad and have used it to work on presentations in the bathtub or even shower. Although usually this is more revising than actual creation. I can't do much outside of edit text or order of presentation slides. If I need to add video, sound, or fancy images, I'm doing that on the laptop.

Re:Moron (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year ago | (#44841265)

He forgets that authoring and creating things on Tablets is annoying.

The most annoying thing about it is that people just do it instead of listening to your expert opinion.

Re:Moron (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44841339)

that's not why he is a moron.

he is a moron because while you can't do such things on either ios or windows phone you could on symbian.

but symbian is dead, so why doesn't he get one of these newflangled android phones.. fuck, run the fucking compiler and build chain for full apps on the fucking device if he really wants and anything in between.

there are other operating systems than ios...........

Re:Moron (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#44841409)

An open smartphone can connect to screens and keyboards and mouse with no problems. The n900 had a VGA output hack going. In fact the n900 is an answer to this slashdot discussion: give nerds root and a GNU userland with the wealth of scripting environments, ruby, lua, newlisp, smalltalk..., see what they come up with. Another answer is a raspberry in a largish smartphone form factor.

Re:Moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841505)

A smartphone with VGA output would be nice for talks; no need to carry a bulky laptop with you.
Also HDMI output would be nice in case you have access to a more modern device.
Add a MicroSD slot as external data storage, and support Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, and you've already got all hardware you need for a low-end Desktop PC.

Re:Moron (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44841769)

A netbook would be all that.

Re:Moron (1)

ssam (2723487) | about a year ago | (#44841599)

Especially with the Neo900 project on the way []

Re:Moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841557)

"He forgets that authoring and creating things on Tablets is annoying."

Did you even bother reading the fucking summary before dismissing him as a moron ?
Here's a cluestick Mr.Fucktard Keyboard Commando "Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in"

He's not forcing anyone to actually do the scripting on the phone.


Android has a few good scripting languages (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year ago | (#44840483)

And you can program them on the phone. Not as easy to build that into apps, though: []

Disallow apps that can't be scripted? (2)

Improv (2467) | about a year ago | (#44840489)

Sorry to be the pedant, but that "disallow apps that can't be scripted" line seems kneejerk and fairly stupid. Scriptability is not a yes/no thing, it's a measure for how good an API is. If you just want apps that are minimally scripted, I'm sure you could make a platform where every app accepts a hello() message, and does a popup with that, but that doesn't get you close to being able to do neat things.

I suspect what we'd really like is more choice in programming languages on the phone and a cleaner split between UI and API.

I wonder how many people would write apps for such a device for free. I might, and the opensource community might too, but is that enough?

Re:Disallow apps that can't be scripted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840633)

no, it's just that scripting the scripts makes things more scriptable, and if an app is not scriptable you can't script things.

seriously, did you see the OP?

Re:Disallow apps that can't be scripted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841045)

So he wants the Pimp My Ride guy to develop phone OSes?

Yo dawg! I heard you like scripting. So I put scripting in your scripting language so you can script while you script!

Re:Disallow apps that can't be scripted? (1)

leejor (41648) | about a year ago | (#44841115)

Dave Winer basically invented application scripting on Macintosh when he released Userland Frontier in the late 1980's. This was before Apple's own AppleScript. He also was a key in the creation of XML-RPC and SOAP for creating web API's.

I read this as a HARD requirement for scriptablity across all applications. If all apps are able to respond to and make scripting API requests, any app would be able to be the "programming" language. Python, Sqeak, C, Photoshop, nginx, OpenOffice could all be equals.

Re:Disallow apps that can't be scripted? (1)

leejor (41648) | about a year ago | (#44841183)

I also remember the early Mac Web Development scene with Frontier & AppleScript which where the glue that built complex web servers using MacHTTP, 4D databases, Photoshop to process images live, etc.

Nokia? (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44840495)

Too bad Nokia quit making fun phones. The last was the N900. I'd love to have a new phone similar to that with modern specs.

Re:Nokia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840583)

There's a project called Neo900 that's working on a mainboard replacement for N900. For me the N900 never stopped being fun, and soon it won't feel quite so stone-age!

Re:Nokia? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#44841177)

Interesting! I'll upgrade mine for sure once the kit is for sale.

Also came in to post about the N900; beaten.

Re:Nokia? (2)

red_dragon (1761) | about a year ago | (#44840733)

I came here hoping to see the N900 listed. Thanks for not letting me down. I still miss my N900, two years after inadvertently walking into the Atlantic Ocean with it in my trunks. If the Neo900 manages to produce something within a reasonable time frame, I'll be able to resuscitate it.

Neo900 (2, Informative)

wick3t (787074) | about a year ago | (#44841033)

Too bad Nokia quit making fun phones. The last was the N900. I'd love to have a new phone similar to that with modern specs.

It seems that you haven't heard of the Neo900 project [] which aims to deliver just that.

Suer (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44840511)

Because when I code, I always want to use a totally unwieldy UI and no text to do it. It's like when we code for robots, how a hobbyist robot you program by directly writing on the embedded chip, using the robot's sensor's as inputs.

How about we code on a machine that's usable for coding? I can still design neat things for my phone that way. I promise.

WebOS ? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year ago | (#44840539)

I never did any WebOS programming, but I loved my Palm Pre -- anyone know if it's scriptable?

and before you say it's dead ... remember, HP released it into the wild, and then sold it to LG: [] []

Re:WebOS ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840709)

webOS is extremely scriptable, at least before the webOS 2.0 rewrite. It's still very hackable and open as evidenced by Preware and webos-internals

Re:WebOS ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841859)

WebOS is awesome, since all the "core" control apps are written in essentially JavaScript, you can fire up your favorite text editor and instantly alter the way the phone works. Look at the list of patches for any WebOS device. There are hundreds that improve/alter the way the phone functions. There is no other phone I've ever seen that is easier to customize and alter. Just like Android, it's standard Linux with a GUI on top, but the GUI is superior to anything I've yet seen.

I still contend it is miles ahead of Android, and is arguably the best tablet/phone OS ever made. If it only had developer support it would rock.

I still carry a Pre3 as my phone, but sadly, it's getting long in the tooth.

All we need is software (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840549)

There are plenty of good devices out there from a hardware standpoint. The difference is that software is tailored by the manufacturer to reinforce their channels, partnerships, etc. (to the detriment of the user).

Once rooted, these devices get a lot closer to what I think most people are looking for in a hobbyist device. However, that is the trick. Getting root access, and knowledge of the internals so that we can start work on our own.

We've seen the failures hobbyist devices in the past. I expect the same going forward. If only we had access to the hardware and programming specs, we wouldn't even be having this conversation now. Maybe we can find a way to extort this info from these manufacturers.

Android + QPython3 (5, Informative)

Btrot69 (1479283) | about a year ago | (#44840557)

I recently defected from iOS and I'm having great fun with an android app called QPython.
Docs are still a bit spotty, but with a few lines of Python I can do all sorts of things with the Android API.

Kivy (3, Informative)

fliptout (9217) | about a year ago | (#44840973)

You should check out Kivy- it will let you create a native app in Python for iOS or Android. []

Re:Android + QPython3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841007)

Yes, SL4A (Scripting Layer for Android) and Python are the first two things I get for my Android tablets.

Re:Android + QPython3 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841067)

Python is ridiculously slow and inefficient and it ends up draining way too much battery life. If you insist on using inefficient dynamically typed programming languages you could at least use one that has a decent implementation (Lua, Common Lisp or JavaScript).

If shitty languages are your thing you could always try Google Go. It's probably not as terrible as Python (it's close) but at least it has far better performance.

Re:Android + QPython3 (1)

njnnja (2833511) | about a year ago | (#44841143)

I am having a lot of fun with pythonista [] for iOS. It sounds close to what you are talking about - it allows you to write scripts in python but it has its own libraries for the iPhone's display, input, etc. Sadly I don't know of any way to add additional non-standard libraries, but for what it is it's pretty cool.

What an amazing idea!! (3, Informative)

realmolo (574068) | about a year ago | (#44840561)

Yes, wouldn't it be great if someone made a completely developer-friendly, unlocked phone with good specs at a decent price?

Yeah, no fucking shit it would. The carriers would NEVER allow it on their networks. We won't see a phone like that until we have a worldwide standard for cell networks, so that somebody could make that phone and actually sell it in the US.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (2)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#44840665)

There is a worldwide standard for cell networks, and if you get a phone that complies with it, there is a good chance it will work on the AT&T network, though probably not on any of the other networks.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about a year ago | (#44840823)

T-Mobile also uses GSM.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840991)

T-Mobile uses bullshit 3G frequencies that nobody supports

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#44841171)

Their 3G is at 1.7GHz. The rest of the world uses 2.1GHz. Some, such as O2 UK use 900MHz, but that is in addition to 2.1GHz.

T-Mobile moving 3G to 1900PCS (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | about a year ago | (#44841523)

They're in the process of moving their 3G (UMTS/HSPA+) support to the PCS 1900 band, and then using the AWS 1700/2100 band for their LTE. If you're in an area where T-Mobile has LTE, an unlocked AT&T phone should work on 3G.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (2)

the_humeister (922869) | about a year ago | (#44840757)

Yes, yes indeed [] . I just got mine last week!

Re:What an amazing idea!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841433)

I'd prefer a phone that isn't made by a subsidiary of the NSA.

Eh... I wanted it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840879)

Just not enough people wanted it but a shitload did AND voted with their wallets.

The cost wasn't even that high if you compare it to a top-end phone, which it was going to be.

But the total amount needed was just to fucking high and in WAAAAY to short a time frame. Hell, people had to cough up the full amount with in ONE month, at least allow people to save up or spend their holiday money or something.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840901)

Am I the only one that remembers the free runner?

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

ssam (2723487) | about a year ago | (#44841613)

and the GTA04 and the Neo900 :-)

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#44841129)

The carriers would NEVER allow it on their networks

What do you mean.. 'allow'?

While I'm unfamiliar with CDMA solutions, you can pick up GSM modules and radio away all day and night long within the limits of the module. That's the only bit they care about. There's hundreds of GSM projects for PIC, Arduino, RPi, etc. out there already, not to mention a bunch of off-the-shelf things like security systems (motion detection) that aren't strictly speaking 'phones' either and no carrier has to approve in advance.

They'll probably cut you off if you decide to make a script that rings random phone numbers and hangs up after 0.5s so that nobody has time to answer it but random people reach for their phones to try anyway. But that's unrelated to the device.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841237)

Does the Nexus 4 not count? Unlocked pentaband GSM, unlocked bootloader (you can even install Ubuntu on it if you want), last year's top of the line hardware, and $200-$250.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841279)

We won't see a phone like that until we have a worldwide standard for cell networks

you mean like some sort of Global System for Mobile Communications [] ? If your carriers decline to implement it in favour of CDMA or something, then take it up with your carriers being obstinate. Or if they refuse to accept phones not sold by themselves, then either move to another carrier (free market!) or impose regulation requiring carriers to accept communication from devices that correctly interface with their SIM (the sane portions of the world!).

Don't conflate the US' bizarre anti-competitive mobile phone system with the rest of the world.

Re:What an amazing idea!! (1)

Migraineman (632203) | about a year ago | (#44841787)

Folks seem to be misunderstanding the purpose of the phone. It's not for your convenience. The phone is a conduit to connect your wallet to a carrier's bank account. That's why *every* carrier is willing to "give" you a phone for a substantial discount. Allowing you to change the phone's capabilities is equivalent to turning off the money stream.

Now, if they could get a piece of the action, that's a horse of a different color.

Maemo/Meego/Sailfish anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840595)

every time it gets done, or brought up, its instantly dismissed as a "nerd phone", and slammed hard. There seems to be massive resistance in the industry for everything other than infotainment devices hocking whatever crap large retailers and media companies want to sell.

the n900 fit this role quite well, as it ran standard GNU libraries, and had a good working port of the GNU userland.

Nokia has discontinued support, but it has been picked up by an active user community at which continues to make new releases, and na

Sailfish, its long lost successor, again, running GNU/Linux, will again fulfill this tool, with its Free(beer and speech), tool chain, that will let anyone program.

the new Jolla phone should be ready the end of this year.

They already have it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840601)

It's called: all of them.

on{X} (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840639)

Microsoft Research has another product to solve this problem:

Unfortunately, it only works for Android. I wish they'd made a Windows Phone version too.

Already done, people didn't want it. (3, Informative)

Roadmaster (96317) | about a year ago | (#44840645)

There was already a phone proposed that could have done this with no problem. There wasn't enough interest on it to make it a reality. []

And before you go complaining about the cost, please have a look at flagship Android phones and how much they cost *off contract*. The Edge was a pretty good value.

Re:Already done, people didn't want it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840747)

The Nexus 4 is an unlocked, well-spec'd, completely developer friendly phone that's only $250. It really seems to address the vast majority of the issues being raised here.

Re:Already done, people didn't want it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840751)

Oh come on, Kickstarter and the like are not pre-ordering systems and I wish people wouldn't keep treating them like such. Why would you shell out hundreds of dollars for something that hasn't even been prototyped yet? This isn't $10 down on some indie PC game here.

Re:Already done, people didn't want it. (1)

ssam (2723487) | about a year ago | (#44841641)

Because making hardware has massive upfront costs. So either hardware manufacture is restricted to the existing players (and people who can get hold of millions dollar lones), or you use crowd funding.

But the FairPhone is coming (1)

Burz (138833) | about a year ago | (#44840913)

Its an open source design, initially intended for the EU. []

They met their minimum orders already and are getting close to selling-out their initial production run. Delivery date is December.

Re:But the FairPhone is coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841137)

I hope their phone is better than their web site.

and this is why i'm still using the n900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840683)

At this point the the processor is anaemic, the display is scratched, and the infamous usb port seems a little loose, but I still haven't found a good replacement to my n900. No other phone I know of allows bash, standard linux tools, and python ( including pyqt ). Here's to hoping that Jolla sailfish fills the niche this winter.

Re:and this is why i'm still using the n900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841363)

Good replacement to N900? Neo900 maybe? []

Scripting uber alles? (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#44840691)

I get the desire to script, on many levels...but to have the ability to write scripts supersede ALL other considerations for an app? I'm sorry, but when I'm playing solitaire on my phone to kill a few minutes, I don't see any particular need to be able to run scripts. This seems idiotic to me. I would hasten to point out the numerous advertisements for everything from web browsers to phones (of different types) to tablets that used "Angry Birds" as an example of what you could do. A phone that can't play games (because let's face it, scripting is not needed in most games) is going to fail horribly.

Re:Scripting uber alles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841075)

This is about a hobbyist smartphone.

It's like if someone asked about the ideal gamer's smartphone and you complained that all the people are talking about games, although there are so many other things you can do with your smartphone.

... JavaScript (1)

tomxor (2379126) | about a year ago | (#44840713)

Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in, but it should also be easy to write scripts on the phone itself.

Why re-invent the wheel, JavaScript is the fastest most widely supported scripting language there is. it's easy to use and already exists on every computer that has a browser, it's also pre-installed on every smart phone.

How is this not the Firefox OS Phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840727)

The entire point is the whole setup is HTML5 with a core runtime. Sounds like exactly what he wants.

Lowering the bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840803)

What this guy is talking about isn't about getting a hobbyist-friendly smartphone, he's talking about lowering the bar so any numpty can create a fart app without learning anything. It's already perfectly possible for any hobbyist to develop for Android, and while you might have to put in a little bit of effort to learn how to do it, it's perfectly within reach of the hobbyist. Anyone can write a song and put it up on youtube, but how many of them are any good? Anyone can write an ebook and self-publish, but the results are mostly excruciatingly bad (I've sworn never to read another self-published book again). Do we really need the same thing in app development?

The death of app inventor is greatly exaggerated. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about a year ago | (#44840905)

From the leftovers of app inventor [] as created by MIT you can still make perfectly happy fart button implementation.

The trouble with most of those graphical environments is mostly the same thing. You can create a nice 60% ready app in a minimal time. However the fine tuning and the doing of special things will require effort that equals hard code coding.

i don't care if it has "phone" capabilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840813)

i don't even care if it's touchscreen.. but this would be cool

Want could would (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#44840893)

I want a phone without any high-resolution color display and without a touch screen. It should have a small led display, many sensors (including alitmeter, barometer, thermometer, movement & tilt sensor), should have a little keyboard with a control key, sophisticated power-management with built-in wakeup/alarm routines, would have a battery life of one week or more and needs to be entirely hackable/scriptable in LISP. On the backside, there should be a picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Alas, it's not going to happen... :-(

Re:Want could would (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44841083)

An altimeter IS a barometer and vice versa.

Re:Want could would (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841513)

You're right! Which makes me wonder why Casio call their watches "triple sensor"...

So let's replace the altimeter with a laser range finder, which could be useful for all kinds of measurements.

diy "phone" (1)

fliptout (9217) | about a year ago | (#44840915)

I've thought about making a custom "phone" in the past with GSM modules, but haven't had the time. Telit sells modules that have a builtin Python interpreter. Might make a fun hobby project. Sparkfun used to carry these modules... []

Barriers to enter the market (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44840917)

The amount of patents that surrounds anything mobile makes pretty hard to get new players on the game. And if the patents game didn't killed you, you have next the carriers one.

The best approach so far seem to be the one being done by Jolla with Sailfish, generate enough buzz, get a chinese manufacturer to pledge support (the chinese market is big enough to make this approach profitable), and from there, see how much luck they have in the rest of the world (with preorders at least it worked for them pretty well).

It could work for existing players, unless it requires deep changes to adapt to that kind of approachs, if so, it must be something new. Or something that could be installed on Android phones very much like Ubuntu Touch and Firefox OS are doing, with the core android OS and its drivers.

touchpad on smart phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840921)

i wouldn't mind typing a script on a smartphone but I type slowly on a touchpad. I am so used to the old PS/2 keyboards. Even a netbook's keyboard is cramped for me. I had to buy a USB microsoft keyboard to plug into the netbook.

if someone does create a scripting language for a phone, I will use the desktop version and transfer the code using a usb cable. Or I can create my own Android apps for Android devices.

also, I wondered what happened to the Windows smartphone or Windows CE I think it is called. I'll go read about Windows for mobile devices.

Replacable parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840939)

Im still waiting for "modular" tablets and smartphones with replaceable parts. need a bigger / better screen, just go buy it and swap in. Need more ram, go buy ram sticks.... Just make up standards for all the parts! it's been done before, with PCs!

Fair phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44840979)

The phone comes with android but they will make the phone rootable so you can run your own OS. This will be most likely Linux

Isn't the Android platform hobbyist-enough? (4, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#44840981)

To me, the Android platform was close enough. It's "just" Java (if you can't figure out Java...), there are no fees required to get the development environment or simulators set up, Android devices and phones are available new for as little as $60 (and cheaper as people upgrade). me, Android IS a hobby-friendly environment.

Re:Isn't the Android platform hobbyist-enough? (0)

jbeach (852844) | about a year ago | (#44841195)

Except for people who hate java, and don't trust its security at all.

Re:Isn't the Android platform hobbyist-enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841739)

What does Java's security have to do with developing in it? We're not talking about running it on your desktop, we're talking about applications developed _in_ Java (or, y'know, C++, or really your language of choice at this point) and deployed to Android. There are essentially zero security implications.

OpenMoko? (2)

Warbothong (905464) | about a year ago | (#44841087)

I'm still getting along fine with my OpenMoko FreeRunner. It's currently running Debian, so it's as scriptable as anything. The "programming environment which runs on desktops or laptops" is whatever you use already; the "plugs right in" part is SSH (and its friends scp, sshfs, etc.).

So, either you love OpenMoko and hence your wish is fulfilled, or you see it as a total failure in which case it's clear why nobody is doing this anymore.

Raspberry Pi (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#44841107)

Just Install Asterisk on a Raspberry Pi problem solved :)

Phonebloks might fit the bill (1)

fear025 (763732) | about a year ago | (#44841163)

It seems like the open scripting would fit in great with these folks: []

Unfortunately, I doubt the carriers would ever 'appreciate' this much freedom.

OpenWebOS is still around... (4, Interesting)

zullnero (833754) | about a year ago | (#44841193)

It's currently in a second Alpha state (if you're pulling the latest binaries, probably further along) and runs on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus (couple other profiles too). It's fully open source at this point, and even though supposedly LG wants to use it for TVs or something, there's a group that's been working on it for awhile ever since it was divulged from HPs hands. There are also efforts underway to emulate Android apps on the platform. The community also greatly appreciates anyone enthusiastic enough to contribute. You can find everything at webOSInternals. I still use a webOS phone as my daily device mainly because it does the things I need it to do very well (and other platforms come with way too many strings attached for me).

If you want a hobbyist platform that the big platforms still steal ideas from...there you go. That's the epitome of a hobbyist platform. The scripting is all html/css/javascript using the Enyo framework. It's all open standards and there are plenty of tools that were built by Palm and later HP.

Re:OpenWebOS is still around... (1)

Lispy (136512) | about a year ago | (#44841293)

I wish I had modpoints. Kids today seem to forget about it and it could sure use some manpower.

Woz's phone (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year ago | (#44841255)

What would that do? Allow free long distance calls? Tell you jokes? Or pull a practical joke on you every time you used it? Can only be operated on a Segway?

Network Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841277)

The problem here is that the network providers aren't going to be that keen on a phone connecting to "their" network that could be running any kind of program on it. I can't see it being a comfortable position from their perspective and are unlikely, at least initially, to embrace the idea of a hobbyist phone.

FairPhone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841319)

at least they try to make it open and hackable!

Not only fair when it comes to ressources.

currently ownly shipping in europe, but who knows.

ummm (1)

alienzed (732782) | about a year ago | (#44841593)

It's called javascript and it runs on all phones already. You don't even need access to the phone itself, just a webserver...

Time For Woz's (1)

RevSpaminator (1419557) | about a year ago | (#44841657)

Wouldn't Woz's phone also include an open case design, some empty chip sockets and an expansion bus? You know, in case someone wanted to experiment. :)
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