Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Google Voice out-dialing with Windows Mobile

While it isn't super polished, and certainly does not support SMS (or other features / configuration options whatsoever), there is a work-around for dialing entries from your WinMo contacts via Google Voice.

The premise is simple:
  • You can out-dial through GV by logging into your account through the telephone interface (e.g. calling your GV number and supplying your PIN -- exactly as if you were trying to access the voice mail), then selecting option 2 to place a call, supplying the desired number, and then pressing #.
  • This requirement for dialing an access number, supplying a PIN, passing a target number, and then sending a "suffix" is functionally identical to what you would need if you were using a calling card.
  • Microsoft had a demo of a calling card app in the WinMo 5.0 SDK / dev site, but it was rather weak.
  • That code has been enhanced by other developers, and the improved version can be found here.
  • After that, all you have to do is configure your default "calling card" with the appropriate parameters for your Google Voice account. [These are mostly obvious, just be sure to add an extra pause ("p") after your PIN.] 
  • The calling card app adds a contextual menu in the Contact application, allowing you to successfully dial out to a contact via Google Voice in a manner that is convenient enough...
NOTE: I wanted to try GV Dialer (link omitted on general principle), but they expect you to enter a veritable crapload of personal data (all of which you should be able to configure directly within the app) before they will even send you a download link for the trial version. Two words: %@#$ THAT!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting the gvim + It's All Text! experience on OS X

Firefox remains my browser of choice across most platforms because I highly value the functionality afforded by two particular extensions (I even have these installed along with a PortableApps version of the browser):
Under OS X, I hadn't been too happy with the latter extension, because I couldn't figure out how to use vim as my text editor. On asyd's blog, I encountered a method of achieving vim integration with IAT!. This was a very clever work-around, but it didn't provide the consistent user experience that I have come to expect after using gvim on my Linux and Windows boxen.

However, during a moment of sleep-deprived clarity, I encountered MacVim. This, coupled with the following steps addressed my grievances quite nicely!

(I'm trying to be a "good blogger", and mentioning almost all of the steps here -- even those I consider to be somewhat obvious):
1. Download the MacVim port from
2. Extract the *.tbz archive (Yes, double-clicking works just fine.)
3. Copy/Move where you desire (e.g. /Applications)
4. Similarly, put the mvim script where you desire (e.g /usr/bin) [helps to use a terminal here so you can verify that ownership and permissions are sane]
5. Recommended: symlink gvim to point to mvim (particularly useful if you are a multi-platform type and don't feel like remembering to type something different when you happen to be on your Mac). [It is also useful to tell the mvim script where your is, but I'll leave this one as an exercise for the reader, because it is generally not strictly necessary...]
6. Configure the preference for It’s All Text! and tell it to use mvim (e.g. /usr/bin/mvim) as its editor.
7. Enjoy...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making the switch -- the hackintosh post

I like Linux, and I generally like what Ubuntu brings to the table. I even spent a month trying really hard to like Ubuntu on my Dell Mini 9 netbook. Unfortunately there were a couple of deal-breakers for me (well -- there was one major deal breaker with each of two different "flavors" of Ubuntu):
  • Factory-Installed Dell-ified Ubuntu 8.04 - The WiFi driver is buggy, and will intermittently lock up the entire system to the point that it will not accept any input (local or even remote via ssh)
  • Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix - WiFi seems stable / fixed, but I never managed to get my Broadband2Go card to even be detected on the USB bus.
Therefore, I had network issues on my netbook -- regardless of which flavor of Ubuntu I tried to use. As the lyrics from Pink Floyd's The Trial say: "This will not do." As a result, I am currently taking part in the following activity:
Mini9 OSX

UPDATE: Works pretty well. Not quite as snappy as my 3-year-old MBP, but extremely functional and usable so far. I also installed that BB2G card easily, and can now achieve netbook nirvana -- or something.

HOWTO do it yourself