Missing choice of keyboards in latest build

Peter Rasmussen plr at udgaard.com
Sun Jan 27 23:33:16 CET 2008

Kevin Dean wrote:
> I think raising the issue of usability makes a lot of sense, however I
> caution the "I'd just get a <device X> and be done" logic. OpenMoko
> and the Neo are platforms designed to be Free and open from the ground
> up - I've looked and you won't find another with those same goals.
No, you are right that there isn't yet a better Free solution out there 
than the Neo, and trust me, nobody thinks Free is more important than I :-)
However, if a solution that isn't even as good as a "closed 
implementation already out there" is chosen, then it will be harder to 
stick to because building a good momentum with people who aren't as 
directly interested in the Free as the rest of us, will be a lot harder.

And remember that the potential developers community is a lot smaller 
than the one available for regular servers and desktop stuff, so 
building that momentum will take some considerations wrt. what issues to 
deal with, and looking at the success of already implemented solutions 
is not a bad idea.
> That said, the multi-touch keyboards suck, in my opinion. The only
> real benefit in my use would be for texting while driving since it's
> harder to do that with the stylus and keyboard. The lack of some kind
> of tactical reaction to "crossing" keys also makes the Neo poorly
> suited for texting-while-driving - coupled with the fact that
> texting-while-driving is illegal in some places and considered
> "dangerous" by others, I don't think adopting a mutli-touch to make it
> easier is a signifigant enough advantage to do it.
I have no experience and therefore no opinion wrt. multi-touch keyboards.
My opinion wrt. people trying to use their mobile with text messaging 
while driving a vehicle is, that they should be taken out behind the 
barn and shot!
> The keyboard, however, is also not a great solution for the usability
> perspective because it is so small and so poorly optimized for
> emulation. Case in point? The "Bksp" key is on the top right. The vast
> majority of people are right handed and using the stylus will cause
> many people to adjust their grip to type the backspace key. I'm also
> willing to bet that the number of "Bksp" presses far outnumbers the
> frequency at which the oppositely spaced key, ESC, is. At the very
> least, swapping the ESC and BKSP keys would constitue an improvement
> and I'm sure that the entire QWERTY layout has a handful of similar
> issues.
There are a few issues wrt. to various keyboards, and OpenMoko being 
Free, mena sthat we should be able to give people multiple options so 
they can choose for themselves.

On my A780 I have a US QWERTY keyboard with an additional selectable 
international keys (European, no Asian characters) keyboard, a numerical 
keyboard and a hand writing keyboard, and they all function well in 
their own case.

The mobile keyboard on the latest build on OpenMoko Daily is a great 
additional option, but I do hope that it will be added to the others 
instead of made the only option, which I really think is a bad idea.

The original keyboard style in 2007.1 was probably a little clunky 
because of a lot of mode changes every time you had to use some other 
kind of keys, but the area for each key was larger, and easier to hit, 
and the access to a larger number of characters was available within a 
few key strokes, so I found it very usable.

I would love to be able to use my Neo as a PDA, even editing documents 
while sitting in the train or bus, and having to use a stylus is _not_ a 

The Neo, even just the GTA01, could be the center for a lot of things 
for a lot of people, including but not limited to:

1. A voice communication device.
2. A message communication device. And message communication is slowly 
becoming more important than voice in Europe.
3. A multimedia calendar that will provide you with an audible or video 
alarm depending on your settings.
4. A game center with a number of games, either singular or networked 
games over Bluetooth.
5. A music device that will play any and all formats.
6. A video device that will play any and all video formats, and with the 
very nice screen quality and SDHC capability you may have several videos 
stored on one MicroSD card. I know of 8GB SDHC cards for less than 
$100USD so far even in Denmark with 25% VAT, so this is really a 
possibility that should be within reach for a lot of people.
7. And the GPS device just opens up a whole other range of possibilities 
that I cannot even begin to imagine about!

So you see, even with the HW present in the GTA01 a lot of possibilities 
looks interesting, and I just hope that whenever a new type of solution 
is presented, the old ones aren't taken away. So far, flash-space 
shouldn't be a problem, wrt. to storage space of programs, and if there 
is a limit to how much can be run at the same time, no one should be 
able to complain, as it in any case is better than anyone has 
experienced on a mobile device :-)

> The problem, I think, is that doing something that would be "good" for
> OpenMoko also means doing something from scratch and I've gotten the
> impression that many of the developers consider real work on the
> userspace apps to be secondary to dealing with the hardware/kernel.
> On Jan 27, 2008 2:44 PM, Peter Rasmussen <plr at udgaard.com> wrote:
>> I down- and uploaded the latest build to my Neo:
>> http://buildhost.openmoko.org/daily/neo1973/deploy/glibc/images/neo1973/OpenMoko-openmoko-devel-image-glibc-ipk-P1-Snapshot-20080127-fic-gta01.rootfs.jffs2
>> And found that the keyboard layout has changed from a QWERTY keyboard to
>> a mobile keypad style keyboard.
>> A bad choice if you ask me!
>> One of the reasons I still love my Motorola A780 from 2004 is because of
>> its keyboard setup! There are other things I hate, but this one is very
>> good!
>> Actually, I found that the UI in 2007.1 was good, partly because of the
>> keyboard choices, and that it was much more mobile-device-related than
>> the present 2007.2, which is actually not very good.
>> When the only choice is provided to make it a regular mobile-phone style
>> keyboard, and still without international characters, I can't help think
>> if OpenMoko is actually trying to make a smart-phone or just emulate a
>> dumb mobile with an expensive touch screen?
>> Let's get to choose between an international QWERTY keyboard, a
>> mode-keyboard like in 2007.1, and then of course the newly invented
>> soft-mobile-phone-keyboard.
>> I understand that there is a desire to be able to use the Neo just with
>> the fingers, and not be required to use a stylus, but if that was _the_
>> requirement I could just get myself a Nokia N95 and be done with it.
>> If the present status is just a stage in development, please let me know
>> of where I can read Release Notes and/or a road map, so it doesn't look
>> so much like an ad-hoc development process as it does now!
>> Thanks,
>> Peter

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