Verónica Sousa's Cul de sac

Verónica Sousa’s Cul de sac

Ubuntu was once described to me by a wise(ish ;) ) man as a train that was leaving whether you’re on it or not. That’s the beauty of a 6 month release cycle. As many of you will already know, each release we include photos and illustrations produced by community members. We ask that you submit your images using free photo sharing site Flickr and that you limit your images this time to 2. The group won’t let you submit more than that but if you change your mind after you’ve submitted, fear not, simply remove one and it’ll let you add another.

As with previous submissions processes we’ve run, and in conjunction with the designers at Canonical we’ve come up with the following tips for creating wallpaper images.

  1. Images shouldn’t be too busy and filled with too many shapes and colours, a similar tone throughout is a good rule of thumb.
  2. A single point of focus, a single area that draws the eye into the image, can also help you avoid something too cluttered.
  3. The left and top edges are home to Ubuntu’s Launcher and Panel so be careful to consider how your images look in place so as not to clash with the user interface. Try them out on your own desktop, see how they feel.
  4. Try your image at different aspect ratios to make sure something important isn’t cropped out on smaller/ larger screens at different resolutions.
  5. Take a look at the wallpapers guidance on the Ubuntu Wiki regarding the size of images. Our target resolution is 2560 x 1600.
  6. Break all the rules except the resolution one! :D

To shortlist from this collection we’ll be going to the contributors whose images were selected last time around to act as our selection judges. In doing this we’ll hold a series of public IRC meetings on Freenode in #1410wallpaper to discuss the selection. In those sessions we’ll get the selection team to try out the images on their own Ubuntu machines to see what they look like on a range of displays and resolutions.

Anyone is welcome to come to these sessions but please keep in mind that an outcome is needed from the time that people are volunteering and there’s usually a lot of images to get through so we’d appreciate it if there isn’t too much additional debate.

Based on the Utopic release schedule, I think our schedule for this cycle should look like this:

  • 08/08/14 – Kick off 14.10 wallpaper submission process.
  • 22/08/14 – First get together on #1410wallpaper at 19:30 GMT.
  • 29/08/14 – Submissions deadline at 18:00 GMT – Flickr group will be locked and the selection process will begin.
  • 09/09/14 – Deliver final selection in zip format to the appropriate bug on Launchpad.
  • 11/09/14 – UI freeze for latest version of Ubuntu with our fantastic images in it!

As always, ping me if you have any questions, I’ll be lurking in #1410wallpaper on freenode or leave a question in the Flickr group for wider discussion, that’s probably the fastest way to get an answer to a question.

I’ll be posting updates on our schedule here from time to time but the Flickr group will serve as our hub.

Happy snapping and scribbling and on behalf of the community, thanks for contributing to Ubuntu! :)

Podcasting :)


Giant Bombcast on my phone

battery charging on the 301


I first saw this the other morning when I charged the phone for the first time and it’s a pretty cool idea. Your device is telling you that your charger doesn’t need to be constantly attached. It’s like someone was given the time to sit and think about how something was being used, and where, this phone is mostly being used in places where people are watching their bills a bit more closely than the bloated west. We tend to think about lights and fridges when we think about where we can save on electricity, not that wall wart that keeps our phone alive.

The niggle came this morning. I turned my phone off over night as it wakes up to wake me up and has also shown me a nice top tip where it suggested I let my “phone sleep when you do”. Neat and power saving so why not.

I had made a lot of calls yesterday though so I plugged it in while it was off and this morning at 7am it turned itself on but didn’t do the alarm because it was busy telling me I could unplug it as it was charged.

Pretty big fail, really but it’s the first and I can work around it because there’s so long between charges and they are over so quickly. I’m also willing to work around it because this little device has a bit of personality about it. I like the top tips and that they make me want to respond to them.

Bluetooth file transfer FTWIt’s quite cool using Bluetooth to get files on and off :)



Finally, I’ve managed to get the battery on this phone down to low! :)

I’ve taken 6 photos, made a bunch of phone calls, learned about Vivaldi on Radio 3, listened to podcasts and sent texts. I’ve done it all increasingly quickly as that old muscle memory wakes up and I really don’t feel I’ve missed out on anything. The 301′s still firmly in the honeymoon phase.

There are a couple of niggles but they really fall into the category of “First world problems”

1. I couldn’t see where Alice was when I was waiting for her to walk to meet me with Loki today. On the iPhone I had find my friends.

2. I haven’t found an easy way to sync the contacts yet even though I’ve read of others doing it. Instead I’ve added people I actually need which has led to another interesting insight. I have people in my phone I’ve not worked with for nearly 10 years!

Things have moved on a bit since then and I’m not too worried that if I don’t have their phone number instantly to hand I won’t be able to find them again/ get in touch via Facebook, Linked In, even Flickr. 10 years ago I remember talking to a friend who was working on future concepts with Vodafone and they were talking about ways of being notified on your phone that your friends were close.

Now apps like Cloak can help you avoid people you don’t want to see, and that’s a whole book in itself regarding human behaviour, and Instagram and others can show me where friends have been moments later! I’m not sure that before Twitter I’d have even imagined people would go for it. It seemed pretty crazy talking about it on the corner of Nairoji Street in London back in 2004.

By contrast, take this phone back to me in 2004 and I’d have deemed it the obvious evolution of the phone. Cheap, good on battery, an amazing camera compared to what I had then and some sort of unified charger standard. Bonkers, innit :)

Day three



I’ve thrown myself into my feature phone early 00s lifestyle experiment with gusto and so far, it’s fun.

- Having a radio to listen to when you’ve run out of podcasts
- Sending texts using predictive text
- Not having had to charge it yet
- It’s small and light
- Love the blue
- Customised shortcuts
- I’ve sent email – GMail setup was really simple and works!

- Contacts sync is a mystery – although I’ve not tried very hard :)
- I’ve added some MP3s that it seems to not want to play. Added them via the phone cable instead of removing the memory card … more investigation needed.
- I can’t guarantee I’ll have access to email so my booking code for the cinema got written on a post-it

Nokia 301

Our story begins in Lymington, in the South of England. It’s last weekend and I’m in a shop buying an iPhone 5S for my Grandma.

For someone in a constant state of love with technology it was unusual finding myself in a shop buying a phone that’s a good 2 generations better than mine, an iPhone 4S, for a woman in her 80s. While they were sorting the paperwork I noticed some traditional styled and very bright phones on the walls. These Nokia phones were of a kind I’d completely forgotten even existed. They call them “feature phones” and one was 99p with a contract. Ninety-Nine-Pence! I love a bargain and phones have always been a form of personal technology soft spot so when I got home I started reading up, fascinated by who these were made for.

The short answer was, everyone else. India, other emerging markets, the same places where Mozilla hope their Firefox phones will do well and where sub $100 Android handsets are the phones of the moment shifting in their millions it seems. Here in the west we’ve grown obsessed with our smart phones. These glaring slabs of screen seem to be increasing in width, thinning out and are packing ever lengthening feature sets to keep us sharing, snapping, browsing, chatting, tweeting and basically never doing anything but looking into our glowing conduit (and paying for the data to do it). All of this got me thinking… I’ve been looking at alternative phones for a while on and off. Spent a moment there thinking a Firefox phone would rock my socks. Or maybe a Jolla? They look awesome. Ultimately though, I keep coming back to an article I read when the first iPad was released. In that piece, TJ, argued that he didn’t really need his iPhone anymore because of the benefits of his iPad. That’s stayed with me and in a number of areas recently I’ve been trying to pair things back, use things that are a bit more essential, Prime lenses on my camera, selling the super-gizmo-filled motorcycle but keeping the simpler smaller one, that sort of thing.

High on my excited Googling I chatted to Alice about these “feature phones” reminding her of an experiment I conducted in 2010 with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 and a John’s Phone.

“You could live with one of these, you know.”

“You wouldn’t last five minutes. I’ll bet you couldn’t do a month.”

She had a point. I loved the John’s Phone but the experiment failed when I couldn’t receive text messages reliably and I went back to my smart phone. Then I moved jobs and was given a 4S. This time though, my response was;

“Challenge accepted!”

I started yesterday and I’m going to see if I can do a month using this phone instead of my 4S.

The phone I’ve picked up is a Nokia 301. By smartphone standards it’s no stunner but for a feature phone it still takes advantage of 3G, which is nice because my contract comes with that so I may as well still be able to use it, has apps for WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter and a browser for the rest, and that’s out of the box! The camera is a 3.2megapixel average quality sensor and there’s no flash.

But … it promises email compatibility with Gmail or Exchange, a calendar, to-do lists, MP3 playback, a Micro SD slot, headphones and charges over Micro USB.

Wish me luck! :D


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers