Mobile Gadgets – Blogging on the Move

Nokia 770 and O2 XDA Exec
As you know, Nick and I are currently in San Diego on Performancing business. It’s remarkable how well we can do all the things we need to do for the business even while travelling, it means we can be almost anywhere and still get the job done. If you would like to blog on the move you might be interested in how we do it. Also it gives us a chance to geek out about our gadgets!

Nicks Kit

Nick at his temporary deskNick is using an IBM Thinkpad Laptop as his Gentoo Linux workhorse. While we have been here he has also snapped up a cool new Nokia 770 “Internet Tablet” that he has been lusting after for quite a while. This PDA-like device runs a version of Debian Linux and has Wifi and bluetooth capability. In addition to this he has a Plantronics DSP 500 Skype headset and a Motorola Razr phone for voice and to provide the Nokia tablet with GPRS connectivity via bluetooth (strange a Nokia product would not have cell features!).

Chris’ Gear

My equipment has a much more Microsoft flavour. My humble Samsung V25 laptop runs XP Pro, plus I have a O2 XDA Exec Pocket PC (a rebadged HTC running Windows Mobile 2005 for Pocket PC). For voice I have Skype both on my laptop (I use a $9 Skype earpiece/microphone, nothing so posh as Nicks headset) and also on my Pocket PC. The PDA is actually a phone, but I only use it for data and Skype as I have a Sony Ericsson K750i for normal cellular voice calls.


I was really surprised that here in San Diego there is rarely free Wifi. Perhaps naively I thought in the USA it would be overflowing with public bandwidth! Luckily lots of people do not secure their networks (finding a network called “default” is usually a good bet!).

Pay Wifi can be expensive, $15 an hour in some places. At that price, even my expensive 3G/UMTS data plan is more reasonable providing I am only doing email or IM.

When travelling and intending to blog it is worthwhile in addition to a wifi card taking along a spare network cable and a sync cable for your mobile phone. It is not yet the situation where you can rely on getting connected with Wifi even when it is supposedly available.


Dissapointingly neither Nick or I can use PFF on our PDAs. Even though Nicks gadget is running Linux it does not yet have Firefox (though one is in the works), and there is definitely no Firefox for Pocket PC.

Thankfully though both machines have decent web browsers. The Nokia runs a version of Opera and has a 800×480 screen. It would need a USB keyboard if Nick wanted to avoid using the touch screen keyboard or handwriting recognition. The Pocket PC has IE and a 640×480 screen but does have an included keyboard.

Both machines can run IM software, mine using the bundled MSN Messenger plus Skype and Nicks his beloved GAIM. While the Nokia has a bundled RSS reader I use a web based interface which while fiddly works quite well and at least syncs with my desktop.


It is very pleasing that this company is not tied to geography, it truly is a virtual organisation. While already we were spread over countries and timezones, this trip proves we are quite capable of working while mobile. Blogging is very well suited to this kind of approach to working. There is no reason why a travelling blogger should not be able to keep up with events and maintain a good posting schedule, with good time management and planning of course.

How lucky are we that we can do something we really enjoy, find so rewarding, almost anywhere.

Do you blog on the move? Please do tell us about it.

21 thoughts on “Mobile Gadgets – Blogging on the Move

  1. Nick, great link, nice essay, good pragmatical comment.
    But maybe there are still a few people left who follow the specifications? Who should support the specs (if we don’t)?

  2. If you have special media type sections in CSS it is possible to differentiate between different outputs.

    Unfortunately that only works in theory, Have a look at Douglass Bowman’s essay from about a year ago on targeting small screens. Its quite an eye opener if you’ve not looked into this before…

  3. One of the cool things about Opera mobile is the ZOOM feature. It renders a page reduced, which is far better than most mobile-specific pages out there. It also has “jump to content” which, when enabled, starts you past the headers and skips the sidebar. Very nice.

    So… you set your PIE or Opera to pretend to be IE to make sure you get the “regular” page to apply those excellent features to…which makes it kinda tough to work with on the server side right now.

  4. Assuming that the CSS stylesheets are are not ignored, you still have to trigger them based on the reading device. There may be a better way than I’ve suggested, but checking the user agent is no more kludgy than, say, checking a user’s preferences.

    That said, maybe a Drupal plugin exists (or can be written) that checks each user’s configurable prefs. If an user’s prefs says ‘no photo’, then the appropriate span or div is given a ‘hidden’ attribute.

    Something like this is theoretically very easy to put together in Drupal. But of course, it may require modifying the member-related tables in the mySQL database to build in prefs info. (I don’t recall seeing any.)

  5. AFAIK, Mobile Opera browser ignores the specific stylesheets. And does it rather wisely – most of the sites are only tested in 1-2 browsers and mobile stylesheets are not really maintained. Though, it is only a rumor, somebody experienced with the practical side of CSS should confirm or disprove it

  6. I am sure we could use user agent, it seems a bit kludgy though to detect that way, I was wondering if there is something built into css?

  7. Chris, it shouldn’t be that hard to write a bit of PHP code for Drupal to check the op/sys or browser version and disable the photo. I haven’t looked, but maybe there’s even a plugin already. Once I get my hands on my future PalmOne Treo 650 in a few weeks, I’ll see if I can come up with something. (No promises.) On the other hand, young Jed the wizard may be able to come up with something faster

  8. Thanks for the screenshot. The pics are controlled by a CSS class I believe, perhaps we could have a conditional rule that would not show on small screens ..

  9. Actually, is very easy to read on my XV6700 WM5 phone. I have to say the high-res headshots are a bit much 😉

  10. Mobile opera browsers are actually quite good. From time to time I post to Performcancing from my Nokia N70 with the help of the free Opera for N70. You can recognize these post from their short length and no endlines (sometimes Opera cuts them out).
    This comment is not posted from the mobile phone

  11. > there is definitely no Firefox for Pocket PC

    Actually, there *is*, but certainy the last time I tried it, it wasn’t what you could call *useable* – it’s called Minimo.

    Fortunately, the Drupal back end works pretty well in Pocket IE.

    Blogging online? I *proposed* online by blogging it through Pocket IE.

  12. I was just today comparing a Blackberry 7250 against a PalmOne Treo 650. While I like Blackberries (and live 25 km from the company that makes it), the Treo seems like a better choice, as I can develop WAP apps.

    My cellular provider is offering a deal for the end of my 3 yr contract: $200-400 off! Whoo. If I can afford the Treo, I’ll go for it, and least check out Performancing on it 😀

  13. I would really like one of those folding screens that you see in “gadgets of the future” tv shows, or electronic paper even better. Those small screens are actually very good for what they are though.

  14. I’m waiting for them to come out with a belt buckle device that projects a display like they had in Minority Report, small displays just drive me insane.

  15. I use my Sidekick 2 to blog when I don’t have computer access. I love the blog by e-mail option in WordPress, although I wish I could make it to where it would post as another user instead of Administrator.

  16. I can’t see us doing an Opera version, but you know if there is demand …

    Nicks new toy is very nice, even to a fully paid-up Microsoft fan like me!

  17. HP Pavilion zv6000 series … basic (not even camera) cell phone … low end palm …

    Now … I’m seriously drooling over Nick’s new toy. Man I need some toys.

  18. I am waiting for my Nokia 9300 communicator to come in a week or two. It also has some Opera version.

    It’s a pity that there is no Performancing for Opera. Or is there a possibility that someday you’ll create an AJAX version available for mobile Opera/IE users like you? 😉

Comments are closed.