Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New wine, old wine-skin...

I like tinkering with stuff sometimes. I'm not a coder or software developer, or any of that fancy-sounding stuff kids are into nowadays. I just like tinkering with stuff (that's usually mine) and trying to make the most of it, beyond its basic use. My most notable time was acquiring a toy phone I called Jarvis (Nokia N900) with which I spent a gleeful two years or so until it finally gave up.

Now, I was aware of the existence of WhatsApp by that time, but seeing as I had only 3 contacts who had it (and were not overly keen on random conversations) I had given it a break. After being with Jarvis for a while, enjoying the beautiful usefulness of a Qwerty keyboard, I came to realize that Ugandans had caught up with internet messaging technology. I was being asked if I was on WhatsApp. So I tried. But WhatsApp wasn't available for Maemo 5 (Jarvis' OS), and neither were they planning to make a version that worked. I wasn't ready to move on from Jarvis yet. We'd been through so much together, and it would have been sad if I let him go for such a 'petty' reason. Instead, I opted to save him, or at least improve his usefulness.

I scoured the internets, searching for a version that worked. It took me a while, but eventually, I found something close enough. A clever guy had managed to port WhatsApp features onto Maemo 5 (like something you see in movies). He was kind enough to leave instructions on how to do it. However, he warned that if you didn't know what you were doing, you might end up destroying your phone. Well, I didn't know half the things he said to do, but I'm not faint of heart. When you've spent time bravely tinkering, you kind of get used to the potential of utter destruction while you seek to improve the ordinary. I was going to do what needed to be done. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

I gathered the necessary software and hardware, and closed myself in for a weekend. A whole weekend, because I needed the internet and it was taking its sweet time getting me what I needed. Plus, there was plenty of downtime as the computer and Jarvis were installing, restoring, rebooting, updating, rooting, porting, and generally blinking busily while I twiddled my thumbs. When everything was done, I could have sworn that Jarvis was glowing with renewed purpose. I dusted him off, for he felt new. I activated data and voila! WhatsApp messages came pouring in. It was a proud moment. A few months later I'm at a concert and I meet a guy with a Nokia N900. He sees me typing away and asks what's up. I tell him I'm on WhatsApp. "It works on there?! How did you do it?" I grinned and asked if he wanted me to put it there for him. "Why bother? I'm going to buy a new phone anyway."

Jarvis retired (painfully) last year. I did what I could to revive him, but alas, this time he was lost for real. I keep him in a personal museum now, to remind me to never forget how good a tinkerer I was, and should the hunger return, I'll tinker some more.

I've since moved on to join the Android family. Now I have a 2010 model phone running a 2014 OS.


  1. Like! My experiments with the N900 were short-lived and nothing to be proud of whatsoever; it was my last of that family. Ever.

  2. Yup, it was the last Nokia I ever had.