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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nokia N800 & N810: How to connect to a computer using the USB cable

The Nokia N800 and N810 internet tablets can be attached to a Windows, Linux or Macintosh computer using a USB cable. In normal mode this lets you transfer files to and from the tablet's memory card (or memory cards if you have more than one). You can also use the same cable to update the tablet's firmware when it is in update mode.

Unlike Nokia's phones, the tablets do not have a PC Suite mode. They will not work with Nokia PC Suite at all.


How to transfer files onto and off the tablet's memory card or cards using the USB cable

The main thing to bear in mind about this process is that the computer never actually accesses the tablet itself. All it does is access the tablet's memory card or cards.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you can transfer absolutely any kind of file on and off the card or cards: music, video, text, anything at all. Not all file types will work on the tablet, but all file types can be placed on the tablet's memory card or cards.

Here's how to do it:

1. If you're using an N800, make sure you have at least one memory card inserted. If you're using an N810 its built-in 2 gigabyte card is enough, but you can insert your own card as well. You cannot access any of these cards on the tablet itself while you have it connected to the computer.

2. Make sure your tablet is switched on and has a good amount of charge left, and plug the smaller plug of appropriate USB cable into the socket on the tablet's right side underneath the built-in stand.

The N800 uses miniUSB cables, while the N810 uses microUSB cables. These two types have the same large plug at the PC end, but their smaller plugs are very different (microUSB has a much thinner small plug than miniUSB). If you want to, you can use a miniUSB or microUSB cable made by a third party manufacturer, you do not have to use the Nokia-made cable that came with the tablet. As long as it is a miniUSB cable it will work on the N800, and as long as it is a microUSB cable it will work on the N810.

3. Plug the larger plug of the cable into your computer's USB socket. Your computer probably has more than one USB socket, it doesn't matter which one you use.

4. After a short while your computer should detect the presence of the tablet's memory card or cards. Most computers will treat them as external drives, just like an external hard disk, music player or camera. On Windows PCs, the tablet cards will show up as drives named F: and G: or perhaps some other letters instead. The internal card of the N800 (the one in the slot next to the battery) and the built-in card of the N810 should be the drive with the earlier letter, for example F:, while the later letter represents the external card (the one inserted in the slot on the outside of the tablet). Note that you may see two drives listed even if you only have one card inserted in the tablet.

5. Some computers may automatically display the contents of the cards, while others may do nothing at all. You should be able to look at the contents of the cards using whatever file manager your computer uses (on Windows PCs you'll be able to find them listed as removable drives in My Computer). Once you've opened a window for a particular memory card, you can transfer files to and from it by just dragging and dropping the icons of the relevant files into or out of the card's window.

Alternatively, you can also use certain computer applications to transfer files to and from the cards. For example many computer music applications such as iTunes, Windows Media Player and Winamp let you transfer music tracks onto the tablet's memory card or cards. You can also use computer applications to transfer video files, or indeed any kind of file, as long as you know what the tablet memory card is on your computer.

6. When you've finished transferring files, do NOT disconnect the cable yet. First of all, exit any applications accessing the tablet's card or cards. Second, deactivate the USB connection so that the cable can be unplugged safely. This can be done on Windows PCs by clicking on the grey-and-green icon in the bottom right corner of the screen and selecting the memory card or cards from the list that appears.

7. When the computer tells you it is safe to remove the cable, you can do so.

The reason you have to make the disconnection safe is because the memory cards may be damaged if they are being accessed when the cable is unplugged. When you ask the computer to make it safe to unplug the connection, the computer immediately stops anything accessing the cards so that they cannot be damaged.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nokia N800 & N810: How to use the built-in help

The N800 and N810 contain a large number of built-in step-by-step tutorials and a complete user guide, but a lot of tablet owners seem to be unaware of their presence.

Here's how to find and access them.

How to browse through all the built-in help files

Very very simple, just click on the Applications icon (the green squares on the left) and then click on help. You'll then see a long list of all the topics covered by the tutorials. Double-click on the topic you want to know more about, then click on the specific tutorial you want to read.

When you've finished reading a tutorial, just click on the X in the top right hand corner to close it.

How to get help for the feature you're currently using

Again, easy-peasy. Just click on the menu for the application you're currently running (this will be a grey bar at the top of the screen). One of the options will be Help, just click on it.

Applications runs separately from their help files, so you can close a tutorial without closing the app it discusses.

How to find the hidden user guide

For some reason the manual for the N800 and N810 is tucked away in the Documents folder. Here's how to find them and read it:

1. Click on the Applications icon (green squares).

2. Click on Utilities.

3. Click on File Manager.

4. Double click on Documents on the right.

5. Double click on User Guides on the right.

6. The user guide is displayed in all its different language versions. Double click on the language version you want (the English-language versions are near the bottom of the list).

7. The user guide will be opened using the PDF reader application. To turn a page click on the small arrows at the bottom of the screen, and to zoom in and out click on the magnifying glasses.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nokia N800 & N810: How to turn your internet tablet into a "PADD" from Star Trek

If you're a fan of the TV and film series Star Trek, you may be familiar with the "PADD" portable computer tablet that many of the characters used.

Well, if you install an unofficial theme pack called "LCARS", you can turn your internet tablet into something that still works just like an internet tablet, but which looks and sounds like a PADD from Star Trek.

How to install LCARS on your N800 or N810

The installation process is very simple:

1. Click on the Globe in the top left hand corner, open a new browser window, and go to this address: maemo.org/downloads/OS2008 This is the official website for installing Maemo applications, and Maemo is the software platform used by Nokia's internet tablets. Incidentally, maemo.org is sometimes a very slow site even when you access it on a desktop computer. If it's too slow when you visit, try going back later.

2. On the Categories section on the right of the screen, click on "Desktop Environment".

3. Scroll through the applications until you see one called LCARS PADD, and click on its title.

4. Take a look at the information and comments about the application if you want. When you've finished doing that, you can install LCARS by clicking on the green "Click To Install" arrow.

5. Say yes or OK to all of the boxes that appear. As you can see in the video above, the installation may take a little while.

6. Don't worry if a web browser window automatically opens at the end of the installation process, this is just to show you the latest release notes for LCARS, which includes news on any new features or bug fixes, and instructions on various topics. Read this page if you want to, and close the browser window when you've finished using the X in the top right hand corner.

The installation should now be complete, but the LCARS theme won't actually be visible until you've set it up.


How to set up the LCARS theme on your N800 or N810

1. Click on the "Home" menu on the desktop and select "Set Theme".

2. Scroll down and select either LCARS PADD or LCARS Bridge, then select "Apply", then select "Close". These are both basically the same theme but with slightly different colour schemes.

3. Click on the "Home" menu again and select "Set Background Image".

4. From the "Image" drop-down menu, select the name of the image that matches the theme you just selected. Click on "OK". If the desktop looks a bit untidy with the new image, just rearrange some of the boxes as shown in the video above.

5. Switch off the tablet, then switch it on again.

The LCARS theme should now be in full working order, with all the correct icons, menus, backgrounds and sound effects.

The tablet works in exactly the same way it did before, but the interface has a Trek-ish feel to it and so do the sound effects.


How to go back to the original theme on the N800 or N810

This is slightly complicated, but it's still fairly easy to do as long as you follow all the steps below in the correct order. (Most themes aren't this complicated to remove, but most themes aren't as elaborate as LCARS.)

1. Click on the "Home" menu on the desktop, click on "Set Theme", select "Echo", click on "Apply" and then "Close". IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO THIS BEFORE REMOVING LCARS.

2. Click on the "Home" menu again, and select "Set Background Image". From the "Image" dropdown menu, select "Echo". Click on "OK".

3. Click on the Applications menu (the green squares on the left).

4. Click on "Settings".

5. Click on "Application Manager".

6. Click on "Show Installed Applications".

7. (Before the next step, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALREADY SELECTED "ECHO" AS YOUR TABLET'S THEME, as described in step 1 above.) In the Application Manager, you now need to select the following items one by one and uninstall them by clicking on "Uninstall": lcars-complete, hildon-theme-lcars, lcars-sounds, lcars-extras, search-memory-alpha. Make sure you start with "lcars-complete", otherwise the others cannot be uninstalled.

8. Close the Application Manager using the X in the top right hand corner, then switch off the tablet using the power button, then switch it back on again.

The tablet should now be back to normal, with its original theme, background image, icons, menus, sounds etc.

The reason it's so important to select a theme other than LCARS before removing LCARS is because you should never remove a theme you're currently using. If you remove a theme while you're using it, it can cause very severe technical problems on your tablet. Always make sure that before you uninstall a theme, you have first selected some other theme through the desktop's "Home" menu.