It seems that I have become quite a gadget-whore lately. I'm spending all my money buying one gadget after the other, no end in sight...
In the beginning, all sounded quite good: my cell phone contract with o2 is two years old soon, so I can get a new (cheap) cell phone. Stupidly enough, o2 doesn't offer the A780 in their shops and there seems to be no way to order one either (they do offer other Motorola phones, though). After asking the same questions in different o2 shops multiple times (and almost giving up), I accidentally saw the A780 in the local Saturn (a German electronics store).
And indeed, they sell the phone, and they can even prolong my contract with o2 (there's a dedicated o2 employee working in the Saturn store), so that I can profit in the form of a cheaper phone. Or at least that's the theory... In practive, however, I have a student-contract (saves me some bucks) which has the stupid "feature" that it can only be prolonged in o2 shops. Guess what, the Saturn guys cannot give me the A780 as they can't prolong my contract, and the o2 shop simply doesn't have the A780 at all. Argh!
After grumbling, asking around, googling, and even more grumbling, I finally decided to do the following: I got a new "dummy" o2 contract in the Saturn (yes, I'll have to pay that for 2 years) which enables me to get the A780 and to get it cheaper. I'll keep using my old contract and my old SIM card for simplicity and leave the new one untouched. If you take into account the money I'll spend on the new contract it doesn't save me too much money, but at least it's distributed across two years... I'll terminate my (new) o2 contract tomorrow, to make sure I don't forget about it (I don't want to have it any longer than the 2 years I'm forced to live with)... Stupid, stupid world we live in. Nobody should be required to perform such "hacks" in order to get the phone he/she wants...
Enough ranting now, here's some juicy details about the phone:
For details on the hardware see this wiki page.
The only thing which I'm missing is WLAN, but once USB host support works (the hardware does support it), you can easily use a WLAN USB dongle...
I'm pretty sure I'll be having lots of fun with this thing, and I'll quite probably be contributing to the OpenEZX project, which was started by Harald Welte (of gpl-violations.org fame) and tries to create the first 100% Free Software GSM-phone using the Motorola A780 and similar phones. Judging from these blog posts by Harald, running your own 2.6 kernel on the phone is not too unrealistic anymore, and telnetting into the phone (via USBnet) seems to work fine already...
spammingblog posts about the A780 in future...
We had the idea to try to run a wireless ad-hoc network. So we did. In just a few minutes Daniel configured his Powerbook (or iBook? I don't know for sure) for ad-hoc networking, and I did the same on my Debian-based shiny new Toshiba Satellite A80-117.
I added the following lines to my
auto eth1 iface eth1 inet static address 192.168.0.19 netmask 255.255.255.0 wireless_mode ad-hoc wireless_essid foobar wireless_channel 11
Then I issued
/etc/init.d/networking restart and that was it. We could ping each other, ssh between our boxes, exchange files, chat, play networked games, whatever.
Although this is probably nothing new for most of you, it was the first time I tried it, and I was really amazed at how painlessly it was to configure and even more that it Just Worked(tm) out of the box. We were travelling a few meters under the earth, no cell phone connections possible, and still could do any networking stuff we liked. Call me easy to impress, but somehow that's just plain amazing.