N900fly: Extrememly Expensive Sport!

Some­times you see some­thing and won­der, “What were they think­ing.”  Some­times this is an obvi­ous thing — many peo­ple see it.  Oth­er times, a sign or direc­tion sits there qui­et­ly mock­ing the world and only a few peo­ple notice it.  I’m gen­er­al­ly one of the few, but this par­tic­u­lar exam­ple should be fair­ly obvi­ous to every­one — maybe except the author.

There real­ly is a huge amount of soft­ware for the n900 (see my ear­li­er post if you don’t know what it is).  Part­ly this could be due to the fact that the tar­get mar­ket for the device is firm­ly with­in the geek with pro­gram­ming skills realm.  Maybe a sim­i­lar prod­uct will be pop­u­lar with every­one — we can cer­tain­ly hope, but right now, the things that the device are offer­ing are decid­ed­ly geeky.

While scan­ning some of the games avail­able for the plat­form (I found a nice Scum­mVM, a bejew­eled clone and a nethack imple­men­ta­tion), I found one I just had to down­load and try (very care­ful­ly): n900fly.  This appli­ca­tion uses the accelerom­e­ter embed­ded in the device to deter­mine how long the device is in freefall and uses that to cal­cu­late how high you threw the device.

Now, while I man­aged to get a bet­ter deal by far, the list price of this device is $550-ish Cana­di­an Dol­lars.  And while it’s fair­ly hardy and its build feels very sol­id, I can’t imag­ine that the engi­neers meant for you to throw it very often… if at all.

Accelerom­e­ters and tilt gauges are put in mod­ern devices for many rea­sons.  They cer­tain­ly increased in pop­u­lar­i­ty after the Wii came out.  In the cam­era app, for instance, if you’re look­ing at a pic­ture and flip it over to a friend across the table, the device turns the pic­ture upside down (so your friend sees it right side up).  This flip­ping around goes to extreme lev­els in the Jobs demon­stra­tion of the ipad.  The n900 has appli­ca­tions that let it be a lev­el or an angle meter (which use the tilt gauge).  Oth­er than assist­ing the GPS (does it?), I can’t imag­ine too many use­ful things to be done with the accelerom­e­ter.  Maybe this appli­ca­tion is the only thing the devel­op­er could think of for the accelerom­e­ter… and he felt that he just had to play with it.  There’s a road paved with good inten­tions…

But some­one thought that this appli­ca­tion was a good idea.  I sup­pose it would also track your progress if you fell off a cliff… if either of you and it sur­vive, that is.  I acknowl­edge that there are bet­ter coor­di­nat­ed geeks than I.  Some of these peo­ple could prob­a­bly throw the phone quite high many times before fum­bling it.  Still… it’s an awful­ly expen­sive even­tu­al fum­ble.

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