Cyrillic (and other language) support for the Pebble Watch

The stock firmware of the Pebble Watch only seems to support English and other western languages out of the box. As I sometimes receive messages and notifications in Cyrillic, it was annoying that these were not displayed correctly (i.e. all the unknown characters were replaced by a rectangle)

On the Pebble site itself there is nothing mentioned on how this can be enabled, so it looks like it is not supported out of the box. Fortunately the smart people of PebbleBits have found a way around this and offer modified firmware versions with support for additional character sets and also a small number of other patches. They state clearly that their site is not operated by or affiliated with Pebble in any way but it offers a very interesting Firmware Generator, which offers support for a number of language sets:

  • Symbols, Emoji
  • Latin-based: English, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
  • Cyrillic: Belarusian, Kazakh, Macedonian, Russian, Ukrainian
  • Other: Greek, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese

For modern firmwares (v2.5+) there seems to be sufficient place to add a number of languages, older firmware versions have some limitations. In addition to adding characters, it is also possible to apply a number of patches to the firmware itself:

  • Disable default watchfaces
  • Disable default main menu entries
  • Display phone number instead of contact name on incoming call
  • Additional quick launch options for apps
  • Change buttons layout of stock Music app (my favorite as it adds the option to control the volume)
  • Translate the interface to a another language

After the selection is made, the custom firmware can be downloaded. This should be done from a smartphone that is connected to the Pebble watch, the site works great on a mobile phone, but also provides a QR code that can be scanned by the phone to download the firmware. The installation is seamlessly done by opening the file with the Pebble app, which guides you through the process.

So far I have noticed that the watch works fine with the patched firmware and supports (in my case) Cyrillic notifications perfectly now.

For reference: here is a  link to the configuration I use.

Got a Pebble watch from Дед Мороз

pebble_watchLooks like Дед Мороз did not want me to completely get rid of Pebble as he brought me a Pebble Smart Watch for New Year!

The Pebble Watch is already on the market for quite some time and well supported by iPhone and Android applications. I will probably need some time to really find out what it can do, the notifications and music control are already nice features on top of being a nice watch. I know that Runkeeper also supports it, so something to check out the next time I go out for a run.

Once caveat I already found is that it does not support all characters in notifications out of the box and Cyrillic does not seem to be supported at all… something to dive into.

Back online

The last 7 months I have not been able to spend any time on this blog, which has not just resulted in no updates, but also in an awful lot of spam in the comments (which was not visible as I have to approve commentes anyway). I found over 12.500 spam messages in the comments, of which 11.000 in one article. The bad thing of this was that this large amount of comments killed the performance of my blog, so I had to do something.

The good thing about Pebble (the blog software I use) is that is has a very simple XML file-based structure to store articles and comments, so this was very easy to cleanup. All  I had to do was

  1. Shutdown the blog system (only shutting down the webapp in Glassfish sufficed
  2. Locate the XML files that were huge
  3. Edit the large XML file using vi on the command line, removing anything between <comments>…</comments>
  4. Restart the Pebble webapp in Glassfish.

And the spam was removed, which also resolved the performance issue

Now the good news, not being able to post anything does not mean I did not have any spare time to experiment with things so I do have a number of items to complete and document the coming weeks (I’m having some time off now) . Expect some posts frequently during the summer period…