Webometric Thoughts

February 3, 2009

Sketch Messaging: The Xda Serra (HTC Touch Pro/MDA Vario IV) is growing on me

I didn’t immediately warm to the Xda Serra, but today I finally found something it could do that my N95 couldn’t: Sketch Messaging!

No longer will my friends suffer random photos in their inboxes, instead they will suffer little sketches by the world’s worst artist:
Whilst Microsoft’s Notes application allows you to draw pictures with the stylus, it only sends any text and drawings as an attachment in the obscure .pwi format. However with the MiTo Team Paint application you can use the stylus to knock up a little picture, save it as a bitmap, then just insert it in a multimedia message and send it off to anyone with a camera phone!

nb. In case you wondered…it’s meant to be a cat.

January 27, 2009

Which mobile phone should I buy?

Filed under: HTC Touch Pro,N95,N97,O2 Xda Serra,T-mobile,iphone — admin @ 6:49 pm

With my T-mobile contract finally finishing yesterday, I am now looking for a new phone. However, despite having my N95 for 18 months, there is no obvious replacement.

Although there are Nokia phones with slight improvements, such as the N96 (or even the N95 8Gb), the improvements are not sufficient to persuade me to sign up for another 18 month contract. It is therefore necessary to look further afield, and at the moment I am thinking about O2′s Xda Serra (a branded HTC Touch Pro):

Although it includes my main two requirements (i.e., touchscreen and qwerty keyboard), will I later regret not waiting for the N97? I have no way of knowing whether the N97 will be worth it, or whether it will even be in my price range. And at which point do you stop waiting? There is always a better phone just over the horizon!

Any comments or phone suggestions are welcome…although iPhone suggestions will fall on deaf ears.

October 2, 2008

De-branding my N95 for the BBC iPlayer

Filed under: N95,debrand,iPlayer,s60 — admin @ 8:53 am

I have had my N95 for over a year, but until yesterday I had left it as a crumby T-mobile N95 with the appropriately out-dated branded firmware. I had tried to change it once, but the required software refused to recognise my phone. It was annoying but I put up with it, until yesterday’s announcement on All About Symbian that the BBC iPlayer was available for the S60.

I have been waiting for an S60 version of the iPlayer since it was made available for the over-hyped iPhone back in March. Unfortunately the iPlayer application (which can be downloaded here) takes the form of a Nokia Web Runtime (a Nokia Widget) rather than an S60 application, the difference being that the Nokia Web Runtime framework comes with the Nokia update software that wasn’t yet built into the T-mobile firmware. Whilst I have put up with missing out on lots of exciting developments because of the T-mobile firmware, the BBC iPlayer is not just any old new software, its a new way to access the greatest television on Earth! (I may have mentioned previously that I am possibly the BBC’s biggest fan). This time when I tried to de-brand my phone it all went smoothly.

If you have yet to de-brand, and want access to the iPlayer on your N95, then there is a detailed post on how to de-brand over at Simply Symbian.

As for the S60 iPlayer, my only criticism is the “Sorry, television programmes can only be watched over a wifi connection”. My 3G connection is often faster than my wifi connection, I pay for an ‘unlimited’ data plan and it’s about time there was a program that could make use of it.

Firmware offered for T-mobile phone yesterday: 14.0.001
Firmware offered for de-branded phone yesterday: 30.0.015

September 27, 2008

My first e-book: An Unsocial Socialist

Filed under: Mobi Reader,N95,ebooks — admin @ 1:11 pm

It isn’t the first time I have tried to read an ebook, but it is the first time I have read one all the way through. My previous attempt was as an undergraduate at Loughborough University (approx. 2002), and despite the nifty little ebook reader, the book was not particularly to my liking. In comparison Shaw’s ‘An Unsocial Socialist’ fits nicely with my general approach to society at large, and my opinions of Tories in particular (i.e., selfish, idiots, or both); it had me hooked to the end. Whilst I have yet to see an ebook reader that hopes to challenge more than the fringes of the codex market, the prevalence of freely available pdf books (e.g., 20 Free eBooks about Social Marketing) is beginning to persuade me that there is a place for these devices. Whilst I have found myself coveting the reasonably priced Sony Reader (tempting me every time I walk into my local Waterstones), I don’t particular want to carry around an additional electronic device. I therefore decided to try reading a book on my N95 using Mobi Reader.

The advantage of reading a book on a mobile phone is that most people carry their mobile with them always. The disadvantage is, in the same way as a dedicated ebook reader, you are more concerned about damaging or losing the device. One of my favourite times to read is walking down the street, however I found myself acutely aware of the fact that my phone was much more likely to be the target of an opportunistic thief than a 10p novel from a charity shop. Nonetheless, despite fears for my phone, I found the N95/Mobi Reader combo to provide a useful reading device, and if those who create the free pdf versions would also make a free Mobi Reader version of their books I would never look at a Sony Reader again.

Nb. If you do want to create your own ebook for the Mobi Reader then All About Symbian had a useful post the other week.

Update: Using the Mobipocket Reader desktop version makes converting PDFs to the mobile reader AMAZINGLY easy. I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this for years.

July 14, 2008

Is the phone the future of programming?

Filed under: N95,Python,mobile illiteracy — admin @ 8:16 am

Way back in April I wrote that the answer to Bill Thompson’s “Who will write tomorrow’s code?” may be found amongst the Eee PC generation of users. However, after having my programming interest piqued once again by last week’s Python workshop, I discovered I had regularly been carrying another device around that could have Python easily installed: my N95.

Whereas the Eee PC takes programming out of the bedroom into the community, programming on the mobile phone takes portability and sharing to a whole new level. Even more importantly, mobile phone programming would instantly grab the attention of the younger generation. Mobile phones are filled with their music, their videos, and their friends. Enabling users to create applications that use the data they already have (and more that they can download) can’t help but be popular.

Python is easy to install directly onto the mobile phone (nb. you need to install the PythonScriptShell as well as PythonForS60), and by installing simple text software (such as Light Notepad) you can program directly on the mobile (albeit rather clunkily) rather than having to send it across from a PC.

Whilst Python for the S60 has now been available for a couple of years, you get the distinct impression that it is only really popular amongst those people who would be programming anyway. Surely its time that it went mainstream and introduced more people to programming. The solution to the perceived programmer shortage would seem to be in people’s pockets.

June 10, 2008

iPhone Crazy…Again!

Filed under: N95,N96,iphone,iphone 2.0 — admin @ 9:04 am

It would seem as though the blogosphere is getting itself into a frenzy all over again as Apple announced its much anticipated 3G iPhone. Of the 180 items in my RSS aggregator this morning, I would guess about 50% were about the iPhone. However, whilst the US-centric blogosphere spanks its collective monkey about the 3G iPhone, I will take the opportunity to put it in perspective.

Despite all the rhetoric, the original iPhone was for the fashionistas, whilst the more seriously technologically minded looked to the N95. Now the iPhone has caught up technologically with the inclusion of 3G and GPS, its glossy bits seem to give it a bit of an edge over the current competitors. However the competitors have not been standing still, and the forthcoming N96 looks likely be an extremely impressive beast (with the launch hopefully coinciding with the contract on my N95 coming to an end).

The problem with the iPhone is that it is difficult to distinguish between the reality and the hype. Will this “help usher in the mobile media revolution in a major way“? Only in as much as it is one of a group of major players whose competition is pushing a mobile media revolution, on its own it is not making half as much impact as noise.

May 1, 2008

Local Election Day! A tale of two cities

Filed under: N95,Twitter,democracy,elections,qik — admin @ 8:10 am

Democracy has always struck me as a rather stupid idea; I no more want the general public making decisions about the most appropriate economic strategy, or the merits of joining the Euro, than I would want them performing open-heart surgery. Nonetheless, democracy is what we have, and luckily the more objectionable views of the puppet-majority manage to get watered-down by the representational aspect of our democratic system (God help us if technology ever gives us direct democracy). However, in spite of my dislike of democracy, I love the election coverage. The day after general elections are always a write-off, whilst even the local elections are liable to get me watching until 3 or 4 in the morning. Whilst the BBC provides great coverage, the web provides us with the opportunity for enhanced electoral coverage at the local level.

Coverage of the local elections tends to report the overall results of the council, rather than the results of individual wards; the simplicity of video streaming means that the web can provide that coverage. Being able to view the local council results would hopefully encourage people to think about local policies and engage with the councillors on issues that matter; too often local issues are over shadowed by national issues and protest votes. I was pleased to note yesterday that Birmingham council will be streaming the results live, although as always Wolverhampton is the poor relation: “Results will be posted on this website on 2 May”. Not even a live posting as the results come in! As on-the-cheap streaming could be accomplished through qik and an N95, or results published as they happen via something as simple as Twitter, you really have to despair at Wolverhampton’s lack of effort.

Just remember, voting for the BNP is not a “protest vote”, it is vote for fear, ignorance and fascism, not the sort of things that make Britain Great.

April 18, 2008

Guitar Hero III – On your mobile!

Filed under: Guitar Hero,N95 — admin @ 1:57 pm

Whilst I have had my N95 about nine months, I have not as yet bought a single game for it…this will change, however, with the arrival of Guitar Hero III.

Of course it won’t be the same as playing with the guitar, and will quickly become annoying in public places, but nonetheless I will have to have it!

February 6, 2008

Joiku and the Eee PC (RM Minibook)

Filed under: Asus,Eee PC,Joiku,JoikuSpot,N95,s60 — admin @ 12:08 pm

I don’t usually get my S60 news from GigaOm, but they have highlighted a potentially useful application that can turn the N95 (or other phone with the S60 operating system) into a wireless hotspot: Joiku. It is VERY important to take into consideration the data package that your phone comes with before adding it, and unfortunately it doesn’t come with any security, so once your phone’s a hotspot, anyone can connect to it!

As the Eee PC doesn’t come with bluetooth, there may be occassions when you want to access the web and don’t have the required wire, and therefore Joiku seems a useful solution. You will, however, need to change the wireless connection settings so the mode is ‘ad-hoc’ rather than ‘auto’ for the connection to be enabled, and even then I found trouble getting the computer to connect. It automatically loads the joikuspot.com homepage first, and I found this took AGES!

Whether the problems I encountered are due to something I am doing wrong, or a problem at Joiku’s end I don’t know, but if it gets sorted it will definately find a permanent place on my phone.

January 11, 2008

Combining the Eee PC with the N95

Filed under: Eee PC,N95,RM minibook,T-mobile,web n walk — admin @ 8:22 pm

How could you improve on the Eee PC? Give it mobile web (broadband quality – through which I could stream the BBC’s Flash programmes):

Whilst it is important to check your mobile operator’s pricing policy (I needed to up-grade from T-mobile’s web ‘n’ walk, to web ‘n’ walk plus), the steps are fairly easy…once you find the right pages to follow on the web:

1. Enable accessing the full-desktop mode on your Eee PC.
2. Add your N95 network

Whilst it is suggested that you need to be “fairly comfortable at the linux shell prompt” when it comes to adding the N95, everything you need to do is fairly intuitive.

How on earth did we manage before people posted everything online?

nb. obviously if I suddenly find I have a bill for hundreds of pounds I will change the post accordingly. It is worth noting that whilst I upgraded my plan online, I had to phone T-mobile to get the upgrade today rather than on my next billing date.

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