Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

A day in the life of my Nokia N82 – and the beginning of the end of the laptop

April 14, 2009

Some days I’m so thrilled with what my smartphone can do that I can’t help writing about it. Perhaps this short blog brag will show you a few new uses for your modern Symbian device. And for how much longer will you and I need a dedicated laptop?

06:55: I’m half-way awake from the radio on the Wake-up Light (nice invention, by the way), the N82 sounds the proper alarm, and I get out of bed – instinctively checking my Gmail account. Their Java ME client is speedy, slim and has all the right keypad shortcuts (the new Nokia Messaging client is very nice, but not tuned for Gmail use patterns and thus not fast enough).

07:10: I make breakfast while listening to news on FM radio. I hooked up a pair of Koss Portapros and put the N82 on the kitchen table – thanks to its relatively powerful speakers, I don’t have to walk around with the Portapros on (or get a stand-alone radio).

The Economist in my pocket

The Economist in my pocket

07:25: Walking down to the metro, which doesn’t have FM coverage, I switch to listening to The Economist in MP3 format, which I downloaded over WiFi yesterday. Halfway there I check the real-time metro information on the built in web/WAP browser. WAP may be ugly, but it sure is fast!

latitude

07:30: Standing on the metro, I use Latitude on Google Maps to see if my colleagues have left for work yet. (They haven’t – I’m early :) )

I also pull up my RSS feeds on Opera Mini to catch up on today’s news. This is something I do periodically throughout the day.

09:00: Having settled in at work, I decide I don’t want to listen to any of the on-board MP3s, so I hook the N82 up to the local WiFi network. It is protected by a proxy, but Web is treated like any computer and lets me log into the proxy server. I then use Mobbler – a Last.fm client for Symbian – to listen to my friends’ Last.fm stations. Here’s my Last.fm profile, by the way.

Now and then the phone buzzes, without lighting up – this indicates that GMail (which is running in the background) has received an e-mail.

11:00: I make a few photographs of the screen on the Citrix client. It is a bit cumbersome to get printscreens out of there, and the N82’s  5 mpx and autofocus will do nicely for this – just illustration photos for a sildeshow. I also make sure to catch the herd of office chairs – they have mysteriously assembled in our wing of the office over the weekend. Hmmm.

12:00: I set the alarm for 14:44 – I have to phone someone then and am likely to forget unless I set an alarm. I also check Calendar, to make sure I’m free at that time.

13:00: I tell my 5800 XpressMusic-owning buddy about SymTorrent (which does what you might expect).

I also showed him Qik – a program for streaming video live to the web from the phone.  I give him a Qik demo, starting off by telling him to check my public feed – where he could see himself from a 90 degree angle :) Take a look at my Qik page for an example.

14:43: The person I was going to call beats me to it – we’re both busy, so we arrange a new time.

16:50: I head home, continuing to listen to The Economist where I left off. En route to the store I use Opera Mini to find recipies for pancakes.

17:20: Leaving the store, I read on AllAboutSymbian‘s RSS feed that Nokia Beta Labs’ Photo Browser is now available for S60v3 devices – meaning I can give it a go. When I get home, I quickly download it via Web and WiFi and check it out. It spends quite a while indexing my photos, which makes it seem slower than it is, but the transitions are pretty nice and for an early beta product this is not bad at all. Hopefully it will be way more mature when the N97 arrives.

Sports Tracker route summary

17:30: After dumping the food in the fridge, I find my running shoes and start SportsTracker. This is a GPS-enabled exercise logger. As I run around the neighbourhood, I upload my route to SportsTracker – take a look. The photo I take during the jog is automatically included in the mashup on the SportsTracker site.

20:30: I start writing this post and transfer a aforementioned photo to my Flickr account from Gallery via the local WiFi.

Conclusion

So – I manage to go through quite an array of features and applications in a day. I love the sense of having so much computational power and so many sensors with me all the time. Of course – there are privacy and security (and sanity?) concerns when using so many services so intimately and constantly bathing in a sea of information and entertainment – but I think we’ll be OK as long as we are aware of that and just leave the phone at home once in a while.

Interestingly – I did pretty much all of this, except writing this blog post, without using a PC. Creating content will probably always be more comfortable on a big keyboard and big screen, but I still believe the N97 will make a noticable difference in my mobile e-mail/blogging usage patterns.

Also – a N82, considering all of its sensors and connectivity features, is in many ways more powerful than my vastly more expensive Macbook. Hopefully CPU, memory and I/O capabilities will develop rapidly – letting me write a new post in 2-3 years time with a full keyboard and 20″ screen hooked up to my ph… mobile computer.

Or, if I’m out and about, I’ll use the phone inserted into a laptop shell consisting of a 13″ touchscreen and full keyboard. That’ll be the end of the dedicated laptop –  unless you need to do heavy number-crunching or 3D gaming.

Nokia N82 appreciation usecase #3: The Economist in my pocket

November 5, 2008
The Economist in my pocket

The Economist in my pocket

As a subscriber to The Economist, I get the newspaper in my mailbox every Saturday (UK subscribers get it on Fridays, I believe, but up north we are not so fortunate…). However, I can usually download the MP3 edition on Thursdays. Of course, I copy it onto my N82 right away.

Most often, I listen to The Economist while walking or commuting to work, using my Koss Portapro headphones, but sometimes my ears tire from the headset, or the headset cable gets in the way as I move about tidying the house (right..).

Thanks to the N82’s pretty powerful stereo speakers, I can put the phone in my pocket and have it play The Economist for me as I walk around the house. They aren’t powerful enough for this to work well outdoors, and the sound quality doesn’t cut it for listening to music – but for radio, podcasts or audio editions of newspapers, they work fine.

My next phone will need to have at least as powerful speakers as the N82 – judging by reviews, it seems the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is well equipped; hopefully upcoming Nseries touchscreen phones (and Android handsets) are as fortunate.

Nokia N82 appreciation usecase #2: On a whim, shooting the rooftop concert

October 9, 2008

I do have a digital video camera – a good old Sony DCR 115, which cost me about $3000 (!!) back in 2002. However, it isn’t exactly pocket-sized, and it uses DV tapes, which feel hopelessly analogue considering they store bits.  I hardly ever use it – though the picture quality is great and the 10x zoom very handy, it is just too big, and handling the amount of data it produces too cumbersome.

Enter my N82. It has VGA-resolution 640×480 video capture at 30 frames per second – I’d call it VHS quality, Nokia calls it “TV quality”. The sound quality is decent. And, of course, I always bring it with me. So when the company has brought a great musician to the summer party, it’s just a matter of deciding which parts of the concert to enjoy fully and which parts to “store” on my N82 (which could save all of it on its 8 gigabyte memory card, if I wanted it to).

Looking back at all the moments I’ve captured with my N82 over the last year, there is no way I’m getting a new phone with at least as good video capabilities.

Here’s one example: Molde on New Year’s day

Nokia N82 spontaneously reboots when I receive a SMS message

June 11, 2008

I haven’t had the time to do any proper research on this, but my Google searches haven’t turned up anything sensible, so I’m creating a blog post where I’ll put any info I come across – and hopefully other people’s Google queries will wind up here.

This is what happens: I receive an SMS, and the phone does a soft reboot, returning me to the standby screen after about half a minute. I can then read the SMS. I am a bit unsure, but I believe the “SMS received” icon is shown the second before the device reboots.

This has been happening about 1-2 times per day on average, or for about every 3-5 SMSes I receive, over the last couple of weeks. As far as I can see, it doesn’t seem to be related to other apps I am running, which is mostly Opera Mini 4.1 and the Gmail Java app. It is a possibility that it is related to the latest firmware – I upgraded about a month ago – but it is strange that this should start happening after a couple of weeks of use and not right away.

Hopefully it is not a hardware issue – if it continues and I cannot find a solution, I’ll try to re-install the latest firmware.

Anyone else out there having this problem?

Uodate 09/08/08: I still have this problem, and it doesn’t seem related to the phone’s power consumption or heat. The only thing the crashes have in common is that they all occur during bursts of network traffic – after a phone call, when I send a SMS or receive one, when I download mail (that has triggered a crash just once). Weird. Hopefully a firmware upgrade will fix this, but I haven’t had time to try yet.

Pairing the Apple Wireless Aluminium Keyboard with the Nokia N82

January 20, 2008

I had some problems hooking the Apple Wireless Keyboard up with my N82 and thought I’d share the experience.
The procedure should be very simple, and goes as follows:

Get the Nokia wireless keyboard support software. You want the 3.1 version, even though the N82 isn’t listed as supported by the software. Install this software on the phone (I assume you know how that part works – the easiest is to go to the site above over wifi and download the app straight to your phone, or download to your computer and transfer the install file to the N82 via bluetooth.)

Start the software. It is not located in the “Programs” folder – it is in what I believe is called “Connections” or something similar (I have Norwegian titles on my phone). That’s the same folder you have bluetooth settings in, among other stuff.

Activate the keyboard by pressing the on button. It should start looking for a bluetooth client to pair with – the status light should flash regularly. This is where I had a problem – every time I switched on the keyboard, it automatically resumed the connection with my Mac Mini, which it was paired with. To avoid this, I switched off bluetooth on the Mac (you could probably also just unpair it). The keyboard cannot pair with several units simulateneously (which is unfortunate – I would like to pair it with the mini, the N82 and the PS3…).

To be absolutely certain the keyboard was “rebooted” I also briefly removed the batteries – this shouldn’t be necessary at all, but who knows.

When switching on the keyboard again, the light blinked regularly and the keyboard showed up when I searched for it in the wireless keyboard app. After following the onscreen instructions with regards to setting a password, I can now consider my N82 a personal computer. Rejoice!

You might be interested in knowing that the left command key (apple key) maps to the left soft key, and the right command key maps to the right soft key. The central navigation button on the N82 (the “OK” key I guess?) is mapped to Enter – or sometimes shift+Enter. You can get to the menu with alt+tab. I haven’t figured out how to “escape” (red button on the N82) yet.

SanDisk 8gb microSDHC card works great with Nokia N82

January 11, 2008

I had some difficulty finding confirmation online that the N82 would work with a 8gb microSDHC card, so here are my results: It works! The phone recognizes the card as having the right amount of memory, and in use it is fine so far (I’ve used about 2 gigs of the space).

The exact model number of the card I’m using is SDSDQR-8192-E12M.

Also, there is a tiny microSDHC card reader for USB ports included – really, really practical, considering the slow transfer speeds of the N82 on USB.

Reducing your data traffic costs on the iPhone – Google Mobilizer

November 4, 2007

I have a few friends who are using unlocked iPhones. Since they have “normal” (read: expensive) data rates on their mobile subscriptions, using the iPhone to surf online over EDGE/GPRS can be quite expensive.

As they didn’t know about this little trick to reducing your data transfer costs, I thought I should mention it here.

Google Mobilizer works by taking a web address as an input and converting it to a “mobile friendly” format. Basically, this means that it strips the page of formatting and reduces the size of images (and trashes the layout in the process). In other words, it works a bit like Opera Mini – only way less elegant (particularly compared to the beta of Opera Mini 4).

Give it a go: Google Mobilizer. I would suggest entering your favourite websites via Mobilizer and then bookmarking them for easy, mobilized access. Switch off images for extra savings and quicker pageloads – useful considering the slowness of EDGE.

If you have a handset that allows you to install Java apps, you should definitely try Opera Mini! The best thing to come out of Norway since, eh, the cheese slicer. Or something like that. (I’m hoping for a iPhone version of Opera Mini soon.)

Problems calling O2 subscribers when roaming into Great Britain / England?

October 31, 2007

Posting this just in case someone out there has a similar issue.

I went to London last weekend, and was surprised when I wasn’t able to make calls to my friend, who is a subscriber on the O2 network. I am a subscriber at Netcom, a Norwegian operator. When entering the UK, my phone (a Nokia 6300) automatically roamed onto Vodafone, then Orange and T-Mobile.

Eventually, I figured out that I couldn’t make calls to my O2 friend when I was on the T-Mobile network (the voice message I got was something like “the number you have dialled is not a valid number”). To fix this, I manually told my phone to use the Vodafone network, which is the operator I believe Netcom has a roaming agreement with (though I am not sure).

Sending SMS messages worked no matter which network my phone automatically latched on to, but I think it is pretty strange that I should be able to automatically join a network that doesn’t permit me to make calls to all UK numbers. If you have this experience, make sure to try switching manually to different cell networks.

Two mobile applications no W800i should be without

January 1, 2007

Over the past year, I’ve been a very active user of my W800i mobile phone. I find that it is one of the best consumer electronics devices I’ve ever owned. It is a very good music player, overall good phone, and great camera (for a phone) – all in one compact 2×5.5×10 cm / 99 grams package. (More on that in my 6 months on review of W800i.)

IMG_0188

The size of this phone and all the features it offers means that I can do stuff I simply couldn’t before. A few of my favourite examples include:

– Lighting up the dark path in the woods or finding the right cable connections at the rear of my receiver using the camera light

– Listen to music while walking without being concerned about missing calls or texts (the phone automatically pauses the music for me when something happens)

– Do document scans anywhere – need a copy of that A4 sheet? Just photograph it!

Mobile phones today are really small computers – increasingly similar to the general purpose computers most of us use daily. My two favourite applications are brilliant examples of this trend.
(more…)

The shortest path from you to your friends… on your cell phone, too: Microsoft using social networks to capture the mobile platform

May 8, 2006

I’m not usually in the business of making grand predictions, and I’m not about to make one now. However, something interesting just happened.

1) A younger sibling of one of my friends stated “Win a phone at hello.no!” in her comment field in MSN Messenger. I think she’s 15.

2) The main advert at hello.no shows a Qtek 8300 smartphone – with the MSN logo on the display.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well. Back in the good old days, when I was less than 20 years old and we still used ICQ and IRC (a lot more than we do now), I vividly remember seeing a commercial at the cinema. It was quite brief, and stated: “MSN Messenger. The shortest path from you to your friends!” (loosly translated from Norwegian; “MSN Messenger – den korteste veien mellom deg og vennene dine!”).

We all know what happened. You won’t find many people below the age of 20 who aren’t using Microsoft’s MSN Messenger for instant messaging today.

The Qtek phone above is debuting at a quite attractive price point – 299 NOK (~ 45$), with a total cost including the subscription of about 440$. The fact that it can run MSN Messenger means that a lot of teens will want one. And, obviously, the fact that it runs MSN Messenger means that the operating system on the phone is Windows Mobile.

From now on, young people who like to stay in touch with their friends and send lots of SMSes have a new option – a phone which lets them save money on SMSes while having access to a lot of cool MSN features, like smileys and presence information.

If given the choice between a phone able to run Messenger and one that can’t, most teens will have no problem choosing. This will be a big problem for Nokia, Sony Ericsson and other vendors peddling phones with non-Windows OSes. In the long term, it could give Microsoft a decisive advantage on the cell phone platform – similar to the situation we now have in the desktop market.

The fact that services like instant messaging are now moving from the desktop to the mobile market gives MS a opportunity to turn their monopoly in one market into a monopoly in another. There’s no point in an instant messaging service on your phone if you can’t synchronize it with the one you’re using at your computer, and so a phone with Windows Mobile will be the only realistic option for someone who wants IM on their phone. It’s quite ridiculous. If I was Symbian / Nokia / Sony Ericsson, I would:

  • Fund the development of good MSN Messenger client alternatives for my phone operating system of choice
  • Push the telecoms authorities to recognize the MSN Messenger as a service so important that Microsoft cannot be permitted to own the protocol – it must be made public. This makes it a lot easier to create a competetive MSN network client.

This would remove most of Microsoft’s unfair advantage, I think. But I doubt it will happen soon enough to stop Microsoft from benefitting hugely from the monopoly in instant messaging that they enjoy (which they in turn achieved as a result of the monopoly on the desktop in general). However, it would at least mean that other vendors have a better chance at competing with Microsoft in the long term, both on the desktop and mobile platform.

PS: The situation in instant messaging is of course mirrored in other fields, like media players (Windows Media Player vs other players), web browsers (Internet Explorer vs others), office suites (MS Office vs OpenOffice) etcetera. But I’ll save the big picture for a later post.