Friday, November 24, 2006

Week roundup

Couple of interesting things this week. If you're into Flash Lite check out David's blog ( - he really is a flash-lite guru and is posting a web browsing test for the FlashLite plugin for the latest Nokia OSS mobile browser version (available on the N95) from his site. I happen to have flash 6 on my old web page and it works in the new OSS browser without too much stutter.

Flickr announced Mobile flickr .... point your mobile web browser to (better even than viewing the full-blown flickr website through a decent mobile web browser).

More tinkering with the N95, particularly using the camera... Nokia have speeded up the picture taking. When you press the camera button now - it does not take 2-3 seconds to take the picture (like the N73), the picture is taken within a second - much better. Also to start the camera app - you open the shutter. The ergonomics are nice, there is a definate click which snaps the shutter open so you know it's ready...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nokia N95

Playing around with a proto N95 today. When you're not browsing via W-Lan, on HSDPA networks its pretty damn quick. I like the new media menu a lot and as a nod to S/E, they've added an option of animating menu items and changing display properties(grid/list/horseshoe/carousel)... there seems to be a lot of personalisation options in this phone and you can see which menu items have recently been accessed... not sure which ones will make it into the production models.

Two of the most immediate things noticeable are it's lightness (it does not weigh much at all) and the big 2.6" screen display. I've not tried the camera yet, but I'm told the image processing software has improved (for better artifact reduction)...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Story / Vignette #1

Last week I went along to the Symbian Talking Heads event on the South Bank, London and very interesting it was too. However rather than write up my thoughts on it ... I thought I'd write a short story on how I used my current phone in travelling to and from the event as well as how I was using it at the event itself. Whenever leaving for anywhere the usual applies :

Money. Keys. Phone.(although increasingly I'm finding I don't actually need the keys if I know someone will be in when I get back) and because I was on business, my Blackberry too.

So first off I leave home glancing at the idle screen of my phone to see the Symbian event listed as a calendar entry. Plenty of time. Fire up the mobile music player and plug in the proprietary headphones (for the love of Pete go with standard 3.5mm jacks Nokia!) and listen to a playlist of songs I created and put onto a 1GB memory card whilst in front of my PC.

Get to the station and train pulls in... it's the Guildford to Waterloo 14:48. Finding train times on a mobile is too difficult and slow, despite the multiple websites and wapsites out there that offer this information - even bookmarking the right page in my mobile browser still takes too long to get the actual information by firing up the mobile browser (maybe not with HSDPA), typing in the info, waiting for page reload etc... (I'm very impatient when it comes to mobile data)....I just need the times and destinations from my local station - now.

South West trains produce some mini-train tables (available at the station) and previously I'd picked one up and taken a photo of it with my cameraphone (one for train times into waterloo and one for train times out of waterloo). I keep these images on my phone, and they were also loaded with one click from the phone into my flickr pro account as backup using Shozu. You might ask why not just keep the train timetable in your wallet ? I could, but it's just one more bit of paper I don't need to carry round.

The zooming function in the Image Gallery viewer when looking at a photo of this timetable is perfectly adequate to be able to read the small timetable print.

Train arrives on time (nice for SW trains) and I jump on to settle down for the 50 minute journey into Waterloo. Did a spot of reading of the FT Business section on Telcos (lots of changes this week) before returning back to my phone.

This time I do fire up the Nokia Oss browser set to go straight to my bookmarks rather than open the default homepage. I keep the Bloglines bookmark at the top. I go straight into it (screenshot on left). 3g coverage in Surrey , at least where I am is pretty good so the site is brought up quickly. I'm already logged in, (using the preferences of remember username and password) so I go straight to my feeds and start reading. I do this so regularly now when I have a couple of spare minutes, it all happens (as long as there is coverage) within 15-20 seconds. I notice the FT RSS and The Register RSS have refreshed and are reflecting their views on the same Teclo stories I'd just been reading in the FT.

Decided to send a text to a work colleague on a project I'm working on to call me later, rather than email from the blackberry (easy as it is)... resume back to Bloglines. I'm viewing the web version of bloglines (not the mobile version) and it all works fine through the oss browser.

Email guilt finally succumbs and I take a look on the blackberry. They've piled up again, most I can ignore or delete but a couple I need to action. The blackberry connect client that is available on some E-series Nokia devices for Push email is great, but I'm not quite ready to move over completely and have personal and corporate mail all in one device... I like using my phone for personal email and the Blackberry for work...this may change with the next round of devices, as I've started synching my work calendar into my phone as I tend to keep both personal and work related items in my work calendar.

A dreary, rainy Surbiton, Wimbledon and Clapham go by and the train journey is very dull. In this time I'm answering work emails on the blackberry and dipping into personal emails on the phone via GMail java client or MyYahoo client to pick up these respective mails. I like the Gmail one particularly. I have also set up Yahoo as an Inbox in the Nokia Messaging client as an alternative way of accessing the mails. Yahoo seriously need to beef up the spam protection, is it just me or do you find at least 40 spam emails per day ? it's highly annoying sorting out the spam from legitimate emails..

All of this heavy data transfer is flat-rate on my tariff so i don't need to worry about any pricing issues or bill shock...

I get to Waterloo and take a taxi to the Southbank as it's raining and arrive at the Symbian event. My phone is on standby and I switch it to silent mode using the on/off key quickly to toggle the profile (learnt the hardway - as I have set my ringtone to a particular personal favoutie mp3). After the introductions, the speakers start and I take a few notes, a few camera photos (uploaded in one click) and at the end of the event decide to use the voice recorder to hear David Wood sum up. A bit of networking with some of the mobile industry personalities afterwards and then off home.

On the train home I read a couple of the BBC news headlines in my favourite mobile magazine reader, send off 1 or two texts that I had neglected to reply to earlier in the day (asynchronous communication has its advantages) and download a podcast comedy clip form the S60 podcasting application, ready to be listened to later. I sit down amongst the last of the commuters and read the evening paper for the remainder of the journey to look at some good old fashioned content.

Arriving back at my home station, where I now live at night is very dark with no street lighting, after a couple of stumbles I remembered i had an application that keeps the backlight on- 'S60spoton' so used it effectively as a torch to see the very dark path ahead for the 10 minute walk home. I'm doing all this with one hand / one thumb as I'm walking along...The screen on the N73 is big enough to act as quite a good torch although obviously it sucks up the battery quickly. Finally reached home and plugged in for recharge before heading off to bed satisfied that my phone had done a good day's work.

I could have done all of the above with various other gadgets (sometimes a lot better) and I'm not advocating convergence here. My point is that my phone has definately become more than a voice only device with my social network on it (address book).

I now have other options that did not exist before, and this is the important bit, ** should ** I want to use them (with a little bit of prior set up and configuration). Sometimes I do want to use these features/ phone services and other times I don't but it's great having the choice.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Some random user tips for Nokia phone users

Holding down the Green "Call" button key brings up the call log on s60 devices. It's a quick way of making a call to someone who recently called you if you don't have them set up as a quick dial number.

Holding down the # key on some s60 devices will bring up the profiles list and toggle between silent and your preset profile eg. General (useful for meetings).
An alternative is to hold down the power button and the profiles list pops up (not as quick as the # key method).

When writing a text message repeatedly pressing down the "1" key will cycle through the other characters list that is brought up by the "*" key. THis is a quick way of typing things like dots, cmmas etc rather than having to hit the * key all the time and then select the character you want.