Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Starting to figure out what 3 means in 3g

Well its over '3' weeks since I have had my '3'G phone. At the time the phone company graciously visited our work to go through functionality of the phone. I had a few questions and neither of the two 'experts' were able to answer any. Since it was a Friday they said they would have answers first thing on Monday. Haven't heard from them since! Unfortunately '3' of my questions were quite important to me. I can't access the Internet (other than their network which is all about user pays downloads) and I can't do any email - one of the major requirements I would guess if you are selling into the corporate sector. I am hoping that at least '3' of my questions will be answered and that it will only take about '3' weeks to do so. Also, I am hoping that the video calling capability can work more than '3' km from the CBD!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

LG or not 3G - That is the Question

This post covers my first impressions of the new mobile phone that I have. Being in a very poor reception area (but only about 18km from a capital city), we have been forced to use the CDMA network if making a call from home was considered something you'd like to do. Having been stuck on the CDMA network, the choice of phones and therefore functionality has been somewhat limited so I have looked with envy at all the new mobiles for some time. However, work has changed over to the 3G network and I have been issued with an LG 8360. My initial impressions were that this is great but having lived with it for a few days, have eased off considerably and I am pretty sure I will be keeping my old mobile as well as the new one.
I guess pretty much the first thing you do when you get a 3G phone is use some of that functionality so straight away I made my first video call. It was to someone in a marginal reception area I guess so the quality was not too good. It didn't take long to tire of that novelty so off I went to explore the sounds in this fairly new model. This is where things started to get disappointing - where are all the ringtones? Now my old CDMA phone may lack a bit (lot) of functionality but it is stacked with ringtones out of the box. I am not sure whether LG only release the phone with a few pathetic sounds or the provider clears them but the only way you can get a half decent sound is by accessing the providers site and downloading (paying for them). What a rip-off - or a great business model - whichever way you look at it, but I hate being forced into paying for something that should really be covered in the price of the phone.
OK, having found that out I went to get out onto the Internet using the phone to get some sounds from somewhere else. If I am going to be forced into getting a ringtone I at least want some choice about where I can get it from. No luck, the only network the phone has access to is the providers and it can't access the wider web. This is not a phone limitation one but one put on by the provider.
Alright, so I will have to connect it to my pc and download some sounds. This turned out to be pretty tricky. It was easy enough to access my contacts, calendar etc and synchronise it with Outlook but I just couldn't find a way to move files to the phone (and this is an mp3 player, photo viewer etc). There are no instructions on how to do this in the manual either.
Luckily, I eventually found some software that performs this but it would have been nice for it to have been mentioned somewhere - I guess the providers don't want you to access any content except the stuff you have to pay for through their network.
So after creating some mp3 files, manipulating them with Audacity (what a great application), I had a couple of customised ringtones on the phone so it was time to use it.
The synchronisation tool (calendar etc) is easy enough to use and worked first time! However, you have to select each appointment you want to download and it doesn't seem to handle recurring appointments.
The phone itself seems to be lacking a bit in quality. When you flip it open, the screen is a bit loose and flaps around a bit - it would be nice if it just clicked into place. The camera lens is the same - it is just sloppy and loose.
After using the camera features I don't think the camera manufacturers have much to worry about for a while - these are really a compromise.
Finding the backspace key while entering text was also a major challenge for me - there are some things that just aren't intuitive with this phone.
I guess a lot has to be sacrificed when including 3G functionality but there are features such as voice dialling and hands-free operation that were just great in my old phone that are not there.
Hopefully I am just in the 'trough of disillusionment' at the moment and I will come to like this phone as it is going to be with me for sometime.

Cheers.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sony Skype phone is almost the goods

On a recent trip to Tokyo I had the opportunity to spend a day shopping through the electronics shops and had the chance to visit the Apple store and Sony store. Perhaps the one thing that most caught my attention was the new Skype phone Sony is releasing there at the end of the month. The most striking thing about this combination mouse/Skype phone was the look of it. It looked really cool compared to other Skype phones that I have seen. On form alone I would have really liked to buy one if it was available.
Fortunately, it was not available. Having had a bit of time to think about it I am glad I wasn't able to get one. As a colleague pointed out, when you are on Skype you are often interacting in other ways with your computer. On a desktop, you have probably lost the ability to use your mouse if you are holding it up to your face and using it as a phone (of course you could always move the mouse bit over your face!). Most laptops probably have an alternative pointer device.
Anyway, this was not really the major flaw. It's connected to the computer via USB. My big question is why they couldn't have dumped the wires and used Bluetooth. I would have thought Bluetooth has the capacity to carry a voice conversation. If there was a Bluetooth version I would have been ordering one on the spot. I look forward to seeing what other companies come up with in this area.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A New Name

Well.. after thinking about this for a while (and in the consequence losing the name that I was thinking about moving to), I have renamed the blog to something that is hopefully more representational of the content that is within it. So the old jerrysjabber has gone - its still there actually and I might start publishing some more personal observations in that blog that aren't related to technology. In the meantime, you can look forward to(?) more tech related rants here.

Cheers,
Jerry.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sony BMG gets on the AppleCart

This is more of a commentary than a review of technology and is getting way from what this blog is about a bit however.... Sony BMG finally pulls its head out of the sand and joins iTunes in Australia. Hmmmm, I wonder why? No doubt it is a fantastic revenue stream for them and some of their artists are probably happy about it. But, could it have anything to do with damage control from the Rootkit fiasco?
When I first read about it, my immediate (probably paranoid) thought was something like -'oh great, now am I going to get my pc infected with malicious technologies if I buy a song from their label through iTunes'. It kind of put an unsavoury edge to my view of iTunes. As I have stated before, Sony BMG is not a company that ranks very highly at all with me given all the publicity about their rootkits and management's attitudes towards the trusting customers that do buy their CDs (I still do care very much about rootkits).
Anyway, the next thing that I did was look at some of the artists that are now available and to my surprise, staring me in the face was a CD that I had purchased a little while ago and that I have played on my PC - does this mean that it has been infected with malicious code and the PC is now exposed to all sorts of potential damage? I don't know! I don't think the CD contained the infamous rootkit but I have read somewhere that Sony BMG utilises other technologies as well as rootkits and I am not happy with the thought that there is other unwanted, malignant code on my PC. Unfortunately, and here is another lesson for me, I have lost the link to the article where I read about their other efforts.
So another question for me is when I purchase music through iTunes, I know I inherit some sort of DRM technology from iTunes but am I also getting additional 'little gems' from the music labels as well?
I also have to say that I am not really happy with the news that the new version of iTunes is also collecting far more information than I consider to be necessary when I purchase music (does it do this at other times as well?). I do not consider grabbing my playlist to be an essential part of the transaction at all.
Where is it all going to stop?



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Friday, December 23, 2005

Posting from Firefox directly.

So, right after posting my update on my decreased usage of Flock, I found this article on Flock bashing when I went to Technorati to ping my blog. I probably should have read this first. Anyway, I did get a pointer to Performancing, a Firefox plugin that enables me to blog directly from Firefox which supposedly offers similar functionality to Flock's blogging tool. Well, a few minutes later here I am posting with Performancing in Firefox. While its great to be able to do this, the tool doesn't offer the cut and past convenience of pasting other web content into my post (with all the appropriate links) that Flock does. 1 up to Flock I guess or maybe I should just poke around a bit more in Performancing to see if the functionality is actually there.
I still hold the view of my last post on Flock but hope I am not jumping on the Flock Bashing bandwagon - just offering my opinion on my experience so far. I would like to see the Flock blogging tool in Firefox though!

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Postscript: I just saw how bad this post rendered so have had to edit it in Blogger to fix the formatting problems from Performancing. Hopefully it looks better now. That was a very brief relationship with that plugin!

Update on my Flock usage

Usage is probably not the right term here. Flock isn't really working for me in the way that I most commonly interact with the browser. I am continually coming back to Firefox. Ok so the publishing a blog post is nice and convenient but guess what, I am doing this post the old way in my Firefox browser. I guess I am just a lazy web user and flock is just too far away from my usual habitat (Firefox). Also, there is just too much interesting stuff happening around the Firefox community and I guess people are drawn to activity.

Happy surfing.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I i-bot



Over the last three weeks I have been dilligently collecting tokens from our local newspaper that were used to purchase parts of this little robot. It is the latest inducement from the paper to buy copies of the paper. The robot (i-bot) from what I understand is an initiative between Microbric and one of the local TAFE colleges. I don't normally (haven't ever) gone in for any of these newspaper promotions but this one was different. My 10 year old son and I have been collecting these parts each day and last night finally built the little i-bot. We missed the very first article which was an activity mat which also had instructions on how to build the thing so we had to wait until I could go and collect an activity mat from the paper's offices.
As we added components to the i-bot we were able to test some of its functions such as the ability to follow a black line, flash LEDs, reverse away when it bumped into something and respond to a TV remote controller. Had we known this, we probably would have been building it each day as we collected the parts however doing it all at once kept us occupied for a considerable part of the evening and was very enjoyable.
The website (www.i-bot.com.au) contains instructions on how to program the i-bot (it reads instructions via barcodes and we are looking forward to seeing what else we can do with the little bot. There is also a good forum on the site which appears to be quite active and informative. This is a great example of online communities forming around an area of interest at a point in time and will probably have a finite life as the activity peaks and then wanes but will have served its purpose admirably and will continue to have some archival interest.
My only comments on the i-bot itself are that the tyres on the wheels are a very cheap option and don't do the job very well - they are just rubber strips which are stretched over the wheels but aren't evenly cut so rub against the main body causing the i-bot to turn in a broad circle when it is trying to go in a straight line. Also, it is unfortunate that the bumper bar and the 'eyes' cannot be installed on the i-bot at the same time. I guess both of these issues are all about keeping the costs down to a minimum. Overall, though, it is a great little promotion that hopefully does encourage students etc to take an interest in electronics/robotics.