Categories
Gadgets

What is Nokia Thinking?!

Really, i thought it was just me on my high horse but reading through Gizmodo, i realized it wasn’t just me! What exactly is Nokia thinking?!

The past few days has witnessed a lot of news on the internet about Nokia taking the wraps off its “new” LEGACY operating system, the “Belle” iteration of symbian phones, into the market. The newly introduced phones are the Nokia 700, 701 and 600. Expectedly, it is still the same solid Nokia quality phones, with the joker being the Near-Field communication (NFC) support incorporated into these devices. With the impending demise of the symbian platform, many are wondering why exactly Nokia is still churning out these phones, and worst still, they are far from being cheap! These factors make one wonder how well these phones would sell as the primary market of Nokia, Middle East and Africa, many do not have the purchasing power to buy these phones costing as much as $420! And with the Windows Phone 7 powered Nokia phones just around the corner, i seriously wonder why i would buy any of the “Belle” phones. Ummmh, it just might be that Nokia is trying to leverage on its recent increased popularity to make a last ditch effort to sell the symbian platform to the North American market. Well, only time can tell how successful they would be.

Categories
Gadgets

Nokia and Microsoft form partnership

Stephen Elop - Nokia CEO and Steve Balmer - Microsoft CEO

Nokia has announced plans to form a “broad strategic partnership” with Microsoft.

The deal would see Nokia use the Windows phone operating system for its smartphones, the company said.

Microsoft’s Bing will power Nokia’s search services, while Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services.

Earlier this week Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop sent a memo to staff warning that the company was in crisis.

The new strategy means Nokia’s existing smartphone operating systems will be gradually sidelined.

Symbian, which runs on most of the company’s current devices will become a “franchise platform”, although the company expects to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in future.

The announcement is widely seen as a response to the growing pressure from other smartphone platforms, including Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.

“This is a clear admission that Nokia’s own-platform strategy has faltered,” said Ben Wood, an analyst with research firm CCS: Insight.

“Microsoft is the big winner in this deal, but there are no silver bullets for either company given the strength of iPhone and Android,” he added.

Nokia’s share of the smartphone market fell from 38% to 28% in 2010, according to research firm IDC.

Source : BBC

Categories
Gadgets

Reduce Your Internet Cost

Let me give a warning up-front. If, like nature, you love to  waste, this article is NOT for you. Nature abhors Vacuum, i detest waste!

This is a follow-up to my article of October 26, 2010 titled “Save some money browsing on PC”.

The primary thrust of that article was to point out the possibility of running Opera Mini on a full-blown PC. You can, of course, also run any other Java MIDP application. There are articles all over the internet documenting how to do this. It would appear that the implication of this possibility was lost on many people.

To re-emphasize, there are two benefits of being able to run an Opera Mini (or Uc Web or any other Java-based browser) on your PC :

1.  SPEED – Running any server-assisted phone browser gives you the same snappy page loads that you are used to on your portable device

2. SAVES BANDWIDTH – The same data-size reduction of up to 85%, happens here.

Point number 2 is the reason for this sequel.

The important implication is this, you can use a 100MB or 150MB data bundle from any of the GSM companies for far longer than you ordinarily would. Ordinarily, you would not dare tether a phone with a measly 100Mb  /  150Mb data allocation for 30 days. It would get exhausted in a jiffy. The catch, however, is that with this method, you may not be able to get certain things done, like downloading. You will also be unable to load “dynamic pages”. The other limitations are minor.

For other forms of browsing, running your Opera Mini on the desktop is not just fast, but saves LOADS of Naira!.

If you are on LIMITED data plan or you have to watch your data consumption carefully, you can use this method whenever it is feasible. You may also combine it with using your normal desktop browsing with a full-fledge desktop browser.

It makes cents!

Categories
Articles

Increase Your Typing Speed

I recently came across a utility called “Turbo Type”. The version I am using on my Windows NetBook is 1.39.002. Of course, as you can guess, I am using the free version. This serves my needs just well.  What this software does is to monitor your typing. Before you finish typing a word, it would have suggested a list of words for you. You can then simply pick the one you want.  Yes, a wordprocessor like Microsoft Word has an inbuilt facility that allows you define shortcuts which are then expanded to what you define. For example, you can specify that, when you type the sequence ‘bc’, Ms Word should expand that to ‘because’. Or that it should take the sequence of letters ‘b4’ to mean ‘before’. But, additionally using a utility like “Turbo Type” is the icing on the cake of automated typing.

“Turbo Type” has its dictionary. It is not as comprehensive as it could be. But, as you may have guessed, it allows you to add your own words, to your heart’s desire. The utility comes in most useful when you have to type long words. Type  the sequence a-u-t-o, and voila a population appears listing ‘autonomy’, ‘automatically’, ‘automatic.  Just pick. It would potentially save you numerous keystrokes. You can configure this nifty utility to pop up its suggestions after the number of keystrokes you define. As an example, I have configured mine to popup suggestions after four (4) keystrokes.

What I have noticed with this utility is that if you are a really speedy and accurate typist, you may find that this software will not be of much benefit. This is because there is some time loss in picking from the list of suggestions that an accurate professional typist  may not appreciate.

All-in-all, for the regular keyboard user, this software radically reduces the number of keystrokes necessary while typing on your keyboard.  For people who need to type a lot of text (bloggers, journalists, novelists) , this virtually reduces (or eliminates!) their likelihood of suffering from Repititive Motion Syndrome or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome . This utility reminds me of an application  I used to have on my Nokia 3250 smartphone some years back. It was called QuickWrite 2.2 (available for Symbian 60 3rd Edition) . The two applications are virtually identical in operation.

You can configure the software to auto-start when you start up your system.  The free version (which I am using) needs to be restarted every two hours. A minor inconvenience as I do not type non-stop for that long. The paid version has no such limitation.

Its dictionary supports English, Romanian and French. And, if you are multilingual, you can choose your language on the fly. The Graphical User InterFace (GUI)  supports Romanian, English, Italian, Deutsch and French. It is really really customizable and flexible Give this software a spin, and see if you will not just loooove it!  It supports Windows Xp, Vista and Windows 7 and works with any application that supports text input.  Visit www.easytousetools.com/turbo_type and grab yourself a copy.

A possible alternative to ‘Turbo Type is at Pen Friend

Categories
Gadgets

The Best Things In Life Are Free

I was in a friend’s office some time ago. In his secondary school days, this friend  was  like me –  addicted to novels. The ornithological specimen of identical plummage invariably consummate together with greatest proximity. Meaning? Birds of the same feathers…

Reading  James Hadley Chase, Frederick Forsythe and  Robert Ludlum was of higher priority that perusing Modern Biology. There are addictions that can kill, this one sure killed my time in those days!


While more pressing responsibilities and the rigours of adulthood no longer permit verbose novel reading, the internet is still there – though dormant! This addict friend mentioned that there is a new thriller Author, in the mould of Sidney Sheldon. Alas, I could not remember the name he mentioned! Predictably, I fired up my laptop and googled “best thriller novelist”. Woa! I have a list of really thrilling novels to download.

It suddenly occured to me that majority of people would likely head over to a Glendora BookShop in search of novels or books of interest. A miser and geek like me would , of course, check if I could not get things free from the internet FIRST. Sure enough, there are enough thrilling (and boring!) novels, professional books, videos, audios and the likes to download free  from the web. if you will just google, bing, or devilfind !

My favorite site for downloads is 4shared. There are of course numerous other sites where materials can be grabbed – gratis – from the internet. Another addiction I need a shrink for is mobile applications. I can spend a whole day analyzing (mobile) applications. Predictably, I use an app for grabbing stuff sharp-sharp from the net. This application  is  ‘4shared’. It is a faster alternative to grabbing stuff from www.4shared.com. If you own a Symbian phone, visit www.4shared.com and download this app. You will then be able to search, upload or download content-on-the-go, right from your mobile phone. Straight to the buuls-eye, no dithering!

Most of the materials from these free download sites are either in zipped, rar’ed or pdf format. So if you love to read content from your mobile, it would be wise to have a capable pdf application and an extractor program. I use Xplorer for Symbian and Pdf

And as to those novels, some of the ones I have downloaded (and have not had time to read) are titles from John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum. And in the ‘serious’ category, i have lots of Robert Kiyosaki titles.

I pray I have time to read most of these things!

So, before you shell out your money for ANY BOOK, video, WHATEVER, check out if you cannot get it for free (electronically) from the world wide web.

The free electronic format has the advantages of being FREE (surprise!), lasts forever (it IS in electronic formation – on your flash drive), can be easily duplicated (try that with ‘Winning” by Jach Welch), easily transmitted to friends and foes – , and so on, and so on. You get the point! So, which would you rather than have, a library in the palms of your hand, or an old-school-type library of books that a lorry will labour to transport? Now, that Obasanjo library – who needs that, huh? I got my library with me all the thyme!

Categories
Gadgets

Push Email – Revisited

Love it or hate it, the Blackberry has indeed become the device of choice for a lot of mobile enthusiasts, especially those who want to conduct business on the move.  Another category of users are those, who more out of peer pressure than anything else, find themselves clutching one, not considering the fact that they can barely afford it and greatly ignorant to the advantages the device confers. These are the set of people that would rather offer their BB pins than their mobile numbers, no “credit” for phone calls.

And for those of us who are torn between loving and hating this range of devices,  we would quickly list the following as some of the reasons why we have not caught the Blackberry bug;

– You can not use BlackBerry effectively unless you have a BlackBerry Internet plan. You are effectively tied to the apron strings of your network provider because without it, there is no blackberry messenger or email support.
– Theoretical “unlimited” data usage limited by the less than 3MB download limit using the in-built BlackBerry Browser and email client, a restriction placed by Blackberry.
– Less features compared to phones of similar or even lesser pricing
– Constant access to work.Your boss and co-workers will expect constant communication,  ignoring company emails can have negative effects. This is especially true if your BlackBerry is provided by an employer with demanding deadlines.
– Blackberry devices and Internet Plan are rather expensive and unaffordable to many.

smartphone push email

Grudgingly, we have also identified the following as the advantages or the edge blackberry devices have over other smartphones;
– They use up much less wireless network capacity to complete the same tasks, but some attribute this to the crappy, outmoded Web browser that doesn’t deliver comparable modern Web experience.
– Longer battery life
– Most Blackberries have usable QWERTY keyboards, so you can actually type fast and with no errors

But one major feature that is really the envy  of most is the Email Superiority. This was also our summation in a related post, in which we limited its efficiency only to the quality of internet services being offered by the mobile networks.

So what exactly are the features of Blackberry email messaging that separates it from the rest?
Email was the original purpose of BlackBerry devices and even after numerous operating system changes and upgrades, the email program still works much like it always did. BlackBerry is a Pioneer of Push Email. Wikipaedia describes PUSH EMAIL as e-mail systems that provide an always-on capability, in which new e-mail is actively transferred (pushed) as it arrives by the mail delivery agent (MDA) (commonly called mail server) to the mail user agent (MUA), also called the e-mail client. E-mail clients include smartphones and, less strictly, IMAP personal computer mail applications.Your emails, Calender are synced all the time.

Some alternatives were analyzed, Seven and Emoze email clients were listed among the best. However, these email clients are limited by their functionality. They act mostly by polling emails from email servers on a scheduled basis and pulls any messages into unique folders in your device. This process, apart from the fact that you do not get your mails in real time, it also drains your battery heavily.

push email smartphones

I took it upon myself to find a more satisfying and equally efficient alternative to the Blackberry, an alternative where i am not required to use any particular device and to a large extent, play by my own rules and not that dictated by any network.

Microsoft Exchange Hosting does pretty much all what Blackberry does and will work across lots of devices. You can pick up any symbian device and either use the free Mail4Exchange or the more reliable RoadSync which is not free. You can also use activesync with your Mobile Outlook for Windows Mobile devices, your iPhone, Android, Palm or just about any device that supports Microsoft Exchange. In a full Exchange environment, not only is everything synced at the server with the mobile device, and depending on your subscription, you would also get a free copy of Outlook 2007 for your home computer as part of the deal and that would also be synced with the server.  So changes to your email, calendar, notes or contacts made on, say, your computer will update the server and the mobile. Everything is synced and pushed in real time.

The cheapest Microsoft Exchange hosting i have been able to research is from mail2web.com. It offers 3 mobile email services;

mail2web Basic
FREE
mail2web Mobile Email
($4.95 or N750/month)
mail2web Mobile EmailPro ($9.95 or N1500/month)
Outlook Web Access Yes Yes Yes
POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP NO Yes Yes
ActiveSync NO Yes Yes
BlackBerry Service Add-On NO Yes Yes
RoadSync Add-On NO Yes Yes
Outlook 2007/2010 (Windows) NO NO Yes
Entourage 2008 (Mac) NO NO Yes

To effectively get a blackberry-like service on your smartphone, all you need is the mobile Email Plan going for $4.95 per month (about 750 Nigerian Naira).

From the chart, BlackBerry Service Add-On simply means that if you have a Blackberry device, you can avoid subscribing to any mobile network. All you need do is pay a minimum of $4.95 for a mobile Email Plan, then an additional $9.95 for a Blackberry service add-on, making a total of $14.90 (about N2,250 per month).

You would still need to subscribe to one of the low cost monthly data plan from, well, the mobile networks. A 50MB plan is more than sufficient, but I doubt if there is any. Etisalat and Airtel (Zain) have a 100 MB data plan for N1,000 per month. But if you’ll rather use Microsoft Outlook, you do not need a mobile data plan for this.

So with just N1,750 per month (could be less), I can effectively rival blackberry services.

But why dabble in uncertainties? Thankfully, mail2web.com is offering a 60 day trial, so you have a long time to test their services before subscribing. However, you will need to leave your card details but you can cancel if you wish. Nigerian Cards Accepted.

You do not have to host your domains with mail2web.com or tamper with your Nameservers in anyway, like some providers may require you to, to subscribe to their services.

The only thing close to a snag that I have noticed is that you are required to create an email address in the form username@mail2web.com, this is the default address mails from all mailboxes would be sent from. You are also required to enable email forwarding from as many mailboxes as you want to this mail box. This is easily done in gmail and CPanel hosted emails. However, the process of changing the default address that mails would be sent from is not very straight forward.

Categories
Gadgets

Get A Firm Grip of Your Finances Using Your Phone

As a follow-up to the article “Are you making use of that Smartphone? “, this is a post on how to further save money by making better use of your smartphone.

We all know that feeling, you have just loaded “credit” on your phone, accessible and available for ‘burning’, inexorably leading you into temptation! Never mind what they say about the best way to avoid temptation is to fall into it, one really have to be prudent these days. Just like you are more likely to embark on an unnecessary journey when your car tank is fully filled-up  than when quarter-full, there is a higher likelihood that you will make more calls with your phone or be a little careless with internet usage when your phone is freshly and fully topped up.

I will attempt to list a few of the strategies that can be used to save some money using your smartphone.

GET A GRIP ON  YOUR AIRTIME USAGE

It is a no-brainer that the greatest money-leak on your phone would be related to airtime usage via calls, sms and internet connection. Making use of installed applications on your phone can go a long way in arousing your consciousness about this money leak. There are applications that terminates your outgoing calls once a conversation reaches a defined number of minutes. I use AutoHangUp on the Symbian platform to achieve this, This app can also terminate incoming calls. If you are a very busy person, (and even if you are not!), you waste an irreplaceable resource (TIME) chattering needlessly. And we know TIME equals MONEY. An app such as that would also be useful for checkmating people who like borrowing airtime, “Can I have a minute on your phone”? A minute can then be a minute, not five!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROVIDER OFFERS

Some service providers offer you free airtime when you load credit of up to a certain amount. Make use of your calculator and see if it is not better to get 10% extra for loading N500 – rather than your loading N200.

AVOID  UNNECESSARY DATA CONNECTION

This strategy has been over-discussed. There are numerous applications available to restrict and monitor data consumption on that phone of yours. You may also consider low-cost monthly data plans being offered by some of the networks if you are a heavy data user. N1000 could get you at least 100MB of data allocation which is more than sufficient for mobile internet usage in a month.

EMBRACE PROSTITUTION

Yes, you heard me right! Perpetually be on the  look-out  for the network offering the best deals. Be it voice calls or internet service. I recommend you have all the Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards of all the networks to be able to take advantage of promos – as they happen. There is cut-throat competition among the networks currently. You save yourself a bundle by keeping your ears firmly glued to the ground, and switching from one network to the other to take advantage of better deals as they happen. Do not be faithful. It does not pay!

MAKE USE OF AN APPLICATION  TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING

Your phone is perpetually with you. It such a faithful companion that your wife or husband is probably jealous of that relationship. You can  keep track of your expenditure-on-the-go, easily. Keeping track is a sure way of knowing how fast you are digging your financial grave!. I currently make use of Handy Expense – again on the Symbian platform to know how near or far I am to financial oblivion.

USE THAT PHONE  – MORE, BUT EFFICIENTLY

A lot of journeys can be avoided by making use of a simple call. A lot of calls can be sidelined, making use of a simple sms or email. Many banking transactions can be concluded entirely using your smartphone. Take advantage.

MAKE USE OF ON-THE-WEB SMS SERVICE

If you make use of a lot of sms like I do, it is better you subscribe to any of the numerous services offering dirt-cheap rates for bulk sms. Some of them offer rates as low as under 2 Naira. A lot of them offer a limited number of free sms daily (e.g www.get2sms.com). I use smslive247.com – without any complaints. Do you really need to print that wedding invitation? Can bulk sms achieve the same purpose? How about seasonal greetings?

Those are some of the strategies that can be employed to save yourself some money. You spent good money to procure your smartphone. Get your money’s worth by being more creative, you can easily and progressively save yourself a ton of money, Embrace technology, and use it to get a firm grip on your financial life !

Categories
Gadgets

Are you making use of that Smartphone?

Many people these days crave the newest, shinniest and sleekiest model of just about ANYTHING. I call it TECHOMANIA. I doubt if it is cure-able!

There is a marketing line from a company that says “you can separate the MEN from the BOYS from the prices of their toys”. Bang & Olufsen, I think. Show me your TOY and I will tell you who you are!

We want the latest model of that curvaceous Toyota Camry, that captivating iPhone and that iridescent Samsung Galaxy S.  It is an irony of life that those who are comfortably able to afford the top-of-range toys are the ones who hardly have the time to explore it and make proper use of their intrinsic capabilities.

Even those that are have the time often lack the technical know-how, or knowledge to make use of their TOYS to the best of the toys’ awesome capabilities.

Which brings me to the question, “are you really making use of your smartphone”?  The modern-day smartphone is actually MORE of other things- than a phone. I submit that a smartphone is a computer that has the capability to also offer telephony service. It is multi-talented. I use my smartphone for more of those OTHER THINGS than actual telephony itself.
smartphones
Many of the utilitarian values derivable from your smartphone are dependent on the array of software available for that gadget. What is the essence of that late-model Ford Mustang without adequate fuel to power it?. Or capable tyres to keep that power user tight control?. It is therefore vitally important to ensure that the smartphone you procure runs an Operating System (OS) that has a good and divergent array of software. It is through the software available for your device that you unleash all the power “under the hood”

It is noteworthy that you can actually get the same, or close to same, functionality via software as the hardware equivalent.

Listed below are some of the items and services your smartphone will eventually eliminate or at best, reduce in importance . It is meant to emphasize just how versatile these supposed “phones” really are:

– I do not buy have to buy PHYSICAL books & newspapers anymore There are enough books available for free on the internet – than any human being can read in a thousand lifetimes.

– Brick-and-mortar publishers, bookshops, libraries and newspaper houses are likely to continue to get diminishing patronage. My SmartPhone, via the internet, affords me access to all these services. When was the last time you visited a Post Office?

Okay, I agree. The smartphone will not replace Parcel Companies like DHL any time soon.

– I see brick-and-mortar Educational Institutions going out of fashion, witht learning primarily being via the internet.

– My smartphone can wake me up from sleep (via its alarm facility), put me to sleep (via sonorous/mellifluous music), serve as a teacher of foreing languages, motivate / elevate my spirit when I am down, serve as my mechanic (via auto sites), keep track of my spending_pattern, be my ad hoc doctor!

– My SmartPhone can serve as my Television, Radio Set, Media Player,digital diary, replace my standalone digital camera, GPS, wrist watch, torch light, remote control and alarm clock.

– It can serve as my car alarm system via a software like ExpressAlarm [for Symbian os).  The list is almost endless.

When you shell out good money for these expensive toys, see whether your smartphone that you permanently have with you cannot serve some purpose that you ordinarily accomplish in another fashion.

I will conclude this piece by saying that your smartphone, through the software installed on it and via the power afforded through the internet, will make your life more organized, purposeful and efficient. Your professional and social/personal life will be all the better for it by the efficacious use of this wonderful device – the SMARTphone!

Categories
Gadgets

The TiTan

While we wait for the launch of the first set of Meego devices come 2011, i will be taking a cursory look at a couple of what is on offer at the moment.

One OS that has piqued my curiosity is the Windows Phone 7 (WP7). The only thing the new smartphone OS has in common with its predecessors is the name. It is designed freshly from the ground up for a finger-driven interface and built to be clean, attractive, and consistent. The ambition is that it will finally give Microsoft a platform that will enable it to take on the iPhone and Android phones. This ambition is now a fact. Microsoft has indeed made a powerful comeback. In line with the trend, its focus has moved to consumers with particular focus on social networking and multimedia.It is even compatible with the Mac OSX with an official syncing software released by Microsoft. It’s compatibility with Linux is yet to be determined though. The geek in me finds the WP7 very promising, something to tinker with for a while.

windows-phone-7

There have been so much noise lately about the Nokia N8 but for personal reasons, i refuse to join the bandwagon. With a price tag of about $500, would i pick this device over even Nokia N900? I seriously doubt it. Infact, No! What category of people is this phone targeted at? The BlackBerry-crazed youths and “youth at hearts”, the Business class or the geeks? With a price tag like that, i really wonder.

However, the Nokia N8 is the first smartphone powered by the new Symbian^3 OS and it packs a protruding 12 megapixel camera and a host of other enhancements. How much of the 12 Megapixel is a hype is yet to be determined. But with its brushed aluminium build and design, the product has definitely been well received.

Nokia N8

It is a known fact however that, being human, no smartphone will ever, never ever, be satisfactory to everyone and i expect to start seeing some bad reviews about these OSes any time soon.

My reservation for these OSes is however of a different kind, proprietary restrictions. Nokia probably comes tops here, which is probably a success for Nokia. Correct me if i’m wrong, apart from the N900, i am not sure there are many Nokia smartphones out there that have been extensively hacked or their ROMS modified to the extent of what has been done on Windows Mobile smartphones and the IPhone.

I have to admit that i do not follow the trend when i am buying my gadgets, moreso when frontline gadgets today become lost in the crowd a few months later. For a $500 Nokia N8 purchase, i will only get a few months of glory?! Then, what next?

I ordered for a brand new HTC TyTN II phone (remember it?). Pronounced TITAN, it is a 2007 release. In its hey days, the phone was sold for about $700 but i got it for less than $200! I have used a lot of Windows Mobile phones in my time and one major thing i love about them is the ease of modification of their ROMS. The TyTN II comes with Windows Mobile 6.1 OS, but i intend to flush the OS out as soon as possible and install an ANDROID ROM! Yes, you heard right, ANDROID ROM, courtesy of some crazy guys at XDA DEVELOPERS. I really do not believe in just starring at my gadgets, and only take the limited functionalities the manufacturers have to offer. To me, a phone is NOT just a phone. I can not wait to get my hands on it.

HTC TyTN II

Well, till Meego devices roll out 2011, i’ll stick to the TiTan.

God keep us till then.

Categories
Gadgets

Nokia Quietly Retires Symbian from N-Series Smartphones

Nokia announced it will retire Symbian for the popular N-series smartphones in favour of MeeGo.

MeeGo is a Linux-based open source mobile operating system that merged Intel’s Moblin OS and Nokia’s Maemo OS. Refer to the write-up published a few weeks ago on this site about Nokia’s intention to introduce the MeeGo OS to it’s high end phones.

Symbian will continue to be used in low-end phones from Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson and it continues to be the most widely distributed OS on the mobile market.

Symbian has been subject of criticism within its own community lately, as popular Symbian blog, Symbian-Guru.com recently decried Nokia and the operating system before jumping ship to Android and the Nexus One, citing the Nokia flagship phone, N97 as “craptastic”!