[ad] Why, in this day and age, when they can send a man to the Moon, is it so frickin’ difficult to tell what time it is? Specifically, what makes it so seemingly difficult for mobile devices, which are connected to a public network, to tell what time it is? Surely mobile connected devices should be our most trusted time sources. The network they’re connected to is constantly pumping out a time-sync. So what is the problem? Three examples: I normally carry around a couple of devices. Most recently, these have been consistently unreliable sources of the time. The Blackberry has two time-sync options: network and “blackberry.” Neither of them ever yield a correct time (as measured by my Mac, whose time-sync works flawlessly when measured against the BBC). The N73 also has a “network sync” option which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I have often found that the time is wildly off – by as much as a few hours. It also doesn’t help matters that a change of this setting requires a reboot. I have to manually set the time zone on the Blackberry but the Nokia N73 somehow can figure that out for itself. I just came out of the other end of the Channel Tunnel and my iPhone hasn’t picked up the fact that I’m now in Central European Time – so it’s still showing an hour behind. In this fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever for your device to know the correct time. This becomes especially important when you’re sharing …

What Time is It? Read more »

The Register reportedon the launch of Conversations from Nokia “Beta labs” division. So don’t get me wrong. I applaud Nokia’s efforts on releasing this and in particular in releasing it for existing handsets. However, this release brings some questions to mind. First of all, why wasn’t this feature part of the original functionality of the device. Integrating the SMS inbox with the address book surely should be one of those features that you should expect to be on every device. The fact that this is being released in 2007 as a high-tech, cutting edge, “beta” function is a little sad I think and belies a dysfunction in the mobile industry with regard to integrated user experience. But leaving that to the side for a second, who now gets to benefit from this innovation? Certainly not the majority of Nokia S-60 owners since they will likely never install the app themselves. It’s only the early adopter users and industry insiders who know how to install apps on their phones that are able to benefit. That’s not a critique of the app as much as it’s a critique of the whole mechanism by which software updates roll out onto handsets. There should be a mechanism for automatic over-the-air updates analogous to the software update functions prevalent in the desktop world. Having said all that, the app itself is definitely a step forward for SMS discussions and I can see myself using it a lot. However, applications like Jaiku already go so much further in allowing one to many …

Nokia Releases Cutting Edge Conversations App! Read more »

On my recent trip to Greece with my wife to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, I made myself one promise: I would not use the Web for the whole week. By and large, I kept this promise, however I was not completely off the grid. While we were island hopping, I was snapping pictures with my N73 and using Zonetag to send them up to FlickR. The results are available here. ZoneTag is a nifty downloadable application and service, developed by Yahoo! Research, which allows you to (among other things) upload images directly to FlickR from your camera phone. Of course, there are plenty of applications that allow you to do this, but the ZoneTag difference is that by using the CellID, and cross-referencing this against a database of CellIDs that they maintain, ZoneTag can accurately geotag your photos even if your device doesn’t have a a GPS built in. ZoneTag also learns CellID locations through users using the system and telling it their location. It’s “leveraging collective intelligence.” Anyway, apart from being a bit of geeky fun, there was a method to this madness. Publishing these photos allowed our kids (being looked after by my saintly mother and sister) to keep track of our travels. It was like being able to send postcards instantaneously. And unlike MMS, sending an image with Zonetag does not compress / reduce the images to the Nth degree – the original images with their original detail are sent up. Now, granted this is the Greek islands and you can pretty …

My Life with ZoneTag Read more »

There are two particularly annoying bugs in the Nokia Series-60 (Webkit-based) Web Browser: Check-boxes don’t work. In order to “check” a check-box in a form and make it “stick,” you have to click it (so it appears checked), click it again (so it appears not checked) and then move the focus off of the check-box (at which point it will change its state back to checked). There is a big with the time or time-zone. I have not figured this one out, but on some pages times are misrepresented. In particular, on the “my itineraries” section of the British Airways web site, when I bring up an itinerary it shows me the times of the flights with a one hour off-set (as if I were in CET). The time zone of the phone is set correctly and the time on the phone reads correctly and the same web page brought up on a PC web browser shows the correct time. This bug could have been particularly disastrous for me as I was trying to book a car to the airport yesterday. I brought up my itinerary on the phone and was booking a taxi based on those times. Thanks to a thoughtful American Express employee who bothered to look up my flight numbers, I was saved from probably missing my flight. And while we’re on the subject of things that piss me off, why does Google (on Firefox on the Mac) insist on showing me pages (such as maps and docs) in German? I’m logged in. …

Annoying Bugs Read more »

Just a quick note: I’m now listening to Timo Veikkola of Nokia who’s title is “Sr. Future Specialist”. Timo’s talking about the values that will drive service and hardware design in the future. Great stuff, especially after the somewhat fluffy presentations from Target and MTV which basically amounted to “here’s how we’re selling you more stuff.” Timo is completely blowing them away – wow. “Devices will become intimate companions.” I believe this is true (though it raises a number of privacy and security issues). This vision of the future could easily turn into a dystopian nightmare if these issues are not correctly understood. “Leapfrogging” – users in developing markets will use the mobile device first as a connected [Internet] medium and will effectively leapfrog the existing [PC] paradigms. “Semantic Search & Find” – the importance of giving people the information they are looking for with far greater accuracy then is currently happening on the PC Web. Cool stuff. Nokia continues to push the envelope.

On paper, this looks like a fabulous device. It’s got a high-res screen. It’s faster than its predecessor, the 770. It has a great browser, Opera. It’s got audio, video, the promise of Skype calling… It’s got a web cam for Internet-based video calling. Linux based, it’s open to third party developers. It’s also pretty cheap for what it does. On the minus side, do I really need another device to lug around with me? I actually already have an iPod, a Blackberry and an N73 and I don’t realistically see the N800 replacing any of those. And you can’t drive presentations off of it so it can’t replace the laptop either, except in very specific situations. I suppose it could theoretically replace the iPod, but what about all that Fairplay-DRM’d music (doh!). No. I’m fairly sure that if I did buy this, it would sit around in my living room gathering dust, only occasionally picked up to look up some obscure trivia on IMDB or Wikipedia. I dunno — am I wrong? Am I missing something here? I’m happy to be convinced.

The Mobile Discussion Originally uploaded by R.J. Friedlander. While I’m posting images from San Francisco week, here’s me at the Web 2.0 panel (“The Mobile Discussion”) with Om Malik and Ansi Vanjoki from Nokia. I’m saying “this is the future calling” right after Anssi talked about running Bittorrent on his N93. Om’s thinking “Why do I always get stuck with the weird ones?”

[ad] Well, it’s been about two weeks since I wrote gushingly about the Nokia N73 on this page. Has the bloom come off the rose? Well – in some small ways, yes, and I will detail those here, but in the main I am still very impressed with this device. My biggest pet peeve is picture quality. For a device that prominently displays the fact that it sports a “Carl Zeiss” lens and a 3.2 megapixel sensor, I would expect higher quality images. The problem seems to be in the software. Even at its highest image quality setting, the JPEG compression is jacked way up. A typical highest-quality image out of the phone comes in at around 500k. My old 2-megapixel Powershot S100 used to produce images around the same size, for comparison. Considering you can now buy 1GB cards for this thing, I think it ought to be possible to squeeze some higher quality photos out of it. The auto white balance is also pretty wonky. My sense is that the sharpening algorithm is also jacked way up but it’s kind of difficult to tell with all the compression artifacts in every picture. It also takes a while for the camera to get ready to take pictures and there is too long a delay between the time you depress the button and when the picture is actually taken – resulting in many missed shots, especially when your subjects are fast-moving children. Don’t get me wrong: for a camera phone, it is pushing the envelope. But …

N73 Update Read more »

[ad] It’s been a day since I’ve taken delivery of my brand-spanking new Nokia N73 (pictured at right). And I have to say, I am pretty impressed. It’s not that it’s some huge revolution in usability and design. It isn’t. It’s a step up from the N70 (pictured at left) which I’ve been using for a few months. But what a step up! It is just a little bit better in almost every aspect of operation and use. Build quality is better. Industrial design is better. It’s lighter. It’s smaller — not by much but just enough that it now fits comfortably in my pocket where the N70 was uncomfortably bulgy. It’s balanced and has a flat bottom — it doesn’t sit precariously on the desk like the N70 did. The materials it’s made out of seem higher quality — maybe it’s just the lack of (or at least minimization of) finger-print-showing chrome accents. Its battery lasts longer. It doesn’t get as hot as the N70 did during long calls. The camera features a real (glass, auto-focus) lens and takes measurably better pictures (though still not up to the quality level of dedicated digital cameras, they are more than usable for most on-line applications and could even be suitable for decent, if small, prints). The lens cover is easier to slide back. The screen is higher resolution and brighter. On the N70, you had to wait a few seconds for things like the call register or address book to come up. This delay is gone on …

Nokia N73: Finally a Series-60 You Can be Proud Of Read more »