fj: (tech)
Hey Joel, I am sure someone has told you already, but usually to use Nokia Phones as way to connect to the Internet, you don't need a buggy 3d party tool. Just use tell your laptop to use the attached phone as a modem, and dial *99#.

Yeah, modem. You know, what we used phones for. You can use the supplied USB cable, or the Bluetooth tethering. Even on Macs. Yes, iPhones don't know how to do that. And it will save you battery because you can switch the WiFi on your laptop and your phone off.
fj: (tech)
Dear Nokia

Stop PR wishy-wash about maybe extending the N-Gage gaming platform to new phones or consoles and release the N-Gage platform for phones you already committed to, like the N73, that you are now 9 months late at. I could have become a father in that time.

Waiting and pissed,
FJ!!
fj: (tech)
'Provisioning' is the verb used for taking a mobile phone, a piece of dead electronics made to work on any network, and attaching it to the billing system for a specific operator and setting its settings. Provisioning is difficult because it includes not just hardware negotiations of attaching a SIM to a billing plan, but a peopleware negotiation of confirming identity, selecting a plan and passing a credit check for that specific plan, porting your number, and in case of having been a previous customer, canceling your old plans, seeing which discounts you are eligible for, and pushing it all through.

Now realize that the customer usually does not know the data required to do all this. They just want a phone, they know who they are. The operator needs to make sure who they are, and have the SSN their current plan is registered with (usually not the customer's SSN if they are on a family plan) and what plan they are on already, because front-line billing systems have a tough time knowing these pieces from you just telling them who you are, they much preferr you tell them this data. Now ask yourself how many people walking into a store know the last four digits of the owner of the family plan they are on. Or that they are on a family plan.

Now ask yourself how many of them will pass a credit check easily in ten seconds.

Now ask yourself how many of these people from all ages and walks of life will have a readable credit card for that credit check. No, no manual keying in of numbers because that means a stolen credit card number can be used. Has to be a real card. To be scanned on a finicky portable payment device used by roving store reps.

Now ask yourself how much time a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has given its floor reps to familiarize themselves with the myriad of plans and price points for those plans, and all the disclaimers and small print and discounts.

Now ask yourself how much time a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has given its floor reps to train on the process with real live customers or even role-playing other store reps to get through the whole thing.

Now ask yourself how much QA a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has done on the software used in the finicky handheld payment terminal that has to transmit all the data like former phone number, SSN, IMEI number, etc, to the mobile operator. The terminal is a WinCe device.

Now ask yourself how much this company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals actually has control over the mobile operator's back-end system. Hint: none.

Now remind yourself how many times you have been told one thing by some mobile operator's rep that turned out to be a complete lie according to another rep from the same mobile operator, because mobile operators do not keep their reps on single message since their customer-facing systems are a reflection of the spaghetti that keeps their billing system together, an insane diagram of boxes all trying to create a coherent picture of a user's account, with different phone reps able to influence different things, at different levels of empowerment, at different 1-800 / 888 numbers. One can edit a number-port request, but can't cancel it. Another can cancel it but doesn't know the discounts. Nobody knows who where what for the whole picture.

Now multiply that across 200 stores. Now multipy that accross the lines you saw at those stores stretching for hours and hours.

You should be coming to the conclusion that Apple became an AT&T kiosk this weekend, and it was hell on retail earth.

Apple workers are hand picked and empowered to give the best experience they possibly can to clients they really want to please. Apple stores have some of the absolute lowest staff turn-over numbers in malls because people are happy to work there and happy to sell what they are selling to mostly customers happy to buy what they are buying. It is the real reason Apple stores work even though by all narratives of mall sales, they should have been a miserable failure between Sharper Image and Best Buy, but instead Apple stores are a huge success because their store workers believe and are allowed to make customers happy using an incredibly thought out smooth retail process. And this weekend they had to deal with a tsunami wave of consumers to be handled with an organizational process made to deal with the amount of people a wireless phone selling cart in the food court gets. Because, basically, AT&T did business as usual, which is what put them and all other mobile operators at the bottom of the list of companies people like to deal with, below used car sales dealerships and insurance providers.

No, the problem isn't the activation, which eventually you can go do at home. It was getting to the point where you can send a customer home to try to re-activate their brick over iTunes because you entered everything so AT&T knows who they are.  My IMs have lit up with stories of floor managers in Apple stores crying. 6 hours to sell a phone. The Apple forums went offline after 2M5 views on iPhone support forums, 400K devoted to in-store problems. And why? Because this time AT&T is paying Apple so much for each phone AT&T insisted no phone was to be sold without having a plan attached. None. No buying a box and provisioning at home. This launch is costing AT&T so much in hardware they want revenue from Day 1, so no sending out a phone without a plan to do the provisioning through iTunes. No no no. In store provisioning, all of them, each and every one. And Apple did not work the process out enough, not train long enough, nor QA their handheld payment terminals enough, which are only now being found to be sending bad IMEI -- that's the serial number of the phone -- and number porting data to AT&Ts back-end, lest someone leak a soooooper seeekret plan detail through a lolcat or something. Which means that during this sale, AT&T had to be called. To edit a port request. Or cancel it. Or both. Or neither. And what plan can this person be on? Only AT&T phone reps knew -- well, kinda.

And this was Friday. The real weekend starts now. I hear Apple stores are now open normally agains with Genius Bars and Personal Training and no extra staff was planned for phone sales, because the initial rush should have been over.

Do Not Go To An Apple Store This Weekend. No.
fj: (Default)
When Helio claimed to have 70k subscribers, it also claimed $100 Average Revenue Per User [ARPU]. Now Helio is claiming 170K users. Which means they should be doing $17 million of total revenue per month, if the ARPU number was a) true b) sustained till now. Virgin is acquiring these claimed 170K users $39 million, and not even in cash, but in a stock that was worth $15,- per share when it did its IPO last October, but is now at $3,- a decine also known as 'tanking'.

So for Virgin acquired Helio for two months of revenue of Helios subscribers? Virgin just acquired 170K new high-value subscribers for a measely $229,- per subscriber? This after SK telecom invested hundreds of millions and was ready to invest hundreds more, to the tune of a pledged half a billion in ten years, when the dollar hadn't completely tanked yet?

What is wrong with this picture? That Helio basically gave itself away for free.

I'll tell you something: my gut feeling is that $100 ARPU was exagerated at 70k subs, and Helio got the next 100K subs by shutting off the credit check. And their subscribers ain't paying their bills.
fj: (tech)
Every time there is some article on Slashdot about phones that are smarter or more interesting than the ones a year ago, there's always someone whining "I just want a phone why do I have to pay extra I only want to make calls why can't I just get a phone waaaah", completely ignoring that low-end phones are always available and you can, if you want to, ignore there's a camera or an text inbox on them. The only sympathy I have here is people who need to not have a camera on their phone for security reasons, they are getting problems.

What interests me is how the tenor of these posts have changed. First of all, finally people are responding with a STFU, get the cheapest one, and just don't crack open the manual. But second, the whine has changed. It used to be "I just want a PHONE that MAKES CALLS." Then it was "I just want a PHONE that makes CALLS and DOES THE TEXT THING RIGHT" which means a leap in the USA. Now I just saw "I just want a PHONE that makes CALLS and does text and so I can check my emails why does everything have to have SO MANY FEATURES."

The really cheap people with not so much disposable income, young teens, want every feature they can get. Technology has now been completely mainstreamed: I remember 2 years ago watching The Young And The Restless and the teens were discussing using a USB key with a password logger program to get a login to check a guy's mails, and Mariah Carey is singing about being posted on YouTube and probably even knows what that means too.
fj: (Disney)
Well, then. We all started, and it seems the last hold-out can't make it work, even with investments of over half a billion dollars.

But dammit, we really all tried.
fj: (tech)
Dear Aza

You obviously have really good eyesight. Unfortunately, mobile users like my brother, a 40+ executive, do not; he has to take out his reading glasses these days to read small type. So you managed to come up with a mobile browsing organization concept that seems like it will only work on devices with at minimum iPhone-like slabs of glass, yet still manages to be about, literally, text in 2-point fonts. Also, if you browsed some old papers in the ACM Digital library -- you are a member, right? -- you could read how fish-eye and zoom-interfaces actually do not do so spectacularly well in tasks. So using them to arrange slabs of data in an already size-constrained environment in a way that leaves 50% of the screen unsused gray half the time really needs some justification here.

This is what user testing is for. Let me know how it works out with an actual cross-section of the population instead of 20-somethings. Meanwhile, look at how Sony Ericsson is doing tiling for their latest attempt, it uses the whole screen all the time.

Sincerely,
FJ!!
fj: (tech)
It is always good to wait a day or two before writing about an Apple product announcement. When it comes to phones, I compare iPhones always against their main competitors, which happen to come from a former employer, Nokia, that I am also very familiar with.

iPhone 2.0 comes with new features like 3G, (a)GPS, notifications, enterprise connectivity, Office doc viewers, and a software eco system from developer tools down to a store on the phone itself. To start out, every feature that Apple announced is pretty much already available on Nokia phones. But not very well. And not in the US. Nokia's flagship 3G phones, the N-Series, weren't widely available, and those models that were weren't promoted or discounted as much as the iPhone was. In Europe they are very widely available, and thus the iPhone's capabilities were not a huge advance in the market as they were in the USA.

Let's start with the last feature, the applications and store. Symbian-based Nokia phones -- S60 as they are called these days -- have always allowed users to put on 3d party applications. Always. Nokia has a software store available on N-Series phones, it is under the 'Download' application; I use it to buy games that I pay for using SMS. The 3d party development tools have been awful for a long time but getting significantly better over the last couple of years (I may have had a small hand in that when I wrote a snippy report after using them saying we could save a lot of money and look a lot better by moving to Eclipse, a report that made the rounds internally.). But it is still not easy to write a Symbian program.

Building a smartphone on the hardware available in 2002 was not easy. Nokia did this by using software from Symbian, a company that made a smartphone based on code from Psion. The resulting programming language goes to great great lengths make sure a program plays nice, gets told whether every piece of memory it wants is available or not so the program can tell the user to quit other stuff, can be suspended and restarted at a moments notice (like when a user gets a call, which is supposed to interrupt everything), and can be kept running or suspended in the background for months without crashing. Theoretically. The result is a very subtle and rigid programming environment that is difficult to master. Now Nokia has also made JAVA and FlashLite available for commercial software, but those are not as fast, nor can they reach all the cool facilities of the phone as well as a Symbian program.

Apple has the advantage of starting over on pretty big hardware, but also looked at the whole problem of programs having to run in the background in memory, sharing space and cycles, and said "Well screw this. Only one thing runs at any type. If you get interrupted, you just stop, save to memory, end of story, program is over." This models doesn't allow cool stuff to happen in the background, but really simplifies programming.

This makes Apple's ecosystem a lot more viable, since, by using newer technology, it can offer a very nice experience building applications. It also offers a phone to deploy those applications on that somehow encourages exploration and finding features and using a lot of them. Steve Jobs' hyperbole aside, the network stats show that iPhone users use an awful lot of data time, which means they are comfortable browsing and using YouTube and what not. I am not sure the N-Series encourages as much exploration and adding, even if Google Maps and Yahoo Go are really neat programs to have. Apple's iPhone got a lot of websites to make iPhone optimized sites, the N-Series did not.

Apple really hasn't offered anything really new on Monday -- I could rattle off the technologies used behind the scenes when I read the reports -- except really integrated packaging. Apple's syncing technology really does make it easier to integrate the PC with the phone, something that is ok for Nokia on the mac with the Nokia Multimedia Transfer tools, but sucks with the N-Series PC Suite 2.0. I recently had to write a report on it so I installed and played with it, and in the words of my manager, the design and usability of it is "totally retarded". It's just a bad disheveled mess, the result of many unaligned groups doing their own little thing and one desperate product group having to integrate it all. Comared to the iTunes for iPhone experience, it's a joke.

And now MobileMe has eclipsed that and, for $99 a year, you don't even need difficult synchronization software to keep your PC or Mac and iPhone synchronized and your address book editable from ever web browser out there. It Just Works. Nokia was trying to create a wireless cloud destination for your games and photos and music called Ovi, but the announcements for it are over a year old and there is no useful syncing there, music  just jumps to a music store that blocks mac users and uses a DRM scheme Microsoft either has or will ditch, N-Gage gaming is late for most N-series phones, and Ovi certainly does  not integrate with your documents on the computer or give you 20Gb storage space. And that is just sad. I am using mobical.net for mobile wireless syncing of my calendar and contacts, it's been working for years, but Ovi is just still nowhere (and won't even have single sign on between the syncing and gaming components from all I hear). And what is the relationship between Ovi Share and Mosh? Does anyone know?

All the pieces have been available for years by Nokia, and yet they can't seem to pull it together into a whole system that is fun to use. Instead we get crappy PC Suites, 3 different logins, delayed advanced gaming, and not very compelling products except generic JAVA games on the download store. Nokia, step up, your lunch is being eaten. Right now the only advantage you have is actual keys for people who like tactile keyboard experiences, your phones are slightly smaller, and the cameras are far better. But every time I see someone slide their finger across a screen and start up a browser on which they can actually see things, I kinda wonder hmmmmm....
fj: (travel)
Walked 90 minutes today, from store to store, to find a pre-pay SIM in Germany whose price-plan for data was not pure extortion. And then couldn't buy it because all phone numbers in Germany have to be registered to a German address, so a SIM cannot be sold unless I showed ID and gave a german address. I had none, nor enough knowledge of how to make one up. Which is why I am typing this on a keyboard where the z and y are in the wrong place in a skeezz Internet cafe, in the evening, at €1,- an hour. At least it is cheap.

Work this first day was good. Vodafone is in a beautiful location, and the people are lovely. Many other Euro-commuters like me, we are comparing notes. I am a little depressed, though, purely because I am not going to a gym and I can't get my social fix from talking to my friends online. I am sure it will pass.
fj: (tech)
The repairman called to say that he had knocked on the door and my doorbell didn't work. In the last weeks at least 4, um, visitors seem to have found the doorbell working just fine. Anyway, he showed up again, attached an oscilloscope, and then left, that is when I snapped the pic. Got a call from him whether I could test for dialtone now, and I did and had it. When he came back to get his stuff I asked what was wrong. Wrong line had been hooked up at the switch. (In fact, I suspect the whole order had been done for the wrong address initially.)

I plugged in the extension cord I had laid down for the DSL modem, and switched it on. I had already configured it with my wireless settings, but wanted to confirm them now so it would be ready to be the wireless access point when O2 started my DSL. I attached my print server laptop with a cable, and started a browser to change settings when the Google search page showed up on the brower as a home page? Huh? This was not supposed to happen without a connection. Fast too. Seems O2 has indeed already provisioned my line with DSL but just not confirmed it to me.

I can YouTube again. And not abuse my mobile phone anymore, allowing it to charge properly. Using it continually as a 3G modem meant it would never charge fully. And now I can send updates to Twitter from my phone, and they will be updated on LJ since AutoPostBot, running on my print server, doesn't need my phone to be home for its connection anymore.

ThinkBroadBand's speed test reports 7.2 Upload / 1 Download Mbps. 15 pounds a month, and I may even get on a cheaper plan because that is supposed to be for higher than 8Mbps. Comcast couldn't give me this fast a connection for almost double the money. AT&T gave me less than a third for half.
fj: (Default)

I Can Has Dialtone?
"I Can Has Dialtone?", Nokia N73, London, 2008

Oh, Look

Apr. 5th, 2008 01:53 pm
fj: (tech)
Technician Dispatch Structure of British Telecom
Lead time to dispatch a tech Cost to me
New line connection 1 month 125.-
Repair fault on exisiting line 2 days 161.- if it was my equipment that was faulty
       99.- per hour to fix the resulting failure
0 otherwise (implied, unconfirmed)

Seems like a certain company is far more interested in sending people if they can charge me an arm and a leg than if I just want to pay a standard fee for service. Meanwhile, the reason I don't say "Fuck BT" and still insist on renting a line with them is because I want O2 broadband. I signed up for them when BT confirmed to me my line was connected. O2 sent me text confirmations every step of provisioning me, sent me their wireless router box overnight, and will have DSL patched at the local switch by Wednesday, all for 15 pounds a month for 16Mb, no download cap. It would be less if I was also a mobile customer of O2, but as a newbie to the UK I can't pass their credit check for a monthly plan, and they charge to much for data on their Pay As You Go Plan.

BTW, the previous tenant seems to have had cable VoIP / broadband from Virgin Media, and no BT at all. I can't fault her, but Virgin Media is expensive if you do not want Super Cable TV as well, so I want to wrangle BT a bit more first before I give up. They're coming by Monday afternoon, between 1 and 6 PM. Oddly enough, there's a BT repair van in front of my house right now. I overcame my aprehension to go off-script to strangers and took my cheap-ass landline all-cable phone to the Box and Storage shop across the street and asked them to plug it in, just to make sure that the handset worked lest I end up having to pay 161 pounds because it being broken and I having had service all along. Dialtone was emitted by its speaker.
fj: (tech)
British Telecom, as far as I can tell, has two major call-centers: one up north in the UK, and one on the Indian sub-continent. While it seems the Asian workers do indeed get some accent-reduction training, their supervisors have not gone all the way and tried to make them get, say, BBC accents or something in the same way it was fashionable to train these poor people to sound very American for clients based in North America when outsourced customer support in India really took off in the early millennium. The people on the phone do insist, upon seeing my account data, that my first name is 'Van' until corrected, and have all the same 'repeat everything and apologize every second word until the word sorry sounds meaningless' mannerisms as every other call-center in the region seems to have acquired.

I had to have a conversation with one of those chaps today, because at 13:45 no BT repairperson had rung my doorbell to hook up my line, which was due to happen today after a month's wait. I am a little anxious, yes, I would like some broadband now, please. I keep abusing my terms of service with T-Mobile's Pay As You Go mobile service by using my phone as a modem on their data network, while I am only supposed to use the data network on this plan for browsing with the phone itself and maybe checking some email. I can choose between rock-solid and very slow EDGE, or faster 3G that stops working every 5 minutes for 5 minutes. It costs me a pound a day maximum, which is actually the best data plan for a Pay As You Go mobile plan.

So, dialtone please, and no installer dude(tte) between 8AM and 1PM today. I even got up at 7.30 for it. The guy at the call center put me on hold for two minutes -- no problem since it is a free call, but oh wait, I am on my mobile so it is not -- and tells me that his system says that I have been hooked up, and some time tonight my line will start working. I wish someone would atually have done some quality control inside the house to check that everything was indeed installed correctly, because it is now 10.30 PM and guess what: no dialtone from any of the 3 jacks in the apartment.
fj: (Default)
I feel compelled to admit that Friday night, on the train to St. Albans to see Barry and Adam, I had a "Oh my god, I left the baby on the bus" moment. These are usually filled with dread and terror and deep loathing of having left someone horribly down, I am just using that slogan to denote them to get a little perspective out of them so I can deal. Indeed, I owed Bob a two-paragraph note for Fred's memorial service, and I hadn't written it yet and the service was the next day and this was the only stretch of time alone I would get to collect my thoughts. I wrote it out on the only writing system I had available: my phone. Yes, I T9ed a eulogy. I am going to some kind of special techno-geek hell, I think, although the departed would be charmed that I even tried to save the moment in any way I could at all, never that mind that with my history I ended up doing it on a a phone. (It's not the best memorial piece I have ever written, I am sure, but it is the best I ever typed out on a twelve-button keypad with predictive assist.

Friday is binge night, so I wanted starch. We ended up in one of the Italian joints in this tiny town right outside London, where I found a starter to match my needs: the bread sampler, served with dipping oil. Some of them were toasted. Incidentally, I still do not have a toaster, so for my Sunday morning scrambled eggs over smoked salmon I have started toasting the bread in a frying pan, very low heat, with a tiny bit of butter. The end result is very different from standard toast, but I like it much better.

I left St. Albans too late having ice-cream at their home after dessert after pizza, so the Northern Line wasn't running anymore, but bus 45 still was that took me right to Elephant & Castle -- no serious, that's the name of a Tube stop if not a whole neighborhood here -- and I walked home, feeling all secure that I am getting comfortable getting around. In fact, I have boticed this weekend, with what should be my last IKEA run and the last major DIY work having ended an hour ago -- I have now cleared everything away and am waiting for [livejournal.com profile] spwebdesign to go to dinner in one the local restaurants -- that I am feeling so very stable and at peace. Like I am really mentally rested, something like that. Which is strange, because I have no stable source of income, something that would have sent me into anxiety three years ago. But instead I feel secure in my life and surroundings, like I must have a very deep feeling that things will just be ok. I will find another week here or there, I guess, it will just happen. I must be fundamentally trusting the universe to feel like this in my urrent circumstances.

Which is great, because it means I am comfortable to take risks, instead of fearfully staying in old patterns.
fj: (UK)
T-Mobile Pay As You Go is costing me an arm and a leg, because even when calling customer service lines, I get billed per minute at my standard rate, since it is not a land line.Since I also want broadband, and the best way to get that here is still over DSL, and I also want a POTS line to dial emergency numbers that will actually work when the electricity is out and doesn't overlpoad as quickly as the mobile towers, I am calling British Telecom for a landline. Cheapest plan, it is a 'line rental' and then free weekend calling: 11 pounds a month. Of course, since I only have my mobile to make the call to order this, those 15 minutes on the phone cost me ten pounds or so. There are four jacks in my new flat already, but no dialtone. BT confirms the line has been disconnected and they will need to send out a tech to reconnect it. 125 pounds. Great.

The first available appointment is on April 2nd.

No, serious. A full month away to dispatch someone to reconnect an existing line. The customer service rep, whose accent that I have a terrible time understanding over the phone I think is Scottish, suggest I call up from time to time to see if there has been a cancellation. No guarantees.

Ok, so broadband will wait. But I am switching to a month-to-month SIM Only mobile ontract with O2 ASAP.

A month. For phone. What the hell? This is one the most respected telecom brands in the world.
fj: (UK)
I have stupid mobile phone shenanigans because I have called the US a number of times now without having my bundle of cheap US minutes in place, and I can't register my local bank card on the stupid website because it says I have reached my limit of cards I can add to my account, and it won't allow me to top up from my non-local bank card any more nor delete it from my account so I can register my local card. Thanks, T-Mobile. I'll have to top up tomorrow at a shop.

Well, I made progress then this week: at least I have a local bank card, but funding this account is taking time since all funds need to come from foreign places; the fastest one will probably be the small stash of money I had in an old Dutch giro account. The EER or EC seems to have international money transfers down now.

I will need to fill that bank account up. I have been pounding pavement again to see flats. I find studios and flats in the price ranges I am working with on propertyfinder.com or thinkproperty.co.uk, but of course they are all gone when I call. What is left I see, and they are postage-stamp sized and drab. I know housing is out there for me, I just need to luck out. Of course, since I am new to town and thus have no references ("No, I do not have a landlord in the US, I owned"), am still unemployed, and no guarantor, the agents all tell me I will have to fund upfront the whole 6 months of the letting contract, 6 months being the minimum contract anyway. My head spins at the kind of money we end up talking about even for something with no light and so small my couch coming in a few months will never fit, costing about 200 pounds a week.

Still, if the estate agents would take AmEx for that balloon payment once I find my place, it would end up saving me a lot of transfer costs: AmEx is the only one not charging me fees for using my US card here, and I pay that card with my US bank account. I can stay in my new yet decrepit rented room here for a while, paying up every week. My top-up life: phone, travel card, room, all funds being added as necessary, in larger amounts than I want. For example: need to make 4 quick trips to see places all over zone 1 and 2, pay 4 pounds for the day. That's 8 dollars, btw. And the Tube system makes a point of telling you they are doing you a favor by capping your maximum spend if you use their special contactless travel card, Oyster. That daily maximum is 4.80 off-peak and 6 pounds on peak hours. Double to get the dollar amounts.

I am working out in the local gym, again expensive because I can't commit to an economical long-term plan seeing that I do not know where I will actually end up. I walk for hours a day, from agency to agency to supermarket. I know I am not supporting myself nutritionally enough, and will have to buy protein powder soon, instead of eating turkey breasts for dinner and lunch and pre-packaged chicken sandwiches after a work-out. Did get some EFA oils, though, healing dry patches on my skin again that came back after not having Omega 3 and 6 oils for two weeks. Still coughing up gunk, otherwise ok. Except for the chocolate binge last night, which I am not happy with since I think I may have been self-medicating.

One recruiter I have been working with for a while keeps finding me interviews. Did one over phone, that job will have a sucky commute. They wants me to do a presentation about how to improve the user experience in a specific area as part of the in-person job interview. They have yet to confirm which date on the week of the 25th. Seeing a handset division of a large company Monday, I should check my suit is ok, and iron it with the iron supplied in this room -- no board though. Meeting the head of a small UX agency Tuesday for lunch. Had some people calling based on monster resume (but I actually think it is the jobserve one they are seeing, because that is the one changed recently), but nothing interesting from those recruiters. At least they do not want me to move to Mountain View to write multi-media drivers in J2ME. It does mean I will not take the time out to do my own thing.

London looks nice in places. I've met up with people, as I wrote here, and will meet up with Nigel tomorrow.
But I am not having fun. I am just slogging through hoping I will get to a better point.

Portables

Jan. 22nd, 2008 08:58 pm
fj: (tech)
My bet is that when the music labels allow iTunes to drop DRM, the biggest losers will not be those studios. I doubt their wares will be pirated any more or less. No, the biggest loser will be Apple as suddenly all kinds of other players besides iPods will be usable for the contents of the store. I want to use my phone as my player, but can't yet.

In other brainstorms, Apple is saying the WiFi-enabled iPod Touch could be a whole new computer platform. Well, Nokia has had one for a while, pretty equivalent in many ways, but I think it has been positioned wrong. It shouldn't now be positioned as some kind of media player, no, that space is taken, and certainly the current branding as Your Mobile SSH Solution is, um, limiting. But it would be really useful and notable if it was an adjunct to the phone, a real one, with which I could SMS and MMS and email and browse the phone-book and adjust the settings of the phone it is paired with when in proximity. In fact, when it can see the phone it has been paired with over Bluetooth, the N pads should be the ones that ring when a message has been received, and some trials should be done how headsets and cameras should be distributed across the hardware for video calling or browsing while calling. This way I could have a tiny phone, comparable in size to the 6100 or even the 7380 that I could carry everywhere, even in the shank of my boot, when I am in a state where my outfit uh, has very few pockets, yet when I have jackets and cargo pants I can also carry a messaging and media device that is comfortable and has lots of storage, and these items work together and apart. I kept seeing this weekend people having to make trade-offs between having usable small phones and liking full thumb keyboards or large surfaces to get with their friends and have plenty of music to play. Usually they had committed to some kind of hardware that was ok in some situations, but making other situations difficult.
fj: (Disney)
"And there's something else Thompson recommends. Limit a cell phone's abilities. Allow it to make and accept calls to and from parents and 911 only."


Oddly enough, I know of this cellphone company that allowed a parent to do just that, with some other monitoring features. It's defunct now, because it couldn't get its phones into stores.

Also interesting is that the article asks parents, one of whom monitors her children's email and chat logs, why they aren't checking up on phone-calls and text messages. The parents say they do not think about it, but CNN fails to mention a twist here: the parents actually can't while they are happening. While the parents can certainly see on the bill who is calling and texting who and how much, FCC rules forbid any intercepting of text messages. Text messages are considered part of phone communications, and those are actually heavily protected against eavesdropping in the US. I once did an exploration at Disney Mobile to use Disney's enormous and amazing chat-flagging system to warn parents of questionable text conversations their kids might be having (although my angle was bullying since I consider that a far more prevalent problem than sexual predators) and we just couldn't find a structure to make it work. Even if it was just warning the parents without showing the message it would be illegal, I was told by a DC expert on FCC regulations, since (IIRC) he had worked on kids and commercial text-message issues. No eavesdropping, no 3d party recording. Even a machine that was doing any kind of textual processing and alerting of a 3d party based on content was not allowed, never mind a machine doing filtering.

Parents are allowed to demand their kids show them their phones so they can go through the messages stored on the device, but it is far easier to delete those traces on a phone than it is to remove all caches and stores from a PC. We did once hear at DM of Verizon offering an add-on service for a parent to get all the texting logs from a child's phone at the end of the month, but we were all wondering about the legality of that. It certainly could not be done at all in any way as a real-time service like I was thinking.
fj: (tech)
Well, Google Maps for Symbian Devices is nice, and the fact that it will do aproximate positioning based on which cell tower your phone is attached to if the phone does not have GPS is actually useful: ok, so you won't get proper turn by turn directions, but a local search actually ends up being properly local within a few blocks. But a nice new feature that would integrate Google Maps beyond what a standard GPS can do, is to allow me to select a destination from my phonebook. Yes, I can save a destination into the phonebook, now I should be able to, when I want to enter a location, be able to click through and pick a name from my phonebook if it has a street address stored. I have a lot of addresses in my phonebook.

And then the next step is that, when I am going to a location, Google Maps should keep a running estimate based on current movememnt and expected traffic how long it will take to get to the destination. And make it really easy to call, or better, send a one-click text message to the person in the phonebook you are going to sayong how late you will be. Try that, TomTom.

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