Aug 052010
 

Climate in France is too hot and dry in the summer – at least for my liking. Eventually after a few days I got adjusted to the current temperatures so we decided to do a discovery walking tour through Aix. We started with a very unpleasant experience in a pub but from there it was getting better and better. There are loads of lovely little alleyways with small shops. All through the city center there are sculptures by Igor Mitoraj (more about the exhibition here [french]).
I took some random shots of the street views.
Picturesque facadeCezanne tile on streetEntrance gateAnother facadeFountain with roman columnDog in fountainStreet lampLovely alleywayThe Tang and Frau KleinSweet storeHotel de ville entrance gateRed Moto Guzzi FalconePlace in front of Hotel de la MairieTangarazziAlley viewAnother alleyGetting directionsFacadeProof of nature
I have played a bit with my iPhone photo app ShakeIt Photo. As there isn’t any desirable Polaroid camera available (yet) Jimmy recommended this app which actually does what I desire.

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Mar 042010
 

I just read here about TeamViewer. TeamViewer allows you to remotely access your machine. I tried out to access my MacBook Pro from my iPhone using the TeamViewer iPhone app. I consider it using as another iPhone remote control to the MacBook, apparently TeamViewer has much more features, which remind me of WebEx or Acrobat Connect.

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Feb 152010
 

Recently I read this post, somebody complaining about Samsung copying the iPhone OS [german]. Apparently they have similar UI’s. I wonder about that… iPhone OS is not the source of all invention. I recently got an iPhone, apparently loads of the feature were already available in my meanwhile 6 year old Sony Ericsson P910. Having a small screen and a common functionality ends up most likely in similar approaches. Now follows a not too serious compare between an iPhone 3GS and a Sony Ericsson P910i.

The P910 I got back in late 2004 – as far as I remember. It has a VGA camera, a slot for a memory stick (it could address up to 1 GB) and a plastic keyboard which I removed when I got it. Most remarkably at the time was the 5 way scroll wheel and the touch screen. As it was one of the first smart phones, gaming, business and mobile phone unified in one device weren’t common. I remember posing with playing doom on the phone or bluetooth pong :)

Let’s have a look at a few pics

oh, look! a calendar! Look and feel are still the same…

That is the message application. I find the eZiTap extension for the P910 far beyond any other virtual keyboard apps I have seen on mobile devices. It also has context sensitive proposals, so when i start typing “cheers” it also proposes “Kerstin” as word to follow. It proposes a couple of words I can choose from and it doesn’t randomly replace text on it’s own will. I also like the counter of messages you are going to sent, the iPhone doesn’t bother to tell you how many texts you are going to send with one message. Although the P910 had a bug, it couldn’t really calculate multiple messages, and special characters, such as an accidentally typed tab could increase the number of texts to be send. But again, isn’t it a great feature to have a choice between hand writing recognition and a keyboard? It also allowed to access special chars such as umlauts, even when the system language is english. What a feature…

Organizing the apps in little icons in a matrix isn’t a new idea either. Although I quite like the Symbian way: I put my favorite apps in front. All applications were accessible via a filterable list. Less scrolling is more! Also I added my own theme – and an background image to the application.

Another amazing feature is the photo app. The preview on the P910 sucked as the memory and processor were quite limited. Scrolling through the images got very slow after uploading / taking a lot with the built-in VGA camera.

The maps app is way more sophisticated on the iPhone, but 6 years ago, without internet and GPS on the phone this tiny map app was quite neat to find the way through Dresden. AFAIK it allowed to get directions but one needed to keep track manually.

Cheating, this is an extended calculator for the P910, the original one you can find here. There was already a feature of installing additional software. There was no certification center, anybody could provide software.

What would I choose?
I definitively would go for a smart phone like the P910. It is easy to use, has a touch screen, a 5 way dial, the freedom of choice. It can be easily backed up, the UI is enhanceable. The iPhone’s invention for me is the multi touch, the rest is just caused by newer hardware. The P910 is 6 years old. It is one of the first smart phones and clearly an invention and not ‘just’ a big marketing deal.

Back to the present…
Well… the iPhone, I have one now… I am not too excited about that. I am quite keen on seeing more about the Motorola Milestone, the First Else (will it ever be productized?) or the Samsung i8250 Halo with an integrated micro projector. For a short period I was excited about the Nexus One until I read that it barely supports 3G. “two souls, alas, are housed within my breast” – shall I spend a lot of money on devices I barely use for their original purpose (making calls) or should I rather wait until at least one of the two mentioned mobiles dies?

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Feb 152010
 

I still don’t know whether to love or hate the iPhone. Actually, I am not very emotional about it at all. I have one now… but… I suppose that’s not a good sign me not being exited about a piece of technology.

Let’s talk for a second about apps. 100.000 apps in the app store sounds impression, I wonder how much would be left if you search for useful apps only. I think any item released on the app store gets count, no matter if it is a book, a set of pictures or the 100. variation of an existing app.  When I got the phone I installed almost everything, but now after consolidating a bit there are only a few left. Besides dozens of stupid games and time wasters.

Internet & Social Networking

  • iDroid Mini Browser – I just love it. It has visual bookmarks, easy navigation and just works. Safari is kinda unhandy to me.
  • TwitPict – it is a neat feature: take a pic, upload it, comment it and share it via the usual channels.
  • Facebook – facebook application. There is no real need for it, but definitively a nice to have, such as for the other social networks like Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr.
  • WordPress – A full word press editor on the iphone. Posts can be written as draft and be posted later, images can be attached, tags and categories are available. The keyboard is odd (see below) but besides from that it is a nice wordpress client I use when I am on the road.
  • iWavePushy – Push notifications when a wave got updated. The iPushy bot needs to be added to that wave. 

Travel apps

  • Trip It – it would be nice if the free application would actually show the travel time. But it doesn’t so no use for me. As I am using Dopplr I am not willing and pushed to pay a yearly subscription for the trip it service. Considering travelload being dead (or neverending beta) I think the best solution for me is Dopplr and Trip Case.
  • Dopplr – I wished Dopplr wasn’t just a travel tracker but also a bit more travel management. Besides from that I like the app it shows interesting places close by to go to.
  • Trip Case – I just found that one while I was waiting in Heathrow for my plane. Usually I have a print out with my hotel and flight details, but trip case allows me to store all these information on the phone. I can also send notifications about my plane departure and delay times to chosen recipients. So Jimmy now gets informed when my plane is more than 15 minutes late. A few things are missing, so trains and buses cannot be scheduled but besides from that it is exactly what I needed and wanted.
  • XE currency converter – I have barely used it, but it is a nice to have for traveling.

Other apps

  • Sleep Cycle – finally I found an alarm which doesn’t need to ring at 3 different times in the morning to get me up. It also helps me to realize that I needmore sleep.
  • iOutBank – developed, continental european countries – such as Germany – provide a sophisticated way of online banking. There is a protocol used by banks which allows to use certain clients for online banking. These clients most likely add some functionality such as reporting and budgeting. Sadly, one wouldn’t find any of this in Ireland. iOutBank allows me to keep an eye on all transaction on my german bank accounts.

Work only apps

  • OpenAir – this is a quite useful app if you do your expenses and timesheets with OpenAir.com. The only missing feature is that receipts cannot be attached with a photo of the bill. That would just be awesome and maybe make travel expenses less annoying.
  • Zimbra – it just sucks like any other Zimbra client. I cannot download my mails for unknown reasons. And I don’t even care to investigate.
  • Salesforce I cannot test as we haven’t enabled iPhone support. I am quite sure this is a nice to have…
  • Jira Mate – A Jira client – yeah. I wished there was somewhere a Jira I would use. I haven’t tried out the available bugzilla clients as I am too stupid to figure out the VPN settings (doh!)

Desktop applications:

  • iPhone explorer – it allows to browse the iPhone in disk mode once it is connected via USB.

WTF’s and other rants:

  • The layout of the UI cannot be changed, I cannot set a background image nor change the color scheme of the screen. It is like wearing an uniform. Why do I have to jailbreak it just to get back my individuality?
  • I cannot buy in different stores, not all applications are available everywhere. It is friggin’ odd having two accounts just to be able to download German and English applications. Half of them are not available in Germany, some other apps aren’t available on the UK/IE store. WTF?
  • I need an explanation for camera add ons. Apparently it is additional software which is invoking the cam app and maybe enhancing some features. But as soon as you use the cam from another a
    pp there is no addition at all. So what is the point? Apparently none of the standard applications can be removed or replaced. Wouldn’t it be great to set a different default browser or to be able to uninstall the weather app? If I want to know about the weather I look out of the window or I check the internet. I won’t ever use a friggin’ phone for that!
  • The typing interface / the virtual keyboard: I just don’t like it. The virtual keyboard on the P910 and a pen are way more efficient. Also, the iPhone is the first device which makes me missing the caps lock key. The reduction of the keyboard in 3 or 4 panels as well as the crappy word suggestion are just annoying. Sending texts in more than one language ends in frustration, as the word replacement happens automatically. So it just sends out bullshit or you review your text you properly typed and the iPhone scrambled into something else. The eZiTap extension for Symbian OS was way more intuitive and helpful!
  • The battery. I basically recharge the phone every night. Turn on 3G or WIFI and you can watch the battery getting empty. Again, the P910i still lasts a week!
  • Ring Tones: I have to install them. An upload via drop box doesn’t work, music can’t be used. It needs to be a special format. Another WTF.
  • Flight mode. Why can’t i choose it when I turn the mobile on? Why do I need to remember to turn the proper mode before I turn it off?
  • I don’t think the iPhone is the invention of all good. I still love the P910 with Symbian OS. If the hardware wasn’t that old I would still use it: but having today a VGA cam and no WIFI at all makes it a bit hard to use. In the meaning of having a brick in the hand just to make calls the P910i is clearly my favorite.
  • I just downloaded the 2.8GB sized SDK for the iPhone. While waiting for it I read about Java support (not really there…) and how to implement web services (as long as it is REST)… WTF?

Conclusion
I am having an iPhone now, and it seems to be grown on my hand. I spend a lot of money to get a little device which serves needs I didn’t have before. For now I use my macbook less, I haven’t used the PSP or the DS in ages. It replaces the Nokia N82 which only failed in not having a touch screen. For now I am having the iPhone as main phone, the P910 as my German mobile, the fisher price for the old SIM card and the o2 XDA orbit (puke!) to collect dust somewhere where I can’t see the damned device.

Tbh, I still consider the Sony Erricsson P910i as the best phone I ever had (and still have).

Look out for a soon to follow post about the iPhone vs. P910i :)

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