Snippets 07 March 2014

Perhaps I should reword the title as “Random Ramblings 07 March 2014”.

J2BRj

(Well the “baby” do not sleep with us but it does not matter since she keeps us awake the same and causes us to have shorter and shorter time to get a good night sleep. Image source: http://blogs.babycenter.com/)

I had a great idea for a post for this week. In fact I had more than one great idea for the week. So I want you to believe so but it was not the case. The truth is I was so caught up with work that I have not given a thought for a theme for the post for this week. But I had plenty of random ramblings of the things that I have seen and done in the past one week and things I will be seeing and doing in the coming weeks.

Here’s some of it:-

1. It has been some weeks since I (and my wife) had a real good night sleep. Forget the weekdays – we are getting less than 5 hours of sleep on daily basis. Still remember this? And it is scientifically proven too.

Well, our daughter is back to her routine of actively playing until is way after midnight and only calm down to sleep when the clock hits one in the morning. We have tried to tune her routines to a more normal hours but we failed miserably. That leaves me especially rather burned down when I am in the office and had to face serious decision making. I would just look a bit zombie by then. On the weekends, the agenda is pre-set with so many activities which leaves us little time to sleep (but we still manages to steal time for short naps but it is not enough to pay back proper the lost sleep). And this week we are traveling and there is a big function set for the weekend (read on below). So it will be another week without an opportunity to catch up on sleep.

2. Speaking of traveling and having a function for the weekend, it is actually for the other Big Boss. Similar to this. Frankly speaking I hate elaborate temple functions and if possible I rather give this function a slip (of course it won’t be me alone but the whole family. I know my son hates it too) but since it is tradition and something that is spearheaded by my wife and her parents, that is not possible.

On the good side is we will be staying in a proper hotel (with secured parking, thank God and air-conditioner) this time around and not as usual cramped up spot in my in-law’s house and thus it should not be so taxing as compared to last time we travel up north and there were not enough space to accommodate us all (me and my son had to sleep in another house) and mosquitoes had good time making kamikaze attacks on us.

3. Speaking about kamikaze, encountering with pesky motorcyclists who cut in and out of traffic without any indicators (in fact I curse all morons who cut in and out of the traffic without any indicators), riding without any lights & helmet and ride on the wrong side of the road and endangering other road users is nothing new. Often missing close calls, I often hope that couple meters upfront, they are lying under the huge tires of a big truck and one less idiot would be on the road.

But last night, the motorcyclist that I saw probably took the center stage of the morons on the road. I was driving on the slower lane of the highway when this idiot cut in from the left (without any indicators whatsoever) and I immediately saw that his back lights were not working and he had a dark jacket on. So much so of presenting himself to be more visible on the road. As I tailing him from the back and getting ready to over take him, I noticed something rather disturbing. his back wheel was actually wobbling and this idiot was not even riding slow and he did not stick to the slow lane. Obviously keeping his bike in top shape was the last thing in his must do list. He was still cutting in and out of the lanes. I just wonder how stupid some people can be when it comes to them using their vehicles.

4. Due to the call to conserve water and water rations in some parts of the city, we have made a point to make sure all of our water containers & pots & bottles are full all the time. I have also decided not to do my weekly washing of the car. And even the last time I did it, I used the least water possible – I just wet the towel and cleaned the layer of the dust on the car body. But then again, even if I do my usual washing, I am dead sure that I use far less water than those guys at the “snow” car wash (and the car would be cleaner too). I wonder if things get from bad to worse, will the Government ban these road side car wash centers? They do use plenty of the treated water for the car wash – water that can be used for drinking. I just wonder about it.

5. Remember when I said that Symbian is finally dead? My “old” Nokia N8 was passed on to my wife and her experience with a smartphone has been a good one. Now as she is familiar with ins and outs of using a smartphone, she want to move on with Phase 2 of using a smartphone. If budget forbids, we might be shopping for the replacement phone soon. Yes, it will be another Android 4.2 powered smartphone (mine already moved to Android 4.3) but since it is for my wife who does not need much “computing power”, with a lower specifications for a low cost. That is if we have leftovers after we have spent on the kitchen cabinet.

6. Yes, the once I was “proud of” kitchen cabinet is long overdue for a replacement – no thanks to the termites and a bit of misuse. It’s time to hunt for fresh quotations and visit forums and gauge which one will be affordable and which contractor to engage. There is of course the issue of budget and sticking to them even though there will be plenty of temptations to add things here and there. Hopefully we can get this done in the next 1-2 months.

P.s. Anwar Ibrahim have been found guilty of sodomy and be rest assured that it will change the landscape of the politics in this country. After all, he was the one who brought PAS & DAP into a stronger alliance. But who knows, on the other hand, it could be a blessing in disguise – BN have been using Anwar as an excuse to demonize Pakatan and with Anwar out of the picture (either in prison for the next 5 years or busy with his appeals), BN will less things to demonize them. Further with Anwar not in the running for the MB seat, Khalid will be able to be in a stronger position to hold on to his MB seat and keep up his good work. His work and lack of corruption in his administration has been a plus factor in the voters electing Pakatan to run the state again. We don’t see a reason for change now.

Have a good weekend…

The Symbian is FINALLY dead!

I think it was just a matter of time before this happens…

201105211552535012

(Anodised aluminium monocoque case – that is what grabs you when you see a N8 for the first time. That’s what happened to me and it became my first smartphone and it remained until it was clear that it’s OS, Symbian^3 will no longer be developed with new releases. Image source: http://mobilemegamall.com)

My venture to smartphones probably triggered by an incident at a car park – the parking attendant with dirty short pants & flip-flops was updating his status on Facebook with an iPhone. It then occurred to me that the age of smartphone is already here and somehow I had missed catching the boat.

So, back in January 2011, I went back and finally got myself a smartphone. Despite of my friends choosing between Android powered phones and iPhone, I picked Nokia’s flagship phone – the Symbian^3 powered Nokia N8 (which was released in September 2010). After all, back then Nokia was one of the biggest and well-known phone makers out there. Unfortunately despite it coming with a rather impressive set of specifications, something was missing. It took almost 1.5 years for Nokia (I am sure after numerous complaints) to come with the right firmware updates to its robust Symbian OS to move forward the N8 to the level that is in par with the more developed & widely used smartphone OSes – namely Android and iOS. The only let-down of N8 when it comes with comparing with other smartphones out there was on the hardware. N8 had very little RAM, not-so-impressive processing power and a rather bulky design although it fought back hard (and they won hands down) with the very best, fully downloadable Ovi Maps, anodised aluminium monocoque case, Gorilla Glass, AMOLED screen and 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens (still remains one of the best cameras in the Nokia line-up – the other is the 41 mega pixel PureView on the 808).

With its last update to Nokia Belle Refresh last year, it remained a good robust smartphone to have – battery storage was not so bad (my friend’s Android smartphone had an even worse power storage despite having a larger battery – but it could be due to Wi-fi) and the onboard maps & GPS came very handy when driving through unfamiliar roads. But it was still lacking when it comes to apps – not that I am complaining much on that (I rarely download anything else but games and I do have a good selection of games that would keep me engaged for hours and without draining the battery drastically). I have dropped the phone a couple of times but it is still working. In the last 2.5 years, the only major problem that I had with this phone was on the power circuits which got “fried” twice and had to be replaced. I have myself to blame for that – as it only happened after a long and heavy usage of the phone on games. So, other than that, it was good enough for call, SMSes, navigation, emails, internet surfing and yes, games.

After Nokia Belle Refresh and despite Nokia fiddling with Microsoft’s Windows Phone in 2011, there was still hope that Nokia will provide on some form of updates now and then for the Symbian^3 OS. But when at the end of 2012 Nokia decided to go full swing on Windows Phone and came up with their new flagship smartphone – the Nokia Lumia 920 which runs on the latest Windows Phone 8 OS, it was clear that Symbian^3 is going to take a back seat and it will be going to be rare to see any form of a solid firmware updates coming along the way anything soon for Symbian phones. It was ageing too and too complicated for quick updates – Symbian turned 16 years old this year but it has not moved that far with innovations.

Read here on the interesting story on Symbian and why it died.

xperia-sp-gallery-06-1240x840-351158f384e37cb15365d91e10256afc.png

(Smartphones these days handles more than just making calls and sending SMSes -we use it to watch videos, listen to music, take photos and videos, surf the net, GPS navigation, check emails, play games and use it as a mobile knowledge tool. Thus it need to have a strong robust hardware and a long lasting battery. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)

Yet, I was still happy with my N8 until beginning of this year when my wife’s phone (the much older Nokia 6300 series) started to have battery problems. And she also wanted to move on to the smartphone landscape since all her other siblings are using smartphones as well. So, one night she popped the question – when I am going to change my phone? And lately as her old phone problem started to get worse (and my kids wanting mobile entertainment, games and music) and me always being on the move, it was time for me to look for a new phone – one that does not run on the soon to be dead Symbian.

So I turn and weighed my options and I started with getting the right OS for my next phone. Like my older N8, it came with solid hardware but at end of the day, the OS was stagnant. I turned down Windows Phone 8 from my list outright – firstly it was still new and I am not sure if Nokia or Microsoft will change their directions again in the coming months. It is also claimed to be weak. iOS was popular but since it only runs on an iPhone, it was expensive, inflexible and some of the hardware sucked (I know some of the iPhone fans would differ the thought on this).

And that leaves me with Android and there is a couple of choice of models with various specification and prices to choose from. From the top range HTC and Samsung Galaxy smartphones to some low range CSL smartphones, it would not be easy for me to pick one to replace the sturdy Nokia N8. So, I decided to list down some specifications and then match them with what the market has to offer.

This is what I had in mind – it must run at least the latest Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and it should have a gracious RAM & processing power (a minimum a du0 core and I GB RAM – the Nokia N8 was running a low 256MB RAM but at most time, it was enough). I also do not want to spend too much money on the phone – as technology moves along, the price will come down. So why spend too much on something when there are cheaper alternatives or prices will come down soon.

sony-xperia-sp-02

(Sony Xperia SP is well made, looks beautiful and punch with strong hardware and runs on the popular Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 OS. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)

After a while of “research” and comparing the various specifications – I decided on Sony Xperia SP which was launched in Malaysia sometime in April 2013 and comes with an impressive 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 8 megapixel camera, a sturdy aluminium frame, internal storage of almost 6GB, slot for microSD up to 32GB and a 4.6 inch Gorilla Glass display. It is claimed to be the fastest dual-core phone yet, better in performance than Samsung Galaxy Note II and HTC One X+. It is also claimed to be one of the best mid-price smartphones money can buy.

It also has something that most of the other smartphones out there does not have – light effect so displays different colour light at the bottom notification bar for call & SMS actions (it also lights up for music which looks very cool and it also lights up in red when charging and turns green once it reaches 90% plus charged). Other specifications are pretty much standard with other smartphones out there although I preferred it’s speakers to be on the side instead on the back (same thing on the N8 which muzzles out the sound when the phone is placed on it’s back although in the Xperia SP, the camera lens cover lift enough space for speakers)

And since Malaysia mobile operators are moving ahead with 4G LTE and part of the country can support 4G, Xperia SP already comes with built-in support for 4G & NFC. Compared with some of the other premium phones that support 4G & NFC, Xperia SP seemed to be more affordable too. The official selling price is RM1,299 but some dealers are selling it for RM1,099 (probably after the smartphone rebate of RM200). I am able to use back the Nokia’s USB charger for this phone – so I don’t need to worry about charging the phone which can last for 4 days with its “STAMINA” feature set on (and if I don’t play games or surfing the net).

It is not the end of Symbian though. My older Nokia N8 had found a new owner – my wife who soon got herself busied with the ins and outs of using a smartphone and her grand master on this is not me but rather my son who had also “explored” my new phone even before I could get my hands on it and checked all its features. Symbian somehow lives on if you consider the phone range in the family but for me at least, it is finally dead. It is time for Android and what it can do (or rather what I am going to do with it) in the coming months.

Nokia N8 Firmware Update Part 3

(Countdown – 315 days to “doomsday”)

Firmware

(Any new updates to smart phone firmware with new features, themes and UI is always welcomed. Image Nokia )

This probably will be the “last” Symbian^3 OS update before Nokia goes all out on Windows Phone 7

I managed to update my N8 to the latest Nokia firmware – Nokia Belle yesterday but to do that, one needs the latest Nokia Suite (FOTA – firmware update over the air was not possible).

The update was about 287MB plus (some reported 311MB) and it was smooth – no major hiccups noted. However one must remember – as usual, some of the previous settings and applications will be wiped out when the phone ports over to the new firmware. You need to reinstall and maintain them again even though the update backups messages and contact details before it installs and restores them back once done (the usual full backup/wipe/restore cycle).

With Nokia Belle update, the some of the prominent changes is that there are now six home screens with live widgets in different sizes and a drop down menu for notifications.

All About Symbian reports:-

  • A major reworking of the user interface, with an emphasis on ease of use, updated design language and flatter navigation hierarchy. Specific items are detailed below.
  • Better use [a new memory management scheme] of the 256MB of RAM in all Symbian^3/Anna devices. In practice this will mean no occasional ‘Memory full’ errors and (hopefully) foolproof execution of even the largest ‘HD’ games. Applications which are running will, on the whole, stay running, whatever else you start up. Overall performance is better, in terms of UI responsiveness and multitasking.
  • Qt 4.7.4 is baked in from day one, meaning far fewer installation problems for Qt apps and faster (and more silent) installs in general.
  • Full NFC functionality (on the Nokia C7, at least, which has the necessary chip!), including: tap and share (share images, videos and contacts), tap and pair (pair Bluetooth accessories through a simple tap), tap and access (read tags to find information) and tap to play (unlock new levels on NFC-enabled games).
  • Improvements in screen real estate, with slimmer top status bar and optional (in some apps) bottom toolbar, meaning that all phones will have a larger useful display area.
  • Home screen widgets will now come in up to five different sizes (1×1, 2×1, 4×1, 2×2, 4×4) and allow a greater degree of interactivity. In addition to dragging widgets around a home screen in ‘Edit’ mode, you can now also drag from one home screen to another. Widget re-positioning when moving from portrait to landscape mode remains intelligent, with some tweaks for the new variety in widget sizes.
  • New drop-down menu, Android style, to access notifications, connectivity toggles (including a welcome one for ‘Mobile data’, which previously required an involved trip into ‘Settings’) and system status information from most places in the UI.
  • The Symbian home screen system now supports up to six pages (previously the limit was three for most phones and five for the smaller-screened E6).
  • A rewritten application launcher with default ‘flat’ structure, i.e. all applications are presented in one big scrolling grid of icons, though as I explained here, it’s easy enough to make new folders, including one called ‘trash’ (or similar), somewhere to put all the apps you don’t think you’ll even need – this significantly reduces the amount of vertical scrolling needed. There’s an option to switch the icons to alphabetic order, or to quick match/search the list, but happily your original order is also remembered so that you can switch back at any time. Newly installed applications are now marked with a red asterisk until they’ve been opened for the first time.
  • An application can be ‘added to the home screen’ from the main app menu, by long pressing its icon.
  • The bottom softkeys and (optional) bottom toolbar are replaced with a single toolbar comprising up to four icons (Back/Exit, Custom 1, Custom 2, and Menu). This, for most applications, in theory, gives the UI a flatter hierarchy, with less use of menus and with more direct interaction.
  • Improvements to the lock screen, which will now have information about missed calls, messages and emails. The lock screen also now supports a transparency effect, showing the underlying home screen wallpaper.
  • Update to Web, with numerous optimisations and easy access to multiple windows through a permanent toolbar icon. Like desktop browsers, Web keeps track of your ‘Most visited pages’ and this can be set as your ‘homepage’ if needed. A long press and drag on web page text now pops up a ‘Copy’ option, for copying text to the system clipboard.
  • Update to Music Player, with a ‘floating track list’ in the album art ‘cover flow’ view.
  • Updates to several other Symbian stalwart applications. Calendar gets an overall facelift and Notes now brings up a white (and AMOLED-unfriendly…) editing screen.
  • Update to Camera, showing the new, streamlined UI that featured in the Beta Labs N8 Camera update. Although functionality is the same, far fewer taps are needed to get to the majority of settings and functions. Note also that the ‘Close-up’ mode for the N8 video capture (i.e. with continuous auto-focus) is also included, so no need to install that as well.

Yes, Nokia Belle has 6 home screens – wow but what’s the point? Even under Symbian Anna, I only used 1 home screen (out of the available 3), so having an additional 3 under Belle does not make a big difference. I still need only 1 home screen but under Belle, it now allows me to add widgets to home screen, so it makes more sense to have more home screens – it is easy to navigate with a touch of the finger.

And one of the best things that Belle update brings is the pull down menu for notifications from any home screen. It is easier to block unwanted data connection and switch on Wi-Fi with an easy Wi-Fi widget. It is easier to manage the mobile data connection (which was a pain in the past – mobile data running without notice). Now I can completely block it and need not worry about the unnecessary high mobile internet charges.

The clock is now sports a more Android alike design and fonts are smaller and more efficient – meaning less scrolling now. I am not sure if this is part of the Belle tweak but I found photos takes now in N8 clearer and sharper. Still playing around with the changes and widgets but one thing I am missing now is the ability to open running applications and closing them with press of a button. That feature seems missing from Belle – you need to navigate through apps menu and find the one that is running and manually close. There should be an easier way to do this in Belle.

The new Belle firmware update suppose to bring in business apps from Microsoft, including Exchange ActiveSync, Sharepoint, OneNote, PowerPoint Broadcaster and Lync but I have not checked on these yet (FAQ states that it will be available in the next few weeks). Under previous firmware Anna, one glaring flaw that I noticed was the shorter duration of battery – a minor update later seemed to have addressed this. Under Belle, I hope power management remains efficient but that needs some closing monitoring for the next few days.

For now, I am quite satisfied with Belle – it addressed some of the shortcomings in Anna and somehow brings N8 in par with some of the latest smart phones in the market. Of course, with any major update of any firmware, things are not so perfect – there are users reports on the net that may warrant Nokia to release further tweaks to Belle (and I hope this get done soon). In the meantime, checkout Belle FAQ for some clarifications on Belle update.

P.s. the revamped Nokia Tune in Belle – aka Nokia Tune Dubstep Edition is damn cool!

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One for 2011

(One short post before the end of 2011 and start of 2012)

(Given the right conditions, shots taken with Nokia N8 can be damn good too. Click for higher resolution photos here)

2011 has been a slow year for this blog and I hope things will pick in 2012. On the onset, it looks like 2012 is going to be an interesting year – Mayan predictions aside, we expect to see a couple of things to happen next year. General elections is one but provided there is less of dirty politics on both sides (the critical question would be – can PR still retain Selangor and do better than 2008?), Anwar’s Sodomy 2 verdict (if there is no disruptions to the on-going trial and mayhem created by street protests), a possibly Bersih 3.0 (if the authorities screw things up before the elections), Proton launching their new global car (plenty of spyshots at Paul Tan), a couple of must-watch movies – I am waiting for The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers (ya, count The Hobbit as well), a couple of trips overseas (likely to be work related but educational I am pretty sure) and within Malaysia (planning for East Coast in particular), perhaps MACC catching a couple more of the big fish (the sea of NFC looks too tempting for catch of the year), my son going for swimming classes (finally, his wish comes true), a new addition to family, etc

In the meantime, happy holidays and Happy New Year for all – hopefully 2012 would be a fulfilling and rewarding year compared to 2011

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Un-hanging the N8

This happened a couple weeks…

(Nokia N8 is great but sometimes I forget that it is more than a phone – it has a very complex system running in the background. Image source)

I somehow had managed to screw up my N8. Sometimes I forget that smartphones are just like personal computers when it comes to installation of new software. It can very, very sensitive. After all, it has a complex Operating System, root folders, power hungry applications, etc. So, if one installs the wrong application (especially from an untested, dubious third party source) or installs it half way, it will screw up the system. And this is exactly what happened.

I was reading about a virus that was been roaming on smartphones in recent weeks. I used to have NetQin anti-virus application for my Symbian Anna powered N8 but I started to note that the anti virus application (I should take the blame for this – I have been playing with the settings) started to get into running of all other active applications. And then one day, I noticed it starts to connect to the Internet without my express authorization. Bloody hell, this was getting scary! So, I did what I suppose to do in panic when these things happen – I simply uninstalled the AV application and left with an unsecured smartphone.

(A robust AV app for smartphone is a must and to be fair, NetQin does the job rather well. It is just that incomplete installation and itchy fingers playing with the settings can create major havoc to the phone. http://dandroidtabletpc.com)

So when I read about the virus on the net and realized that I don’t have any AV on board, I started to look for an AV application – with NetQin being my last choice. There were not many choices out there when it comes to free based AV for Symbian^3 powered smartphones. NetQin was the only one I found that was available for N8 for free (although AV update will cost me but I was ok with that – the main application was still free). Not wanting to spend too much money on AV or Internet Security applications for smartphones for now, I hestitately installed NetQin back, hoping not to play with its settings this time around. But something else happened.

The installation did not complete as there was a disconnection of internet and I was left with a half-installed AV application which I was not aware immediately. Only when I decided to restart the phone, I realized this problem.

The phone starts up – the home page is shown but I could do anything else, the whole phone freezes. After a couple of tries, I noted that the installation starts up and this is causing the rest to freeze up. Then there is another problem as well – normally it is easier to stop this installation program from starting but since the phone freeze, I was unable to click on the application option. I was left with a dead phone now.

It was time for Google things up and it seems like there was only one choice – a hard reset but as many have warned, this should be a last option as it will format the whole phone and when restored, I am likely to lose Ovi Maps and Ovi Store (it needs a lot of manual installation for this and this too may not work 100%). There is another option of reseting to factory settings but it requires me to navigate through to the application menus and click on the option before the phone freezes over.

I tried the hard reset first – it was not possible to do the normal reset as the phone keeps freezing up. But the hard reset did not work – nothing happens. Then I remembered my sim card was still in the phone – I took it out and instead of hard reset, I tried the normal resetting for one last time.

When I restarted the phone, I noted that there was a longer gap before the phone freezes over. That small gap was just enough for me to disable the installation apps that kept running in the background whenever I started the phone. When I did that, I then realised that NetQin was also running in the background too (it was a mystery to me because I thought its installation was not complete) and due to frequent startup of the phone, NetQin had thought that the phone was under attack from virus and decided to freeze the phone to avoid further damages. I disable NetQin as well and proceeded with the safer and recommended method of resetting the phone to factory settings. Resetting was smooth and hassle free.

It did not take too long as well – once restarted, everything remain intact. I then restore back my contacts from my earlier backups using Nokia Ovi Suite (I had to do it twice – the first time; I wrongly included the restore of apps settings which did not work well. I reset and restore back but this time, excluding the settings). I got back my contacts updated into the phone and then proceeded to update to the latest Symbian Anna manually. And after that, I was home free.

I opted to leave any AV or Internet Security apps from my phone for the time being. Considering the risk – I may opt for a proper robust paid AV apps to be installed but not for now. Nonetheless, it was a scary moment – having the phone freezing up just like that and almost not having any way out to resolve it.

Read Also

Nokia N8 Firmware Update 2

Playing with Nokia N8

Nokia N8 Firmware Update Part 2

Read Part 1 here

(I love the smell of napalm…err…software updates in the morning. Image source: http://noknok.tv)

I thought it was the long overdue PR1.2 update but the device updates screen shows the release type as “Symbian Anna” (now I believe that PR1.2 was never released in Malaysia). It took less than 30 minutes for the latest updates for my N8 from Nokia servers – it was clean and smooth.

The updates contains among other things:-

  • Fresher, renewed look with new icons and wallpapers, and split screen view for Messaging, Mail, Browser, Phone book, Calendar, and Maps
  • Improved full QWERTY virtual keypad with split screen view and faster access to special characters
  • New, faster and easier-to-use browser, with new search features, and most used features available with one tap
  • New Maps version, with improved search, a public transport network view, and a new Check-in feature for sharing info about places through social networking services
  • Improved calendar, enabling you to create and accept meeting invitations through Mail
  • Microsoft Communicator Mobile available
  • Improved information and communication security
  • New versions of Ovi Store and QuickOffice
  • Performance and usability improvements

Other Software Updates

  • Flashlite 4
  • Java Runtime 2.2
  • Qt Mobility 1.1
  • Qt4.7

(Source)

For a more complete change log, click here for details

However, the latest updates is not really noticeable until it is time for you to type on a number or message – the QWERTY feature in portrait mode is really helpful (although sometimes the keypad seems too small but there is an option to switch off QWERTY function off) and when I start typing to call, the address book comes in other top side of the screen for an easy pick (it was not that easy under PR1.1). The Communicator function now is on display on home page but I have not played with the settings yet. The camera’s auto focus seems working better now.

Nokia has chosen to use Windows Phone as its primary OS for its future smartphones so I do hope that we were still get updates for the Symbian^3 OS in terms of new functions, performance and security.

Read Also

Top 5 changes Symbian Anna brings to Nokia N8

Getting Down on Games

(The latest craze – the famed Angry Birds, now even comes in form of cakes. My son even got himself a stuff toy version of the Angry Birds last week. Image source: http://walyou.com)

Almost on daily basis, my wife had to charge her mobile phone battery despite hers is not a modern smart phone which uses a lot of battery power or she is not a heavy mobile phone user – she only uses to for calls and occasional SMSes.

The culprit of course, is none other than our son who often get too bored with his usual toys and had to content between him monopolizing the TV for his kiddies shows and we providing something new for his gaming needs. Before I got my Nokia N8, the most “sophisticated” phone other than the CSL’s Blueberry was my wife’s 2730 Nokia which can take in some good Java games. I managed to stuff as many new games it was possible without overwhelming the storage and “released” on the right moments when my son have already got bored with the older games and he had already reached the highest level there is.

When my N8 arrived, it was just too tempting for my son to explore all the gaming options there is and soon, he have gotten to be more expert than me. And for a young boy who often gets bored fast, one game seems to be holding back his interest for sometime now – Angry Birds and for Nokia platform, there have several releases todate – the basic Free version, Lite version, the Season version and the Rio version. He has “done” it all – most several times over as he wanted to win in best time and the most “stars”. And once he gets hold of my phone, he gets lost in a world of his own – he no longer need his TV for his entertainment shots but at the same, he does not able to hear us calling out his name. One needs to physically hold the mobile phone to grab his attention.

Of course, we are very particular as to when he can play games on our mobile phones. His homework must be done first and done properly and without mistakes. And there are times when he needs to do revisions and at that times, TV, games and other “non-education” related items are strictly forbidden. Only when he is free and we want him to sit at one place, in front of us and our mobile phone batteries fully charged, we will pass over phones (although getting them back from him can prove to be a challenge).

Frankly speaking, Angry Birds (and before that several other mobile games) is very, very addictive. It is very simple to play and you score more points if you read the structure dynamics well – you hit it at the right angle and you may get a domino effect. Whoever did this is simply brilliant. You can lose several hours, just tucking yourself away in a corner and not knowing what is happening on the outside. It is also useful when one have nothing to do whilst waiting for others to come in before a meeting can be started. Just click the sound off, put the mobile phone below the conference table and you will no longer be feeling bored. Something to kill time before the actual meeting starts.

Of course, mobile games can’t come close to computer games or video game consoles which run on more powerful processors and with better hardware specs and memory power. One of my favorites, Company of Heroes (the first one is still the best – the subsequent ones simply sucked) is still one of the games that blew me away with its fine storytelling, graphics and a chance to be Germans, winning World War 2 battles.

Until we get a more fun, attention grabbing mobile game, Angry Birds is here to stay, causing more strain on our batteries as we try to get better points from the last time.

Nokia N8 Firmware Update

Nokia N8 rocks but updates has been rather slow in Malaysia

(Software updates are essential for smooth running of the hardware and improve user experience. Image source here)

PR1.1 firmware has been deployed in other regions since January 2011 but only yesterday I was able to update the firmware from PR1.0 to PR1.1 (my previous attempts shows message “no update available” when rest of the world was already playing with PR1.1). Update was fast and done without hiccups.

Read here for the detailed change log for PR1.1 but the one that would be useful for me are:-

  • Quickoffice 6.4.166, with free editing licence on the N8, and improved zooming functions
  • Dialler now works in landscape mode

Can’t wait for next firmware scheduled this year – PR2.0

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Playing with Nokia N8

Playing with Nokia N8

Update 1: Read the excellent “13 Reasons Why I Love The N8

Back to the original post

Hmm, how should I do this?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9ME5_ZzeKI]

(The Commuter, which was filmed entirely on the Nokia N8 in HD, stars Dev Patel as a commuter on his way to his first day of work. In this action-packed short film, Dev battles a killer Traffic Warden, a blind ninja, parkour bankers and comes face-to-face with Pamela Anderson before getting stuck in a lift with Ed Westwick and stealing a Lotus…will he make it in time? Source: IMDB)

There is enough reviews out there on the net, so to make this review simple, let me tell you 6 things that I personally like about this phone, Nokia N8 (in no particular order):-

1. Integrated GPS with Compass – let me tell you upfront that GPS lock (without A-GPS / Wifi) sucks (it is better outside provided that the conditions are right) but then again, that is how it suppose to be – N8 was not meant to be a dedicated GPS system. In the beginning, it takes sometimes 10 minutes to even lock but I realised I made a mistake of switching on the GPS when I am still in basement parking (duh!). Now I realised that if I restart the navigation program when I am on the outside, it locks faster.

(After recent software update – speed limit warning is up  on my phone – overall, free-for-life Ovi Map is still the best thing that is going for Nokia phones. Image source: here)

Things are very, very different once the lock is done. Navigation is smooth although map details are better at Google Map than on Nokia’s Ovi Map (the street in front of my house is missing). Good thing is Ovi Map is downloadable to the phone so complete map is available offline. The only problem I see with the current version of Ovi Map is that it does not detect speed camera or speeding over the limit although it is claimed that it is possible (note: speed limit was detected after the latest Apps Update 1.0 was made and at certain stretch of the highway – so I am not sure whether it is due to the apps update or map update)

2. Camera / Video – with 12MP with Carl Zeiss optics camera onboard, it is almost a galaxy away of my earlier lousy 2MP phone camera. 12MP is rather generous as compared to the usual 5MP cameras found in other smart phones. Video quality is at the best and the switch between camera & video functions are rather simple and easy (at a switch of a button). HDMI connection and video editor is available but I have not tried that yet. I took some videos over the weekend – one included this shot of the super fast ERL train, “flying” from KLIA towards the city (ignore the background sound of kids). Oh, did I mention that it is in High Definition too? Very impressive indeed!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-HvKf_Nmk4]

3. FM Transmitter – Perhaps nothing to shout about considering that there are plenty of portable MP3 car players out there (including one priced RM19.90 at some hypermarket) but there is a small difference. There is no need for a separate thumb drive for storage purpose and song selection is slightly easier (not very easy – you need to create playlist first). Of course, this does not come close to a dedicated car MP3 player like this.

4. Games – this is something that you will greatly appreciate if you are stuck somewhere, waiting for someone and have nothing to do (like the outpatient area of our government hospitals). In the past, a simple game like Snake was good enough to kill time but over the years, games have become slightly more “complicated”. More so, if you are having a touch screen phone and equipped by orientation sensor – it is easy to convert the phone into a steering wheel or joystick (with vibration mode too).

5. Email functions – able to connect to many email addresses out there including Nokia’s own email facility is nothing new but it does comes handy. Setup is a breeze compared to my previous phone. Having touch screen means keyboard is a matter of touching the screen but I do suggest installing “Swype” which makes it easier to “type” the sentences although it cannot beat my earlier phone’s dedicated QWERTY keypad.

(Ovi Store is growing but there are widgets at Apple Apps that we like to see running in a Symbian powered smart phones. Image source: http://noknok.tv)

6. Widgets – they say it cannot beat Apple Apps and they are right but there is still plenty to look out for at Ovi Store. Some of them that come preinstalled with the phone can be pretty annoying since it always want to connect to the internet when it is not needed. Ya, I can turn the widgets to offline mode but I prefer to uninstall it all together. Yes, it is fun but paying for all that data download is not (not surprisingly my bill for this month is higher than usual but it should be stabilizing by next month, ha ha). Thankfully there is option for Wi-Fi connection which reduces connection cost.

Other functions is very similar with many phones out there and oh yes, let me add that for the time being, I am charging once 2 days mainly because my son plays with the games at home and I am tinkering with the GPS settings when he is not. So, there is no point doing any battery life test.

Software updates is not that regular but since I bought, there has been 2 recent updates (one crashed but I found the workaround later – need to delete a folder called 200919119 and retry the update). Nokia N8 was Nokia’s flagship device in 2010 and runs on an open source OS called Symbian (it is version 3 now and version 4 suppose to be in works).

P.s. this post would be updated from time to time as I explore the capability of NN8 in the coming months

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NN8 – First Impressions

NN8 – First Impressions

Been very busy with project works but here’s a quickie before I head back to work

(After many phones over the last few years, this must be my real smartphone – Image source: http://www.photographyblog.com)

Well, it is not really an iPhone but it is cheaper and in some areas, better and certainly a quantum leap over this.

Actually I did not plan for this but something about this phone attracted me when I was at Maxis service centre to settle on my wife’s phone line issue. Nokia N8 comes with very impressive features but here are some I really like about this latest gadget of mine – a full GPS sat nav (with built-in GPS chip and free maps from Ovi Maps for lifetime), 12 MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens, HD Video with HDMI outlet and the best of all, it is wrapped in an anodised aluminium body.

I really did not have the time to explore all the features in Nokia N8 (I am pressing the wrong buttons sometimes) but hopefully after CNY, I will have time to do a proper review. In the meantime, I am enjoying Need for Speed on Nokia N8 and free GPS Navigation.  I have not really touched on the camera and video and music player – perhaps after the holidays.

First impression wise, it looks very, very tempting…

Read Also

Nokia N8 vs Apple iPhone 4

10 Things why Nokia N8 is better