Jun 29, 2007

3jam - Text me!

While trying to keep up with the days I am spending offline at Kleiat, I was quickly browsing through all my favorite blogs. It's then I came across this little widget from 3jam over at Ray's Yet Another Symbian Blog. Basically this allows you to text me (or send me an sms) whenever, wherever. It also allows me to reply to your sms, quickly and efficiently. Sweet!

How does it function?
1 - Well first of all, you type in your message, then name and phone number (use the +countrycoderegioncodephonenb, ie for lebanon a mobile nb would be +9613xxxxxx) .
2 - You will be sent a verification code to your phone. Enter this verification code when prompted to (in the widget) and click send.
3 - I will receive the message, and you, on the other hand, will receive a confirmation of the sent message.

I really find this a nice touch and an easy way to keep in touch. I tried sending an sms to myself, using my father's mobile nb as a sender. I ended up paying nothing from my father's account, and nothing from my account. Even sweeter! Of course replying will cost me some $ (or cents) , but hey, lemme worry about that!
I don't know if any of you, fellow bloggers, will find this useful, because you're mostly always connected, be it via twitter, jaiku, palringo, instant messaging, ... but if you're a frequent reader here, you would know that I don't have any sort of mobile internet on my 3250, so this sms solution is rocking my world.

Come on, give this widget a go, it's totally free (unless you pay for receiving sms, and if you do, what operator are you with and why are you still stuck like this?) and lemme know what you think.

8 Random Things Meme

Well, I have been tagged by Zach of Symbian-in-Motion with the "8 Random Things" meme. Basically this is a pass-along post you use to write 8 random things people (and bloggers) don't know about you and that would let them get to know you better and help you find some cool blogs all along, while surfing your way through tags. Well, all I can say is, "kewl!" but I'm having a hard time finding people to tag, everyone is taken!

Here goes the rules, first:
- Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
- People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
- At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
- Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Now here are the 8 random things about me
1 - Although I have been a pharmacy student for 4 years now, I can barely get myself to study and sometimes, I still wonder what the 'eck I'm doing in this major. I used to love math, physics, literature, arts,... now I find myself with thousands of pages to memorize. Not quite my cup.

2 - Even though I am still not sure about my major, I will do a PhD in Pharmacogenomics, basically that's the study of the differences of reactions to a certain medication, based on your genetic code. Say I take a Tylenol, you take a Tylenol, I have some side effects, you don't even have the original effect of the drug. Why? That's all genetics. You get the picture. I like it and it's all research with mice and rabbits, so I'm guaranteed to go insane in a couple of years :)

3 - I hate politics, anything politics, everything politics. I just HATE it, despise it. It irritates me. Politics is something I never understood, don't understand, and will never understand. POINT.

4 - I have only owned 2 phones my entire life, only one of them is a symbian 60 phone. And I have a blog about them, weird :s

5 - I suffer from hypothyroidism, basically that means that you gain weight really easily. I am also sort of boulimic at times (well, I love food, who doesn't?). So hypothyroidism + healthy appetite = overweight. When diagnosed, I lost 25Kgs from medication+diet+sports. Now I gained 23Kgs of those back so I'm back to my endocrinologist with a couple of lab tests in a week. Wish me luck.

6 - I never smoked a cigarette, never tried any kind of drugs, I also hate coffee (tasted it when I was young and found it repulsive). My theory in life: "No cafeine, no nicotine, no cocaine, no heroin and everything similar to those". I also have another motto that states that I'm gonna get married on the 02/10/2010, any volonteer groom?

7 - I LOVE to imitate people. Most of the times I don't look for it, it just comes. Like for eg, sometimes I start speaking in a certain manner, and I feel I am imitating somebody, but don't know who. Sometimes it takes me weeks to know who that person is. I guess it's a gift. I also like learning accents, I know 3 languages so far (arabic, french, english, by order) and the accents I know (beside the originals) are:
1) jerdi lebanese = country-side arabic
2) gulf arabic
3) syrian arabic
4) egyptian arabic
5) aasfouri = language where you add a "z" between each 2 letters
6) southern french accent
7) american person speaking french accent
8) french person speaking english accent
9) southern american accent
10) UK english accent
11) rap american

8 - I have a "soulmate" theory that states that for every person, there are a couple of people, you can call soulmates with whom you feel connected. Basically that means that even though, most of the time, you don't kow these people very well (they are not necessarily your friends), you still feel comfortable around them, trouble-free, and somewhat happy, almost like if you're in the presence of something grand. That is deeper than I could ever describe. Some persons have more sensitivity towards this symptom (thus they really know when they see a soulmate) and some soulmates may generate a deeper connection than others.

Now I conclude by tagging:
Michael of the Nokian blog
Ray of Yet another symbian blog
Michell of MobileXpert
Daemon from PhoneBoy
Tarek of Symbiano-Tek
Johanna of Smartphonin (s60 blogs)
Wardy of Wardy's blog
Stephen of Stephen1 Blog

Jun 25, 2007

Head2Head - SMS Chat vs. Thread SMS

Second Head2Head post features the 2 softwares on the market that allow a chat-like or messenger-like interface for viewing messages exchanged with one or several contacts. These apps make it easy for you to view sent and received messages with one contact for example, in a chronological order, without having to go back and forth between your Inbox and Sent tabs in the Messaging Application. These 2 apps are SMS Chat (14.95$) from SymbianWave and Thread SMS (14.95$) from EHandySoft. For the record this is a comparison between the s6- 3rd edition versions of both apps. Also I used the trial beta version of Thread SMS.

Head2Head: SMS Chat vs. Thread SMS

FEATURESMS ChatThread SMS (beta trial)
Integration with contactsyes, no trouble so faryes, but sometimes gets lost between numbers & names, and shows 2 conversations with the same person
Messages in conversationsshows the entire message in the conversationshows a part of the message, then after clicking, opens every message in a new window
Conversation loadingyou chose which contact you want to load a conversation withall conversations with all contacts are already pre-loaded
Arrangementby person, not by conversationby conversation
Message detailsyesyes
Integration with Nokia's messaging applicationyes, sent messages from within the app appear in the sent messagesyes, sent messages from within the app appear in the sent messages
Go toyes, first conversation, last conversationno
Find a wordyes, with case sensitive or not options and search from beginning or current positionno
Arabic language supportevery word letters are shown in reverse orderevery word letters are shown in reverse order
New Message
Write a new SMSyesyes
Write to a contact with whom no conversation has already been initiatedyesyes, you chose the contact, but then have to approve the number :s
Write to a new number (not a contact)yesyes, click "back" when contacts list shows then write the number in the number box
Multiple recipientsnono, it may appear so but when you tick a couple of contacts while selecting a recipient, only the last contact ticked gets selected
Maximum character number (160 per msg) and nbr of messages u'll pay foryesno
Forwardno, you can copy to clipboard then send from the original Nokia message applicationyes
Emoticonsyes, visibleyes, but you see the code, the emoticon only appears in the conversation
Symbol supportyesyes
Flash SMS sendingnoyes, but you have to install Coolsms+
Cancel while writingin many clicks: Options, Message, Deletein one click
Template supportyesno
Schedule a messageyesno
Save to draftsyesno
Arabic writing supportyes, if arabic language is preselected in another app, no changing within the app itselfyes
Additional Options
Main menuyesno
Edit key (pen)yes, just selection, no copy, no paste, crashes when trying to change the languageyes, selection, copy, paste, change language
End call keyconfigurablesends the app to the background
Delete messages in one conversationone message, all, incoming, outgoingall

In words
SMS Chat offers a better user experience. I love the customization, the fact that I can chose which conversations to load and which not to, the main menu, drafts, scheduling, templates, the ability to see how many characters I've already used in my message and of course the find feature. It still lacks better integration (pen key) and a couple of things should be done easier, like canceling a message or forwarding one.
Thread SMS seems a little bit more integrated (pen key) and very intuitive. What I like about it is the fact that I can use all buttons like I normally use them on my phone, no worries. Still, the confusion between phone numbers and contacts is weird and most of the time I end up with 2 conversation panes with the same contact: one with the contact's name and one with his number. Weird. Some other features like the Find option or more customization seem vital. For the record, the newest versions seems to have an export chat history feature, and can override the system's SMS app: when a new message is received Thread SMS will automatically open.

SMS Chat: 8.5/10
Thread SMS: 7.5/10

Finally it depends on what you are looking for in this type of software. If you want something powerful and don't mind doing a couple more clicks to perform an operation, then SMS Chat is for you. If you want something more simple, more easy and intuitive, then Thread SMS is your solution.
Personally, you'll find SMS Chat alone on my phone because the double conversations in Thread SMS are too hard to handle. I'm sure it's something that will or have been fixed, since I'm using the trial beta version, but until I'm sure I'll stick to SMS Chat :D

Weekend at Kleiat (pics)

If you haven't noticed it, I have been away for the weekend. I spent it relaxing and enjoying the view at the summer house in the Kesrwan region in Lebanon, Kleiat town. Here are a couple of pics from the weekend, showing the garden or the view, taken with my 3250. With good light conditions, you can see how this phone's cam performs really well (pics were resized to 25%).

Being away from everything internet and mobile, I had time to cool down and enjoy silence and nature. Makes you think how little things like waking up to birds singing can change your vision towards everything. It's little things like that that make life worth living.

Jun 22, 2007

PhotoNova & PhotoWings by Sunios

Looking for a good photo editor? Well, look no more!
Chinese developer Sunios seem to have put their head into the photo market, bringing two great photo editing applications, and they seem to be free. The Website is in Chinese (which of course I don't read) , but I downloaded the apps, which are in English (don't freak) and signed them, then installed and there is no "register" tab in the Options menu.

PhotoNova allows you to open your pretaken images and insert a frame around the face. That allows you to put your friends/relatives/coworkers/... faces inside a baby, the Joconde, a chimp,... you get the idea. Most importantly, from the couple of seconds I got to play with the software, I noticed the amazing fact that it automatically detects faces in your images, so no worries about the face not being in the perfect place to fit the frame, freaking amazing!

PhotoWings allows the basic image editing effects: cartoonize, frame, border, color editing, special effects... The app seems a little bit slow but the preset cartoonize effects are funny and everything seems to be modifiable and customizable in this app.

As I finished my finals today, I am headed towards Kleiat (the region where I spend my summers) for a little mountain breeze and some trouble-free moments. Of course there's a downside to this: no internet and no Showtime (tv channels) subscription. But, I will make sure to take my 3250 and give these two apparently great applications a go. I may also prepare a Head2Head between PhotoRite, ImageEditor and PhotoWings+PhotoNova.

Anyway, in case you want to see for yourself, here are the download links: PhotoWings and PhotoNova.

Jun 20, 2007

Tip: Back-up & restore messages

I came across this while I was surfing through a forum. I don't know if it was available before, but or me, this is the first time I come across it.
Credits go to yogeesharma (I don't know if this has been posted on another forum by someone else so credits to this original poster too).

This is a solution for backing up and restoring messages that are stored on the SD card.
1 - Connect your handset to pc in the “Data transfer” (Mass storage) mode
2 - Go to the Private folder on your memory card (of course after having set your pc to show hidden files & folders)
3 - Open the "1000484b" folder (or any folder with a "Mail" or "mail2" folder inside)
4 - Copy the "1000484b" folder to your PC
5 - After you format the SD, copy back the folder from the pc under E > Private using mass storage mode.
6 - That's it.

Of course this functions only for messages saved within the memory card, so messages saved on the phone memory won't be transfered. We're still waiting for a solution for accessing the private and sis files on the phone memory, I guess we'll keep waiting. In the meantime, suit yourself with this little help.

Jun 19, 2007

Nokia into touchscreen?

Reported by Will Park from IntoMobile, is a Reuters news about our beloved finnish company. Apparently, Nokia has been looking at touchscreens from a new perspective.

"Optical sensors and touch will be the next big things," Nokia Chief Technology Officer Tero Ojanpera said in Singapore on Monday ahead of the CommunicAsia telecom fair [...] "I believe there will be a lot of innovation around these," Ojanpera said.

"Well well well, look who's crawling back" iPhone-fanatics may be thinking now, because if you recall, Nokia had previously clearly stated that consumers prefer keyboards and joysticks and are retiscent towards new shapes/form factors. Ehm, excuse me, how much units of 3250 did you sell?

In a word, I say "hurray!" I have been dreaming of a Nokia touch platform for months now, literaly (I saw it in 1 or 2 dreams). For all of you thinking solid buttons and touch feedback, I say "yes, definetely, why not both?". I trust Nokia will come up with a solution that's suitable for all of us solid-buttons-lovers and for touchscreen demands. Just imagine:
- a huge screen for all that video/picture/gaming/browsing/GPS experience
- being able to click on that particular link in a browser or in mobireader for example without scrolling for hours
- being able to flip through photos with a movement right or left of your finger
- getting over of that scrolling hassle in Gallery, messages, F-Explorer, ...
- and still keeping your favorite symbian platform with your favorite manufacturer

Wouldn't that be awesome?

Head2Head - Mobireader vs. iSilo

Introducing Head2Head
This is my first head to head review. I'll be covering more of these in the future. Basically a head2head review will take 2 similar applications marketed by 2 different publishers and try to compare all the features both applications offer. A table presentation will be applied to make things clear and easy to find.
In the end, I'll try to grade both apps on a scale from 1 to 10 and tell you which one I use (always or more frequenlty) and why. Sometimes you'll see a winner.

First up is a Head2Head between 2 major eBook reading applications: Mobireader for Symbian and iSilo. Both are very powerful, both are very widely used, both have their advantages and both may be of use at a certain time.

Head2Head: Mobireader vs. iSilo



eBook format support
prcall .prc.prc with no links or indexes
pdb.pdb with only text content.pdb books (links & images) only
Categoriesno, you can make reading lists on the pc & syncyes
RSS feeds supportYESno, edit: can be done via creating a file from your internet browser using iSiloX
Renaming eBooksno, only on the pcyes
eBook sortingno, only by nameyes, by name, date or size
eBook filteringno, edit: yes (prc+pdb, eNews, txt)yes (all, prc+pdb, txt)
eBook deletingyesno, edit: yes
eBook informationyesyes
One-click access to eBook storeyesno
Customization & Settings
Customizable shortcutsnoyes
Customizable librarynoyes (can show book size, date added, extension, icon)
Justificationyesyes (disable all layout)
Settings for all booksyes (one setting for all)no (every book can have its own settings)
Adjustable fontyesyes
Customizable colorsyesyes, in theory, but crashes everytime I try it
eBook reading
eBooks placed in one predefined folderyesyes
Full-size picture viewingyesno
Tables viewingfinenot very adaptable
Searchable indexyes, if available on the bookno
Find optionno (working on one)yes
Dictionary-like experienceyesno
Dictionary supportyes, select a word and you'll see its meaning in any of your eBook dictionaries, or in one preselected dictionaryno
Adding linksyes, add a link from one word/phrase to another word/phrase in the same/different ebookno
Full screenyes, one-time settingyes, but have to be set everytime
Copyno, edit: yesyes (lines, pages,…)
Adding bookmarksyesyes
Highlighting wordsyesno
Adding annotationsyesno
Page divisionyes, but not very specificyes
Go to pageyesyes
Go to % of a pagenoyes
PC experience
Desktop library clientyesno
Full sync of bookmarks, notes, highlights between pc and phoneyesno
RSS feeds reading and updatingyesno
Creating RSS lists and Books listsyesno
free eBookscan be foundare more available
Online eBook storeyesno official one
Device specific eBook encryptionyes (device PID)no

In Words
What I like about mobireader are RSS feeds, annotations & highlights, adding links, indexes, dictionary look-up, highlights, ability to read books on several types of devices from pc to windows mobile to s60, and sync'ing between all. They also offer really useful books and have a decent eBook Store. Heck I've spent over 190$ over medical books there, I must love this app to invest this much money in it! Still, I think a little more customization won't hurt, like shortcuts, library, fixed pages, find option and better RSS integration...
What I like about iSilo are the customizable shortcuts and library view, categories, aility to rename books, and the wide availability of free ebooks.

Mobireader score: 9.5/10
iSilo score: 8.5/10
The lack of annotations and highlights in iSilo can be overlooked. But indexes, dictionary look-up and RSS are just too much to give up on. Once you have them with mobi, you wonder how you've gone through all of your life without them. The dictionary feature will dazzle you, it's fast, it's effective, it's simple: just press 9, scroll to the word and press the middle button. It's something you will get used to quickly and that will save you a lot of trouble opening other apps or going through that 2Kgs dictionary of yours.

In a battlefield, it's a decent advantage for Mobireader, especially that it's free. But on my phone, you'll find both applications because in the medical field, iSilo offers some decent .pdb ebooks that can not be read by Mobireader.
In one word, Mobireader won't replace iSilo, and vice-versa.

Edit: I have edited this post after receiving feedback comments from Fabien Hertschuh (Mobipocket developer and moderator in the Mobipocket Forum) and Darren Chi (iSilo developer).