Jul 30, 2007

NStarter / Best Taskman / Tracker request

If any developer is reading (NStarter's Nomiel or the guys over at SmartphoneWare) or anyone who knows any of these developers reading: I have a request. A simple one:

I need a shortcut to access directly the Inbox or the Sent Items in the Messaging application. Up until now all shortcut utilities can only provide a hotkey to access the messaging application but not the subdivisions. Wouldn't it be nicer if you could imediately access the inbox by pressing pen+1 for eg? And while you're at it, what about instant shortcuts to Images or Videos inside the Gallery? Hmmm... Sounds nice!

After the first release of NStarter and Best Taskman, which provided basic application hotkeys, things have been quite quick in shortcut-land:
- The latest version of NStarter (1.05) allows you to switch bluetooth states, profiles and languages. The bluetooth switching is pretty neat :)
- Tracker (which I talked about earlier today) allows you to assign hotkeys to pretty much anything you can imagine: SMS to a defined contact, a certain document or folder, a category in the app... It's more than amazing and lets me imediately start writing an SMS to one of my friends, or launch one particular ebook in mobipocket. That's what I was dreaming about for months now, and Tracker realised it. Seriously, why the 'eck isn't this app called Best Tracker? Or is it that the superlative "best" isn't good enough?

All of this means that very specific shortcuts are possible within the symbian platform, so why not add shortcuts to the inbox/sent items/images/videos? Pleaaaaaaaaaaaase?

Applications worth mentioning

Well, I have been away for a couple of days/weeks (blame it on the weather, the Master final exams, the Kleiat lack of internet connection, the laziness or anything else). But there are a couple of applications that got reviewed/released or some that I just found about, that are really worth mentioning, beside the major Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release. These applications are:

- SmartLight by PhonePhreak: a simple utility that keeps your phone screen lit if you are using anything beside the main standby. Read about here.
- KeyMap by the3sky: this little utility allows you to map the joystick keys to the keypad for example, or vice-versa. Very useful for game commands. Read about it here.
- V-Theme by SPlus: a Vista theme-based appearance for your phone. Check it over at Handango (why do these people lack an official website? They have amazing products!)
- TextQuick by Mind-Flip: basically this lists your contacts according to their SMS popularity and allows to easily text a friend. Read about it here.
- Psiloc MiniGPS: set your mobile to switch profiles, send an sms, turn bluetooth on,..., when you reach a specific location. Kewl. Read about it here.
- QuickOffice 4.5: update to the very popular office solution. Read about the new features here.
- Psiloc PhoneGuard: protects all applications with a password to prevent unwanted access. Check it on their site.
- Stopwatch Plus by Tektronic: the name says it all. Read about it on their official site.

Whew. I guess this is it! Pretty amazing huh? I've tried a couple of these apps, and I seriously recommend the MinGPS, TextQuick, Stopwatch Plus and SmartLight.

SmartphoneWare Tracker - released!

Is it burning in Symbian land or what? Smartphoneware, the makers of the amazing "Best" series of software have just released a best-less application simply called Tracker and man did this application, above all, deserve a "best" attribute to it!

"Tracker is a real and fully customizable desktop application designed to help a user to optimize, simplify and organize most common everyday actions. Hundreds of unique functions and possibilities transform your device from a simple organizer to a powerful and great looking handheld computer."

That is just the first 2 lines of the application info, if you click on the link I provided, you will find material for at least 10minutes of reading. There's so much that this application can do that a simple review won't do it any good. I'm almost sure Zach over at Symbian in Motion or someone over at AllAboutSymbian will give it a thorough review in a couple of days.

For me, I'll just settle down with copy/pasting the highlights from the official site:

Tracker highlights
- Fully customizable look;
- Unique and intuitive navigation;
- Real desktop;
- Ability to put on desktop: notes, applications, contacts, speed dials, sms/mms, emails, documents, links to webpages, different actions, etc;
- Ability to assign hotkeys for everything;
- Built-in extended task manager and task switcher;
- Unique "Recent" view that tracks all imprortant events and shows them in one view. Last used applications, recent calls and messages, calendar and todo events - all on one screen;
- Fast separate application launcher and "Communicator" style "New call" function;
- Autostart function;
- And a lot more unique and powerful functions to explore!

They are most certainly right with their last highlight item.

Jul 25, 2007

Just a song - freakin awesome!

Nothing to do with symbian, but take the time to check this one out.
It's a song with english lyrics, arabic rythm, sang by some lebanese guy next to the beach around the 1970s-80s, just freakin amazing! I can play this for hours without stopping laughing. The 2 women who come dance next to him are plain hilarious.

Jul 23, 2007

What’s on a blogger’s phone?

Well, I’ve been tagged, for the second time, by Tarek of Symbiano-Tek. He’s asking about the applications you find installed on a blogger’s phone. Well, for me, the list is very very long, so I wont comment on most of the items. Keep in mind that I don’t have wifi or internet on my 3250, so no internet-related apps here (thank God).
I will devide my list into categories, apps followed by an “(f)” are freewares.

Must-have & used all the time / run in the background:
1 – MobiReader (f) & iSilo: must-have for RSS on-the-go and medical ebooks (Head2Head between these giants available here)
2 – PowerBoot (f): wrote about a while ago, check it out
3 – SMS Chat (featured in a previous Head2Head with ThreadSMS)
4 – X-plore: I prefer it over Y-Browser, because of the tree-view, the fact that I can see many lines on one screen without scrolling, the unrar/unzip ability.
5 – Salling Clicker
6 – Best TaskMan & NStarter (f)
7 – Phone Guardian
8 – Screenshot (f), as Ricky said, don’t blog without it
9 – BestProfiles
10 – MobiGenie (f): Nokia’s freeware for handling calls

Used from time to time
1 – Nokia’s Search (f)
2 – BesteBible & Our Daily Bread (f) (which I found about over at Darla’s)
3 – First Aid Guide (f): java app
4 – Advanced English Dictionary
5 – Solution (math utility) & BestCalc & Calcium (f)
6 – Woman Mobile
7 – World Fact Book
8 – PhotoRite Sp, Nokia’s Image Editor (f) and PhotoNova+PhotoWings (f): Head2Head post written, to be published soon.

Being tested now
1 – SmartProfiles
2 – TextQuick : a nice feature, found over at Zach’s site
3 – SymBTChat : Bluetooth chatting app
4 – Alon MP3 Dictaphone
5 – PanoMan
6 – OfficeSuite, thinking about switching to QuickOffice
7 - AlarmPro: if only it didn’t show up in the running task list (when you hold the menu button), it would be the best alarm manager I have tried
8 – Y-Browser & Y-Tasks
9 – SmsOne : sends flash sms

1 – SkyForce Reloaded: can’t speak about games if you don’t know this one
2 – KRally: my favorite for now
3 – Virtual Pool Mobile: in test
4 – Top Hits Solitaire: kill time with the Forty Thieves :)
5 – Ludimate Sensible Sudoku: best Sudoku game I’ve seen.

Whew, that’s an EXTREMELY long list, I guess I have the longest among all tagged bloggers, but hey, when you blog about something, you have to try it, and sometimes when you try it, you get too attached and won’t remove it… heh :)

NStarter & Best TaskMan problem – Zi Solution

You remember a while ago, I posted a problem I had with frozen standby screen when using the quick shortcuts by either NStarter or Best TaskMan? Well, it’s now been solved, well not totally, because I still get the frozen screen, but I know how to un-freeze it without rebooting. Just press a number button and clear it, the standby regains all of it’s power, could it be any sillier? I don’t know why I was stuck just trying the up/down/right/left and softkey buttons, when all I had to do was press 1 or 2 or 3, then clear.
Well, the problem is still there, so I don’t know whether it’s my phone or some sort of bugg, but I wrote to SmartphoneWare and they said it’s the first time they heard about it and will try to investigate it… Still investigating apparently.


Oh man, I am so happy, I’m basically jumping up and down! Last Thursday, Ogero called me and told me they were coming to install my ADSL connection. They did, but having my Master exams on Friday, I couldn’t play much with it. Today I did and what a blast!
- pages open fast
- download speed is around 25 Kbite/sec dedicated (10 times faster than dial-up). I downloaded more than a 100MB worth of files since the first day, in a couple of hours!
- it’s 24/24
- the phone line is finally free so no more Rita-stop-the internet-I-wanna-call-your-grandma shouting 
- I can view YouTube (yes, I couldn’t before)
- I will get a router to enjoy this connection anywhere in the house, on the laptop and on my newly bought Qtek.
- 3GB of monthly sharing (before I used around 0.7GB)
- It’s basically the same price, if not less!
So it’s a totally different experience and I’m glad I signed for it. Of course there are the quicker choices for ADSL, but they are pricier and, well, this one is very good for now :D

Jul 13, 2007

Symbian Freak Photo Contest - I'm a finalist!

The ups and downs of being disconnected most of the time: you miss the great moments! I just found out that I was in the 6 finalists of the Symbian-Freak Photo Contest, and what a suprise that was! I submitted my grandma's picture, smiling after having done her spikey. She never lets me play with her hair, but that one time, she did, and I snapped the opportunity!

Anyway, go check out the 6 finalist pictures, and if you feel mine deserves a shot, vote for it. Personally, I really like the old man looking at the motorcycle picture. That's a priceless moment, and it makes you think about how fast time goes by. I was yesterday at the funeral of my friend's mother, and I'm still thinking about that: life is too short and it's the good people who suffer the most.

Jul 10, 2007

Just got a Qtek 9100 - Rant to symbian developers

Symbian and Nokia fans, don't scream tragedy! Yours truly is and will always be a Nokia fan and a Symbian addict, no matter what! I will always be amazed by how much I can do on these phones, that I never expected and that no one expects. By using my Nokia 3250, I feel like I'm carrying at least 10kgs equivalent of stuff: camera, phone, bible, answering machine, mp3 player, dictionnaries, books, games, calculator, watch,...

The Rant
However, the Symbian platform has its limitations. Don't get me wrong: for performing everyday tasks, symbian may be the best platform, since it allows very complex operations on very small and integrated devices. But the problem that you encounter with Symbian, is that despite the wide availability of applications, it's yet not regarded by developers as a "capable" platform, and that in comparison with windows mobile and palm for instance. Probably it's the lack of a touchscreen interface and the fact that symbian devices are considered more wide-public oriented, while windows mobile and palm platforms are more for professional usage. That was the view until a couple of months a go, but with the release of extremely powerful and pricey symbian devices, like the E90 or the N95, that conception is about to change.

Still, you will find that most professional-oriented applications have yet to be available for Symbian. At least that's the case in the medical field. I have wandered the web searching for medical applications for s60 3rd, and basically ended up with Oxford's medical dictionary, Merriam Webster's medical dictionary and Mobireader with the wide array of ebooks they offer. That's it. What about medical calculators, drug interaction suites, laboratory utilities, medical news updates,...? Nothing. It's almost a disaster. Are doctors, physians, nurses, pharmacists and all paramed professionals considered as wealthy persons that can afford high-end devices? And why can't they carry a small ordinary but powerful Nokia device while keeping the same functionnality and the same benefits?

Well, so many questions that have yet to be answered. Hopefully someone will step up and do something about it!

The Qtek 9100
Let's get back to my recent purchase now. I was thinking about getting a below 100$ second-hand iPaq, but that was basically impossible in lebanon. No mobile store has a new iPaq, let alone a used one, and most of them don't even know what an iPaq is. So after 3 months of desperate and vain search, I dumped the iPaq idea, and decided to go all-the-way with a 300$ second hand Qtek 9100 (bluetooth, IR, WiFi, Windows mobile 5, QWERTY, touchscreen, and all the medical goodies I can imagine). I got it yesterday.

My initial impressions
Worth the money. The Qwerty is amazing, and so is the huge touchscreen and the WiFi. Finally, I can enjoy internet mobile at my university, without having to carry around a laptop! MobiReader looks extremely nice, and so does iSilo. Screen rotation works smoothly and makes internet surfing a blast. Skyscape medical apps are more than available and from what I can see, some are extremely useful and they function really well.

Where do I stand between Nokia 3250 and Qtek 9100?
It's hard to choose between the 2. Very hard.
My solution: use both.

The Nokia 3250 will be my main phone: it will hold my sim card: calls and sms will have to be managed from there. It will go in my back pocket and will be the device I will take with me everywhere: from the toilet to the kitchen, to my friend's houses, to the grocery shop to the car,... It will also be my in-car music player, a function that it lost a while ago because I had to dump music from my memory card in favor of some medical books.

The Qtek 9100 will be my professional phone: it won't have a sim card, because tapping an sms or making a call on-the-go in the car can be very hazardous and dangerous. It will be used to surf the internet at uni or at any hotspot, to jot down Word notes (the Qwerty makes it easier), to read ebooks. It will also be my companion in my 2months laboratory training this summer and my 7months hospital internship next year. It will find place in my bag, safe from the world, ready to be used, but not as quickly available as my back pocket's Nokia 3250.

Unfortunately, that's what you have to do nowadays to keep everything you want, the way you want it. As I said, I hope someone will try to find the solution to the unavailability of medical apps (for Symbian.

This will be the case until I get sick of having 2 devices and decide to dump one of them. I wonder if that will happen, and what device will that be?

PowerBoot by Wireless Labs Technologies

I don’t know why I have overlooked this wonderful application. When I first found out about PowerBoot, I thought “yaaaaay”, then I downloaded it, tried it, and it gave me an error => immediate removal and, well, throw the sis file in the “could’ve been great but didn’t live up to the expectations” category.It wasn’t until a couple of days ago, that I decided to give this app a go, since there is no other solution (that I know of) that lets me do what this app does. It worked, and it still does!

So what does PowerBoot do?
PowerBoot is a freeware that allows you to choose which applications are immediately and automatically started everytime your phone is turned on, hence the Power Boot name.

How does it work?
When you first open it, you get the “Startup List” which is empty, since you haven’t yet added any app to the list. The other tabs are the “Installed Apps” and “Running Apps”.
By clicking on options in the “Startup List”, you get 5 options: Add installed app, Add running app, Enable/Disable PowerBoot, About, and Exit.
If you want to add an app, just select “Add installed app”, that will take you to the “Installed Apps” tab, where you can see all .exe files, be it on the C:\ E:\ or Z:\ drive. So in more simple words, you can add any app, whether it’s built-in, installed on the phone memory, or on the memory card.
The “add running app” option functions the same way, but it makes it easier to find a certain application: if you can’t find this app in the “Installed Apps” tab, just start it, and go back to PowerBoot, you’ll find it amongst the shorter list of “Running Apps”.
Now all you have to do is make sure PowerBoot is enabled (hence you have to see Disable PowerBoot in the Options menu), click on Back, and trust the app.
When you turn your phone off, then on again, you will see all the apps you added to your “Startup List” are open and running. Could it be any more simple?

What can you use it for?
If you are a symbian addict, you must have at least 2 or 3 apps that you need to be running in the background all the time, everytime your phone is on, like a call recorder, a call manager, an automatic keylock utility, a security app, a taskmanager, a profiles switcher,… and the list goes on.
Some of these apps have an “autorun” feature, meaning they will automatically launch everytime your phone is booted, but some don’t. So you end up either forgetting to launch them, either worrying about rebooting your phone, because you’ll have to spend 5 minutes just launching these apps. And for some phones where the lack of free RAM is an issue that makes the phone reboot every couple of hours, that could be a problem.

What do I like about it?
PowerBoot solves these problems and lets you enjoy smooth rebooting, hassle-free. Its interface is also very simple and intuitive. It does what it claims to do, and it’s good at it. That’s exactly what you expect from a small but immensely useful utility.

Jul 5, 2007

NStarter and Best TaskMan problem

First I have to say that usually when there's a problem with my phone, I understand what's going on and solve it quite immediately, but this time, it's just way too weird and complicated.

I have had this problem when NStarter is running or when using the Quick Start option in Best Taskman. When I press the shortcuts for the apps, after using the app I want, when I return to the main menu, the standby doesn't work. I mean NOTHING. I tried it with active standby on and off, and here are the results:

1 - When Active Standby is On:
The 6 active standby icons don't work, they are there on the screen, but they can't be selected. As you see on the left screenshot, the first icon is not selected while normally it should be (right screnshot) and can not be selected neither by pressing right, left, up, up, down, select,... or any other button.
Plus as you see, there are no apps above the right/left softkeys (left screenshot). Usually I have VideoMode and PhotoRite, see the right screenshot. These just disappear.

2 - When Active Standby is Off:
The joystick shortcuts don't work, no matter what.
There are no apps above the right/left softkeys, like in the above situation.

The only way to get the active standby back to normal is to reboot the phone.

Now I don't know if that's supposed to happen: because these apps provide shortcuts, they make the available shortcuts on the standby un-available (aka they sort of overwrite them) or whether this is a bugg or something. In my own limited mind, I don't see why the standby shouldn't be accessible anymore, it's just frustrating.

Do you have the same issue, is it supposed to be like this, can you give me any feedback?

Babi Strikes Again!

I can't begin to say how much I like symbian themes made by Babi, her icons are amazing, they work on my 3250 (which I can't say about many themes out there), they are cute, cool, sexy, sweet, funny, depending on your mood. But they are also neat and amazing. I think Babi gives her best when doing a theme :D
Babi's latest theme In Blu is far sexier than I could say. I have just installed it and I have yet to say, that after Aqua Blue, I expected nothing less from this theme. It is rocking!

Catch-up Post

Well, you go offline for a day, and it's a disaster!
Anyhow, here is a quick list of links and news to check ;)
1 - NStarter, which I have already spoken about gets updated. Check it over at Symbian in Motion
2 - Nokia PC Suite has a new update that introduces folder synchronisation, read about it at Into Mobile
3 - Smartphone ware's Best Taskman's new version (2.01) gets reviewed over at Symbian in Motion and All About Symbian. How did I ever miss this?
4 - Zach over at Symbian in Motion (yes again, this guy is awesome!) has the sweet news that Animated SMS by Zensis is now available for all countries, and now gets its own website: A-SMS.
5 - The new trendy Nokia 7500 Prism gets unveiled by Nokia in China. Pics and details at Just Another Mobile Blog

Wheeew, that must be it.

Jul 3, 2007

ADSL soon?

Just this sunday, I learned that I may be getting ADSL at home, finally Ain El Remmaneh (the region in Beirut where I live) will get ADSL coverage!
256Kb/s download
64Kb/s upload
3Gb/month usage
I know it's not the speed of a rocket, but it's somehow the speed of a formula1 car compared to the dial-up bicyle I have at the moment. I just hope it won't take more than the 2-3 weeks they promised.

NStarter - It Made My Day!

Zach over at Symbian in Motion has some amazing news about a new app: NStarter. If you were craving for an s60 3rd update to Smart Settings, well NStarter will stop the wait. If you don't know what Smart Settings was used to, here's a quick explanation: more shortcuts.
Basically, NStarter allows you to add 12 (or 13) more shortcuts to your phone, and a reboot shortcut. In math words: pen + any number key on your phone = any app on your phone launched immediately, wether you are on the standby or browsing anywhere on your phone. Sweet!
Oh, did I say it's a freeware? Useful AND free. If there was an Academy Awards-like ceremony for symbian apps, I'm sure NStarter would grab many oscars :)
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make the list of my must add 12 apps :)