Sep 26, 2007

Day in the life of a tech addict in a hospital - Feeling GEEKY

This is just a small post to express myself, because no one around me would understand.

Today, I took my laptop to the hospital where i'm doing my internship, in order to fulfill some "orders". There was the teacher who wanted a couple of PDFs, the friends who wanted a couple of applications for their phones, the other interns / doctors who wanted some help with their medical-related applications, the ones I didn't know who kept popping in asking questions and advice... In short, I spent all day travelling around with my personal Toshiba laptop, my Nokia 3250 and my Qtek 9100, working with an N76, an iMate KJam, a Motorolla something (forgive me, I don't know them and I don't care), an N73, the sexy Nokia 6120, an N72 (remember those?), an N80, a 7610, an HTC Touch, a Sony Vaio laptop, another Toshiba laptop, a desktop PC and an unlimited amount of USBs. If you were around me for more than 30 minutes, you would've seen me work with at least 4 or 5 gadgets at the same time. It was fun to watch, from my point of view, yet totally freaking weird from the other.

Just put yourself in the shoes of a nurse / doctor / intern. Your main concern is clothes, Facebook, your family, diseases and patients. You never and I can't emphasize on the word "never" enough, heard of something called Symbian. You never wondered how to do certain things on a PC beside typing in Word and opening folders and USBs. You see this 18-year old looking (i'm almost 22, yet I look 18) fatty, simple, always laughing loudly, girl intern (who the other day was telling you that you shouldn't give Vfend with Lipitor because they cause rhabdomyolysis) with a couple of phones in her hand, a couple of laptops in front of her, answering 20 different questions in a minute about 70 different subjects, all-tech related, of course. You also hear her saying "open your bluetooth" very frequently. It's almost like she's from Jupiter to you.

Well, I did feel like an alien. In a medical world where technology is the latest concern, if it isn't Facebook related, I felt alone and geeky. Especially when I got the frequent "how do you know these things?" question, or the "you should've chosen computer science, not pharmacy" assertment. I just happened to like everything tech-related. I never asked myself this question before, but seems like a year ago, people accepted my geekiness because it was still almost normal. But today I noticed, it was now waaaay beyond normal, and waaaay beyond acceptable. To them.

Does it happen to you? Do you get this weird full-blown round-eyes look when you say S60 or Symbian or OS or RAM or battery power in front of others? Do you feel somehow superior yet somehow alienated for that?

Sep 24, 2007

Tomorrow - A Day In History

For those of you who live more than a couple of kilometers away from Lebanon, the title of this post may seem strange since tomorrow is a day like any other. But for people like me, living and breathing in the 10452 square meters that is the land of Lebanon, tomorrow is a major day in history. I've always wondered what it would feel like to live during those flashy dates in world history, like for eg when Colombus hit South America or the day World War II ended. I guess with all the action going on in Lebanon, I now have my answer, because I can almost read it in 2050's history studybooks "in september 25th, 2007, the lebanese parliament failed to elect a president..."

Usually, I am not a politics fanatic. I barely have time to hold on with my numerous occupations and hobbies already. So I usually watch the news once every 2/3 yrs, but with the "firey" situation here, it's pretty much plausible I end up hearing the news "on the street", ie from neighbors, classrooms, friends, and, well, while walking down the street. So if you watch the CNN just once a month, you'd probably know about the lebanese situation more than me.

But for those of you who never watched CNN, here's a recap
- 14th february 2004 primer minister rafic hariri assassination
- syria accused, syria leaves lebanon after several (don't know the exact nb, but more than 10yrs that's sure) years of silently accepted occupation
- many assassinations ever since, for major politicians (1 minister, 2 deputees, 1 journalist, 1 politician), all by bombs, with civilians falling on the way
- syria accused of assassinations, although not profiting
- lebanese president always accused of being in-the-know
- lebanese scene divided between 2 clans: 14th of february/march (prime minister Siniora & Geagea & Jumblat, accused to be aided by USA) and opposition (Hezbollah & general Michel Aoun, accused to be aided by Syria/Iran). Both claim to constitute the majority. Both are holding to their positions. Both hate (seriously depsise) each other.

So what is tomorrow all about?
Tomorrow is the supposed day for the new lebanese president election. The constitution states that 2/3 of the parliament be present and the president elected by 50%+1 .
But since the parliament is divided and the opposition don't want a president elected by the 14th of march clan, they won't come to the hearing. So the 2/3s won't be there, which would make the elections, if an election is held, illegal and unconstitutional. They will only come to the hearing if there's a consentment on a common unity president.
So where does that put tomorrow? Well, some place between civil war, total void of reigning power (the government is already unconstitutional), 2 unconstitutional presidents each elected by a clan and postponning of the hearing (for more assassinations and instability) until some day in november. Basically, that makes tomorrow THE day in lebanese life that would make history.

Final word
In the hopes that nothing lethal would happen, tomorrow, I leave you with a smile and the wish that one day, my country would achieve what it once was and was meant to stay: a small powerful independent water-rich country, where more than 15 religious sects live in peace and harmony, where you can go from swimming on the coast to enjoying the mountain breeze in less than an hour, and where wandering on the streets on 11pm or 1 am is of no danger.

Sep 23, 2007

Ketchup post

Ok, so it's not ketchup, it's catch-up, sue me!

Ketchup 1 - Reasons behind my disappearance

Things have been seriously crazy over here: I just started my internship at the hospital and with 2 clinical cases reports due every week, a Masters report due sometime soon, a laboratory training report due also sometime soon, and a 100-page thesis due in june, it's pretty much understandable. Add to that a hospital/university schedule from 8am to 7pm, you get the picture. Now try to keep on with all of that and an addiction to all-things symbian and comic tv shows, you barely get time to eat, let alone shower or even sleep!

So I may not be able to blog all that often on Dotsisx anymore, which is somehow against my will. During the summer, I had planned a couple of great features to add to this blog: a YoYap! video podcast (I even made the first YoShow, that's what it was going to be called), shifting Dotsisx to games reviews and focusing more on head2heads, but I guess I was being TOO optimistic.

One week after starting the intership, I know I won't be able to do any of that. I have been asking myself this question over and over again for the last week: do I or do I not make the move on Dotsisx? Then I found out my answer was through 2 other questions: Do I or do I not want to graduate as a serious pharmacist (not one who just happened to pass those final tests) and do I or do I not want to later grab a PhD and work in research? The answer was I do, to both of these, so I figured it was I don't to the Dotsisx changes.

Somebody get these readers a tissue. Ok, I know I wasn't making that BIG of a difference in the blogging world, and that, well, Nokia and Symbian could manage to survive without my constant nags/applauses but I think there may be at least 2 or 3 loyal readers here that would have welcomed the changes I was planning. So it's back to (or remaining on) the same land here on Dotsisx.

Ketchup 2 - Some links

Good grabs over on Symbian island:

- Jukka Silvennoinen (know to many as DrJukka), developer of Y-Browser, has just launched the beta of his Y-Alarms, a multiple alarms manager for those unfortunate enough to not have them already on their phones. As always, it's a freebie, so go grab it and don't forget to give him feedback! To me, I would prefer a more native interface, being able to change the alarm sound and the ability to repeat alarms every x amount of time, with x being my choice, which could be used for pill reminders for eg.

- Through Jukka's post I was able to take a sneak peak at MOSH, and I wondered why I never bothered to check it. Nice feature. Could've been great to add Themes to the categories and freeware / shareware subcategories to Applications.

- Conversation, a threaded SMS feature has been launched by Nokia Beta Labs, quite useful if you don't have a 3250 (which isn't supported)

- NSeries by LucaP, which copies quite nicely the theme we saw recently on the Nokia N95 8Gb and the N81 is my favorite for the moment. Absolutely marvelous theme. Amazing graphics. I usually hate black themes because they show poorly on my 3250 and make every little screen scratch appears very obviously. But with this one, I don't care! It's too good to let go! If the original theme by Nokia looks 50% as good as the Luca version, I would say "Nokia, you've finally made it: a good sexy theme" because honestly, I hate the ones they've already made. I know that Pasco has his version of the theme too, but I didn't download it since I already had Luca's. You'd better check both and choose :)

Sep 16, 2007

Another useful freebie - Mr Lock

Sure there are several autolock utilities available for S60 3rd devices but none seems talored to meet my demands better than Mr Lock. Developed by Mobifun Soft (the same company that brought Smart Settings), this nice freebie allows you to perform everything you've wanted your autolock to do, hassle-free.

The autolock is dependent on profiles. Meaning you can choose to auto lock in All Profiles, User Defined profiles or No Profile (that's its Disable equivalent). So for instance if you need your phone to autolock at times but not at others when you're working with it, create a General2 profile, but don't include it in the "autolock in" profiles. That way, you can switch to General2 when you feel you need your buttons available at all times.

The other great option is that you choose when your keypad is locked: "only on idle screen" or "in all programs" meaning you can pick your keypad to autolock only when your phone is on standby, a useful setting.

But the greatest setting of all is when you pick "in all programs" since then your are presented with one more line: exceptions. [That feature has been implemented in some other autolock utilities but never functioned well on my 3250, since after a couple of hours/days the phone would start to autolock itself if I pressed a key before the time interval set. I never understood how pressing a key would trigger the autolock, since if I did press a key, it would mean that I'm working on the phone and need the keypad available!] Long parenthesis to say that I've always wanted an exceptions feature in my autolock programs but was so disappointed by the ones available I was even close to not even try Mr Lock. Thank God I did try it, since I found out that the feature functions flawlessly here. I use it for preventing my keypad to lock in mobireader, the music player, the camera (imagine you have a 3250 and the keypad locks when your phone is twisted in camera mode, unlocking can't be done without untwisting the phone)...

The other nice things about it are:
- First, it automatically launches on start-up so once you've made your settings for the first time, you just forget about it.
- Second, it functions as a hidden app and doesn't show up in task managers, somethg I bet we all want because if every background app showed up, we'd have long long lists when we press and hold that Menu key.
- Third, it's a simple interface, yet allows you so many useful settings.

It's also free so I seriously recommend giving it a go. I know that for me, I've found my perfect autolock utility.

P.S: for slider phones, it doesn't allow you to change the lock combination keys, but you can always use the lock “in idle screen” setting.

Sep 14, 2007

AppQLaunch - Nice free utility

I just came around this nice freebie while checking my RSS the other day, on the Tech[dot]blog. It's called AppQLaunch and I assume the Q stands for Quick :)

Basically this nice freebie by Yohannes helps you launch some applications quickly by simply typing their name. I know this has been part of Best Taskman and Handy Taskman (if i'm not mistaken) but now you can have this small utility without buying those software (in case you don't need a task manager).

I have AppQLaunch ready on my standby screen, on the left softbutton. When you launch the app for the first time, you need to refresh your applications list, then you can simply type in the name of an application, select it, press it and voilĂ !

Simple yet efficient. Give this freeware a go! You can check the homesite here, and you can download the app here.

Sep 11, 2007

I'm Outraged - part 2

I began this as a comment on the I'm Outraged topic, bit it ended up too long for a comment and worth being a post, so here goes:

After writing the first post, I went over and checked Skyscape's website again. As Thomas said in the comments, I had the pre-conviction that it SHOULD work on symbian.
With that in mind, I looked at the links, the official press release, etc... And here are the notes I took:

1 - There is no sign of the address the user must type in order to access Skyscape's services, which are called "My Skyscape". I don't know if it's the ordinary that is converted to mobile version if u access it from the iPhone or if it's another address dedicated for the platform itself. I'm more into the 2nd since Skyscape's website should still be available for users, as a view and buy site, while the books/utilities/programs should run somewhere else, when you purchase them.

2 - There are no screenshots (or well, the ones available are a few and not clear enough). Seriously, who would buy a product based on "belief". Like thomas, we want to "see"(no relation with Thomas who commented, and correct me if my bible knowledge is wrong). I am not questioning the existence of the service for iPhone, it's just that users usually want to have the feeling of the product without putting down a whooping 40$ or so for any product.

3 - There are no trials for the iPhone, meaning you are presented the choice to buy the product for the iPhone, but not to "try it for free". Free trials are still for the desktop PC, Windows Mobile and Palm OS. Meaning you will have to put down those $ without even knowing how it will work.

4 - There is no indication as to whether it is a constant have-on database or an internet service, only available when WiFi or EDGE is on. That should be a main letdown, because everytime you need to stream an information, you'd have to connect, and even if you're looking for the same information for the 20th time, you'd have to re-access it again, making it a total PITA, plus time and data transfer consuming.

5 - And why would you have to buy the product all over again, if you already have it for another platform? Seriously? Let's say I have a Blackberry and I have 3 apps from Skyscape that I usually use on it. I decide to buy an iPhone and I expect I would use these apps on it, they told me I can. Oh no, wait, I'll have to buy them all over again. That's why I totally respect Mobipocket, they've got the most amazing solution. One reader to rule-them all. And when you buy a book, it doesn't matter what phone you'll get and what platform, you're pretty sure you back is covered by a reader version already released or to be released. That's the most user-friendly solution for switching devices and keeping your purchased data, it's almost too hard to believe publishers accepted it and adopted it. It's basically less profitable for them :s

Anyhow, these are my findings. I'm even more disappointed than before. The fact that Skyscape managed to pull an iPhone availability in less than 3 months, while it neglected the Symbian platform which has been here for years says sooooooooo much about how things have been and are running and how they will run in the mobile industry, unless someone decides to do something about it.

I know this is medical related and you probably don't care, but look around, every single professionnal or non-professionnal service, website, utility, application, ... is being ported to the iPhone, while, well, on the other hand, we, symbian fans, suffer.

Sep 10, 2007

I'm Outraged!

If you are any reader of Dotsisx, you would've memorized by now that I am a pharmacy student, that I'm frustrated at the idea of the unavailabilty of medical apps for Symbian, and that I got a windows mobile device just for that.

That being said, I was just browsing Skyscape's website, checking if they got any new utilities _ for what it's worth, Skyscape is the most complete medical provider, and their reader application is the most responsive and efficient I've used.

Anyway, go now to the main page of the site and see if anything strikes you... Yes, their platform is available for the iPhone. Seriously? The iPhone hasn't been available for more than 3 months now (correct me if I'm wrong) and Skyscape rushs and develops a web-based service for it, with its most popular products available for the iPhone. On the other hand, the Symbian Platform has been here for ages, and well, Skyscape doesn't bother. I mean, I have been pissed at not having medical-dedicated apps for the Symbian platform, but knowing that they were only available for Palm OS and Windows Mobiles, made some sense, for these were "professionnal" platforms. But having Skyscape on the iPhone now? Seriously, this is just the icing on the cake!

And this is just an example. Apple have managed to integrate it's iPhone into the general culture. While on the other hand, Nokia and Symbian remain in the shadows. I'm outraged!

Note to myself: I wonder if there's anyway to work around this and make it usable on the N95 since it runs on the basis of the same browser... Just wondering...

Sep 6, 2007

Dotsisx Picks - Top 50 Themes for S60 3rd

I have been preparing this one for a while now, downloading themes, trying them on my 3250 for a couple of days, deciding if it's a keeper or not. And everytime I thought I had it right, I found out there was a new theme worth checking, and said "here we go again".

Anyway, today I say "no more" : Dotsisx has picked, and here are the top 50 themes for S60 3rd.

Of course, this is not a limitative list, there are hundreds of good themes worth checking, but I had to pick, so I tried to include different styles, categories, colors, icons, providers... so that everyone can find at least a couple of themes to his liking. At first this post was meant to be a top 20 pick but seriously, I couldn’t narrow it down to less than 50. With several thousands of themes available, it was quite a challenge to make a choice.

Anyway, you’ll find the 51 themes (yes, I had to put that extra theme since Babi took me by surprise and recently produced the must-add “Tweety in Blue” and I couldn’t decide which theme to exclude in return) divided in 5 categorized packs, making it easier to upload and download (the total size is a little bit over 60MB). I used mihd to upload because it is mainly the easiest file sharing service I’ve come to use so far: no useless ads, no IP limitation, download managers are supported. The zips include all themes installation (.sis) files + screenshots taken sometimes from the provider’s website and sometimes from my own phone with active standby on or off, accordingly.

I, by no means, take credit for these themes, hence I would love to give the credit to theme providers featured in this pick: Babi, Pasco, PhilTheWebSurfer (PTWS), Luca, Aqualux, PZero, Supertonic, Zanyyeisk, Atlantis, Jendell, Zukzuk, UA. And I apologize for the themes for which I couldn't find a creator name. Thanks to you too :) All of these guys have worked their butt off so we can enjoy highly graphical looks on our beloved mobiles *Applauses*.

Now click-on and enjoy :)
Sports and Cars : pack of 4 themes
Elegant and Girly : pack of 10 themes
Graphical : pack of 10 themes
Animals and Cartoons : pack of 13 themes
Nature and Landscape : pack of 14 themes

P.S: You will see that most themes (23 out of 51) are created by Babi. It’s not a discrimination or a personal preference, it’s just that she’s the most frequent, diversified, abundant and constant theme provider out there, and I even had trouble picking those 23 themes out of the hundreds of amazing themes she produces.

P.P.S: You will also notice that the blue color is predominant amongst themes, be it in any category. It’s just that after one year of constant theme trial, I believe no color can suite your phone screen better than blue, no matter what. Just look at Mask by PhilTheWebSurfer, or InBlu by Babi and you’ll instantly see what I mean.