Jan 30, 2008

N81 - The Perfect Storm Companion

Today was the stormiest day I have seen in years (or in my entire life) here in Beirut. My hospital training was done at noon, and my 2:30 pm course was delayed to 4:30, so I had pretty much 4 hours to kill. Freakin Excitin! Being that my laptop wasn't with me, I went to the hospital library, the only place where you can get some free computers and a decent WiFi connection. I fired YouTube (that's what health specialists do in the hospital libraries :p). That's when I noticed something was wrong, the page didn't load fully and I got some sort of javascript and flash missing message (very hip computers).

That was it for me. 4 hours of emptiness I thought. Not really. I had the N81, the good loyal companion. Took it out of my pocket, took the Bose headphones out of my bag, connected and pressed play. There I was. Better. Much better. Then I fired OfficeSuite and used it to write down a post to be posted later on. That was one hour. 3 more to go.

With music still on, I fired up the gallery and saw the pictures I had taken of my patient's file for one of the case study reports I am due to finish this Friday. Using the N81's screen, it took me a while to zoom/browse through every picture, but it was still doable and I was able to skim through the patient's admission reason, his lab results, medications, medical history,... and the likes. While reading the case (ie browsing through the pictures), I had to check some medical facts, so I launched mobireader and used the Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (a 9Mb ebook equivalent of a 2-3kg weighing book) as well as the A2Z drug facts and Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, to get my information. Notice, I was in a hospital's library, full of medical books, yet the N81 did it for me: I stayed lazily on my chair and enjoyed the power in my hand.

Now that got me through another 80-90 minutes, so I had still an hour and a half to kill. Thinking what else I could do (with Europe - The Final Countdown playing on the Bose). I remembered there was WiFi around and decided to check my email, catch on some RSS and do some testing with emTube and MobiTubia. Being done with the first 2 in less than 20 minutes, I opened emTube and started looking for Jeff Dunham, he never fails to make me laugh. I stumbled upon Achmed's Jingle Bombss video, and that was a 10 minutes or replay, replay, replay, till I almost dropped on the floor from laughter. I decided to save the video, to later show it to my friend, another huge fan of Achmed.

That's when I noticed the 4 hours were done, and I hadn't felt bored for one second! Amazing! I packed my stuff and headed outside to see it was SNOWING! In Beirut! Snowing! And I didn't have an umbrella! Too bad the N81 didn't serve as an emergency umbrella... that's when you notice your do-it-all gadget still lacks some functionality... A friend of mine was nice enough to share hers with me, and dropped me next to my car.

You'd think it ended here? Well no! It was snowing in Beirut, and I had to take some pictures and videos. N81 to the rescue! Here are some quick snaps and a video I took while driving, 30 minutes after the storm stopped. You can still see some snow on the sides of the streets.

I Will Never Sing Jingle Bells The Ordinary Way Again!

I was at the hospital today for 4 empty hours of stormy weather. Thank God there was some WiFi in the library, so I got to try emTube and Mobitubia. I was first firing up emTube, thinking what type of video I would look for, when I remembered that the best videos I had seen on youtube were those of Jeff Dunham. If you don't know him, just search for his videos. He's an AMAZING ventriloquist, one like you've never seen and I have pretty much memorized all his scenes so far (favorite characters: Peanut and Achmed).

So I searched for Jeff Dunham and found a new video I hadn't seen before, called Achmed's Jingle Bombs and you bet I watched it. Took it a couple of minutes to load on the hospital's WiFi and I was ready to roll. All I can say is that I had the Bose on, and being that those are noise-canceling, I was laughing too hard to even notice it, in the library! Well, enough words, here you go: (btw if you don't know the first video by Achmed, watch it here so you can follow this one better :p)

Ok, Now I'll never sing Jingle Bells the ordinary way, again!

Jan 29, 2008

Über Cool - A Quick Run

I love new tech, old tech, useful tech, lousy tech, and every type of technology you can think of. But the über cool future tech is the one that makes my heart skip a beat, especially if it's available today.

1 - LiveScribe SmartPen : this is your typical digital pen (ie you can write your notes on paper but also see them on a pc), except that it records the audio at the same time that you are writing a note, so that later on, you can hear what was said at the exact moment that you wrote something. That's darn interesting for students with roaming minds! Plus, when you play back the audio, it will be played in 3D, so you will hear it from the same direction you heard it while writing, is that cool or what? I want one now!

2 - ShakeSms : I am still a recovering addict with some N95 8GB withdrawal symptoms, but I was coping fine, until I saw this new über cool software by Tong Ren, the developer of FlipSilent. ShakeSms is a nice accelerometer-based app (runs on all N95s and on the N82). What does it do? Say you receive an sms and the keypad is locked, no need to unlock it to read the sms, just shake, the sms will be opened, shake it again: sms closed and keypad re-locked. Nifty! A nice video demonstration here.

3 - knfb Reader : Ok so this comes out of the blue here, no leak before as to where something like this is possible. Apparently, if you shoot pictures of text on an S60 3rd device, this software will recognize the letters, words and read them out loud for you. Awesome! I wonder whether it can just recognize the letters and transform them into a .txt or .doc file, would be amazing for my case reports. Short story: during my hospital rounds, I am supposed to do 2 case studies per week, which means copying 2 whole patient's folders from A to Z (admission reason, treatments, history, lab results, other tests, follow-up, doctor consults,..) in order to analyze everything. Being the mobile addict that I am, I take my friend's N73 and use the close-up mode to take pics of the whole file and then send them over BT to my device. When I come home, I send them over BT to my laptop in order to do the case study. If this software recognizes the words from pictures, it'll spare me so much trouble... Aw can't wait!

Any new tech posts you read in the past days that impressed you? You're welcome to share, I LOVE those!

Jan 28, 2008


Over @ WMExperts there's a nice tutorial by Malatesta explaining the difference between A-GPS or assisted-GPS and GPS. If you're like me and these terms sound too weird and too complicated, jump over and have a nice read!

Jan 27, 2008

Nseries Have A Problem With Common Sense

Ya, you read that one right. There is a serious issue between the multimedia department in the Finish giant and the basic thing we take for granted and we call "common sense". It's either this, either my conceptions and what I have been trained to unconsciously think and deduce are radically wrong. So what am I talking about and why am I so upset?

If you recall, I first received an N95 8GB from WOMWorld (which I still miss btw) then 2 days ago, I received an N81 8GB Special Edition with Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. You can read my first impressions over @ Symbian-Guru. During these 2 trials, I noticed 2 astonishing facts regarding those devices, 2 facts that defy my common sense.

1 - Zooming Keys

The zooming keys over the N95 and the N81, and all N-series for that matter, are the same as the volume keys. Good. The problem is that the Volume Down key zooms in and the Volume Up key zooms out. WTF? As I have been tought to think, the "up" symbol means augmenting something, and the "down" symbol means diminishing it. And since we're talking about zooming, up should add zoom and down should reduce it. Right? So, when I first opened the camera on the N95 8GB and decided to zoom, I pressed the volume up key, thinking that's how it's supposed to be. To my surprise nothing happened, so I used the d-pad keys to zoom. A couple of days later, while I was using the camera and needing to zoom, I pressed the volume up key again, in vain, so I thought let's press the down key and ta-raaa there it was.

For a second there, I thought I was mistaken and that didn't really happen, but I repeated it and it worked. Thinking I might have been wrong and my unconscious reflexes were wrong, I decided to test this with a couple of persons who had never owned an Nseries. To my surprise (or not actually) they all went to the volume up key. Feel free to make any deductions.

2 - Scroll Wheel

I thought the zooming key issue was just a random mistake, until I received the N81 and tried the scroll wheel. Yes, there is something seriously messed up with this one too. It functions well in the music player (well it needs some sensitivity settings, but that's not the issue): if you scroll it clock-wise it goes down in the songs list, and if you scroll it counter-clockwise it goes up in the songs list. Now open the Gallery. You probably know the main Nseries Gallery view by heart, but I will post here a screenshot just to make my point.

As you see, this is the gallery as I see it holding the device in landscape mode, or holding it up right in portrait mode. So now let's suppose you want to scroll in the gallery to the dark blue image on the right (landscape) or the botton (portrait), what direction would you use the scroll wheel, instinctively? Clock-wise, right? *Imagine a beeper sound and a TV commentator saying WRONG*. Nokia wants you to scroll counter-clockwise. Apparently that's how it works. And if you want to go to the image on the left (landscape) or the top (portrait), you scroll clockwise. That's how it functions. Are you freakin' kidding me?!

As always, I was a little skeptic as to whether I was the mistaken one, and that I was mislead by wrong conceptions. So I also handed the N81 to a couple of my friends who didn't have any experience with the N81 so far, and guess what? They did the same as me.

Now I was ready to believe that I was the mistaken one here, but it seems that everyone that has the device in his hands, has the same reflex as me, zoom in using the volume up and scroll forward using the clock-wise rotation. I know these are not MAJOR issues, nothing like a blurry picture or a buggy firmware, and I got used to them in no time, but still they defy any logic and common sense we have incorporated in our unconscious use of devices over the years. I would like to hear your feedback. Have you had a problem with these 2 matters before? Did you wonder why some things work against your pre-conception on Nseries, or any Nokia device, so far?

P.S: Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go wonder about the lack of common sense in the minds of several several Lebanese persons (a tire-flaming manifestation turned into a street shooting guerilla with the Lebanese army, some hundred meters away from my house). God be with us!

Jan 25, 2008

Bombings, Our Daily Bread

It's not a matter of technology or mobiles. It's a matter of life. Life with a capital L. It's the matter of a country, of a population, starving for peace and tranquility. We are 4 million, 4 million persons who wake up each day, wondering whether a bomb will explode somewhere today, and trying to guess where it will happen, who will be targeted and whether we will be anywhere near it when it happens. 4 million people who thank God everyday that they got home safe and sound, and that no one they know was accidentally killed when an important politician or security responsible got murdered by a bomb attack. 4 million people who want to live, love, breathe, sleep, walk, run, dance, drink, eat, play, dream, talk, in peace. In PEACE of MIND. They have taken our dreams away... they have taken our love for this country... they have taken away everything we believe in, everything we want, everything we aspire to.

Who is "they"? I don't know, "they" is maybe one, maybe many. The matter of who is "they" is becoming practically irrelevant now, because the major question every single one of us is asking is "who will be next?". Apparently we would need the CSI instruments and expertize to solve the more than 10 bombing attacks that have happened since february 14th, 2005. Heh. I wonder how atrocious is the truth, that they won't let us know it.

Why am I being this depressed? Because if it wasn't mentioned on your local news today, a high lebanese security responsible was murdered today by an exploding bomb, less than 1km away from my house and less than 100m away from the road I usually take every morning and evening, because it happened at 10am in huge traffic jam, because I heard it when I was in the hospital and the glass windows shivered to the sound of the explosion, because for one hour I couldn't make a single phone call to make sure everyone was ok and tell my mom I was safe and sound, because a teacher of mine was 25m away when it exploded and her car engine couldn't start later on, if she was 10secs late she would've died, because they brought a burned body and some injured people to the hospital, because the pictures they showed on tv were too harsh that I almost threw up, because last time it happened my friend's father died (late Francois Hajj).

But mostly I am depressed to come back and see the flower shop near my house still open with valentine's day theme, the neighbor's child playing around the driveway and my mother cleaning the house. This isn't how it's supposed to be!!! The only proof that something went wrong today is on the TV stations, but well, time after time, even those are lessening their coverage of the explosions. I am depressed to see us go on, as if nothing happens. Depressed to see this has become such a ritual in our daily life, that it doesn't affect us more than 10 minutes, and then we're ready to move on. Depressed to see us accept it, without fighting, without demanding explanations. Depressed to see my country without a president for more than 2 months now, without people demanding elections or doing something about it.

Depressed because I no longer plan for the future years ahead, I just want to get home safe tomorrow. Depressed that I got one more proof that Lebanon doesn't belong to me, that I will never be able to grow old here, that I am once more driven to pack my bags and leave. Depressed because I want to love this country, this land, these people, so bad, and yet everytime I am close to believe in all of these again, I get shut away.

Depressed because Life is a god-given gift, and I shouldn't have to fight against humans to keep it.

Jan 23, 2008

One Week After The N95 8GB Has Gone - Retro Look

It's been 8 days since I packed the N95 8gb and sent it to the DHL guys. When we receive something new, we are over-excited to try it, we love it, we hate it, we praise it, we criticize it. But we are always, always, impressed by the "new" factor, and don't see the many sides of it. It's like that impulse we have when any new gadget is unveiled to go buy it, never wondering how well it suits our life style and how well it fits in our life. Now, after spending one full week with my 3250, I can look back at the N95 8gb and see all the sides of the story. Mostly I can answer many questions, of which: what features do I mostly miss in the N95 8GB, and what features do I not miss all that much. And most importantly, I can answer the trivial question: Do I want an N95 8GB myself, or should I be looking at something else?

Features I miss the most
1 - Having more than 90MB of free internal memory. The 3250 has 10MB of internal memory, of which 3-4MB are free. This means I can almost never send a song to my device via BT, let alone a video!
2 - The camera. Looking back at all the pictures I took with the N95 8GB, it's almost a torture to use a 2MP cam with no autofocus and no flash.
3 - The 75MB of free RAM. It's not a joke. Having that much free RAM around is perfect for running 10-20 applications in the background and still being able to browse the web.
4 - WiFi. I got used to checking my email, reading some RSS and viewing websites, with only a couple of clicks, without carrying my laptop or having to put up with the nauseating WM internet browser.
5 - The 8GB of memory. I am back to a 3250 with a 128MB microSD card (my 512MB card has some issues). I was using the N95 as a portable storage disk and it was well replacing my iPod. Can't do that now.
6 - The 2.8" screen. You don't know what a blessing it is to have this one! Absolutely love it. Makes everything from web browsing to viewing pictures, videos and documents, and generally just clicking around in the UI an absolute pleasure.
7 - Accelerometer : RotateMe and FlipSilent made my day, got me a couple of wide-open-eyes and laughs, but still, having them on board was a bliss.
8 - The great Music Player. Being able to have everything organized the way i wanted it was a true bliss for a music-addict like me.

Features I do not miss
1 - GPS. I wasn't able to find maps for lebanon, plus I don't need navigation to drive/walk around. I mean I know every road here by heart, so it's nothing I need urgently. Although I imagine if it works out for me, and I am in France next year, GPS will be a must-have, especially the first weeks.
2 - 3G. We don't have 3G here in Lebanon, so I didn't get to try it.
3 - TV-Out: that is a feature you miss if you have something worth showing (pics, vids, docs, games). I don't have anything to show on my 3250, so no I don't miss it all that much.
4 - The not-so-loud speakers. The speakers of the N95 8GB compared in loudness to my 3250, which was announced like 2 years ago. That is unacceptable, especially on a multimedia-centered device.
5 - The earphones. The N95 8GB comes with those 5-10$ earphones, which btw look extremely cheap. I wonder what happened to the in-ear earphones that came with the 3250?! Those were great! Plus they had 3 tips to fit different ear sizes.
6 - The keypad. I still have a lot of grief over the N95 8GB for having those side-raised borders around the keypad. So dumb!
7 - The battery life. I can forget to charge my 3250 for 3-4 consecutive days without having to worry about the battery running dead. Try to do that with the N95 8GB!

Perspectives it changed
I used to think the slider form factor wasn't for me, used to think it wasn't very intuitive and very user-friendly, and that I needed the keys available at all times. Now I don't mind having a slider, in fact I love the form factor. Being able to answer a call just by opening the slider, as well as being able to hide the keys when I don't need them is great. I just wish the weight of the device was better divided in order to make it more comfortable to use it for longer times.

Do I want the N95 8GB?
I truly don't know. I love it and think that it changed the way I deal with things, in so many ways. I would recommend it without a blink to someone looking for a high-end device with a big screen, WiFi and a good camera (I already recommended it to someone and he bought it). Right now, if someone offered to take me to a mobile shop, with every device ever made being on display, and told me to pick ANY device I want to take, I will pick the N95 8GB. It's the closest device to my needs and it has rocked my world.
But music and gaming is also a great part of my everyday life, and I am eagerly waiting to get my hands on the N81 (it should be here this week *crossing fingers*) to see how well it performs regarding those 2 specific aspects. I am crossing fingers to see whether the rumored N96 is true, and whether it lives up to its looks: N95 + N81. That might be the perfect device for me and I would be willing to plunk down some more to get it. I am also looking forward to the touchscreen devices (I am a fan of those) and would like to get my hands on one... Ah too many choices and so little budget...
I want to upgrade phones, I want to buy a new device for myself, but with my current budget (300-350$) I can only get an N73: I have to think about my future and for now, being just a student, this is all I can afford. It's a shame.

So what do you think? Any advice for me? Any recommendations? Anything you would like to add to my list of likes/dislikes of the N95 8GB, if you have it yourself?

Jan 22, 2008

365 Days Ago,... The Story Of A Dream

365 days ago, I started blogging. I had just finished my winter semester finals and was so excited to start bringing my touch to this blogosphere. At the time, I was a daily follower of Ricky Cadden, Darla Mack, Engadget Mobile and AllAboutSymbian. I knew I wanted to create my own blog months ago, but was still hesitating. Finally, on January 22nd, Dotsisx was born.

Many of you may not know it, but Dotsisx was first hosted on Vox, that's where I made my first contacts with Darla, Daemon, and many many others. It isn't until June the 12th that I decided to move here, to Blogger.

Now, one year later, so many things have changed. Over this year, I have casted my foot, got a masters 1 degree in molecular biology, gained some weight, made some friends, became sillier and funnier, changed a little bit my plans concerning my future Masters and PhD specialization,... Over this year I also got my first device trial (the N95 8gb, nothing less), received my first invitation to a mobile event (that I unfortunately can't attend, story coming soon), got in touch with so many great bloggers and readers, received my first email from a manager inside Nokia, got in touch with many software developers, fell in love with the slider form factor, conducted the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador, started blogging for one of the sites that I followed the most Symbian-Guru...

210 feed subscriptions, one interview and one review later, do I still have the same passion? Yes I still have that same passion that I had when I started Dotsisx, but I also have more maturity and more understanding of the whole blogging world and mobile technologies world. Do I know it all? Not in my best dreams. But I know more and I understand better. That's the process of evolution. Am I now where I thought I would be when I first started? No, I am waaaay ahead of my expectations. I admit it, the first weeks, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. It isn't until later that I understood that it takes a lot of effort, dedication, passion and patience. A wise woman once said to me "It's because you're a girl. Take a look around and see for yourself. It takes us 10 times more work and effort to reach the same level as a guy". I know she is right. In a male world, it is kind of tough to be heard and taken seriously. I don't blame anyone, it's just how it functions. We're not perceived as credible tech addicts. But at the same time I won't give up. I will be here, in one year time, hopefully, still carrying the torch.

One last word before I close on this chapter, I would like to save my best regards to fellow bloggers and readers (in no particular order): Tarek Ghazali, Michael Hell, Ricky Cadden, Darla Mack, Jenifer Hanen, Vaibhav Sharma, Jay Rashid, Antoine Wright, Kirollos Fares, Daemon Welch Abernathy, Ravindra Dissanayake, Zacharye Epstein, Ishtiaq Saddam, Pasco, Luca,... and to my friends here (Yaya, Stef, Rach, Pati, Nancy). Forgive me if I forgot anyone.

Now here's to another year of friendships, surprises, symbian love, blogging, passion and maturity. A wise man once said to me "I live to make every moment worth telling", so here's to more life experiences and stories.

Jan 21, 2008

I Need Your Contribution

I won't go into much details, because this is an idea in progress and I want it to be a surprise. But here it goes: I need your help. I need someone with a good camera device (N95 or N82 or N93 please), one hour of free time to spare, a mood for video recording and directing, and who can find one nice girl and one nice guy to appear in a 30seconds video. Anyone up to it, please email me at khoury.rt(at)gmail.com and I will give you details in the days to come. What's in it for you? Well, this isn't paid or anything (please notice there are no advertisements on my blog, I don't make money out of this). Your work will be recognized on my blog, that's all I can offer. Plus it's just a fun thing to do, you'll see. Please, include some details in the email and don't contact me if you can't provide what I asked for. All of those are mandatory.

Jan 15, 2008

A little disappointed by Stevie

To tell you the truth, I am amazed by Apple. I'm not a fan, but I sort of have mixed feelings about them. Love them in so many ways, hate them in even more ways. But this time I was waiting for Steve Jobs keynote during MacWorld, because I wanted one thing, a Mac equivalent to the UMPC (ultra-mobile PC = those extremely small laptops). Yeah I know that was a rumor that faded quite fast, and no one believed it was still a viable option, but I was hanging by a thread.

The Background Confession
To tell you the truth, I never owned a Mac computer, but I was considering replacing my Toshiba laptop (my only unit now) with a MacBook during the summer, one reason is the smaller and lighter factor, the other is the reported "no crash, no virus" system. Then I thought it would be crazy to go totally blind and get a new system without having ANY previous experience with it, especially that I know that Nokias aren't 100% Mac friendly. That's when I read the rumor about the ultra-portable macbook that got widely understood as a UMPC equivalent. That's when I thought that this would be the best solution for me. Keep my laptop, get an ultra-portable MacBook.

The Announcement
You can read the keynote coverage from Engadget. Basically what Jobso announced was some high-end back-up drive (500GB and 1TB *drool*), a customizable today screen for the iPhone (he gets applauded for something that has been here on many other mobiles for ages... cutting-edge technology y'all!) plus lyrics and Google My Location, 5 new apps for iPod Touch that would cost existing users a whopping 20$ (are you kidding me?), a new Apple TV concept (rent movies in HD for 4$ and 5$ prices, looks interesting but won't threaten the 0.3$ dvd-rental shop near my house) and the Apple MacBook Air. Basically that is an ultra-thin MacBook, 0.78" at its thickest, with no CD/DVD drive, no Ethernet port, no modem, no card reader, (and many more "no"s I don't know about), 1.6 or 1.8GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo, only one USB port, but 5hrs battery life. Oh and 80GB hard disk, are you kidding me? You put 180GB on the iPod and 80GB on a MacBook?! Seriously?!

The Problem
What I would want Jobso to understand is that people with a mobile lifestyle really don't worry about how THIN a laptop is, but about how HEAVY it is. Making it half the size of the Sony series doesn't matter because you made it the same 3 pound weight. Let me be clear. If I am working on a desk, in bed, on a couch, I don't worry about how far off my knees/table I will be placing my hands (read: i don't worry how thick the laptop is) but how much weigh I am laying on my knees. So no, I don't care that it can fit inside an envelope if it's gonna break the envelope's side and drop out. What I want is something light enough for me to carry in a bag, a backpack or Samsonite-like bag so I don't come home every day crying from my shoulder pain.

The Wish
A 7"-8" full-fledge OS X Leopard running machine with a tablet form factor (ie: pivoting touchscreen + full keyboard) where the touchscreen has multi-touch functionnality, with average processor, at least 60GB hard disk, 5 hours battery-life (loved the idea), wifi, 2 usb ports and a real 3.5mm headphone port. I want to see it for 700$ or 800$, and weighing at 1.5 pounds maximum. Is that too much to ask for?

So next time Jobso, do some thinking before you act. Yep the Air (btw that has the same pronunciation as a swear word in lebanese) is good-looking, eye-candy, yeah yeah I feel like if I see it in real life, I will fall in love instantly. But no, I'm passing this one. If it was 1.5-2 pounds, I would run right now and get it, not even worrying about the lack of every single option nor the nifty 1800$ starting price.

Jan 14, 2008

As if there weren't enough reasons for me not to send the N95 8GB back!

Just when you think you saw it all. Yes I was crying and screaming when re-packing the N95 8GB (read: i was heartbroken) but after taking my SIM card out of it, formatting the mass memory, restoring factory settings, deleting every bit of evidence that I had it in my hands, I went ahead and opened the drawer where I had put my Nokia 3250, 2 weeks ago. Took it out, noticed the small screen, the stiff joystick, the tape used to keep the memory card door from opening when the lower part is twisted, the small 2mp camera lens, the scratches. Then I took off the battery lid, removed the battery, re-inserted my SIM card, switched the phone back on.

Heh, same greeting tune, same hands moving to join, but such a different feeling. I click on New Text Message and type *snif* to send to my friend who knows I should be packing the N95 8GB today. The sending sms icon remains on the standby for a short while. I then notice my device is still in Offline mode. I click on the # key to get it to silent mode. And there it was, looking at me right in the face "Insert SIM card". WTF? It was in. I shut down the device several times, remove the battery, remove the SIM and re-insert it. No luck. I even re-insert it in my dad's phone. Same answer "Insert SIM card".

You would think that besides 2 of my friends who really enjoyed Global Race, I would be the only one missing the N95 8GB so much. Turns out even my SIM misses it! Believe it or not...

Edit: after inserting my dad's SIM card in the 3250 and making the device recognize it, I re-inserted mine. It works now, though I don't understand how that helped and where the problem was in the first place. I remember reading some place that people affect their belongings in a great way, like the handwatch that stops working when the old guy who wore t for 50 years dies. *snap out of it*

Jan 13, 2008

Music + N95 8GB + Sony stereo

It's times like this when you appreciate the smallest things. I was out watching a movie and came back home with a mood for some music. Usually I'd look for my iPod, hook it with the headphones and dream. Today I didn't. I know the iPod needs recharging so this isn't a viable option.

I just took the N95 8GB, and while looking for my Sony MDR-Q68 headphones, I remembered the Sony stereo in my room. Ah that old technology, totally forgot about it the last months. I hardly turn it on now. Well I have a wire hooked in the back of the said Sony stereo and hanging with a 3.5mm plug. Just plug it in the N95 8GB, turn the stereo on and rock on!

That is something I can't do with more than 5% of the devices on the market now. Thank you Nokia for adopting the 3.5mm plug and for heaven's sake, put it everywhere, I don't want to see any other device without it!

I am now laying down, N95 8GB next to me, recharging from one place and playing music through the stereo from the other. The room is filled with magic because of a small device barely the size of my palm, and I am not going over 50% of volume! Oh and quality? Crystal clear. I usually rip music myself from audio CDs, so I choose the 160 or 192 bitrate for mp3.

I'm going to go away and steal Mc Donald's phrase (if they read this blog, then I'm honored and well, sue me!) : Nokia, I'm Lovin' It!

This Is Nature by Chaos Inc

It has been a while since I have posted about themes here on Dotsisx, but I know that a great part of the traffic I get is due to themes so I won't let you down very often. Here I present to you This Is Nature, a theme by Chaos Inc or Ishtiaq Saddam, as I have grown to know him, a talented theme maker from Bangladesh (yes, we're out of Italy now). Just look at the screenshots taken from the N95 8GB and judge by yourself. I won't say a word.

If I could only describe how shiny that green leaf appears on the screen! Kudos Ishtiaq, looking for more of your work!

Jan 11, 2008

Nokia Table @ CES - Drooooool

Nokia didn't pass on CES although the only announcement they made was the N95 8GB US version. So there they were and Gear Diary's Judie Lipsett has been keen enough to report from the floor with a Nokia table picture.

As you see there's some N95 8GB, an N81, N82, two 5310, an E90, E61i, N810 and many more. Apparently Judie is drooling over the E90 and she's not the only one. I seriously want to see how the E-Series differ from the N-Series, plus I have ALWAYS wanted to have a qwerty. Being a writer, I am sure the qwerty would make it smoother. I am also lurking the rumored E71 as well as the rumored N-Series qwerty. The E71 looks dead sexy and if it ever makes it to the real world, I would love to get my hands on one.

Jan 10, 2008

What's Better Than An N95 8GB?

Thought about it? Well the answer is pretty simple: Two N95 8GB, laying next to each other!

A friend of mine was considering getting the N95 8GB for a while now, and after I got my hands on one and told him everything he wanted to know about the device, answered some of his fears, especially concerning the usability of the slider form factor and the soft keys / joypad, he decided to get one. Yes he still had doubts about cracking the safe and paying 800$ for a mobile device, but I promised he won't regret it.

Anyway, here they are laying side by side: the trial N95 8GB to the left and his N95 8GB on the right with the blue thing still hanging from the screen protector. Picture taken with the crappy 1.3MP Qtek 9100 camera (the only camera I had with me).

Updates on the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador

I find it rather annoying to post the same writing on Symbian-Guru and here, which is what I was doing with the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador reports. Well, both blogs take different formats and some html editing and it's hard to keep up so this once, forgive me. I have written 2 new reports on Symbian-Guru, Day 5 which is meant to criticize the not-so-perfect gaming use of the N95 8GB and Day 6, 7 & 8 which focus on the email checking, YouTube viewing and Medical consultant capabilities of the N95 8GB.

I still have 6 more day reports (to make the grand total of 14) to be published in the next 2 days, followed by a wrap-up. I should be sending the N95 8GB back to WOMWorld in the next days, but will be receiving an N81 8GB with Bose Quiet Comfort 3 Headphones, the same Vaibhav and Abul have recently received. I am really excited about it, considering that I still think the N81 is one of the sexiest devices Nokia has ever come up with. I am looking forward to the gaming experience (compared to the N95 8GB) and the music capabilities of the device. I am also interested to see how the shift will go from the N95 8Gb to the N81, what I will miss, what I won't. So expect some coverage on that one too. I will try my best to make the N81 8GB BOSE edition trial as unique as the N95 8GB, but if you have any question, any matter that you'd like me to cover, feel free to fire up. I will try my best to answer it.

Jan 5, 2008

3 & 4 - N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador

I admit it, I have been late with the reports, but I've been suffering from a cold episode. Anyway, here is the second report from my daily N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador Mission where I tackle the Music playing capabilities of the N95 8GB, as well as the WiFi connectivity and the browsing experience. You can also check the first report about the camera and the accelerometer.

Day 3 - Music Experience
Is the N95 8GB, with the great onboard memory, the dedicated music keys, the 3.5mm earphone jack and the 2.8"screen, the best Nokia music and video player ever?
It is no secret to people around me that I am a music maniac. It's not that I listen to music every single breathing second, nor that I know every song ever made, but it is that when I say I know a song, then what I mean is that I know the title, the artist, most probably the album and the release year. Having heard the song a couple of times on the radion doesn't account for me as knowing it. That's why organizing music for me is a must, as well as being able to browse by anything that comes to my mind, from artist, album, song title, genre, or anything else. The major letdown I had with my 3250, and many S60 3rd devices actually was the fact that the music was organized in the Gallery, just like pictures and videos. Seriously, this is no way a music lover would want to see his tunes. That's why I was pleasantly surprised with the music experience over the N95 8GB.

My Own Impressions
The fact that the Tracks part of the Gallery redirects immediately to the Music Player, without attempting to display the songs itself is great. The fact that the music player has a dedicated Podcast part is awesome. But the great bit is that before I even start a song, I can browse by Artist, Album, Song title, Genre or Composer, and that I can even search those, not only by the first word but the first letters of any word. That's heaven for any music freak. Really Neat. Thank you Nokia! I can also edit ID3 tags, can you top that?
A friend of mine who was seriously getting the N95 8GB asked me to do a little speaker sound comparison for him. So I thought what would be better than comapring it with my own 3250, one of Nokia's loudest phones yet (correct me if I'm wrong). I played the same song with both devices on 100% volume. The 3250 was 1-2% louder, I think due to the fact that it has one speaker with mono sound. The stereo sound on the N95 8GB made it a little less loud, but with greater quality. I also compared the volume to the 5310 MusicXpress, the 6120 and the N73. It came on top of the first two, but par with the N73 (a little surprising result).
Also worth mentioning are the dedicated music playing and volume keys that made the experience a lot nicer. I can seriously consider the N95 8GB a good contender to replace my iPod, actually in the last days, it has replaced the iPod, which is now sitting silently in the drawer, next to my Nokia 3250 and my Qtek 9100. The fact that I can search for a song by typing the first letters, something that no iPod can do without too many finger movements, is a major win.

Now, what were the letdowns?
  • Sync time. I used iTunes Agent and created a good 5GB playlist on iTunes. I didn't time the transfer process, but I can pretty much say it was more than an hour. Seriously? 5GB?
  • When I first sync'ed my playlist I realized I had done a mistake in the Smart Playlist itself and set it to select songs by Lowest Rating: I meant Highest Rating. I corrected it and re-synced. The songs that were removed from the Smart Playlist were deleted from the device memory and from All songs in the music player, but when I opened the Artists or Albums section, I would find the corresponding data, but with a "this folder is empty" note in it. Why not simply delete the whole thing? The weird part was that searching for the Artist of the Album on Nokia's standby screen Search plug-in, would return zero results. Anyway after another sync, it seems that the problem has been solved, but I'm not quite sure.
  • Why the hell can I edit a song details (or ID3) from the song list, but not from the Now Playing screen?
  • Could they add an option to create smart playlists? And a rating system of any sort?
  • I was disappointed that it didn't sync album art, I read a trick somewhere that would do it, but was too lazy to try it out.
  • When I first open the Now Playing screen, if a song is not actually playing, pressing on the dedicated FF or RW won't change the song to the previous or next one. But if I start playing then stop the song, I can FF or RW as much as I want. No such problem with the joypad keys however. Weird. Can anyone tell me if they've had the same?

  • People's Impressions
    The dual-slider surprised a lot of persons around me. Normally when someone is holding the phone and sliding the keypad out, I would say "oh try sliding it the other way", then I would get some "ah"s concerning the dedicated music keys and the auto-rotation of the interface to the landscape mode.
    Being able to control music with dedicated keys was the most remarkable feature, because everyone knows what each button does. The 3.5 mm plug got some praise too, many people have suffered from a lost or non-functioning mobile earphone, and explaining that you can plug in any earphone you have made them look at the device in another way.
    Also I got a couple of "oh, I can browse by artist, album, genre and playlist, like on the iPod!". But when I added that you can just start typing any word and it'll look for it in each category, without having to scroll through huge lists, I got some good comments.

    The less impressive parts were:
  • The sound being noted as high, but not quite enough. It would've been nice to comapre it to the N81 to see what they both can deliver.
  • The empty album art. I expect Nokia to do something about it, soon.
  • Typing to search for a certain song is slow. Takes a while to type each caracter. Improve it please.

  • Day 4 - WiFi Connectivity & Web Browsing
    The greatest part about the N95 8GB is the 2.8" screen. I can't stop feasting my eyes on it. Yes I know it's a matter of resolution and not physical screen size, but man does it feel nice to have such a huge screen on a Symbian device! It makes everything attracting and easy to read.

    My Own Impressions
    Browsing through my univeristy's WiFi was a blast because of the easy setup: just a matter of clicking the WLAN Network on the standby screen and selecting Start Browsing. Seriously if someone tells me he couldn't get his WLAN to work, I would kill myself, instantly.
    It was actually my first experience with the S60 browser (closing my ears to not hear all the "boo"s) and I can say I am fairly impressed. Coming from a girl who uses IE7, that might not sound as a very "creditable comment" but still, I am sure many people will tell you just the same. I instantly found my way around. Pages rendered quite impressingly compared to the desktop experience. I opened Dotsisx, my own blog and got a 100% match. I can not say this about the built-in WM browser.
    Google, Gmail, Google Reader, and any page I attempted to visit loaded like a charm. I guess I don't visit sites that are too heavy. I liked the small mouse that appears on the screen to help browse, click links and fill fields. The site map that shows whenever you scroll a lil' bit on the site is a great thought. Visited pages were instantly bookmarked. But it is the Back button that shows snippets of visited pages that really wow'ed me.
    Add to that a great screen that makes use of a good resolution to turn out some really easy to see sites, and you've got yourself the perfect web companion.

    Overall, the experience was more than favorable and the one bit of annoyance I have with the browsing I have right now is one of connectivity. The device keeps asking me what access point I want to use. I've already picked and connected through WLAN, what access point do you think I want to use? Wap?! Come on! Please Nokia or S60 or both, do something about it. When I pick a connection, let it stick to it and use it everywhere, in any applicationt that needs a web access. PERIOD.

    People's Thoughts
    I won't go on for hours here. Just copy paste my own impressions. As it was my first experience with the S60 browser, it was also the first experience of many people around me. "Desktop-like quality" is a comment I got quite often, and I applaude Nokia for that. I am sure that with time I will find some problems with the browser. Just not yet.

    So this is it for today's report. Stay tuned for more Lebanon Ambassador experiences. Alan left a comment on the first post on Symbian-Guru saying that I took the WOM (Word of Mouth) World experience quite litteraly. I thank him for opening my eyes to that fact, I hadn't noticed it myself. Do you think I can do better with the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador missions? Do you think there are some other letdowns that I didn't point, some solutions to them or some other great features that I didn't mention? Please leave your comments.

    Jan 4, 2008

    Handango Free App Friday, We'll Miss Ya!

    Normally when I fire up my computer on a friday, the first thing I do is check Handango's Free App Friday offering. I have a Nokia, a WM device running StyleTap so amongst Handago's offerings, I've beneficiated from many cool free apps, for Symbian, WM and Palm.

    Today, instead of a new app, I was greated by a "New Year, New Deal$" message. The fun is over. To tell you the truth I was pretty much expecting something like this, they seriously couldn't go at it for months, but it was nice while it lasted.

    Jan 2, 2008

    Hilarious 2008 Predictions, BBC Style

    Just a quick post to tell you to check this out, if you haven't yet: BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones envisions 2008, month by month, in the tech/mobile domains with a hilarious style. Worth mentioning are Nokia's N99 which also features a manicure set (something to add to the do-it-all N95 8GB pile?) and Apple's requiring of a DNA sample to unlock the iPhone!

    Jan 1, 2008

    Math à la N95 8GB

    I was laying down today enjoying a good Podcast over the N95 8GB when it suddenly hit me. In the 5-6 days that I've had the N95 8GB here, all my habits have been tremendously changed, and by changed I mean struck by a tornado and turned upside down in a way you couldn't imagine. I no longer carry an iPod with me, I've got the N95 8GB. I no longer worry about recharging my digicam batteries, I've got the N95 8GB. I no longer carry my Qtek 9100, I've got the N95 8GB. So I decided to take some pictures and show you just how many devices the N95 8GB can replace.

    Equation 1
    So as I said, the N95 8Gb replaces my 30GB iPod video, my Qtek 9100, my Nokia 3250 and my Kodak digital camera:


    But that equation isn't all that correct. We all know that the S60 3rd OS, with its great catalogue of 3rd-party software allows us to replace many more devices and things. Let's see, there's MobiReader with a great collecation of eBooks, irRemote that replaces a couple of remote controllers, some free bible readers and praying books, and a lot of dictionaries (the MSDict collection and the SlovoEd collection), so where does that leave us?

    Equation 2


    Ah but let's not forget that our mobile phones already replace a couple of our past daily carry-ons, like the handwatch, the phone book, the agenda and the calculator. Hm it's getting bigger.

    Equation 3


    So think this is about it? Well it is for most people. But you do know I'm in the medical field, and with Mobireader, iSilo and lately Skyscape, I get to carry some great medical books. So let's add a couple of those to the table.

    Equation 4


    Looking better? Ah yeah, the good'ol N95 8GB, all alone on that table, and all those devices, books, electronics piling up. Ah, woops, forgot something! See, when I wanted to make use of the free WiFi in my univeristy campus and in the hospital, I used to take my laptop. When I wanted to edit a word document, a picture, add a title to a movie, write down a short story, check my email, catch on some RSS, I used to take my laptop. So the N95 8GB does replace my laptop too, in many aspects, not in all, but in many. Hm, let's add a part of a laptop to the picture here.

    Equation 5


    Ok, so this is about it. Now the equation looks a lot more logical. That's true math! Now when people say that 700$-800$ is too much for a phone, just tell them to check this out. Would you want to carry one device that does it all, in style and simplicity, or would you want to get yourself a travel bag and just stuff in all your gear? Thought so.

    Edit: after I read Antoine's comment, i realized that there are other devices/electronics that the N95 8GB replaces that I either don't have either forgot to put in the picture, and those are: Camcorder (it definitely is my main camcorder now), Television (I don't have SlingBox but many people have already said a couple of great things about it), Portable gaming device like the PSP (the N95 8Gb with TV-Out just makes gaming a great experience) and a GPS receiver. Heh, well it looks like instead of the "=" sign I put in the last equation, I should have put a ">" because seriously, it is far bigger while yet being way smaller!

    Double Edit: Forgot the Webcam too! Gosh we can go at this all day long!