Feb 24, 2008

Lost Without The N810

Yes that header pretty much describes my situation. The N810 has been a life saver for me. As a student, an intern, a blogger, a writer, a gadget-lover, I pretty much have zero free seconds during the course of a day: there's always something to do. Since the N810 arrived, I've had a series of derangements in my daily schedule: between the laptop charger that went dead for a week, the frequent electricity blackouts and the courses re-scheduling that left me at uni for hours with nothing to do, you can pretty much see how my usually organized life became a mess in no time.

You can not think of how many times I thanked God that the N810 was here to save me from these situations. But most importantly, the N810 has been invaluable for me in one particular aspect: my thesis.

I am preparing a thesis for my pharmacy diploma this year. It's about the applications of biotechnologies in the medical sciences field. This involves a LOT of information checking, web surfing, writing, analyzing and the likes. But the most important aspect of it is article reading. We usually have one source for our articles: Pubmed, and 99% if not 100% of all articles are found in pdf format.

Now normally, I would be stuck in front of my computer endlessly; normally, I would be totting my laptop around everywhere I go to keep working on the thesis. Not when the N810 is around. I am capable of putting a huge amount of books in pdf format, as well as all my articles (and saved web pages) on one device, and carrying it with me. I can read while lying in bed, while waiting for my bread to toast or while boiling my milk in the morning.

One particular thing I have been highly enjoying though, is going walking. Sports were an essential part of my life, until I got tendinitis and my schedules became hectic. Enter the N810. Ever since I got it and found out that there was a built-in PDF reader in it, I knew that I would use it to bring back exercise into my life. I now go in the morning and do slow'ish (my foot still hurts) but steady walks of around 3 hours, while reading my medical articles. PDF Reader in full screen mode on the 4.13" beauty is nothing short of the desktop Adobe experience. The transflective screen makes it also a lot easier to use the device outside when it's sunny. Plus it's small and light and easy to carry on, especially by using the built-in stand to hold the device, something I found myself doing unconsciously just to find that ThoughtFix thought of it too.

I also use the Notes program to write down excerpts and thoughts following each article, which I then send to my PC, open and copy paste into my thesis.doc file. If I need some explanation of a medical term, I open Garnet VM and use my medical dictionaries in Mobipocket to check it out.

If that's not productive mobility, I don't know what is!

Feb 21, 2008

Why Ebooks DRM Isn't Likely To Die

I was downloading the other day my medical ebooks on the tablet, after I managed to make Mobipocket work, when it hit me. DRM is such a PIA! I am not accustomed to music DRM because I find my music elsewhere. Here, there is a shop that sells 4GB DVDs full with MP3s for 2$, there are the shops that sell audio CDs for 1$, or the Syrians on the street who sell CDs full of MP3s for a little more than 1$, and if not, there's always Limewire and eMule (yes sue me)!

But when it came to getting medical ebooks of quality, like the ones sold on Mobipocket, I couldn't find them anywhere, seemed like their DRM is uncrackable or still uncracked , or maybe cracked but not known by the medical community. Point is that I had to buy them, something I did without much grunting, because I knew I was getting value for my money. And later, I was glad because most of them had a dictionary layout allowing me to type a word in order to find what it is (drugs, diseases, organs, symptoms,...)

It isn't until later that I realized how much of a PIA DRM is. Everytime I get a new device, I have to get the Mobireader for it, get my device ID, go to the Mobi website, register this device and DOWNLOAD all of my ebooks AGAIN! Just so that they work on the new device! And that is seriously a joy killer because I got to trial a couple of mobiles lately and I had to do everything from scratch for each one.

That got me to thinking. The trend with music is all about going DRM-less or DRM-free, a service that even the mighty "close-garden" strategist Apple got into with iTunes. Suffice it to say that music DRM is starting to vanish, slowly but steadily and not so painfully. The big and small labels might have put all of their effort into defending themselves against crackers and leechers and whatnot, you could always launch your P2P or Torrent download and get whatever song that you wanted. With ebooks, the trend is the opposite.

The fact is that music is ubiquitous, whereas books aren't. You can listen to music while you drive, you can't read a book while you drive. You can listen to music while you jog, run, go grocery shopping, walk to the bus, work, clean the house... you can't read a book while doing any of those (under normal circumstances). Meaning that the target of music is each and everyone, whereas the target of books/ebooks is a select one. All of this to say that the bigger the target, the more there is likely a cracker/leecher purchasing the material. That's why there is more music available online for free, if you know where to look for it, and that's why you have to look for hours before finding an ebook. This is the reason why music records stopped feeling like getting money from MP3 sales is necessary for them.

It's true that ebooks are becoming more and more mainstream, probably stealing the thunder from regular books, a trend that has been noticed and promoted by the Amazon Kindle. The sales of the device are rocketing for an ebook reader and that should be something we are thankful for and not reluctant towards. Why? The Kindle might as well become the iPod of ebooks, it could bring ebooks to the masses so hard that instead of providing more revenue to publishers on the short run, it will help people realize that DRM sucks on the long-run and drive them to find and if not create ways to avoid it. But what I believe is that, even so, publishers won't go DRM-free. Why?

The fact that Music Records accepted to remove DRM isn't as much driven by the frequent leeches as much as it is by the fact that they can get their money elsewhere: concert tickets, events, artist swag stores, putting the artist in a certain publicity for another product and cutting shares, ... , they can find payment in more places than one. Plus with the recent rise of blogs and what everyone is calling web2.0 as well as independent records, every little artist can get famous within minutes. It takes a well-placed and linked YouTube video and there you are, no need for high-quality camcorders either because the YouTube codes will hammer it. Meaning that record labels are no longer the referee in this game, but more of a goalkeeper: still essential for many games, but some teams can go a whole match without needing one.

The problem with ebooks is that there is no elsewhere. Probably 99% of authors get their money from their books, nowhere else. It's only with great franchises like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings that publishers can go elsewhere for the money: swag stores, movie rights, and the likes. But the grand majority of books won't have this possibility and will only remain a "book" and that is why publishers will never allow DRM to die on ebooks, not in the near future at least.

Feb 20, 2008

Dotsisx Changes Direction

I previously announced in my last post that Dotsisx will be changing direction. It's not as drastic as it seems, oh well on second thought, it is. Don't worry I am not leaving the mobile community.

The reasons behind this decision are mainly 3:
First one is the tag line I have right now "Everything S60 3rd Edition and More". We all know that Dotsisx was never about "everything" S60, but more about "some things" S60. This is due to the fact that I never was good with news and I always hated reporting them. Mainly, when I *read* the same story for 30 times in my RSS, I am so sick of it, I don't want to see the title again, let alone, write it myself.
Second is the fact that being now that I write on Symbian-Guru (and Tablet-Guru), I find it odd that everytime I have a post idea, I have to pick one blog and go for it. I also hate copy/pasting the same thing on two different blogs.
Third, and main reason, is that when I started blogging, I did it because I wanted to bring my special touch to the community. As months went by, I lost my initial eagerness to achieve this. I want to have this back.

So, what is that new direction I'm talking about?
Basically it will be summed up by the new tag line "Dotsisx - On Life, Mobiles And S60" (new banner coming tomorrow). This means that Dotsisx will be more focused on daily life integration with S60 and on ways to improve that integration and make the most of it. This also means that I will post general things about the mobile industry. But most importantly this means that I will focus on the use of S60 in the life sciences field, as well as the new technologies: nanotechnologies and biotechnologies, and how they will be used in life and mobile devices.

The risks
I know I will see my RSS subscriptions figures diminish by the dozens the moment that I publish this post, but this is a risk I am willing to take. I also know that this is a new commitment from me, to a different domain than the one I have been comfortable in for the past year, most importantly because I will have to look for genuine content every time I post. This is why I will post less in quantity, but try to improve the quality.

Why did I choose this specific direction?
Because I figured that I am one of the rare bloggers that are implicated in the life sciences field, because I am passionate about Life, because mobiles are here to help us "live" better, because if I want to bring a special touch I should choose a domain that I know, because new technologies are all "hip" these days and it would nice to get to know them together.

Where to get S60 3rd information if not here?
First off, I have embedded on this page to the left, the most recent posts from Symbian-Guru and Tablet-Guru. If you're a strict fan of my work (1 get a life, 2 who are you?) you can also see the names of the authors: the ones tagged Dotsisx are the ones I wrote. You can also check IntoMobile which generally have all mobile-related news as well as AllAboutSymbian which mostly focus on Symbian. There's also on the left column my Bookmarks and my OPML file (all my RSS subscription links) if you really want to check a lot of site.

Feb 16, 2008


Hello all! I'm sorry for not posting for the last week but my laptop charger issue became worse and I had some problems with the repair company. Anyway this was solved today. But guess on what I wrote this post? A Nokia? Yeah you're close. An N95? Oh no I'm still stuck with my 3250. But I got an N810 from the awesome guys at WOMWorld and I finally get to see what a Nokia Internet Tablet is. And yeah baby I am liking it! The full coverage will be online on Tablet-Guru so be sure to check it soon.

I also have an announcement to make over here at Dotsisx, it's about a change of blog direction (no I am not leaving the Symbian world) or probably a focus on a specific aspect. I am still pondering the exact way to shift things so expect some explanations in the week to come.

Oh and I have decided to get an N81, but I can only afford a second-hand one so the search has just started :p Now if you'll excuse me I'll go see what the internet radio on the tablet can really do :)

Feb 11, 2008

Take Your Seats

The WOMWorld virtual event is about to start in 20 minutes so if you want to grab it click on the banner below and make sure to have Flash 9 installed. If you don't, you can get it here.

I know I have previously said that I will be covering the announcements here, but my laptop charger is dying and I don't even know if I'll be able to watch the virtual event. For all the juicy details, head on to Symbian-Guru. Ricky will cover everything there and there will also be some thoughts from yours truly, so it is a safer bet than hanging here on Dotsisx...

I am having them take my laptop and charger tonight so I don't know for how long I'll be missing. I had to happen during Mobile World Congress!

Feb 10, 2008

N81 8GB - Final Words & BOSE

The N81 8GB Special Edition with Bose Quiet Comort 3 headphones has been here for 2 weeks now and I am a little reluctant towards the thought of having to pack it up tonight. I didn't want to just review the device, because many people have done so in the past months, and I couldn't basically add a thing to the extensive posts that were made. I tried to have a practical approach to it and it was all covered on Symbian-Guru.

The N81 8GB must be one of the most controversial devices Nokia has released in the last months. While many have hated the cheap plastic finish and the 2MP cam, many have also liked the overall style and the dedicated gaming keys of the device. I belong to both categories, but the latter is more prevalent for me and given that I can't go on anymore with Symbian blogging having a Nokia 3250, the N81 8GB seems like the next logical step. It's one of the best and cheapest phones right now on the market (around 250$ for a second-hand one), it has N-Gage, WiFi, ultimate music capabilities and no need to pay more for an external memory card. I am seriously thinking about getting one, but holding a little back to see what comes from Nokia in the next days (MWC and all).

In all cases, packing this baby up tonight will hurt like crazy, because even if I end up getting the N81, I will never have the Bose QC3 headphones again, and believe me, this by itself is a major problematic. I have found the Bose QC3 coupled with the N81 to be utterly useful in 4 scenarios.

1 - Studying partner : I had a couple of finals this week. Being a study-hater and having more than one distraction available, I couldn't get myself started. Eventually, one day before the exam, I opened the books and decided I'd study with tunes. I wired the QC3 to the N81 on the lowest volume and I can't express how great of an experience that was. I didn't sleep (something I usually do after reading some pages), I didn't feel distracted, and time flew by without me wining about the hundreds of paragraphs to memorize. I gotta admit that the Bose would be a nice partner, especially in May-June when I have my Probatoires exams (12 exams of all the major topics we have covered in Pharmacy during the last 3 years).

2 - Ultimate Bus Trip companion : the N81 came with me on a bus trip we had to Benta Pharmaceutical Industries this Friday. With street noises and on-bus conversation topics being more than one reason that would've made other headphones crazy, the noise cancelling QC3 shone. Just clip them on, close your eyes and it's like no one is around you!

3 - Politics Escapology : my mother needed the pc and internet connection one day. While being installed in my room, she turned the TV on and chose some political talk-show. I hate those! Basically, it's a lot of trash and it ends up with everyone sticking to their beliefs, and the viewer having learnt nothing new. In order to avoid listening to that crap, I got my lethal mix: Bose + N81 and there I was, on some other planet.

4 - Sleeping lullaby : For the past week that I have had the Bose, I have enjoyed going to sleep listening to them many many days. I'd partially wake up a couple of minutes later, take them off, and dive right back into my dreams.

Along with random music listening, you understand now why I will miss the Bose QC3. Ah *snif* *noisy breath*

Feb 9, 2008

Microsoft Wants Windows Mobile On Nokias - LMAO!

Two days ago, the news started circulating all over the web: according to iTWire, Microsoft is in discussion with Nokia to have it add Windows Mobile-powered devices to its portfolio. While this news would have made perfect sense for me a year ago, and probably made me a little bit glad, it comes now as the most surprisingly hilarious news I have read in days. Not that I believe it's ever impossible, but it does have a funny ring to it.

I believe Nokia has invested a lot in the Symbian platform (S60 and S40), be it in expertize, research, development, hardware, education, marketing, and many more areas. I believe it has finally reached that place with S60 where it's been finally recognized worldwide as the powerful OS that it is, where people have finally understood and embraced the S60 way of life, and it has gained the amazing market-share that makes it the global decision-maker. For these reasons and more, I believe Microsoft will likely have to do a little more than "urge" for Nokia to change strategies. And I am not talking about whole portfolio switch, even a new line of Windows Mobile devices added to the huge Nokia product line is far from becoming a reality.

Another point to make is that WM's current market-share is 6% globally, according to the same iTWire article. Is Nokia likely to plunge into a 6% market? No. Nokia is more likely to eat that market, with Symbian. Because if it decided to venture in the WM arena, not only will it have to buy a license to use it and rethink its whole hardware design and function to fit the platform (touchscreen or not), but also it will have to invest in developing, improving, personalizing the platform, because that's what it did with Symbian: get the Symbian 9.1 OS and build S60 3rd on top of it. That's a lot of money to compete with giants like Asus, HTC, iMate, HP, Samsung and Motorolla for a bite in a 6% market-share.

And that goes without mentioning the vast array of services that Nokia have recently launched or will launch in the near future. Ovi, N-gage, Maps, Music Store, MOSH, all are based and solidly built on S60. Nokia is no longer the hardware company, it is the software company (recent acquisition of Trolltech) and even more the services company. These services have been engineered to work for S60 (and not S40 for example) for a reason. It's a commitment, on behalf of Nokia to the S60 platform. It's also a statement that hardware is no longer the main purpose, but services are. A company's benefit from hardware come from the device sale itself, whereas a company's benefit from services last for years after the device has been purchased.

The 6% WM market-share denotes that Windows Mobile is not a very popular platform worldwide, and there has to be reasons behind this. Fortunately enough, through the course of this year, I've seen those reasons myself and that's why, after having wished to see WM on a Nokia a year ago, I am now in a place where I'm repulsed by this thought. I am not saying that WM is a piece of crap, on the contrary it has a lesson or two that it can teach S60, but I would pick S60 over it in a blink.

If the news provided by the iTWire article should prove anything, it is that Windows Mobile is desperately looking for a safety net. With the recent success of Apple's iPhone, the near release of Google's Android, RIM's (Blackberry) massive US popularity, Linux sneaking on some devices (Nseries Internet Tablets) and the Symbian worldwide domination; WM and PalmOS are the black sheep. If Microsoft has learned a thing or two from the Windows PC market, it is that facelifts (read: Vista) do not necessarily please everyone. WM6 is a little bit more than a facelift to WM5, but core functionality remained the same. And it isn't putting a platform on more devices that will make it popular, but fixing and improving the platform itself.

I believe that we're now in a time frame where Nokia is a leader not a follower, and a global trend-setter, and if only for this reason, we're not likely to see a Windows Mobile powered Nokia device in the near future. Of course times can change and I can be wrong...

Catch The WOMWorld Virtual Event Here!

Remember a couple of hours ago I said that I was attending the WOMWorld Virtual Event? Well, Now you can attend it with me. Just click on the banner below and be sure to have Flash 9 installed. If you don't, you can get it here.

Feb 8, 2008

Mobile World Congress

The guys at Nseries WOMWorld were nice enough to invite me to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest mobile-related shows, previously known as 3GSM. While attending MWC has been my year-long wish, I had to pass the invitation because of exams (that's why I have been away this week) and an unstable Lebanese situation.

But a couple of days ago, I learned that I was invited to the Virtual Launch event, a nice way by Nokia and Nseries to make sure bloggers who aren't there can catch the launch and participate in a Q&A session with Nokia execs. It goes without saying: hats off, Nseries!

I'll try to report the announcement asap here and also tell you guys what happens in the virtual event. Expect things to get started on Monday February the 11th, around 11am here (9am GMT) so stay tuned!

Now off to the juicy part. What do I think will be unveiled in MWC?

Knowing Nokia's past at 3GSM we can cross fingers for some Nseries, Eseries and other new devices. The best bets so far would be the E71 and E66. As far as Nseries go, rumors have been circulating around the N78 and the N96. Both are supposed to have S60 3rd Edition FP2, and this isn't expected until the second-half of the year so I am skeptic as to whether we will get them now. It goes without saying that it would make much sense to release the FP2 now and not in Q3 because S60 Touch should be around in Q4 and Nokia would want to keep various UIs well spaced and differentiated. Personal opinion. Talking about Touch UI, S60 should do some demonstrations and I hope they give us something to chew on for a while.

When it comes to services, I believe :
- Nokia will shed some more lights on Ovi (ready availability? don't think so).
- There may be newer regional Music Stores but don't take it from me.
- We might also get that Nokia music player for the desktop that some bloggers have been raving about.
- Comes With Music might go all forgotten.
- N-gage should be left to the Game Developers Conference Mobile on February 18 and 19.
- We should also get all that internet services and connecting people talk, that is always there. Gotta admit it though, Nokia devices are the ones that offer the most versatility in was you can connect and interact with the world.

What do you think will be brought in front of the curtains by the Finnish giant? Agree or disagree with me?

I have to admit that I'm really annoyed that I'm not there, having a blast in an environment where I feel comfy. Put me with a couple of mobiles around me, and you'll always see me laugh. I guess there's always a next time.