In the last few months, I have noticed that a lot of the websites that I have visited have been offering apps. It gets quite annoying after a while, as every time I visit the website, I am greeted by a modal pop-over asking me if I would like to install their app. The pop-over, invariably has a very large button to take you to Google Play Store (formerly known as “Android Market”) with a quite small link underneath it with a “continue to website” text. Continue reading
A recent article from Ars Technica points to a situation in which a developer contracted by an agency developed an IOS app for a commercial client using the Titanium tool. It seems that the sales team from Appcelerator contacted not only the agency concerned, but also the client, demanding a payment of £ 5,000 or the app will be taken down for intelectual property infringement. Continue reading
For someone who wants to buy a tablet right now, especially in Australia, the choices in the market are far from clear. If you fancy an Apple Ipad 2, you are guaranteed a great user experience, a good selection of apps and nice applications such as GarageBand and iMovie. However, if you look at the hardware, even though the dual-core A5 is a little powerhouse under that screen, the hardware list is a little disappointing. The camera is a disappointment and the lack of slots for expansion as well as being tied down to an iTunes only transfer can make things complicated under certain usage scenarios. Furthermore, even if you have cash burning a hole in your wallet, there is hardly any stock anywhere.
In the Android camp, at the moment there is the new Samsung 10.1v being sold through Vodafone. The tablet runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb and it has good specs, such as a nice camera, 3G connectivity and being an Android tablet, it can be used as a USB storage device. However, the Samsung lacks any expansion slot whatsoever. This makes it a slight disadvantage if you are one of those movie and music hogs who like to take a lot of media on the go.
Recently, I started to see some Acer Iconia A500 tablets around the shops. Yesterday, I looked at a couple in a JB-HiFi store somewhere in Sydney. The unit definitely feels nice to hold and amazingly light. It has a brushed aluminium back and the camera seems to be quite good. However, so far there is no 3G version available in Australia.
Dilemma is sometimes a wonderful thing, as I think I will wait until there is a tablet in the market that will fit in as a daily use tablet without being tied down to any particular device ecosystem.
Using four feature phones and a computer, a pair of researchers demonstrated that it is possible to sniff and decrypt a session across a GSM network in as little as a few minutes. The researchers used a custom firmware loaded onto the phones which act as network sniffers, with the decryption done on a computer, after the packets were sent via USB connection.
The implication of this is quite significant, as it means that GSM eavesdropping is now possible with commodity hardware that does not cost five figures in US Dollars. Anyone with access to the right software and the right phone hardware could decrypt any conversations or SMS across a GSM network.
This process has been made somewhat easier by the tendencies of mobile phone networks to send voice and SMS traffic to the old GSM network while reserving UMTS for data use only. On top of that, the researchers revealed that often the same key is used across multiple sessions, which means that once the encryption of a particular session has been cracked, the same key can be used in the next few sessions without having to decrypt a new one.
Read the original article at arstechnica for more details
Unlike most people I have spoken to, I have actually found a place for an ipad in my little gadget universe. I can see it being a more capable replacement for my Nokia N800 which is now getting a little long in the tooth. The only issue I have is that the Ipad is a device that is tightly locked down by Apple (do you hear that all those Android Tablet manufacturers?). That was the reason I steered clear of the Iphone in the first place.
At the same time, my Nokia E71 is now slowly dying (charger pin getting loose so that it does not charge properly anymore). I have been thinking maybe I should go with one of those giant-screened Android phones like the HTC Desire or the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. Buying one of these phones will be around the same as buying a 3G Ipad. Hmmm!
Having been stuck on Nokia’s Web (the default browser on the E71), I have always been on the lookout for an alternative to this often used piece of software on my phone. It’s not that Web is particularly painful to use, but sometimes it can be a little annoying. While it has some good features like the RSS reader and the ability to automatically resize web content (looks like it’s done with a custom CSS) and a few other nice touches, I often find it a little short in places where it counts.
One of the things that irks me about Web is when the screen goes blank after I click on a link. It first shows a text-only view of the web page, then it goes blank until the whole page and the majority of the graphics have loaded. This little habit of Web‘s is quite annoying on its own. It might be fine if I am looking at the mobile version pages of the large internet sites like flickr and facebook and so on, but some sites do not have any mobile version and they regularly exceed 1MB in size, so on my E71, that means quite a few seconds (with a very good network connection) sitting idle waiting for something to load, staring at a blank screen. This is compounded by the fact that even when the same graphics are involved (eg the second page of a website with the exact same graphical elements), Web still makes you wait a few seconds (while it reads the local cache? How slow!). This is also true when you hit the back button to view a previously loaded page.
Having put up with Nokia’s little browser for a year, I have decided that I have to find an alternative. I first looked at Opera Mobile, but it is only available for platforms such as Windows Mobile. However, inspired by the good experience I had with Opera Mobile on my HTC phone (imate Jamin), I wanted to see if Opera made a browser for the Symbian platform. After looking around the Opera website, it turns out that they make Opera Mini, which is available for the Symbian phone, including my Nokia E71.
Download and installation was a snap and using the browser is such a joy. Pages load up so quickly and the zooming function works really well. Opera’s technology for the mobile browser has really created a nice user experience. Hitting the back button to view previous pages loads them in such a snappy fashion that I feel so compelled to write about it here. It seems that the use of server-side compression has really paid off for Opera in the mobile space.
So if you are on a symbian phone, make sure you give Opera Mini a try!
After two years of using the I-mate Jamin smartphone, I finally decided that it was time to upgrade to something with better feature set and a more open connectivity options. This time around, data was becoming more of a priority, since I don’t seem to use voice calls terribly much. I needed a phone that I could get on a contract that has a cheaper monthly payment than what I was paying before. While I was with Vodafone with the Jamin, the best I could get was $50 plan and $20 repayment for the handset. It offered GPRS EDGE connectivity with no included monthly data allowance which was charged at a rate that would give anyone a heartburn . With the least addictional cost, the best Vodafone could offer was an extra $10 on top of the already quite expensive plan to give me a mere 5MB of data per month. It definitely hurt.
Soon after i Acquired the I-mate Jamin, to make the experience even worse, I ended up buying a MacBook. The first thing I wanted to do was install Thunderbird (my favorite email client on all platform) on it and to my disappointment, I discovered that I could not do a sync between Mac and Windows Mobile without either using Parallels and Windows (and then only with that beast called Outlook) or buying some third party software. It seems that neither Apple or Microsoft wanted to know about people in my situation who did not want to subscribe to either one of the platforms (aka platform agnostic) for everything. The only thing that came close to being a solution was to use a Funambol Server installed on one of my servers, which was not only clumsy to use, but also difficult to manage. In the end I settled with using Schedule World so I could do sync between my Windows XP, Linux and OS X notebooks and my Windows Mobile 5.0 phone. This approach, while it works, is not really ideal since I have to rely on an external server to manage the synchronisation and the data.
The I-mate Jamin was a reasonably good phone, but its shortcomings were mainly caused by the Windows Mobile platform it was built on. While it works almost seamlessly in a Windows world, when you start venturing outside that walled garden the problems become unbearable. The minute you don’t want to use Outlook anymore (did I mention that an early version of Microsoft anti-virus product ate my entire Outlook database because of a single infected email?) you start seeing the ugly brick walls and quickly hitting your head against it. This gets a lot worse when you decide to try working on another platform such as Mac OS X. While there is Microsoft Office for Mac, there is no activesync for Mac. Entourage which was supposed to resemble Outlook on the Mac does not have support for syncing with Windows Mobile.
The only way you could access the files on your Windows Mobile was to use the Acitvesync software which was not a good thing when Activesync decides to play up. In the end I basically had had enough of the “closed” way in which Windows Mobile was working, so this time around I decided to look around for a phone built on a platform which supports open standards.
My first choice would have been the iphone from Apple. It is a beautifully-designed piece of technology with a very nice and intuitive interface, based on a platform which originated from a Unix world. I was quite sure about getting the iphone, until I discovered that despite its appeal, it does not really support open standards that well and I just could not understand why they would limit the bluetooth profile to headset-only. So the iphone is out.
The next on my list was the Nokia E71. Ever since my partner acquired the E65 phone from Nokia I was always a little partial to the Symbian platform, so when the Nokia E71 was released I was itching to get my hands on one to try it out. However, when I read more about the specs it soon looked like a very good candidate for my next phone. It supports 3G HSDPA, most of the common bluetooth profiles, SyncML synchronisation standard, Wifi, Assisted GPS, Flash Lite 3.0, push email and the list goes on. It even has IRDA support.
The day I went to a Three shop in Sydney, I just wanted to check it out and hold it in my hands. The phone feels very nice to hold. Its thin and wide frame sits well in my hand and having a qwerty keyboard definitely makes things a lot easier when it comes to hammering an email or a text message. The screen looks nice and smooth and the phone is suprisingly large. It definitely amazes me what Nokia engineers manage to fit into such a thin and small device.
I liked the device so much that I decided to sign up for a plan right away. What I ended up getting was the E71 on a $29 cap plus $10 handset repayment a month on a 24-month contract. This was cheaper than getting the E71 on a $69 cap plan with no repayment. To quench my thirst for mobile data, I added $20 X-series (1GB/month) to the plan which brought the total to $59 per month including 1GB of data. This is definitely in my ball park and having 1GB of mobile data to play with means I will not hesitate to use the phone as a modem with either my Nokia N800 tablet or a notebook when needed.