Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nokia E75 "Teach the Technophobe" week four

The final challenge, part of the 'Teach the Technophobe' E75 competition, has been sent out we will attempt to complete it in the summit of Snowdon. If the Met Office (and they are not too reliable at predicting anything beyond the next day's) are to be believed, this will be the fourth walking trip this year we will be doing in the rain! Will update this post when we return on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Snowdonia trip

We will be heading to Snowdonia this weekend - our first trip there actually. Duly hope that the weather holds, though I am not going to hold my breath. Every single one of our trips this year has been blessed with awful weather, so I do not see the trend breaking anytime soon. Anyway, we are aiming to complete three walks, that is Snowdon via Pyg track and Miner's track from Pen-y-Pass and Moel Eilio circular from Llanberis and hopefully the Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach circular from Pen-y-Pass.

Thinking seriously on what gadgets to bring. I will definitely be needing my Walkman with me, as if there was one thing I learnt from the trip to Lake District, it is a necessity for a good night sleep, what with the noisy campers around. Will also be bringing my E51 and E75 trial unit for GPS'ing and the Proporta Ted Baker's No Ordinary charger (it is capable of charging my E51 and Navman B10 unit up to three times each). My Canon G9 and three batteries will be coming along too as with a bunch of memory cards, though I may pick up an extra card tomorrow. On the other hand, my PSP and DS Lite will be staying at home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Opera moans about Internet Explorer icon now

I love Opera. In fact I use the browser occasionally whenever I need a quick web check (not browsing for more than a couple of minutes), as it is a hassle to boot up Firefox (seeing how RAM hungry it is).

But dear Opera (and the European Commission), please shut the hell up. First you complained that Microsoft is wrong to bundle a web browser with their own product, which even I do not understand. When Microsoft relented and announced that Windows 7 will be shipped Internet Explorer-less in Europe, you moaned about that too. And now Microsoft is doing exactly what you wanted them to do, allowing customers to pick the browser of their choice via a ballot screen in future releases of Windows. And still you take the time to bitch.

According to The Register, Opera Software's Hakon Wium Lie is reported to have questioned the use of the Internet Explorer icon on the ballot screen.
"The blue 'e' has become so associated with the Internet in general, due to the bundling with Windows. We think using the blue 'e' might not be such a good idea,"

Jesus. If you spend more time actually marketing your own browser like the peeps at Mozilla, maybe you will actually gain more marketshare. Firefox is a proof that you do not need regulations within the browser market to succeed. Sigg, if Microsoft drops the use of logo, I am sure the guys at Opera will moan about the 'Internet' in 'Internet Explorer' next... I love the browser, but the politics is just terrible.

FFS Opera. Instead of whining about everything, how about allocating some actual development time to make Opera Mini faster and Opera Mobile better?

OpenSolaris 2009.06

With the pending arrival of Windows 7 (it's great - no doubt about it) and the glamour of Linux, people could be forgiven to believe that no other alternatives exist. Thankfully, there are. OpenSolaris has always been a favourite alternative OS of mine, and the latest release 2009.06 is a step in the right direction.

My 2009.06 Live CD arrived about 2 weeks ago, but I haven't had the chance to play around with it much apart from that one time. I once again booted it up today and found the latest distribution to be very stable. It recognised all my ThinkPad X61 components without any issues, though the same can be said of its 2008.05 release. Some of the bundled apps are outdated, and VideoLan isn't even installed (Totem is included instead - which is a rather useless media player IMO, but this can easily be fixed).

Once I get a new harddrive, I'll definitely be creating a partition for OpenSolaris and Windows 7. Both are exciting enough.

Some concert videos

For whatever reason I've not used my YouTube account to upload videos for ages (I almost forgot I had one). Well I have finally gotten off my arse and decided to upload some videos. Quality's a bit crap because the videos have been re-encoded to speed up upload (if you must know I am with Virgin Media - I hope that explains it).

Au Revoir Simone playing "Shadows" from Still Night, Still Life at Proud Galleries London:

Those Dancing Days playing "Actionman" from In Our Space Hero Suits at Proud Galleries London:

Au Revoir Simone playing "Knights of Wands" from Still Night, Still Life at Pure Groove:

Camera Obscura playing "Razzle Dazzle Rose" from Let's Get Out of this Country at Shepherd's Bush Empire:

Cheap digital compact

Canon Ixus has always been a very desirable line of ultra compact digital camera, retaining the same basic design introduced with their decade old APS-based Ixus camera. Unfortunately, UK often gets screwed when it comes to pricing - sometimes forced to pay nearly double what it costs across the Atlantic!

Well here's a brilliant deal for those of you are looking for a new ultra compact digital camera. The Canon Ixus 110 IS is going for £189.99, down from its rip-off £349.99 list price just two months after its release, now bringing it more in line with US pricing. It contains a 12.1 Megapixel CCD sensor, wide angle lens (28mm equivalent), 4x optical zoom and all the usual technobabble stuff (image stabiliser, HDMI out etc.). Its slimmer cousin, the older Ixus 100 IS, is also selling for a mere £183.90, though you have to make do with only 3x optical zoom (33mm - 100mm equivalent).

Unfortunately for a 2009 camera, neither are capable of shooting 720p HD videos. If that is something you are looking for, the pricier but equally compact Panasonic Lumix TZ7 will be perfect for you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Au Revoir Simone & Those Dancing Days @ Proud Galleries, Camden

Swedish girl indie band Those Dancing Days opened the night with a barrage of high quality twee pop from their 2008 album In Our Space Hero Suits. Au Revoir Simone then played a set that was acoustically disappointing. Sound engineer should be reprimanded for turning up the volume all the way up, as all you can hear is the bass. Still a fun night at Proud Bar (shit beer selection though), and as usual Annie, Heather and Erika are the nicest bunch of people you can meet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nokia E75 "Teach the Technophobe" week three

The third challenge from WOM World/Nokia only arrived today. A new sticker had to be sent out which was why I got it late. If you do not know, this is part of the 'Teach the Technophobe' E75 competition. I'll be out an about today, hopefully getting my technophobe to capture a nice picture for the challenge. Until then you can read about my past challenges here.

As I mentioned earlier, the E75 has the ability to geotag pictures taken. This is a simple enough process that involves turning on the GPS receiver and enabling location tagging withing the camera settings. Obviously this depends on whether the GPS receiver on the E75 has acquired its position. This can take up to a couple of minutes depending on location (outdoors works best) and the weather. Any co-ordinates will be recorded as a metadata on the image's EXIF.

Geotagging images has plenty of advantages. The most obvious is a way or organising your images by location. If you share images on Flickr, location tags will allow users to quickly trawl through images based on location. You can also use online maps like Google Maps to create an interactive map.

BTW, if your Series 60 phone has no support for geotagging (my E51 does not), an application like ViewRanger is a good alternative. Whilst it does not tag the images taken with the E51's camera with co-ordinates, you are able to upload images to ViewRanger's server. Images can be shared on ViewRanger's TravelLog site, which shows an interactive map with pin-points representing images.

Anyway, an update. My partner has just completed the third challenge. Basically the challenge calls for the technophobe to send me an e-mail of a picture taken of herself, and if possible a link to a map of where she took the picture. The reason why I wrote about the geotagging ability of the E75 is precisely that - it is much easier to let your images be tagged automatically so you can go through them later in pin-pointing exactly where each image was taken. When I brought the E75 to the Lake District, I had the GPS turn on for GPS logging and picture taking. You can see some of the results here. As I said earlier, the E75 is a good camera phone, but it won't replace your dedicated digital camera or even a high end camera phone like the N86.

So back to the challenge. As you know it has been a rainy day and she e-mailed me a picture of her all wet and pouting from her lunch walk. Privacy concerns meant that I won't be posting the picture up here, nor a link to Google Maps of where she works. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fn Ctrl

The Fn key was originally placed by the ThinkPad designers in the lower left hand corner to make the key easier to locate when using the keystroke combinations. There was a rationale. This is especially handy for turning on the ThinkLight in the dark. Aim for the two extreme corners. Desktop keyboards have never had the Fn issue to deal with since there are not such stringent size contraints for their keyboards that require the use of such a key. (Lenovo Blogs: Fn Versus Ctrl)
In all honesty, ever since I started using ThinkPads, I have found that the Fn Ctrl placement makes the most sense. Personally I never use the Ctrl key, apart from maybe word processing, so perhaps that is the reason. To me the single most deciding factor of keeping the Fn key on the extreme low left of the ThinkPad keyboard is the ThinkLight. I reckon that I probably use that key combination the most with my current X61. Others include launching the power scheme panel, quickly putting the ThinkPad into standby mode and dimming or brightening the screen.

To me a more sensible solution is to:

1. Swap the 'CapsLock' key for the 'Ctrl' key. 'CapsLock' is a redundant key, one that I or the majority of people I know would never use in its default state.

2. Offer a BIOS solution for those who are keen on remapping the 'Fn' and 'Ctrl' keys. This is probably an ideal solution. All ThinkPads should still ship with the default 'Fn' 'Ctrl' positioning though.

Getting rid of the 'Windows' key in order to fit in a larger 'Ctrl' key seem to be a popular request, but I think the request is born more out of hatred of Microsoft than anything. Perhaps replacing the key symbol with something more neutral would be more appropriate. Personally, I still believe the best solution is to replace the 'CapsLock' key with the 'Ctrl' key.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Au Revoir Simone @ Pure Groove, London

Due to technical issues, Erika, Annie and Heather only played a handful of songs, but it was worth dragging myself to Farringdon (a part of London I normally dislike - in fact I actually still do) just to witness one of my favourite indie pop band (plus I had pictures taken with them). They are also one of the most lovely musicians I've ever met. Will also be seeing them again this Saturday at Proud Camden.

Some pictures of the band (and a video here). Unfortunately I had to use flash as a combination of poor light and lack of furniture to brace myself resulted in super blurry pictures. I hope I didn't annoy the band and audience too much!

Au Revoir Simone's amazing and dreamy third indie synthpop album Still Night, Still Light is available now from Amazon UK and

Friday, July 17, 2009

UK Police state update

Some updates of every one's favourite legal mob...

Alex Turner of Kent was arrested on the grounds of 'prevention of terrorism' because he was taking pictures in a high street. He was first approached by plain clothes people who did not offer any warrant or ID. The WPC who then arrested him claimed pleaded that his height intimidated her. He was released after being subjected to a humiliating public search.

Andrew Poole of Devon was forced to have his perfectly legal 30th birthday party shut down. 15 guests were threatened by police (in full riot gear, accompanied by a police helicopter) with arrest if they did not leave the party. The plods claimed that the party was advertised on Facebook as an 'all-night' party. About £200 of tax payers money were wasted, which could have gone into some rich banker in the city to be used as toiler paper.

Some suggestions. Put your bleeding Facebook account into private and limit your 'friends' list by not stop accepting people who you do not know as friends. Encrypt all your e-mails! Authorities always claim that people with nothing to hide has nothing to be afraid of, but the abuse by the beat bobbies here clearly proves otherwise. No wonder criminals are getting away when all the plods do is surf social networking sites, attacking legitimate protesters and shooting innocent Brazilians.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nokia E75 "Teach the Technophobe" week two

The second challenge from WOM World/Nokia's, part of the 'Teach the Technophobe' competition, has arrived and it is pretty straight forward. Here it is:
Pigeons may be the bane of anyone who's ever tried to eat a sandwich in a public park, but cut them some slack. Has any bird ever carried so many messages?

Just like those pigeons used to carry messages back and forth, email is a two way process. Why not tage a photo on your device and email it across to your coach to see what he/she thinks?

It could be funny, it could be poignant, it could be dull (don't make it dull), but the goal is to elicit an interesting response so be creative.
Now I haven't coached my partner yet (she is still out), but I'll go ahead and post a tutorial here for any newbies that may be reading. Nokia has made things simple by integrating functions within the camera applications that allows one to quickly select an image to be sent via e-mail, thus reducing the number of steps needed to attach an image to an e-mail. Here's a step by step guide using the Nokia E75.

Capture the image. This is simply enough.

The image preview area allows you to delete, view the image in the gallery, share it online or send it via a messaging client.

Choose the method of delivery (in this case e-mail).

If you have more than one e-mail account, select the account you wish to send the image from.

The image will have been attached already. Compose the e-mail, choose your desired recipient, add more attachment if you wish etc.

Send, and follow the on-screen promts which allows you to select your desired access connection (3G, WiFi etc.).

The message will be stored in the outbox if there is no working connection, or if you wish to delay sending (e.g. if there are no WiFi access point).

You can always manually send it if once you are near a working WiFi access point.

As you can see the process from capturing an image is very simple and seamless. It was never this simple during my Palm OS and Windows Mobile days (though I suspect that things may have improved significantly now). With integrations like this, mobile messaging and e-mail has never been easier.


My partner (the technophobe) actually found the process to be rather easy after I pointed out that images can be attached to an e-mail message from the camera application itself. She did have a bit of a hiccup as she did not realise the e-mail was kept in the outbox and she had to manually connect. Once she figured that out, it was plain sailing.

This is picture of Patrick, the loveable and skinny red dog, of whom we have a wonderful history together.

Nokia E75 coverage:
Nokia E75 camera review
Nokia E75 e-mail
Nokia E75 GPS review
Nokia E75 music and sound quality review
Nokia E75 pictures & first impressions

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Activision Blizzard

Activision, as some of you may know, recently tried to force Sony to lower the price of PlayStation 3 consoles. Remember this is a company who specialises in ripping consumers off, by marking up the retail price of games and plastic toy accessories like Guitar Hero and similar crap (like that toy 'night vision' goggles). The console versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is priced at £55, a huge mark up to the normal £40 we are supposed to see with current-gen games. Online pre-orders will come less, at £44.98, but is still pretty expensive by any sane standard.

The sad thing is gamers here will lap it up. Britain and its population do not mind bending over and getting screwed over and over again by corporations, so it comes as no surprise that Activision, the hypocrites they are, has identified us as willing sheeps. It is crazy that one can actually get a fully working and brand new operating system with thousands of hours of usage potential for the price of an eight hour video game, but no doubt Activision will get away with it. Those looking for crazy value ought to buy LittleBigPlanet instead, a snip at £11.99 and will offer you hundreds of hours of fun. At least the guys at Media Molecule deserves the sale.

Unfortunately it is often the same fanboys (there's one born every minute) who often complain about the prices of CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays, who will lap up this £55 game. Remember, these are the same people who spends £100-200 on shit plastic toy guitars.

Windows 7 UK pre-order is go

The hype is true - Windows 7 is great. If the Release Candidate version is anything to go by, the retail version of Microsoft's latest and greatest OS will be a winner. It is faster and more reliable. It works a treat on my ThinkPad X61 and with plenty of spare RAM after boot.

Due to some weird European Commission on competitive ruling regarding the bundling of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has decided to sell the full retail version of Windows 7 Ultimate E, Professional E and Home Premium E in Europe at a discounted price (upgrade price for the full retail edition version). And for a very limited time, you can get them even cheaper if you pre-order quickly: Windows 7 Professional for £89.97 and the Home Premium for a recession busting £44.97. This is great news for those still stuck with a Windows XP license (like I am), who has no legal upgrade path (and thus discounted) to Windows 7. The 'bad' news is a clean install is a mandatory requirement to get Windows 7 onto your machines.

Now the decision is which version of Windows 7 to get. I am leaning between getting the Professional edition or Home Premium at the moment, with Ultimate out of the question due to surplus features (and it doesn't seem to be getting any pre-order offers). The only exclusive feature from Professional that is tempting is XP virtualisation, but I can always dual boot to XP if I want to.

Update: I've placed an order for two quantites of Professional edition, seeing how cheap it is. It is nice to have a full license for Windows XP for only £40. I may place an order for Home Premium and cancel the order for the Professional edition if the price dips below £49.99, and once Amazon UK sort out their web store.

Update 2: Ebuyer has the Professional edition for £80. Just make sure you opt for free shipping. Unlike Amazon UK or, I believe they will charge your card straight away, but I can't be sure. I am taking my chance with Amazon UK until someone can confirm that Ebuyer won't charge me until the day of shipment.

Update 3: Placed my order for the Home Premium edition at Amazon UK (a snip at £44.97) for my partner. Brilliant price that is, and I suggest anyone who hasn't yet placed their pre-orders to do so today. This pre-order allocation offer won't last forever.

Update 4: It appears that most places has sold out the initial 'offer allocation'. I know you can't sell out something that does not exist yet, but you know what I mean. The prices of Home Premium has risen up to £74.97 (50% off), Professional to £179.97 (18% off) and Ultimate to £189.97 (17% off). Well, you should have bought them when I told you to do so!

Update 5: PC World still have the Home Premium for £44.99 and Professional for £79.99, even cheaper than Amazon UK. Obviously not many people knows about it (who shops at PC World these days?). Hurry up before the initial allocation runs out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Sony Walkman E-series E440 DAP

Sony Europe today announced a new E-series Walkman. While likely not to challenge the X-series for sound quality department, the NWZ-E440 series ought to satisfy those on a budget. The entry level Walkman will be equipped with 2" 240x320 LCD screen and is available in either black or red and will feature a slim sexy design not too dissimilar to certain Sony Ericsson phones. Like Sony's other previous high and mid-end Walkman, this will be the first E-series Walkman to feature some of Sony's audio enhancement technologies (which I do not recommend you turn on as they sap up more power), including a five-band equaliser and Clear Stereo.

No compressed lossless files are supported, though it will support lossless PCM Linear WAV out of the box. In addition to that, the E440 will also support MP3, WMA, WMA-DRM and AAC audio files. You will also find a FM radio tuner built-in. 30 hours of music playback on a single charge is sufficient for most people, but will come as a disappointment to those who owns previous A and S-series DAPs. Like all new Walkmans, no proprietary software (like iTunes) is needed to transfer files as it is MTP/UMS compatible and will support drag and drop. You can also use other third party music management software like the brilliant Media Monkey or Windows Media Player to transfer tracks. Unfortunately the new E-series will still be bundled with throw-away headphones, unlike the A and S-series DAP, that are bundled with EX082 or their noise cancelling equivalent.

No pricing details yet, but I am going to guess based on their last few releases that this will be incredibly good value. I am tempted to pick this up to review it, but we will see how it goes. Perhaps someone at Sony will listen to my pleas. ;)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Torchwood is amazingly bland

Sorry to the fans, but I just had to say it. I know plenty of people love this series. But after watching the final one and the half episodes of "Children of Earth", or whatever it's called (which I forced myself too, because you know everyone's talking about it and I had to know what the fuss is all about), I can honestly say without any doubt that, much like ITV's Primeval (which takes the award for worst ever TV series) until it got cancelled (finally), Torchwood is terrible. In my opinion of course.

I just found it lacking in script, acting, characterisation, dramatisation and even special effects. None of the characters are remotely likeable and the dialogues are pretty much made of cheese. The kid who died in the end is a none-story deus ex machina aimed to make the episode even 'grittier', but instead it came out as sort of funny, and I laughed. Also isn't Torchwood supposed to be some kind of covert scientific intelligence community? Why are they seemingly run by a bunch of incompetent idiots? Just lazy television throughout, one that isn't as 'edgy' or 'adult' as critics seems to paint it to be. If I were to be very honest, these two days of Torchwood actually makes the final seasons of The X-Files seem Emmy Award-winning like.

So yeah, Torchwood is pretty much overrated tosh. I am glad I didn't buy into the stupid hype.

Bull gores idiot to death, world rejoice

A 27 year old Spanish man has been gored to death by an angry bull whilst participating in the outdated annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Daniel Jimeno Romero met his end due to his own stupidity by being unaware that bulls have two sharp horns on their heads and will gore puny humans who agitate them, much like what the now deceased 'victim', who hailed from Madrid did.

A twitterer who goes by the handler @pheenan and attended the Pamplona run that morning, witnessed the goring lamented the lack of help by other runners. "Horrible thing was the number of people fighting to get a pic while medicos tried to save him who rather take pictures of a dead man", he moaned, conveniently forgetting that picture taking of things getting killed is a traditional practice in this barbaric spectacle.

Sadly, the innocent bull will be killed later this afternoon under the pretense of sport by cowards, who will cheer on as the bulls are tortured and then killed. We here would like very much to see the thousands of human spectators and matadors be put in enclosures filled with hundreds of angry healthy bulls, with no weapons or any form of defence. That, readers, would be a spectacle.

To Capuchino, the brave bull who did us all a service today - we salute you. Your sacrifice to will not be forgotten.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

British Sea Power - Man of Aran mini-review

The fourth British Sea Power album isn't strictly a 'proper' British Sea Power studio album. In fact Man of Aran is actually the soundtrack score for the DVD release of the 1934 classic Man of Aran film. Whatever it is, the score here is undeniably British Sea Power. It pretty much sounds like what you will get if you have the band plays most of their album instrumentally.

Man of Aran (the film) is a film/documentary of the hostile and harsh conditions that the people of the Aran Islands of the west coast of Ireland has to endure. Directed by American film maker Robert J. Flaherty, the film showcases a classic battle of wits between man and the elements of nature, such as basking sharks (essential for winter oil). There is barely any soil that can be used to farm.

In this new DVD release, the film, which won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival in 1935, has been updated with a modern score by British Sea Power (much like what Michael Nyman did with a Man with a Movie Camera). The score is powerful and moving enough to listen, though it is more effective when accompanied with visual cues (the DVD is bundled with the album). The DVD contains two versions of the soundtrack, one a studio version and the other a live version (recorded at Edinburgh Film Festival) in both stereo and 5.1 audio surround sound format.

Perhaps not needing to deliver a 'proper' and commercially successful album, British Sea Power has delivered a very adventurous sounding album. It sounds more complex and aggressive than anything I have heard from their previous three albums, yet retain the signature post rock goodness we have come to love. The Brighton-based band cover Jeff Alexander's 'Come Wander With Me' (from a Twilight Zone episode) with a brilliant and haunting duet between Hamilton and Abi. The opening track 'Man of Aran' as well as 'Woman of Aran', 'Tiger King' and 'The North Sound' has a hint of Sigur Ros in them. 'The South Sound' and 'Spearing the Sunfish' builds slowly up from their subtle intros to a full blown post rock epic instrumental. Mental, but they work.

A couple of previous songs has been recomposed for the score. The brilliantly epic 'North Hanging Rock' from Open Season can be found masquerading as 'Boy Vertiginous'. Similarly 'True Adventures' (also from Open Season) has been reworked as a 11-minute epic under the name 'It Comes Back Again', and the atmospheric 'No Man is an Archipeligo' once went by the name 'The Great Skua' (Do You Like Rock Music?) and sounds almost the same.

I suspect the sceptics will view this collaboration as a long music video (the DVD is bundled with the album after all, and not the other way round), but whatever you do, listen to it via the enclosed DVD. Don't get me wrong, on its own British Sea Power's Man of Aran is a compelling album and offers plenty by itself. But watching the film with the new score is indeed the way to go. The often epic sonic experience coupled with the impact of Flaherty's enigmatic visuals of the people of Aran's hardship works great together. Do not miss it.

British Sea Power's Man of Aran is available as digital downloads at Amazon UK and, sans the film. Ah the pitfalls of digital distribution. Make sure to get the CD+DVD version here (UK) or here (USA), after sampling the album on Spotify.

Nokia 3720 with Series 60 please

Dear Nokia,

I want this, but not in its current iteration. Put in a faster processor, Series 60 3rd edition FP3, GPS receiver and WiFi, and you've got yourself a winner that will be ideal for outdoor adventures. We need a true successor to the 5500, but without the bulky design. Remember, this tip comes free.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nokia E75 "Teach the Technophobe" week one

Part of my agreement in obtaining a loaner E75 with WomWorld/Nokia involves taking part in a challenge called 'Teach the Technophobe'. Each week I'll receive four challenges of sorts, where I am required to tutor a technophobe friend or family on the E75's various capabilities. My technophobe of choice is my partner, who while once used a smartphone (HTC Magician) for two years is completely oblivious to their messaging and web capabilities, and never use any advance functionalities like document editing or GPS. Today I received my first challenge where I have to coach a technophobe on how to set up an e-mail account on the device and send a test message.

It sounds simple enough, but it isn't always the case with previous mobile technology. I remember back in my Palm OS days where I have to set up my Sony Clies and Palm/palmOne devices to synchronise my e-mail account (Yahoo! UK). The devices back then have no mobile phone capabilities, so one of the few ways of pulling down e-mails was through using a mobile phone (typically a Sony Ericsson back then) as a modem. This can be done via either Infrared (remember those?), Bluetooth or wired tethering, and keying in all the necessary port address, numbers and whatever else that is required. It was do-able, but I can see how newbies will be put off by all the steps required to just receive an e-mail.

These days such excuses are no longer valid. With newer and more matured platforms, setting up e-mail is easy as steps are largely automated, as most of the process are handled at Nokia's server end. With the E75 this is easy. Nokia has made huge improvement with the way their enterprise devices handle e-mail. The E75 e-mail clients supports both traditional POP3 and IMAP based e-mails such as those provided by popular free web-based e-mail like Yahoo! or GMail, as well as corporate e-mail by way of Microsoft Exchange push e-mail technology. My partner has a work e-mail account which, with my help, was setup to fetch them in no time. Setting it up to use with her web-based account was even easier. It took her less than 5 minutes to get the two e-mail accounts running on her E75.

Creating an e-mail account on the E75 is easy. First launch the E-mail application, the click on 'New', which will launch the e-mail account creation wizard. Here you can select the connection required by the E75 to access the internet (such as 3G or WLAN). The next dialog box will ask for the e-mail address ( and the next will require you to key in the password. If you are setting up an Exchange account, you will need to input further settings such as the web address where your company's Outlook Web Access resides. Likewise if you are using an obscure e-mail service or is hosting your own e-mail server, you will need to input the settings manually, though I suspect people who does so will have no problems doing so.

Once you are done, the e-mail client will receive a new icon (in the form of whichever webmail you choose, Yahoo! and GMail icons both turned up fine) which takes you to your e-mail account, where you can connect and syncronised your e-mails. Advance settings are available that allows you to customise each of your mailbox. For example you can set it to retrieve only a certain amount of kB or the number of messages from the inbox it is allowed to download. You can also set it to syncronised folders (IMAP only) or and the update interval it connects to your mailbox.

Nokia's e-mail client may lack the glamour finish of its rivals, but what it lacks it makes up for its ease of use and vast amount of functionality. Attachments is supported, as is the ability to set priorities. There are plenty of powerful shortcuts to remember that will no doubt increase productivity. For example if you want to reply to an e-mail, just press 'R' on the keyboard. Similarly press 'F' to forward the e-mail, or 'D' to delete etc. The client also supports full HTML messages.

My extensive Nokia E75 coverage:
Nokia E75 camera review
Nokia E75 GPS review
Nokia E75 music and sound quality review
Nokia E75 pictures & first impressions

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Camera Obscura tour dates

Camera Obscura has just completed their mini-UK and North American tour. Well, they have announced more dates, mainly made up of the usual sorts of summer festival before touring mainland Europe and the UK. Best news so far? They will be playing again at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in November!

Fri 10 Jul UK T In The Park Festival
Sun 12 Jul Ireland Oxegen festival
Sat 18 Jul UK Suffolk Latitude Festival
Sat 25 Jul UK Derbyshire Indietracks festival
Sun 26 Jul UK London Ben & Jerry's Sundae

Sun 2 Aug UK Cardiff Big Weekend
Sat 8 Aug UK Ayrshire Dean Castle
Sat 15 Aug France St Malo La Route de Rock
Sun 23 Aug UK Hay-on-Wye Green Man Festival
Sat 29 Aug Sweden Stockholm Popaganda Festival

Sat 26 Sep UK Southend Village Green Festival
Mon 28 Sep Belgium Venue TBC
Tue 29 Sep Germany Osnabruck Glanz & Gloria
Wed 30 Sep Denmark Copenhagen Loppen

Thu 1 Oct Sweden Gothenburg Parken
Fri 2 Oct Norway Oslo Parkteatret
Sat 3 Oct Sweden Stockholm Strand
Mon 5 Oct Sweden Malmo Debaser
Tue 6 Oct Denmark Aarhus Woxhall
Wed 7 Oct Germany Hamburg Knust
Thu 8 Oct Germany Berlin Postbahnhof
Fri 9 Oct Czech Republic Prague The Cross Club
Sat 10 Oct Austria Vienna Flex
Mon 12 Oct Germany Munich 59to1
Tue 13 Oct Switzerland Zurich Abart
Wed 14 Oct Italy Milan Casa 139
Thu 15 Oct France Venue TBC
Fri 16 Oct France Paris Maroquinerie
Sun 18 Oct France Tourcoing Grand Mix
Mon 19 Oct Belgium Brussels Ancienne Belgique
Tue 20 Oct Holland Amsterdam Paradiso
Thu 22 Oct UK Norwich Waterfront
Fri 23 Oct UK Brighton Komedia
Sat 24 Oct UK Exeter Phoenix
Sun 25 Oct UK Bristol Thekla
Mon 26 Oct UK Lancaster Library
Tue 27 Oct UK Leeds Cockpit
Thu 29 Oct UK Glasgow Barrowlands

Tue 3 Nov UK London Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu 5 Nov Spain Zaragoza Casa Del Loco
Fri 6 Nov Spain Salamanca Multiusos Sanchez Paraiso
Sat 7 Nov Spain Valladolid Fair
Sun 8 Nov Spain Madrid Heineken
Mon 9 Nov Spain Barcelona Apolo

Thursday, July 2, 2009

ThinkPad's Tactile Touchpad

The texture we introduced on the T400s was inspired by several things. One of them was the innovative yellow paving blocks used in Japanese train stations and sidewalks to guide or warn visually impaired pedestrians. Every time I visit Japan I am intrigued by these blocks. The square Tenji block system was invented in Japan by Seiichi Miyake in 1965 and first used in Okayama City in 1967. The oblong raised pattern indicate places, and in what direction, it is safe to walk confidently. The “warning” blocks with the round raised dots indicate edges, corners or other places where greater care or caution is required. The tactile cues developed for these unique blocks help everyone stay clear of train platform edges, crosswalk dropoffs, and other related hazzards. Sighted or not, it’s really quite amazing how well these blocks work. You can easily discern the difference without looking.
David Hill of Lenovo recently blogged at Design Matters about the design process in updating the touchpad design of the recently launched ThinkPad T400s. The textures of the touchpad used is based on the block system used to aid visually impaired pedestrians, which was first innovated in Japan but has since spread to other countries like the UK where tactile pavement warning surfaces are now very common.

It is a brilliant post that I recommend fans of ThinkPads to read, even if you are like me and has no interest in using touchpads, if only to marvel at the attention to detail the design and engineering team at Lenovo continues to give when it comes to making the best notebook range in the world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brilliant captcha

Captcha are those challenge-response security fields where it makes you enter a word/number (like the one you need to fill in every time you want to post a comment on this blog), in order to verify the poster isn't a bot. These are not completely spam proof, but ever since enabling it I've seen spam comments on my blog drop to an average of about once a week. Captchas are randomly generated, but every now and then I stumble upon a captcha that is truly idiotic, especially if they are based on dictionary words. Here's one I got today whilst wondering around Ticketmaster.