Archive for the ‘A’ Category

3 day review of the iPhone

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I’ve been using the iPhone for a little over 3 days now. I’m still in the honeymoon period, but below is a first impression review. I’ll do another post with the bits I really like - there’s too many to list here…

Things that I’ve Missed

Below is the list of stuff that I have actually missed so far. I’ve recently being using a Samsung D900 so unfortunately the bar is quite low and the iPhone surpassed most existing functionality by miles.

A better way to snooze the alarm

I sleep with my phone under my pillow so snooze is within easy reach when the alarm goes off. I want to be able to whack anything on the phone to snooze. My old Samsung D900 was good at this, you could press any of the buttons anywhere (even the volume ones) and it snoozed.

With the iPhone you have to exactly press the Snooze button right in the middle of the screen, which requires you to be at least faintly lucid, of which I never am when the alarm goes off. If I could tap anywhere on the iPhone screen that would probably be better. Since you have to swipe to stop the alarm so you couldn’t accidentally sleep in and then get stuck in traffic.

UPDATE: It seems that I might have been delirious when I first tried to snooze. I tried again this morning and all of the buttons did indeed snooze the alarm. Excellent.

 (more…)

Yet another iPhone running in New Zealand

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I am lucky enough to be one of the many New Zealanders using an iPhone. Many have gone before and many more will follow. The first hacked iPhone may belong to John Ballinger of Bluespark Interactive as described at Andrew James Sommervell’s blog.

The Red Ink Scribbles iPhone Review Part II: The Unlocked Phone blog post contains the best instructions I’ve seen to configure the iPhone correctly for New Zealand after it has been unlocked. It contains instructions to:

  • Configure GPRS access for Vodafone (not full blown EDGE, just it’s baby sister equivalent)
  • Configure the Voicemail button so it dials 707 to access Vodafone voicemail
  • Change the phone number formating to suit New Zealand phone numbers. I’ve further updated the ABPhoneFormats.plist phone number formats to also handle 8 digit prepay phone numbers (the weird ones that look like 021 027xxxxx).

Other changes are also needed so Caller ID matches the locally stored contact phone numbers correctly. The Fix International Caller ID thread at ModMyiPhone contains instructions to fix this.

Strange iTunes behaviour when configured to automatically sync music to iPod

Monday, December 11th, 2006

In one of my recent posts I thought I had stumbled upon a great way to synchronize all of my podcasts to my iPod and still be able to use smart playlists to listen to them on the iPod.

However, it turns out that when you have your iPod configured to automatically sync with your iTunes library it is not possible to play that music/podcast/whatever from within iTunes. You can play the content without any problems using the iPod directly, but with it connected via iTunes all of the tracks are greyed out and you can’t click on the play button in iTunes (even on the computer you are sync’ing with). This is particularly annoying for me because I have all my music at home and I want to listen to the music on the iPod at work through iTunes.

As of yet there is no iTunes store purchased content on the iPod since the New Zealand store just opened days ago, hoorah! So, it seems pretty weird that I can’t play any of the content via iTunes. Initially I thought that it was because I hadn’t authorized my work computer since I’d just opened an Apple account. It wasn’t though - authorization didn’t do anything. Reading the iTunes help it even mentions:

"To use your iPod with more than one computer, set up iTunes to manage songs manually."

Oh well. The workaround at the moment is to switch between manual synchronization turned on at work, and automatic synchronization at home. A little bit painful but seems to work as needed.

Samsung D900 memory card “Not Allowed” problem solved

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

So I had this really strange problem with my new mobile phone. It takes a micro SD card for data storage and I bought a Kingston 1Gb card when I bought the phone. As far as the phone was aware there was a memory card installed because it showed the pretty icon on the main screen. However, whenever I tried to access any of the Memory Card storage area the phone would just beep with a "Not Allowed" error message displayed on the phone.

Very weird. Did some searching and found some luck in the D900 Memory Card help forum at http://www.expansys.com. One of the posts mentioned that giving the card a volume label worked. I thought to myself surely not, that’s just a little too obscure. So I checked my card in the laptop and sure enough there was no volume label. I gave the card one and then it worked.

Now that is some weird ass behaviour. I wouldn’t of ever thought of doing that in order to try and solve the problem. Nice one Samsung!

iTrip Rocks

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

I purchased an iTrip several weeks ago and have been listening to a variety of podcasts on the way to and from work each day.

After finding the one and only silent frequency in Auckland (88.0 FM) it’s been great listening to something other than radio/CDs which just seems like such a waste of time. When you travel for an hour each day it’s at least good to be making some use of that time.

I’ve been learning some cool stuff and keeping up with the F1 season now that I can’t watch races since it’s only being shown on Sky. I’ve also managed to listen to a number of great web related conferences.

Buying a New Car

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

I’ve been looking to buy a new car for some time. The Civic SiR hatchback that I have is fantastic but it’s just too small. On too many occasions lately it’s been such a pain in the arse to move stuff around that I am splashing out and buying a Subaru Legacy GTB station wagon.

I’m pretty pedantic when it comes to cars. My Honda Civic is probably one of the best examples of it’s kind in New Zealand. The interior is near on perfect and the exterior still looks great once it’s been washed. So, when hunting for a new car, it’s presentation was always going to be the deal breaker. I found over 12 cars on trademe.co.nz that matched my criteria (1996 - 1997, white, manual, reasonable kms, and in good condition).

Good condition is just so hard to convey in a photo. Many of the cars that I eventually viewed looked fine in the photos on trademe but looked pretty average in real life. You can usually tell a lot about the life a car has had by the small things that people overlook. Yes, you need to have straight panels, a flawless interior and all that other big stuff, but you also need to look at the small stuff. Grooming of cars these days makes this harder since years and years of gunk can be steam cleaned away - they don’t get everything though.

For example, car groomers will often miss areas where a car fanatic would always keep clean. They’re only getting ~$140 to clean the car so they aren’t going to try to get it back to showroom cleanliness. They’re just going to clean it enough that only the most stringent purchaser is going to notice. Bits that they might miss or do quickly are areas like the painted bits on the inside of doors. If these aren’t clean, then chances are the car never really got a regular clean by the owner. Also, the painted area around all the door hinges (don’t forget the boot) can be a good indicator. If these areas have just had a once over by the groomer there will still be cruft in the bits that a quick wipe can’t reach.

Other things to look for are superficial parts that have gone rusty. One of the cars I looked at was pretty good except that it had heavy rusting of things like the window wipers, the ends of the rear gas struts (which hold up the boot), and the small clips on the front bumper where the number plate would be attached. Perhaps this isn’t a big deal, but if small components like this are heavily rusted then it’s likely to have lived in a reasonably harsh environment, i.e. in some seaside town in Japan. Look carefully to see whether the exhaust is rusted out anywhere with problems like this.

Moving on, I eventually found a likeable dealer with a car that was in really good condition. I payed more that I was oringinally intending too, but I’d spent several days worth of time looking at average cars that I wouldn’t be happy with long term in the price range I wanted. Actual purchase price isn’t really the main issue with cars these days anyway. I’ll own the car for 3+ years in which time I’ll probably put in over $7k worth of petrol, $5k worth of insurance and weeks and weeks of time spent driving. Spending an extra $1k or $2k for the car that I really wanted wasn’t really that big of an issue for me.

It almost seems like fate that I was supposed to buy the car. I’d found one in the morning that had great potential that was more than I wanted to spend so I said I would carry on looking. I then went to another dealer that had one in poor condition, and then onto this dealer. I was looking at the GTB they had advertised when they mentioned they had another one just arrived. Seemed too good to be true: great condition, good mileage, new tires, tints, Recaro drivers seat (the standard seats don’t have very good lumber support and not as bigger bolsters as I would like), twin air bags, and they were willing to do the cambelt change. After a bit of haggling (which I’m not great at) we ended up with a price that we were both happy with. Sign some forms, pay a hefty deposit and voila, I can stop spending time looking for a new car.

So, with a brand new car (well, second hand really) on the way all I have to do is decide what to do with the Honda…

At this stage I’m leaning towards spending a little bit of cash on it to do some club days at Pukekohe Raceway.

Finally got the phone back

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005

We’ll I’ve finally got my phone back. It’s only been 5 weeks give or take!

Pretty silly really. I mean how long should it take to repair a broken microphone. Scheesh!

The perfect mobile phone – please read Nokia

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

Here is my list for the perfect mobile phone. Hopefully Nokia stumble across this and create the “Just for David” Nokia.

MUST haves:
Alarm clock - a must if away travelling
Countdown timer - the one on our stove is broken
Colour screen - it just seems nicer
Small - it’s got to fit in the jeans pocket without a problem.
Changeable covers - for those unlikely occasions where it decides to take a joy ride down the concrete driveway.
Calendar - it’s got to be able to remind me of meetings when I’m at work and away from my desk.
Synchronization with Outlook - that’s what we use at work.
Either Infrared or Bluetooth for the Synchronization - I already have an Infrared adaptor at work and Infrared on my laptop at home. I also have Bluetooth in my laptop.
Good synchronization software - I don’t like using unuseable things.
Good phone editting software - I don’t want to update everything on the phone using the phone.
Good synchronization with Windows Address Book (WAB) - because I don’t have Outlook at home.
Good stand-by time - because I don’t like charging the phone all the time.
At least one good standard ring-tone - because I don’t want to do the whole polyphonic thing, I just want to choose a discrete yet cool ring-tone.
It’s got to be easy to navigate around the phone - I am really starting to dislike the whole Nokia standard scrolling menu. You don’t know what is next and you can’t remember where you just were. There’s enough real estate so move with the times and do the 4 way scroll thing (most new phones have this).
Predictive text - because when I have to send an SMS I hate doing it. The faster the better.
Vibrating alert - because you can’t hear a phone ring when there’s lots of noise about.

NICE to haves
MP3 player - might start taking the train to work and it would be good to be able to listen to music without having to carry along an MP3 player as well.
Predictive text auto word completion - why has no-one done this? PDAs do this as you scribble on the pad. There’s enough screen real-estate to do this on most phones now so why not.

Might add more as I think of them…

I just want a mobile phone, not a camera

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

Why does every mobile phone these days come with a digital camera? The photos I have seen them produce are pretty poor - definitely no where near the quality of a typical digital camera, even with the 1.3 mega pixel varieties.

Consider one typical use case. You’re out at night with your mates and you’ve had a few beers. At some point someone’s probably going to want to take a photo just because they can. Problem is you’re out at night and there’s no flash on the camera and the only light is the dim corner light in the pub an eternity away. Oh, and did I mention that it’s dark. You probably can’t really see clearly yourself so you probably don’t have much hope of seeing what your pointing at using the LCD.

Anyway, it seems that I am the minority on this subject (otherwise every camera wouldn’t have a digital camera). Plenty of people seem to like taking photos of friends (during the daylight hours) and having that photo show up when that person calls. Quite nice, but I don’t think I would bother and would simply rather have a cheaper, smaller, lighter mobile phone that did what phones are meant to do - let you contact people, and let other people contact you.

Nokia have a few cool phones coming out that don’t have camera’s, but they also don’t have some of the other features that I would like. Currently I have a Nokia 6100, which is the bees nees except it’s slow and that’s getting really frustrating.

The up and coming Nokia 6030 looks like my next phone candidate, or perhaps I’ll move over to Sony. Probably not, because I like the fact that with Nokia phones you can easliy replace the cover if it gets damaged.

Digital Mobile New Lynn Customer Service

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

Isn’t it strange how some shops seems to have appalling customer service but you can’t seem to pin down why. In this particular instance Digital Mobile in New Lynn have well and truely rubbed me the wrong way.

I think the main thing is that I get the impression they don’t give at rats arse about the customer. It appears that they either just want to sell you the most expensive mobile phone they can (with features that you don’t actually need) or in my case, they don’t seem to particularly care that your phone is broken, which is going to be a real PITA for you.

The other day I was waiting to be served (to eventually find out that nothing had been done with my broken phone) and I overhead a salesman talking with a prospective phone purchaser. In this case it was a girl that seemed to be about late college age. The salesman basically said something along the lines of “you need this phone because it has all the features you could ever need. It’s got bluetooth integration so you can get (i.e. spend more money) a cordless bluetooth headset and walk around with the phone in your pocket and keep talking.”

From the blank expression on the girl’s face she didn’t appear to know what bluetooth was and would likely never need to walk around talking with the phone in her pocket wearing a silly little headset over here ear. Hopefully she didn’t pay the $900+ for the phone he was showing her and got something that would do all that she ever likely needed for