Posts Tagged nokia

Nokia SIP client: WTF?

I was having a browse around the excellent Nerd Vittles site tonight, and stumbled onto a disturbing conversation about the removal of the Nokia SIP client from S60 Third Edition Feature Pack 2 (as used on recent phones like the N78 and N96).

Nerd Vittles linked to this blog, which alludes to the possibility of mobile carriers putting pressure on Nokia to remove “free” calling capability (i.e. VoIP) from their phones.  Within the comments on that blog post comes a link to a post on Nokia Conversations (I’ve never seen that site before, but it seems to simply be a bit of a PR site…).

“Charlie” from Nokia Conversations tries to spin the changes to Nokia’s SIP support.  Firstly, in what seems to be almost believable at first he says “no, the SIP stack is still there, in fact it is actually better in FP2 than previous versions”.  Apparently, the improvements meant that the integrated VoIP client had to be dropped because it wasn’t ready.  This explanation loses credibility, however, when you see that Charlie’s blog post was made on 27 August 2008: nearly one year ago! And folks are still commenting on that thread, saying “where’s my VoIP client?”.  I cannot believe that it would take Nokia a full year to update the VoIP client and package a firmware update for these phones–especially given that two other S60 3rd-ed FP2 phones released after the N78 and N96, namely the N79 and N85, apparently do have the VoIP client!

On 8 December 2008, Charlie posts a follow-up on Nokia Conversations.  In it he says “well we made some folks unhappy, but we’ve made a fix”.  He points to something called the “SIP VoIP Settings” application that was supposed to bring back what people were asking for.  Problem is, it’s not a VoIP client at all: it’s simply a configuration tool allowing more detailed control over the configuration of a SIP profile.

In the final insult it appears that the new N97, Nokia’s current flagship also has no VoIP client.  The N97 is based on S60 5th edition and not 3rd edition, but 5th is supposedly just 3rd updated for touch-screen anyway (not a significant change in technology).

Looking more closely at the specifications pages for these N-series phones, the tiny-tiny text that says “VoIP” is missing.  It’s probably arguable therefore that Nokia never advertised the phones as having VoIP capability[1], so anyone who bought one without checking has created their own situation.  However, Nokia, why is the “upgrade” to the N95 missing one of that phone’s most popular features?

At one point Nokia’s story changes… it seems that VoIP is a function that doesn’t fit the product direction of N-series and belongs in the E-series phones (indeed both the E75 and the soon-to-be-released E72, reportedly S60 3rd-ed FP2 phones, list VoIP capability).  Why, then, do other S60 3rd-ed FP2 phones like the N79 and N85 have VoIP?

This whole “affair” seems to have been handled really poorly by Nokia.  Firstly, claim a technical limitation.  When that fails (because you discover that your users actually know something about tech), claim that your third-party providers have developed a solution.  When it turns out that the third-party products are steamers that don’t even use the infrastructure your OS provides (something you didn’t know before either), claim that the product has been “realigned” and doesn’t service that market any more–while simultaneously marketing a product in the same series with the same technology that still has the disputed feature.

I must admit to being a lot less angry about this after researching this post than when I started it.  I’m more angry about the survey I completed earlier today when I visited the Nokia website–I was very complimentary about .  My shopping-slash-wish list just lost an item–not that I was seriously contemplating buying the N97, but it’s nice to have a technical reason not to buy it rather than the boring can’t-really-justify-it line. 🙂

[1] Of course it’s easy to make this statement based on what the product pages look like now

Tags: , , ,

Classic Mac sounds on my mobile phone

We watched WALL-E the other day. A bit of trivia for Apple Mac fans (if you didn’t already know) is that WALL-E’s startup sound — heard when he’s finished his solar recharge — is that of a post-1997 Mac computer (with Steve Jobs on the board of Pixar and Disney, WALL-E was never going to make The Microsoft Sound (: ). Coincidentally, at around the same time as I saw WALL-E I was going through that modern malaise of mobile-phone-alert-tone-taedium… So, inspired by this bit of cinematic crossover coolness, I decided to get some Mac-chime action for my handset.

The first thing was obviously to get hold of the audio file. This turned out to be surprisingly easy, thanks to Google pointing me to a piece of software called MacTracker. MacTracker is actually a reference guide for Apple products (computers all the way back to the Macintosh XL, the MessagePads, printers, displays, even iPods and mice), but part of the information it holds about the computers is their startup and death chimes.

There’s no option in MacTracker to export the audio files, but by opening the app package (“Show Package Contents” in Finder) it’s possible to navigate to where the chime sound files are stored. Then from Finder, all I had to do was zap the file to the phone via Bluetooth. On the phone, opening the Bluetooth message gave me an option to save the “music” file, which I did — this adds the file to the Music Player, but importantly makes it easily selectable in the configuration of the alert tones.

So now when I receive an SMS I hear the death chime of a Macintosh LC, and the startup sound of the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh alerts me to incoming e-mail. I’m going to apply similar configuration to my desktops: on-and-off for the last ten years I’ve been using a Homer Simpson soundbite to advise incoming mail, and it’s a bit tired now…

Next task will be to replace the startup sound on my N810 with something a bit retro-Mac! 🙂

Tags: , ,

New gadget: Nokia E71

I have been in the mobile phone market on-and-off for nearly 12 months. There wasn’t really anything wrong with the N70, I guess I was just getting a little fidgety with lots of new “shiny” going around. The trip to the US in May, and seeing an iPhone in person for the first time, probably didn’t help, nor (obviously) did the local release of iPhone 3G. Once I’d talked myself out of getting an iPhone though, the itch was still there… and I must say it’s being well-and-truly scratched by the E71.

I’ve had this phone for just on a week now, and it’s certainly one of the best phone purchases I’ve ever made. In a nutshell, the key things about it are:

* QWERTY keyboard, in a form factor not much larger than the N70. Importantly, it’s much smaller than the E61 that preceded it (now there’s a phone that was just MADE of ugly). Despite it’s size the keyboard is amazingly easy to type on, although I may have to update this after I give my thumbnails a trim.

* Symbian OS. Maybe I’m biased, as the owner of a Psion 5, but to me Symbian has an edge over other phone OSes. Not only with the functions in the handset and Nokia’s Series 60 interface, but the range of third-party apps for Symbian (or Series 60 specifically) is great. Almost straight after charging the battery I downloaded PuTTY (SSH client) and “vejotp” (S/Key one-time-password utility). Plus, the recent news that Nokia intends to open-source Symbian is a great thing.

* Nokia Maps and A-GPS. While the iPhone glitterati download the entire UBD or Melways every time they walk down the street thanks to Google Maps, I get quick GPS mapping for zero download (the last few times I’ve used it, the download counter has stayed stuck on “0.0kb” even though A-GPS is supposed to cost a bit of data every startup). It’s not the most accurate GPS ever made, for sure, but it’ll do me for now at least.

* Built-in podcast support. I was getting more and more frustrated with the way that Amarok and iPod fought with each other over my podcasts. It never seemed to work as well as it did on iTunes! Now, I can use the device I download the podcasts with to listen to them as well. It’s self-contained, tidy (no more podcasts mixed in with the music library and causing havoc), elegant.

* Wi-fi capability and SIP client. Being able to connect to the home network obviously means that I can do things like update my podcasts without having to second-mortgage the house to pay for HSDPA data. The SIP client is very cool too: I’ve connected it to my Asterisk box, and now have a cordless home phone and mobile in one device.

* Solid construction. It’s got to be the most sturdy-feeling phone I’ve ever owned. The case is metal, and it has a nice weight to it. The buttons feel solid, almost like real keyboard keys.

* Drop-dead gorgeous. I got the grey version, the metal casing looks like titanium and has a glossy finish (which is a little prone to fingerprints, but cleans easily). The screen is just amazing, usable in daylight, bright and colourful and incredibly high resolution.

I’ll mention more as time goes on, but for now I am very happy!

Tags: , ,

Which Nokia device to get?

I’ve developed a very strong desire to be connected to people recently. In the last fortnight I’ve reawakened my Google account and regularly sit on Google Talk, reawakened an old Free World Dialup account and plugged it into my home phone system, and signed up to Twitter. I also found a mobile IM and SIP client called fring that looks good and works really nicely. I’d love to use fring constantly, thanks to its integration to Twitter and Google Talk (heck, it might even make me find my old Skype ID) but…

My current phone is a Nokia N70, which has served me well for a couple of years, but I’m not keen to use it too much for fring because I don’t have a mobile data plan (and my phone company charges fairly steeply for casual data). Besides, it’s only UMTS 3G so the data rate is not great (better than GSM data, but only occasionally so). What I really need is one of the newer devices around that has Wi-Fi built in. Something like the N80, new N82 or E51, or N95. That way I could use fring at home (which is where I am most of the time nowadays) and not have to worry about data costs.

Thinking about spending that kind of money though (again, my phone company is happy to talk to me about upgrading my handset, but the kind of plan I’d have to go onto to get a phone like that would be insane) makes me wonder about other devices. Something like the N800, or even a new N810. I don’t think fring is available on Nokia’s tablet devices, but with the alternate OS platform on the N8x0 I could install just about any kind of IM client I want. Plus I’d have a nice device to web-surf, program MythTV, check mail, and various other tasks.

What about other devices? The Asus EeePC has tweaked my curiosity, but I think it would end up being just a bit too large to fit in with the kind of usage I’m imagining for this type of device. Blackberry is a bit scary to me, it doesn’t really seem to be a general-usage consumer-oriented device (more a corporate connect-back-to-the-proprietary-box-in-the-server-room kind-of thing). The iPod touch is out as well: it’s closed nature would frustrate the heck out of me (it’s got a browser, but you can’t load anything on it…). The only other manufacturer I’d think about for a mobile device right now is Sony-Ericsson: Ericsson manufactured a couple of the nicest phones I’ve ever owned, but Sony has ruined them for me. I’m just not interested in getting back onto the hardware-to-lock-users-to-the-Sony-tower treadmill.

It’s all just navel-gazing, unfortunately. Realistically, I can’t justify dropping a wad of money on some new shiny just to satisfy what is probably just a bit of a personal fad. I think I’ll wait a bit longer and see how quickly the newly-released N95-8GB drops in price, or how far it pushes the price of the old N95 down — ditto the N810 and N800.

Oh, and I’ll wait for fring to fix my biggest issue: no support for Jabber. Queries on their forum on this have gone unanswered for almost a year. Technically it can’t be a big leap for them, as they have support for Google Talk!

Tags: , ,

Nokia sync software for Mac!

I managed to fill up the multimedia card on the N70 — the only thing that’s surprising about that event is the length of time it took me to do it. 🙂  So I went looking for ways to get photos out of the phone into iPhoto.  I can’t believe it took until the third page of Google’s responses to come up with this little treasure: Nokia Multimedia Transfer.

It would seem that the good folks at Nokia have finally discovered Mac.  Nokia Multimedia Transfer allows you to browse your phone’s contents in a Finder-like window (similar to how the Nokia Phone Browser on Windows is Explorer-like) with full drag-and-drop support, sync music from iTunes to the phone, and have iPhoto treat the phone as a camera.

I installed the software (which is still labelled as a beta) and started it up… and straight away iPhoto lit up and told me that photos were ready to import.  I had already set up Bluetooth connectivity to the phone for iSync, and the Nokia utility just used it.  From this aspect alone, the integration of this software with the OS beats the Windows experience hands-down[1].

It’s not perfect, mind…  It took a looong time for the iPhoto import to prepare (although it was looking through about 160 items, over Bluetooth 1).  It finds all the supplied stock media as well, and wants to sync that (again, not really the tool’s fault, I probably should clean all that rubbish out some time or other so that it doesn’t show up in the phone’s Gallery either).  And I still had to go through each photo to make sure the timestamp was correct and fix it if it wasn’t (there seems to be no pattern to this problem, a group of photos taken all at the same time had some with correct timestamps and others that were wrong).

Despite the problems though, it still beats sending photos via Bluetooth file transfer and manually importing them to iPhoto!  Good stuff, Nokia.

[1] Okay, so Nokia doesn’t really get the bouquet all to themselves for that… the brickbat has to go to Windows’ stupid arrangement with third-party Bluetooth stacks and how hard that makes it for Nokia et-al to write their software.

Tags: ,

Holiday time

LIVE from Dicky Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, it’s the Crossed Wires Holiday Show!

Jokes aside (particularly at the name of the venue, which is actually named after a shipwreck… oh dear, not getting much better is it) we’re on our “summer” holiday.  Caravanning on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.  Beautiful…  well, after the heat in the van’s canvas annexe… and trying to sleep at night amongst the insects in said annexe, since I’m too tall to fit the beds in the van…

Maybe I’m too used to travelling, especially given the places I visited on holiday twelve months ago.  I’m sure that it’ll do me good to rough-it a little for a while.  Caravanning is something I can generally take only in small doses, so we’ll have to see how I go with ten days straight!  We’re about four days down now, so if you see any headlines about psychopathic laptop-wielding Linux admins going postal north of Brisbane, check back here to see if it was me…

Connectivity for this blog posting comes courtesy of Optus 3G data via my Nokia N70 phone.  Didn’t get the Bluetooth link to the phone quite sorted yet so it’s via USB right now, but having got the PPP config right I can now take it into the Bluetooth mode with a little confidence.

Off to the beach in a minute, hopefully to get some photos of Nicholas going absolutely hog-wild in the surf — he’s loving the beach…  Watching him enjoying the beach so much is well-and-truly making up for the insects at night. 🙂

Tags: , , , ,