Entries Tagged as 'Mobile'

Nokia N8 – Macro Camera Shoot Out

The following are Macro Shots from all the devices I could find lying around my house. I did set a minimum bench mark of  5 MegaPixels for the device that I would shot from.

All devices were on Automode, and the scene was in hard light at 5:40pm, of flowers in my front garden.

The shots were just lined up quickly by hand but all taken within a few min of each other.

(Click on each Image to link through for the full size shots)

Macro Shots – Nokia N95-8gbMacro Shots - N8 Compare - Nokia N95-8gb Macro Shots – JVC FM1Macro Shots - N8 Compare - JVC FM1
Camera Nokia N95 8GB
Exposure 0.009 sec (1/111)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.6 mm
ISO Speed 100
Flash Auto, Did not fire
Orientation Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi
Custom Rendered Normal
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Digital Zoom Ratio 1.04
Scene Capture Type Standard
Gain Control None
Compression JPEG (old-style)
Camera JVC GC-FM1
Exposure 0.002 sec (1/599)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 3.9 mm
ISO Speed 100
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash No flash function
Orientation Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi
Date and Time (Modified) 2010:10:24 17:41:23
YCbCr Positioning Co-sited
Exposure Program Program AE
Metering Mode Center-weighted average
Light Source Unknown
Custom Rendered Normal
Digital Zoom Ratio 1
Compression JPEG (old-style)

Macro Shots – Nokia X6Macro Shots - N8 Compare - Nokia X6 Macro Shots – Nokia N8Macro Shots - N8 Compare - Nokia N8
Camera Nokia X6-00
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/333)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.2 mm
ISO Speed 100
Flash Auto, Did not fire
Orientation Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi
YCbCr Positioning Centered
Light Source Unknown
Color Space sRGB
Custom Rendered Normal
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Digital Zoom Ratio 1
Scene Capture Type Standard
Gain Control None
Compression JPEG (old-style)
Camera Nokia N8-00
Exposure 0.012 sec (1/85)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.9 mm
ISO Speed 102
Flash Auto, Did not fire
X-Resolution 240 dpi
Y-Resolution 240 dpi
Custom Rendered Normal
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Digital Zoom Ratio 0
Scene Capture Type Standard
Gain Control Low gain up

Macro Shots – Nikon D90Macro Shots - N8 Compare - Nikon D90 Macro Shots – HTC DesireMacro Shots - N8 Compare - HTC Desire
Camera Nikon D90
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture f/10.0
Focal Length 18 mm
ISO Speed 200
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash Auto, Did not fire
X-Resolution 240 dpi
Y-Resolution 240 dpi
Max Aperture Value 3.5
Subject Distance 0.45 m
Metering Mode Multi-segment
Light Source Unknown
CFAPattern [Green,Blue][Red,Green]
Custom Rendered Normal
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Digital Zoom Ratio 1
Focal Length In35mm Format 27 mm
Scene Capture Type Standard
Compression JPEG (old-style)
Color Transform YCbCr
Flash Return No return detection
Flash Mode Auto
Camera HTC Desire
ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi
YCbCr Positioning Centered
Compression JPEG (old-style)

The worst performer was the HTC Desire. Colour rendering is terrible, it is washed out and insipid. ( I’d like to see if the new HTC Desire HD camera is any better, but the current Desire’s camera is pathetic )

The N8, did a wonderful job. Colour rendition is very close, for what is a tricky shot, the depth of field is bang on as well.

The 3 year old Nokia N95-8gb, still stands up as a great camera, but it showing its age when compared to the Nokia N8

The D90, shot to dark in Automode. (But I don’t shot in Automode that often, and still have the RAW version to process)

I’ve yet to see a cameraphone that comes close to the Nokia N8. The new sensor, coupled with the Carl Zeiss F2.8 lens is simply stunning. 4000×3000 shots with real print DPI, give you a lot of wiggle room for cropping as well.

I have yet however to find a way to move the focus point on the N8. This makes playing with the depth of field very tricky. It comes down to lining up the focus point then moving the camera to get the out of focus elements you want. Which on the above camera phones is the only thing that the HTC Desire had going in its favour.  I’d like to see Nokia open up the camera app, to allow some real control over the image as well. Why, cause they could.  Sre I lug my Nikon D90 with me, but giving people some more fine control over the camera would help people get the most out of this device.

Whilst, in my big review, I pointed out there was a lot wrong with the N8, some of which I am sure will get ironed out with firmware updates and third party applications, Overall the camera is simply stunning. If you are a Nokia user, who likes to get photos on the run with their phone and not lug around a separate camera, get the N8.

For me, the USB as Host feature and its amazing Macro lens, means I will still be carrying around the N8 with me, because it does add to my overall set of tools.

The Nokia N8 Review, I really didn’t want to write.

Ok, so I have been using the Nokia N8 for two weeks now.  Have played with it lots and really enjoying it in so many ways.  Yet here I am writing a blog post review it, and the title says I didn’t want to.  To be honest I really wanted this phone.  When first announced, I was still using my Nokia N95-8gb, waiting for a phone to beat it. I thought the N8 was going to be that phone.

Of course in the interim I was seduced by the dark side as it were… – no not Apple, (not that dark), but Android; the HTC Desire.

To be a spoiler of my own review, if I was comparing only the Nokia family, then the N8 is an amazing “phone”.  These days, for a great number of people including myself that just isn’t enough any more.  Many people need a mobile computer; access on the go to Google, email, games and importantly social networks.

Nokia, you aren’t playing in the same game anymore.  The N8 is without a doubt an amazing Nokia phone. But Nokia the game has changed, you needed a product that will bring people back to you, and unfortunately this is not it.

And on to the why’s and wherefores about my decision.  Certainly, there are a lot of features that are more than worthy on the N8, many of these features will get dedicated blog posts of their own over the next few weeks.

The Nokia N8, is great to hold.  It feels solid in your hand, without being plastic and cheap. It is also one of the few phones on the market that stands up on its own. Whilst, on paper it is close to the HTC Desire, I like the feel of the N8. You know you are holding a solid piece of engineering and development. The buttons feel great, the controls are solid and the micro sd-card slot and sim slot are easy to reach.  The Sim and micro-SD slots easily accessible and you can swap out as you go. With 16gb on storage on the N8, you can dump all your apps on the phone, plus a few thousand photos and just use the micro-SD for music. These are big things over the Desire, which puts everything behind a flimsy back of plastic. One that you have to take the battery out for, to change the micro-SD card or swap the sim.

Yet, the Nokia has a major problem here. The Desire has a changeable battery.  Whilst you could swap the battery if you have a Torx screwdriver on the N8, this isn’t what I would call user friendly.  I have found in my non technical testing that the battery life on the N8, is certainly much better than the Desire. But using standby and call times for batteries are useless metrics days.  If I used my Nokia only as a phone, I could get 1 hours more talk time on 3G than the Desire. How many people buy smart phones only as phones.  Heavy usage, will still drain the battery in a few hours.  The Nokia N8, does at least support USB charging, along with the traditional Nokia 2.0mm charger.

Nokia N8- Flower Macro - YellowThe camera on the Nokia N8 is fantastic.  In fact I will say that again, the camera is fantastic.  I am at the point of holding off buying a new macro lens for my Nikon D90 camera because I can use the N8 as a macro lens, of a comparable quality to what I get from my D90. It is simply that good.  Now it isn’t a replacement for the Nikon D90 in anyway, but if you have to have a phone with a camera, you can’t go wrong with the N8. The 12MP Camera, with “a huge arse” sensor (I am sure that is the correct technical term), will take photographs that leave all other camera phones for dust.

But, the great camera is let down by the operating system.  For example, I’ve yet to work out how to change the focus point on the camera. There is no native Upload to Flickr as a key point. So I have a fantastic camera, which on the OVI store is only supported by a few apps to give me uploading to Flickr options, to easily share the content I create.

The “New” Symbain ^3 Operating System, tries its best to be the old Symbian.  Why, I have no idea.  Of course it is very familiar to Nokia users, and works very well on that level.  To change settings on various applications can be a series of yes and no prompts. Some work at one level, others at two levels though with differing confirm commands.  And because the OS is so new it is missing what for me are basic and core functionalities. The keyboard is only T9 in portrait mode, and a qwerty in landscape, what software engineer decided that? Different screens have different levels of input, some are one level, others are input text, confirm, then update. Again a software issue. Nokia will tell you that the OVI Store has X number of applications.  But that is X number for all handsets, not just the N8 which is new.  A lot of applications are still missing, some from the OS built in, others from 3rd party developers. Yes they will come in time, because this phone will sell in large numbers.  But early adopters are going to run into hurt.

The phone itself, seems slow at times.  While, yes, the operating system can run on lower specs that other devices, it still seems slow.  I wanted it to be snappy, like my Desire is when changing screens for example.  I wanted it not to hang, and I wanted it not to spit out random “Sim Not Found” errors.  Many of these will be fixed I am sure with the next iteration of the firmware. Perhaps more software will be written to take advantage of the 3D Graphics Broadcom Chip, which takes the heavy lifting in graphics off the CPU.  The Nokia N8, can handle Dolby Surround 720 Divx content and does it well.  My version had Tron Legacy Trailers, which when plugged into my 1080p flat panel TV via the N8’s HDMI out looked amazing.  And with the N8’s wifi N built in, this phone could be a great media server.

The screen is great to look at, and does seem to work very well, even in bright outdoor environments.  Yet, for me, the choice of fonts that Nokia have, just seem – well, ugly.  If I look at the way text is rendered on my Desire it is cleaner and easier to read.  The issue may be Nokia’s choice of only using a 360 x 640 pixels, 3.5 inches screen, compared to the Desire’s 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches.  On the Nokia, I find my reading times have slowed.  I’m sure some font nut expert will be able to tell me why (and I am sure I will nod and agree with them, whilst they spout stuff I have no understanding of).

The USB as host feature, is simply wow. And by wow I mean WOW! (like the camera, it will get a dedicated blog post in the future).  I plugged in a $10 SD card reader, inserted a card from the Nikon D90 into it and, and up came all the files straight on my Nokia N8.  I can now shoot high resolution shots with my range of lenses and without a computer upload the jpgs straight to Flickr (once I found . It works and it works seamlessly.  Couple this with HDMI out and you have a portable presentation system that works as a phone.  Already I leave the card reader and the USB cable in my camera bag – I can upload shots on the road, no laptop.

I wanted this phone to be good, I wanted to be able to go up to people and say, look what my Nokia can do.  Can I still do that, yes, but.  Two years ago, this phone would have trounced everyone.  But it isn’t two years ago anymore. When Nokia announced they had free Navigation on all GPS phones it was a market leader.  Having offline navigation for (even, just) your own country is a killer feature. And yet the newly announced Desire HD also has this feature. USB as host will come to a whole pile of devices shortly I am sure. HDMI out, whilst great  isn’t (yet) a killer feature on a phone.

Would I recommended this phone to someone.  Yes, I would.  Nokia fans will love it, as well they should. For Nokia though this phone needed to be something that would bring the fan boys back.  Nokia have made great hardware again, but great hardware isn’t what drives the smart phone market. I look forward to the firmware update from Nokia to see if that will fix some of the issues.  Once a bit more software comes out, it will be more friendly. I want a great mobile computer, and this isn’t it.

I wanted this phone to be great, I really did. But it isn’t at this point.

It is a great phone but not yet a smart one.

(Disclaimer: The Nokia N8 was supplied to me directly by Nokia Australia)

And introducing Firmware Hell… thanks to Google, Telstra and HTC

Not to be a name dropper, but I do know people in Telstra, Google and HTC.  They are really smart people as well. I’d go out on a limb to say that most of the people that work in these companies are smart people. Knowing this makes dealing with the outcomes of doing a firmware update even harder.

Having all ready written about why I wasn’t going to update my firmware to Telstra Froyo until the official version came out, I can now finally deal with the firmware update. What should have been an easy process turned out to be a nightmare of usability, performance, general shenanigans and complete frustration.

From the last few weeks of miscommunication, lack of transparency and frustration about the whens and ifs of the update itself. There was a large audience of very technically literate people crying out for this update, months after Google release it, finally Telstra say it is coming.  Coming in  4 weeks, a few days, a few more days, sometime soon, we will let you know, soon e.t.c.  If they didn’t know what is wrong with saying you don’t know.  If there is a delay, what is wrong in saying what the delay is.  Being open about these processes will in most cases placate people.  Why can’t these corporations just realise that Lack of information is the main cause of audience frustration?

So finally, the firmware comes out yesterday. Now for reasons, that haven’t been disclosed, the firmware isn’t OTA ( Over the AIR ), meaning when you press “Settings: About phone: System software updates: Check Now” on your phone, it simply says “ Your Phone is up to date”. But it isn’t.  Why isn’t the system designed to handle non OTA updates?

So I know that there is a firmware update. Great, jump on the web and head to http://www.htc.com/au/, and yes HTC have a link to Telstra Firmware on the homepage.  But not so fast. This is a link to the version from 2010-04-30.  So to get the new version, you have to click product support, whats new.  Why is it so hard to update the home page?

Next, you have to get the serial number for you phone.  To do this, you have to take the back off, then remove the battery, then enter the serial number of your device.  Of course the file is now available on a number of forums without asking for a serial number to install. Why do I need to get the serial number again?

At least now I am at the download stage. Please do not be in a hurry to download.  A 173meg download taking 3 hours to download is just stupid.  I was average around 20kbs for this file. I’m sure Telstra have enough capacity to ensure a slightly faster download. Why wasn’t a local server for downloading the software available?

Now comes installing.  With 30 or so pages about the firmware update on Whirlpool talking about errors and work arounds to get the install to work. Seems that Win7 64bit and/or your choice of USB ports seems to be an issue. A random USB 170 or USB 171 error are really not helpful. This shows that perhaps a bit more real world testing of the update may have been required. Why not release a public beta version of the update to sort this out first?

So finally you get the installer to work.  Then you see the big red writing “Installing the ROM Update Utility (RUU) will delete ALL information and data on your Android phone.” Yes everything, all your settings, apps, messages, screens, everything.  Funny thing is I can update my Playstation3, my computers, my other phones ( eg Nokia’s ) without losing everything.  Of course there are backup apps.  But 3rd party apps, that you need to pay for just to back up your phone to do a firmware update. Why can’t they just back up your settings when installing?

Sure I know have Froyo, but was it worth it? If you include all the stress, running around and fixing I now have to do to my phone, I’d say only just.  But then I won’t know for quite some time, as all my contacts have got screwed up, I don’t have any apps installed yet and have to reset all my wifi passwords as well just to download stuff.

And if you are a non techie person, I’d say phone a friend before attempting this at home.


Update from HTC

To assist our customers in downloading the Froyo update for the HTC Desire in Australia, below are some helpful tips.  For any further assistance, customers should contact HTC Customer Care in Australia on 1300-482-482. An over-the-air update will be available soon for customers.

1.     Follow the installation instructions that are available on the HTC Australia support web site
2.     Before installing HTCSync remove any previous versions.
3.     Remove any HTC drivers from Windows Device manager
4.     Install the latest version of HTC Sync 3
5.     Disable any Anti Virus s/w or firewalls.
6.     Connect the device directly to the PC/Laptop and not via a USB hub
7.     Reboot the computer.
8.     If all fails try another computer


The above comments from HTC’s Facebook page also puts pay to the comments below that a OTA update would be to big!.

My advice would be to wait until the Over the Air Update comes out and has been tested, this would be even more true for Mac users.


final update…

Great news….  via @petesymons

FroYo OTA now avail for Telstra HTC Desire. Use WIFI & have 25MB memory free. Go 2 settings>about phone>syst software updates>check now


(p.s this post is also on the ABC Tech site, so head over there for more comments as well )

Quick Camera Show Down on the Nokia N8

First quick post to do with my new Nokia N8, one of the big selling points is the camera…  so lets deal with that first.

The Show Down Consisted of the following…
( plus the Nikon D90 DSLR, which took this shot)
Too many cameras is never enough

Overcast Sunset – Brighton, Melbourne, Saturday 23/10/10

All devices were set on automatic mode and a couple of shots were taken, the best of which I uploaded to flickr.

Each image links through to the flickr version, where you can see the full image as well.


Nokia X6 – 5MP
Comparing the N8 - Nokia X6 - 5MP

Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.2 mm
ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi


Comparing the N8 -  JVC FM1 - 8MP

Exposure 0.006 sec (1/163)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 3.9 mm
ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi


HTC Desire – 5MP
Comparing the N8 - HTC Desire - 5MP

This is the only Exif Data for the shot from the Desire

ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi


Nikon D90 – 12MP
Comparing the N8 - Nikon D90 - 12MP

Exposure 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture f/6.3
Focal Length 18 mm
ISO Speed 200
X-Resolution 240 dpi
Y-Resolution 240 dpi


Nokia N8 – 12MP
Comparing the N8 - Nokia N8 - 12MP

X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/218)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.9 mm
ISO Speed 105

I think the D90 wins… but then it should. But the N8 for a mobile phone, which of course happened to be the only device that could upload the photos from all the other devices, comes a very very respectable second.

You think 12Mpbs is Enough….. A Look back at the last 10 years.

We will take 12Mbps as the likely outcome for the majority of Australians if we don’t get the NBN. Of course the argument goes that no one needs 1gbps because there isn’t a user case for it. And even 100mpbs would be a waste because private industry didn’t build it already.

Just stop and think about the last 10 years in Australia and the tools that we use. Then after reading this think about what you are going to do in 10 years time.

Starting a bit before 10 years ago, in 1992 there were two yes two ISP’s in Australia. Telstra weren’t to switch on ADSL until 2000. And it wasn’t until 2006 that Telstra removed the cap and let ADSL1 get to 8Mbps. ( BTW how many people actually get that kind of speed)

Google which is now such an integral part of some many of our lives ( see all those ads on the side) only overtook Altavista in 2000. YouTube launched in Nov 2005, only to be grabbed by Google less than a year later for a cool US$1.65 billion in Google Stock.. Now people upload more than 24 hours of content every single minute. Google Maps which is doing a fine job of killing of map directories launched in 2007. Street View didn’t hit Australia till August 2008. Yes just a squeak over 2 years ago.

Flickr, didn’t launch until Feb 2004. It wasn’t until December 2006 that pro accounts got unlimited uploads. In this month Flickr officially had its 5billionth photo uploaded, given that the 4billionth shot was uploaded in Oct 2009, that is 1 billion photos in 11months. Uploads run to around 3,000 per minute.

MySpace… much maligned at the looser to Facebook launched in 2002. But still for the looser they are still the 32nd most visited website in the world. Which of course leads to the current behemoth that is Facebook. It didn’t launch to the public until September 2006. 4 years later it has ½ a billion users. They are now the number 2 visited website, with of course Google still number 1. (Source Alexa.com)

Of the Top 10 sites as September 2010, really only Yahoo and Windows Live can claim to have been any sort of influence pre 2000. YouTube, Facebook, Baidu, Wikipedia, Blogspot and Twitter just didn’t exist. These are content rich sites. They are not just light weight text sites, but sites with rich media, photos, HD Video e.t.c.

The big argument is about wireless taking over and making Fibre to the Home obsolete. Ignoring the obvious thing about the physics of it all and that fact that you can just your N grade wifi with many of the new devices to connect to the backbone at your home or work, let think about wireless devices.

It wasn’t until the N95 that you could get a 5megapixel camera and GPS in one device. That was March 2007. Nokia also gave us the first phone with a compass, in 2008. Apple didn’t launch the first IPhone until June 2007. The IPhone 4 now has a 5megapixel camera. The Nokia N8 is launching with a 12 mega-pixel camera, with 8 mega-pixels becoming common on high end phones. Nokia in 2008 became the world’s largest manufacturer of any kind of camera. These devices now support N Wifi, with its data capabilities of 600mbit/s. Telstra’s Next G has speeds upto 42Mbit/s. So are you going to rely on just wireless or use your local or someone else’s WiFi network.

My phone has a 1 GHz CPU, 10 years ago that was the top of the line CPU for home computers. Now I do lots of stuff on the move, but the heavy lifting as it were is done at home on the big computer, the one with 12gig of ram and 3tb of storage.

The advent of P2P has forced a dramatic change in the way we view television and listen to music as well. Napster only came onto the scene in 1999. Bit Torrent wasn’t released as a protocol until 2001, now it is estimated to be anywhere between 20-50% of Internet Traffic. Whereas previously Australia was often low down in the priority order for showing first run shows, now networks “RUSH” TV shows often within a day or less of airing internationally just to circumvent this technology. The ABC only launched IView in 2008. In 2010 is launched live streaming of ABCNews24 (chewing up around 300mb p/h ) in the process. Now all the channels offer some sort of IPTV Catch up service.

This is just a sample of various tech over the last 10 years. Many of the examples above are only 5 years old. The other big advantage of the NBN is that either end of the cable can be upgraded, so the 1gbps is an artificial limit. In some respects it happens to be the most cost effective for deployment for the whole project.

There is no technology on the horizon that is going to be able to compete with Fibre to the Home for speed. This is a rare chance for Australia to be a world leader with all the benefits that will bring. Or it is a chance for us to shy away and spend the next 10 years catching up. Look above to see what happened in the last 10 years, the clock is ticking.

#wtrip10 – Stalking me via Enroute

This is more of a test than anything.  Using EnRoute for the Location Sharing on my 3 day drive to Adelaide following the coast.

As I am on Vodafone sim on my HTC-Desire (more outback trips I use a Telstra Sim), there are a few black spots along the coast I will be dropping back to Edge network as well… so I have no idea how well it work.

(p.s sorry about the frame as well, but all going well this should work)

(p.p.s sorry in advance for the fact that I will forget to turn on the software at some point in time :-))

Also you can stalk me in the usual ways via Twitter or Foursquare as well.

Google's App Inventor… the new rapid prototyping tool.

Yesterday Google announced the App Inventor for Android, which is basically a drag and drop GUI for making Android Apps.  Immediately blog posts fill with “all the apps will be crap”, “how do I hide these apps”, “nothing good will come of it”, etc comments.

Firstly I think the people with this attitude are bit full of themselves.  Why, because a lot of apps on both Symbian and Iphone are just templates and are well crap.  They are the ones that have low ratings, but make up the numbers.  The numbers is what people trot out when talking about how cool their ecosystem is.  I’m a big fan of quality of quantity myself.  Not that I am saying that Android has the quality, not yet.  I am frustrated that a lot of apps that are on Itunes are just hollow shells on the Android platform.

I can however see two major uses for it. The first is I can custom make quick apps to do something only I need.  It doesn’t have to look pretty, it doesn’t need a good UX, it just needs to be quick and dirty and work.  So I am sure my phone will fill up with these kind of apps, just for me and knocked out in 5 min.

The bigger one though is prototyping, and rapid prototyping.  This tool will give not just high end programmers the ability to make an app, but a much wider community.  How often have to encountered people in your own organisation with a great idea who can’t get it up because they can’t even show you a wireframe of their idea.  Many of the projects I have done over the years have started life as a series of boxes on a screen, boxes that pull in, mash up and output content.  Of course the best ideas still need graphic design, UX, UI etc.  Those that have that ability or access to those skills will take their projects from the mundane to the extraordinary.  But now Android has a tool that can be used inside a business to show what can be done.  Selling a concept to your manager via a wireframe PDF or an interactive document are very different propositions.  The ability to interact gives feedback to the user, even in prototype stage.

The faster you can make a prototype the faster you can see if a project is even going to work.  A rapid prototyping tool can save weeks of development when you can quickly find the issues in software, issues that could make or break the complete development cycle.

The most bizarre thing about the google post about the software is that they don’t even mention this functionality on the main page.


Thinking about this some more…  Google have just opened up a dev environment to the Lego Mindstorm kids… and lots of other kids as well. Forget shelling out $100 to Apple, Google is free.  When you are 16 and living on pocket money $100 is a lot! This really is a big game changer. Kids (and adults) will be able to make an App just for themselves or their close social network and distribute that app to them.  Millions of these apps will be created and the vast majority of them will never see the light of day on the App Store.  Why because you don’t need the App store to distribute them just a USB cable.  In many respects the breaking down of the App store may well be the liberation that the platform needs to break into the mass market.

Further to my first point, granularity is said to be king in this modern internet world.  When people can make an App for 1 or 2 people, then granularity has traction.  Drag and drop for interface functions means ease of build, which opens up these micro markets.  Micromarkets means developers working on your platform and not the oppositions. All this leads to market share (over the long term).  Google are a long term player and this when compared to Apple shutting down “Flash Developers”, shows where Google are heading.


I for one am really looking forward to this new tool from Google.

Here is the video…

The real reason I'm not Flashing Froyo on my Desire

As a rule I tend to break things.  Not break in the bad way, but break things so they work.  Now that can be from region freeing my dvd player to mashing the hell out of my computer to get software on it.

But I’m not going to flash my HTC Desire and put Froyo on it.  And I think at least some of you need not to as well.  Most of my friends with iPhones just go out and jailbreak them.  Why, so they can make the phone work.  But the jailbreak is very like the flashing of an Android Phone, it gives the power user a whole lot more.

And this is the problem all the “experts” have.  They are power users.  They could hack batch files, create yahoo pipes feeds to pull custom RSS and break their phone to sideload apps.  All great things, and things that I often do myself.  But this is not the general audience, yet we are the ones that build for that audience. (Like the Rubiks cube… most people didn’t complete it)

One rule of thumb I have always had when developing software is.. “If I use the shortcuts that I know all the time to get something done, I’ve done it wrong”.  The audience won’t know the shortcuts.  Some may over time learn them and good for those users.  But the average user will never take the time to learn your shortcuts.  Either it will be intuitive for them or chances are they will go elsewhere.

Now I only have one Android phone and I use it all the time to me it is a computer in my hand and not a phone.  Still to most phone users they are buying a phone first and it does some other stuff a very distant second.  I can still heavily tweak my phone (which I’ve done), but at the end of the day the user experience is the same as anyone else who buys one from the store.

This means I can show people things that don’t require them to void the warranty for example, or risk turning the $800 device into a light weight paper holder.

It pays to remember if you are developing Apps for these phones that the chances are your audience is not as smart as you. So always test and retest on their platform, not yours.  Like with browsers, IE still has market share.  Yes make all singing all dancing HTML 5 Canvas apps with only OGG video if you want, but if you want to reach a wider audience stop and think about IE7.

When Froyo comes as on OTA update I will be installing it that day for sure, but until then I will be using my phone for testing and evaluating software the same as everyone else who has it.

Sometimes keeping your tech dumb does make you smarter.

a few of my favourite things …. well android apps

It has been a few weeks of playing the the HTC-Desire now and I am starting to settle into a few key apps. Those ones I use on a day to day basis or ones I have migrated to and that are now sitting on top level scenes to access them quickly.

Whilst I have an appbrain account http://appbrain.com/user/wolfcat which gives you the name of the apps, I thought I would explain a bit more a few of the apps.

In no particular order and more importantly all are free.

This is my preferred twitter client, the Twitter Android App just isn’t as well developed.  It still gives me the ability to ols style retweet aka quote, my own bit.ly account, follow hashtags, multiple accounts et.c.  It still isn’t perfect but is close enough to be usable 🙂 One thing that is annoying is that if yo are  a heavy user of the account you can bump into API limits, which sees you heading off the the website again.

My Tracks
Perfect for capturing your route and showing it on a Google Map.  Gives you speed, moving time, time at rest, elevation changes, grade e.t.c and it works.  Export tracks as KML and GPX to use in other software.

Google Voice Search.
Sitting in a bar some one asked me about the Penumbra ABC MP3 remix.  Press Google Voice, speak Penumbra ABC MP3 and hey presto there are the search results. No typing, instant results.  You have to watch what you say and be careful with pronunciation or your search terms can be amusing at least.

On My Way
A new toy from Google that creates a Google Map with real time updates for your location.  With each URL being unique it can be as private or public as you want.   I’m looking forward to my next big road trip to really test this out.  But handy even for travelling around town if you wish to share your travels in  real time.

Gps Stats
Not only gives me a compass, but gives me a great set of data showing the strength of the incoming GPS satellites with number of fixes e.t.c.

Not only gives me a great traditional compass, but 5 other types of compass with pitch and roll, GPS location and an easy to use compass calibration as well.

Reads every type of code from flat codes to bar codes to QR with one touch operation and internet looking up of the code, great for comparing products when you are out shopping. You don’t have to tell it what kind of code, just open the app and point.  Reads of the back of packets or from a computer screen quickly and reliably.

Wifi Analyser
Great tool for seeing what networks are round you and what security they are using.  Coupled with Wifi Connecter Library you have a great set of controls for accessing wifi and storing passwords for various accounts.

Google Skymap
Just because it is cool.  If you like astronomy you need this.

Aussie Weather Radar
Just the BOM radars, I wish it could include a lot more features, like storm tracking, lighting, rainrates, but it doesn’t.  Still handy if you are out and want to know if it is going to rain on your parade as it were.

Is what calls itself a Reality Browser, which is an augmented reality app.  Australian content is kind of lacking, but it starting to come.  Surprisingly the Public toilet map is really helpful 🙂 I think a lot more content should be built for it in the next few months and the latest version seems quite stable and opens with a new what is around you mode which encourages browsing a lot more

Is a great way of hooking into what others are using on their android device.  Not only can it give you the ability to queue and manage your apps from your desktop then you can sync with your device at a later time.

Google Goggles
A visual search engine, just point the camera at an item, take a photo and away it goes.  Great for identify logos and buildings e.t.c. Still quite early in the database of images, but you can see where the future of search is going with this kind of app, where information on anything is a single click on your camera away.

Robo Defense
Damned this game is addictive.  Get the free version if you want… but you are going to want to upgrade it soon after.  A classic tower defense game with stunning graphics and a great way to pass the time on the daily commute

Let me know if there is something along the above lines that I haven’t found…

#telstradesire vs Nokia N95-8gb

When I entered the Telstra Social Reviewers I said I was interested in geodata and that what I wanted out of it was to know if it was time to upgrade my 3 year old Nokia N95-8gb.

For the really lazy… Here is my conclusion..

I like the HTC, I like Android and I’m finding myself living more and more connected due to this phone. If you use Google a lot, this is the phone for you, if you use Google a bit, this is the phone that will make you use Google alot.  There is a lot to like about it, there is a lot to be frustrated by it.  But will I recommend it to people.  Yes, with a big caveat you have to be someone with time to invest to get used to it.  Also this phone is for someone with a dataplan.  If you don’t have a decent data plan you are not going to get the most of out it.

On with the review…. my 3 year old nokia…Most people would say.. but the phone is three years old.. why haven’t you upgraded.  The reason was evolution not revolution.  The original N95 to me was the Revolutionary phone.. the N95-8gb which I got was the evolution.  One of the reasons for getting was that it had Flash Lite 2.1… aka Flash Lite with Flash 7 video.  (Sorry Steve but flash has been on mobiles for a few years now!), coupled with the GPS, wifi and 5 Mega pixel camera this phone still served me well.

What is interesting is that on paper the HTC-Desire is so close in so many areas.  At least for the things that I was particularly interested in. Of course I am moving from the old Nokia to the new HTC as my new base phone, but what I think I should point out is just where the phones are different.

Comparison Table N95 – HTC (Table Modified from – GSM Arena)

TFT, 16M colors AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
240 x 320 pixels, 2.8 inches 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches
– Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate – Multi-touch input method
– Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
– Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
– Optical trackpad
– HTC Sense UI
Speakers Stereo Mono
Internal 8 GB storage, 128 MB RAM 576 MB RAM; 512 MB ROM
Card slot No microSD, up to 32GB, 2GB included
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP technology Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth Yes, v2.0 with A2DP Yes v2.1 with A2DP
USB Yes, v2.0 miniUSB Yes, microUSB v2.0 (Includes Charging Via USB)
Primary 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, LED flash 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Video Yes, VGA@30fps Yes, WVGA (800×480 pixels) @ 15fps
Secondary QVGA videocall camera No
OS Symbian OS 9.2, S60 rel. 3.1 Android OS, v2.1 (Eclair)
CPU Dual ARM 11 332 MHz processor; 3D Graphics HW Accelerator Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz processor
SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Stereo FM radio; Visual radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
Maps Ovi Offline Maps (Now $10) Offline Maps with 3rd Party $50)
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support; Nokia Maps Yes, with A-GPS support
– Dual slide design – Digital compass
– WMV/RV/MP4/3GP video player – Dedicated search key
MP3/WMA/WAV/RA/AAC/M4A music player – Google Search, Maps, Gmail
– TV-out – YouTube, Google Talk, Picasa integration
– Organizer MP4/H.263/H.264/WMV9 player
– Document viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF) MP3/AAC+/WAV/WMA9 player
– Voice dial/memo – Facebook, Flickr, Twitter applications
– Push to talk – Voice memo
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1200mAH (BL-6F) Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh
Stand-by Up to 280 h Up to 340 h (2G) / Up to 360 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 6 h Up to 6 h 40 min (2G) / Up to 6 h 30 min (3G)

For me what is interesting is that the Nokia still holds its own in a large number of these fields, including camera, wifi, gps and multitasking.

I’ve given the nod to Nokia for battery as well whilst on paper the HTC is the better battery, not once you start using the features of the phone and features is what is comes down to. Until people start putting “using the phone time” in battery life is somewhat of a useless number.  9 years ago this kind of computer was top end sitting on your desktop.  Now it is in your hand.

The camera also goes to Nokia as well for the optics, but the camera controls are more refined on the HTC, but the dedicated Camera button on the Nokia is much easier to use, also the way you hold the phone is much easier with the Nokia and on the HTC I kept covering the lens with my hand.

The screen goes hands down to the HTC, it is a joy to use and is so bright and clear that even going back to the Nokia for 20 minutes was to be honest quite hard just to read the text on the screen.

I’ve already blogged about the GPS, which is incredibly fast and responsive and with the digital compass a huge advance of the Nokia. Couple that with the beautiful screen it is a great car gps as well.  However Nokia still have one big thing over all the Android phones and that is Ovi Maps.  The fact that you can now get (on all new Nokia’s) free world wide offline maps this is something that I missed with the HTC.  I often use my Nokia to plan routes or when I am travelling outside phone coverage and even in the dense urban areas your map never goes offline and you never have to pay for data charges to get maps.

The Android Store can be a dogs breakfast when using if from your phone.  Sure if you know just what you are after then it is great, but it still needs a lot of work to be really user friendly and help users find the apps and give them the control on sorting.  However there are number of third party solutions, AppBrain in particular is very handy giving you control over your apps and the ability to see what your friends have installed.

I miss my Real Player and my Divx player as well.  Like a number of things, that is not HTC’s fault, nor Androids, someone hasn’t built them yet.  Sure people scoff at Real Player, but there are a lot of sites that still use it and a lot of streaming radio uses it as well. I am going to miss the TV out function as well, I liked being able to see my camera photos on the tv when I was travelling.

The wifi in the Desire is very impressive… getting signals at the other end of my house where the Nokia doesn’t.  Which means that I can be a little bit further out from free wifi and still get a signal, which suits me perfectly.

As for the Telstra set up, I get where they were coming from in the way they put the apps on.  Sure they want to push their own brand, but do it right.  WAP is not an Application.. so don’t make things look like Apps that are just WAP Links.. Further why WAP… seriously this phone can display stunning webpages.. make light version of the page yes, but not WAP.  And let people remove them.  Why introduce limitations to a device that was designed not to have them.

As for Network, if you live outside the major metro’s I would say Telstra hands down.  If you travel outside the metro’s frequently also Telstra hands down.  Nationally their network is fantastic.  Yes when they say their coverage is in more place and is stronger they are telling the truth. If you live in the city though other factors can come into play… price is the biggest one.

Using the HTC is fast, it is very responsive and with the update to Android hopefully due soon it should be even faster.  Couple that with Flash 10.1 and this phone is seriously going to rock.  I look forward to seeing what Nokia can come up with, but it looks like Android have me in their grasp for a while yet.

When I work out more things… I’ll just add more blog posts.. but without the hashtag 🙂