Thoughts about where phones have come since the Nokia 3410

Over the course of this year, I’ll be going camping a few times and I don’t want to take my Desire S with me for several reasons (expensive to replace and a short battery life being two examples). In light of this, I’ve obtained a 3410 to use during these occasions.

Back in 2004, I was in possession of my last Nokia 3410. It lasted a good few years – In fact it lasted longer than any other phone that I’ve had since.

This phone was pretty much indestructible. Just a few examples of what it survived…

– Getting left behind on a train (Kudos to the stranger who handed it in)
– Being knocked out a 1st floor window
– Taking several ‘swims’ in drink
– Having a teenager as an owner

It survived everything I threw at it and the only damage was a crack on the screen cover which seemed to randomly appear after taking the train somewhere, getting off and checking my messages. Being an old Nokia, the cracked cover was sorted by getting a new cover for it. Something that I was going to do anyway at the time.IMG_20120608_120715

Once I opened the parcel containing the replacement 3410 phone, I came to a realisation. This phone is awesome. Don’t get me wrong, it’s basic and you could almost say it’s archaic compared to modern standards. However the interface is smooth and it does exactly what it says on the tin. The other realisation I came to is that getting a 6610i to replace it was a terrible choice. So was the w550i that replaced that.

Actually the W550i wasn’t that bad. Just the power connector on the cable was flimsy.

Back on topic, the there are two things that amaze me:

The first is just how far we’ve come in 8 years or so – we’ve gone from low resolution screens, basic internet connectivity and no bluetooth, to the all knowing smartphones that we have now. This also brings the question, where will we be in another 8 years? Will we just have slight improvements upon the existing technology, or will we be on a radically new generation of phone which by far surpasses the current standards, with new control methods and user interfaces.

The second is just how reliant we’re becoming on smartphones. Some people can no longer wait until being at a computer to check emails and social networks. We want to see things in real time, as they happen. We can no longer wait a few hours to see if our order has been shipped, or to see when Person X commented on photo Y on Facebook.

I guess another question is, who will ‘rule the roost’ as it were – back in 2004, Nokia were at the forefront of mobile boom, especially when mobile phones became more available to the younger generations around the 2000 mark, but since the smartphone boom, it’s pretty much down to Apple and Samsung to fight it out – as far as hardware goes anyway. Don’t get me wrong, HTC and Nokia are still putting some good handsets out but most people seem to go the way of the Samsung Galaxy S-Series, or whatever iPhone is going.

Is the humble MP3 player a dying breed?

So I was sitting at my desk the other day doing some sort of work. I’ve got my phone sitting in it’s holder and I’m happily typing along, with my MP3 player plugged into my ears, listening to music.

Enter some random person. He asks…’why are you using an MP3 player.’  The man does kind of have a point. I’ve got my phone sitting on the desk, which is capable of doing everything but the dishes and yet I’m using my Creative X-Fi for music instead.

It’s for the same reason that I don’t belive that the MP3 player is a dying breed. Aside from the fact that some MP3 players produce better quality sound and that some people just don’t want to take the jump to a smartphone, there is another reason…

.. we have phones now that can do everything and sometimes that’s a little too much. Allow me to explain:

Bob is working in an office,writing up a report on the efficiency of something or another. He has his MP3 player plugged in to drown out some of the background noise and so that he can concentrate better on the task at hand.

After listening to the same album on repeat for a while, he decides that something else would be good. He picks up the MP3 player, changes album and continues working on time.

Bob gets the work done, gets promoted and gets a fat pay rise.

Now meet Eve. She’s also writing a report on something or another. Let’s call this report ‘Procrastination for the Masses’. Like Bob, she has music on to drown out the background noise. A minor note is that she’s using her iPhone for it instead.

Like Bob, she just put one album on initially and it begins to grate after a while. She picks up the iPhone to change track. While she’s got the phone in hand, she replies to a text message and notices she has an email. The email is from Facebook, saying that Herp McDerpington has invited her to an event. Naturally she goes to Facebook to accept the event invitation. Then she goes onto Twitter to let others know of the event.

The cycle continues. Eve misses the report deadline. She gets fired. Then loses all her money. Then dies due to Hypothermia, as she can no longer afford the heating bills.

So the example was a little..over dramatic and exaggerated. But I think that the MP3 player has a place. A place for the Luddites who won’t get smartphones. A place for the people that just want to get stuff done. A place for the audiophiles that want to listen to higher quality music. But most of all, I belive it has a place in history – as the item that began the steady decline of the CD. The item that succeeded where MiniDisc failed.

Thoughts on Windows Live Messenger 2011

So about a month ago my computer told me it was time for WLM to be upgraded again. Once you get over the initial reaction, it’s not too bad.

Thoughts on WLM 2011

Right from the screengrab above you can tell that Microsoft have clearly made some changes. One downside I’ve noticed is that before you could give it the option to remember your username but not your password, whereas in 2011, this functionality has either been removed or put somewhere less obvious – meaning you can either remember everything and let anyone at the computer log in as you, or go through typing in your email address everytime – which if you have a long address can get tedious after a while.

Once it logs in you get confronted with what can only be described as a mess – see the below (low quality) screengrab:

As you can see, Microsoft have managed to shoehorn MSN home / Bing into it, with only a small section on the right for your contact list, with enough space underneath for an advert. So far it all feels a bit grim – at this point I was tempted to go back to the previous version, but I thought I’d trial it for a bit.

Also, WLM asks if you want to integrate facebook – this is actually quite neat. Microsoft have used their share in Facebook to an advantage. Once you integrate Facebook you can speak to people on facebook chat, without using that horrifically slow, unreliable browser based version via FB. In case you hadn’t realised, I’m not a fan of the browser client. One downside I have found is that if you add someone on facebook, it generally takes a while for WLM to catch up – leaving it till the next day should suffice though.

It’s easy to see why MS have done this – with the number of people on facebook still increasing, more people are being moved away from WLM – by integrating Facebook, MS can retain some of their share of the Instant Messaging pie, by appealing to both userbases.

You can also move away from the cluttered version of WLM, and revert it to something with a likeness to the old version. To the right of your status / inbox count, there is a button that you can click to shrink it back down to the contact list, and one advert – much better than the cluttered view.

One thing that has changed is that your name is….well…just your name – I’m assuming that this is to do with the Facebook chat integration. On the plus side the second custom message box it still there and upon updating it you can optionally update your Facebook status.

So…to summerise:

Pros

– Incorporated Facebook Chat

Cons

– Can’t save the username alone in the welcome screen

– Initial appearence is clunky and cluttered

Basically if you hate the web based Facebook messenger and can put up with a little more clutter it’s worth taking a  look at WLM 2011

Things I’d like to see HP / Palm bring into Web OS 2.0…

As it’s been shown on a few tech sites over the last few days, HP / Palm has had some Web OS 2.0 screenshots leaked.

I’ve had my first generation Pre since about April, I’ve come up with a list of a few things I’d like to see, assuming that Web OS 2.0 comes to the current gen of hardware.

  • Snappier response time

Although my Pre does the job that it is supposed to, I can’t help but feel sometimes that my fingers are a tad faster than the processor – for instance when putting my PIN into the phone to unlock it. I swear that the phone takes half a second after each keypress to keep up.

  • Flash Support

Pretty much the same thing that I’ve wanted on my XP 64 bit machine at work since I received it – and it’s pretty much the same story, which is “It’s being worked on.”As far as the Palm release of flash is concerned, it was originally promised for the first half of 2010.

There is no official release date these days. No doubt that the HP takeover will have slowed things down, but it would be nice to know what’s going on with it.

  • Windows Live Messenger IM Support

It would be nice to have – currently the phone supports GoogleTalk and AIM – neither of which I use. It would be nice to have another method of being in contact while on the move, or bored on the train.

That said one of the beta screenshots implies that this will be included, so fingers crossed to at least one of my needs being satisfied

  • Patch Fixes

Could be a bit of a long shot, but there is a bug where occasionally the battery will total itself from 60% or more to nothing in a few minutes, after some light web browsing. It’s not a frequent issue for me, but many users over the on the palmcentral forums have reported it.

  • RSS feeds on the home screen

There is already an application for this called Ultimate Wallpaper – as effective as it is (and I recommend this for the time being), I’d like to see the native support for RSS, along with multiple feeds – just so I can see what’s going on in the world at a glance.

That’s pretty much it for now – I’m sure if I spent more than 15 minutes writing this I could think of more things that would make my mobile life easier, but I’ll come back to it later. If Web OS 2.0 comes to the Pre, I might even do a write up…

Tweetin’ Twitter

So I’ve had a look at my twitter account, and have been scratching my head a little, wondering what purpose it fulfills as far as the internet goes, and compared to the other main social networking widgets.

Facebook / MySpace / Twitter – A quick overview

Facebook

If you want a general place to store pictures, update the people you know with what you had for breakfast, and contact details, you have Facebook. I’m not going to go into the origins of facebook, but suffice to say as demand grew for facebook, more people were abandoning MySpace accounts.

MySpace

For those that want Facebook and refuse to be conformist to the current social networking default and/or want to promote your music, you can use the internet wasteland that is MySpace. This was once the king of social networking  – about 4 years ago. It allowed HTML savvy account holders a chance to make a truly unique page, while not so savvy people a chance to use a code generator resulting usually in an account hack by some rogue code. I’ve spent many hours fixing profiles that have been borked in this way.

MySpace went down the pan as Facebook grew – people were drawn to the conformist, yet easy to use interface provided. People still use it to put music onto if they do some recording, but compared to Facebook, it now resembles a piece of tumbleweed rolling in front of the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ in some western film, despite the site management attempting to add many facebook features over the year, such as status updates in a feed, and apps to annoy everyone.

Twitter

Twitter seems to have very basic features. You have status updates, and can tweet a picture with said update, and can reply to other updates. I’m probably missing a few details, but that’s the gist of it. Admittedly one thing that is nice is that we don’t have to read about “Person X wants your help in *insert facebook game here*”, but I hide those updates anyway. It’s not as widely used as Facebook, but then not a lot seems to be.

So..what can you do to make Twitter useful?

First of all, if you have a smartphone, it’s probably best to get some sort of app for quick & easy access. I’m using TweeFree on my Palm. It takes 3 screen presses to be able to see the timeline on my account, which is a lot quicker than using a computer.

Add a few things relevant to your likes on there – for me I have bit tech, wired science and breaking news. This way if I get bored on the train or whatever I can flip up my phone and look up all the headlines of things that might be interesting.

Also, it could be used for Microblogging – look to the right of the page. You’ll see a bar with my Twitter account, and the few updates I put on there – it’s a way of letting people know your thoughts, without writing a massive blog, or trawling through whatever facebook has on it.  Some bloggers might want to update their site daily with a short update.

Which brings me to the last thing, aside from seeing what your comrades on are up to. If you’re doing a sponsored walk for example, you could tell your sponsor to follow you on Twitter, and then they’ll be able to make sure you’re doing it, as long as your phone has GPS and location updates turned on. (Example taken from one of the members of bit)

So…it’s not Facebook, nor is it trying to be. Not for me at least – more like a customised RSS feed, a tool for my current blog, or just another way of being nosey and seeing what people are up to.

For the record my Twitter is Brooxy927. I’m not a Twitter nut, but I see some uses for it, and I’ll keep using it 🙂

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