Wednesday 24 January 2007

If only I had an iGadget I liked

Managing MP3s

I am hardly a gadget freak, most probably a technophobe of sorts. I find that I only get gadgets that particularly suit a purpose I have and sometimes no one has been thinking along those lines.

Years ago, I had a number of speech and sermon files which were fragments of talks that needed to be kept in a particular order and played back in that same order to make sense of what was being said.

At first, I put the MP3s on CD but that could only take so much, I needed a device that could handle gigabytes of information, read MP3 tags, allow album arrangement and sequencing by track number.

There were so many MP3 CD players and hardly any hard-disk based portable players that offered all that functionality until I found the Creative DAP (Europe) or Nomad II that appeared to do everything I wanted then – this was before the iPod days and before long 6GB of disk space was insufficient for my needs.

I never got a new MP3 player, but a good friend gave me a 20GB player soon after, I have not asked for a bigger one, but it met my requirements. The market is now filled with entry-level 512 MB MP3 players, that would never have fulfilled my requirements 7 years ago.

Eventually, I found out about the SLiMP3 which allowed you to manage your MP3 files on a server over a network which then linked into your amplifier, there has been much evolution but no revolution.

A phone that works

Everyone who has a mobile phone probably has all their numbers on that device and hardly a backup of that information on some other storage medium be it a computer or on paper.

Indeed, I have not been satisfied with the snail’s pace of development in the home phone; you have integrated answering machine, remote access, possible Short Message Service (SMS) and hands-free functionality.

I have just over 200 numbers on my mobile phone, but there is probably only one phone on the market that allows you to transfer the information from your mobile phone to your home phone.

You either spend six Saturdays clicking each number into the home and all you need is a few names with letters that require a multi-press and FOILS is a matter of clicking 16 times and then an 11 digit number with all the OKs, each entry is the development of repetitive strain fatigue.

It makes you wonder why more devices do not exist to backup you mobile phone data to your PC and a USB cable can used to upload the information to your home phone, in fact, the date should be in your computer address book where it can be corrected, uploaded to your mobile phone and transmitted to your hands free home phone by infra-red, blue tooth or some other wireless means.

The iPhone is a revolution

I have been with Orange for just over 4 years, in the first 3, I had a contract, but now, I have a rolling renewal which is more-or-less a monthly contract.

This is because, I cannot find a decent phone to do what I want because mobile telephony companies prefer to maximize their profits than provide services that are beneficial to their customers.

There are very few phones that take advantage of WiFi connectivity, and where they exist, they are inflexible dud systems, the sophisticated devices cannot be found on the vendors’ shelves.

For instance, I want a phone that serves as a fully functional portable PDA and it does not have to be a BlackBerry where charges for having that kind of device for personal use are prohibitive.

Customer service rating - 0

When I did find a phone I could tolerate, it was running a Dutch operating system, now, Orange is at least a European company and I could not persuade anyone I contacted in that company to one phone configured in English even if it involved shipping it from the UK. There is a lack of initiative that pervades that company.

Worse still is when the latest version of one phone is available in one country and not available in another even though it is the same company and Orange has been a culprit in that matter many times.

In fact, mobile phone companies are going the way of the record and film companies, their inability to innovate and capture the essence of changing demands even provide groundbreaking devices means that outsiders would capture that market and change the face of it before they catch out that they have lost what used to be their niche.

I probably would never get an iPhone, just as I do not have an iMac, iPod or iGadget, but if this amazing innovation gets Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola to make useful products like HTC is introducing to the market and then take on ideas like iPhone such that I should never have to click the 7-key four times to start to say Sorry, we would have come a long way.

Extortionate prices

I am also seriously irked by the fact that with Orange in the Netherlands, France and the UK, I still end up paying prohibitive rates for making and taking calls when I am not in my home country.

These companies are dragging their feet on what should have the European Commission really laying down the law for competitive change on roaming charges. I cannot even tell you that WiFi connections in hotels average €22.00 for 24 hours with Vodafone being the most expensive at €29.50 when I am in Germany – it is utterly extortionate that one has to pay these prices in Europe for rotten phones and un-integrated infrastructure.

The sooner iPhone rocks this cosy boat, the better it would be for customers, now, iPhone does still have its issues, but the goal posts have moved and there is now a new paradigm in mobile communications coming to you in June.

More so, Apple struck a deal with Cingular in the United States where Cingular had to modify their services to accommodate additional features like the voice mail system, the whole methodology needs to change and thanks to Apple, we would yet see change in this rather tired market.

Tuesday 9 January 2007

A Blogger from Blog-City

Why am I here?

I do not intend to start a secondary blog from my blog on Blog-City, but this allows me to enter comments on blogger sites that do not allow anonymous comments.

Update August 2010

My blog host has decided to close the service from January 2012, so I am busy moving my whole blog here.

Saturday 6 January 2007

I'm a prankster - Tee hee hee

Gosh! I forgot where I got to link to this site, but I answered some questions and I am a prankster - Never! I won't hurt a fly, I'll kill it.
the Prankster
(23% dark, 34% spontaneous, 31% vulgar)
your humour style:

Your humour has an intellectual, even conceptual slant to it. You're not pretentious, but you're not into what some would call 'low humour' either. You'll laugh at a good dirty joke, but you definitely prefer something clever to something moist.

You probably like well-thought-out pranks and/or spoofs and it's highly likely you've tried one of these things yourself. In a lot of ways, yours is the most entertaining type of humour because it's smart without being mean-spirited.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Conan O'Brian - Ashton Kutcher

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 3% on darkness
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 13% on spontaneity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 30% on vulgarity
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday 4 January 2007

Always include a number to call

No stop - Go direct

Homeward bound, one needs to rethink this whole pleasure of riding the seeming comfort of the German InterCityExpress (ICE) trains with a stop-over at Duisburg between Amsterdam and Berlin for the direct but less comfortable InterCity (IC) trains.

On my way to Berlin it was just a 20 minute stop-over but on the return, I did not realise the wait would be 73 minutes. So, one has to kill time somehow.

The need to get online is compelling though Duisburg unlike Cologne does not have the DB Lounge facility which First Class passengers can access for free beverages, comfortable seats and Internet access.

The Spartan waiting rooms in Duisburg however do have stickers indicating T-Mobile Hotspots are available for wireless internet connectivity.

I prefer blackberry muffins

I do however, have to travel with my laptop most of the time because I am still blowing raspberries at Blackberries, I prefer to determine when I am online and when I want to be contacted and if I want to be connected rather than having a device that syncopates with my breathing that being alive means one is available.

For years, I have refused to accept business phones, bleepers and alert systems because they unconscionably encroach on your private time as some people might tend to take liberties because of this.

No number? Oh! Bummer

So, to kill time at Duisburg, I put my laptop on, engaged a wireless access point but could not get an IP address, there was something wrong with the service in the station.

Some, one would expect a phone number would appear on the T-Mobile Hotspot sticker, just in case one has enquiries or something goes wrong – Zilch!

You cannot be serious (With McEnroe disdain), how do they get informed of service failure if there is no way to contact them?

It smacks of technological hubris which imagines their systems would never fail such that no one would ever have to call for anything.

The absence of a contact number is to my mind a failure of the service even if it is working and if the station information desk of personnel who never learnt English - that we were communicating with Annoying Sign Language - do not have any information about T-Mobile services in their station, the cretin who came up with this idea is deserving of a payslip without the figures.

73 minutes of being rather cross and suitably not amused, one should learn to, as they say in common parlance – chill.

Wednesday 3 January 2007

The mobile phone and our society

Mobile alarm so alarming

When I return home I need to check if my apartment block has a corporate fire alarm apart from ones people install in their homes. It so happened that one night there was this shrill sound going off at intervals of 5 minutes and both my friend and I wondered where the sound was from.

I thought, it was a fire alarm and my ears perked visited adjacent floors but could not make out where the sound came from, very much like searching for a cricket that strays into a house, the shrill sound they make is just never directional.

Eventually, we found it was my friend’s mobile phone setting off a reminder alarm for him to take his pills, yes, a mobile phone that had screwed up its alarm tone and ended up with a fire alarm tune.

This exemplified that problem and the technology of mobile phones, they are no more the clunky bricks which had traditional phone rings and were the training weights of the yuppies of old.

Wring tones or ring that neck

Ring tones are big business now, phone play back all sorts of sounds, but the social re-engineering of these devices has even adults choosing the most dastardly tones which playback with eardrum piercing volumes when some unassuming acquaintance calls.

Thankfully, mobile phones are not allowed on flights, we the science of keeping them switched off is suspect, but the idea is good. Some trains also have mobile-free zones, but how do you deal with someone who has just bought a phone and is trying out every tone in a quiet train? Some people!

Happy slapping joyriders

Then in 2000, mobile phones were equipped with digital cameras which have now improved with more accessories, greater resolution, Carl Zeiss lenses, using some Multimedia communications mode to transfer the pictures.

They also allowed for motion picture recording which in itself is benign till another social consequence resulted in kids in the UK going out to mug, molest and beat up people in what became called “Happy Slapping”.

Sometimes, I wonder about the words we use for social misconduct in England. Happy Slapping is no happy event for the victim, more for the criminal nor is “Joy-riding” increasing the joy of a victim when the criminal has stolen your car and written it off in an inconsiderate adrenalin-rush chase.

One such happy slapping lead to the death of a victim and the recording became evidence of the crime which lead to convictions, but why does this have to happen at all.

Beyond propaganda and to the truth

These mobile phone cameras came into their own when the officially sanctioned, edited, doctored and propagandist silent recording of Saddam’s execution was trumped by a live vision/sound travesty of shame – yes, the uncensored democracy of photo- and movie- journalism where the participants are the public has arrived – we are the Time Person of the Year 2006 – even professionals cannot retain the scoop on any news event that occurs in the dimensions of time and space.

This is the new concealed weapon set to record anything without your knowledge and ready to be published on YouTube or some other less reputable site, you have to smile all the time, because you might be on camera and if you do misbehave, never become a celebrity, maybe there is a cautionary element to restoring social graces with this development, I would not know as reality television now helps to depict the worst of the Homo sapiens-sapiens species.

Multifunction life tool

As if that was not enough, they added radio and music playback of MP3s, that is fine, then you uploaded your music, put on your headphones and carried your entertainment with you on your mobile phone.

Games, Internet surfing, email and your mobile phone is a comprehensive Personal Digital Assistant, your whole life is stored on the device which you rarely backup and just imagine it gets lost and you are completely bereft of your contact to the world, you become a castaway island in a sea of sharks.

However, the death knell of the filofax has not been completely sounded, there are people who have backed up their data on paper despite the fact that some mobile operators now allow you to backup your data to their servers, a good way to expose your life, I would say.

Mobile phone ghetto blaster

Anyway, it is now commonplace to see that mobile phones are no more personal, the kids playback their music without their headphones as they congregate to loud music coming out of their mobile phones for their entertainment to the chagrin of fellow passengers on the bus, train or tram.

Some sort of ghetto blaster now incorporated in a mobile phone, what next? You ask!

If you dare to shut them up as I have on certain occasions asking them to use headphones, you do risk a happy-slapping, that is what we have acquired with added mobile phone sophistication, people losing their ability to be considerate members of a community as the personal space of their mobile phones garners a more public interference with our peace and wellbeing.

The loss of social consideration

Obviously, mobile phone companies and their innovators would blame all this anti-social behaviour on the people than the phone, but if they did not have tools that allowed them these abilities, they probably would not exhibit such rotten behaviour – this a topic of social scientists – how the mobile phone has changed our common societal values and why something has to give.

Many a time, I have hoped that the nuisance of a mobile phone can be solved by drowning the thing in water, and for now, I would suppose mobile phones do not come with a water resistant guarantee – there is hope.