Showing posts from February, 2010

More Hero Speed Tips

Following on from my earlier posting about the speed issues of the HTC Hero I found another couple of tweaks over the course of the weekend which improve responsiveness further.

Firstly having disabled the Sense UI you would think that you were rid of its clunkiness. Not so.  If you install Astro and start the process manager you'll find a process called TouchFlo - I wonder what that could be? Kill it.

And whilst your there search for the Footprints process and kill that too - unless you actually use Footprints of course...

I'm happy to report that the Hero is now slick and responsive,  only suffering slowdowns when browsing javascript heavy web pages.

Now that its running how I like it I'm a lot happier with the Hero, I just need to know when can I get my hands on Android 2.1...

Italian Ruling Shows Dangers Of 20th Century Laws In 21st Century

You're probably well aware by now that three Google executives have been given six month suspended sentences in Italy for failing to remove a bullying video from the company's YouTube website.

The video in question concerns an artistic boy in Turin being taunted by his classmates. Google took the video down after two months following an official request from the Italian authorities but the Italian courts found that the company should gave responded to requests from individual users much more quickly.

Without knowing how those request were made or investigated by Google its hard to say how appropriate the sentence is. 

My feeling is that Google needed a reasonable amount of time to receive, investigate and action the requests and given the number and variety of videos and (presumably) complaints two months doesn't seem an unreasonable amount of time to do that.

Italy needs to update its legal system to put the burden of responsibility on those who firstly were guilty of…

First Windows Phone 7 Series Breaks Cover

Engadget got an unplanned exclusive on its video show yesterday when Microsoft executive Aaron Woodman slipped a glance of an unnamed LG phone into an interview - revealing the first production WP7S device in the process. Nothing ground breaking in the hardware -  a landscape sliding keyboard phone - but interesting to see that Microsoft's device partners are well down the road to delivering the first WP7S phones.You can see the video here

Football: Battle Of The Bridge

Well that went well... Bridge treated Terry with the contempt he deserved pre-kick off (Bellamy went one better but you'll have to watch the video to see why) City stuffed Chelsea scoring four past a team that had only previously conceded 8 at home all season and to top it off Terry played like a hernia ridden geriatric...

The only disappointing note were the Chelsea fans who booed Bridge when he was substituted,  betraying a complete lack of class on their part.

Now someone just needs to explain to Capello that the last thing England need in South Africa is a doddery centre half who is too slow for the Premier League and likely to spend half his time trying to bed his colleague's partners.

Nexus One Coming To Vodafone In April

Word is spreading that Vodafone will be getting the Nexus One in April, which is good news if you're a Vodafone fan. Personally I'm waiting for pricing and availability of the SIM free version.

Vodafone's decision to price the Nexus One against the iPhone seems like a bad move to me though, it certainly didn't work for O2 when it launched the Pre...

Polish Ryanair Passenger Eats Winning Lottery Ticket

I know the service is notoriously bad on a Ryanair flight and food prices vastly inflated but eating a €10,000 winning lottery ticket that's a little bit of an over reaction don't you think?

Actually for the first time in living memory this isn't an example of poor service from Ryanair. The passenger was so annoyed about not being able to collect his winnings on the flight that he ate the ticket - presumably to the ultimate amusement of the crew and fellow passengers.

Full details in this BBC news story.

Hero Speed Tips

The HTC Hero is a pretty impressive device in most ways but it does have one major problem - its incredibly laggy. Having spent the last two months using the super responsive TG01 returning to the Hero is an exercise in frustration.

However after a little digging and applying some of the same principles that I'd use to boost a Windows Mobile phone's performance I think I have a Hero which is actually quite usable.

My first thought was that the widgets running on the Sense home screen were the cause of the poor performance. Removing them and running a cut down home screen certainly seemed to improve things, but not enough to make me want to use the Hero for any length of time.

However I was sure that I was heading in the right direction and a little digging found me a setting which allowed Sense to be disabled completely and what a difference that makes. It's a vastly improved phone and much more usable.

So HTC's interfaces for both Android and Windows Mobile look great bu…

Skype Kills Windows Mobile Client - For Now

Its being reported on many sites that Skype have pulled its current Windows Mobile client due to 'sub-par' user experience. Understandable, Skype have never really got over the front speaker/back speaker issue within Windows Mobile and whilst its always been possible to fix it yourself using one of a few alternative audio re-directors, Skype's development team haven't really had the desire/know-how to deliver in an integrated way.

Apparently a new Skype for Windows Phone will arrive, probably for WP7S as the stronger controls over the hardware config will make it easier for Skype to deliver a seamless user experience. I'm told that the Java based Skype Lite client - incredibly useful for Android and WinMo users looking to take advantage of Three's Skype bundles - has also been pulled.

If you want Skype on your Windows Mobile device but don't have access to the install files you can retrieve them from here.

Advice For Palm: Go Cap In Hand To Microsoft Or Google

Its a sad reflection of the state of Palm Inc. that in the two and a half years this blog has been running there's been very little of positive note to say about the company. In fact in my first post here I warned that the Foleo was a sign of serious problems at the company. Dismal financial returns for yet another quarter show that those problems have got the better of the company and its now in serious difficulty.

WebOS has failed to revive the company's fortunes despite being a very good operating system with lots to commend it. But then engineering has never been the company's problem. The Pre and Pixi have both been shortchanged in the memory department and my contacts at O2 suggest that the resulting problems with the Pre have been so bad that retail stores will do everything possible to steer customers away from the Pre. Its not the first time that Palm has made this mistake - the Tungsten T¦5 was shipped with about half the memory that it needed to operate and cause…

Apple Rewrites The Rules For Developers

It only seems like yesterday that Apple relaxed the rules on the app store, leading to a deluge of adult and taste-free applications. However it is only yesterday that the company changed its mind and decided to remove adult themed apps from the store again. This brought the curtain down on some 5,000 apps and the developers aren't happy - quite understandably.

Firstly, these guys are tying to earn a living from publishing applications and having run the gauntlet of the approval procsss it must be hugely frustrating to have an application ejected despite having broken none of Apple's rules.

Secondly, Apple has been highly selective of the sort of app it has removed, Playboy remains for example, despite being more 'adult' than many apps that have been ejected.

Apple is reported to have reacted to complaints from parents and women iPhone owners who objected to some of the content which - from what I can garner from the titles that have been ejected - was little more th…

Add 8,000 Games To Your Windows Mobile Phone

FPSECE is a remarkable piece of software, emulating the Sony Playstation in software on a phone... I wasn't convinced until I tried it this weekend and I have to say I'm a from believer now. I ripped two of my PS1 games and tried them on the TG01 and performance is nothing short of jaw dropping. Gran Turismo runs at 50 fps and is smooth as silk... F1 98 is just as good. I'm now going to have to hunt for my stash of PS1 games to rip and try.

The only issue I've found is that using the accelerometer to emulate an analog stick isn't a great way of controlling a game - exactly the same issue which plagued my iPhone gaming experience. Never mind, FPSECE supports USB and Bluetooth game pads so something like the MSI BGP 100 is portable, cheap and sounds like a hoot to use...

The video below isn't mine, but it does give an authentic view of the FPSECE experience... If you have a Snapdragon powered Windows Mobile phone you really should have this too...

Fancy A Tablet? Expansys Samsung Q1 Offer

Want a tablet that will let you do more than just consume content? Well you're in luck as Expansys currently have the Samsung Q1 Ultra at a rather excellent £369 - something of a bargain for a quality bit of kit. The webpage isn't entirely clear, but this looks like its the 6-cell battery model which runs five to six hours on a charge at the cost of a slight bulge on the left hand side of device. Personally I find it makes a good hand hold so it doesn't particularly bother me.

This is the 800 Mhz Intel powered unit with 1GB of memory and a 40 GB hard disk, running Windows XP Tablet Edition which means excellent handwriting recognition, the ability to run just about any software and two (count them) USB ports to add keyboards, mice, memory keys and 3G dongles. There's also a VGA out and SD Card slot so you could use it as a desk computer in a 'docked' configuration if you desire.

So if you are looking for a tablet this makes a lot more sense than some fruitier dev…

Microsoft Says No WP7S Upgrades... Allegedly

A source at Microsoft is reported to have said that no Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets will be receiving upgrades to WP7S when it arrives this autumn. Which contradicts what HTC have said about the HD2 and also makes me wonder why other Microsoft partners are announcing phones with the exact specifications required by WP7S even though they'll ship with WM6.5...

Windows Phone 6 Becomes A Classic

When I posted this on Monday it was very much wishful thinking - a glimpse of what I thought would be a good strategy for Microsoft to challenge in the mobile marketplace in future years. Looks like Microsoft were thinking the same way, as two of my predicitions have now come to fruition and the third is looking like a shoe-in.

Having announced the all new Windows Phone 7 Series device it Steve Ballmer's MWC keynote, Zune integration, limited functionality and restricted application delivery; today we find out that Windows Mobile 6.x will be re-christened Windows Phone Classic and live on to fight the good fight, with the suggestion being that this version will develop and grow separately to the 7 Series devices. All that remains is for the low end Pink and Turtle devices to arrive and it'll be a good day for my (usually remarkably poor clairvoyent skills).

Having been very pessimistic about where Microsoft was taking Windows Mobile I'm glad to see that power users who need …

HTC Confirms Hero Eclair Upgrade... Again

HTC's official Twitter account again confirmed that the various flavours of Hero would be getting an official Android 2.0 upgrade - much as it did three months ago when the upgrade was first launched on the Motorola DROID. Three months further down the line and there's still no word on availability...

At the moment the two semi-official lines on the subject suggest either sometime in H1 2010 (as far away as June) and 'early' Q2 2010 (anything up to mid-May). Its been a long wait and my instinct tells me that Google will be about ready to ship its next version by the summer.

Did Microsoft Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water?

No multitasking? Seriously?

Windows Phone 7 Series (how annoying is that name already, from now on WP7S) won't allow third party applications to run in the background. That's Windows Mobile's biggest strength out of the window then. And no back catalogue either, that sucks too.

So on the information we have thus far I'm pretty sure I can see an Android phone in my future. Microsoft's decision to trade form for function isn't a winning one as far as I'm concerned.

Microsoft Scores Spectacular Own Goal

Yep, they blew it. No, not Windows Phone 7 Series - which turns out to not be a series at all - that judgement will have to wait for now.

No what they have done is effectively killed their market for the next six to nine months whilst customers wait for WP7S to arrive. Who's going to buy a WM6.5 phone now its been effectively wiped out by its maker? Maybe a few corporates, but otherwise no-one with any sense. If an upgrade to the HD2 is confirmed that could possibly be the only WM6.5 device that sells. Be interesting to see what effect this has on Microsoft's 4.5 million quarterly sales figures.

Football: Neil Warnock, The 100% Man

Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock must be something of a nightmare for his wife and kids to live with, given that he is never ever wrong about anything or makes any mistakes. How can I possibly know this? Obviously his demonising of any match official who makes a mistake proves that he can only be perfect...

The fact is that in the high speed modern game officials are going to make mistakes and its inevitable that some are going to have an impact on match results. Like last night's FA Cup tie between Palace and Aston Villa. Suggesting that the officials should be suspended for mistakenly awarding a corner kick to Villa is disingenious and insulting to match officials everywhere.

Despite the nonsense Warnock is spouting about the official's mistake costing Palace victory the truth is that Palace's inability to defend a corner allowed Villa to grab an equaliser and Warnock should look to his own laurels for that failing.

So Neil Warnock here's some advice, do with it what…

Microsoft MWC - What's Coming For Windows Mobile?

This afternoon Microsoft will announce its vision for Windows Mobile and show how it hopes to compete with Apple and Google in the smartphone marketplace. There have been some leaks and some educated guesses as to what's coming, so here's my take on what should be coming out of Steve Ballmer's keynote today.

Windows Phone Zune Edition. This will be a consumer platform aimed squarely at the iPhone and will suffer from the same limited functionality as the Apple platform. Although it will be based around the same platform applications will be tied down and only available if they meet strict compatibility testing. The payback will be a platform which is as easy to use and reliable as the iPhone.Windows Phone Professional Edition. The descendant of WM6.5 this will be an evolution of what already exists. The target here is those who want to do much more with their phones than the high end feature phone users that currently choose the iPhone. Microsoft currently sells about 18 mi…

HTC Legend Breaks Cover

What must almost certainly be the replacement for the HTC Hero has been outed by Dutch mobile operator KPN. AndroidGuys report that the phone was due to be announced at MWC next week, although KPN seem to have rather stolen HTC's thunder.

Hopefully the announcement will coincide with the arrival of the long overdue Android 2 update for the Hero, which is now seriously hamstrung by its reliance on Android 1.5

Warner Kills Streaming Licenses

Warner Music has decided that the free music model being offered by services like Spotify and doesn't fit with its view of music's value and will be withdrawing their licenses to distribute its music.

Warner intends to continue supporting services which charge to 'rent' music -although as far as I'm aware both Spotify and offer this service too.

Where those services score is that they use the free element of their service to draw people in to their premium service. Something that will no longer occur if these services are stared of content. Spotify has over a quarter of a million subscribers and is growing fast. Its not as if Warner isn't getting paid for the content that is being listened to for free - the service is advertisement funded, a model that seems to work fine for free to air television and radio all over the world.

Whilst the content owners are free to sell their content in whatever manner they see fit, actions like this just push…

Windows Mobile 7 Rumours Sounding Less Than Promising

Rumours about what Windows Mobile, will be started surfacing last week and whilst they are just rumours they have been 'seeded' to a couple of independent sources and have been accepted as fact by people who are in a position to call BS if they weren't close to the mark.

I find these rumours troubling on several fronts.

Firstly the claim that WM7 will utilise an entirely new codebase which will mean that old apps won't run on the new OS - or will only run under software emulation. That's one major failing: how long will it take for developers to recode their apps to the new platform? Or will they just drift away to Apple or Google where the market is already growing at remarkable rates?

Secondly the claim that applications will no longer multitask but will instead pause when focus is switched away. Having persevered with true multitasking when the hardware was barely up to the job Microsoft decides that the ideal time to abandon it is the time when hardware specs fina…

Warner Sees iTunes Sales Growth Slow

The key here is the word 'growth' which means that Warner's media sales are still going great guns on iTunes despite a recent 30% price hike. Whilst some sites are suggesting its a bad thing a 12% increase in revenue in a global recession is a pretty impressive performance. This shows that people buying Apple products are buying into a purchasing concept and not just buying a device. Good for Apple and its partners. Very bad for the competition. In fact very bad for competition in general.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Apple's ability to control what gets installed onto the iPhone family of devices amounts to an anti-competitive position. Were Amazon to release a MP3 Store app for the iPhone I seriously doubt that it would ever get approved. Look at what's happening with Adobe.

And the real reason that Apple won't allow Flash onto iPhones? Its because it removes their absolute control on applications that run on the phone.

Monopolies are nev…

Tattoos On The Cheap

HTC's Tattoo has become the cheapest Android handset available, after the disappearance of the Pulse from T-Mobile's website and a price drop on the chameleon like handset. Expansys will now sell you a Tattoo for a very reasonable £189 -although its worth remembering the Tattoo's cut down feature set before rushing to get your credit card out. Resistive touchscreen and QVGA do not make for a great touchscreen experience. The likelihood that Android 1.6 will be as good as it gets might put you off too.

Nevertheless, if you fancy a cheap punt on Android this is the cheapest you'll get for now.

Another Author Who Doesn't Get It

Bizarre how some people can't see the wood for the trees isn't it? Here's an article from the Guardian by Henry Porter decrying the eBook and darkening the future for authors.

Of course the truth is that the future has never been brighter for authors. Its the publishers and printers and hangers on who add no value to the finished product but inflate the price greatly that have to start worrying.

First though authors need to give themselves a good kick up the backside - or pay someone to do it for them.

That's because the hangers on have been making them lazy - and the cost to an author is high. After everyone has had their cut (retailer, distributor, publisher, printer, agent, etc., etc) an author gets as little as 5% of the cover price. By contrast even the easiest (and therefore least profitable) method of self-publishing - in the Amazon Kindle Store - gives a return of 35%. Worth giving up a hefty advance (nothing more than a loan anyway) and some easy options for gett…

This Is How A Tablet Should Be Done

So Apple blew the tablet as a concept, opting to do a big iPod Touch rather than something innovative. Google are doing something different with ChromeOS which suggests that when it launches it will be to the iPad as Android is to the iPhone. Surprisingly neither Apple nor Google are doing anything innovative in the Tablet space. Surprisingly its a little known company from Seattle that's leading the way in innovation and this video has me positively drooling at the prospect. I want my Courier... and I want it tomorrow.

Sony Ericsson Delivers Third Windows Mobile Device

Sony Ericsson grabbed the privilege of being first out of the doors with Windows Mobile 6.5.3, which will be the operating system of choice for its new Aspen smartphone. This messaging device packs a front mounted mini keyboard and a QVGA screen, a strange decision given the almost wholesale move to 320x320 screens for this form factor.

As I've said before its difficult to make a device look good in this form factor, the Palm Treo Pro having come closest, but looking at the press images I have to say the SE may just have pulled it off.

Shipping it alleged to be Q2, although SE aren't famous for hitting their ship dates...

Toshiba TG01 Review: Part Two

For Part One of this review see here.

Toshiba's headline handset was somewhat crippled at its original launch by the delay to Windows 6.5 - the arrival of the 6.5 update should therefore make for a very different beast to that described in early reviews.

Windows Mobile 6.5 is an evolution of 6.1, adding some interface changes and a new alternative Today screen. Also included are updated versions of IE Mobile and some tweaks to settings applets. In addition to the standard WM6.5 updates Toshiba add their own alternative homescreen, some options for the accelerometer and demo versions of Need for Speed and Monopoly. More importantly there are two additional video players, Coreplayer and a branded version of pvPlayer. For photo viewing the excellent Photobase is included and there are MSN Weather and Money apps. Finally there's a video editing app for the times when you need to edit together your latest creation and there isn't a PC available. Other than the game demos all of t…

Apparently Opinions Aren't Allowed Either

First Engadget has to disable comments on its uber-popular site as things went beyond flamewar and reached nuclear holocaust levels. Then Gizmodo published this obnoxious piece which has similarly escalated comment wars to new levels.

It does seem that we've reached a new level of platform fascism where its impossible to countenance someone holding an alternate opinion. Johnson's piece at Gizmodo hides some good, relevant points but its couched in such unpleasant terms and headlined in such an overtly confrontational manner that these get lost within.

Apple, Microsoft, Linux... who cares? Be interesting, challenging and maybe even fun. Aggression and intolerance will guarantee I'm no longer a reader...

iPhone Gets VoIP Over 3G

If you were having problems with your mobile data performance before, this news isn't going to make your day. The latest update to the iPhone OS removes the restriction on VoIP applications running across the mobile network. Once Skype and Fring get word of this we'll be on a short road to mobile data armageddon. For O2 users in some big cities that will be a very short road indeed.

The only saving grace is that most mobile network's contracts prohibit the use of Voice applications on unlimited data plans. Even so if you want to give yourself the best chance of a decent mobile data connection now would be a good time to move across to one of the networks which doesn't support the iPhone...

How Pricing Affects eBook Sales

Its been a long held truth around here that eBook sales rise inversely to the cost of the eBook. Yet as part of the recent Amazon/MacMillan spat I've seen authors point to low sales as a reason for increasing book prices and in the process exposing a complete lack of understanding of the laws of supply and demand.

There's never been a really good way of proving this theory, after all the people who know about these numbers are authors and publishers and neither has any real driver for making them public. Until now that is. American author Joe Konrath, writer of the Jack Daniels thriller series has made public details of his eBook sales and boy does it make interesting reading..

The Jack Daniels series is published by Hyperion - and priced by them too - as a result Joe's books have the following six-monthly sales levels:

Whiskey Sour $3.96: 550 sales
Bloody Mary $7.99: 180 sales
Rusty Nail $7.99: 153 sales
Dirty Martini $6.39: 202 sales
Fuzzy Navel $7.59: 152 sales

So …