Jul 24, 2006

Tried Wayfinder

For various reasons I realised that Wayfinder runs on the A1000. Because I happen to have a Bluetooth GPS receiver I decided to give Wayfinder a try. This post as not a full blown review, but might help you to decide if Wayfinder is for you.

In sum, Wayfinder is an easy install and works surprisingly well. But it is so dependent on mobile access that I decided to not buy it after the 5 day trial expired.

After skimming through the information at their website I signed up be sending myself an SMS that contained an installation link. To my great surprise the installation (over the 3G network) worked flawlessly. Took a couple of minutes and reqired a couple of separate downloads and installs. It was equally easy to hook up and apply my BT GPS receiver (the built in A1000 GPS worked too, but with less good precision). I installed the Swedish language pack and the instructions came out load and clear.

My decision was to just use Wayfinder, without exploring all of its capabilities. It took me some experimentation to figure out how Route planning/navigation worked. I have used Tom Tom (V3) before and Wafínder has a somewhat different terminology and ways of doing things. In any case it was pretty ease to find a target and drive from where I was to where I wanted to go.

As with Tom Tom I quickly found at that too often the destinations I really needed to find my way to (on the country side of Sweden) was unknown to Wayfinder. On the other hand I got great help to find places like Systembolag and gas stations. On feature that I never tried, but seems great, is to select a destination through the Web interface and have it SMS:ed to the phone.

Maps where swiftly downloaded as needed, that is, when the phone had mobile access. Unfortunately, especially on the countryside, the 3 coverage is lousy and I got no maps. This is the main reason I decided not to pay for continued use of Wayfinder. One is supposed to be able to pre-download maps, but that is an hassle (and, I believe, is only possible for city maps).

If Wayfinder offered an option to preload the phone with maps of, say the whole Scandinavia, then I would probably have paid. Especially as the license is valid for other platforms. As I previosly have said, I will move to another phone/pda any month now.

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Oct 07, 2005

A1000 as a mouse without buttons

This morning I spotted the Mobile Mouse from Psiloc through My-Symbian's RSS-feed. Mobile Mouse promises to turn your mobile phone/PDA/thing into a Bluetooth mouse. My-Symbian listed it under UIQ. But, as usual they mean for the SonyEricsson PXXX-range. (I wonder how this sounds through Talkr :-). Furthermore, the product info on Psilogic's site talked about XP Service Pack 2 and I have Windows 2000.

Victory the the brave - I thought. Without hesitation I downloaded and installed the demo. Nowadays my Bluetooth dongle (see earlier postings) works perfectly for synchronizations and file transfers. So, the installation worked without problems. Of course Mobile Mouse assumes the PXXX-buttons, which to some degree limits the use on the A1000. Even so, it works in default setup but you can't change anything because the menu is accessed throught the "*"-key. I was able to move the cursor around and left-click the mouse. Another drawback is that I need to manually have my laptop discover the Mobile Mouse each time I start it on the A1000. Might be because I don't understand my Bluetooth driver. Don't know if the same problem applies under XP SP2.

What I cannot understand is why developers, like Psiloc, limit the use to the Sony Ericsson range. I see no reason why it could not be redesigned to work with the A1000. After all, it has game buttons.

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Aug 03, 2005

Now moving protected files

Thanks to "Johan" (who told me through a comment) I am now able to backup and move stuff that the provider(s) has protected from such actions. I want to do that for two reasons. First, the internal memory of the A1000 is quickly eaten up by downloaded music and video. Second, whenever the phone is reflashed everyting stored in it vanishes.

Many months ago I purchased Stacker from SymbianWare (although they don't list it on their web site anymore). Following Johan's advice I use Stacker to compress the files in the downloads folder on the C-drive; move the compressed file to the D-drive; decompress it - and viola! True, it is a a lot of work and takes time. But it is worth it for files that I really want. Interestingly enough the decompressed files can be moved from their new folder without the need to compress-recompress.

Unfortunately it took a month before I had the time to try this out. Meanwhile the fifth episode of R Kelly's "Trapped in the closet" disappeared from 3 Swedens musik portal. Makes it sort of useless to have the first four ones, which I do now.

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Apr 28, 2005

To try is good to find out - case PowerMP3

Xpmp3_1A couple of weeks ago My-Symbian reported (trough their RSS-feed I catch in my mobile reader) that PowerMP3 was available in a version for the A1000. Among the promised features was "PowerMP3 resumes playback after incoming or outgoing calls".

- Wonderful, I thought. Because (as you may have seen earlier in this blog) it's annoying having to resume playback after incoming calls. Probably because I read about PowerMP3 in my newsreader it took some week before I actually tried the new player. That is, through the Web browser trying is just a few clicks away, but the news feed does not offer such linking capabilities (feedback to RSS-developers).

Now, the good part of this story is that the possibility to try is great.  In PowerMP3 the limitation is that when you try the product, you can only put one song in your playlist. A quick check in the comments section at My-Symbian warned me that the quality of the sound might not be good. But, the one who dares wins!

The bad part comes here. First of all, PowerMP3 v1.03 sounds scratchy/distorted when I play music (at least the ones I have encoded at 128kbs). On the other hand the podcasts I have created (56kbs) sounded just fine. Second, it did NOT resume playback after I hung up an incoming call. Actually, when I pressed the play button there was no sound until I adjusted the playback volume up/down at least a notch.

In sum, thank's for offering a "try version". But never release a buggy product (unless you call it "beta" and warn for problems). So, I live on with the built in MP3 player and it will take a long time before I take to effort to try another one.

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Mar 19, 2005

Spotting speed cameras

If you live in Great Britain you may find TrafCam useful. With it, and a compatible GPS (A1000 internal does not work), you will be warned for speed cameras whenever you drive around. TrafCam should work on the A1000, but has not been tested with it yet. (thanks to Mobilemaster).

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Mar 08, 2005

Tracker and looks like OSX

This post should have been written months ago. But, for many reasons it's not until now I tell you about Tracker - the desktop and skin application I ended up using.

When I started to look around in forums, even before I bought my A1000, I noticed that many threads were talking about skins and the applications Handy Day and Tracker. Both these are kind of add-ons to the Symbian/UIQ operating system to make it more user friendly and above all - better looking. What you get is basically a desktop-like user interface that is highly customizable.

I began by trying out Handy Day 2005 (USD 29.95). It worked fine and I was suprised to find how useful the included weather information service was. After the trial period was over I installed Tracker 4 for UIQ (USD 19.95). It delivered similar features, but no weather (other apps can do that). But what really made me stay and pay for Tracker was that I could re-define some of the physical buttons on the phone.

Basically the big point is that I have defined the right game button to close the current application. With UIQ you tend to start something and then find yourself struggling to get back to where you were. Even worse, after a while the memory tends to overflow and the A1000 re-boots without warning. Say that you are checking your calendar and want to make a call. What I do now is press the address book icon, find the contact, and call it by clicking one of the phone number icons. After the call I simply press the game button and I'm back in the calender.

There are a number of skins, or skin packages, available for both apps. Actually these provide more than cosmetic enhancements. You can have multiple desktop, re-arrange icons, add short cuts, and more. After I decided for Tracker I tried some skins in the Diamond Pack, but ended up with the OSX.SE skin - mainly for emotional reasons. It's cool to have a phone that looks like a Mac. Seems though that many preferrs to have their A1000's look like a Windows XP-machine. I actually saw a forum poster, and Windows user, that said he was surprised to find how easy it was to use a Mac - after using the OSX.SE skin on his A1000!!!

MyosxAs you can see on the picture I have put some icons on my desktop. The top and bottom parts of the screen is part of the OSX.SE design. My items are:

  • shortcuts to my girlfriends and sons voice numbers
  • three notes (misc stuff, kind of to do lists)
  • (white paper and pen is the OSX.SE's built in apps menu)
  • shortcuts to doHeadlines, sCap and stacker
  • shortcut to eDoom and the Calculator
  • shortcuts to the sound and video players
  • shortcut to Desktop suite (facilitates syncing enormously)
  • (waste basket comes with OSX.SE)

OSX.SE is designed for the SonyEricsson P900 together with some apps that I don't have on my A1000. That means everyting is not working, but I find it really nice and useful anyway. Especially in combination with Appicker (see earlier posting).

To sum it up. I recommend anyone with an A1000 to get a desktop add-on. They really make the phone more useful, convenient, and good looking.

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Feb 23, 2005

Easy video creation - see samples

I have made an habit out of reading feeds daily from My-Symbian (plus the two Swedish blogs Kommenterat and mymarkup.net). So, when I found out that Makayama software released Mobile Media Maker for the A1000 I downloaded it as soon has I got home.

By now I have tried to convert videos from my TV-card (see previous post), digital films I already had and DVDs. Generally I found the software extremely easy to use and suprisingly fast. I still have to fiddle a little bit before I am sure about the DVD conversion. It should work (they claim that), but I have problems with lost audio. Probably this is a combination of the ripper I use and the settings I do.

In any case, if you want to make videos for your A1000 (3gp format) Mobile Media Maker will do the trick. I´ve remade a number of music videos and commercial captured with my TV-card. I can´t share these with you (laws you know :-), but as a courtesy I offer you Juranessic and Matrix Fart (download them zipped), two of my favorite films from Pocketmovies.

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Jan 30, 2005

BootMan (beta) in&un

On my way home Friday evening I spotted a news article (mark, in my  phone's newsreader not some stuff from print) from My-Symbian about a beta version of (update: now version 1.0) BootMan. It is "a boot configuration utility for UIQ smartphones. Besides providing configurable autostart of applications, it also features flip mode support, system information, editing the startup greeting, reboot, and more".

I thought that perhaps BootMan could be used to start Tracker and thus free me from manually kicking it every time the A1000 is rebooted. Furthermore, perhaps it could manage the startup videos. So, this weekend I downloaded the beta, installed it and tried (after backing up my phone).

Well, BootMan did not crash my phone and it was able to start applications automatically. But, Tracker was forced in the background as the Home application takes over at bootup. So, I still have to select Tracker. And the "startup greeting" was not enabled on my A1000.

Slightly disappointed I uninstalled BootMan. Perhaps later versions will do the tricks.

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Jan 09, 2005

Capture with SCap

A couple of hours ago I asked in the UK-Net forum if anyone knew how to capture the screen (useful to illustrate the A1000's softer looks - see my previous post). It didn't take long until "XeCutor" responded by suggesting SCap (shareware downloadable from My-Symbian or the author, that is, Peter's place).

Downloaded, installed and used in less than five minutes. Thanks Peter (and "XeCutor").

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Appicker Config

Screen_whd2005I have installed AppickerConfig (a 5 USD donorware download from Handango). It's a really handy add-on that allows you to customize the six "Application picker" items on top of the main UIQ screen. Currently I use it to quickly launch Handy Day 2005, which I am currently evaluating, more about that in a few days. Since there is only room for six application icons I kicked out the Phone (Handy Day 2005 i the second icon in the screen dump showed in this post.

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