Apr 26, 2005

DIY for larger memories

Sd2tfI'll tell you, listening to podcasts on the A1000 is great - but comes with a few hazzles. These are mainly attributed to the fact that the podcasts consume a lot of memory and you need to get the stuff into your player.

First of all, which needs to be repeated, the A1000 is not made for usable synching with a PC. More and more regular (stand alone) MP3-players work as a USB-drive. Which makes it extremely easy to move audio to and from the player. In addition a growing number of podcatching applications allows you to define such a player as the podcatching destination. (Microsoft's latest Media player for XP actually offers a scheme for such synching). As I have reported earlier, the A1000 is a fortress in terms of efficient lockout. To transfer files to it takes (extremely long) time and requires a lot of steps. Docking the hardware, starting the connection software on the A1000, make that software connect (stupid extra step), starting the Motorola Desktop Suite on the PC, browse to the desired folder on the A1000 and then (finally) transfer the file(s).

Second, there are no larger Transflash memories than 256Mb. (Rumor says the whole product range is being discountinued in favor of mini SD). What to do? As usual nowadays the customers have to take action and Do It Yourself (DIY) is the fashion trend. I found an illustrating picture in an Aussie 3G thread. Seems an Italian guy has created a way to use SD memories as Transflach ditto. Long live customer driven development. Wonder if Motorola or any other manufacturer will catch up...

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Apr 02, 2005

No lock little luck

I'm back from the Eastern vacation, and I've been pretty much disconnected. No broadband there, merely a 56kbs modem connection. Even worse my alternate 3G SIM-card (from Comviq) did'nt work, the phone simply rebooted after I entered the SIM PIN code. Maybe it's the card, have to check later on. Another 2G card (Comviq too) worked fine for calls, but I did'nt bother to fix all the settings for GPRS, besides it is expensive. And, by the way, 3G Swedens offer for free data access has ended.

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Mar 25, 2005

Unlocked 2 access

Yesterday it was finally time to unlock my A1000. When mobile loperators claims 90+% coverage of the population, they assume that people are immobile. I know that 3 has no coverage around our sommer house. But Tele2 offers that, so I needed an open mobile.

It was a SEK 300 and 30 minute unlock fix downtown Stockholm. So now I have mobile access when I am.

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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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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 15, 2005

Changing the Home Screen

Home_screenAt last, I managed to replace the home screen that 3's branding of the A1000 forced me to use. Of course 3 prefers that their customers are directed to their services, but we as users tend to have needs that not necessarily complies with 3's intentions.

An Austrian (I think) guy, Benedikt Koenig, has written a Windows application that enables users to create their own custom designed home screen. Freeware as it is, the application is (besides being in German) a little tricky to obtain and install. I first spotted his application in a thread in the Aussie3G forum. Here is how I modified my A1000:

First I downloaded the software. Benedikts application "A92x Menü" is available either as a .rir download from My-Symbian or his own site (the latter has an English version too). Unfortunately I could not handle .rir-files, so it took me a while to bypass that problem. Finally I found a zip-file (a92xMenu) in the download section of the Danish 3G-forum.dk (you need to register there).

Then I decided which sites I wanted to start with. For now these became mobil.tre.se/selfcare (my 3), wap.hitta.se (an excellent Swedish phone directory), and wap.sl.se (Stockholm public transportation). I needed some graphics, so I captured images from their web sites and resized the pictures into the 55x38 pixel .bmp-files that A92x Menü uses.

The next step was to start Benedikt's excellent software application, enter the menu texts, Web addresses, and insert my graphics. After realizing that I had to go to the menu selection "Datei/Einstellungen/Zurücksetzen" in order to point to relevant directories, I got two files (now_snack.mbm and snack.ini) when I pressed "Erstellen...".

Then, following the guidelines in the pdf-documentation (included in the zip-file, in German), I copied the two files from my PC (using Motorolas Desk Top Suite) to the directory c:/system/apps/now in my A1000 (yes - I took a backup of what was in that directory just to be on the safe side).

Finally I restarted the phone and became extremely satisfied. Thanks Benedikt!!!

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Jan 09, 2005

Startup movies removed

About a week ago I found a thread in the Aussie 3G forum about removing the Motorola and Hi3G startup movies. Inspired by the instructions there, I created three empty (black) jpg-images and used them as startup files (named .jpg). I am not sure that the startup is any faster now, but at least I don´t have to see, and what was worse, hear the annoying movies. In the future I might do personalised mp4 movies instead. But, currently I have other things to do than finding out how to create workable movies.

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