Monthly Archives: February 2008

Nokia, GPS, Mobile Browsers, and Elephanta Island



Tues 02.19.08 – Photo of colorful lanterns taken by Ms. Jen on the walk up to the Elephanta Island caves with a Nokia N82.
Due to the lack of reliable internet connection, I am once again using the Lifeblog on the Nokia N82 to post this photo and text to my blog. Go Lifeblog Go. And get GPS embedding capacity while you are out there.
Now on to the subject at hand… If you were to go to the Nokia Urbanista Diaries website and look for my photos from today’s expedition to the Elephanta Island caves, you would see my photos going out and coming back, but no photos for while I was there.
Why you ask? Well, if Sports Tracker does not have a data connection it will not map photos. No data connection means that Sports Tracker will think that there is no photos associated with the “workout activity” (yucky sports language again).
From one developer to another, this is silly. I had the GPS positionsing on at the same time, ShoZu was able to map all the photos even on Elephanta Island where there is no data connection to the main land cell towers. [Update from later: I realize that it is good to use the cell tower / data connection for when one does not have satellite, so I would like to propose here that Sports Tracker use both or one when the other is not available, but not to make it so that if there is no data connection that the photos are not uploaded.]
Why is Sports Tracker relying on triangulating one’s position from the data connection to the cell tower rather than the far superior native GPS positioning that is already on the N82? I rechecked my settings, with live sharing off I should have the ability for Sports Tracker to rely on satellite data rather than triangulation from cell towers.
Thus, when I went to upload my “workout” to the server, no photos were found. In terms of our photo work flow for posting mapped photos to the Urbanista site, this means that I needed to find a computer with an internet connection that also has a usb port so that I could upload the cave photos manually to the Sports Tracker “workout”.
This is when the trouble started: where to find an internet cafe: found; do the computers have a usb port to use: no, too old or already taken with mouse & keyboard; does the ancient computer at internet cafe have flash 8 or 9 installed and/or the latest browser that will support AJAX: no, no, no; does the computer at the internet cafe have connection faster than molasses during a blizzard: no, the frozen molasses is faster. Epic Sports Tracker upload in India Fail.
Being the determined little taurus turtle that I am, I went back to my hotel room and started to see if I could access my Sports Tracker account from the N82. You can, kind of. The site mostly loads, which is more than the nseries.com site does, due to the fixed width layout there is some amusing overlapping. (Did the dev team at Sports Tracker test the site on the mobile device, the N82, that they are co-promoting with their own product?)
Once I was logged into my account the list of workout activities did populate on my profiles page, a grey box with a whirling circle sat down to the right a bit loading loading loading, never to load. Whether that grey box was the flash obect for the photos, map or workout list, I did not know as none of the three ever loaded on the N82’s browser.
Now, supposedly the N82 comes with FlashLite. Supposedly.
Ok. Let’s talk folks. If Nokia or Apple or any other mobile device maker wants to market their high end devices beyond the US & European markets, then they need to acknowledge that not everyone has access to a internet enabled computer and if they do, it may only be of glacially slow speeds. And in some markets, the mobile is preferred over the computer.
A friend of mine in LA who hates computers recently bought a iPhone and after a month or two of using it realized that she wanted to purchase some music on iTunes and needed to update her iPhone. Only one problem, she couldn’t do either, as she does not and chooses not to own a computer and the iPhone requires a computer (Mac or PC) to interface with the Mothership. I have previously blogged here about my repeated frustration with Nokia’s PC only focus. Nokia and Apple, what about the millions and billions out there with no computer and whose only connection to the internet is your mobile device? Time to make all activities be functional purely from the mobile device with out having to access a computer.
Given that Nokia has a huge market presence in India and I have seen by far more Series 60 Nokia devices out and about in India than I ever do back in LA, should not all Nokia websites and software / web applications be fully functional on the phones produced by Nokia?
Flash may tell a lovely story to computers on a fast broadband, but what about the rest of the world?
The nseries.com website does have feeble mobile version, but as soon as you click on the links one will either get an error code or a very minimal functioned and designed site. Please look at m.twitter.com or m.flickr.com for great examples of fully funcitoning and well designed mobile versions of the Twitter and Flickr web apps.
It is possible to break out of our preconceived notions that our main work flow occurs on a computer and that the mobile is an additional device. The mobile is the main device for more people around the world than not. Let’s move into the present with the devices and the applications.

Urbanista Diaries: A bit more than One Week down… The India Edition

I have been in India for 9 days and 8 hours so far on the Nokia Urbanista Diaries adventure and will be here for another 2 days and 16 hours before departing for Vienna. Here are some of my initial random thoughts on India:
People: So far everyone has been very friendly, good to talk to, and helpful. In Chennai, Bangalore, and Kerala were delightful for the folks I met, both Indian and other folks. In Goa, I seem to be getting a lot of giggles. Apparently my hair is amusing.
Dogs: Lots of street dogs in Chennai, of which the number of dogs and general scruffiness has decreased in each city since. Of the walked, leashed, pampered pooch set, Pomeranians are popular. I would hate to be a Pom in the summer here. The street dogs almost down to the dog have nice short hair.
Power: In most places that I have visited so far (Chennai, Bangalore, and Goa), both American and European power adapters will work in the electrical power ports/sockets in the wall. British/Irish ones, no, unless there is a special adapter. In Kerala, only European ones would fit, but that was fine as I brought my European Nokia charger in anticipation of Vienna.
While the power is 240V, all my adapters are rated 110-240V and have been doing an admirable job of holding up on the highest end of the scale. The trick I learned in Ireland (220V) when charging my Powerbook is that if the battery gets too hot, prop the laptop up in a triangle formation and allow the battery and the whole back of the PB to face the air and other other side to have as much air as possible. That trick has come in handy here.
Electricity: India and other South-East Asian countries have a great energy saving device in hotel rooms that the US and Europe would do well to imitate in hotels, offices and homes. When you walk in the room, you insert your hotel key into a slot near the door and then all the lights, A/C, and power comes on. When you leave and take your key with you, all the power turns off and the A/C or fan is switched to lowest fan setting automatically. No leaving the lights on. The only wrench in this lovely economy plan is when you want to leave a device charging, but this could be easily gotten around by having a a set of power ports that are not killed by the key switch.
Pollution: Um. What to say. Time for a clean air and water acts with serious back up behind it. The skies from the ground and from the airplane look like photos of Los Angeles from the 1960s or worse, nothing like a good clean air law and strict regulators to clean up a city’s air. Look how LA got whipped into shape by OSHCA over the last 17 years. Now I am off to Mumbai where weather.com reports recent days as “smokey” rather than sunny.

Dolphin! Or Look What the Nokia N82 Can Do…



Late Sunday Evening 02.17.08 – Because I am in no mood to change, go downstairs to the hotel lobby, sit within 20 ft of the wifi router, and pay 113 rupees for a short period to time in which to rapidly blog, I am instead sitting on the bed with the Nokia wireless keyboard and the Nokia N82 and writing this post via Lifeblog.
Hey! Look what one can do with the N82! I am pleased as punch that the lovely little mobile was able to capture the dolphin leaping out of the water today. I went on a dolphin boat tour of the Mandovi River in Goa. The dolphins were frisking in the currents that were welling up from the confluence of the Arabian Sea meeting the last bit of the river. I had the N82 set to the “sports” mode, set the digital zoom to about 1/3, and took a photo of a dolphin jumping out of the water! Good little point & shoot that also has an internet connection and can make a phone call or two.
The age of the convergence device has fully arrived. I can take great travel or concert photos with the N82 and then I can use the same device to moblog them to my/this website. Yeah.
By and large, other than the beloved Nokia 7610, no other camera or mobile that I have owned / used has been as easy to travel with and just take lots of photos off the cuff and on the sly. No sldiers to fiddle with, no lens to change out or focus, just set the mode to “sports” or “night” or “close up” or whatever for a range of effects or abilities to shoot a given scene. Then take photo after photo.
The best part is that most people don’t perceive it as a phone or a mobile, but think it is just a small point and shoot camera. This I like. When I travel and am doing photo walks, I don’t want folks to notice me nor the camera. With the N95, people are usually curious to see what it is, not so with the N82 as it is much more stealth or maybe it appears on first glance to be just another very small digital camera.
The size of the N82, as well as its compact shape make it perfect to slip in your pocket or purse when not in use. My only complaint is that Nokia did not put a leash in with the standard box, so I am using ribbon looped through the N82’s leash area as a way to find it in my purse and to hold on to the camera while I am shooting or walking or climbing up a boat ladder, etc. On the boat today, a fellow from Mumbai was shooting photos and video with a tan Nokia N95 of which he was very happy with but there was no leash on the device and every time he leaned over the boat side to take another dolphin pic one could see him grip the N95 a little tighter.
For nature photography, esp. fast moving animals like birds and dolphins I am enjoying the fact that the N82, esp. in sport mode, is considerably faster at focusing and shooting than the N95. While the N95 has its many charms, the N82 winning as an on the road camera phone in my book.