Saturday, May 30, 2009

IM Apps on the 5800 and more

I wanted to round up a list of some IM apps for the 5800 - there are quite a few of them and its easy to forget what all they are sometimes.

First and foremost, there is the inbuilt IMPS client on the 5800. This allows you to use push notification for chat messages. Unfortunately, it also requires you to store your Yahoo/GTalk credentials on a site such as Mobjab. Then there are clients like Fring, which is primarily a VoIP solution, and its interface is similar to that of Fring for iPhone. Then there's flash/browser based clients such as Google Talkgadget. However, for some reason, this does not seem to work with the 5800 - the app loads perfectly but no contacts show up. After playing around a bit I found another option - Google Talk's iPhone website works perfectly well with the 5800.

Then there are apps such as Nimbuzz, Talkonaut and Palringo. These are dedicated chatting apps for the 5800. They allow logging into multiple services such as Yahoo, GTalk and MSN. In general they provide provide great but similar features. Nimbuzz seems to be the most popular out of all these - it is available via Download! and also via Ovi Store, thus giving it something of an unfair advantage in this regard.

One last option is to use an app such as iSMS to turn SMSes into chat like screens. This is an interesting application - if you are into sending a lot of SMSes and have a plan, this is a good option.

5800 and Static IP

When I first got my 5800, I had quite a list of complaints. One of the most critical was the lack of Static IP support on the 5800 - not having DHCP enabled is one of the things I consider critical to securing my home Wifi network. Besides that, my LinkSys WRT54G router doesn't support MAC based IP assignment - which could play havoc with my routing rules configuration. The router constantly restarts if I enable UPnP and its a v7, so DD-WRT is not supported. I was managing by running a DHCP server via TFTPD32 on my machine, but it still required me to have my computer or laptop on to browse on my phone. With the new firmware, it is now possible to specify a static IP. A detailed guide is present on this page, but its wrong on one point - it asks you to set the device to Ad Hoc mode. You dont need to do this. In fact, don't do this - at all! Just skip steps 17 -18 and go straight to step 19. In a nutshell, while WLAN settings won't let you configure static IP, you can go into "Advanced Settings" under "Destinations" and set it up through that. Nokia need to organize their apps a bit better - it took me quite a while to find Sync too! (Settings>Connectivity>Data Transfer)

Yahoo 360 and Mail

In other news, Yahoo 360 is finally closing down - for real this time. I have moved my blog around quite a bit - first it was on Yahoo 360, then JRoller, then blogspot and finally I purchased my own domain. Out of all these, Yahoo has been the weirdest experience. It was pretty easy to set up a blog, but then virtually impossible to customize it. And would you look at the URL? They wouldnt allow me to embed flash, edit HTML - nothing. And now, it seems they will be moving my blog to my profile. Which means my Yahoo 360 blog is now moved to this url. Genius... pure genius. Just look at that URL! My username is unique Yahoo - you can use it in place of that weird UUID or whatever it is! Also, the posts keep appearing and disappearing - I have had to run the migration twice till now. Just to be safe, I downloaded everything too.

BTW, as far as I am concerned, Yahoo is now officially the worst mail service out there. Its one thing to block features like POP3 available from every single other mail service. Its something else entirely to shamelessly try to scam your users outright. It seems Yahoo has struck a deal with Airtel wherein Airtel users pay Rs.10 every 7 days to access Yahoo Mail and Messenger OVER and ABOVE the normal web browsing charges(WTF!!?). So I try to access Yahoo Mail Mobile via GPRS and it gets me to this page. Wow - just wow.

Nokia 5800 and Ovi

During my recent Thailand trip, I really came to appreciate my decision to go in for a 5800 rather than an iPhone.
  1. You can swap SIM cards easily. I reached Thailand and found Airtel charging me Rs. 100/- per min incoming and some equally exorbitant charges for SMS etc. Browsing around a bit in the airport itself, I found a dtac shop selling a dtac happy prepaid card for just 99/- Baht which allowed free incoming for a month. Also, browsing via GPRS was 1 Baht a minute - I quickly sent off an EMail to all my friends and colleagues teling them about my new temporary number and I was all set.
  2. Maps are downloaded to hard disk. Before I left for Thailand, I downloaded all Thailand maps to my device. It is really convenient in a foreign country to be able to find your way with GPS without paying data charges (and GPRS is not that fast in the first place)
  3. Dictionary App. OK, I am sure no one has even heard of this before. But Dictionary is Nokia's free dictionary and translation app that gets installed with Firmware v20. Sitting at home, its pretty useless. Out in a Thai market, surrounded by people who dont know English, it becomes a killer app. I installed Thai language and text to speech file on my phone and it was amazingly useful while roaming around
I also tried out geo-tagging a few images this time around. I havent gotten them uploaded yet, lets see how they turn out...

Once I got back one of the first things I did was upgrade my frimware to v21.0.025. For some reason, the firmware had disappeared in Nokia Software Updater, but I managed to get it via OTA update - which supposedly is not supported in India. Nokia India seem almost drunk in the way they manage things sometimes - firmware appear, disappear, reappear months later. Ovi store is available over a browser, but the phone app cannot be downloaded via "Download!". I install the app by downloading it off an unofficial website and it works perfectly - meaning there is no logical reason for it not to be available in India.

Still Nokia is a pretty good company - their approach to a phone is to treat it like a computer. You can download just about anything from anywhere and install it. More and more apps have been coming out for the 5800 - Nokia Mobile VPN is now supported on the 5800. Also, I managed to successfully register myself on My Nokia for the first time - till date, whenever I went to the site, it would somehow manage to crash at the registration screen. Another cool thing I got working is Ovi Sync. This synchs your contacts and calendar to Nokia Ovi over Wifi via the 5800's inbuilt Synchronization app. After this, you can edit your contacts/calendar in your browser, and synch it back to your phone all without ever attaching a single cable. Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 is also now available for 5800, it adds quite a few new features.

Nokia India offers Wavesecure as a free app. This allows you to backup your data to Nokia's servers. In case of phone theft or loss, your phone will automatically lock itself, preventing the use of another SIM with it. Also the data can be restored onto a new phone, essentially keeping eveything on the phone safe.

Ovi store is a very nice addition to Nokia's services. When I first got a 5800, I complained that the Download! app was truly pathetic - even lying about app prices. Nokia has improved on that a bit - at least it now shows "Payment in App" as an option. Still, Download! is no App Store. Ovi Store on the other hand is a decent competitor - the interface is clean and functional, and browsing apps, games and videos is really easy. I found the selection of apps on it rather limited - the best thing I found so far is free videos from Lonely Planet. However, its shaping up to be a real value add for Nokia customers. Lets hope it gets better as time goes on...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thailand Trip Photos

Photos from my Thailand trip are now up. I have bulk uploaded more or less all the photos here. This is the first time I was able to use my 55-200 lens and some of the wildlife shots are really nice. Normally, I am too lazy to post process my photos, but this time, I will trying to do a bit of that (using Photoshop Express :)) and will upload the results to my Flickr account...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Windows 7 RC

Considering the elections on last Thursday, I took Friday off too to get a looong :) weekend. Luckily for me, Windows 7 RC was released at the same time and I downloaded it. I had the 64-bit beta version installed and despite various warnings that I would have to reinstall from scratch, I was able to find a guide (thanks to LifeHacker) on how to upgrade from Beta.
  1. Extract the ISO to a Flash drive
  2. Open sources\cversion.ini in Notepad
  3. Set MinClient to 7000.0 and save it
  4. Run setup from the flash drive inside Windows 7 Beta to upgrade to the RC version
  5. Wait and watch as your system reboots 4 (maybe 5!!) times
RC seems pretty much same as Beta - there are minor UI differences, but unfortunately, according to SecurAble, XP mode is not available in my cheap E2200 processor. It seems this problem is Intel specific - most AMD processwors will not face this issue. Not that I care - I am not planning to move to Windows 7 full time anytime soon - XP works well for me, and I still havent got my TV Tuner working in Windows 7. In the meantime, Anandtech has a great article on Windows 7 RC, you can also hit Lifehacker and Microsoft Springboard to find whats new in Windows 7 RC. There's also a video from Microsoft in WMV format if you are interested.

BTW, there's a new firmware v21.0.025 available for the Nokia 5800. In typical Nokia style, its NOT available for India region as yet.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Moving Away from Google Pages

Google Pages will soon be closing down - even the part that is on Google Apps for Your Domain. While any content that has been created using the Page Creator tool will be moved to Google Sites, unfortunately, any hosted files will be lost. While I am fine with moving all my content to Sites, I do have some hosted content that I do not want to lose - specifically, the files for this blog's template. The only other content I had on sites was my BTP paper, which I have moved to FileDropper for now.

I did have a few options with where to move my files - but based on recommendations from Life Hacker, I decided to move to Freewebs (now just webs) Turns out, this is a decent enough option - I was able to set up an account easily enough. The site allows hosting, as promised although they have a Java Applet todo bulk upload. This does NOT work. I ended up having to upload every single file one by one manually. Once that was done, everything worked - but it is a bit slow, the first time I fired up my blog, things took a bit of time to load. The site also restricts you to 100MB of bandwidth a month - not something I will hit anytime soon, hosting only template files :) but still not much to go by.

So I decided to look at some other options. Google System recommended Weebly while a lot of commenters on the site recommended - hold your breath - Micro$oft Office Live... What finally sold me was two things - firstly, you can upload your files to the site using WebDAV and secondly, most important of all, I do regularly sign in to Hotmail to check my mail so I was less likely to lose my account due to inactivity with M$ (I dont know what FreeWebs inactive user policy is, but I assume they have one - even M$ does) Setting up waspretty easy, and I had my site up really quickly. So now, all the template files in my system are hosted on Office Live. I might actually have to stop calling M$ evil empire at this rate :)

I am still keeping my domain hosted via Google though - you get all kinds of awesome stuff for free - your own document space, your own chat groups and - your own URL shortening service. I enabled it for my domain and now I can set up my own shortlinks - check out this link for example, to an artice about using Google Image search for wallpapers...