Posted on April 28th, 2004 4 comments
Yahoo! has come up with a beta version of their IM software. It’s available for download from http://messenger.yahoo.com/beta.
Nice make-up! Yahoo took out the older interface and replaced it with a very nice looking one. (Of course, if you prefer the former, you can switch back to that – it’s now a skin).
The integrated address book has improved. Now you can IM, SMS, mail or call your friend at the click of a button (you may need some time to find the button, though).
One much needed feature was the ability to show yourselves as “Online” to a select group, while still being “Offline” to others. This has been added in the form of “Stealth Mode”, where you can select only those friends who can “see” you online.
We also have integrated radio, thanks to LAUNCHcast Radio. Not all stations are available, of course – many are exclusive to LAUNCHcast Plus, a paid service. It’s worth a go if you are really into music (and bloating up your ‘net bills), IMHO. And when you are listening to the radio, you can have the artist/song shown in your status, allowing others to tune in to the same station if required. I pretty much liked this feature.
There’s better integration with your mobile now – if you sign out of the messenger but still wish to chat with your friends, you can sign in from your mobile device. Check “Preferences > General” for this option. Simply click on the “Edit mobile device” button, enter the necessary details and you’re done.
You can invite a friend to play games online. My list of multi-player games includes Chess, Pearl Hunter, Word Racer, Checkers and Dominoes (I haven’t yet tried out anything). What else? Hmm… oh wait, the drop-down where you select your current online status is now moved to the top, just below the menu.
Overall, it looks good, although it is a little bloated for an IM. I selected the bare minimum install and that came with a 4.77 MB download. I’d give it a 6.5/10.
Posted on April 27th, 2004 1 comment
Remember I had blogged about biometric data in your passport? Well, the United Kingdom Passport Service has started a six-month long trial on 10,000 volunteers.
Posted on April 23rd, 2004 1 comment
Got an HP USB bluetooth adapter for my desktop. The thing I don’t like about it? It comes with a driver CD. I don’t get it. Why should I lug around a CD-ROM just to set up Bluetooth on someone else’s desktop that, in all probability, will be running Windows 2000? When you can have USB storage devices like the ThumbDrive, why don’t you just include the damn drivers on the adapter itself? Give it sufficient memory capabilities to hold drivers (and supporting apps if any) for the different variants of Windows, throw in a couple of *nixes, and you’re done. No more driver CD!
The adapter itself is pretty good, once you set it up. I was able to backup my Nokia 3650 pretty well using PC Suite. (Haven’t tried the restore feature yet – will be doing it after I get a much-delayed firmware upgrade to the phone). More updates/review after I finish playing around with it :-)
In other news, Russ will be joining Nokia’s pilot program for Python on S60 (details here). Now how cool is that? I’d give an arm and my right thumb to be able to take part in that program.
Posted on April 15th, 2004 No comments
(From BBC’s article)
Intel recently released the PXA27x (“Bulverde”) – a 32-bit embedded processor for mobiles and other assorted handhelds. This processor includes Intel’s Wireless MMX technology(!). As for the imaging capabilities, it supports resolutions of 4+ megapixels and high quality video capture as well.
And the part I like very much? It’s support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Looks like Intel is all set to give TI and others a run for their money in the mobile/handheld arena. I am waiting to see who brings out the first device based on this baby. Preferably, to take the advantages of MMX, I would expect big screens like the Sony-Ericsson P900 and some very neat games :-)
The processor will be available in 312 MHz, 416 MHz, 520 MHz and 624 MHz.
Posted on April 12th, 2004 No comments
Jeremy‘s book, High Performance MySQL, has been released. Just finished the sample chapter online. Awesome.
Posted on April 8th, 2004 No comments
I am an avid reader of comics – both print and web. I subscribe to tons of comics, be it RSS feeds or via e-mail.
(that’s apart from C&H, Peanuts, Dilbert, Wizart of Id, etc…)
In fact, I tried my hand at including a daily cartoon with Techbook, but found that I did not have enough time in a day to squeeze that in as well. It takes about an hour to draw the whole thing (on A4 sized paper, even), scan it in 1-bit mode, blur it a little and finally upload it to the blog.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I was actually thinking about a mobile/PDA version of the comics – which you get delivered to your Inbox as a zip file and you uncompress it and go through the funnies while on the move.
It’s already happening, albeit with video – in the form of Toshiba’s V401T mobile phone. It has a QVGA (320×240) screen and can record whatever you are watching for a maximum of 12 minutes. I don’t know the full details on this yet, still googling for it.
Posted on April 7th, 2004 2 comments
One of the teams in our company has a few bluetooth-enabled printers. I had been wanting to test HP’s Phone2Print software for Nokia S60 smartphones. Will run the tests tomorrow (if possible) and hopefully run a review. From what I’ve read, when you send a print job from the mobile, the quality of the print differs from one that is sent from a computer, but this is expected.
This version of Phone2Print improves on the previous version in that it prints not only images but your notes, calendar, contacts and even your SMS/e-mail messages. To know more about how the whole thing of sending a print job from the mobile actually happens, I went through the Basic Print Profile – and found it very interesting.
Of course, since other document formats are (not yet) supported, we still have lots to expect here. Suppose you forgot to bring an important document when meeting a client. If you have a decent FTP client on your mobile phone, you simply connect to your system, download the document and fire a print job to the nearest bluetooth printer. Now how cool would that be? (And don’t forget the impression you just made on your client!)
All in all, printing from your mobile, though not extremely useful, is pretty exciting. Let’s see where we go from here.
Posted on April 6th, 2004 No comments
At just $48.37 (5000 yen) per gigabyte of storage, mini HDDs are making their way into mobile phones. Now we’re talking! Off with the MMC/SD cards!
But wait – is it all good? Think about the many hours you spent defragging your old 4 GB hard disk. Will the same be needed for your battery-operated mobile phones as well?
Posted on April 5th, 2004 1 comment
Now that we have mobile phones with cameras and FM radio receivers, how about one with an FM transmitter? That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Load your mobile with a 256 MB MMC/SD card with loads of MP3s, and broadcast it to your neighbours. Griffin Technology has the iTrip for Apple iPods (and it works only with iPods).
At office, a colleague of mine had bought Motorola’s A760 Linux-based smartphone. Although I didn’t play around with it much, it looked pretty neat on the features – it even comes with an integrated MP3 player. This is something amiss with most Nokia phones (at least the older ones).
Posted on April 2nd, 2004 No comments
So you purchased your brand new Motorola MPx200 loaded with Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 operating system. Let’s just say for a minute that it got infected by a virus. What would be the consequences?
With your PC, obviously you expect something disastrous – any one of the following might happen:
o Your hard drive is erased (not that any of the new viruses do it, but still…)
o It sends out a copy of itself to every e-mail address it finds in your address book
o Makes it virtually impossible to access some services
What would happen in the case of a virus written for your mobile? First off, the virus could replicate it through e-mail. We can safely forget about SMS for now, as the limit imposed by an SMS message (approximately 160 bytes) is not sufficient to send the virus payload. But that’s assuming you have set up an e-mail account on your phone.
Then, just to irritate you, the virus could make 1-second calls to all the people in your contacts, running up your phone bill – not to mention people calling you back asking you what’s the idea behind calling them up and not talking.
And if you have GPRS set up, God knows what private information of yours is uploaded to the net. It might be a good idea not to store sensitive information like your phone banking passwords on your phone :-P