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  • One possible way Square works

    Posted on December 1st, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    Square was launched today. I whipped out a quick diagram (in Dia) of how it might work since it’s not apparent from the website. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    This design provides a simple, extensible solution. The key module here is the card reader which plugs in to any device with an audio jack. At present, of course, only the iPhone/iPod touch feature the Square Up application. I am pretty sure it will soon be available for a plethora of smartphones out there.

    Square Up

    Square Up

  • Apple iPhone for AT&T Subscribers: Still no tethering

    Posted on June 8th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    apple-iphone-mail

    Yes, blogs are all over AT&T for not supporting tethering on the iPhone – that is, the ability to connect to their 3G network from a laptop connected to the iPhone. Why? Because of the obvious strain on their data network. My guess is that AT&T will offer it within the next 4 months, but have a different pricing structure. Using 3G on the phone will probably still continue to be “unlimited” (otherwise it would be foolish of AT&T to go into a tiered structure), while data usage when the phone is tethered will be capped.

    There are several things that annoy me about the iPhone, none of which seem to have been addressed with the release of the new iPhone 3GS. (While we are on the subject, could they not come up with a better name?) Multitasking is absolutely essential, and Apple has failed to deliver yet again. Granted, the average user on the street does not care – but if Apple keeps thumbing their nose at business and power users, it’s only going to be a matter of time before they switch to other brands.

    FWIW, I have an unlocked/jailbroken/(insert favorite verb) first generation iPhone running on T-Mobile. It is slow as hell, and I can’t believe I am still using it. Oh wait, I know the reason why: I can’t afford to buy a new phone right now.

    In the middle of it all, Palm decided to release the Pre – a touchscreen phone tied to Sprint (at least for the next few months). I got to play around with it for a few hours during the launch event, and I will post my thoughts later.

  • Sprint and the new Palm Pre

    Posted on June 8th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    Just received a PR email from Sprint about a groom who almost abandoned the altar in order to buy a Palm Pre phone.

    On Saturday at 7 a.m., Theodore was 14th in line at an Atlanta-area Sprint store, fidgeting for his new Pre. His wedding was scheduled for 8 a.m. As much as Theodore wanted Pre, he wanted his bride, Anita, to see him at the altar at the appointed time. At 7:45, he abandoned his wait and left his line-number and credit card information with a Sprint store employee, asking that he “hold the 14th phone for me.” The Sprint store employee obliged. Minutes after the recessional, the newlyweds returned to pick up their phone, spending the first minutes of married life with a Ready Now consultant who walked the happy couple through Pre’s setup and features. The new Mrs. Travis later revealed that her reaction was “You did what?” to her husband spending the hour before their wedding waiting for a phone, but later admitted, “I guess I kind of understand now.”

    Wow. And they ask me why I hate marketeers.

  • Mobile Number Portability in India. Finally.

    Posted on May 11th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    While mobile number portability (MNP) has been in use for the last several years in many parts of the world, India was still lagging. The Department of Telecommunications (or DoT) finally mandated the provisioning of the MNP service. Officially, the department defines the MNP service as follows:

    Mobile Number Portability Service means a service which allows subscribers to retain their existing telephone number when they switch from one access provider to another irrespective of mobile technology or from one technology to another of the same or any other access service provider (sic).

    This is good news!

  • Nokia E71x Cell Phone Appears on AT&T

    Posted on May 4th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    Just came across this bit of news that AT&T will carry the Nokia E71x (no doubt a North American version of the E71). I decided to look it up on the AT&T website. Here’s what I saw.

    Nokia E71x

    Nokia E71x on AT&T

    Looks like somebody wanted to play with the HTML title tag.

    Anyway, at 0.39″ thickness, this is a sleek, full QWERTY phone that I wouldn’t mind owning. The phone’s got a 2.4″ display which is a bummer, but hey, I can connect to the Internet directly using either the data cable or Bluetooth – assuming AT&T hasn’t disabled it. Oh wait, there’s no mention of it on AT&T’s website about this feature, which leads me to believe that they have, in fact, disabled it.

  • SMS and Twitter

    Posted on April 15th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    The first SMS is sent out way back in 1992. Fast forward to 17 years later, and Twitter is one of the fastest growing phenomena of the first decade of this century.

  • Nokia Easy Meet

    Posted on April 14th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    (Read the service details from Nokia Betalabs)

    Nokia Betalabs unveiled its latest baby, the Nokia Easy Meet. A collaboration tool, the service lets you share content on your phone or PC. Once you create an account and login to the service (yes, this one does not integrate with your Nokia account – a complaint that the other commenters share on the Betalabs blog), you are provided with the option to view existing meetings and create a new meeting. When you are in the process of creating the meeting, you also add invitations which can be sent as email notifications or SMS messages.

    Once participants receive the SMS/email, they open the link in the message to join the meeting, where they can access content shared by the meeting organizer; they can also share content of their own with other participants. Types of content that can be shared include PPTs and images (JPG/PNG). You can also chat with other participants.

    Since this is a web based service, you can access it with any phone with a decent browser. So I proceeded to sign up with my iPhone, as that’s the only working phone I have at the moment.

    The UI essentially sucked ass on the iPhone’s safari browser. While the site looked okay in Firefox, I am pretty sure it would look better on the Nokia phones. We’ll see. (At least one of the commenters there was unhappy that the site was not optimized for the Nokia 5800 touch screen phone).

    I am still not very convinced about the value of the service. Remember that it’s still in beta and may be scrapped at any time. I will continue testing it for a couple of days and see if this is something that’ll take off.

  • Gmail Mobile Enhancements with New Engine for iPhone/Android

    Posted on April 7th, 2009 Sandeep No comments

    According to this post on the Google Mobile blog, there have been improvements made to Gmail for mobile, but only if you are an iPhone/Android phone user. Now, I have both phones. When I opened Gmail on the Android (T-Mobile HTC G-1), it prompted me with a “Faster Gmail available! Update Now” message. Clicking on the link produced the above popup. So basically, I had to install Gears on my “computer” (nevermind that this is actually a phone). Before I could check the “I trust this site…” box (while in reality I don’t ;-)), the popup disappeared.

    And now when I click on the Update Now link, nothing happens. No popup, no gears, nothing. When I opened Gmail on the iPhone, the Update Now link was not even shown. Welcome to the improved version.

  • Save on Calling India with Airtel Call Home

    Posted on April 7th, 2009 Sandeep 5 comments

    So you just signed up for a shiny new Airtel Call Home account to call India (and other countries) from the USA. The rates (at the time of this writing) are competitive, at ¢6 per minute to call mobile phones and ¢7 to call land lines, when you call their toll-free number. What Airtel does not let you find easily is the fact that you can bring this down to ¢5.5/minute and ¢6.5/minute respectively if you call their non-toll-free numbers.

    What is a toll-free number?

    According to the FCC’s website:

    Toll-free numbers are numbers that begin with one of the following three-digit codes: 800, 888, 877, or 866. Toll-free numbers allow callers to reach businesses and/or individuals without being charged for the call. The charge for using a toll-free number is paid by the called party (the toll-free subscriber) instead of the calling party.

    Which basically means that when you call Airtel’s toll-free number, they pay for the call. If you call their non-toll-free number, naturally the savings are passed on to you. If you call this number from a mobile, you end up using your minutes anyway, so you can save some money by calling their non-toll-free number. (Also, many companies offer triple play packages – phone, internet and cable TV – where they bundle unlimited national calling within the USA).

    Where do I find Airtel’s non-toll-free number?

    From the Local Access page, that’s where. Local access numbers for the Newark, NJ area are, for example:

    • (201) 300-4547
    • (732) 284-3376
    • (908) 279-8561
    • (201) 621-0638 and more

    The next time you call Airtel Call Home, make sure you call the local access numbers!

  • Becoming disillusioned

    Posted on March 31st, 2009 Sandeep 1 comment

    After playing with some of the latest phones, I have to say I am becoming a little disillusioned with the whole thing of finding the perfect mobile phone. I think I should just give it up and stick with a basic phone for what it’s meant for: making and receiving calls.

    I think it started with the Google phone, the HTC G-1 from T-Mobile. So many things were wrong on the phone, but that didn’t stop numerous blogs and websites from praising it. True, the phone has a lot of features, but when it prevents me from making a phone call quickly and/or efficiently, that’s when it stops becoming useful to me. Bless those who designed the user interface on this phone.

    When the focus shifts from the user (“we want to provide the user with the best possible gadget/service/thingamajig”) to the technology (“this is so cool, it has GPS, and voice dialing, and maps, and location apps, and…”), there’s going to be a big drop in adoption rates from lay users. And last I checked, they outnumber the techies and the geeks and the in-betweens. The G-1 is a classic example of this scenario. I don’t know who was behind the phone UI (Google/HTC/T-Mobile), but please stop them from making more phones with such interfaces. It seems more like a rush job (limited testing; no emphasis on giving the user a sane message when something goes wrong; etc.) to please investors and the first wave of eagerly awaiting Android developers who wanted the hardware platform to test their applications.

    The apps themselves are nothing great to write home about. Most of them are Android ports of existing applications, and there’s no cool application unique to the platform (at least none that I have come across so far; if anyone has, please comment).

    So anyway, like I said, it’s making me want to go back to the basics. Maybe I should get that ham radio license while I’m at it.

    UPDATE (01/Apr/09): Fixed typo