Tag Archives: Ideas

How To Access Blocked Websites From Your Mobile

I am currently in Dubai and the first roadblock that I hit when I landed here was the sheer ammount of blocked websites on the internet. I could not open ‘Truphone‘ from my mobile to recharge my account, then I couldn’t log into ‘Orkut‘ to connect with friends and this list increased with time as I tried more and more websites.

Access Blocked Websites

Needless to say this was unacceptable and since  most proxy websites and servers are blocked too it quickly became a pain.  Then I hit on the idea of using proxy based web browsers like Opera Mini and Skyfire that not only gave me access to all of these blocked websites but were also faster and saved on data, useful when roaming.

Access Blocked Websites

As you can see I have ‘Orkut’ open on my N97 using ‘Opera Mini’ while it was blocked using the inbuilt browser, screenshot above. Unfortunatley, Skyfire is not currently compatible with S60 5th Edition devices like the N97 but on my E71 I have the option of using both Opera Mini and Skyfire.

So the next time you see a blocked website, open any of these softwares ard surf away!

Thoughts From The PIER Q&A – A Nokia Environmental Initiative

Last week I was invited to a Q&A about PEIR, Nokia’s latest environmental initiative. PEIR, the Personal Environmental Impact Report, is a new kind of online tool that allows you to use your mobile phone to explore and share how you impact the environment and how the environment impacts you. Currently in its trial phase, PEIR was born out of a research collaboration project by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Nokia Research Center (NRC) Palo Alto.

Thoughts From The PIER Q&A - An Environmental Initiative

The unique thing about PIER is that it takes a step beyond being a ‘footprint calculator’ that relies only on your demographics, PEIR uses location data that is regularly and securely uploaded from your mobile phone to create a dynamic and personalized report about your environmental impact and exposure.

BACKGROUND

I and a few other bloggers were joined by the team behind PEIR, Martin Gutierrez from the Go Green Foundation, John Shen from Nokia Labs, Jeff Burke and Mark Hansen from UCLA in a Q&A hosted by WOM World‘s Robbie D.

The Go Green Foundation has already launched a pilot program in San Francisco, CA using PEIR as a tool to demonstrate how mobile phones and applications can provide actionable data to motivate teens to make choices that leave a smaller carbon footprint. The foundation works in collaboration with Climate Counts, a non-profit organisation that provide an environmental scorecards on various industry sectors, companies, and brands and ranks companies on how ‘green’ they are, you can check Nokia’s impressive score here.

Sadly, PIER’s geographic coverage is currently limited it to Southern California, where you can get particulate matter impact and exposure, and fast food exposure. In certain other regions you will get transportation-related carbon impact feedback. However, the team is working to add more regions and greater compatibility across devices.

IDEA

At the moment, PIER draws mainly on user-contributed GPS data, this data is then fed to modeling services. The models applied are commonly used for planning purposes to estimate a person’s impacts and exposures.

Right now the tool serves what might be called a self-analytic practice, that is people examine their own choices. participants can also compare themselves to other members of their social network, with the hope that they consider relative differences and possible reasons why one person might have a higher number than another. Eventually the idea is to see people post challenges on the network and thus reduce impacts by say 10%. From there move on to possibly engage service providers as well.

DISCUSSION

The discussion started with a bit of background and what Nokia and PIER were doing to make a difference and moved onto how PIER can spread and what else can be done. The PIER application currently runs independently and is compatible with S60 3rd Edition devices, no 5th Edition support ‘yet’.

    THE PIER APPLICATION THE PIER APPLICATION

  • To my mind the best way to promote PIER and the cause of the environment without people thinking of it as an additional effort was integration with the already successful Sports Tracker application. Fortunately, the other bloggers and importantly the people behind the project we also receptive to the idea. Infact, they already have someone looking into the prospect.
  • This way PIER wouldn’t need a separate application, all they would need to do is analyze the data Sports Tracker already collects. For the user it will mean no extra application eating into the battery.
  • To make the saving the environment even more exciting, we could perhaps see some rating system introduced for users based on their environment score and even have challenges.

I also got to know that Nokia has partnered with Lonely Planet to showcase the impact of projects like PEIR on users. The project with Lonely Planet will feature 6 or more such projects and sometime around September, a joint site will be made live with videos and information about these projects. They have just finished filming the first two projects, PEIR and the Mobile Millennium project (enhanced community traffic using phones as sensors).

WHAT YOU CAN DO

PIER is currently in closed beta, however if you are keen on doing your bit for the environment then you can request access by sending an email to peir-info [at] cens.ucla.edu sighting this post. Otherwise, you can head over to the PIER website and have a look at the demo using demo as the username and password.

Nokia has been turning environment conscious since the last few years and this is another initiative that holds a lot of potential unlike the ‘we-offset’ program that they launched an year ago. The idea and the reasoning behind it is solid and the thing I like is that it is motivational rather than something that is thrust on you.

That being said, there is still a long way to go and I am interested in seeing the outcome. Meanwhile you can shape the outcome with your ideas, so feel free to comment.

Lastly, I’d like to thank WOM World Nokia for the invite.

The N86 Has An Effective 4x Digital Video Zoom

Nokia smartphones have had digital zoom for ages now, however there was never a point in using it as the picture quality turned terrible. Even in the video mode while shooting in the VGA resolution, despite having a much larger sensor e.g. 5MP, it only zoomed in using the VGA segment which resulted in pretty poor quality.

According to a killer discovery by Steve Litchfield, the N86 changes that. It uses the entire sensor to record video which results in better low light performance along with the ability to put the digital zoom to good use. Here’s what he had to say:

Nokia are simply using the whole sensor to capture light for the video – when zoomed in, they’re simply downsampling differently.

If you zoom in much beyond 4x, you hit the same problems as digital zoom on other camera phones, i.e. things start to pixellate in ugly fashion. But 4x seems about right, since the VGA rendered frame is about four times (linearly) smaller than the full 8mp sensor.

Check out the video for a better idea of how this works out in reality.

Thanks Steve!

On Leaks & Scoops

On Leaks & ScoopsI just came across a very though provoking piece on the Conversations website – Product Leaks. We are all well aware of the latest Nokia phones but that’s not it, these days we seem to be aware of what’s being cooked up in their labs too! Pictures of the latest Nokia slider, the first S60 touchscreen device and so on are hugely sought after and our appetite for more and more knowledge about what’s going on never ends. May be it is because we are just looking too see what our newest purchase going to look like or do, but it could also be possibly be a manifestation of a part of us that feels and wants to be a part of Nokia. We want to be ‘in’ on the latest no matter what, be part of the entire product life cycle.

I fondly recall when the first pictures and specifications of a rumoured N83 emerged, how it was later confirmed as the N95. From the very first day, I decided that I wanted the phone. Waiting months for it to be announced, lapping up every tiny bit of information on it, meanwhile discussing it with fellow enthusiasts, it was fun. But at what cost for Nokia? I at that time was sold on an N73, had almost bought it when the leak hit. I stopped, waited a few more months and then got the N95 while skipping the N73. That leak had just caused Nokia a 450$ loss. What was worse for them, I even told a friend to hang on – 900$. But if you come to think of it, this is not a big loss at all. Nokia sells millions of handsets and a large chunk of those buyers do not have a clue that the handset is available until they see it in shops. May be with time the percent of Internet savvy buyers grows, but but this will continue to remain one of the lessor worries.

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Wanted In S60: USB Reading Capabilities

USB Reading Capabilities

I happen to play around with a lot of S60 devices most of the time and generally show them around to friends and give them the juice on each device. This is good, that is good, this is bad and so on. Now a lot of times when I’m playing with a really high end Nseries I speak to them about how I did get it to control my computer, the TV, browse the web, email, brilliant camera, TV out, GPS and after I end they are impressed of course; but after all of that I have had a lot of friends ask me this – can it read a USB/Pen/Thumb drive?

I do not know how this question comes up, but it does. May be its because these devices are doing so many things that a computer can so people tend to think, well, hold on, may be it can do that too?! Till a few days ago, I didn’t think much of it and generally thought it was a case of much easier said than done and it’ll be ages till we would see something like that happen.

But not very long ago Thoughtfix on the TabletBlog wrote about the N810 acting as a USB host with a brilliantly small application. 

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Nseries Has Come A Long Way

It has been only two days with the N81 8GB and it feels as if I have had it for ages and in this post I answer why! This post is also not about hardware improvements or cutting edge features, it is about something that as an idea is very basic, yet increasingly difficult to achieve, seamlessness. It is about user experience, about ease of use, about connectivity.

Generally a lot of people are wary of changing phones for the simple reason that it is very tiresome and sometimes even tough to get all the contacts, calender entries, notes, music and so on onto a new device. I personally know a lot of people who are holding onto their devices for this very reason. While it is true that Nokia PC Suite has helped a lot in backup and restoring data and even help sync your phone data to other applications such as MS Outlook but still there are hitches when you want to shift to a new device.

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