Wordless Thursday – How Dangerous is your house ?

How Dangerous Is Your House? is a new infographic from Ecomom.com, and designed by Column Five Media.  I love the content in this one!  This has way too much text than usual infographics. Some more visualizations would definitely help. Most readers will skim or skip over most of the text explanations. The interesting bit of the infographic is how many things in our house can actually hurt us.

For the new readers, Wordless Thursday is this blogs attempt to bring in interesting and inquisitive infographics to the front like the one below.

Location, Location, Location … the next big thing

At first there was the humble Mobile Phone, then it received a GPS and with the addition of a camera and smart internet connections, it transformed into the SMARTPHONE. Then came Android and the iOS platforms making it easier for developers to use the platforms and launch new services and applications on them. Apps are all the rage. Through the entire process a new object came to light, the location. With mobiles becoming more location aware, searches could be tailored to what’s nearby.

The world of Check Ins was born. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and other services opted Check ins as a new inclusion into the vast software frameworks. However one company did spark off the initial interest and its popularity is what drove companies to follow. Foursquare. Foursquare has not been the most famous of apps for the mobile phones, but it was really instrumental in making the location based aspects of mobile phones important.

Foursquare is a Social Networking platform that will try and get you to meet people in your vicinity and also provide you with opportunity to meet with like minded people who go to similar places like you. Restaurants offer discounts and offers on Check ins usually and frankly I was happy to see this in Dubai too. We were at the Le Meridean village, Dubliners Pub and restaurant and walla they have a special for check in as well. I am not sure if it still exists but was an interesting find when I was there a few weeks back. Check out Checkin Mania, a site that keeps track of checkins on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla and Britekite.

Now they are taking location based applications to the next level. With newer developers now beginning to use Foursquare as a platform for their related Apps new interesting location based games are coming up. Here are a few that might really interest you all.

World of Fourcraft

The World of Fourcraft is a clever Foursquare application which allows users to track their check-ins and use them for ‘social conquest’ gameplay. Currently the application is designed for use within New York City, pitting the five boroughs and the areas surrounding, aptly titled ‘Here Be Dragons,’ against each other.  Signing in with a Foursquare account, players must select – and join forces with – their borough.  ’Borough Buddies’ must then boost their teams status with increased Foursquare check-ins across the city, ‘swarming’ and conquering territory.

There are no prize-incentives, with the app relying on neighborhood pride to encourage play. Users can keep track of their ‘hood’s progress with the Battle Map found on the website.

Check out more about World of Fourcraft

Foursquareopoly

Foursquaropoly turns your city into a Monopoly board and your Foursquare check-ins into a gaming piece.  Players begin with ten-thousand dollars and can buy unclaimed buildings they check-in to using Foursquare.  Rent and upkeep fees are determined by the building’s popularity and are payable by the owner.  Just like the original Monopoly game, players who ‘land’ in a claimed location must pay rent to the virtual landlord.

Originally a student concept, the app is currently in development.

Check out more about Foursquareopoly here.

 

We can only wait

Alas, unfortunately like everything in technology, these games are currently gaining popularity in the US, next it will spread to countries like India and then come over to places like Dubai. However, in the mean time we can get around the various check in stops in Dubai and meet with the different Mayors and Chieftains of Foursquare.

Have not yet tried Foursquare ? here is how you can get it for yourself, FREE. Available for Android, Blackberry, Nokia and the iPhone on http://m.foursquare.com ; visit it on your phone browser.

Wordless Thursday – Killer Cars, the most dangerous

Cars are one of the most common modes of transport, and in Dubai alone there are over 350 people who die is collisions every year according to a Gulf News Article. So while reading that I started looking for the most killer cars, as in the cars in which most of these people die in, it could be just cos the cars are so popular that there are so many of them. And a good percentage of them are “Killer Cars”, of just that the cars are themselves responsible. So do you drive one of these ?

Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt at bringing interesting infographic to all of you. Hope you have likes them, and like always be Inquisitive.

 

6 reasons I love my Phone, and 3 reasons I hate it

It’s been close to 1.5 years with my Android, the gorgeous Nexus One from Google. And let me tell you they have been eventful 1.5 years and I have loved it. I want to highlight what I have loved the Nexus one and maybe some reasons I hate it. I wrote about the raging excitement when I got my Nexus One as a gift from my wife and have been an avid Android promoter ever since.

The Nexus One was Google’s first made Android Phone which aimed at selling the phone on-line without tying it to any carrier in the US. However the marketing plan of selling Nexus One bombed, but the Operating System flourished. As most people got hold of Android phones knowing that Android was fully backed by Google, the popularity of the Operating system just quadrupled. Thanks again to Nexus One which you cannot really buy now in the market, you can just get a developer version from Google on request.

Here are my 5 reasons I absolutely love my Phone.

1. Android

For most of you who read this blog frequently you will know that I am a big fan of Google and how they work. Google’s Android is not just a break from the monotony of the iPhone and the marketing gimmick of Steve Jobs, but it’s also a new way for people to stay united with the freedom to choose what you want to run on your phone. From getting a large choice of hardware, than a monotonous iPhone to the Galaxies of the world and the Nexus One of course, Android gave freedom of hardware and software.

2. Over the Air Upgrades

Android’s biggest losing point has been the fact that it has been criticized for not being able to provide uniform upgrades to all the phone manufacturers and models together. The main problem was that phone manufacturers add custom skins on the Android Devices to be able to customize them as their own branded phones. However this has created a lot of problems as well.

Google’s upgrades need to be vetted against the custom skins before they can be installed on the phones making them difficult to install. With Nexus One running stock android the upgrades to the Operating System are delivered as soon as Google releases them and it’s a nice feeling to get the new features before anyone.

3. Google Services

Having the stock Android means that all Google Services are configured to run well from the word go. Google ensures that the applications are working from the word Go in most stock Android flavors. Google Services like Contacts sync, Maps and Search all integrated into a consolidated package, making the services integration seamless and borderless.

4. Break away from stereotypes

Well I say that, but Android fans are getting into a stereotype themselves. Before I bought the Android, I have always been a Nokia user, from my first awesome Nokia 3310 right through to the N95. While N95 was my favorite phone of all times, its upgrades did not keep up much with the competition. Nokia lost the way when it came to touch screen smart phones, although they had great visions for what they wanted to do and still want to do, where they lost their way was in Software.

They were the first to realize the potential of Apps and custom Ringtones, as well as music. And they were the last to do something about it. By the time they came back with Ovi, I guess it was too little, too late. At the time that Nokia was losing ground, blackberry and the iPhone were catching on. The clumsy blackberry models available then were not really appealing and the iPhone was too expensive outside of the US.

5. Apps, Apps, Apps

This I guess I have in common with the iPhone lovers. From getting an app for WordPress, to Firefox right though to task managers and other software (I promise I will write a post about the apps on my phone soon) Apps are all around us. Well Apps also covers mobile games for me, and Angry Bird is the king of them. From being a free app on Android to getting into the lives of anyone who has tried it one, the Apps on the Android will definitely make the phone much better in functionality.

6. The 5MP Camera

The camera is one of the most versatile tool on my phone, from Augmented reality apps right through to just plain old taking pictures, there are awesome applications for the phone. I wrote about 18 such tools here in one of my most read posts of all time. The camera is brilliant, with apps providing additional control and functionality into the cameras.  They are so good that they also can replace your everyday tools, again something that I wrote about a while back here. All in all the camera with some of the cool Android apps are breathing a new lease of life into my phone.

I hate my phone too !!

As much as I love my phone I do hate it, at times. While not all frustrations I have are due to the phone itself its the feeling of having the problem that would bother me.

1. The Data Packages in UAE

While most of the world is receiving amazing data packages for the phone (read, India, UK, US), the data packages in Dubai are still made to hurt you, financially. Be it calling right through to using 3G and GPRS services. The part that is really frustrating is the fact that Etisalat and Du both seem to try and gain revenue from the large expatriate population, but it is just the middle and lower classes that they tend to hurt the most, this is not the best deal.

On the contrary the Blackberry users in Dubai face a lovely 3G package, where in the services are activated and provided at affordable prices. This for sure seems to be the very reason for the sheer increase in the number of Blackberry users.

Although Customer service is not the best in India, the packages and the deals for using the data packages are really unbelievable. It makes for the common man to go and use technology a little more. Which is the actual reason technology exists, to use it.

2. Android Market and its non availability 

I have written about this earlier, the fact that Google has not yet recognized the region as an important region for its mobile business, means more android users are getting deprived of the wonders of Android. This include some of Google’s apps too, like Google Earth, Google Plus the app and more.

We all know how Google is really putting a lot at stake in making the Android work (read, patenting problems) still the phones here without Android Market will work adversely for them. Having said that I must admit that the number of Android Phones I am seeing these days are really a lot. From the every persistent Samsung phones through to some interesting Sony and Acer phones, the Android OS is gaining ground in the middle east.

Hopefully now is a good time Google ! I know you are fighting a multi sided war with all the tech companies for us, a little attention here will mean financially we will be able to back you up and help you as well.

3. Some parts of the Hardware 

Although the first 2 annoyances are nothing to do physically with my phone, this one definitely does. Here are 4 of my annoyances with the hardware of the Nexus One.

a. The Coverage 

I am happy with the coverage, but when the phone gets into tight spots like lift lobbies which have low coverage, the phone not only looses signal like most other phones, but takes a long time to get back the signal.

I am not sure if this is an Android thing, or just my phone thing. But definitely this has hurt me in more than one occasion in the past. I hope that my next android will not have this issue (yes, I will buy an Android next as well).

b. The RAM / ROM 

There is inadequate local storage in the Phone. Period. Regardless of what Google thought at the time the phone was released, the fact that the RAM on the phone is small and restricts the usage of more apps, it is a serious problem with the hardware.

Although there are apps like App2SD and with the support of the Honeycomb version to support Apps to be installed in the SD card, its applications like Facebook which are not only large and cumbersome, but also not movable to SD that compound this issue.

c. Front Facing Camera 

Well to be honest, when this phone was launched, the world of internet calling was dominated by the desktop and the phone market was not getting there quick. Now that services like Skype, Fring and others operate well on the Android and that too for free. It is a feature that I miss a lot.

Google did not preempt the requirement which is why it was not there, however it was not there in the iPhone too until iPhone 4 was released. How I wish that there was a front facing camera for Skype, would have been able to catch up with my sister in the US even more easily.

d. The Battery Life 

Here I believe, it is my fault. I used to leave the phone charger on charging the phone when I go to sleep and it used to be connected. Now like laptop batteries the performance has begun to degrade. But keeping in mind the fact that the phone needs quite a lot of juice just to operate and run it does not help the cause.

The screen and most of all radio communication, are the biggest energy hoggers and have hurt my battery life of the phone, with degraded performance it definitely seems to be a problem.

Last words 

Although when you read this post it would sound like I am 50 – 50 with the phone, I will tell you I will purchase an Android Phone next as well. Make it the next nexus series. Although Nexus S will be a good option, I currently love this phone and will use it for much longer. ruling out the possibility of changing phones currently.

I love the Android Operating system especially in its stock format. And a looking forward to Ice Cream Sunday (the next Android Version). to release.

My Mobile usage experience in India

I am in India for a much awaited vacation and in the past few days have been travelling through India. From Bangalore to Kolkatta, Mumbai, and later in this week, Chennai and then Mangalore. Hopefully will spend some time then in Bangalore to catch up with some friends. Anyway getting back to the post and my experience with personal tech, now by personal tech I mean mobile connection. Lets start with the fact that, since I live in Dubai and have been there for quite a few years now, it would make it difficult to maintain an Indian number. Previously I had bought an Airtel number which at that time had the facility of life time validity, and due to the life time validity there would be no issues regarding non usage over a period of time and I would have the number when I wanted it.

I spoke to the customer service at that time and mentioned to them about me not being in town and so they suggested the life time validity package. As far as I remember it was about 2 years ago, I did give alternate numbers when applying (as everyone does) and that was the end of that. Most Indian cellphone users will know that the Government mandate for cellphones last year requested users to submit information about themselves once again in order to verify the validity of the people using the phone. And all the mobile phone operators complied, Airtel did sometime even more interesting, all numbers that they did not receive the information were recirculated to other people. For some reason my number was blocked and when I traveled to India last month they requested me to provide documents. Which we did, however they did not receive the documents within the 1 week that I was given and the number has been blocked. I was a bit surprised at the action by Airtel and here is why :

  1. After informing that the number is not for regular local use, a representative should have called the alternative number, but they did not.
  2. They waited for the past year with the number on block and cancelled and recirculated it for a delay of 1 day ? Really, that one day was the limit.
  3. They never made an attempt to inform the users whatsoever about the balance (over Rs 1000 ) being expired when they cancelled the number. (Yes Airtel, we know your profits are bad, but that does not mean you steal from the users).

If you are thinking this is what got me annoyed ? well not really. Being a “tolerant” Indian, and realizing that by shouting at people at customer service it would be impossible to resolve this issue, we went into an Airtel outlet (not a regular mobile shop but an Airtel office, on Nandidurg Road in Bangalore) and got a new number.

;

I was to travel to Kolkatta, and did not have a number and this new number was my saving grace otherwise making me sort of handicapped without access to communication. We did mention this at the Airtel office, it was Friday and the number was promised to be activated on Saturday. Considering that I would be flying on Monday morning,  I was comfortable with this. But no, Airtel had to make it bad again, the office is supposed to make a call to every user once the phone is activated by the system. Once the verification call is done, they would intimate the main database that the number is verified and the number becomes usable. The call never came, even after specifically mentioning to the person at Airtel that it was imperative that the number has to be made active since I am travelling. Saturday passed without a call, and it was now Sunday.

Reading the website and as per conversation at the person in Nrupatunga Road Airtel office, we knew that they would be working on Sunday until 1:30 PM. So we drove to their office again on Sunday to request them to make an entry into the database. But the office was closed, well before 11:30 AM. Sign, another disappointment with Airtel.

So then I picked a number that was available with a friend, it was BSNL. Now everyone in India knows that BSNL has excellent reach in every town and village in India. Unfortunately they lack networks in cities which are predominantly covered by other players. With this knowledge I know that BSNL would have been my third choice maybe. Well I started using it, unfortunately for me, the roaming partners of BSNL were not good either. In Kolkatta it was CellOne, and in the few days I was there, I never met a single person except me that used CellOne. That perhaps would be an indication of the popularity of the service and the reliability of the service.

Every call to be made or received took at least 3 tries, and one of them definitely was that thee number I was trying to reach did not exist. How I cursed the guys at Airtel for not activating my sim !! Moved to Mumbai then for the next few days and the career of BSNL in Mumbai is Dolphin. Now initially I was skeptical with the coverage as the call drops continued, but eventually the Dolphin service in Mumbai seemed to work. I wanted to get online, and they did not provide me a way to do so. BSNL has an Indian Government service feel to it, tired, slow and unreliable. Cannot really do much.

I was eager to get to Bangalore hoping that my Airtel number would be now activated, well it was on the 21st of May, a full week after I had requested the person at Nandidurg road to activate it asap. Now that the first hurdle was done, came the second one.  I wanted to activate the GPRS and BB services on the Airtel number, well should I tell you it was not an easy task ? You would have figured by now that the inefficiency of the Airtel technical support when calling was very visible. Even after picking support in English the calls were being diverted to Kannada support where the guys struggled to answer my queries although I was now talking in Kannada. When asked about the route to Kannada, the guy at the other side of the phone said I was wrong in my choices. We tried from more than one number to customer service, all the time being connected to Kannada support. At 121 they would refer me to 7070, and at 7070 they would refer back to 121. This went on for about 3 tries at which time I lost patience and shouted at the next guy who answered. Although I knew it was not his fault, he managed to provide me with a national number for the BB services, on requesting if I needed to prefix 0 before the number (all outstation calls from cities need this) he said no.

I tried it without the 0 and the call never left my phone, then I added the 0 to make the call and reach the Delhi (i think) based customer service person who said I just needed to send an SMS. If at all the first person had told me this !! Add to this the annoyance of the IVR (interactive Voice Response) I just grew tired of Airtel. Considering that their profits are dropping, one would imagine they would put focus on customer service to bring back customers, but no they just lost an entire family of Airtel users to Vodafone, all this just because of customer service. A quick search on Google for the keywords “Airtel sucks” yielded over a million results, telling that its not just me. Check it out for yourself here. In fact there is also a Facebook Page dedicated to them here.

All of us in the family have kept the numbers and have ported to Vodafone. Like a newly wed, their customer service seems good for now, donno if I will need to make another change soon though. I used to proudly say that India has so many providers that it is imperative for all providers to have good customer service, but I have been proven wrong. Airtel you need to pull up your socks, else more are going to leave you soon; If you need my real verbal feedback or call me on my now Vodafone number, leave me a message on the blog or at me[at]melvinpereira.com. Your customers of 8 years, now with Vodafone.

Blackberry’s main weapon, the BBM [Lots of Videos]

Blackberry is one of the world’s top Smartphone manufacturer, and that is an undeniable fact when it comes to Web enabled Mobile Phones. Traditionally what was considered that the Blackberry was a Business Person’s phone, and they did a great job selling the phone to organizations. For a company who was first time into the market, taking on giants like Apple and Nokia, they carved a Niche for themselves. A few months back my wife got on to the bandwagon and well eventually I did and one of the biggest fact seemed to be the BBM, for her and well cheap internet connectivity for me. However with passage of time and usage I have to admit, BBM is something that I have got accustomed to.

From my boss to my wife, and a whole lot of friends in between, the BBM has actually bought over a lot of fans to the BBM and in turn the Blackberry itself. For all of the guys who are wondering what the BBM is all about this video should give a better idea. In fact this post has so many videos all from Blackberry as a testimonial to Blackberry’s commitment to pushing the BBM.

Blackberry has realized this and the new campaigns of Blackberry are now centered around the BBM, like this one here. More so in India, from the Blackberry boys ad to now an entire range of ads around the BBM here are a few for you to look at.

Now there are more ads talking about flirting and such, so well here are some for you to feast your eyes on.

What really makes the BBM interesting

1. Sometimes, you’ll know that they’re ignoring you:

Once you send a message, a few things can happen.

a. A clock will appear, indicating that the message is in the process of being sent.

b. A check mark will appear, indicating that you’ve sent the message successfully.

c. A check mark with a ‘D’ appears. This means the message has arrived to the intended PIN.

d. A check mark with an ‘R’ appears. Your message has been read.

So why haven’t they answered…? What are they doing?! Did this ever happen to you when you stuck with traditional texting? Probably not, because that ‘R’ makes all the difference. You can rationalize the blue out of the sky when a traditional text message goes unanswered. Try rationalizing an ‘R’ message and see what you come up with besides: “I am meant to be alone forever.”

2. Other times, your message will get lost in BBM limbo:

Due to the flaws of modern technology, you’ll occasionally see a hieroglyphic BBM symbol that you can’t comprehend. No ‘R’, no ‘D’, just confusion and angst. This symbol will remain the same for a few days, at which point you’ll take to Google in order to decipher what it all means. “Was I deleted? Is their phone broken? What the hell is this symbol of what is seemingly a man talking on a phone?”

3. Your PIN is unstable:

With every new cell phone comes a new PIN. Anything sent to your old address is sucked into the ether. This could lead another party to believe that you’re actively ignoring them (see #2);

4. There’s no such thing as “taking a hint”:

When you ignore someone via BBM, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to assume that it would be “okay” to contact you using some other vehicle, like GChat, Facebook, or traditional texting methods due to BBM’s lack of dependability. “She must’ve not received my last 20 BBMs… time to virtually infringe on her alone time some other way.” Don’t ignore someone on BBM and expect that they’ll go quiet into the night. You may have to end this one like an adult.

5. Your risqué messages are at constant risk:

Unless you’re the motivated type who makes amendments to the nicknames in your BBM contact list, it’s likely that common names will show up in multiples. That means confusing your cousin Brian with your lover Brian; your roommate Steve with your one-night-stand Steve. Do you really want to ask your co-worker Dan if he enjoyed your “performance” the night before? Didn’t think so.

Still loved by most users

 

I know I now sound like a skeptic, even with all these flaws, what stands out is features like sending pictures, voice notes immediate reactions, group discussions etc. But these are possible with other ways too, what makes it really interesting is the knowledge if the person has sent the message or not.

I am sure most people with BBM have noticed a scene like the one above, trying to make conversation with the people who are not there, sacrificing the time with the people who are in front of you.

All in all, if it is up to Blackberry most of us will be like this, but I guess that’s where cell phone etiquette comes in. Like they say, life was a lot more simpler when Blackberry and Apple were only fruits.

We are being scammed with 3D

LG introduced a new 3D TV this past couple of weeks and the ads are not really stopping. Samsung, Sony, LG, Toshiba, Sharp, all major electronics manufacturing companies have actively promoted and proposed 3D TV’s in the past year. From really interesting Ads to in your face TV displays all over the market, 3D TV’s are the talk of the TV town. I believe this is a big scam that we are all getting sucked into. And since so many of you read this blog, I think its time I shared my two bits along with why I think so, like I have done before. 3D as a gimmick is nearly everywhere, after the success of Avatar and the success that it bought James Cameron with money, nearly everyone is looking to maximize the profits on the 3D bandwagon.

From Games, Movies, TV (Sport) and now into Smart Phones as well, 3D is gaining nearly everyday. And my take on the 3D “revolution” is just that they are trying to bleed us off of our money. Unless we all realize and talk about it, he technology companies will continue trying to drain us of our hard earned money. If you think 3D is about innovation, like what these guys are talking about. 3D has been around for a while, I remember being a kid and watching “Chota Chetan” in theaters with my parents. So what is 3D actually doing ?

Considering that most movies these days are using 3D effect addition to 2D picture, unlike Avatar which was shot with 2 cameras for the 3D effect. The introduction of the 3D effect to my knowledge reduces the sharpness from the image and adds muddled colors and makes the image dimmer. I experienced this effect when I saw Tron in the theater. Many people do not know this but the action shots need to be made slower for 3D because when people watch fast action scenes in 3D it makes them sick. A bit of research will show that close to 25% of the people get headaches or nausea from simply watching 3D.

The SCAM gets more and more clearer considering that watching 3D movies costs the viewer an additional AED 15 here in Dubai. In rupees that would be really close to 180/- or nearly $4. Making it an increase of $16 for a family of 4. The easy picking for the 3D scam are children for whom nearly every movie released in the past year has been 3D. Parents seldom think about money when it comes to kids, but have you seen the quality of pictures ?? Its not even as good as the time you went to see the same movie in 2D. I have in fact seen kids mention this.

Of course most movies in the past few years have been 2D movies converted to 3D, which apparently the way most “3D” movies are still handled. Before I came up with such a strong accusation on the electronics Industry, I managed to see a sample of Avatar which is considered the most amazing 3D movie of all time, in a 2D HDTV screen. Except the movie played off a Blu Ray Disk and was playing on a LED TV running 240Hz, let me tell you the scenes and colors were as impressive. Sure, there are a few neat moments in most 3D movies, but the novelty wears very off quickly and it’s certainly not worth the trade-off in picture quality or action sequences.

Gitex has come and gone in the past couple of years and the number of 3D TV screens has just increased. Even now the thought of wearing special glasses to watch TV has put me off from even considering a 3D TV. Apart from 3D I think the tech companies need to tell their customers that the world without 3D includes thinner HDTV’s with dropping prices and smarter TV’s with internet connectivity, the ability to play YouTube and other online media directly and just manage your digital media at home. But no, these companies push for 3D over and over adding features like Smart TV and Google TV to 3D TV’s cos they can then charge a premium on the premium.

This is a bad detour for the entertainment and electronics industries, and they stubbornly refuse to let it die. In fact, they keep trying to push 3D on us, since many of these new products have been in planning for a year or two (before consumers started catching on to the 3D scam). The movie industry and movie theaters try to force us to only be able to watch some of their top movies in 3D (and pay extra for it). TV makers are forcing 3D into all of their new top-of-the-line LED TVs (and trying to make us to pay extra for it). Content companies are now making their Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy bundles include 3D discs (and trying to make us pay extra for it). Game companies such as Nintendo are integrating gimmicky 3D into their new systems. Mobile computing vendors such as HTC and LG are even trying to put 3D into their smartphones and tablets. There’s only one way to stop the madness. Avoid 3D whenever possible.

This is a bad experiment that the industry is forcing consumers to subsidize. And since they can’t create a better product, they’ve simply latched on to 3D as a marketing ploy that the entertainment and electronics industries can use to trick people into thinking that they are getting a superior experience. It’s only working because just enough people are falling for the scam to keep it alive.

It’s not that we don’t want innovation in real life imaging. Of course, we do. We just want real innovation, and don’t want to pay for badly-overpriced gimmicks and half-baked experiments.

NO 3D for me !

Will Amazon do to Android what Google could not (in the middle east)

A few weeks back I wrote about how Google might be killing Android in Dubai, not directly but indirectly. The mistake of Google of not telling users here in the middle east that Google Market is not part of the Android offering, and the Handset manufacturers are the bigger scammers (read Samsung, LG, HTC), not publicizing the Android App Market, but not letting users even see it. But for all those guys who have had some trouble getting apps from the app store, especially here in the middle east or anywhere Android Market is not available, here is an option. The Amazon App Store.

You read that right, a company that does not really have anything to do with the Android until now, has an App Market that rivals the one from Google itself. The advantage that it provides over the Android Market is simple, access to the vast bank of Android Apps that are available in the app store. Although they have been sued by Apple for using the word App Store, Amazon has gone ahead with the release of the software for android phones. With the launch, they have also launched a new feature called test drive, which lets customers like us experience the app before buying it. This along with the great recommendation engine and app discovery feature make this one of the best app stores around. You can also shop in the Amazon App store online using your computer and sync the same with the device when you open the app. The service is just great.

The greatest news for the guys in the middle east will be that apart from the free apps, they will now have access into the paid apps for Android. This is possible with the 1 Click check out feature that many of us are already used to here, ordering from Amazon. So the Android user who is excited and wants to get this software, here is how you can do it. First of all visit the following link : http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b?ie=UTF8&node=2350149011

Forget about the warning that says App store is available only in the United States, enter your email address at the right of the screen and click go. You should see an email with the link to the App as well as the step by step process to install it. Here is the screen below.

Download the application and install it on your phone. Once you are done installing , login with your Amazon Username and password and you are good to go. I have used it on my Nexus one and have not yet bought a paid app. However, the free apps are downloading just fine and working great. Looking forward to what’s next ? A Tablet from Amazon like the Kindle, or even another phone from Amazon this time. Why not, even Micromax in India has an Android Phone. Amazon has built the app store that Android should have had from the beginning. (And the free app a day ploy is genius.) What Google does next will be interesting. Do they embrace what Amazon has done? Or do they shun it in fear? But at the end of the day, this may well be Amazon eating Google’s lunch — off of their own plate. Well let’s just hope that this competition brings about better experience for us customers and better apps into the market place.

Cell Phone Etiquette – someone should really make some rules

Cell Phones are everywhere; nearly all of us have one. In fact during an earlier post on wordless Thursday, we did manage to look at the overall numbers of cell phones and usage statistics which were quite shocking. So, it is absolutely great right, everyone has a cell phone, loved ones are closer? Yes it is. But like everything good in this world when it comes to technology, there is a dark side. Cell phone etiquette.

People somehow do not really seem to know when is it acceptable and not acceptable to use a cell phone. Although I know some of you might think that it’s a free world and there are no written rules for cell phone usage, I still believe that some people should have. Mind you I am not talking about life safety here, like talking on the phone while driving, or using your phone during your wedding anniversary (ask me, it is life threatening), but generally using the phone, the when, where and how. Good cell phone etiquette involves following some simple guidelines of common courtesy when using a cell phone in public, designed to make those spaces enjoyable to all.

I want you to turn off your cell phone

All of us have been annoyed by the guys who talk like their voice would reach the other person even without the phone, the guys who think that technology is still in the late 80’s where we had to scream into the mouthpiece of a wired phone, inside a booth lovingly also known as the Standard Trunk Dial Booth (STD). Yes, we are told the issues that they have even if we don’t really want to hear about it. Be it Private conversations, arguments of details of meetings or even what they just are, things that don’t really want to know. Add to this inappropriate ringtones in places where they are not to be used.

People these days put up sign boards for people not to use their cell phones in certain places, like places of worship, government offices, meetings etc. But you do have the regular rings from the careless people. So people have actually got fed up and have started installing cell phone jammers in these places. These devices knock cell phone users off their lines and prevent a reconnection with the cell tower until the user wanders out of range. The rate at which jammers are selling speaks to the lack of manners among the chatters. If you’re wondering what you can do to contribute to a more polite society, cell phone etiquette can be boiled down to 7 simple guidelines according to me:

1. When a Private Conversation Isn’t Possible. Intimate public settings such as restaurants, public restrooms, waiting rooms, hallways, buses, subways or anywhere a private conversation is not possible is a bad place for a cell phone conversation. To practice good cell phone etiquette, put the ringer on vibrate or silent mode and let the call roll over to voice mail. If it’s an important call, step outside or to a secluded area to return the call. If that’s not possible and you must take the call, keep your voice low and the conversation brief. Let the caller know you’ll get back to them when you’re able.

2. Lights Out, Phone Off. Phones should be turned off in movie theaters, playhouses, observatories or any other public place that creates an atmosphere to transport the imagination of the audience. People pay good money to be entertained and a ringer breaks the illusion.

3. Modulate Your Voice. Cell phones have sensitive microphones that can pick up a very soft voice while blocking out ambient noise. Yelling into a cell phone is not necessary. When people are nearby, be considerate and keep your voice low, your tone unemotional and even, and your conversation private. Arguing or airing dirty laundry in public is very poor human behavior let alone cell phone etiquette.

4. Observe the 10-foot Proximity Rule. Maintain a distance of at least 10-feet (3 meters) from the nearest person when talking on a cell phone. No matter how quietly you speak, if standing too close to others they are forced to overhear your personal business.

5. Love the One you’re with. It’s rude to take a cell phone call on a date or during a social engagement with others. It’s also inconsiderate to take a call in the middle of a conversation. If the caller were present he or she would likely wait to politely interrupt at a more appropriate time. Let the call roll to voice mail and return it later.

6. Drive Now, Talk Later. Multitasking isn’t always a good thing. Some evidence shows that accidents are on the rise due to cell phone use. Most calls can wait until you’ve reached your destination, and if a call is upsetting or distracting pull over to have the conversation.

7. Use Common Sense. Turn off your phone before a job interview, presentation, or boardroom meeting. Leave it off at funerals, weddings, or anyplace a quiet atmosphere is mandated, such as a courthouse, library, museum, or place of worship.

Cell phone etiquette is just a matter of being considerate of others, which pays off for everyone; sooner or later.

 

World’s Cheapest Android Phone – IDEOS

From the beginning of the Android ecosystem, a lot of people have been pushing Android to be the one competitor that can match the flexibility and the feature list of the iOS (iPhone) ecosystem. And all of them have been right, it is everything that a competitor needs to be for the iPhone. Its robust, has the apps, more updates, better online connectivity and great hardware from various manufacturers to match the price.

I have been singing the same song as well, however in the past few months I have also pondered over the possibility of Android overtaking Symbian for world wide mobile phone domination :) Now I am completely convinced that the Android operating system would be ideal to replace the Symbian operating system. First of all you would ask me why ? Well first and foremost its free, open source and not connected to any big player (Google is not evil on this blog) with an agenda. Secondly, the cost of development on the android is on a steady decline making it cheaper to develop specific applications etc for the Android simpler, cost effective and viable. This makes Android an awesome competition to the Symbian. But most Symbian phones (the Nokias) are made for the less expensive markets, and Android Phones tend to be expensive.

Most Android Phones, tend to be expensive because of the touch screen, and related hardware. Most phones that Nokia provides for the less expensive markets do not really have touch screens, wi fi or other expensive components. So, your next question would be is it remotely possible to have an android phone today that is not expensive. The answer to that question is yes.

I just received an email from a social media marketing firm windchimes.co.in, introducing me to this product. Normally I am not one who writes reviews for the sake of writing it, but I looked at the phone and the features that it packed. I wanted to write about it. Enter, IDEOS from Huawei, yes those guys who are famous for networking components. Why was I exited, first of all its the world’s cheapest Android Phone that still includes the touch screen and related features. Yes, its not as cheap as your Nokia 3200 which does not have any smartphone features, but this is comparable to any real smart phone. To tell you more about what got me exited, here are some specifications of the phone.

The IDEOS X5

  • 3.8” 800×480 TFT Capacitive Touch
  • Support multi-touch
  • Auto rotate (G-sensor)

Connectivity

  • BT 2.1 (A2DP)
  • Micro USB (High Speed USB)
  • A-GPS/Compass
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 4G Memory

Frequency

  • UMTS 900/2100MHz
  • HSUPA 5.76Mbps,HSDPA 7.2Mbps (U8800)
  • HSUPA 5.76Mbps,HSPA+ 14Mbps(U8800H)

Battery1500mAh Lithium PolymerCore Value

  • HSPA speed with high performance
  • High quality video playback
  • Capture 720p real life

Internet

  • Google Native browser
  • Streaming Audio & Video
  • Support more markup (XHTML/HTML/WML)

Media

  • 5 Mega pixel Camera AF with Flash
  • 720p Video recording and playback
  • SRS professional audio effect

Applications

  • GMS (like Google Mail, Google talk, Youtube )
  • Google Maps with street view
  • Integrated phonebook with Facebook
  • E-book reader: Aldiko
  • Smart search Local & Internet : Servo Search
  • Office & PDF reader: Roadsync
  • Microsoft® Exchange Email solution : Roadsync

Here is an extract of the press statement that they had made.

… an affordable smartphone powered by the latest iteration of AndroidTM2.2 (also known as ‘Froyo’). The smartphone is priced between US$100 and US$200, depending on the market. IDEOS redefines the “entry-level” concept by combining high-quality hardware and software with a high price-to-performance ratio. IDEOS will be released in a number of countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America. …

… it boasts downlink speeds of more than 7.2Mb/s, offers WCDMA + WiFi dual network support, and offers ubiquitous mobile broadband services. The device also doubles as a WiFi router for up to eight devices at a time, making IDEOS an all-in-one solution for a range of wireless connectivity options…

Here are some videos of the phone concept and some features as well.

The Story of IDEOS

Official videos of the Phone

You can check out more videos on their YouTube channel here : http://www.youtube.com/HuaweiIdeosIndia. If you are interested to read more about the Phones, you can check out the website here : IDEOS Website. More about Huawei here.

The Earthquake, Tsunami and how the world has changed

First of all, my heart felt condolences to all those who have lost lives and property in the earthquake that just happened in Japan today. It is considered the 5th largest one since 1900, from when we started keeping serious track of these earth quakes. This time however, the effect of something like the world’s 5th largest earthquake is not bringing in as much news of destruction and loss. Its an absolutely fantastic thing to happen, so what has changed ? A few years ago if there would have been an event like this one in a place like Japan, where cities have some of the highest density of people on the planet, there would be more loss of life and property.

What has had an impact is the engineering and the government codes and standards. These are the unsung heroes of Japan, who might or might not be recognized in the near future, but should be. Having spend the last 7 years in the building industry, I know how incredibly difficult it gets sometimes for engineers and architects to keep with the budgets, while maintaining budgets. Japanese architects and engineers have since mastered the art, with the infamous Japanese Engineering. Like testing entire building strengths for Earthquake proofing, or designs like the door above that works as a shield in terms of an earthquake.

Apart from the fact that the building codes and standards are helping with the incident, the other part is the way the digital world has evolved, from providing up to date information on the quake on Twitter right up until, videos on YouTube and Facebook. Videos Like these below have been showing up on Youtube and Facebook at the rate of  hundreds per hour.

But the real power of Social Media was not really shown by Twitter or Facebook, but the miracle of Social Media happened when Google showed up to help.

Unlike companies who are providing condolences on their website, Google has reacted to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan with a tool that helps you find a person or provide information on missing persons. The site also aggregates important resources, maps and other related information.

Google has previously used the Person Finder tool. The Japan earthquake version of the tool currently lists about 5,500 records, but the number is rising quickly as news about the catastrophe spreads around the world. Although the tool can be useful for finding information about a friend or a loved one, Google warns users that it doesn’t review or verify the accuracy of the data.

Google’s Crisis Center also shows a map of the earthquake, the latest related news and lists link to warning centers, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information. Another example of why I love Google, and how a complete City Wide Data Management can be achieved through some of Google’s tools.