Tag Archives: Ovi

Finger Painting, Angling and Tuning the Cello: the New Computing

I’m not overwhelmed by Nokia’s new appstore, Ovi, but using it does help remind one of what the real revolution in computing is (I have been talking a lot about revolutions lately, but there are basically three: the information revolution, the computing revolution, and the mobile revolution, which I’ll address later.)

The computing revolution is this: a small device, about the size of your hand, which is called a phone, but isn’t, really. It’s what Nokia can only dream of: a device so smart that even ordinary people can use it. It’s called the iPhone, and listening to some friends talk about it the other night brought home just how great an impact it has wrought, and will have.

One was talking about working with someone who, during a long car drive, would take his iPhone and look like he was about to throw it away. Then he would stop, his hand mid air, and then he would look at the screen. And then do it again. At first my friend thought he was having some sort of seizure, or was just really upset about something.

Then he realized he was angling. With his iPhone. (I can’t find the app right now.)

My other friend has a tuner in his, so he can tune his cello. “It’s geeky I know, but when I come home at the end of the day I can be up and playing quickly,” he said. Just point the device at the cello, hit a string and the iPhone display will indicate whether it’s in tune.

Both of these are great examples of how computing fulfills its promise by giving the user something they actually want, when they want it and in a form that fits their environment. What’s more, it’s easy enough for them to buy, install and use that they’re actually using it.

Which gives you some idea of how far behind the likes of Nokia are, and how long users have been waiting for this revolution to happen.

Then there’s the New Yorker cover, all drawn on the iPhone:

Colombo’s phone drawing is very much in the tradition of a certain kind of New Yorker cover, and he doesn’t see the fact that it’s a virtual finger painting as such a big deal. “Imagine twenty years ago, writing about these people who are sending these letters on their computer.” But watching the video playback has made him aware that how he draws a picture can tell a story, and he’s hoping to build suspense as he builds up layers of color and shape.

What I like about his story is that a) he has all the tools he needs in his pocket, just like the angler and the cello guy and b) he talked about not feeling too exposed—the painter, painting in a public place–because everyone assumed he was just checking email. This is a significant mini revolution in itself; a few years back, pre-Palm, someone poking around on a small screen in a public place might have seemed weird, but now the idea of what we do in social spaces has changed entirely.

(Now someone standing on a corner reading a paper or watching the world go by is viewed with suspicion.)

I’m no shill for Apple, but I think there’s a compound shift taking place here: by keeping the design elegant, making it easy for developers and users, the iPhone has captured the imagination of both. These guys may not be angling and tuning in a few years’ time, but already significant rivers have been crossed.

Now users have access to functions and features that they may not have considered the terrain of computing, but which now are part of their lives.

Computing will never be the same.

Hit the Road, Hack

Interesting project from Reuters, who have teamed up with Nokia to create a mobile journalism toolkit: 

So what is in the Mobile Journalism Toolkit? First of all the phone. This is a Nokia N95 which now comes in three different versions. The original European version that we used for most of the trial (image on left). Then there is a the US edition which adds more memory and support for US carrier frequencies. Finally there is the news 8GB version which can store much more music and videos, and for our journalists more raw materials.

With due respect, I’d ditch the Nokia keyboard for a more rugged, and better designed one from Mobility Electronics: the iGo Stowaway is a good one. I’m also not convinced the N95 is up to this kind of thing — as Nic Fulton says, the 8GB provides more storage, but I would be looking for something I could compose on, in which case I’d probably opt for the N800 Internet Tablet or its successor, the N810, which has GPS (yes, you need a phone to transmit if you’re not in WiFi range, but that’s what the N95 is for.)

I like the idea of recording direct to the N95 with an external microphone; hopefully Nokia will put the attachment they cooked up for this project on the market. It’s silly phones don’t have input ports.

Anyway, good stuff from Reuters and I look forward to hearing more about it. Yesterday I got myself in a terrible tangle trying to capture some video in an interview on my N95 while trying to record audio on my Olympus DS-20 and typing up the transcript on a Mac. It wasn’t pretty. In the meantime, regular readers will remember my humbling encounter with The Bangkok Post’s Don Sambandaraksa, whose keyboard dexterity put us all in the shade.

(Thanks, Mark)

The Mobile Journalism Toolkit contents – Reuters Mobile Journalism

Wire Mesh and Lost Souls

You have to love the Internet. It brings you into contact with all sorts of unusual people, the likes of which I haven’t encountered since my days of being driven by tuk-tuk around the sois of 1980s Bangkok. Here’s Linda, for example, who just asked to be my buddy on Skype, introducing herself thus:

Me! A Chinese girl! My main work is to sale wire,wire mesh and wire rods!If you need my service, please contact me unhestantly!

I just don’t know when I’m going to need wire, wire mesh or wire rods so I’ve added her to my contact list. Now I can see the commercial benefits of Skype.

And then there’s my blog. Frankly, it drives me nuts, but two years ago I wrote about how awful some Nokia service centers were, and now it’s become the Mecca for any Indian resident looking for a service center. Why me? And why India? Heaven knows, and I’ve tried to explain I’m not a Nokia Service Center, but still they come. This, for example, just now, from Sreedhar Durbhakula:

I purchased NOKIA 3120 handset before one year. Now it has created me some problem like some times I am finding the device Switchd Off. I need to switch on the set to work with it. Some times it is showing blank screen and again loading the signal lines and feature.Some times when I press some key for my operations it won’t respond and will get switched off showing me the blank screen. Please let me know what caused the problem? How much would be the cost for getting repaired.. I am in India Bangalore..If possible let me know the good customer Care Center in Bangalore..?

This is one of more than 100 comments left on that page, nearly all complaints or moving accounts from India of failed bids to get Nokia’s care and attention. Frankly I am developing a warped view of the subcontinent, as this place criss-crossed by lost souls bearing malfunctioning handsets, desperately looking for salvation in the form of a glowing Nokia logo.

Anyway, maybe I should introduce them all to Linda. A wire rod or two may be just the answer.

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How To Handle Your Communicator With Style

Nc-00I wrote a couple of weeks back in the WSJ (subscription only, sorry) about the Nokia Communicator (aka The Brick) and its enduring popularity in Indonesia, where it plays important role as fashion symbol, ostentatious and yet deliverable gift to impressionable officials and, where necessary, hand combat weapon. What I found difficult to capture in print are the distinctive, and distinct, ways in which Indonesian users carry, hold, or use their Communicators. It’s a subculture of its own that deserves a grant or two.

Nc-01

Luckily while I was in Surabaya, where the conference of Nokia Communicators was held, I stumbled upon a National Leadership Meeting of Gapeknas (a horrible website, I don’t recommend you visit it. Gapeknas is the acronym for Gabungan Pengusaha Kontraktor Nasional, or National Contractors’ Association) where the photos outside captured better than I could these important behavioural indicators.

First off, usage. As illustrated by our Gapeknes model, Communicator users are most likely to be found hunched over their open devices, the right hand cradling the buttons on the right hand of the screen, the left resting somewhere near the ‘A’ key, either about to fire off a deal-making SMS message or else trying to figure out how to to turn the unit on.

Nc-02When not in use, the unit can either be placed on the table in front of you, usually closed but at an angle in case the above action needs to be perfomed in a hurry. Alternatively, if engaged in conversation, the user can hold the device in his or her right hand, the keyboard facing inwards (see picture). This ensures that a) the device is visible at all times to the interlocutor, b) it can serve to emphasise any points the owner should choose to make, by raising the device around while being careful not to knock over any of the ubiquitous glasses of water found at such events, or, c) the unit can be deployed as a weapon should the conversation get heated.

Nc-03Finally, when mobile, the device is best inserted in a leather holster (provided) attached to one’s belt. The holster can be as ostentatious as one likes, since much of the value of the Communicator lies in its visibility. Holsters can be horizontal (see picture) or vertical. The important thing is that they should not be hidden by outer garments, and the user must be practised in removing them quickly, in case, for example, of passing through metal detectors or comparing them with fellow enthusiasts.

Nc-04Lastly, I mentioned in the piece that Nokia was successful at the convention — the biggest ever gathering of Communicator users, they say — at getting everyone to stand on their seats and wave their devices around in the air in exchange for prizes (more holsters). Here’s a picture, courtesy of Nokia, of them doing it. I particularly like the blue glow given off by the units’ displays, and, the fact that only a pregnant woman and an elderly, somewhat baffled, gentleman on the left, aren’t joining in. Clearly not die-hard Communicator users.