Viewing entries tagged with 'electronics'
I've installed a new picture gallery software on this website. The old coppermine gallery was nice, but kind of clunky and didn't integrate well with my desktop applications. So, out it went. In its place it put a gallery called (simply) Gallery.
Take a look at the new gallery. You will find an archive of all the photos from the old gallery and a brand new picture album. The pictures in the new album were taken with a new Pentax K20d DSLR camera. I think you will notice these pictures are of significantly higher quality than all the previous images (shot with an old Minolta A1). If, for some reason, you want to look at the old coppermine gallery, that is still online here.
What do sankirtan and street photography have in common? Quite a bit actually. Techniques from one apply very much for the other.
I was listening to a podcast over at the Radiant Vista website. Craig Tanner was talking about the way he does street photography. He gives tips on how to overcome the fear of approaching people one does not know, how to stop them by being the most high-energy person on the street, how to build a rapport with them and finally how to ask to take their picture. When the transaction is complete he thanks the person and gives them a gift (the picture he just took). Sound familiar?
Listen to the complete podcast for a different angle on sankirtan (and to improve your photography skills).
T-Mobile UK has finally released the new AKU2 firmware ROM update for its MDA Vario Windows Mobile smartphones (and MDA Compact and MDA Pro). It's about time!
The update enables push email for business users who's employers run the latest Microsoft Exchange server (Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 or later). However, A2DP = stereo audio over bluetooth is not included in this update. It seems getting stereo sound to transmit over Bluetooth is a really difficult challenge.
The update also fixes a number of bugs in the Windows Mobile 5 operating system. And trust me, I can say, after a few months of using/cursing my Vario, there were a lot (!) of bugs.
Hopefully it all works like a charm now with the update. We shall see. People in various online forums seem to be happy with the fixes.
Get the update from the T-Mobile site. Do it now.
A note on something I forgot to mention on the last post:
I forgot my portable speakers and yoga notes. However, one of the newcomers was very interested in practicing some yoga in the session. What to do?
Luckily, I had loaded both the yoga soundtracks and the lesson plans onto my phone. The sound quality was loud enough, but kind of harsh. The tiny speakers are obviously not the most high-quality in the world (but still amazing good). All in all, the session turned out quite well.
All glories to Windows Mobile.
(this device goes by many names. It is known as the HTC Wizard, Qtek 9100, i-mate K-JAM, O2 XDA mini S and T-Mobile MDA Vario)
The MDA Vario is a PocketPC Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone. It is a PocketPC device first: i.e. it has a touch-screen and no physical number keypad. It runs the Windows Mobile 5 operating system.
The Windows Mobile platform has come a long way since Windows Mobile 2003 and Pocket PC 2002. It is light years ahead of ailing Palm OS and a good length ahead of the Symbian/UIQ/Series-60 platforms. (Note: Symbian devices are primarily phones, with some "smarts" tagged on, while Windows Mobile devices are primarily PDAs with the added extra of a phone, while Palm is practically dead, but a simple, low-tech PDA)
WM5 does have some problems. For one, it crashes a bit too often. It's easy enough to reset the device (takes about 80 seconds) and no data is lost, but it still is annoying when one's mobile phone crashes.
It is also resource intensive and requires a powerful CPU. However, powerful CPUs drain batteries more quickly. The MDA Vario has a 200 Mhz processor in it: just barely powerful enough. Still, it can multi-task quite well. I can, for example listen to an MP3 while writing an email, but the music stutters when I try to download something from the web. However, basic functions work very well.
Here are the things I use the Vario for:
Listening to MP3s: the Vario has quite good built-in stereo speakers, so play MP3 lectures all throughout the morning. I get about one to two hours of listening in each day while I'm cooking, eating breakfast, etc.
RSS aggregator for automatically downloading podcasts: I switch on the WiFi on the Vario and it automatically downloads podcasts I subscribe to for future reading/listening. The Egress software is by far the best podcatcher software I've found for the device.
Watching videos: I download and watch interesting 5-minute photo critique videos from via RSS-feed from a website called radiant vista.
Voice recorder with AGC: I can use the voice record to record lectures. It has automatic gain control, so the volume adjusts automatically.
Checking email: email reader in my pocket for anywhere where there is Wi-Fi.
TODO list: one central TODO list that I can keep up to date and synchronized with various computers (both Mac and PC), as necessary.
Notes: compact notepad to record thought, questions and ideas. I also plan to use it to type out summaries of lectures I attend or listen to.
Calendar: I tend to forget about meetings and appointments, so this keeps track of them for me.
Address book: stores contact details of everyone I know (and their pictures, too).
Mobile phone: makes phones calls with a somewhat clumsy, but good enough interface.
Camera: a 1.3 mega-pixel digital camera takes some mediocre quality pictures. Better than nothing, but nothing to write home about.
Keyboard: the integrated QWERTY keyboard is great. I can use it write emails, notes and text messages. It slides out from under the screen (which automatically rotates to landscape mode). This means the keyboard is a big as possible; it takes full advantage of the size of the device. In contrast: the Palm Treo 650/700w and Blackberry keyboards are fixed under the screen, thereby necessitating both a reduction in screen size and keyboard width.
Screen: Very bright touchscreen with 65K colors (240 x 320 pixels). It can display 14 TODO list items at once (most normal mobile phones can only show 4 lines).
miniSD card slot: memory cards can be used with the device. I purchased a 2 GB mini-SD card for 80 pounds from MobyMemory. That's enough to hold a whole lot of data and lectures (holds 500 songs or 100 hours of lectures). So: no need for an (overpriced) iPod. The iPod does not even have speakers, let alone any of the other features of this phone and is roughly the same size (although it is a lot tinner).
Stereo speakers: good sound for something this small with so much other stuff built-in. I can clearly hear the Vario from the other side of the room while cooking.
Battery life: very good (1250 mAh Lithium-Polymer battery). I can use the external speakers for about 6 hours. 8 days of standby. Recharging a drained battery takes about two hours. Charges via USB.
Size and weight: good size. Dimensions: 108 x 58 x 23 mm. It is a bit thicker than I'd like (probably to accommodate the keyboard), but the overall dimensions fit nicely in my hand and pocket (look at the pictures). However, at 160g it is a tad heavy.
Connectivity: 802.11g Wifi (though Microsoft has decided that synchronization via Wifi is a security risk and disabled it in the latest version of ActiveSync), quad-band GSM, Bluetooth 2.0 (with a firmware upgrade), USB 2.0 (though file transfers speeds are more like USB 1.1 - I'm getting myself a memory card reader soon which will solve that problem)
Price: a 12-month contract (with 200 cross-network minutes included) from T-mobile got me the Vario for a grand total of 240 pounds paid over the year. That's cheaper than just buying the device on its own, without a contract.
Other options I considered:
Sony Ericsson p990: UIQ 3.0 is due to be competitive with Windows Mobile 5. However, this device has been continuously delayed. Who knows when it will be released? Also, while its dimensions are very similar to the Vario's, it feels a lot bigger due to its more square shape and bulky flip.
Nokia E70: good flip-over keyboard, excellent camera and super-high resolution screen, but no touchscreen and also fraught with delays: i.e. not yet available.
Palm Treo 650/700w: the only alternative that is actually available. These devices are more expensive than the Vario and have no WiFi built-in. The Treo screens (and keyboards) are also smaller than the Vario's, both in size and resolution.
Blackberry devices and Motorola Q: thin, but no cameras and too tall and wide.
HTC Prophet / T-Mobile MDA Vario II: includes 3G, a video camera, faster 300 Mhz Samsung processor, improved 2-megapixel camera and jog-dial. However, it is first due for release in July and will likely cost an arm and a leg.
A nice PDA smartphone with tons of features, good battery life and a very good price. However, an unstable operating system, middle-of-the road camera, lack of 3G, slightly underpowered processor and somewhat heavy weight keep it from being the perfect mobile device.
Check out the picture gallery for high-resolution images of the gadget.
I've investigated several multi-format removable memory card readers. The Sandisk ImageMate 12-in-1 USB 2.0 Hi-speed Reader ( SDDR-89-A15 ) is the best one available (Amazon product link). Lexar also makes a pretty good (and cheaper) card reader, but it requires adapters in order to work with Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, miniSD and RS MMC cards.
iRiver has accounced a new lineup of MP3 players: U10, T20, T30.
The two T models, in particular, sound good. iRiver players produce the best quality voice recordings in the industry (excluding super-expensive, super-large professional DAT recording equipment, of course). Check ' em out.
I still have my trusty little iRiver iFP-395T, which works like a charm, but if I were in the market for a new MP3 player/recorder, I'd certainly give the new T-series a very serious look.