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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 29 November 2008

iPod Touch.. another new toy!

It's always a little depressing when the front page of my blog disappears - I'm going to have to do something about the setting so that at least the last couple of entries are displayed, even if they were written over three weeks ago(!)

A week has already passed since my birthday (thank you very much for the cards and good wishes) and, as I'm now well ensconced into my late thirties, I thought I'd write an update.

Beth gave me a wonderful present - yip.. another bit of hi-tech gadgetry: an iPod Touch. It's a 'first generation' one, but that's no matter, since it's capable of taking the latest operating system update (currently 2.2) and differs from the iPhone only in that it has no phone circuitry (obviously), no camera and no speaker - it still has an amazing touch-screen interface, an accelerometer, a lovely big screen (see the comparison with the i600) and some amazing applications available for it in the Apple 'Apps Store'.

iPod Touch next to a Samsung i600My favourite applications so far have to be (and most of them are free!):

  • JellyCar : a game where you have to make a wobbly car drive over some wobbly obstacles - definitely addictive, and free!
  • iBowl : a ten-pin bowling game that is quite realistic, since you have to swing the iPod like you're holding the ball - just without letting go! (It's free, as well)
  • iBall 3D : an excellent (and free recreation of the classic wooden marble maze game
  • Virtual Pool : probably the best of the pool games I've played, and a bargain at 59p
  • MyPaint Free : as the name suggests, a free 'finger painting' application that Lenni loves
  • TwitterFon : Probably my favourite of the (free!) Twitter clients I've tried, with a nice simple, clear interface.

That'll probably do for now - I've downloaded some others, and I'm tempted by Uno... but so far I've only spent £1.18 (the other game I bought was Touch Physics - cute, but gets very hard!) and I'm hoping to avoid spending too much more, especially since it's really easy to buy something without thinking (just one click and it's there!) The games can certainly give the DS Lite a run for its money, though!

It would be excellent to have a more versatile media player for the Touch, so that it's possible to stream internet radio stations and play different media formats - vlc4iphone was developed, but it's unlikely ever to make it through Apple's stringent criteria and end up in the Apps store. Hopefully there'll be a solution that means I can view the Neuros OSD's stream on it..

I'll close by mentioning - in case you weren't aware - the two main gripes that iPhone and iPod Touch owners have (apart from the single-source of software) - that there's no 'cut and paste' functionality, and, more critically, no implementation of 'Flash' for it. The latter is obviously because it would result in the development of applications outside Apple's control, so this may never happen.. but we live in hope that cut and paste will eventually turn up.

Posted by james at 5:50 PM

More things to do with an i600...

Despite the arrival of - arguably - the most powerful bit of pocket tech I've ever had, my i600 still carries out a lot of the more textual tasks (email, web surfing and instant messaging), not least because the iPod Touch (and iPhone) as an architecture that only allows one application to run at once. Furthermore, if I want to move something from the notepad to an email, I can't!

I'm still looking for the right satellite navigation software for Windows Mobile Smartphone, but other than that, I'm more than happy with the apps that are on there. Every now and then, though, I'll hear about a cool thing it can do.

Take, for example MusicID by DXM. It's the Windows Mobile Smartphone application that uses Shazam's music recognition system that comes pre-installed on some phone handsets, but has also been seen in the wild.

Most mobile phones can run Java, but Windows Mobile Smartphones don't come with it as standard. However, there are ways to install it, notably using IBM's java 'midlet'. Instructions for installing it are available at the excellent Modaco forums (which also contain a wealth of other information for the emerging mobile world). The bit about installing Java on a Windows Mobile 5 device is in post 10 of this thread (but watch out for the misprint - "T9" should read "J9").

As always, if I find anything else that's quite brilliant about the i600, I'll post it here!

Posted by james at 5:33 PM

Friday, 7 November 2008

Orange 2G pay-as-you-go SIM... how to get a (free) upgrade to 3G

Since my blog's front page is currently a bit scant of content (it's been a busy few days, and although plenty has been happening - including a trip to Germany on business, I've not really had much of any interest to write about) I thought I'd refresh it a little with some - hopefully - helpful advice about how to upgrade an old Pay As you Go SIM to a new one.

This information is obviously informal and by no means endorsed by Orange, nor guaranteed to work, but it might come in useful if - like me - you've long been a user of Orange's pay-as-you-go service (perhaps still enjoying the short-lived 'five free texts a day for life' Out Here offer from nearly seven years ago!) but have upgraded to a 3G capable phone.

How can I tell whether my SIM is 3G capable?
I had an inkling that my Orange SIM couldn't do 3G when I would turn my beloved i600 on, and the 3G icon would appear, then quickly vanish. It turns out that it's to do with the version of SIM you have. This can be identified from the eighth and ninth digits on the actual SIM chip. For 3G support, this number needs to be greater (or equal to?) 30:


If it is, then you should be able to get 3G, and if you can't, then there's no alternative but to ask Orange Customer Services for help.

How can I get a 3G SIM?
There are two ways of doing this. The first is to ring up the Orange Customer Services number and ask them to send you one. This takes days, and will require another call (which, bearing in mind that each connected call costs 20p, isn't that economical) to have the number transferred to the new SIM. Or even less convenient, you can have the number transferred straight away, and have to wait for the SIM to arrive in the post.

However, if you are able to visit an Orange Shop it's quite easy to do. All you have to do is say that you would like a 3G SIM for your phone, by reporting the old one 'lost or stolen'. If they understand, and agree - and have a fresh 3G SIM in stock, they will be able to replace it on the spot, although this will require them to make a call to Orange Customer Services. They'll need to pass the phone to you so you can verify your identity using digits from your Orange account PIN, and, once they're happy, you just give the phone back to the shop assistant, who will read out the new SIM number for registration.

It's worth, at this point, checking the eighth and ninth digits, to make sure they're above 30 - I got caught this way when my SIM died a couple of weeks ago, which is why this all happened. If you don't get the chance, check out the above photo - the card on which the SIM is mounted should be a greeny-grey colour, and not the bright orange of the 2G version.

Once that's all complete, and you've received some texts to say the phone's been updated, that's it - you can leave the shop happy with fast cellular data. Orange do an excellent unlimited internet connection for the day for just a pound - OK, the terms say you can't stream video or use instant messaging (and I ~still~ haven't managed to get Google Maps to connect to Orange Internet.. it just can't seem to connect whatever I do) but email downloads and surfing are both nice and quick.

Hopefully this has been of some use - I'm hoping to get Beth's mobile updated this week!

Posted by james at 9:53 PM


 
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