13 posts categorized "Mobile Tech"

Site Renewal Manifesto and a Bunch of Interesting Sites

The absence of posts on this blog is due mainly to the fact that it's time for a makeover. The current layout cannot efficiently display all I want to put up here. Here's a mini-manifesto about where I want to take the site.

  • I want to have an efficient top page that gives a snapshot of all the available information (blog posts by category, new bookmarks, articles etc.) and gives readers easy access to what they are interested in.
  • I want to have page dedicated to new bookmarks. There is just too much to blog about, but I add bookmarks to del.icio.us for anything I find interesting.

Here are some of the interesting things I wanted to blog about over the last few weeks but never made time to.

  • The first Red Herring Japan event brought together an amazing group of Japanese entrepreneurs, many of them bilingual. Thanks to all the organizers for their great work. I would definitely like to attend again next year.
  • On a smaller scale, the monthly Tokyo2Point0 event I started for the internet and Web 2.0 community in Tokyo in collaboration with Fujimamas and now supported by Ultra, Super, New is going well attracting around 50 people each month.

Interesting tools and web sites I've been using:

  • Needless to say, Facebook is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. By opening their site to widget developers and through good site usability they have really created a viral system.
  • Plaxo continues to make interesting moves. Version 3.0 seems to have been in beta a bit longer than I would have expected. They had some issues with Google sync. They are making moves into the SNS space, but I think they will stick to their strengths and allow people to maintain and share their own information. I guess you could call this semi-distributed contact management. What they really need now is to start adding fields so that people can add their own IDs on SNS systems to their contact information. They have started this in a limited way but few of the major SNS services (such as LinkedIn, Xing and Facebook) are supported.
  • Me.dium looks like an interesting tool, that somehow links your browsing activity with your network. I still don't quite get it, but am testing out a widget below.
  • Other interesting Web 2.0 sites are appearing all the time. Some of them, like matching teachers and students are almost obvious ideas (once you've heard of them, of course :-) . I probaby register for about 5 new sites a week.
  • Lijit is one site I'm interested in. The concept of being able to search all my content and my network's content is interesting. I keep going back to the site, but somehow it's just not clicking. Perhaps they should just consolidate and simplify the search Google style and focus on presenting the results effectively. It just seems over-complicated.
  • Hubdog is one of the more useful RSS tools I've seen. I can subscribe to Podcasts from my PC and automatically have them downloaded to my Windows Mobile device.
  • Blogrovr is becoming one of my all-time favorite browser (currently Firefox) add-ons. You add a list of favorite blogs and when you visit a site it pops up an non-intrusive Window with related blogs posts. Very useful.
  • The Yoono add-on is also a favorite I've stuck with for quite a while. I don't use most of the clipping features, but the Yoono toolbar displays a ticker of sites similar to the one you are on. Not sure quite how it works but very useful when you are doing research or looking for sites of a certain type.

Well that's all I can remember off the top of my head. I may update this post. Comments and other recommendations appreciated.

When your PIM management plan fails ...

It's been a frustrating week. My also perfect PIM management system had a melt down.

I am using a hosted Microsoft Exchange service. Last Saturday they had a server meltdown. All this week I've had access to my latest PIM data one way, but have to restart Outlook to get access to get my old data. Or use Webmail or my online backups. Everything is there but it's basically not as easy as it usually is to access it and it's not in one place. I'm used to working efficiently and this is not working. I've missed appointments, my data is all over the place and I'm behind with email. I feel like I've lost a week of my life and I have to wait until things are fixed to catch up. This has raised a lot of questions ... I'm always looking for ways to do things better.

So what are my options? Well I guess the main reasons I'm using Microsoft Exchange is that I still like to have the security of an offline backup that I control plus it gives me offline access to selected folders on my Windows Mobile phone. Google is the only other option I can think of at the moment that would be a decent alternative if it had these two features. (Google does have a mobile app for Windows Mobile but it doesn't work on my device). It's also a big headache and commitment to move all my data and workflow to GMail.

I guess I have to spend the weekend to think about this. Technology is great when it works, but when you get used to it and suddenly it doesn't work it not nice. My feeling at the moment is that I'll stick with my previous plan ... but if they have a server meltdown again I'll definitely be changing to another provider.

My Customized News Dreamworld & Newsgator Technologies

Back in January 2004, after an earlier post about which RSS reader to use I posted about my purchase of Newsgator Outlook Edition. Looking back this was an excellent purchase. I tried a lot of different news readers and services, but I've got to say in my none  expert opinion Newsgator seems to be way, way ahead and is just getting more so.

Why so? The company has a great vision. They want users to be able to read customized, synchronized content on any type of device. Their existing service already enables this. I can read on-line, in a dedicated newsreader, get posts delivered by email, or load them directly into Outlook. I can even create customized feeds for plugging into my own web sites. Which feeds I receive through each medium is fully customizable. The Windows Mobile/Pocket PC version, now in BETA, is the real icing on the cake.

Unchanged from 2004, the company is still developing at a fast pace. Although their service is great, there is still so much more that can be done. The company's founder, Greg Reinacker, has posted his latest road-map here. I really look forward to the improvements in Newsgator online. I'm sure they can make this a best of breed tool, although it's already very acceptable.

My Customized News Dreamworld

I envision my home of the future where I have portable flat screen panels in every room. Whether I'm cooking, just out of bed or in bed, showering or wondering from one room or another I'll verbally be able to tell the screens to give me some news on a certain topic. I'll get a blend of customized news and intelligently selected related news, just to keep me on my toes. I'll be able to flick through the pages of my customized, digital 'newspaper'. With natural language verbal commands hand gestures across the screen I'll be able to trash stories I don't like, archive those I do, or mark them to appear on the top page of customized 'newspaper' on my mobile device(s), so I can check them when I have a spare few minutes. Of course audio and video content will all be a part of this too.

I'm sure this vision is not too far off, and I think there's a strong chance future Newsgator technology will be powering a large part of it.

Create your own Mobile Web Site


There's a cool site called WINKsite where you can create your own mobile web site with an intuitive web based interface. Just started on mine (see below). Of course useful content on a mobile and useful content on a PC are different things so I'll be thinking carefully about what to put on there. The permanent URL will be http://andrewshuttleworth.com/m, but you can also use the QR code I'll be posting around including at the top left of this page.

Continue reading "Create your own Mobile Web Site" »

The cool new 902i series


At last NTT DoCoMo releases some phones to get excited about. Check out my (edited) post at Digital World Tokyo.

Journalism Project Tests Viability of PDF-Delivered News

It's great to see that people are really thinking about how to make digital information more user friendly and unbelievable to think the person featured in the article had such an advanced vision 20 years ago.

Journalism Project Tests Viability of PDF-Delivered News

Here are some of the best tools and service I've personally used that help make digital information user friendly.

  • Cerience make a tool called RepliGo which converts documents so that they can be read on mobile devices. This is one of the best all time apps I've used on  my Pocket PC. In brief, you 'print' any document that you could normally print on your PC to RepliGo. This creates a file that is synced onto your PDA. The killer part is the ease of navigation of any type of doc on the PDAs small screen. A million times better than Adobe Acrobat for Pocket PC.
  • A Tablet PC enables viewing in portrait mode and digital ink notes. My Pocket PC means I can keep a huge stock of docs in different formats with me 99% of the time.
  • Zinio does an excellent job of providing digital versions of magazines. Great in combination with a Tablet PC. Unfortunately I spend enough time with a PC and if I have time to read a magazine it's actually nice to get away from digital for a while. Still the note function and the fact you can archive all your mags without creating piles around your house is a great bonus. When Tablet PCs get lighter and have better battery life I may transition more to digital magazines.
  • PressDisplay does the same for newspapers and very well. Again the same issue that computers are just not ubiquitous enough to make reading that type of content desirable or attractive for the masses. That will change over time though.

Anyone else out there got tips for tools or services that help make information and content itself more ubiquitous?

New toy - Kyocera AH-K3001V Mobile Phone - Flat rate data and Opera Browser

Kyocera AH-K3001V DDI Pocket Air HIt was somewhat of a tough decision - a 64 kbps flat rate data Compact Flash card or a 32 kpbs flat data rate phone with USB PC connection and Opera browser built into the phone. But I decided to try the lower speed and inconvenience of a cable for the convenience of also having a close to real web browsing as you can get on a mobile phone as well as the ability to check and send POP e-mail from a phone. In short I bought for 5,000 yen (after 3,000 yen provider discount) the Kyocera AH-K3001V (JP) Air H" phone which works with DDI Pocket's (JP) flat rate data services. Unfortunately the pictures on the web are not as good as those in other media but see below for some good links.

After just a few hours I'm not disappointed. The phone hardware is well designed and the phone iterface is excellently usable, especially compared to most of the other phones in Japan I've tried which are often unintuitive and make you click more menu levels than is really necessary to do what you want to do. On my DoCoMo P504iS (my second Panasonic) phone I still find myself having to search through numerous screens to change simple settings even after a year. So far even the advanced and detailed settings on the Kyocera have been largely intuitive.

I still have to try using the flat rate data service as a PC modem, but the driver installation went smoothly and I don't anticipate any problems.

Needless to say the phone has a camera built in. Now I have two camera phones just in case. With the flat rate data plan I just have to find something interesting to moblog about. Expect to see something in the not too distant future.

According to ancient Japanese tradition the phone does come with a 300+ page combined provider service and hardware manual with 1000s of advanced features that only a true keitai samurai could master after a lifetime of study. To mention just some I've found in a short time: location based services, PC editor for data in phone memory, memory management tools, good Japanese input, clear screen and customizable font sizes, web service for viewing HTML versions of attachments, quick photo send, highly customizable e-mail settings, 3 different web page display options, web page character code selection option, good keitai portal site with customized services, phone charging via USB cable, all features (ring tones start screen and much more) highly customizable, extensive call forwarding options, conference call feature for up to 7 callers (may all need to be Air H2 users - need to check) ... I know there is much more.

Criticisms? Being picky, it would be great if I could buy a foldable full size keyboard. No infrared but that shouldn't be a biggie. If I could also do IMAP mail that would be fabulous but perhaps that's expecting too much. Bluetooth would be nice to lose the cable. I'm pretty sure I will have to keep my main mobile phone as I wouldn't be able to receive calls while using the data service on the PC. I like the Java i-appli on my DoCoMo and it would be nice to have this. As QR codes are becoming more popular a QR reader would be good. Finding the URL of the current web page takes a few too many clicks. Finally there are always going to be some sites using technologies that are not supported. I tried the web version of Yahoo! Messenger but this wouldn't load.

Overall, it looks to be an excellent mobile device it will be great knowing that pretty much wherever I go in Japan I will have instant flat rate access to the real internet and my main e-mail accounts. No more browsing limited packet mail sites while my wife tries on endless pairs of shoes at the department stores :-)

Related Links:

Opera Press Release
ITMedia Review (JP i.e. Japanese only but some good pictures)

QR 2D Barcodes

QR codes - 2D bar codes gradually seem to be getting more popular in Japan, mainly in relation to mobile content as many of the newer phones with cameras can read them.

So I decided to make my own: andrew_shuttleworth_www.andrewshuttleworth.com_-qr_code.jpg

You can find out about QR codes at the Dentsu Wave site and download a free tool for creating QR codes readable by mobile phones (in Japanese only unfortunately) at the Psytec site. If anyone knows of any other good utilities please post in the comments.

Death of the clamshell phone

Perhaps it has already started, but are we going to see the death of the clamshell style phone over the next year?

The craze for this style of phone got so bad in Japan that at one point it was all but impossible to get a new phone that wasn't clamshell style - frustrating for many users who didn't like clmashells or wanted to individuality in the style of their phones. Sony offered a slight variation with their swing style screen, but AU was the first to really step away from the clamshell and back to the stick type with their trendy infobar.

DoCoMo has announced a new minature phoned dubbed 'premini' (from premier and mini) (see photo) and I notice their is an interestng looking phone in Vodafone's Summer 2004 lineup (see photo). Does anyone else not feel that the clamshell's look old, boring and uninnovative in comparison? So the trend has started and although I'm sure clamshells will not disappear I predict that they will make up less than 50% of the phones on the Japanese market within a year.

The Social Networking Tag

As always there is a fine line between privacy, novelty and utility with ideas like these, but I'm optimistic that with due diligence technology can be used effectively in many such ways. As networks of all types become more pervasive there is a huge potential for sharing information and bringing people together like never before. Very exciting.

The Social Networking Tag

"nTAG, a new company based in Manhattan, takes a very different approach to computer-enhanced social networking. Rather than using the Internet to expand your relationships, nTAG uses interactive name badges to facilitate introductions and conversations at business conferences and conventions."

New Phone

Got a new phone over the weekend - a P504iS. It's 1.5 generations better than the P503 I had previously. P is for Panasonic. 504 is the generation. i is for i-mode and S (I'm guessing here) is for 'Shot', i.e. it has a camera. For the latest 505 series they have dropped the S, presumably as they all have cameras.

Update: I later found out that the S actually stand for 'Second', as in second version of a particular phone model.

I've noticed a lot of small usability improvements over the previous model (i.e. fewer number of clicks to get to where you want to be) but more than anything it's a really great looking and feeling phone. Pictures on the web page above, but I'll post more later.

Pocket Server

This product looks cool: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1203330,00.asp

I'm a big information junkie and love to have information when I need it. I also want to save data without worrying about not being able to access it from any device whenever I need it. I can see uses for this device.

My new Tablet PC

And now for my really exciting news ;-) I'm going to have to try hard to keep this short. I've finally bought a Tablet PC!

Continue reading "My new Tablet PC" »