September 2010

The fog is back in the city

by Volker Weber

The fog is back in the city
Photo: vowe

Look at this: one new BlackBerry Torch from AT&T

by Volker Weber

Look at this: one new BlackBerry Torch from AT&T
Photo: vowe

A few random thoughts on the BlackBerry PlayBook

by Volker Weber

iPhone and PlayBook
Photo: vowe

I want to give you some random thoughts on the PlayBook. You have read all the praise and the specs elsewhere. Let's just dive in.

RIM is not launching the PlayBook here. They are not even showing it. You can't touch one. What they have is a "preview". Those devices behind glass are not the PlayBook. I am pretty sure they are design mockups with a screen that is just displaying video, or is running off a development board in the base of the unit. Furthermore, I believe that RIM will be using silicon that does not even exist, like the Tegra 3, which will become available by the end of the year.*

Tablet OS, based on QNX Neutrino looks really really powerful. The specs are beyond any existing tablet. But a lot will happen, until RIM ships in half a year. The little glimpses we see in tiny screenshot suggest that the user experience could be more elaborate than what an iPad provides, with windows, window groups etc. I hope RIM keeps it on the simple side.

RIM does not officially comment on how this thing connects to the Internet. It obviously has Wi-Fi, and it can pair itself with an encrypted connection to a BlackBerry. What RIM does not say today is whether it will use that Bluetooth connection for Internet access. I asked a lot of execs and some were dancing around this subject. Some said, yes it will. Some said, I cannot disclose. My theory is that there is ongoing talk with the mobile operators, who have little interest in providing this capability for free. Blackberry traffic goes through RIM APNs, so operators would have little benefit from this solution.

"PlayBook" is a great brand for a North American audience. I asked them what they are thinking when they hear that name, and it boils down to a laid out plan to put into action. It has a very positive meaning. For the rest of the world, I would say it could go down in business history as a big mistake. I can see tax auditors looking at an invoice asking "WTF, a PLAY BOOK?"

This tablet space is getting awfully crowded for developers. iOS, several Androids, MeeGo, now BB Tablet OS. Will RIM succeed with their own proprietary platform? The PlayBook is going to be one hell of a multimedia device for playing content. Even the stuff you found on the Internet. It will have an interesting integration into the corporate data on your BlackBerry, IF your admin approves. It won't replace your BlackBerry, and while it is smaller than an iPad, you won't fit it in your clothes. You will need to carry both your BlackBerry and your PlayBook. And it will play only with a BlackBerry.

This smells a lot like the Palm Folio that sadly never made it out the door.

*) Update: The Tegra 3 reference might be complete bullshit, as Sascha points out in the comments. I discussed this in SF with Simon Bisson, who hinted at that. What do I know? I'm a software guy. ;-)

The wait is over

by Volker Weber

The long awaited Sonos controller for the iPad finally made its way into the AppStore. Enjoy. You will discover new functionality once you start using it. Not everything is as obvious as it could be. There is a whole lot of drag and drop in the queue and from the library. You can also swipe some areas to switch from one zone group to the other.

There will also be a system upgrade to 3.3 which brings Premium Spotify support to the countries where it is available. If you have a premium account on Spotify, and you can't set it up on your Sonos, you have to make it believe you are in fact in a supported country. Just update your Sonos registration temporarily and then do an update check. Even if it says there are no updates, you will find the service in your setup screen. Once you have activated your account inside Sonos, you can move your location back and it will continue to work.

Halfway into the Devcon party

by Volker Weber

Halfway into the Devcon party Halfway into the Devcon party
Halfway into the Devcon party Halfway into the Devcon party

Photos: vowe

PlainText editor for your iPad

by Volker Weber

PlainText editor for your iPad
Photo: vowe

This is one cool free software for the iPad. It lets you edit plain text files right on the device and it syncs them with your Dropbox folder. This may be replacing Pages as my editor, since I do not need any formating. PlainText works with the excellent TextExpander, so you can even type lengthy HTML constructs quickly.

[Thanks, David]

Conference nutrition you should not eat or drink

by Volker Weber

Conference nutrition you should not eat or drink
Photo: vowe

Church of PlayBook

by Volker Weber

Church of PlayBook
Photo: vowe

That is all there is to see. Two devices and a dummy behind thick layers of glass.

Lost one gel - Klipsch headset useless without

by Volker Weber

Lost one gel - Klipsch headset becomes useless for the remainder of the trip
Photo: vowe

A quick update: Amy from Klipsch is mailing me replacement gels to San Francisco. Great service!

iPhone 4 proves to be a good travel buddy

by Volker Weber

Looking out

This feels a bit like cheating on RIM, while I am attending the BlackBerry Devcon in San Francisco. But I have to say that the iPhone 4 proves to be the perfect travel companion.

First, you get free Wi-Fi through AT&T in each and every Starbucks, and also in front of the Starbucks. Which translates in San Francisco to virtually everywhere. AT&T recognizes an iPhone by its browser ID, so should be easy to cheat.

Second, FaceTime. Words fail me to describe how well connected I am with FaceTime. I will not go back to regular phone calls. Period.

Third, the camera. I did not need to bring my G11. Yes, I could take some amazing shots with it, but for memories, the iPhone 4 is more than good enough. Even when I have the G11 in my bag, I hardly ever bother taking it out. Exception: real work. I can't shoot somebody on stage in a dark room with an iPhone.

Fourth, the screen. It's that much better than the other ones.

Two more pieces of Apple kit I am carrying and using: iPad for doing my work, and an AirPort Express which turns an Ethernet connection into a hotspot for the iPad and the iPhone.

It's not all perfect since iPad and iPhone don't tether, and you can't read a thumb drive on either one, but I am more than happy.

Communication in modern times

by Volker Weber

Communication in modern times
Photo: vowe

Press gathering in front of Moscone West for BlackBerry Devcon keynote

by Volker Weber

Press gathering in front of Moscone West for BlackBerry Devcon keynote
Photo: vowe

Dangerously close to the SF Apple Store

by Volker Weber


Photo: vowe

Third time's a charm

by Volker Weber

Third time's a charme
Photo: vowe

Traveling alone

by Volker Weber


Photo: vowe

Clouds

by Volker Weber

Clouds
Photo: vowe

SFO

by Volker Weber

SFO
Photo: vowe

You are making it too easy

by Volker Weber

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Sony Ericsson Is Planning No New Symbian Products

by Volker Weber

"We have no plans for the time being to develop any new products to the Symbian Foundation standard or operating system," Aldo Liguori, a spokesman for the London-based company, said by telephone today. Liguori confirmed remarks made by Chief Technology Officer Jan Uddenfeldt to Swedish technology newspaper Ny Teknik.

More >

Hundreds of Microsoft Press ebooks now available in the Kindle Store

by Volker Weber

More good news about our epublishing efforts: many of the 370ish ebooks available via our own retail site (look for the green e icon) are now also available in Amazon’s Kindle Store. 233 books are now available, and more will be added each week.

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Three weeks with the Nokia BH-905

by Volker Weber

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Photo: Nokia

Almost three weeks ago I told you about the Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905 with active noise cancellation. Time for an update. It works exactly as advertised, if you are not trying to use it with an iPhone. And Apple is to blame here.

The headset pairs with iPod, iPhone or iPad just nicely. But it does not work very well. I can listen to music on both the iPod and iPad, but not on the iPhone. Controlling the Apple device only works partially. I can start and stop music, but I cannot jump tracks. Making phone calls, on mobile or VoIP does not work at all.

How do you do to find the company to blame? You switch devices. Enter the BlackBerry Bold 9700, stage left. Pair with the Nokia headset:

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It recognizes all profiles and works absolutely brilliantly. You can play music, skip forward and backwards, control the volume, pause and play. When a call comes in, the music fades out and you hear a ring. One tip with your finger and you have accepted the call. Noise cancellation is an independent subsystem that works whether you are playing music or accepting a call.

The Nexus One works as nicely as the BlackBerry. As you would expect, the Nokias aren't bad either. It's just the Apple iOS Bluetooth stack that is broken. If you are having issues with your iPhone/car setup, look no further than Apple. On my iMac I have zero difficulties with the headset though. It recognizes both the input and the output side of the BH-905. I can use it to play music or to make Skype calls.

Would I recommend the headset? You bet. Unless you plan to use it with an iPhone.

PS: If you need to wire the headset with a PC that has separate mic/phone sockets, you need the AD-77 adapter.

Aus, die Wiesn-Maus

by Volker Weber

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Three bags out, one bag in

by Volker Weber

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Gave away three bags today to make room for new bags. This Belkin Move Messenger compliments the other Belkin bag I recently started using. (Belkin photography sucks big time - the bag looks much nicer in reality.)

The two bags are similar in size, either for a 13" or a 15" notebook. But they serve different purposes. The Messenger bag has a notebook compartment, two outside zippers front and back, plus one with a mesh inside. You want to use this bag if you don't carry a lot of small items that need to be stowed away separately. This bag will easily hold a sweater, that you won't be able to store inside the Move.

Few large items that you will carry either in front or in the back: Messenger. Lots of small items that you will carry at your side: Move. Both bags have excellent materials and look better in reality than on photos. I particularly like the rubber at the bottom and on the strap. The strap does not come off your shoulder and the bottom protects your gear against moisture. I recommend both bags. And get the brown one. The black one looks rather cheap.

Android 2.2.1 on the Nexus One

by Volker Weber

android221

Download, copy to SD card as update.zip, power down, hold volume down and power on, with volume buttons scroll down to "recovery" and press power button, at the attention sign press volume up and power, from the menu select "Apply sdcard:update.zip" with track ball, reboot when finished.

Hope it fixes my two outstanding issues:

  1. Wi-Fi won't reconnect without toggling Wi-Fi.
  2. Digitizer fails to read vertical position until put to and woken up from sleep.

Sonos introduces new accessory to dock your iPhone/iPod

by Volker Weber

wd100

In a surpise move Sonos has announced a new accessory that I have been testing for a couple of weeks. The wireless dock WD100 is another node on your SonosNet. It holds an iPod or an iPhone and charges the device through the power supply that comes with the dock. To the iPod it looks like a car stereo, to Sonos it's a line-in. So you can play anything from the iPod that goes out through line-out, and on top of that you can control the iPod from your Sonos remote.

It's different from a NAS storage, because you don't see the files to queue them up, but you just tell the iPod what to play and you can relay the sound to one group of ZonePlayers at a time. You can also set a default player for the dock. If a friend visits with his iPhone, it will just continue to play his music through the designated player as soon as it is docked.

At 119 Eur it looks a bit expensive, but the dock also serves as a relay in SonosNet. I consider the dock a must have accessory. ;-) Available by the end of October.

Minga

by Volker Weber

Minga
Photo: vowe

Advantage Facebook: Filters

by Volker Weber

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One of the great features in Facebook is that you can filter unwanted content. Have a friend who pipes in his chatty Twitter stream? Just block him. Somebody needs to let the world know when they are going out to their favorite burger joint? Bye bye, Gowalla. Your friends need to let you know about their progress in Farmville and Mafia Wars, and that they became the mayor of the pizza parlor down the street? You can just block the application, and all those fake achievements are gone.

Nokia N8 not ready to ship

by Volker Weber

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Photo: Nokia

I was expecting to have a Nokia N8 around the middle of September, briefly before it was going to fill up the channel for a late September release. This date has now passed, and Nokia has told me there won't be one by the end of the week before I leave for BB DevCon. Clearly, Nokia is missing their date for shipping by the end of September. Now there is a tweet from the Netherlands:

Slecht nieuws: Nokia N8 uitgesteld naar november door (wereldwijd) software probleem. Meer info volgt, ook voor mensen met reserveringen.

Which Google translates to:

Bad news: Nokia N8 postponed to November by (global) software problem. More info will follow, including those with reservations.

I am not surprised. The N8 that Nokia gave out to developers, but not to press, were running non-production software, that was clearly having issues. The N8 hardware has been done for a few month* already, but Nokia cannot get Symbian^3 out the door. My experience tells me, that even when they ship, you will have some issues until they fix them in the field.

*) Look at the date in the picture.

Winners

by Volker Weber

Things I have started using and don't want to be without: a camera, a bag, a headset, a tablet. And this has saved the phone this weekend. Twice.

Love using Facetime

by Volker Weber

Now I need a second device at home ...

Huawei E5: Connect up to five devices to the Internet

by Volker Weber

Huawei E5
Photo: vowe

When I was using the Palm Pre (Plus) and the Nexus One, I never needed this device. But now, that I am mostly carrying an iPhone 4, I cannot connect other devices to the Internet, like the MacBook Pro or iPad Wi-Fi. Enter the E5 from Huawei. It provides exactly the same service the Mobile Hotspot does on the Pre and the Nexus: a Wi-Fi access point for up to 5 devices.

It's a nimble plastic thingie, smaller than a mobile phone and lighter than all smart phones. It has a 1500 mAh battery, that will provide 100 hours of standby or 4 hours of continued operation exchanging data over Wi-Fi and the mobile network. On the back there is a sticker with the default SSID and WPA password, but you can manage the device through a browser, once you have connected:

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It will store the PIN to unlock your SIM, so in the future you will just need to turn it on and off. There are manual switches for Wi-Fi and the connection to mobile network, but you don't really need to bother. Best of all, there is no software to install on your computer. None. Zilch.

The short USB cable that Huawei supplies is only needed to charge the battery, but your trusted old BlackBerry charger (miniUSB) does the job as well. You can also put a little microSD card into the E5 which provides extra storage when connected through USB. When you are using the E5 for more than 4 hours, you need to either plug it into the charger or use the short lead to attach it to your notebook. If you need a longer wire, use your own.

This sucker is much more versatile than the predominant UMTS stick. Those are also made by Huawei, but you need to install software on your computer, and you can only connect one device at a time. Plus, a UMTS stick is useless with an iPad Wi-Fi.

The first E5 devices I saw had five LED indicators, this latest edition has an OLED status screen and an upgraded HSPA modem: HSDPA 7.2 MBits/s and HSUPA 5.76 MBits/s. Instant editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. This is just too useful. Until Apple wises up to provide this capability in the iPhone. When hell freezes over.

Ahold migreert van Lotus Notes naar Gmail

by Volker Weber

Google heeft supermarktconcern Ahold binnengehaald als klant voor Google Apps. De kruidenier wordt Google’s grootste klant in de Benelux. Er verhuizen ruim 55.000 e-mailadressen naar Gmail.

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Quote of the day

by Volker Weber

For Notes and Domino, we continue to build a Notes client in the next two feature releases, in addition to building a first-class web and mobile experience.
Ed Brill

From my inbox

by Volker Weber

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Ja, zweimal.

IBM presents Project Northstar

by Volker Weber

I just attended the launch event for the IBM Customer Experience Suite, that delivers on the Project Northstar vision. Since it is not entirely clear, what and how IBM delivers on that vision, I thought I'd give you one example:

The best Web experiences make all users feel like the experience was custom fit for them - based upon their preferences, device, location, social networks, and behaviors.

Without further ado, here is the custom tailored experience as viewed through several devices:

Northstar vision on 24" iMac:

Northstar vision on iMac

More >

Yesterday I almost scored a new N8

by Volker Weber

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At the end of a session, the moderator announced. "We are previewing Xmas. On the way out, pick up your N8." As it turned out, that was only meant for developers. Dang. That would have been fun. :-)

The N8 should soon be available. Nokia is pleased with the pre-orders, and I believe the hardware has long been done. It's the software that is holding up the release. The devices Nokia was handing out still had a prerelease firmware.

At lunch I was sitting across from Dimitri, a developer who had a new N8. Strangely though, he did not care much. He played with it for a little, and then put it back in the box. I asked him why he wasn't swapping his SIM in, and he flashed his old iPhone. That was quite a theme at the event. Lots of people with iPhones. Some Androids, of course lots of Nokias, but many, many iPhones. And lots of iPads replacing notebooks.

So I was thinking: What if I had scored an N8? Would I have swapped in my SIM? Technically no, since I was using an iPhone with MicroSIM. But if that were not the case? Would it replace my iPhone, my Nexus One, my BlackBerry? For a couple of days, yes. And then? Would it sit there, to be used occasionally to test new stuff? Or would it live in my pocket?

How can Nokia get its sexy back?

Does it make Sense to you?

by Volker Weber

HTC CEO Peter Chou
HTC CEO Peter Chou (Photo: vowe)

HTC put on a big show today in London, conveniently at the same time as Nokia World was in town. HTC even offered transportation from and to Nokia World. I had to go. And Nokia was amused. Great sports, as acknowledged by the HTC PR team.

Yes, HTC did launch two smartphones today. But the big announcement is the plans they have with HTC Sense. Connected services tied into HTCsense.com (will launch next month). The service lets you manage your phone, find it, ring it even if muted, lock it, put a lost&found message on it, and nuke it if necessary. HTC will supply their own navigation solution with on/offboard maps, through their partner Route 66. Basic services are free, but you pay for voice guidance, speedcams and traffic information. Nokia has tried that with Ovi Maps and failed. Let's see how HTC is doing.

HTC has also invested heavily into the on device software. It looks fine when demoed, but I am not convinced yet. Maybe I need to work with an HTC phone for a couple of weeks. And with a couple I don't mean two.

Back to the phones. How do they feel: the Desire HD feels excellent, if you can handle the size. You can think of it as the GSM version of the Sprint EVO. The Desire Z is fine by HTC standards. But the screen folding mechanism that Nokia has designed for the N97, N97 mini and E7, is way more solid than the Z.

Back from Nokia World

by Volker Weber

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Photo: vowe)

I am back from Nokia World, after two very energetic days. And yes, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking this morning at Nokia World as a guest speaker, invited by Nokia to get people out of bed after a long party night, and back into the show.

Nokia World is an immersive event. While you are there, everything makes sense. Nokia makes great phones, Ovi Store is the best app store in the world, Nokia is the leader in navigation, Symbian is the best smartphone platform. You feel how Nokia's gravity pulls everybody inside that world into one direction. The whole event is on message. Nokia colors, Nokia fonts, Nokia design, Nokia people.

I am not making this up. The E7 is a great, biiiiig (as Anssi said) smartphone with a keyboard. The N8 might be one of the best portable multimedia devices - just plug it into HDMI and get a blast from videos with surround sound. The C7 is a very solid stainless steel touchscreen phone. And the C3 Touch&Type is one great small feature phone.

It's only when you step outside, like I did today for three hours, and visit the launch of the two new HTC Android phones Desire HD and Desire Z, you get second thoughts. Here, at the high end, where a single phone costs 600 Eur, Nokia is losing ground. In the US, where software is driving smartphone sales, Nokia hardly even exists. In India, where $15 phones make all the difference, Nokia is king of the hill. And inbetween, in the midrange market in Europe, Nokia is under heavy fire from Samsung and LG.

The CEO-elect Stephen Elop made a short appearance at Nokia World today and handed out one million dollar to a developer based in Kenia. While Nokia is one big and effective hardware manufacturer, Elop knows what Nokia needs: developers, developers, developers. His former boss told him.

Nokia - Under Construction

by Volker Weber

Nokia - Under Construction
Photo: vowe

Das war ein Elfmeter. Der Ball lag da, keiner im Tor. Rumms.

Airport Express

by Volker Weber

Airport Express
Photo: vowe

Beer all day long @ Nokia World

by Volker Weber

Beer all day long @ Nokia World
Photo: vowe

This hoax lives on forever

by Volker Weber


Photo: vowe

Anssi Vanjoki resigns from Nokia

by Volker Weber

Espoo, Finland - Nokia announced today that Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and a member of Nokia Group Executive Board has given notice of resignation from Nokia. Vanjoki, who currently heads Nokia's Mobile Solutions unit, has six months notice period and he will continue in his current tasks for the time being.

I expect to see a very relaxed Anssi tomorrow.

More >

Teamwork

by Volker Weber

iPad power supply, meet UK power plug

by Volker Weber

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Photo: vowe

This has to be the most ridiculous hardware match in all of vowe's magic flying circus.

Spotify

by Volker Weber

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This is a playlist. It was created on Spotify. As you can imagine, I am not listening to it on my computer. But unfortunately I cannot get clearance from Sonos to write about a feature they already announced. I tried. So let's talk about Spotify instead.

Spotify is not available in my country. But with a little help* from my friends (Ben, Federico) I have an account and I am "travelling". From the Spotify FAQ:

I’m going to travel outside my profile country, can I use Spotify there?

If you are a free user you can log in abroad for up to 14 days. If you are traveling for a longer period, you might consider a Premium subscription. Premium users are licensed for unlimited travel. You would be able to enjoy Spotify, without ads, in any country…

Spotify has millions of tracks available for you to listen to. It gets interesting when you subscribe to playlists created by your peers. There are three types of accounts, but only the premium account gets the job done for me.

I find Spotify to be a very interesting service. But the restrictions imposed make life too complicated for me. For instance, I cannot download the Spotify client to my iPhone, since it's not available in my app store. I would need to set up a separate account in the UK or elsewhere. Can you remember when you could buy a record abroad and bring it home? Oh wait ...

*) This is actually the most delightful part of the story. I have not asked for Federico's help. He just stepped up, put some money forward and I was flying. Thank you.

iTunes window controls

by Volker Weber

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I don't particularly like the new vertical window controls in iTunes 10. Fortunately, it's quite easy to rectify the problem. Enter this command into Terminal while iTunes isn't running:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -1

Same line with -0 puts it back to the way Apple intended it to be. If you want the old iTunes 9 look back, you need a bigger fix.

Email marketing

by Volker Weber

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It goes downhill from there >

[via nixspam and emailvoodoo]

Not all Grip Vue are created equal

by Volker Weber

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Photo: vowe

Belkin wasn't too happy that I did not like the clear Grip Vue for the iPhone 4. They appear to have more than one source for them. So they sent me a couple of new ones to play with. I found the second clear case to be exactly like the first one, but this blue case has a softer key at the top.

I am still not convinced this is the best solution. Maybe the iPhone 4 wants to go commando.

BlackBerry Torch in the house

by Volker Weber

Bold & Torch Closed
Photo: vowe

In the mail today: a new BlackBerry 9800 Torch. Let me get one thing straight: on paper the Torch might look weak (screen, processor) but in reality it is pretty fantastic. I am still getting used to the fact that this thing has a touch screen, because you can completely ignore that feature. ;-) I am in a bit of a hurry because I have to write my review before I pass it on Monday morning. This device still has the US keyboard, but I expect to have a German model in two weeks.

Bold & Torch Open
Photo: vowe

Maybe the most amazing thing is that the Torch 9800 is hardly bigger than the Bold 9700. The slider is very solid and I can see myself opening and closing it the whole day. Open, close, open, close. Hah. Later. Gotta play.

PS: Yes, I am in "one new smartphone every two weeks" mode.

c't kaufen

by Volker Weber

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Photo: vowe

In c't 20/2010 erscheint auf Seite 144 ein Artikel, der ungewöhnlich viel Arbeit gemacht hat: Zwickmühle, der Streit um die BlackBerry-Sicherheit. In der hektischen Diskussion um BlackBerry-Sperren hat RIM seinen Mitarbeitern einen Maulkorb verpasst. Zu viele Leute haben zu viel durcheinander gequatscht. Ich war bei der Recherche deshalb auf Euch angewiesen. Wir haben telefoniert, an meinem Esstisch gesessen, Diagramme gemalt, Hypothesen aufgestellt und wieder verworfen, wir haben Dokumente im Internet gefunden, manche Mail ohne Absender ging ein. Nach einigen Wochen Recherche habe ich ein Manuskript voll mit Fakten verfasst, das mit dem Input vieler Kollegen immer einfacher wurde. Einfacher zu verstehen wohlgemerkt. So dass ihn nicht nur die BlackBerry-Experten verstehen.

Ich bin ein bisschen stolz auf das Ergebnis. Vor zwei Tagen haben wir es RIM gezeigt. Und keine Ohrfeige kassiert. Ich möchte mich bei allen bedanken, die mich unterstützt haben. Ich nenne ganz bewusst keine Namen. Ihr wisst schon, wer gemeint ist. :-)

Allen anderen: viel Spaß beim Lesen.

Programming 101

by Volker Weber

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I just went through some preferences files and stumbled upon this gem. Can you spot what's wrong? I mean unless there is a "maybe".

Human PAC-MAN

by Volker Weber

Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With

by Volker Weber

why do you choose Android? Nearly 1,000 people responded, and a large percentage focused on the same idea: the idea of "openness."

You’ll forgive me, but I have to say it: what a load of crap.

More >

[Thanks, Simon]

OPK out at Nokia. New CEO hired from Microsoft.

by Volker Weber

Stephen Elop, the president of Microsoft’s Business division, is going to be the new CEO of Nokia. He has only been with Microsoft for less than three years. Former experience: Juniper Networks (COO for one year), Adobe (less than three years), Macromedia. No rubber boots, no mobile phones.

At least he is coming from a company with a track record of sinking an aging mobile platform.

Apple publishes App Store Review Guidelines

by Volker Weber

Apple publishes the App Store Review Guidelines and relaxes restrictions:

... we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

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New Amazon EC2 Micro Instances for 2 cents an hour

by Volker Weber

I can’t tell you how many of you have told me you’d like to run smaller applications at lower cost on EC2. These applications are typically low traffic/low throughput—web applications, web site hosting, various types of periodic cron jobs and the like.

I’m happy to say we have now built an instance type exactly for these purposes, called Micro instances, starting at $0.02 (two cents) per hour for Linux/Unix and $0.03 (three cents) per hour for Windows.

Plus storage and traffic of course.

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Signal strength on iPhone in dBm with *3001#12345#*

by Volker Weber

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Hah! Finally. Now, is there a toogle switch?

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This product design reminds me of ...

by Volker Weber

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Braucht natürlich kein Mensch

by Volker Weber

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Immer wieder schön:

Instant Search löst ein Problem, das ich nie hatte.

Das könnte auch ein typischer Heise-Kommentar sein. Ist es aber nicht.

Ich glaube, die meisten Leute haben überhaupt nicht geblickt, was Google Instant auslöst: statt Einwort-Suchen wird es plötzlich mehr Suchanfragen geben, die mehrere Wörter umfassen. Mich hat Instant Search sofort gefangen. Ich werde jetzt wieder mehr auf Google.com statt in der Chrome-Eingabezeile suchen. Bis Chrome demnächst ein Update bekommt. Das wird nicht lange auf sich warten lassen.

Instant Search wird nur dann angeboten, wenn man bei Google eingelogt ist. Und genau das geht bei manchen Unternehmen nicht. Mordac kann sich schon mal den Helm aufsetzen.

iOS 4.1 available

by Volker Weber

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iOS 4.1 became available. I suggest you update your iPhone ASAP. For me it has solved all iPhone 3G issues I was experiencing. Tons of bugfixes, but also a few new features for 3GS and 4. One is HDR (high dynamic range) photography. If you switch that on, the phone takes three quick photos, one of them under- the other overexposed. It then stores the normal exposure plus a second HDR photo that combines the input from all three exposures - right on the phone. There is also a new Game Center, that's not useful to me, but certainly to gamers.

Sonos 101: How to get started

by Volker Weber

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The Sonos family: S5, iPhone app, Sonos Controller, ZP120, Bridge, ZP90 (Photo: Sonos)

David wrote today:

I've been a long-time follower of your blog. I seen many of your posts about Sonos. So, as I started to think about replacing my ancient stereo receiver and cd player, I tried searching your blog. As you probably know, I found very many entries. So many that I have not found what I'm looking for.

I would like to see an entry titled, "How to get started with Sonos" with perhaps three suggested configurations -- a entry level configuration for several hundred USD, an intermediate for a thousand, or so, USD and a shoot-the-moon with unlimited cost.

David is right. I don't have a post like that, and it's not just as simple. I told him to check the Sonos website first. It is pretty good at explaining how this works. There are three simple rules:

  1. Any ZonePlayer plays music stored on your computer, a network attached storage (SMB/CIFS a.k.a. Windows share), or numerous sources from the internet. The ZP90 has no amp, so it looks like a CD player to an existing amp. The ZP120 has an amp, so you can connect your own speakers. And the S5 already has five speakers. Two S5 can be combined as a stereo pair. ZonePlayers have line-in, and you can play that source anywhere else. I like to pick up audio from my TV and relay it throughout the house when there is a game on.
  2. Sonos players have an ethernet jack. They also talk to each other over a proprietary WLAN which you don't see. One player has to be connected to your internet router with an ethernet cable. If that is physically impossible, Sonos sells you a simple bridge that you plug into your router.
  3. All players in your household are controlled via a software app, on a PC, on a Mac, on an iPhone, on an iPod touch, and soon on an iPad. Those have to somehow talk to the same router your players are connected to. If that is impossible, Sonos sells you a remote that talks directly to the players.

Usually people start with one or two players and end up with one per room. :-)

British entrepreneur promises Lotus Notes to cloud migration

by Volker Weber

A start-up company founded and funded by ex-Staffware CTO and board member Jon Pyke will officially launch tomorrow, promising to help companies migrate IBM Lotus Notes and other applications to the cloud, CBR has learned.

The firm’s technology promises to enable companies to automatically migrate their Lotus Notes databases and collaboration processes into more generic processes hosted in the cloud, in a common format that could be hosted on the likes of Amazon, Google or salesforce.com’s cloud platforms, Pyke told CBR ahead of the firm’s launch tomorrow.

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[Thanks, Ben]

heise mobil: RIM kauft DataViz

by Volker Weber

Der Blackberry-Hersteller Research in Motion bestätigt den Kauf des Herstellers von Documents to Go -- einem Office-Programm, das unter anderem auch auf Android, iOS und Windows Mobile läuft.

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Apple's AirPlay: Bring the walled garden home

by Volker Weber

A few years ago, Apple did the consumer electronics industry a huge favour, by introducing wireless music streaming (AirTunes) that worked beautifully simply and reliably. Now I'm not so sure. The CE business got its act together and came up with a common open standards for device discovery and streaming, and today, they work pretty well. With AirTunes becoming AirPlay, and Apple going it alone, punters now must decide between devices that may or may not support two incompatible streaming standards - which is bad news for everyone.

AirPlay will be introduced with iOS 4.2 in November. It will let you stream music, videos and photos from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to Apple TV. And also to new devices from Denon, JBL and Bowers & Wilkins. This is not a software thing only. You need to buy a chip from Apple and build that into your device to be able to receive the encrypted data stream.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

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Bruce Schneier: Consumerization and Corporate IT Security

by Volker Weber

Why can't you use the cool stuff you already have? More and more companies are letting you. They're giving you an allowance and allowing you to buy whatever laptop you want, and to connect into the corporate network with whatever device you choose. They're allowing you to use whatever cell phone you have, whatever portable e-mail device you have, whatever you personally need to get your job done. And the security office is freaking.

Mordac, the 'preventer of information services', is losing. If you are Mordac, re-think your role.

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[Thanks, Martin]

FLAMMA: Making fire with IKEA products

by Volker Weber

Voodoo-Mathematik

by Volker Weber

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Was kostet ein iPhone? Na? Wurde der Preis des neuen BlackBerry in einer Woche von $199 auf $99 "halbiert"? Kinners, jetzt berücksichtigt doch mal die in den Carrier-Tarifen versteckten Ratenzahlungen. Ich finde es ziemlich merkwürdig, dass Menschen mit Abitur an so einfachen Rechenaufgaben scheitern. Also nochmal, was kostet ein iPhone? Schauen wir einfach mal da, wo man eins ohne versteckte Ratenzahlungen kaufen kann:

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Letzte Woche wollte mir ein Nokia-Produktmanager erklären, das N8 koste weniger als halb soviel wie ein iPhone. Und damit liegt er deutlich daneben. Ja, es ist billiger als jedes iPhone, aber eben nicht so viel wie er behauptete.

Der erste deutsche Carrier, der seine Kunden nicht verarschte, war O2 mit MyHandy. Da findet man dann auch mal den echten Preis eines BlackBerry Bold: 529 €. Ja, die Top-Smartphones kosten 500 € und mehr. Und ein iPad kostet 500 bis 800 €. Die Preisgestaltung des Galaxy Tab muss also keinesweg "abstrus" sein, wie Kollege Spehr insinuiert.

No Documents To Go for palm webOS

by Volker Weber

We regret to announce that we have made the difficult decision to not produce a Web OS version of Documents To Go. We understand that our delay in this area has caused much disappointment to our current and very loyal user base. We would like to explain in more detail the reasoning behind our decisions thus far.

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iOS 4.1 fixes iPhone 3G

by Volker Weber

Apple has been seeding iOS 4.1 to developers last week. By tomorrow it should be available to the public. Good news: 4.1 makes iOS 4 usable for iPhone 3G users. And you should see improvements across iPhone 3GS and 4 as well. While you should have been careful with the .0 upgrade, I'd advise to jump to .1 as soon as you can.

Looking for a cheap Android 2.2 Froyo handset?

by Volker Weber

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Photo: Huawei

Last week at IFA in Berlin, Huawei launched the new Ideos smartphone. I played with it just for a little while. From what I understand it won't cost half as much as an HTC. I am going to reserve judgement until I get a chance to really play with it, but this looks rather compelling. Huawei has developed the handset with Google, so it will come with the standard Google experience, much like the Nexus One.

And yes, you can have a black battery cover. ;-)

Most important lesson I learned almost twenty years ago in FidoNet

by Volker Weber

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Midichlorian Rhapsody

by Volker Weber

Don't expect a press release

by Volker Weber

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iTunes 10 breaks Firefly Media Server / mt-daapd

by Volker Weber

Read the discussion thread on apple.com where people complain they can no longer use their "iTunes server". Many NAS vendors provide mt-daapd on their boxes, so that iTunes can play music stored on the NAS. I have previously used that solution myself, but it became redundant because Sonos simply goes to the SMB share.

[Thanks, Artur]

Schade

by Volker Weber

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Music on physical media? This is so last century.

by Volker Weber

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Photo: vowe

Thomas* explains why he does not use the new Apple Ping service on iTunes. I don't use it either, but not for the same reason. Thomas says he buys his music on CDs and his music library mostly holds physical CDs. For me it has been almost four years since my CD collection was relegated to storage. A year ago I dragged them all out for The Big Rip. For many years I have been able to play my music in every room of our house, without any physical CDs to carry around. And I am listening to more music than ever. Which is quite a statement considering that I have been spinning records for ten years in a prior life.

During the last five years, my iPods have turned from music players into music controllers. They tell my ZonePlayers what to play. And often this is not music that I have ever had on a physical storage media like a CD. I use Last.fm a lot as a source, as well as Deezer and more recently Wolfgang's Vault. I have been using the Napster service, but never subscribed to it. And I wish, Spotify would open up to a German audience, because my sound system will soon support it. Currently you need to be in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Netherlands or Sweden. If I were in the US, I'd probably also use Pandora a lot.

In toto, CDs are last century to me. They are the best medium if you want to give music away as a present. But there are so many other sources of music.

Sometimes people ask me if they should buy a new stereo or a Sonos sound system. My answer is pretty simple: it depends on how much money you have. You can either buy a stereo, and buy a Sonos later. Or you can buy a Sonos right away. ;-)


*) Not sure, why Thomas has a second Twitter account.

New bag: Belkin Move

by Volker Weber

Belkin Move
Photo: vowe

If you ask my sister, you can't have too many bags. And I agree with her. ;-) After lugging around a few Crumplers, and I hold all of them dearly, I now have adopted a smaller bag, a Belkin Toploader Move. It looks way better in reality than on photos. The front pouches easily hold an Apple Macbook power supply with cable, or my Canon G11 camera. On the back there is long pocket for travel documents. You can stow away the two small handles, and the trolley pass-thru feature holds your bag on top of your luggage. There are two compartments, one is padded to protect your MacBook. Belkin sells two sizes, one that fits my 13" Macbook, and a larger one for 15" Macbooks.

The feature I like best is the external side pocket that can hold a SIGG water bottle. If your drink leaks from the bottle, it won't soak your documents. Been there, done that. :-) Other features I like are the rubber bottom and the rubber shoulder pad that does not slide away. The strap is adjusted on both ends, and the bag is easy to carry since it is slim and the strap stays firmly on your shoulder.

Belkin lists the bag for 80 US-Dollar, but you will find it for a lot less. Get the brown one. It's much nicer than the black version.

In other related news, I found a Belkin product that does not work for me. The Grip Vue clear case that I recommend for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone 3G, does not work well on the iPhone 4. The buttons are just too stiff. They do work, but only when pressed with too much force. This is a pity since the case looks rather nice.

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Photo: vowe

Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905 with active noise cancellation

by Volker Weber

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Photo: Nokia

When it comes to headphones, I use ECH (ear canal headphones). Not the cheap iPod-style earbuds, but those from Ultimate Ears or Klipsch. They provide complete isolation from ambient noise. And they fit right in your pocket. Others prefer active noise cancelling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort.

When I saw the Nokia BH-905 last year, I wanted to take them for a spin, but never got around to actually try them. Other than the Bose headphones, can be used for phone calls: VoIP, Skype, regular calls. You connect them either via Bluetooth (HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP) or a cable. Nokia provides a short lead, an extension cable, and an assortment of adapters. The headset charges with an included 2mm Nokia charger (not with MicroUSB unfortunately) in two hours and provides a whopping 24 hours talk time. Eight microphones work with the included Wolfson AudioPlus Ambient Noise Cancellation, two microphones pick up your voice when making a call.

I had no difficulties pairing the headset with my iMac and a 3rd generation iPod touch. So far it has failed to properly work with the iPhone 4 over Bluetooth. There are some reports on the internet which lead me to believe that it is indeed possible to use the headset with an iPhone without wires, but so far I have failed to do that. HFP and AVRCP seem to work, but I cannot hear sound over A2DP.

I am pretty sure however that the Nokia N8 will work flawlessly. ;-) And that should be here before I need the BH-905 for my long trip to San Francisco.

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Talking Sonos

by Volker Weber

Talking Sonos

John and vowe at IFA in Berlin (photo Thomas Meyer)

Twitter on iPad

by Volker Weber

Twitter on iPad
Photo: vowe

Schlechter WLAN-Empfang bei Fritz!Box 7270

by Volker Weber

Schlechter WLAN-Empfang bei Fritz!Box 7270
Photo: vowe

Dessau

by Volker Weber

Dessau
Photo: vowe

Ceci n'est pas un blog

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

vowe

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