My Nokia E65

I’ve been using this phone for around a month now. I bought it on eBay in one hell of a deal: I got it for Rs. 8,500 while it is sold at stores for around Rs. 12,500 against its MRP of Rs. 16000. It’s been good to me, particularly because it is a Symbian S60 phone, so that means there are a lot of applications. Still it hasn’t been perfect.

Problems:

I have noticed that on low end S60 phones, the interface takes some time to redraw. This is a bit annoying at times, particularly when you’re trying to read multiple messages. While a separate program that reads out text messages to you seems to have no problem skipping between multiple messages really easily, the in-built message program seems to have quite a bit of trouble with SMS messages, with the screen flickering to the Inbox and then to the next message.

This also seems to happen on the lower Nokia N-series phones (the N70, N72 at least) and if anyone can tell me how to make the interface react faster I would gladly heed their advice.

Also, VoIP is a bitch to set up and while carriers here seem to have EDGE networks, those only work really fast for those with one of those data cards. The rest of us get speeds in the range of 8-12kb/s which, while acceptable, is nowhere near what it should be. Also, Airtel seems to have poor coverage along the railway lines, so browsing is hopeless there.

The in-built browser is slow to render and frequently crashes, though it does have auto-completion for frequently used addresses and seems to work fine with full HTML pages, though AJAX is completely beyond it. I’ve been looking to download Opera for Mobile Devices, but have settled for Opera mini on my phone – a much better browser than the default because it has neat features like switching to landscape mode, and because it just works much faster. I’ve managed to use it to post on my tumblog and it has a decent text entry interface, though the memory on my phone seems to limit how long text can be.

WLAN on the phone is a bit erratic, the WiFi chip does not seem to be capable of connecting properly to the D-Link 802.11 b/g router we have at work because the WPA seems to be a bit different. However, I’ve managed to connect to a few unsecured networks and it works just fine on those, though signal strength seems to come and go while my laptop receives full strength at the same place.

The phone seems to be a little low on memory, I can’t have too many applications open at the same time and considering that fring is always on so that I can send instant messages all the time, I can’t seem to do very much with the phone unless I close that. It’s even worse when I have the browser on too.

The in-built music player is decent, but it doesn’t seem to do ogg, which is okay I guess. The one thing that really annoys me is that you have to be careful how you return to the standby screen, or the damn program will shut off. The default should be ‘hide’, not ‘exit’.

The phone also doesn’t have a Wi-Fi before mobile internet option, and so I have it set to ask me about the access point each time. There was also a problem in the beginning where the goddamn Airtel Live settings would be used as the default. This is positively lousy because they charge you Rs. 15 all the time for nothing. Visit a page? Pay. Download a 2kb file? Pay. It’s awful. I deleted those settings when I managed to get Mobile Office (a flat rate of Rs. 15 a day) and it’s actually quite good.

The phone also does not seem to have hardware acceleration for graphics, so games can be very slow. This isn’t too much of a factor, because I don’t play games as much on the phone, so it isn’t really a problem.

Good things:

Too many to list, but there a couple of things that are nice, but not specific to the phone. Because it is an S60 phone, I get to use Google Maps. The free program has this neat feature where it locates your position to the nearest cell phone tower. While I would really like it to triangulate my position, I guess that is either not possible or that the phone companies have decided to disallow that so that they can offer GPS services at more expensive rates. Google Maps combined with Google Local Search makes life really easy for me in a new city. Still, I wish directions and transit information worked. If there is any way to upload and use community documentation for this, I’d be happy to volunteer to help build a database.

Having never used a smartphone before I’m rather thrilled that I can open a program in the background and let it run. Because my damn home server back in Madras is down, and my brother is showing no enthusiasm in fixing it I haven’t tried an SSH client yet, but I don’t quite know how I’m going to work with a shell on a phone that doesn’t have a full keyboard. How do you get screen to put a session in the background without a Ctrl key?

I love the phone, and with Nokia saying that they’ll open source Symbian I can’t wait to see what improvements are made to the OS. Still, if I had a little more cash, I would’ve gone for a communicator with a full keyboard.

This is a Nokia E65, the slider is really neat. You can close it and browse with Opera Mini in landscape and it feels really good.

Google Chrome

See how well it integrates with Aero, it looks beautiful! And it\'s so fast!So today, I decided to give Google Chrome a whiz because everyone’s been talking about its javascript performance and man, is it awesome or what! I haven’t seen something go this fast since I tried Konqueror after Firefox 2, and Chrome just blows both of them out of the water. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t work on Linux, but I do have Vista installed so I used that.

The Interface:

I love it. Oh god, how much I love it. The tabs are integrated into the title bar and there are no menus visible anywhere except on the address bar, back-forward toolbar so there’s loads of space saved. To search Google you just type it in the address bar the way you do with Epiphany and then select Google Search from the autocomplete bar. There’s no space wasted at all! As a matter of fact, let’s put it in a list, things that save space are:

  • Tabs on the title bar.
  • Search in the address bar.
  • Menus in the same bar as the address bar.
  • The status bar fades in when necessary then stays out of the way.
  • The favicon on each tab is the throbber and shows a different animation for when the browser is ‘connecting to’ a site and for when it is waiting for a response and downloading the page.
  • What about the find box? If you hit Ctrl-F a text box drops down from the top right for you to enter the search term. Neat.

Look at that! Now that’s really good work there.

The font smoothing is better in Chrome than in Firefox (I think it just uses Vista’s smoothing) except for some places. The new WordPress ‘Write Post’ interface uses a different way of rendering the text boxes and that seems to interfere with the smoothing so there are very apparent jagged edges where you enter the title. The highlight box around this text box is also missing, but everywhere else the browser highlights clearly the box that you’re typing into like Safari did.

If you start a new Tab you get a screen with little snapshots of your history, so there are little pictures with a title of the last few pages you visited, so you can easily restore them. A nice alternative to the ‘Undo Close Tab’ that Firefox has, because though it takes an extra step I don’t have to go through a stack of tabs before I get to the one I want.

Another really cool thing about Chrome is the nice smooth animations everywhere. You open a tab and it slides into place. You open inline find and it slides out of the top. I like these things, makes it nicer to use.

A nice little touch is that the domain for the page is highlighted in black and the rest of the URL is in grey. If you’re accessing a https URL, that portion in the address bar is green. Really neat.

Yeah, honestly I love this for just the interface alone. But there’s more.

Performance:

I thought Chrome felt much smoother on everything than Firefox 3. I searched for that digg comment thread in the screenshot because it has so many nested comments. Chrome took a few seconds to expand every single one of those threads as against firefox’s tens of seconds. To test if my feeling was right I ran the SunSpider Javascript Benchmarks for Chrome and Firefox and there were some pretty good results. For some of the tests Chrome was nearly 10 times as fast, and overall it was 86% faster. That’s pretty damned impressive. I don’t think my RAM was a factor either because I have 3GB and I think this test uses less.

Time taken in milliseconds, lower is better

Interestingly, Chrome seems to use many different threads, perhaps it is one per tab or maybe more. There are definitely many Chrome processes in the task manager.

Cons:

It doesn’t seem to have any sort of plugin architecture. The greatest problem with that is that I don’t have AdBlock. I bet that’s only because it would be really funny if a Google browser came with a plugin to block Google Ads.

Scrolling isn’t the smooth type, it’s the jerky type and there’s no middle-click autoscroll method. I really like that kind of scrolling. But that’s it.

In Gmail there’s a bit of a bug, open a chat with someone and then while in the box to type in to submit your chat keep hitting Tab. It’ll open up a space underneath and the top of the page will disappear into a region you can’t reach. Fix it by clicking on the chat box to minimize it.

The Problem with Digg

On Slashdot, there’s a popular joke about how most people don’t read the article listed before they comment on the topic – presumably by reading the summary or, in some cases, just the headline. On Digg, however, the stories are voted popular by people who have user accounts on the site. This is normally okay, but the video below demonstrates just why Digg is such a bad idea :P

If you don’t get it, see exactly when the options for digging/burying are enabled and when they’re disabled.

Pointless

No really, it is. I try to go to sleep early, really I do, but I just lie there awake until around 3, when exhaustion overcomes me. As a consequence, it’s really hard to stay awake in class and sometimes I find myself being shaken awake at the end of a class not remembering when I fell asleep. It’s not possible to go on like this anymore. Something must be done, holidays must be granted. Please, for the love of god. It all seems so pointless. Like this cat, for instance:

Sisyphus Cat

Ooh Trains – Fast Ones

Alstom AGVI’ve loved trains ever since I was a kid. I remember running/cycling down to the station just to wave at the trains going by, and pestering my dad to take me to the engine. I did get in a steam engine once and even pulled the thing that makes it go toot, a very nice experience. So it gives me one hell of a thrill to hear about new trains, especially these beautiful high speed ones that make my 18km train journey to college seem like a walk to the refrigerator.

The Alstom AGV, 360 kilometres an hour, I could go from here to Delhi in a day! Right across the country! There’s something about a train journey that a flight can’t replicate, being able to walk around all the time, not have to worry about turbulence and leg room, lots of leg room. If they could get a train that was at least go at half the speed consistently would really make my day. Of course there’s the usual problem with people insisting on crossing the tracks when overbridges are clearly present. I can understand if they did it because they can’t climb the bridge but I can hardly imagine someone climbing the 3-4 foot high platform while being unable to climb the stairs to the bridge.

In other news, the chair I was sitting on broke while I was typing this.

Spoilers

This one is for Marc and Suren: Do you remember The Neutronium Alchemist? I do. Crossroads of Twilight? I do. Pandora’s Star? I won’t forget that either. Thanks for all the help spoiling the story, it’s just what I needed. I’m always the goddamn second chicken.

Savage Chickens - Spoilers

Chicken: Is this “The Sixth Sense”? Have the robots killed the boy yet??
Other Chicken: Augh!

Tip: Spoiling movies is more fun if you make up new endings