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.

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is the Adyar Bus Depot. I took the shot some time ago while I was on my way to Marc’s place.

Adyar Bus Depot

I’ll tell you: It’s the buses. There are beautiful new buses all waiting in the bays, just asking to be run around the city, but instead of the improved comfort, we have to put up with the old buses. It’s like the MTC is trying to get as much of their money’s worth out of the buses as possible. They’re probably losing it all on worse mileage anyway. I don’t understand why they can’t run the newer ones and make us a little happier.

Football on the beach

I went to play football today with my old classmates from school. It was fun, but I learnt that I’m hopelessly out of shape. Less than 30 minutes of running and I was completely out of breath, not to mention I was starting to get a headache. I’m middle-aged at 19! I’d also like to complain about buses and the way they don’t like to show up on a Besant Nagar bound route for more than half an hour, no good sirs, that’s simply no good.

In any case, Karthik dropped me home. I don’t know if I could’ve made it back by bus, I was so tired. Anyway, my phone camera is useless for anything but daylight photographs. The moon was so low today, it was like it had come closer to Earth or something and it was reflected in the water so brightly it seemed like there were floodlights on the water. Amazing sight. Simply amazing.

In other news, it’s John Thanky’s birthday today. I met him on the way there. Wish him :)

I have a new phone – A Nokia 3110 Classic

A few days ago, I posted about going to get a new phone. Well, now I did. I settled on the Nokia 3110 Classic, a completely unimaginative phone which does all sorts of completely normal things. I can’t believe everybody has all these features these days, so many options, so many settings. It doesn’t have much memory inbuilt, around 8.5MB or so, so I’ll have to go buy one of those 1GB microSD cards. Here’s how the phone looks:

The phone’s got a camera. I wasn’t particularly crazy about one and would have taken a similar phone without a camera if it cost less, but now that I have it, I’ll concede that it’s pretty useful. My digital camera, an old Nikon 995, is rather large and isn’t easy to carry around so it’s all cool. The phone has the usual GPRS, EDGE and Bluetooth and supposedly works just fine with Linux though I have yet to try using it as a dial-up modem. It has completely average JBenchmark scores, so nothing to get excited about. I have to admit I like the idea of making lots of Hello World Java MIDlets :) Fits neatly in the pocket, has nice big buttons for messaging, works just fine. I’m happy.

The place I bought it at is called The Mobile Store and it’s here in Adyar, walking distance from my place. It was okay, quick service, they give you an envelope with a part to scratch for a prize. I got 100 bucks off my bill. Pretty funny considering that when I asked him about the student discount they’d advertised, he told me that the offer was over and that it was 2%. Same amount, funny.

I’m going to buy a new phone

My old Nokia 1100 has reached the end of its life. It keeps sputtering and dying and temporary resurrections only delay the inevitable. It must be put to rest, and another must be chosen to take its place. At first I thought I’d just go with Marc’s choice, a Nokia 5200 but I’m careless and prone to damaging stuff so I took Danny’s advice and decided not to take a slide type phone, or anything which had parts I could break easily. I shall be trying to get a Nokia 3110c.

Here’s what my current phone looks like:

Nokia 1100 - Thumbnail

Please don’t send me this

HEY ITS kirk hammett, FROM THE DIRECTOR OF ORKUT,EVERYBODY SORRY FOR THEINTERRUPTION BUT ORKUT IS CLOSING THE SYSTEM DOWN BECAUSE TOO MANY BOTTERS ARE TAKING UP ALL THE NAMES, WE ONLY HAVE 57 NAMES LEFT,
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT, DONT SEND THIS MESSAGE, IF YOU WANT
TOKEEP YOUR ACCOUNT ,SEND THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST.
THIS IS NOT A JOKE, YOU’LL BE SORRY IF YOU DONT SEND IT. THANKS DIRECTOR OFORKUT, TIM BUISKI. WHOEVER DOESNT SEND THIS MESSAGE, YOUR ACCOUNT WILLBEDEACTIVATED AND IT WILL COST YOU $ 10.00 A MONTH TO USE IT..

Kirk Hammett?!

Cowards with guns

So this kid was shot by his classmates in Delhi. That’s funny, I can’t recall the last time anyone used a gun on someone else in India, let alone in a school. The only people who use guns are the cops and the naxalites, even the local goons prefer an aruval or whatever, and lopping people’s body parts off is the preferred way. I can just imagine the chaos if getting guns was easier. But parents, parents, what are you thinking? If your 14-year old kid can get your gun it’s just as likely that the criminal entering your house can find it and use it. That safety that you long for, you’ve gone and lost it because you have no brains. Let the cops do what is their’s to do.

Now, the kids, they’re stupid really. They have no brains. Listen, when I was in St. Campion’s we used to get caned and I’ve heard rumours of people being benched. But listen, we never went around looking for weapons to dish it out, and we never went around throwing rocks at each other even though there were rocks all over the place. We handled it the old fashioned kid way, we fought it out in the dust. When you’re ten years old there’s not much difference between a friend and you and so the fight could go either way. Heck, trial by combat was the way to settle disputes. We didn’t go get a stick or anything, kids these days, soft mostly and lumpy in the head.

Then I moved to St. Michael’s where the preferred weapon was cutting sarcasm. I remember losing quite a few such battles, such wit not being my strength. Unfortunately, by the time you’re 14, some of you are obviously lanky and some of you are obviously strong so fighting wouldn’t have solved anything. I swear the last thing on my mind was finding a weapon to finish these guys off even then. I’ve often wanted a handgun afterward, but only because they look so cool in the movies. If anyone would make me a realistic toy that would only create appropriate muzzle flashes, I would be the happiest guy in the world. But I wouldn’t shoot anyone, that’s uncool, and a victory not worth it because you can’t even brag. I mean, imagine: “Dude, I shot that guy like through the ribs” – “Wow, awesome, too fast for him to draw, eh?” – “Well, no, he wasn’t armed, and it was in the back, you see.” And the only purpose of winning a classroom fight is to brag, it’s an extension of the 5 year old playground fight. Lots of people continue in this vein and end up having cubicle fights where the weapon of choice is the memo and the victor gets a raise by misappropriating the loser’s work.

But two fellows attacking one? That would’ve made you the object of scorn back when I was still in the 4th standard. And using a weapon? That would make you a pariah. Kids these days.

EDIT: You know what? I need a good night’s sleep.

I’m lost and I want to go back

It’s like I’m somewhere else, things are different that shouldn’t be, people are different from what I know them to be, they all act different, talk different, move differently. It’s strange, because I feel like an outsider here, there’s something about everybody that seems to tell me they’re not who I once thought they were. It’s lonely here, and unfamiliar; I feel like one of those characters in story books and video games who get stuck in a world whose rules they’re not used to.

I can’t recognise my city any more. If I look at the streets or the shops real hard they do resemble what they were, but the people walking along are not from here and the voices and languages are not native. College is no different, it’s almost like it changes every time I glance in a different direction, it’s confusing and disorienting. It’s new, like I’ve been here the first time. I’ve walked all over the damn campus, fallen in the grass and learnt that it was the itchy kind, watched the ‘lake’ go from dry to wet to dry again, and it’s all different now. I haven’t been here before, this isn’t where I’m from.

I want to go home.