All entries for Wednesday 02 January 2008

January 02, 2008

Nokia N82 – The normal stuff

Follow-up to Nokia N82 from Steve's blog

The N82 is a normal “candybar” style phone – i.e. no sliders or flips. It isn’t too big or too heavy. It does all the normal phone stuff as well as you’d expect. There were a few things I didn’t like, so let’s get those out of the way first:
  1. The keypad is horrible! The keys are just too small. This alone would stop me buying one. Texting is hard work, with just too many mistakes. And I don’t have particularly big fingers.
  2. The USB cable doesn’t charge the phone. I try not to let my phone batteries get so low that I need to charge them away from home, but I do keep a USB cable at work for transfering files and for emergency charging. But not with the N82. I’d have to get a second charger, too.
  3. The charger uses a smaller connector that any previous Nokia’s I’ve had (2.5mm rather than 3.5mm?). I’ve not had a new Nokia for a while, so maybe I’ve just missed this change in policy? But I have lots of old Nokia chargers around that I couldn’t use with it.

That’s it really. There were a few other niggles, but nothing that actually put me off the phone. So, what did I like?

  1. The Wi-Fi connection was really useful for downloading stuff without running up enormous bills (applications, maps for the GPS functionality) and for using the web-browser to check email, Facebook, Youtube, etc. for free from home (not from work, obviously:-)
  2. The web browser worked very well, and the accelerometer that switched between landscape and portrait at the flick of a wrist was neat, although not entirely reliable. And obviously it is far from essential. I did have trouble with some flash-based stuff that wanted a better flash player, but I couldn’t find a way of updating the built-in one.
  3. You can leave applications running in the background and switch to them quickly, which makes a quick email check really just a quick email check!
  4. The camera works very well. It is a 5MP device with a decent lens (Carl Zeiss), auto focus and a proper flash. It lets you select ISO rating, white balance, exposure compensation, sharpness, etc., or leave them all on auto. It does VGA video at 30fps too. I had hoped to collect comparisons with a “proper” camera, but I’ve not had the opportunity.
  5. The phone also supports SIP. I haven’t had enough time to spend on this to get it configured to use my sipgate account, but this could be really handy for keeping the bills down, especially abroad. Definitely worth a play.

The PIM functionality worked as well as on any other recent phone I’ve used. It syncs with Outlook with no problems and seems to deal with Outlook repeating events well enough. I could certainly use it instead of a PDA for the basic PIM functionality.

The battery life was OK. Not brilliant, but OK. Unless you use WiFi a lot, in which case you are lucky to get two days out of it even if you don’t make any calls. Which means you really need a charger at work as well as at home. Shame the USB cable doesn’t charge the phone, really…

As a combined phone/media player/camera/browser it works pretty well. I’ve been very impressed. Apart from the keypad. Did I mention that I don’t like the keypad?

Tomorrow we’ll get to the GPS and Sports Tracker…

Nokia N82

Writing about web page

I was contacted out of the blue a few weeks ago by somebody from the WOM World web site. They’d seen this blog and thought I might be interested in looking at the new Nokia N82 phone complete with “Sports Tracker” application. The N82 is one of the new Nokia phones with built-in GPS, and Sports Tracker uses this to record routes (or “workouts” as it calls them) and keep performance statistics about them – ave/max/min speed, altitude profile, etc. – and produce pretty graphs (on the phone) of speed against altitude and such-like. Anyway, I agreed and am now the temporary keeper of a Nokia N82. Sadly it has to go back soon!

The N82 is a Symbian-based phone, and does all the usual phone stuff (makes calls, sends texts:-). A few highlights:
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), bluetooth
  • Quad-band, 3G, etc, etc
  • 5MP camera, xenon flash, 30fps VGA video recording, video-out
  • Web browser, email, the usual Nokia PIM stuff
  • 2.4” QVGA screen with accelerometer to auto-rotate between landscape/portrait
  • Music player/video player/FM radio
  • 2GB SD card provided as standard
  • GPS receiver, mapping application/route finder

The main reason WOM World thought I might be interested in the phone is the Sports Tracker application, which uses the GPS receiver to record routes and provide stats like max/ave speed, graphs of speed against altitude, etc. It is linked to a web site, and you can transfer routes to share them with others.

I’ve had the phone for a couple of weeks now and I’ll post a review is two parts, first the general phone stuff and separately the GPS related stuff.

Have cat, will travel

Due to a certain lack of forward planning (and lack of experience – we won’t make the same mistake again:-) we were unable to book Smudge into the cattery over Christmas. We’d have had to book sometime during the summer, apparently.

The plan was to visit both sets of parents between Christmas and New Year, a journey we make regularly, and involving driving the length of the M6, M74 and M8 (i.e. to somewhere near Glasgow) with a stop in Liverpool either on the way up or on the way back. Clearly we now couldn’t all do that. After careful thought, and discussing the various options available we came up with a plan. We’d take the Furry One with us! More specifically, we’d take him to Liverpool and he would stay there with some of us, while the rest went on up North for a while, and collected everybody on the way back.

Now Smudge had never travelled much in the car before, and only ever to the cattery and the vet, so I was a bit unsure about how he’d cope. But, he did amazingly well. The first time he took about half an hour to settle, after which he just fell asleep and didn’t wake until we arrived. On the way back he was much better, settling much sooner. And no cat-sick in sight:-)

We have a wire carrier for him, much like this one. It had one of his usual blankets inside and we draped another blanket over it to encourage him to sleep (it worked). Just in case we had to stop and get him out, we put a harness on him, but without the lead attached. We didn’t need it.

At the other end of the journey, when he was let out into a strange house, he found a quiet corner and hid for a while before coming out to explore, very unsure of himself at first. It was a day or so before he seemed comfortable. Of course, we couldn’t let him out. Supposedly when you move house you are supposed to keep a cat inside for a few weeks to make sure he realises this is his new home and doesn’t try to find his way back to the old one. Presumably this means when only visiting for a week, that means not going out at all. He did sit miaowing at the doors, though, so eventually I took pity on him and took him out on his harness and lead. He had a good root about in the bushes and undergrowth around the house, but he hated the lead. When I wouldn’t let him go where he wanted – mostly because I couldn’t follow – he hissed and growled. So we only did that once!

All-in-all, it worked rather well. We got to travel and he got more freedom than he would have done in the cattery, and everyone survived! I’d definitely do it again if I had to.

Cycling summary 2007

The year sort of fizzled out from a cycling point of view. After a brilliant October I had a rubbish November. So bad that I wasn’t even inspired to blog about it! I had a week off sick and a few other days with no cycling, plus for various reasons I didn’t manage a single lunchtime ride. I barely made it to 100 miles in November, leaving me over 400 miles to my target. I wasn’t going to make that in December so I sort of lost interest. After having the final week of November off sick, when I came back I wasn’t feeling great so I decided to walk rather than cycle. It is only a couple of miles and walking is less intensive than cycling so I figured it was less likely to wipe me out. Anyway, I found I enjoyed walking – it made a pleasant change. So I carried on through December and didn’t cycle a single mile!

So the year ended like this:

Target for 2007 3000
Distance cycled 2528
Ave speed 14.6 mph
Number of rides 417
Total cycling time 7d 4h

1500 of those miles were “commuting”, by which I mean cycling between home and work not necessarily by the shortest route! 860 miles were done during lunchtimes. I managed 830 miles on my new bike – not bad, since I got it at the end of August, so that’s only 3 months (December was a no-cycling month, remember).

If I hadn’t had such a terrible November I still reckon I’d have made it to 3000 miles, just. But for me, 3000 is definitely hard work. It doesn’t seem likely I’ll manage more than that unless I can devote more time to my cycling, and that isn’t going to happen any time soon. So, if I am to set a target for this year, it has to be 3000 again.

There’s something else brewing in my mind, though. More details later…

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