About Me

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for a charity and am trying to expand my horizons. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Touch of Heaven Definitely (a geeky stroll through the phones of my past and today)

HTC Touch HD Retail Box I took the plunge on my birthday,  18 months after I received my Nokia N95, the most versatile of all my gadgets and one that I carried more places than this Tablet (and it goes virtually everywhere. 

In what I call doing a Miller I ordered a phone just coming onto the market.

Not just any phone at that, no sir-ee, it had to be the HTC Touch HD.

In the UK the phone is exclusively available via the Orange network until 2009, except...

Expansys UK have a great scheme whereby they will sell a SIM free i.e. an unlocked phone and sell a coresponding mobile contract.  By using this route I have been able to obtain the phone on a T-mobile contract and pay no more for the phone than I would have to when (I feel sure) T-Mobile added the phone to it's line-up next year. 

The purchase from Expansys UK was fairly straightforward, I say fairly straightforward for no reason on their part, just that the theft of my wallet complicated things unnecessarily. Having ordered I received a series of clear emails talking me through the various checks that the network makes and clarifying what the order tracker would display until my order was despatched.

Being an impatient sort of geek, I kept checking the tracker on the Expansys UK site on a daily basis.  Initially I was horrified to find that my expected 5 days to delivery suddenly shot up to 18 days but 3 or so days after this it suddenly said shipped!  I clicked on the very clear link to their chosen transport firm, in this case ANC/Fed-Ex UK, and saw step by step what was happening.  The very next day the phone arrived in the village and I collected it from my parents after work.

I have owned in the last few years, a Sony Ericsson P800 followed by the P910i and latterly by the Nokia N95.  Each of these phones has been a revelation and joy to use.  With each one improvements in technology was very noticeable and I found that they enabled me to work in a more mobile and eficient manner.  I did miss handwriting recognition when I first moved from SE to Nokia but a Dell Axim x51v filled the gap.  Handwriting recognition became an extremely quick way to enter data and I I eventually got up to dictation speed using the P910i in meetings.  The Dell was ideal, but for one thing, it didn't have a camera. 

The P800 and P910i were a great opportunity to bring me back to photography, something I had enjoyed in the past.  Being able to take photos and quickly and easily add them to my computer or email them was a clear boon for work.  I could make up directions to offices using photos of the locations, copy items of interest and email them to interested parties, photograph problem areas such as building damage or equipment issues and email them to support staff.

Moving to the N95 was a big leapt in photographic terms, one that compensated for my giving up the touch screen.  With high capacity mini-SD cards available I could snap away at the full 5 megapixels and not have to worry, trimming down the size when necessary but having the ability to choose.  Quicker wifi and features such as AGPS meant that I could start using the N95 in place of solutions such as the Axim and TomTom. 

Constant use and the rough and tumble of every day use meant that gradually gremlins started to creep in, the odd SIM not found or unexpected reset suggested a need to invest in a newer phone.  I saw the iPhone come and it didn't move me, the N96 was good but not good enough.  I thought it would be into Spring next year before I would find a phone that appealed to me; one that offered the best of both worlds from my phone past, a touch screen, faster wifi, gps, WM 6 to integrate with my other Windows devices,  at least a 5MP camera, lighter weight than the fairly hefty smartphones I had been using, a large screen area.  I saw a friend's Samsung Omnia recently and thought it a smart phone but wanted more screen space or a higher resolution.

Something caught my eye when googling the Omnia, someone mentioned or compared it to the HTC Touch HD.  I naturally did a search on the Touch HD and fell for the phone, (not sure how else to put it - geeks will understand, Apple Fanboys will comprehend).  It seemed to have everything, 5mP camera, the highest resolution touchscreen, agps, b & g wifi, Windows Mobile 6 (no, I don't think it as bad as some make out), light and with a decent battery.

It has arrived and I hope to take some shots of it and with it and do a follow up post but, for now I wanted to cover the background that brought me to this point.  18112008044

Inside HTC Touch HD retail box

The phone came in the very robust and, I think, stylish box (see photos adjacent to this paragraph),   inside the sleeve that is shown at the start of this post.  The phone lay on top of a inner box that held cables, battery and 8GB micro-SD card.  In the bottom of the main box lay the manuals on CD and a trial version of OneNote 2007.

 

The phone is as gorgeous as i hoped and I will post examples in another post.  As a taster I can say that the things that impress me most at this point are:

  • the way the stylus is grabbed by the phone when only a few millimetres are left to push in (sad though this confession of impression might be); this is a great feature as it ensures the stylus is fully seated and not liable to dropping out when put away in a rush. 
  • The excellent display of the weather, though Microsoft please add cities to the choices, the nearest forecast I can currently get is 75 miles away! 
  • The speed of the wifi, my network doesn't slow much now all devices can access at 54g minimum.
  • The ability to use my fingers to type and that the keyboard can tell even though the keys seem (to my novice eye) too small. 
  • The phone battery came partially charged so that, within 3 hours, I was up and running. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Musings amidst man-flu

I began speculating on the chances of catching a cold when ouside work waiting for a lift the other night.  The mind is a powerful beast and by the next evening I was feeling lousy.  Things only got worse and I felt sorry for myself come Friday morning - "Surely no one has known a cold as bad as this" and other quotes to make my wife roll her eyes.  Sorry for myself until I bumped in to a friend from my childhood.

She was in the village because her father, a friend of mine, passed away this week.  Talking to her and seeing a gentle strength in adversity brought me a sense of perspective.  I told myself, in that internal dialogue one has with oneself [please don't write and say that this only happens to me] I had a cold, if that was the limit of my worries on that day, I was actually very fortunate and should appreciate it.

I also heard a melancholy episode that happened to a friend on holiday and this made me realise how really special our time away was.  We visited with friends, made new ones and had such a good time.

Another event that might have had me feeling sorry for myself, but for the above lesson, was the sudden delay in my HTC Touch HD Expansys order.  I spoke to a representative when ordering last week, who said that once I had got as far as passing the mobile carrier checks, I was guaranteed to get one of the first batch of Touch HDs they had in.  I paid by bank transfer to ensure there would be no hiccups but my delivery date went from 3 to 6 days.  I

am not a pushy individual but decided that, having paid, it would be reasonable to email and ask why the longer delivery estimate.  Bad timing I guess but 24 hours after my email I find my delivery date was now 18 days away - had I upset someone at the Expansys end, gotten my name on a watch list? Not according to customer service when I rang on Friday afternoon.  Apparently the extending of the delivery date wasn't because they had sold all the stock, despite the guarantee I had been given (yes, I know, a verbal contract is worth the paper it's written on), it seems there was a technical problem with the delivery of Touch HDs and they had to be sent back. I have Googled but can't see any mention anywhere of a problem with the first Touch HDs, commercially sensitive I suppose.  The late delivery of a phone isn't a world shattering event but noteworthy in my world all the same.                   

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Luxuriating in mindmapping goodness - MindManager 8

MindManager8Logo

If I thought it was a jump from MindManager X5 to 6 and that the develop from 6 to 7 was brilliant I had a big surprise coming with version 8.

What marks out great software?

When it not only enables the ordinary to be done more easily but makes the extraordinary seem simple.

It boosts your effectiveness in ways you hadn't previously considered.

Just a couple examples, as the fresh new Mindjet website with it's customer input and examples will illustrate better than I can.

Just a Couple of Advantages of Mindmanager

They say a horse is a camel designed by a committee. Trying to agree and tie up dates for parts of a particularly large or tight deadlined piece of work can be a nightmare when faced with a room of project workers in my job. With the Roll-Up completion feature I can get a few crucial dates/timescales prior to the meeting and it will fill in and update the Parent topics automatically, presenting people with a proposed timescale based on component parts will be so much more straightforward. (Don't let on to my Manager but it will also help me to prioritise and get a bunch of related tasks completed more efficiently.

WhatsNewinMM8

One of my all time favourite programmes is Ken Hinckley's InkSeine (his blog gives a good idea) partly because it is digital ink based but also because I can do everything from within the programme, by that I mean make notes, search on the notes, view and open the results. MindManager 8 brings this awesome ability into my other favourite programme. Whatever I want to mindmap about and I mindmap everything from shopping lists to article ideas, blog posts and holiday packing, I can do so and develop my ideas without leaving the programme, the time saving from leaping between a complicated map can be immense. For businesses this can extend to their databases, in addition to planning this makes presentations much more dynamic being able to grab such live data.

As I say, you will find many more examples on the website and it's active community is always able to help with questions of how to do something new or discuss ideas. I haven't even covered MindManager Web for the cloud based workers out there!

If you don't believe me why not take up the 30 day trial? But be careful, once you have used something this powerful and this simple you will be loathe to put up with anything less.

MindManager 8 will spoil you for other mapping programmes, so why not spoil yourself and visit the Mindjet site today.

I would like to thank Mindjet for the opportunity to try out version 8 and be part of an exciting programme.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Count your blessings

Granny Ferris used to sing this song to me when I was a small child sitting on her knee. (I used to pester her, calling out "Tell me a story" and she would launch into the first line of a hymn "Tell me the old, old story" but that's a tale for another day).

No sooner had I begun to get into the doldrums (to use a nautical expression) than I began to look for the positives.

I have a new wallet, I had a great birthday with Cathy last week and at work a cake and card from a friends (thanks for choosing what was a really excellent cake K).  Also I have something that I saved up till me birthday as a present to myself, though it was actually a prize from a competition.

I have written in the past about how, on a sunny day with a warm breeze,  I can close my eyes and be transported back to Greece.  Now I have another way to that is just as evocative as what I refer to as a Greek Day. 

I am the proud reader and owner of a copy of Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece 

This book is a non-fiction narrative of time that the author Patricia Volonakis Davis spent living in Greece after being married to a Greek in the USA; this fact is important as it gives Patricia the ability to see life from both sides, the the incomer and the insider in Greek family life.  (The title is from an Italian sauce and not an indication of a book of dubious content). 

I am still only partway in to the book, as I save it for those periods when I can read uninterrupted and savour the excellent writing.  In the book there are all the emotions I associate with Greek life and the situations run from pathos to bathos. 

There are parts when I have said, yes that's how I thought Greek families would behave and others which I never would have guessed.

I have to declare something of an interest here, as I got to know Patricia a little on a blogging site before entering the competition; that said, I know a whole bunch of people who make or do stuff but I only promote things that I find special and this book is one of them. 

Christmas is coming and if you love Greece as much as I  do, I feel certain that you will enjoy the book. 

I will repost this tomorrow when I have had time to transfer a cover photo but I want to get the text online now, while it's fresh.

[In addition to the book, Patricia is the person behind Harlot's Sauce Radio too.]

Not my best day

1055569383_7254689907 I was going to write a couple of posts yesterday.

One was a thank you piece about a wonderful book called Harlot's Sauce, that I won in a competition. Events today mean that I will shelve that till I am in a happier mood.

The title I was going to use was Bastard's Cheek, (but I didn't want the association attached to this picture - which is just to illustrate my sadness), and would have been is a play on the book title I was going to write about. It refers to the so-and-so who pinched my wallet today at a local Tesco store.

Picture thanks to bbaunach

I had been generous in the past and espoused the theory that, if my wallet was stolen, I would look at it philosophically and say "Well, maybe the needed it more than me".

Now that it has happened to me I am singing a different tune. Tuesday was my birthday and I was carrying my birthday cheques and cash for paying in to my account when I could get to my bank. Probably the worst of it is that it will now mess up getting my new phone this week as there is no card to process the payment with for around 7 days. [Yes, if that's all I have to worry about life's not too hard but it has happened to me and that makes it personal, my blog-my rant].

We are fortunate, I need money for Mum's card and Cathy will lend it to me, all the same I would like to have taken it around to her now but that will have to wait until we have been to town.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An indulgence day

Back from holiday and managing to avoid succumbing to the cold at present.  Not managing to adjust for the clock change that comes from returning from Cyprus.  This morning we woke before 6am and couldn't get back to sleep.  Rather than just lie there, we made tea and watched an episode of Mock the Week.  This is how the indulgence day began.

 

Joost is a boon for anyone wanting to enjoy an indulgence day starting at home.  It has a range of channels that one can watch, my favourite is Sci-Fi Fix which has been running through the Babylon5 canon a handful of shows every few months.  Not having digital nor the £80 available for the full DVD set I am so grateful.  As I type this I am watching the episode Mind Wars and thoroughly enjoying it.

image

My phone contract is now past it's contract period and I can source a new one without penalty.  There is one phone that has caught my attention, the HTC Touch HD - a 3.8", WVGA touch screen phone that runs Windows Mobile 6.1. 

The only downside I can see at the moment is that it is exclusively available from Orange.  I moved from Orange to T-Mobile because of their hugely superior data bundle, I am somewhat reluctant to move back.  It was not easy to locate but I have found that Orange has a £7.50 monthly bundle with a cap of 25MB per day; a massive leap forward from the £15 for 25MB, or some such, that once existed but still not quite what I have now.  More research needed I think, the phone isn't due till the second week of November I believe anyway.