A few weeks ago I moved my mobile phone contract from O2 to T-Mobile/EE at the Carphone Warehouse. It was the first time that I’d ever moved networks since I first got a mobile phone in 2001 or 2002, and the process was very simple. I wanted to keep my old number so this is what I did:
Contact O2 to ask for a PAC. I did it online using their live chat facility.
Buy new mobile phone contact.
Phone customer service on new network (T-Mobile) and tell them the PAC.
Wait 24-48 hours for the old number to transfer over to the new SIM card.
However, I discovered that the SIM card was still reporting the ‘temporary’ T-Mobile number rather than my original number, and it turns out that Android doesn’t provide a way to edit the number stored on the SIM card.
After a couple of hours of searching on Google, I ordered an old Sony Ericsson K800i phone on eBay as it turns out that this device does allow you to edit the number stored on the SIM card. It arrived a few days ago, as did a micro-to-SIM card adapter and today I popped the SIM card out of my new Google Nexus 4 and edited the number on the SIM.
Here’s what I did on the Sony Ericsson K800i:
Select your main number, it may be called something like “My mobile” or “Line 1” or similar, and press Edit
Enter your new number, e.g. +447123456789
And it worked: Android now reports my original number. I’ve done the same for Jane’s phone too, as she moved from O2 to T-Mobile a few months earlier and experienced the same issues.
Jane has a Samsung Galaxy Ace running Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread) and it would appear that on this phone/operating system it is essential to make sure the date and time are set correctly otherwise it won’t connect to the internet and will report a “no connection” error.
I’m posting this in case it helps anyone else. Oh, and does anyone else need a third-hand Sony Ericsson K800i?
What better way to begin Lent than by offering your mobile phone complete forgiveness? It was getting slower and slower, and last week I was needing to soft-reset it every day or two.
So, last night I performed what is now becoming a six-monthly hard-reset and reinstallation of Windows Mobile 6.1 on my O2 Xda Zest.
I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art now, and simply need to follow the instructions on my custom-made Excel spreadsheet which tells me what to do and in what order.
I have 5 main categories of actions:
Hard reset which includes setting the date/time, the O2 Auto Installer, selecting the correct O2 network package (pay monthly), uninstalling the default (and outdated) Spb Mobile Shell and Opera.
Connect to PC which includes connecting to my PC using Windows Mobile Device Center, and setting up Exchange.
Basic Setup which includes setting up the owner (which is used by some software when registering applications), regional settings, calendar settings (week starts on Sunday, show 7-days, show half-hour slots, show week numbers, do not set reminders for new items), connect to WiFi, backlight and power settings (battery: 5 mins; external power: always on), change my ring tones, and schedule ActiveSync (set to manual and no email push service).
Essential software which is now Spb Mobile Shell, Spb Wallet, SK Tools (for the registry editor), Opera Mobile, Microsoft MyPhone (to backup online my files, texts, photos, etc.), Agenda One (for improved handling of Outlook Tasks), CoPilot Live, moTweets (although I haven’t installed it this time and MyMobiler (so that I can view my mobile phone screen on my PC).
Optional software which includes Pocket e-Sword bible, MobiPocket (eBook reader), DivX Mobile Player (for movies), FourWinds mahjong, Spb Keyboard, A-Z (Edinburgh, Glasgow and London).
This time I have purposely not reinstalled any of the optional software. Most of it I don’t use on a day-to-day basis so I just want to see how I get on without it.
Regional settings hack
By default in the UK regional settings the long date format is either
dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. 01 March 2011)
d MMMM yyyy (e.g. 1 March 2011)
but there is no option for including the day of the week. However, I discovered that if I did the following I could trick Windows Mobile 6.1 (and I’ve used this hack with earlier versions of Windows Mobile too) into using the format that I wanted:
Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
Set Region to English (United States).
On the Date tab select dddd, dd MMMM yyyy from the drop-down.
Reboot Windows Mobile.
Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
Set Region to English (United Kingdom).
Reboot Windows Mobile.
If you now visit Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings you’ll see on the Region summary tab that the long date has remained in the format dddd, dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. Friday, 11 March 2011):
Custom ring tones
The other thing that I have to remind myself every time I reinstall is where to store custom ringtones. I have two that I use an old phone ringtone for my calls, and the ‘24’ CTU phone ringtone for my text messages.
Once the files are in place I go to Start > Settings > Sounds & Notifications > Notifications tab to set the ringtones.
I have a .wma file that I drop into \Windows\Rings\ on my phone’s internal memory.
SMS ring tone
I have a .mp3 file that I drop into \Windows\ on my phone’s internal memory.
And that is pretty much it. It took me about two and a half hours to do, including backing up old files and photos from my Micro SD card.
On Tuesday my Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi arrived. And there was much rejoicing.
Why I bought a Kindle
For a few years now I’ve wanted an eBook reader to make my growing collection of geeky books in PDF more portable.
I have a laptop, but it’s not terribly practical with its brightly glowing screen and its fan-assisted knee warmer. And as any reader of Jakob Nielsen will be able to tell you: reading on computer screens is tiring and about 25% slower than reading from paper.
My Psion Series 5mx has a PDF reader but it’s not being developed now and so doesn’t support the latest version of PDF files. My Windows Mobile phone does support the latest formats, but the screen is so small that it makes reading PDFs cumbersome with all the scrolling that’s required.
So I wanted something in between a laptop and a PDA, that would support PDFs and wouldn’t put too big a dent in my wallet. The new Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi seemed to promise all of that, so I pre-ordered one. It arrived two days ago.
When I unpacked the Kindle I tried to peel away the cellophane instruction that was telling me what I should do next (plug it in!), until I discovered that it wasn’t a stick-on film it was the screen itself.
Of course! The Kindle doesn’t need power to maintain an image on the screen, it just needs power to change the image. Genius! and a perfect introduction to the quality of the E Ink technology.
The first thing I did was fix it into the chocolate brown Kindle leather cover that I also bought. I decided not to pay £20 extra for the one with the built-in light as I rarely have to read in the dark, what with us having electric lighting in the house and everything.
The Kindle feels great in your hands; the slightly rubberised feel to its casing makes you feel confident that you’re not going to drop it easily. Once the Kindle is secured into the case it just feels great, like you’re reading a classic, leather-bound book. It’s a very tactile experience.
I plugged it in, switched it on and very quickly got to grips with the basic functionality: selecting a book and navigating through the pages.
It feels quite intuitive and I love the feel of the qwerty keyboard: the keys are quite rough like very fine sandpaper which I guess makes them easier to use than similar-sized smooth keys on which your fingers might more easily slide off.
I can’t compare the Kindle 3 with earlier models to judge whether it does offer “50% better contrast than any other e-reader” or “crisper, darker fonts”. But what I can say is that it just looks great. And everyone I’ve shown it to today has commented on both the clarity of the text and how easy it is to read, even when held at strange angles and from a distance.
Connection to PC
Of course, what I really wanted to do was check out how my PDFs would render on the Kindle.
The power cable comprises a USB cable (it looks like USB A to Micro-B) that plugs into a … well, a plug. Unhook the plug and you have yourself a USB cable. It took seconds for Windows 7 to recognise the Kindle as an external drive.
The Kindle contains four directories:
I dragged and dropped about 300 MB of PDF files into the \documents directory, ejected the Kindle from Windows and lo-and-behold! there they were.
eBooks can be organised into what the Kindle calls collections, which is like organising your files into folders or directories on your PC; books can be assigned to more than one collection. This makes it easier to find your books, and cuts down the clutter on the home screen.
Once organised into collections you can still view a list of all your books by title, author or most recent.
While most of my books are in PDF, I have a few eBooks in either .Mobipocket or Amazon’s proprietary .AZW format (which is based on the Mobipocket standard) which allows the text to be resized. There are eight possible sizes ranging from tiny (30 lines per page) to enormous (5 lines per page).
With eBooks the typeface (regular serif, condensed serif or sans-serif), line spacing (small, medium large) and words per line (fewest, fewer, default) can be adjusted, and text-to-speech can be turned on enabling the Kindle to read out loud the text on the page, either through the built-in speakers or via the headphone socket.
I spent about 30-45 minutes sitting reading an eBook the other day and it felt really natural. It really is the quality of the screen that makes all the difference: it really does look like ink printed on light grey paper.
Navigation through the pages is via the forward and back arrows on both the left- and right-hand side of the Kindle; although once secured into the leather cover left-handed users I imagine would have to bend the cover back on itself (the kind of action that is drilled into you from an early age that you should never do with a paperback), or remove it from the cover altogether … or, I guess, use the buttons on the right-hand side of the Kindle.
Thankfully reading PDFs was just as easy as reading standard eBooks.
Of course, the whole point of PDFs is that the author can determine how they look and that they will retain their design regardless of the device they are being viewed on. This means that the viewing options are reduced to just zoom, screen contrast and screen rotation.
Depending on the size of the text I’ve found that reading some books with the fit-to-screen option and a 90° rotation is best. Depending on the size of the original page, the navigation keys will then shift your view from the top to the bottom of the page before moving on to the next page. It really is very impressive.
I just wish that there was a keyboard shortcut for rotating the screen. On the Kindle 1, I’ve read, it is Alt + R, but on the Kindle 3 this inserts a number ‘4’ into the search box.
No support for PDF bookmarks
Here’s my biggest niggle with the Kindle, though, when using it to read PDF documents: it doesn’t appear to have support for PDF bookmarks. This seems to me to be a huge failing, as it is often the way that I navigate around large PDF documents when viewing them on my PC.
I hope that Amazon address this in a future update.
And speaking of failings: my Kindle has crashed about 5 or 6 times since I received it, and it has rebooted itself once. I’m hoping that the latter was a software update, I’m currently on version 3.0 (515460094). eBookvine wrote about the freezes and crashes yesterday. Mine have happened while browsing the Web and viewing long, complicated PDF documents.
[Update: I upgraded to the latest OS and that solved the crash problem.]
I do wish manufacturers would include instructions on how to soft- and hard-reset their devices. On the Kindle 3 you hold in the power switch for 7 seconds to reboot it, and for 15 seconds to reboot (soft reset) it.
For a hard reset you need to hold the power switch for 20 seconds, release it and then hold the Home button while the Kindle is rebooting. A screen appears asking you to type “RESET” into an input box which starts the factory reset.
It’s inconvenient, but it’s not enough to put me off using it.
A few shortcut keys I’ve found useful:
Alt + Shift + G
Takes a screenshot (think of ‘g’ for ‘grab screenshot’)
Alt + Shift + M
Play Minesweeper (press G within the game to play GoMoku)
Alt + Home Open the Amazon Kindle Store
Alt + Q, Alt + W, Alt + E, etc. Pressing Alt and the top row of keys will produce numbers 1-9 and then 0.
Alt + G
Alt + B
While reading a book you can toggle user-created bookmarks
Pressing Menu on the Home screen will show you both the time and available memory.
About 3-4 weeks ago my beloved O2 Xda Orbit phone started to act erratically, randomly switching itself off according to its own unfathomable set of rules. It was okay when plugged in, but it was getting increasingly impractical pulling an extension cable along Market Street when I went out for lunch.
I figured that resetting the Xda Orbit to factory settings was what it needed and spent an evening reinstalling everything. To no avail. It would still randomly switch itself o…
I put up with it over a weekend and telephoned O2 the following Monday morning and ordered a very similar device, the O2 Xda Zest; a rebranded Asus Crystal.
There was so much that I liked about the Xda Orbit: the built-in GPS, WiFi, GPRS Web browsing, FM radio and I could synchronize it with my PCs at both home and work. The Xda Zest seemed to offer much the same, only with a much improved screen (proper VGA 480 x 640 pixels) and a much, much faster CPU.
Except the FM radio.
And, as I discovered to my cost, synchronizing with two PCs!
Windows Mobile 6.1 flaw
You see, I naively followed the assumption that the next version of something would be a little better than the previous version of that something. That’s how advertising has reeled me in so often during these last 30+ years.
“Ooh! look! A new one. It must be better. I want it!”
Isn’t that how it usually works?
Seemingly no-one told the Windows Mobile team that. Because it seems that there was a fundamental flaw in Windows Mobile 6.1: it wouldn’t synchronize with two PCs! Even though that’s one of its key features.
Which seems a bit like buying a new car, getting it home and discovering that it drives on A-roads but not your local streets. You can use it at work, but not at home.
Getting Nothing Done (GND)
Which for many people wouldn’t be a problem, but for the last 3 years that’s been the backbone of my organization system. No matter where I’ve been, at work, at home, out-and-about, I’ve always had a full picture of my appointments, commitments, contacts, tasks and priorities.
When I worked from home, in the parish, things were in many ways easier: I had one PC with which I synchronized my Psion 5mx. It was an almost flawless system. But the introduction of a second base, my office, added a new level of complexity. Windows Mobile 6.0 (just about) handled it admirably using ActiveSync (though quite often more correctly spelled ‘ActiveSink’!). Windows Mobile 6.1, however, has let me down quite spectacularly. And not just me, as a quick Web search will prove.
For the last 3 weeks or so, however, I’ve been at sixes and sevens. Thankfully, because I’ve been backing up my Outlook PST files more often than usual, I’ve not actually lost any data but on more than one occasion I’ve ended up with a lot (a LOT) of duplicated data which is just as time-consuming to deal with.
And all the while not entirely sure of the whole picture of my life, which is rather unsettling for someone who is usually so on top of things.
What to do?
So where do I go now? How do I recover my sense of being-on-top-of-things?
Sync my Psion with both
I tried that, but again the Psion wasn’t really designed to be synchronized with more than one PC. I get errors, so have to re-sync from scratch and end up either duplicating data or reintroducing data that I’ve already deleted on one of the platforms.
I’ve tried to synchronize my Outlook calendar with Google Calendar using Google’s own Google Calendar Sync. But it didn’t synchronize all my events, and what about my tasks?
I’m going to try out XTNDConnect PC to synchronize Outlook with Google Calendar and see how that works; I’ve already tried it synchronizing Outlook with Windows Mobile 6.1 but it duplicated everything!
Outlook 2007 will allow me to subscribe to an iCalendar feed, such as that offered by Google Calendar, which is great for when I’m at my desktop — but what about when I’m out-and-about with my my phone (or Psion)?
Remember the Milk
I then tried Remember the Milk to synchronize my Windows Mobile Pocket Outlook tasks with this online task application. But I have over 100 tasks and it didn’t copy over the categories.
One “inbox” task list of 120 tasks really wasn’t useful.
At the moment I’m currently synchronizing both work and home calendars with different Agenda files on my Psion. It’s not ideal but at least I still have all my data in one place.
Hosted Microsoft Exchange
I have also been considering buying a hosted Microsoft Exchange account. That way — I guess — I could access all my data from work, home or on the move on my phone or via the Web. But I don’t have any experience of Exchange so would welcome people’s comments/thoughts.
It’s been a frustrating time, but I am willing to move on and use something else … I’ve just not found the right solution yet.
This month my 18-month phone contract with O2 came to an end, so deciding to keep my existing handset (the O2 Xda Orbit) I chose a cheaper tariff, enabling me to save a massive £15.00 per month.
But I still get more text messages and phone call minutes bundled with my tariff (Online simplicity 25 with Unlimited Web Bolt On) than I know what to do with.
Let’s start with text messages. I get 1,000 per month.
Ten times ten times ten.
Or if you’re Roman: M.
When do I have the time to send 1,000 text messages every month?!
Let’s say there’s an average of 30 days per month, and I’m awake for 16 hours per day. That means that I need to send around 33 texts per day, at just over 2 per hour every hour to take best advantage of that offer.
And that’s not even taking into account the 620 minutes that I need to use making telephone calls.
Six-hundred and twenty minutes of voice calls I get bundled in with my calling package.
That’s over 10 hours!
When am I going to have the time to speak to folks on the phone for over ten hours a month, don’t they know I’m spending most of that time composing texts?!