Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Good Phone

People around the web and everywhere for that matter talk about their phones being 'good' or in most cases not being all that good. So what exactly is the GQ? (Goodness Quotient, if you havent guessed it yet) For starters, GQ as you would expect has a different meaning for almost all individuals. But if we concentrate on the smartphone sphere, the goodness of a phone is defined by the following factors:

1. The form factor - like it or not, the form factor is undoubtedly the most important criteria for people buying a new phone. No one likes an ugly device. This partially explains the success of the iPhone, the amazing form factor.

2. User Interface - abbreviated as UI, this is more or less what makes or breaks a phone. Symbian most say (except for fanboys of course) has the least attractive UI, and android (with sense UI from HTC) and the iOS are generally considered among the best. The others like Maemo and Meego, although not exactly new platforms, but havent been mainstream OSes so far. Nonetheless, UI isnt really their forte.

3. Whats 'inside' - the processor, the RAM, the memory capabilities, etc. This is where android wins hands down more or less. Why? Well, the high end phones have a processing speed of 1GHz and RAM of 512MB. With a GPU (graphics processing unit), thats a killer deal. Sure the iPhone 4 has almost the same specs, but its sort of rendered redundant thanks to its severly restricted multitasking abilities.

4. Apps - applications are what smartphones are made for. And unless there's a plethora of apps to choose from, using a smartphone doesnt make much sense. The android market and the apple app store and legendary in this regard, with Nokia's Ovi Store coming a very distant third.

There you go, the next time you buy a smartphone make sure its a 'good' one and scores high on your GQ levels.

Claimer: these are my opinions so dont expect them to be universally accepted truth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Idiocy of Indian Television Programmes

Miley Jab Hum TumImage by parul2999 via Flickr
Indian Television. Not really a global phenomenon is it? After all in India, prime time programmes are primarily meant for aunties and grannies. The youth of this country has almost forever been starved of good, quality youth oriented programmes. Unless of course you consider 'programmes' like Roadies (MTV) to be proper programmes for the youth. As the clock strikes 7 (pm of course) thousands of women (my mum included) dedicate all their attention to the television sets, for 'saas-bahu' (mother-in-law vs wife) rivalry, family dramas (epitomised family dramas with joint families the size of elephant packs), evil aunties and well, more evil aunties. And what do we guys watch? Well, there's always THE NEWS, although listening to the same crap being repeated 24x7 does not really make for a pleasant experience. Then there's always the talent hunt shows where every female singer, prodded by her over zealous parents, wants to become a Lata Mangeshkar and where every male singer prodded again by over zealous parents and dreamy eyed girlfriend(s?) to become the next Mohammad Rafi. And then there are the business news channels, but from what I gather and from my personal experience as well, this is not everyone's cup of tea. So what else can we watch? Oh yeah, the 'tech' shows which is about as techy as a supermodel showing off her iPhone, where real techy things like open source, source code, etc. are forbidden words, and where the review of the latest mobile phone depends largely on how good its looks are compared to the other device they 'reviewed' the other day. Thats tech for you on tele. Okay so what the hell do we watch or can we watch? Nothing to be honest. No Indianised versions of western tv series (just copy a few shows if you cant come up with original ideas! Please!), no true Indian world class programmes, not even a proper comedy show!

Of course you might think that expecting a Top Gear or a Lost here in India would be a tall order but frankly, considering the amount of money spent on those zoom-in zoom-out types all 365 days, I think its very much possible. Why cant we have a Lost here? Why not a House? Why not? Honestly why not? Why does the youth of this country have to turn to the US/UK series to satisfy their hunger for top class watchable programmes? Like a lot of things I dont understand (fail to fathom), the reason of this lack of proper good, quality stuff on Indian stuff is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top apps for N97 (Mini)

Ovi Store diventa adulto grazie agli italianiImage by Michele Ficara Manganelli via Flickr
Lets face it, the Ovi Store isnt really a huge repository of apps and most of the apps are well, unusable (read intolerable).

However fortunately there are a few apps which are worth downloading and trying out. I will list them according to my preference (why? Well coz its MY blog and I get to write whatever I want thats why!):

1. Gravity - Well you knew this was going to be the first one didnt you? Frankly Gravity is kind of THE app at the Ovi Store. The twitter cum facebook cum Rss reader cum much more is well and truly the one app which is a must buy if you're on the N97/Mini. The interface is unlike any other and fortunately isnt a memory hog. Hence its perfectly possible to listen to soothing music whil you're tweeting away! To cut the long story short, this is a must download.

2. SPB Mobile Shell - This software transforms the look of your boring N97 into something quite classy and sleek. The look does resemble Android and is not reallty that difficult to use. Okay yeah, it does take some time to get used to but overall this is quite an awesome piece of software totally worthy of its steep price tag. Symbian was never renowned for its looks and this software makes it easier for you to tolerate the boring UI of Symbian by forming a completely different layer. Highly recommended.

3. Raging Thunder - Asphalt 4 for Symbian's touchscreen devices isnt really a good experience. However this game more than makes up for it. Raging Thunder is a car racing game and it uses the built in accelerometer of the devices. That way, this game is quite unique. Also, the price tag is what makes this even more attractive. Completely and whole heartedly recommended.

Nokia - The Way Out

In the past I have criticised Nokia for being utterly nonsensical when it came to coming up with great phones especially of late. But I have nowhere pointed out what it should do to recover its image as a premier mobile manufacturer and a technology leader. Hence today's gonna be an exception.

To be quite honest, Nokia probably knows the way out. But here's what I think should be done:

1. Get a new group of designers on board - Lets face it Nokia phones are now synonymous with the word 'ugly'. Their devices are nothing short of ghastly compared to the finesse and design of the iPhone(s). Getting a new group of designers on board will be the first thing the company needs to do. Nokia needs to realise something basic here: people need functionality as well as a sexy design in their smartphones. Unless Nokia offers them that, its doomed. The smartphone market is no longer the same as it used to be half a decade back. Nokia needs to keep up with the times, desperately.

2. Focus on one OS - Symbian S60 v3, Symbian^1, Symbian^3, Maemo and now Meego. The last thing Nokia one can say about Nokia is its platform uniformity. Almost each of its high end device keeps coming up with a new OS. Thats not just impractical for the consumers but a terrible thing for the developers. What should the developers work on? Meego, maemo, symbian? Thank god I'm not an official developer, else I would have gone crazy by now! Anyway, what needs to be done is to go for ONE particular OS for all its smartphones. Also, Nokia's Android allergy is something beyond my comprehension. Judging from the astronomic growth predictions of android, the world is now divided into two groups: the android and the non-android. Nokia prefers the latter somehow, completely ignoring the fact that android is infact the only OS which has been built for touchscreen devices from the word go.

3. Giving customers value for money products - Lets face it, Nokia phones, especially the recent ones are insanely ugly, insanely slow, insanely dysfunctional and last but not the least insanely under-powered. If Nokia respects and loves its customers it needs to come up with products which have a good balace of feature and price. Android devices and the iPhone(s) are this popular only because the manufacturers are giving consumers a great product which is worth every single penny they are spending. Can't say that for Nokia unfortunately. The N97 Mini is one of the most dysfunctional phones of the planet (I'm currently using one, unfortunately) and still Nokia dares to release this crap and wiat it gets better, price it at around $400-$500. An HTC Legend around the same price is a much better product than that. And well, Nokia phones are reputed for their crap processing capabilities which Nokia fanboys explain as the lack of need of good processors for something as lightweight as Symbian. The statement although partially true, has no practical significance. Symbian OS do need less system resource but for its multitasking capabilities to work (eg. Playing a game and listening to music and downloading content simultaneously) one does need a pretty hardcore powerful processor and RAM. But the great men at Nokia refuse to come to terms with this concept. They are which intent on praising the simplistic UI of Symbian (the ugliest on the planet by the way, if you didnt know) and the fact that its open source (wait, isnt android open source as well? Bloody hell yes! Why the hell then these Nokia folks staunchly supporting Symbian, still?). Nokia needs to do away with this stupidity and be more practical. And for heaven's sake show some respect to your valued customers. What sin did people commit when they bought the 'craptastic' (the word now made famous by Symbianguru) N97? The least Nokia could have done was to ask unhappy customers to return their phones. But NO, Nokia once again proved that it was living in a utopic world where everyone would still be a Nokia fan even if it kept churning out idiotic dysfunctional devices. 'I'm just a dreamer', the famous Ozzy Osbourne track doesnt work in the corporate arena. Nokia would do itself justice by realising that.

4. Create a proper app store - What? Nokia already has an app store, its called the Ovi Store!
Ah yes, of course, the Ovi Store! How many usable apps does it have by the way? Erm...five? Nah that would be lying. How about 3? Yeah thats more like it. How many good usable top quality (not the stupid ones) apps does the Apple App Store and the Android Market have? I can at least mention 150 without stopping and still go on. Need I say more? The Ovi store is the biggest joke from Nokia ever! With absolutely stupid apps being listed in the Recommended section and the lack of proper good apps for even basic tasks such as reading pdf files (thanks largely to Nokia's obsession with ultra low quality harware), the Ovi store is as dead as a dinosaur skeleton. What needs to be done is introducing a new regulatory process for apps and for heaven's sake developing utterly essential ones first, eg. a pdf reader for starters, once where the user wont have to wait for a minute to move from one page to another. Not really too much to ask for. If Apple and Android developers can do it, so can the Nokia developers.

Anyway, those were my suggestions. Sure one can agree or disagree with a few points mentioned here but without a doubt Nokia needs to do something and take drastic measures if it wants to sty at the pinnacle of the smartphone market.

Monday, July 26, 2010

May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss - my review

Arnab Roy (aka Greatbong) is a well known face in the blogsphere. His blog has won numerous awards and has been hailed 'blog of the year' twice. Now I'll be frank with you here, I was never really a fan of his blog. Never cared to subscribe.

But when the guy came up with a full fledged book, one just could not ignore him any further. Also for around 200 bucks, one couldnt really call it an expensive buy. Hence I got hold of it and gave it a read.

What did I make of it? Well honestly, the book is definitely worth a read. Definitely. Arnab has humour in his kitty and he uses that to his advantage. His writing style is casual and even though it may not be a literary work of the highest standard, it surely is something which one will treasure. While going through the first few chapters, I did feel that this was written primarily with the NRI readers in mind. But as I delved deeper I realised that it could be just as true for any Indian in any part of India. Flair is something Arnab has been gifted with and that confidence and flair shows in every page of every chapter of the book. Its not a novel as the author clearly explains. Its more of a 3rd person's view of the 80s and the 90s.

Although I found it quite readable, all the chapters werent of the same standard and my interest fluctuated wildly till I read half the pages (at which point I realised that I couldnt just throw the book away). But inspite of all that I would like to congratulate Arnab for a truly great debut. May we see much more of him in the future.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The N97 Mini - Exposed (Part 2)

(If you havent read the first part of this post, kindly go through it for a more detailed analysis)

That the N97 Mini is having a low quality battery is well known. However the thing is, the battery does get heated up pretty soon and due to the heat generated the phone body (especially the back) becomes insanely hot. A 30 min call from my friend resultedin the phone getting so hot that I had to disconnect to prevent my ears from getting burnt. Thats simply unacceptable on a 21st century device. Although heating is not an issue when one is using 2G or GPRS connections, during wifi usage the phone becomes a pressure cooker. Again, not acceptable on a device which costs around/more than $400.

I am an avid ebook-reader and I am appalled at the lack of ebook readers at the ovi store. Adobe pdf is an extrememly slow ebook reader and so is a bunch of other softwares.

All platforms have proper ebook reading softwares, Well thats what you are supposed to do if a phone with a large screen size. Now anyone please make Nokia understand this. Starving new phones of hardware resources can only erode fan bases. And thats what it needs to learn.

Thanks for reading, I'll be back with more.

The N97 Mini - Exposed (Part 1)

Starting today, I will give a detailed account of what I think of the N97 Mini, a phone which is being incredibly vigorously promoted as the next big thing by Nokia. Is the N97 Mini a good phone? Is it worth buying? I will try and put forth arguments both for and against the functionality of this device and let you decide.

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1. What makes the N97 Mini special - Its probably now well known that even though Nokia manged to sell loads of N97s (the original N97), it really didnt fare well among users. Be it the less than sufficient processing capabilities, the 128MB RAM on a high end device, or the camera lens cover which actually ended up scratching the lens instead of protecting it. There was widespread outrage among users, many of whom had expressed it publicly on the web. It goes without saying that the N97 was terrible PR for Nokia, till then considered an innovative company at the helm of introducing ultra modern technologies to smart phones. The Symbian^1 which was then touted as the next big thing didnt help matter either. It reminded most people of their old S60 v2 and v3 phones and the UI was boring to say the least. Nokia had to do something to spice things up and restore 'order', releasing innumerable patches and updates for the N97 didnt work, and so it did the next best thing, reduced the memory and the size of the phone, packed in a weaker battery (1200mAh compared to N97's 1500mAh) and termed it the new N97 Mini. However it did something positive as well, it improved the build quality of the phone and made it look classier. Or so I thought.

2. Okay, but why does it suck then - Hey wait, I didnt tell you it sucks, not yet. Anyway, lets look at the context of the mobile phone arena and then compare N97 Mini's specs. The iPhone 3GS had been released and another iPhone was on its way which was supposed to have a huge amount of RAM and improved processing speeds. Google had released Nexus One armed with 1Ghz processor and an equally powerful RAM. And there was Nokia who was content with giving customers what they thought was the best deal possible, a 434Mhz processor and 128MB RAM in an attempt to compete. Spare me a second while I enjoy a hearty laugh. It had the same dated unusable insanely unprofessional looking (everything is being compared to iOS and Android here) and unevolving Symbian^1. And the price? Quoted price on most Nokia ads in India was/is Rs. 21000 (more than $400). I was one of the few who got mesmeried by the Nokia story (mainly because I had been a satisfied Nokia user till then). I decided to buy the Nokia argument of it being a better device. A decision which would come back and haunt me every single day henceforth.

When I first got my N97 Mini, I was really happy! The white phone looked beautiful and so did the keypad. I loved typing using the QWERTY and the phone soon became my treasured possession. I then started to put the device to the test and see if I could really be 'at one' with it. Shocks after shocks after shocks followed. It was soon clear to me that something was wrong, very wrong.

The phone wasnt lasting long enough, even on normal regular use which included listening to songs, browsing, using wifi to stream music and of course making calls it was hard to make the phone last more than 8 hours. In a bid to improve battery life and performance I changed from a snazzy looking theme to a toned down almost mellow inbuilt theme for my phone. Widgets, something of a huge USP for Nokia, had to be turned off, at least the online ones or else they would consume power and diminish battery life further. I had to reduce calls, reduce internet access and wifi usage to a minimum especially when I ventured outdoors without a charging cable in my bag. Yeah I know what you might be thinking, how was I supposed to use the phone without those features, well it seems Nokia cares little for its 'valued' customers and the sole reason for this uber crap battery life was nothing other than the underpowered 1200mAh battery. And that was just the start. Symbian^1 sucks just as much today as it did when the N97 Mini came out. The UI is outstandingly boring. You would need pure talent to create a boring UI like that. Well, at least they could have copied Apple or Android! That would have resulted in a better looking OS! Anyway. Next came the hardware which was so insanely dated that I could imagine my father getting this phone on his first mararige anniversary! Nokia has a strange fascination with dated hardware, it perhaps stems from a monopolistic attitude it has developed over the years being the no 1 smartphone manufacturer. Its like the company is telling its customers "haha you moron, this is what you deserve, cry as much as you want to, I wont give you a better device." Of course Nokia didnt say this, but frankly as a customer who had bought a new N97 Mini this is what I felt. The application manager constantly keeps crashing and notifying me to close running apps when no apps are running. Multitasking is a pain thanks to the incapable processor and RAM.

And then came the ovi store. What the **** is that? Well its an app store. You mean like an Apple App Store? Yeah, kind of. Are you sh*tting me? Ovi and Apple? That is like the biggest baddest saddest and poorest joke ever! The ovi store is so starved of apps that in a bid to create proper ones, Nokia introduced an App wizard for non programmers! Yeah you heard me right. Well that did help increase the number of apps but what that made the ovi store was an absolute piece of junk. Whenever I see apps mentioned on sites on the web, I'm pretty certain that its either for the iPhone or for Android. I mean there is no proper pdf file reader for symbian platforms! Adobe reader is almost unusable and so are many others. Its a pain to read pdf documents on the N97 unless you have hundreds of hours to spare waiting for pages to load.

I will be posting more such reality checks soon. I have been CHEATED, DUPED AND MISGUIDED by the company I once was a fan of. I know I have been rude at places in this post, but hey, I have spent my money (and a huuge amount of it) on the phone and I have not been delivered what I was promised. I have the right to complain and let others know what they are signing up for when they buy a N97 Mini. Stay away from fanboys, do your research well, especially before you buy a Nokia.

Take care folks, and thank you so much for reading. I'll be back with more soon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Make the N97 Mini battery last longer

Its an open secret that the N97 Mini battery sucks ass. Its terrible to say the least, completely unworthy of the 'N' series tag. A 1200mAh battery is completely insufficient to run a Symbian^1 OS. Anyway, all curses and slangs aside, here are a few ways you can make your N97 Mini battery last longer:

1. Remove all online widgets: Yes I know that sucks and that Nokia has always proudly advertised widgets one of the strong points of the newer N-series devices, but fact is given the less than standard battery quality of the N97 Mini, you'll have to live without these online widgets. In short make your phone look naked, like this:

2. Make changes to the Display settings: This might inconvenience a lot of people but this has to be done. Change your display settings to as minimalistic as it can get. Something like this is less than tolerable but will make your phone last about 6-8 hours (thats a long time for the N97 Mini actually as you'll discover later in the post).

3. Switch off all connectivity options when not in use: This applies to Bluetooth, WAP services, 3G as well as WiFi. All of these draw insane amount of power from the battery. Remember this, if you switch on the WiFi on your phone manually, you'll have to switch it off manually as well, it wont disconnect automatically. In short, remember to disconnect WiFi on your device as soon as you're done. I had unknowingly used an online music streaming client for around 2 hrs and the battery drained to level zero in 2 hrs flat.

(Just for your info, WiFi connectivity is indicated by a small symbol on the top right corner of your N97 Mini display:

WAP/3G connectivity is indicated by another small symbol on the top left corner:

So make sure you aren't leaving these in their "on" state when you're done. I wont talk about GPS here since the N97 Mini does not come with a free GPS package, no sir, not even for a month. And since GPS rates in India are almost worth a new iPhone, I havent tried it out. But I believe the same rule of switch it off when not in use applies to it as well.

Oh wait, I almost forgot, using the WiFi for a long time, well 2 hours is all it can run anyway, makes the device suffer from SERIOUS heating issues. So make sure you have ice cold water near you just in case when you switch WiFi on)

3. Dont leave any games open: I know the N97 Mini does multitasking but its useless coz of the battery that has been packed in it. The N97 Mini seems to be screaming for more power and Nokia seems to have turned a deaf ear to all its cries. Anyway, if you're into multitasking, make sure you're multitasking with simple stuff like say, a music app and a calendar. Dont try multitasking with a game and a web browser or youtube app. The you're gonna be pretty much in for a rough ride. So, if you leave any games running in the background, you can be sure that the next time you look at your phone, it will have run out of power and switched itself off.

4. Dont run constantly updating online apps for more than 5-10 mins at a time: This applies to Twitter clients like Gravity and Snaptu. If you're using these apps, dont leave them running for hours. That way, you can be pretty sure of immense power wastage. I fell asleep the other day for around an hour or so and had left gravity running, to my utter shock when I woke up, the battery was nearly dead by then.

So, in conclusion what can I say?

Well lets say the N97 Mini looks better and performs better when its switched off.

Make sure you take utmost care of the device when its on, or else....bleeeeeeeeeeeep.

Macro Photography on N97 Mini

Surely everything about the N97 Mini cant be bad. Hence, I wanted to give a shot at perhaps the only positive thing on that phone, its camera. The phone has a 5 Megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss Lens with dual LED flash. Although the flash is less than satisfactory in case of night photography, the lens however is indeed a revelation, especially when it comes to macro shots (aka close up shots).

First up, the settings. I changed them to Close up and turned the Flash Off.

Here are a few macro images I shot with the N97 Mini (the pic following each of them, indicates detailed info about the shot and the lens used):





Tell me what you think of it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

N97 Mini Battery Life Woes

I am currently being forced to write this post as I have recently been affected by the unimaginably poor battery life of Nokia N97 Mini. Yesterday some of my friends came over and I had to put the N97 Mini for the first time to the test. The Mini has a 1200mAh battery (substantially reduced from the original N97 which had a 1500mAh one). And yes, expectedly the battery life or the extreme lack of it, is giving me serious problems. I will in detail list my points below.

1. Widgets: Nokia has somehow been fascinated by widgets and is proudly hailing it as a USP in current devices. However what is missed especially in case of the N97 Mini is that these widgets, the ones which require internet connectivity eg. facebook, email widgets etc. draw a huge amount of power from the battery.

2. WiFi - Cool technology eh? Yeah I guess and Nokia thinks so as well, only if it had been serious enough to give it a proper thought before implementing it in devices. (Read on for more details on this)

3. Screen Display Brightness - Oh well, the one time I tested the device using full brightness, it didnt even last me 6 hours! So, forget about using your device outside an air conditioned chamber (read indoors).

Okay, so here's what I tested. I enabled the facebook and email widgets and waited for it to see how long it lasted. To my utter shock and surprise, on normal use which included occasional phone calls and using offline games (oh well I do have Quake 2 installed on my N97 Mini, coz thats the only decent game available for the device. If you're getting an N97 Mini make sure you're NOT a gamer, it has NO GPU, so forget about gaming, just for the info, all recent devices including lower end Android ones and of course the iPhone have dedicated GPUs), the battery hardly lasted me 5-6 hours. Hence, if you're using the N97 Mini, dont use online widgets, or else make sure you carry the charging cables (USB or charger) with you all the time and stay close to a PC or a socket, always.

Next came the acid test. WiFi. I was using Mobbler, a highly popular LastFM client and Tune Wiki. It took me simply 2-3 hours to reduce a fully charged N97 Mini to a completely battery life famished device. Which is like saying, dont use this device to use if you're a heavy WiFi user.

And for the sake of decency I am not comparing this with recent Android and the iPhone, but you get the point.

So, not only is this device underpowered (memory and processing capability wise), its also under-powered (quite literally) as well.

I was completely unaware of this aspect of the N97 Mini till I put it to the test yesterday and today in the morning. Bottomline, I am hating it. I am looking at options to sell this device and get an Android powered one. The severe lack of processing capabilities, softwares, proper usable OS and now a less than usable battery is too much for me to bear. This is my last Nokia. I really dont care if the company comes up with a better device in the future. I am currently ruing my decision, and feeling really crap coz of having spent a substantial amount of moolah on this. May Nokia be a better company and may it produce better devices in the future, but I honestly dont give a damn.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are there any Ubuntu haters today?

I was watching a video on youtube the other day of ThisWeekInLinux where the topic of discussion was Ubuntu haters.

Now even till a few years back I had my reservations about Ubuntu. It was a new distro, with a huge focus on making life easy for he average user. However, it was (and still is) being run by a South African billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth who made his fortune by providing security solutions for online transactions. I wasnt sure of his intentions and frankly I wasnt convinced if a new company with only a few employees would be able to revolutionise the Linux market by making it more user-friendly. Open SUSE had always been a very efficient OS and beating it to become the most popular distro was bound to difficult.

Fast forward to 2010. Ubuntu as of today is by far the most popular Linux distro on the planet with millions of users worldwide and gaining market share at a spectacular rate. Was this expected? I'd say no. But it only happened because the guys at Canonical (the company in charge of Ubuntu) knew what they were doing. They have in the past 2-3 years improved the usability of Ubuntu so much that now, its almost synonymous with Linux. Infact google insight predicts that soon, ubuntu will overtake linux as the more used search term! Thats quite an extraordinary achievement for a relatively new distribution.

Now there's a new group of people who think that Ubuntu's spoiling the Linux environment by making it a more n00b friendly. I really dont understand how something user friendly can be bad. Even experienced programmers I talk to tell me that after a hard day of coding, the last thing they need is to make another bash script when they get home, hence their liking for the distro.

Linux has forever been a geek's platform, and thats exactly the reason why it has almost been neglected by software companies for many years. Thanks to Ubuntu's success, Linux is making all the right noises. Ubuntu has such a huge market share with such a diverse community that its progress is the progress of Linux. Now that cant be a bad thing now can it?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is Nokia really losing?

I recently got myself a brand new N97 Mini. I have forever been a Nokia fan, and wanted to try out this new device which has certain improvements over the disastrous N97. When I got hold of the N97 Mini, I was pretty happy with it, the touch sensitivity is decent inspite of it having a resistive touch screen. The build quality is really good and so is the form factor. The main advantage of this device is the presence of a QWERTY keyboard. This comes in really really handy when one is typing long posts like this one or say, an email.

I find it a pain to type on a virtual keyboard. That may also be because the N97 Mini doesnt have a true landscape keyboard and one has to use the default phone layout.

Anyway, once the amazement factor faded away, I slowly discovered the true picture of the device. The thing is, this phone uses exactly the same processor and RAM as the new X6, N97 original. This has 128MB of RAM, runs Symbian^1 and has 8GB of internal memory. Symbian unlike the iOS is built for multitasking. In fact having used Nokia for many years now, I cant think of using a phone which doesnt offer multitasking, I have sort of taken it for granted on my phones. Unfortunately however, as you might have figured out, the RAM and the processor (ARM 11 434 MHz processor) are totally insufficient for this device. This is not to say that it hampers day to day use of the device, but it definitely doesnt give you the "edge" which something like a Nexus one or an iPhone gives you. Although the blame of producing an insufficiently powered device can only be blamed on the Finnish manufacturer, Symbian^1 doesnt help things either. Although decent, Symbian^1 is not specifically suitable for touchscreen devices, although ironically it has been built for it. Vertical browsing of apps is quite difficult simply because a) it takes quite some time to "load" the menu and b) its perfectly possible that you end up opening the wrong apps while browsing through the list. I felt disappointed, even though I knew that I was using one of the "high-end" devices of Nokia.

And finally came the death knell. The iPhone 4. Armed with a magnanimous 512MB of RAM and a blazing fast 1Ghz processor, this soon became the device of the year thus far. The iOS was revamped to support multitasking, subfolders and some extra jingles. It now has a gyroscope, obviously a superb touch screen and now a retina display. Its hard to miss the irony here. When Apple is trying to outdo everyone else by revamping their phone, Nokia seems quite content to come up with refurbished (sorry but thats the most appropriate term) devices for example N97 mini, N95 (phew cant even remember how many versions of it we had!), 5800 etc. These are dated devices in today's scenario. Unfortunately Nokia simply ignores the current situation where all other manufacturers are simply coming up with better devices. And from the looks of it, the N8 wont be much of a game changer either. Its simply lacks the punch to compete with most of the flagship devices of other companies and I'm not even considering Apple.

Finally, the biggest failure of Nokia in my opinion is the failure to create a proper software market. Its obsession with Symbian, now MeeGo makes it really difficult for developers to come up with proper apps. Hence the Ovi Store even after a year of its launch is simply a complete and utter disaster. Compare that to the Android market or the Apple App Store.

Is Nokia losing? Hell yes, and fast. The departure of many noted blogs from the web including the famed SymbianGuru is proof enough of that. Unless they get their act straight, which in my opinion is going to be very very difficult, Nokia will soon become a phenomenon of the past which once had a majority market share in smartphone devices.

But lets end on a positive note, and hope this legendary company does get its act together (I alongwith millions of others are pinning my hopes on this man, Anssi Vanjoki, the new head of mobile solutions, Nokia. His recent statement can be found here on his blog: )

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Roger Federer, end of an era?

Yesterday's match was brutally a proof of the fact that Roger Federer, arguably the most popular and successful tennis player that has ever walked the earth, might be nearing the end of his professional career. Ranked consistently as the world no. 1 for a long time, his exit from the Wimbledon quarter finals this year to a relatively low ranked player was unexpected. To be honest, I doubt if Birdych fans had expected such a result.

Some say this augurs well for tennis as it opens the door for new talents, the younger generation of ultra fit sportsmen. Roger Federer was never really in the group of power servers or power players. His amazing agility on court, his breathtaking strokeplay coupled with his graceful movement and humility won him fans all over the world. I bet the English spectators in the court were as big a fan of his as any Swiss, and were as devastated by his loss.

Most people have started asking 'the' question now. Is it the end of the Federer era? Are we ever going to see a display of top class tennis from the man?

It would be unfair if not wrong to strike off Federer from the current best players list. Even though he's all set to be ranked no. 3 in the world now, a new low for him, its still a very very good rank. Fans and non-fans alike always expect him to reach such a high standard of gameplay that it becomes noted as a failure if he does not manage to qualify for the semi finals. However none can deny that Federer's current form is definitely not his best. We all know how he can come back after losing a set or two. I'm pretty confident that this great player will pave his back to the top, where he belongs.