Pre-3GSMWC: Everybody is busy

Sun 12/02/2006 12:53
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Like on a Formula 1 weekend. As you can see on the pictures, there are trucks everywhere and people swarming around to prepare equipment. It is going to be great!!!

Pre-3GSMWorldCongress: HelloMoto and HelloSamsung

I have to admit that I had some doubts whether the plane would fly to Barcelona yesterday evening when we drove to Stuttgart airport in a snow blizzard. This morning, however, the weather was great and we made it to Barcelona without any problems. What a beautiful city, I will post some pictures in the next couple of days.

As in Cannes, the 3GSMWC decorates the city. This year, Motorola (see picture) and Samsung have plastered half the buildings between the airport and the fairground. Motorola advertises it´s cool design while Samsung points out that they are the ones with the first HSDPA mobile phone. Design vs. technology 🙂

Tip for those arriving early: Get your badge with the barcode you have received already on Sunday. Might save you some queueing time.
Sat 11/02/2006 15:08 Text note


Milenage – How to make GSM even more complicated

Once upon a day, GSM authentication and encryption was quite easy. A key, a random number, a little algorithm and off you go. Seems that was too easy for some people so they came up with a new authentication and encryption system called Milenage. Very hard to find  information about this written for the ‘non cryptanalyst’. Fortunately, I’ve finally found an exception. Take a look here. Enjoy!

How to Moblog from the 3GSMWorldCongress

One thing you want to avoid at the 3GSMWorldCongress is to carry a notebook computer around all day long. So here is my equipment lineup for this year to ensure mobile blogging from the event and Barcelona in general (see pictures): Barcelona CD from Monserrat Caballé and Fredie Mercury as MP-3 files on the phone to get in the mood, Nokia 6680 with keyboard, travel guide, and a Moleskine book to take notes the Hemingway style. So watch out for the moblogs from Barcelona to come!


The Personal Mobile Web Server

Every day, mobile phones and the Internet come closer together. Recently, Nokia R&D have announced that they’ve ported Apache and Python to the S60 OS. They envisage to use the mobile web server to create new services for people on the net depending on the location of the owner. Indeed, interesting thoughts. I say let’s turn the stick around for a moment and think about what a web server embedded in a mobile phone can do for the owner.

A web server in a mobile phone combined with Wifi can also be a powerful personal platform, i.e. serving mainly the owner of the device. We are not far away, Nokia has already announced Wifi support in the Nokia N80 which should be on the market very soon. Here are some applications for a combination of Apache, Python and Wifi in a mobile phone:

  • While you are at home, the mobile phone is part of your network via Wifi. Instead of using the small phone keyboard for many things like writing text messages or to change settings, you can use a web browser which communicates with the personal web server on the mobile phone.
  • Today I use Yahoo! Go for synchronizing my calendar and address book with the web. This way, I can edit my contacts and my calendar via a web browser while at home or at work and synchronize back and forth between the desktop and the mobile phone. With a personal web server in the phone, no synchronization is necessary anymore. Everything is always in the phone. Of course there should be a function in the phone that automatically sends a backup of all data to a server while I am at home.
  • If you are away from home and in the office, you can still use the web browser instead of the mobile phone as the web server can also be accessed via the cellular network.

Wifi_1 These are just a few example of what the combination of web server, programming language and Wifi will enable people to do with a mobile phone in the future. Not to speak of all the other things Wifi on it’s own will bring like Voice over IP in the Wifi network at home and in the office, storage of all your music and videos on the phone and distribution to devices like the TV and stereo set at home, personal file server.

Almost everything is in place, now a couple of people just have to take the next step.


Oh Centrino compatibility…

So here it is, my brand new notebooks with all the bells and whistles I’ve been missing with ‘that other old notebook’ while traveling. The last area in which I expected problems during installation was the wireless LAN card, Centrino label on it and all.

Yes, I still do believe in the message of some advertisements 🙂 The WLAN card worked at first for simple web page downloads and other things but failed whenever I tried to do some more advanced stuff like Skype or video streaming. So o.k. maybe it doesn’t like my access point. No big deal, got a second one for testing purposes. With that one it was even worse, lost connection every couple of seconds. Next I looked at the driver version for the Intel 2200BG driver (802.11b/g) and saw that it was from 2004… No wonder it doesn’t work… Next, I went to the notebook manufacturer’s homepage. Surprise, surprise, they still offer that same driver for download. O.k., been there before, so I downloaded the original driver from Intel, it’s just 80 MB (no kidding…). That one is from 2005. After installation, the WLAN works just fine.

Intel, wake up! Manufacturers that put your Centrino logo on a notebook should be forced to put recent drivers on the device. Lucky me I knew what I was doing. What about all those ‘ordinary users’ out there that can’t fix such a problem? They should not even have it!

14th Carnival of the Mobilists is out!

Daniel Taylor hosts this week’s edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists on his Mobile Enterprise Weblog. This week’s topics include the Gathering of the Mobilists at the 3GSMWorldCongress in Barcelona, Industry Trends, Mobility & Web 2.0, User Behavior and Mobile Applications.

If you are looking for a round up of what people have written on mobile topics in the past week, this is the blog to read!

S60 get’s hit by it’s “little” brother

For some time now, Nokia has used the Symbian S60 OS for it’s smartphones / high end mobile phones. The guys over that are quite happy with recent sales figures and see their OS becoming more and more popular. Today, however, I got a call from a friend of mine telling me that he’s reconsidering his current plan to wait for the Nokia N80 and instead go for the Nokia 6280 which uses, according to the Nokia website, the S40 OS (see a Nokia video of the phone). Tough times ahead for S60?

The 6280 seems to be a nice, slick UMTS phone with a crisp QVGA screen (320×240 pixel), 2 Megapixel camera, active standby screen and very compact dimensions (99,9 x 46 x 21 mm, 91 cm³). It’s only 21 mm thick, quite impressive for a UMTS phone. Even more impressive after seeing the video was the fact that Nokia says on it’s web page that this is a S40 phone!? O.k., I said to my friend, but it doesn’t have a number of things which make it worthwhile to wait for the N80:

  • Built in WLAN
  • 3 Megapixel camera
  • Direct File system support over USB without drivers
  • All the cool S60 applications I use like Liveblog, Opera, Office programs, Custom MP-3 player, RSS Reader, etc.

True he said, but if the 6280 is on the market before the N80, he’ll go for it anyway, it’s just powerful enough for him… I guess that proves that S60 will have a hard time extending beyond the smartphone market down to lower ranks. S40 and others seem to be too strong already and already knock on the smartphone door. Together with new Java JSRs, such operating systems might even try to get a share of the smartphone market for themselves. Well, competition is good 🙂

P.S.: Looks like the movie above was made in the U.S. -> the phone however is only GSM/WCDMA 2100 so it will only work in Europen UMTS networks…

Reading Blogs on the Go – Part 2

In the previous entry on how to read blogs on the go I described my motivation for mobile blog reading,  discussed a Symbian Series 60 blog reader application, and shared my thoughts on  features I would like to see in the future. In the meantime I discovered yet another blog reader application and have come up with some more thoughts how the experience can be improved in the somewhat more distant future.

The second Symbian Series 60 blog reader application I’ve tested is called ‘Newspaper. Compared to the RescoNews Application described earlier it features a desktop program which retrieve RSS feeds and puts the contents into a single file that can then be downloaded to the mobile device via Bluetooth or other means. Of course application on the mobile can download feeds via a wireless packet connection but due to the size of those feeds if one has more than a couple of blogs in the blogroll might be too expensive. I had some trouble to download my RSS feeds via Bluetooth as the file size was about 1.5 MB and my 6630 refused to properly start the application. Only when I manually copied the file to a memory card and started the application from there did I succeed. Two other things that can easily be improved in a future version make me lean heavily on the RescoNews Application as my favorite reader: Scrolling in the Newspaper application is very slow, for every click of the down button I just got 3/4 of a new line. Scrolling down a whole page just requires too many clicks. Further, the program has no option to sort all blog entries by date which I prefer to the by blog ordering on a mobile device. A promising application if the usability is somewhat improved.

In the last blog entry I was described some enhancements which would be easy to implement in a future mobile blog reader application. However, one problem remains that is unlikely to be solved in the short term: It happens often enough to me that a blog entry contains links to other blogs or web pages or that I would like to see the full blog entry if only partially contained in the RSS feed. On the mobile device I think twice before following such a link as those pages are usually not formatted for a mobile device. For the future I envision that web pages and especially blogging sites take a closer look at the browser string of a request and automatically reformat the blogs for a mobile device. As one can not expect this happening over night, how about a flag in the RSS feed that tells the reader if the corresponding blog entry can be view in a mobile optimized version? This wouldn’t solve the link issue but at least the issue with reading the full blog entry.