Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
So with two entire PCs at my disposal, I left them idle and skyped with JVM for almost 2 hours on my lowly little s620 mobile phone, which I also used to send a picture of myself to him via email from the phone during the call.
Worked well over 802.11g although there are a couple of limitations:
1. The phone can only be used in speakerphone or wired headset mode. Skype hasn't sorted the bluetooth or regular audio paths yet.
2. His inbound audio stream would sometimes repeat certain words and phrases repeat words and phrases (just like that). It didn't jitter or stutter, just repeated whole 2 or 3 second chunks. JVM didn't hear anything like that on his end.
3. Sucked my battery dry in 1 hour. The phone had 2 bars of juice when I started but it ran down quite rapidly when I had the speakerphone on.
However kudos to Rogers wireless, for although they are the Great Evil, they are one of the few North American operators to ship a GSM/EDGE phone direct from their retail stores with wifi enabled.
Thumbs up for the little s620.
Love this one. Although its not optimized for the landscape QVGA screen yet, it is incredibly useful. It features a multicity weather forecast display, with high/low temperatures, precipitation, great graphics and an easy way to display todays weather in 6 or 8 cities with the local times displayed, country dialling code, time zone difference, and a sun/cloud icon. In fact the icons show rain, snow, lightning and can be displayed on the homescreen of the phone too but I don't do this because it removes some homescreen features that I need, like the communications manager shortcut for flipping wifi and bluetooth on or off.
The forecast comes down wirelessly in tiny chunks or when you cable synch to your PC. I set up the Fizz "home" screen so that at a glance I can use it to monitor the weather here at home, in Calgary, where I have family and friends snowed in, Boston where the aforementioned JVM is lonely, London where sparx et famille are expanding, Munich where my lead customer seethes, and Seoul where my distributor lies silently awaiting product. I bought the app for the multiple time zone feature and currency converter, but really like the weather feature and wish that it had tide charts and sunset times for rowing and other outdoorsy purposes.
The currency converter is priceless (fnarr) especially when I'm submitting a three-currency expense report which I have to do every month or so (airline tickets, cab fare and breakfast in Canadian, lunch in US, and then a weeks worth of accommodations and meals in Euros or Korean Won) thanks to flight paths that force me to connect through the US, etc.
Like the weather forecast, the currency rates may be set to autodownload, or on demand from the IMF. They appear to agree with x-rates.com generally and are available for a bewildering array of currencies from Venezuelan Bolivars to Polish Zloty and Slovenian Tolars (what's the plural for zloty?). The converter also handily does length, area, weight, speed, temperature, volume, power, mens and womens shoe sizes and even shirt and dress sizes for the Uk, US and Europe. Truly brilliant for travelling. Even does torque for those moments when you desperately need newton metres converted to pound feet.
I have to say that I use this tool in some way every day. Today I checked my German customer's loc weather forecast so that on our weekly call this morning, I could distract him from the grim reality of more slippages by waxing lyrically about the coming thunderstorms and wild temperature swings expected for Munich this weekend (low of 4C and high of 23C today, for those readers itching to know). Then later in the morning I booked a trade show in Sweden for October, and converted the equipment rental charges from Swedish Krona into Canadian to cut the PO. Marvellously practical. It does need a built in calculator though.
Great app and the 5 day forecast is 100% reliable so far, beating even the local news
Love the well-rendered alarm clock manager, which easily allows multiple configurations for repeats and weekday/weekend behaviour, and easy audio capture (I have a WAV of my better half whispering gently:
"Hoto..Ho-To. It's time to get u-u-p.") and nice graphics. Much easier to get to than the default alarm clock.
I could go on but you get the picture (well, at least the words - more on my ongoing picture blogging fiasco later).
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Unfortunately picoblogger appears to be toast and there's no other smartphone blogging tool that I can find to post pictures. Also, picture messaging isn't working and some troll at Rogers told me "it's never worked for Windows Mobile" and proceeded to tell me that I was mistaken in thinking that it ever worked. The blogs and forums confirm that others are having the same problem. Boo.
190.5 tonight. Lost my Bavarian bulge.
The software works like a dream and my mum could have installed it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
This phone rocks. 97kbps over EDGE as tested today at www.bandwidthplace.com/speedtest. Quad band phone, nice camera optics, WIFI b/g and tons of storage. Tiny too. Windows mobile 5.0. Excuse me while I wipe my ejaculate from it.
It's OK. Don't worry gentle readers. I know the female members of my audience won't have been offended by that remark since they stopped reading at "this phone rocks".
Monday, May 14, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
10-12 hours per day at the customer site means we have eaten in the hotel three out of five nights. The food is apalling and carb laden. I have manfully moved from the tightest mark in my new 'skinny' belt to the third tightest. I guess I'm up about 10lbs since I left. Had a good day at the customer site today and finished the week off with a relatively succesful
customer demo for Siemens Nokia. our hosts here are great but likely glad to see the back of us.
Managed to get into the centre of München two times. Actualy it is a 5 minute walk across the Isar river, past the Deutches museum, through Isartorplatz and into Marienplatz. Quite pretty. Went for dinner at Spatenhaus for a reasonable deer steak, across from the King's Palace. They gave us English menus which was a little lame, since its half the fun figuring out options like Ochsenfilet and Spargel. They had translated the harder German words, but they also translated non German words...badly. Thanks to a vaguely tantalizing description for one appetizer ("spicy meat with malt bread") I ended up with another plate of fucking raw meat. Germans should be aware that Steak Tartare is in fact an internationally known dish.
tonight however the sun came out and we hosted our hosts at the (apparently) famous Knockerberg in Hochstrasse, sitting outside in the biergarten. Nice enough but newish and soulless. Apparently the old building was torched and the new one is like Vegas does Brau-haus. Food was OK and we enjoyed the hefeweissen. However, I actually can't remember what I ate which gives you an idea of the lasting impression the place made.
Wasted one morning trying to find a replacement travel charger for my ipaq and learned that one is not to be found in downtown München. Kaufhof, Conrad and many other stores are useless. I was repeatedly referred to MediaMarkt but it proved too elusive in the 30 minutes I had available. Note: stores open at 9 or 10am and close at 8pm. Most are closed by 5pm on weekends.
Anyway back at my hotel room last night I carefully applied all my advanced electrical engineering skills to my broken charger. By employing a systematic and scientific method, (aimlessly wiggling the cable) I fixed it. Now I can watch movies on the plane tomorrow and stave off utter insanity on the 11 hours between me and Calgary.
My summary of München? The city is neat, pretty, clean and easy to navigate, befitting the capital city of such an orderly place as Bavaria. However this is based entirely upon my hopelessly inadequate forays to and from Siemens along Rosenheimstrasse, and into Marienplatz and back. A total of about 8km of streets. My magnificent photo essay of this 800 year old gem will be posted soon (an eyecatching array of stunningly wrought images snapped from my hotel room window: same view, different weather. What a twat.)
Nice bike paths, like The Hague with their own traffic lights.
Too tired to be glib. <i>Sheisse</i> I can't wait to be outta here.
As they say in Bavaria,
(probably ciäö, actually)
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
but not in enough time to get anything but a middle seat, back of the bus, no recline. Luckily my seat mates were small, forgiving and ENL (English as a Non Language) so no distracting chatter and plenty of shoulder room. Unfortunately for them I had been dining with a colleague and prospect at La Poissonaire in Ste. Laurent which meant my clothes and I stank of fish and Tunisian cuisine (heavy on the garlic homous, onions and spiced meat). Apart from the fish, which I had declined to pick from a pile of slimy, unappetizing flesh, lunch was delish; but due in part to a particularly awesome menu feature (which I believe was named Kebbe Nayeh: raw minced beef, mint leaves, raw onion and oil) I was burping Tunisian air bombs like no tomorrow. I managed to grab two Dentyne Ice packs on my mad dash through the airport, put a whole 12-pack in my mouth, chewed it for 60 secs and swallowed it whole, adding a minty fresh overtone to my malaise d' gut, slicing the top edge off the foul stench rumbling from me every 5 minutes.
LH actually fed me reasonable fare, the service was unreal, and the first movie (Freedom Writers) bearable (except when Swank was virtually alone on screen at which points her equine grimace and one-dimensional fluster abraded like a belt sander).
Some woman went unconscious mid flight again, and this time every crew member in Econ responded, literally dragging her limp form back to the rear galley directly behind me. The call went out for docs and there was a polite skirmish beside me and my bemused row-mates as several SimuDocs who had wormed their way aft to us engaged in a lively game of EscalatingCredentials(tm):
"Are you a doc?"
"I'm a radiologist. You?"
"Endocrinologist. How about you, there?"
"Yah, I'M a surgeon."
So AlphaDoc goes into action. AEDs, O2 tanks and various other kits are summoned and dutifully delivered. 30 mins later, relieved-looking cabin crew start emerging from behind the gray curtains and, leaving them pulled aside, expose those of us in the back row to an ebullient and honking doc's post-trauma bedside manner, consisting primarily of shouting at the vic and her bewildered spouse-unit to ask how they feel now, and about how insignificant their world travels must seem in compared to his.
I manage to pack the Shure ear buds in deep enough to block out most of his '97-98 world tour and interminable waxing on about St. Petersburg, and enjoy 90% of The Good Shepherd on my iPaq, and 95% of Timothy Taylor's Story House before touchdown.
Misty and cold in Munich. Alex was there to get me at 0630. A 1.25hr rainy drive to Erlangen put us in time for a large Euro breakfast with Hannes, Bea and Ben.
Its now 10:30pm by the bedside clock. By my reckoning I've been up for
32 hrs and have a delightfully bloodshot tale to tell of cool misty hikes to the top of Franconia's highest hill that (thanks to an indefatigueable Hannes) start, are bisected by, and end with a litre of beer. I have added a layer of smoked meat, cheese and whitebread breakfast, double bratwürst sausage lunch and killer asparagus/cheese casserole dinner from Bea over the simmering cauldron of La Poissonaire.