Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dad's new dog (Dexter)

Dad's new dog (Dexter)
Originally uploaded by David Hulbert.
My Dad got a new dog a while ago. He's very small and cute.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I haven't blogged about my incredible girlfriend Hannah in ages now. Nothing bad's happened, I just haven't had much to say. We're still going out and love each other very much.

  • January 2nd: I asked Hannah out! She said yes! Happiness ensued! We had a great week together then had to leave for seperate universities. Hannah visited the next weekend so we weren't apart for long.
  • January 21st: We went to my cousins wedding together! There was also more visiting.
  • February 14th: Valentines day! My car broke a bit though. A fantastic week!
During March and April we've been seeing each other about every 2 weeks as we've both had way too much work to do. Hannah's finished her disertation and now just has exams. We'll hopefully see each other soon as we really miss each other lots.

Over the Summer we're going to look for jobs but hopefuly not start work until Autumn. We're going to Soul Survivor and hopefully somewhere nice on holiday! It's going to be an amazing Summer as we'll have each other and no work to do!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Nokia N91 vs Nokia N80 (Updated)

Update: Mike has posted why he thinks these phones aren't very good. See below for his opinions and why (I think) he's wrong.

Informed speculation: The N91 is coming out probably in a week or 2 in the UK. The N80 should be out about a week after (I guess). Pre-ordering the N91 ranges from free on a £45 contract up to about £200 on a cheap contract, which should go down to £100 or less in a month or 2. The phones themselves can be pre-ordered for around £500. Both definately available on O2, most likely all other major networks too.

Random note: phones that are free on cheap contracts should sell for £100 to £150 on eBay fairly easily. That means you could upgrade to the best free phone they'll give you, sell it and buy a new phone sans-contract.

Features on N91 and N80:

  • Symbian 9.1 OS with S60 Ver 3
  • uPnp (easily stream stuff if you have the right software / hardware)
  • USB mass storage profile
  • Bluetooth 1.2 (I think; means no A2DP - Bluethooth headphones)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11g
  • FM radio
  • CPU around 300MHz (I think)
  • Super-cool web browser with zoom and other exciting stuff (e.g. find as you type, frames, loads more)
  • FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) which means the firmware can be upgraded free without going to a Nokia center. I think.

Nokia N91 better:
  • 4GB hard drive vs expensive miniSD (128MB, max 2GB) on N80! Very important
  • 3.5mm headphone jack built in vs needing in-line remote on N80
  • Music playback keys
  • Shiny metal chromeyness

Nokia N80 better:
  • 4x screen resolution (352x416) of N91 (176x208)! Very important
  • 3.2Mp camera vs 2.0Mp of N91 (and presumably better video recording too)
  • Front video conferencing (0.3MB, VGA) camera vs none on N91
  • Infra Red (IrDA; not really used much but may be useful for remote controlling stuff if it's CIR)
  • More world network frequencies (not that I'm going anywhere)
  • Black hotness (unless you get the grey one)

Other alternatives (phones with Wi-Fi)

  • Nokia E70:
  • Business phone with mostly same software as N80, not so good camera but has fold out keyboard.
  • HTC Universal: Very feature-rich phone with everything you could want (tho only 1.3Mp camera) but is a huge brick.
  • Nokia N92: Just about every feature of N80. Slightly smaller resolution but larger size screen. Includes DVB-H for TV reception. Takes SD. Is a bit bigger. Won't be out for longer.
  • Sony Ericsson P990i: Touchscreen, silly keyboard though.
Ogg support
New Symbian S60 v3 phones don't seem to support ogg (vorbis) audio ou tof the box, even though they support AAC, WMA and MP3. Older Symbian phones can play ogg fiels with OggPlay, which has a codec for ogg so any audio program can play them. As far as I'm aware this does not exist for the latest S60 platform. Hopefully someone will write a codec for ogg on Symbian v3 soon.

N80 reviews:

Mike's words are in grey (sometimes smaller when he goes off on a rant :-). My replies are black. View his post, which he copied from me without linking! Naughty Mike.

Like all phones before them they have an operating system.
All phones have an OS, but Symbian is very open - you can develop your own applications which use phone features very easily. Like Java but simpler (IMO) and can actually do phone stuff (e.g. access phone databases).

Rather specific don’t you think?
Not useful now as nothing supports it but it will prob be as common as Bluetooth soon + be very useful. Maybe not this year. Soon it will tho. Open spec for sending data to other devices.

Bluetooth is kind of useful for sending pictures and stuff between mobiles but I cannot remember the last time I used it.
I use it lots. Fair enough if you don't. I like the way phone manufacturers give us the option though.

GPRS vs Wi-Fi:
Do you need ultra fast internet on a phone? Current GPRS technology allows for quick download of text based news on my mobile and that is all I really need it for.
GPRS is very slow and limits you to text or small images. I want to send the 3MP photos I take to a server. I want to download TV episodes onto my phone. Wi-Fi also means you can access the Internet free at home. Also means you can transfer music to / from phones / computers very quickly. Finally, when VoIP gets bigger phones which support it will be huge sellers due to the 0-price calls.

FM radio:
I have FM radio on my phone!! Never used it though because you have to carry the silly headphones around.
Not particularly useful but I've never had one in a phone.

Reasonable processer- the XDA 2 managed 400 Mhz but that was more of a mini computer rather than a electronic swiss army knife.
Symbian is more lightweight than Win Mobile so needs less CPU. Symbian phones are computers. Possibly more so than Win Mob.

Web browser:
Just download Opera [mini]. Does everything you shall ever need.
Opera mini is cool but doesnt have many features. I want videos, downloads, RSS, large web pages, java script and lots more. Ooh, streaming too. Opera mobile has more features than Opera mini but is slower.

Why would you have to go to a Nokia centre to download firmware can you not just get it online? Or is that the name of the Nokia website? If it is the first point I raised then it is another reason not to get a Nokia.
SE do this already Nokia are just starting. That means these phones having it is a good thing.

Nokia N91 hard drive:
Oh the joys of hard drives. I know you know what I am going to say and I know what you are going to say in return. Ease to break. Then you tell me how the N80 has passed XXX number of tests back at the Nokia factory which is a useless fact. Testing in the factory and testing in real life are completely different things. (Here comes the ubiquitous F1 comment). F1 engines are put through thousands of miles of simulations on the dyno back at the factory to simulate track conditions. However, 9 times out of 10, when they come to actually track test them they only manage 20 laps before exploding in a fiery mess. Given that a F1 engine manufacture spends $150 million just on producing 18 race engines (1 engine for each 2 GP’s) you would think they would be able to produce an excellent engine. Nokia however likely spend less on development per phone and therefore it should not be assumed that they are not fragile in the right conditions. And yes I do know that the N80 is not an engine and should not be compared to one but it is a just point and well made I believe.
The hard drive may make it more fragile but I bet it'll be less fragile than your SE K750i. I believe you have a Creative Zen with an older version of the same hard drive. Is that broken?

Clock-pen mp3-phone:
A very nice feature but I personally don’t listen to music on my phone for one reason- the clock pen! The clock pen combines two great things, a clock and a pen, into one device and it ends up being a heavy and horrible pen and a useless clock. The same can be said for any device which tries to take on more than one purpose- the device will usually do the task but not as well as a device that was designed specifically for just that purpose. In your case however it would make more sense as you don’t have a MP3 player, or not a very large one at least.
The thing is about the N91 is that the MP3 playing functionality is actually better than a Zen or iPod. More file formats, more expandability, more output, even better sound quality (seriously, check the SNR ratios). Anyway, don't you use your phone for SMS and photos? That's convergence. You accept that now, you'll probably accept that phones play MP3s sometime...

Music playback keys:
Very useful. Nothing more boring than having to go into the software to try and change track etc.
They both have music keys on the remote so it's not a big deal really, just slightly nicer on the N91.

But could it scratch easy? Don’t tell me it has been factory tested. Do they happen to test using it on the way back from Arena at 2am in the morning when you manage to scrape it against a wall?
It's just as resiliant as any other phone. Have you scraped yours on the wall coming back from Arena?

Small screen:
In terms of looking at pictures it makes a big difference but for video why bother on such a smaller screen, just end up hurting your eyes.
It may hurt your eyes but it doesn't hurt mine. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just lucky. The DS has a small screen.

It is the clock-pen argument again. But now we are talking about 3 features in one. I have generally been impressed with the pics on my K750i but they are nowhere near as good as I would expect from a similarly spec’d digital camera.
It's because they can't fit / afford high quality lenses in them. Carl Zeiss lenses are coming soon. Much nicer.

VGA video conferencing phone:
Might as well have no conferencing as 0.3MB is weak. My XDA 2 was 0.3MB so I should know.
This is only for 3G video calls. It's the same resolution as your webcam.

Infra Red:
They still making IR?
Not used very much at all now. Still used on many laser printers in offices. Also lots of keyboards use IR because it uses lower power. TV remotes also use IR, so the N80 could be programmed to work with any TV / DVD player etc.

Entering this domain of knowledge is an unwise move for me, just as if you entered the F1 domain- I would bring the smack down swiftly. I do think though that there is a lot of silly stuff that should not be on phones, like infra red, video conferencing and whatever this uPnp is! Take my advice and avoid the N91- hard drive will break.

These phones are better than than many of the devices they converge upon. It's also easier than taking 2+ devices.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Google may pay me money!

I've eared $0.02 so far from people clicking on adverts on my blog. Excellent. I may get another 2 cents if people search using this search bar:


Get £2 for signing up to this... Updated!

Update: This actually works. I've recieved over £20 in my bank account from signing up lots of people. They don't (so far, 2 months) text you any more (spam). You can also sign up other people and get money. Go for it! If you don't want to add your bank account then transfer me the money and I'll give you the cash (after taking a commision :-).

Luup is mobile payment thing. Basically means you can send / recieve money using your mobile. To sign up, text "go dave1010" to the number 81100. You get £2 and I get £1. They don't spam you. Texts you send are usual text price (10p or free if you get free texts) and texts they send you (confirmation) are free.

You can send money to other users (eg try texting "pay dave1010 2" to 81100 to send me £2) and you can also activate a bank account if you sent and add / withdraw funds. It only costs you the texts you send and 20p (from your account) to send money to a bank account.

It could be useful for when you owe mates a bit of cash. Instead of writing IOUs you can send 1 text message and they actually get the money! Some eBay members also take it. Hopefully it'll get really popular and everyone will use it. It'd be cool to go to 'spoons and pay for drinks without taking my wallet.

So go now and sign up! You get £2 and I get £1. It only takes a minute. To sign up just text "go dave1010" to 81100.

26 Websites

There seems to be a meme going round with browser history's beginning with each letter of the aphabet. Type each letter into your address bar and blog what comes up. I can't be bothered to make all mine links. If you want to go there then drag them onto your search/address bar or highlight, right click + search for them.

  • Amazon
  • Blogger
  • (free texts)
  • (bookmarks)
  • En.Wikipedia
  • Froogle
  • Google
  • Hotxt (IM over GPRS with drop-call notification)
  • IsoHunt (bittorrent search)
  • (bookmark organiser)
  • Komplett (computer sales)
  • Localhost (that's me!)
  • Mininova (bittorrent search)
  • Nintendowifi (only coz of Opera for DS coming. I don't like the games)
  • O2
  • PocketGPSWorld
  • Q: None (strange)
  • Redoute (clothes shopping)
  • (my other blog)
  • (bittorrent search)
  • Uncyclopedia
  • Vodaphone
  • WhatIsMyIP
  • (Scientology weirdness)
  • YouTube
  • Z: None (strange again)
Back to work now.

Friday, April 21, 2006

MP3 players comparison

What's the best Windows MP3 player? Just MP3s, no videos or any other audio format. These are some of the most important features for me.

Player: iTunes WinAMP WMP
Global search (150GB on 2GHz CPU): Yes Yes, 8sec Yes
Directories: No Yes No
Auto-updating library: No, 3rd party Yes, in background Yes
Desktop integration: Google Sidebar Google Sidebar Explorer
Alarm clock: No, VBScript With plugin With plugin
Smart playlists: Yes Yes Yes
Sort by any attribute: Yes Yes Yes

What other features are useful? What other good players are there?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The coolness of GPS

Last Thursday I got this Bluethooth GPS reciever (cheaper than listed here). It sends GPS co-ordinates to any Bluetooth device which supports serieal profile (phones, PDAs, computers, etc.). That in itself isn't too interesting. Numbers generally aren't fun.

On my Nokia 7610 I have TomTom 5. It's super cool. It has maps of the whole of the UK and knows about POIs (points of interest) like Tesco and garages. With the GPS it's a complete navigation system. If you ever get lost, just turn on the GPS, load up TomTom, wait for it to connect and find a few satellites and press 1, 1. It'll then guide you with voice prompts, street maps and directions.

Generally it's very good. I told it to take us to Lidl and it did so almost perfectly. At one point the GPS lost satellites and it didn't know where to go but then it soon fixed itself. It even beeped when I was coming up to a speed camera.

The interface is very polished and options are very easy to get to. The maps are very clear and useful even if you have no GPS. The on screen directions are clear and the voice seems OK. I may try random voices soon (E.g. KITT from Knightrider! That'd be fun.) It can't tell you which lane to get into in roundabouts so crossing Ex Bridges it just said turn left after a bit. I had to look at the map to know which exit it wanted me to take.

The GPS accuracy is very good and probably accurate to under 10m. The little arrow corresponds exactly to the car / me. The GPS signal is not so good in areas with tall buildings but should be OK.

If you don't like a route it suggests you can easily change it. If you want to go a different way just start driving that way and it will automatically recalculate the route! It's very easy to find petrol stations or anything on your route to stop at.

There's a traffic + weather service which looks useful but you have to pay lots for. Maybe when I have a job.

When I was driving it only distracted me when I wasn't sure. I think it's best to either do exactly what it says or just go your own way and let it adapt. If you're not sure which road it wants you to take either get a passenger to check, take the road or ignore it. Don't look at it yourself and try to figure it out. TomTom does not (yet) tell you if you're about to hit into another car!

TomTom seems to be the best navigation system there is (according to reviews and my own testing). It works with (hopefully) every Bluetooth GPS unit there is. Just eBay one.

The display on my phone is fine for maps and directions. A larger screen (e.g. PDA) would be nice but is definately not needed. I really need a phone holder for my car. The voice prompts are loud enough unless you have loud music on. They can also be turned off if you want, though it's funny when it says things like "turn around at the next possible location".

TomTom seems to leave just enough memory free in my phone to send / reciece texts and make phone calls. It probably couldn't do much more that that.

A seperate GPS system would be very nice but if you already have a phone with an OK screen then you can't beat this for price. The GPS is under £50 and you should be able to get just the TomTom software for under £100.

Hopefully TomTom will work on my next phone. (Nokia N80?) I'm sure I'll let you all know if it does.

The coolness of Google Calendar

Google Calendar is really great. Really. Sign up for an account now. You don't need a GMail email address but it is useful as they go well together. If you live in the UK you need an invite (just ask me) to get a GMail email address. You don't need an invite to sign up for the calendar.

Google Calendar does all the usual things calendars do and more. The interface is entirely web-based so you can access it anywhere. It's really easy to use too. Just click on the date or time you want a new appointment / event and it'll start creating it.

Google allow you to have multiple calendars. For example I have a main events one and one just for birthdays. I can share any calendar with the world or just my friends. Here's my friends birthdays in XML and iCal. You cannot edit them but my some of my friends can edit our joint one.

You can also search other peoples' shared calendars and "subscribe" to them. For example Tom has Arsenal football things. Hopefully Google Calendar will become imensely popular and our university departments (e.g. Computer Science, Careers service, the Guild, XNet) will publish important events which can be viewed by students but only be edited by staff (with changes showing up immediately).

The interface is amazingly slick. I love the way you can select days or weeks in the mini-calendar to immediately customise the main view. There's also the usual Google search box meaning if you've forgotten when an appointment is you can easily find it. Finally there's a print option which actually creates a PDF file.

It's still in beta (meaning there's a few bugs but is fairly stable) so there may be more features on the way.

To improve it I can only think of:

  • Have everyone use it. It's be great to know when people are around / busy. Also you could see who's planning on going to the pub that evening! It'd be useful for organisations too.
  • UK text alerts. They do this in the US but mobile operators charge companies lots to send texts so I doubt Google will do this for some time. Until they make the Google Phone...
  • A todo system. Not really used but would be useful. Maybe just a small notpad thing.
  • Better code / stability. This will happen; soon I hope. The beta sometimes doesn't save things and it takes up lots of memory sometimes.
  • More color options. Not exactly important but where are the bright colors?
  • Tags for events and tags for celendars. Or search terms for events. For example I could search for every even mentioning Exeter University and just see them. I don't want to have to subscribe to every band which say they're playing here on some day, then the rest of the calendar is useless to me.
  • Re-arrange the days of the week (with drag and drop). I'd like Thursday to come after Monday, then it'd almost be the end of the week on Monday. Google Calendar currently doesn't support this but I hope it does soon.
  • Featured calendars, search by location, topic, etc.

Google Calendar link creator

Use this form to make a new event in your Google Calendar or to get a URL you can give people (e.g. in on your blog, like this or an email). People can then add the event to their calendars. Google have provided this page of how to do this manually. They also have some buttons you can put on your website. I've just made it into a form. I'm sorry about the confusing dates. They look really confusing but once you understand them they're actually quite easy. I could fix it with JavaScript but can't be bothered.

Instructions: Fill out the form. Click Go! Copy the URL (in the address bar of your browser) and either email it to a friend or put a link to it on your website or blog.

Event Title:
Date / Time:
Use YearMonthDate/YearMonthDate (e.g. 20060419/20060419) for all day events or YearMonthDateTHoursMinutesSecondsZ/YearMonthDateTHoursMinutesSecondsZ for set times (e.g. 20060419T180000Z/20060419T190000Z). Times are in UTC so -1 hour if you want BST. The / seperates the start and end.
Busy? (true/false)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bamboo and loo roll

I haven't blogged properly since the end of Feb. Since then I've seen Hannah a few times which has been awesome-fantastic, done lots of work and got a new car! I've also been watching too much of Lois & Clark (The New Adventures of Superman).

For lunch today I had a burger sandwich with a variety of vegetables including bamboo. Weird.

Recently we've had too much loo roll. (Can you ever have too much?) Luckily it's fun to make things with. Mostly towers. I also nearly broke the lightswitch (Sorry Louis).

I'll take some more photos as I / we make more interesting things. Please post comments of what we should make. (I've made a mini igloo but haven't photo'd it yet.)

I'll also take a photo of my new car soon.