My New Telly

September 9, 2007

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Oh oh, whats Simon bought now. Well it seems to be a 40` Sony Bravia LCD Television in swish black and its making him very happy indeed.  For too long have I been bathed in the radiation of my CRT watching standard def television squinting at the meger 28` of horror that would go make colours go wierd when ever I put Family Guy on. No more I say no more, I now have a TV thats lets you know its there, in the lounge you see the couches, you see the piles of various media stacked up in every corner and now you also see an enormous goram TV saying “Hello, I’m here you should probably watch me”. Nice.

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Simon’s New Computer

June 19, 2007
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Oh yes… its that time again, once every two years a very special event happens, Simon gets shiny new computer bits. My current system was starting to show its age, having to play games on lower and lower setting was getting too much and the constant overheating from years of being overclocked by 25% was starting to annoy, also my long awaited purchase of the game Stalker was too much, I wanted all the prettyness. Within the hour I was on to Scan to grab my goodies.

What I’ve ended up with is a Core 2 Duo 2.1Ghz currently at 2.8Ghz, 2Gb of Corsair XMS DDR2 and a Nvidia 8800GTS… which as I am sure we are all aware = MakeGamesGoSuperRealGoodNow Machine, also all the photo processing I am doing now will actually happen within the hour woho! The one thing I am not ready for though is the jump to Vista, not ready for that downgrade yet. When all those DirectX 10 games (‘Alan Wake’ anyone?) happen I’ll maybe consider it, until then I’ll enjoy the relitive wealth of speed and comsumer rights XP has.

One thing I did not expect is how large CPU coolers have become, this beasty Zalman thing I got is amazing, nicely quiet and keeps my widdle Core2 at a healthy 45c-50c no problem, but its just so strange how this design can work so well, heat pipes are an odd invention. The other thing is the amount of power graphics cards now need, 2 12v power connectors on different rails! flipping mental, good job I did not go with the 8800GTX graphics, need 4 of those things to get going. I get the feeling I’m really pushing my 340w power supply on this new system, its still working so we shall see.

All in all, a lot of money, unscrewing, sweat and a little bit of blood later I got my self happiness in a box, for another few years anywho… Obivion, daddys coming back!! :S


Salling Clicker – iTunes remote control through your phone

May 29, 2007

When I first got my N80 I loved the idea Nokia had of being able to use the wifi to remote control your PC and play video and all that wonderful stuff.  What Simon didn’t love was that the software used to make it all work was slow and shonky.  It would take days to find the songs and videos, hours starting up seeing if anything new is there, minutes to respond to anything you told it to do and seconds to eat up half the memory you had to just sit there and do nothing. Very very shoddy and horrible to use.

So I read about this here Salling Clicker mobile thang and am cautious but you know hey its a Monday bank holiday, if you cant go crazy then, then when can you. Armed with my sense of adventure I give it a go, it supported my N80, that was a good start, it sorted out all the what to install for me, lovely, so I fire it up and connect using the Wifi. Right away on my phone I can choose iTunes, Media Player or Powerpoint, I choose iTunes and holy crap my PC fires up iTunes and its good to go, you even get a little iPod style display on the phone to use, awesome.

Using the trial version is a pain in the arse as it disconnects after 30 commands but I’ll give it a go and see if I actually end up using it. I think I will as I hate leaving the kitchen to skip tracks while cooking, I’m just glad someone made this program well enough to only use 10meg of memory so I’m happy to leave it in the background. Simon is a happy techie.


Seven cool little things about the Nokia N80

November 16, 2006

I was hoping to have found a few more things digging around this phone by now but hey it’s not as if I’m under a deadline or anything and I’ve written enough about what I don’t like so here a few things I found that I really like about my N80 🙂

  • Holding the menu down to see whats running

This really is the life saver most people do not know about, been thrown back to the main menu in the middle of an application? hold down the menu button, it will list every application the phone is running, kind of like the task manager in windows. More importantly you can select to close down an application if it has crashed. Very handy.

  • Holding the quick menu button opens the gallery

When you press the quick menu button, the one with the 4 arrows pointing away, this called the multimedia key which took me a while to figure out when customising the quick menu itself. By default it will send you to the media options of your phone, I wish it would send you straight to your pictures but hey close enough, and cool to know when you want to show someone a photo.

  • Faster MiniSD card, faster N80.

This was the case with the old firmware anyway, V3.014, possibly not so much now with V4 as it is pretty nippy by comparison. While using V3.014 and the default SD card seemed to hold operations back slightly. Was worth going for a faster, larger card, seemed to help.

This little app keeps the camera `Flash` on which can be kinda handy when stumbling around somewhere, worth getting.

This god-send of an app lets you run bittorrent off your phone, it is still in development (as is all open source stuff) and does not seem to be to willing to upload back, despite now supporting incoming connections, to other users at the moment but it does download perfectly. It seems to currently not like reseeding a torrent after you’ve finished it aswell. But anywho shove a large flash card into the phone and you got your self pretty much the lowest power bittorrent client known to man 🙂

Yet to really use this but I have tried and it is quite good, I havn’t had time to find the right settings to convert my videos to play on the phone (and the bundled converter in demo mode black and whites the videos every 30 seconds which defeats the whole point of a demo I feel) but when I have solved this, no lunchtime will ever be without Dragonball and Family Guy ever again, woo 🙂

  •   Holding down the right menu button turns on Speech Recognition

This is quite possibly the best speech recognition I have used to date, my last encounters with SR was a few years ago back in the days of good old train your voice and it barely works method.  Now it seems you do not need to train it to your voice, it just kinda works. Just hold down the top right menu button and say the name of who you want to ring or SILENT to put it into silent or BLUETOOTH to turn on or off the bluetooth. I would say when it’s noisey, like on a street, it will not work but when it is quiet and everyone in the area has maximum chance of knowing what your are doing it works like a charm. Of course you will look like a tit when it goes wrong but it is all worth it when you can bathe in the glory of having activated your bluetooth on a whim and just as easily turn it off with the power of your own sultry tones. Marvelous.


Nokia’s N80 Firmware 4.0623.0.41

October 25, 2006

Having recently been able to update my N80 using the Nokia Phone Software Update from the release V3.0614 to V4.0623 there appear to be some very noticeable changes. I think perhaps the most interesting of them is that the phone actually appears to work, it has been 5 days and I have not had a crash yet despite my best efforts of even using it’s dreaded internet browser.  Inspite of the problems I have had with this phone the geek in me still loves that it is now mostly fixed.

The first thing you notice with the new firmware is that the menus do consistently pop up quicker rather than taking their sweet time in with the older dog slow version, that in itself makes you feel a lot more confident in using this thing.  Exploring a little deeper into the menus and I suddenly find that Nokia / Orange have taken their time to preinstall an anti virus program, Adobe Acrobat, Local Search utility and Orange TV.  I’d just to step aside here to ask, Orange TV? If Orange are charging me £4 for 4MB I certainly bet that they would want me to stream video over that but I don’t think I can ever seeing me urgently wanting to watch an indistinguishably rubbish picture for half an hour and pay £40 for the privilege, sorry Orange.  Any who Adobe, thanks probably won’t be using that, Anti-virus ok you never know but the last thing I want to do is make my N80 slower and last the Local Search, humm how interesting.  Having spent 5 minutes setting the program up and having a quick go I can see how this could be useful, its 2 in the morning and I need to get a taxi from somewhere new and scary and not a yellow pages between any of the bouncers, not a problem my phone will tell me.  I think time will tell if a situation arises for that app to prove it self.

Using the Home Network Media thing again, I was very suprised, it didn’t take half an hour to list 10 items, my network/computer/files came up in no time at all.  Unfortunetly the PC software is still absolutley appalling in every conceivable way, clunky, VERY slow, memory hungery and awkward to use.  Not a chance in hell that software is sitting on my desktop when I’ve got Oblivion sucking the very life from my system or in fact ever.  The phone side of it appears sorted however which is nice to know.

Reading about the rumors of improved battery life I am yet to be convinced as my first charge lasted the usual 2.5 days although that was with two good half hour sessions playing with the wifi so maybe, just maybe.  Its been a day and a half since its last charge and still on all six bars although I am sure it will do its usual 3 bar drop in a day soon enough, time will tell.

Camera wise I remember in low light conditions the image was very noisy but then again thats the way it is.  The camera does appear be to not as noisy as I remember however it could just be me setting up the conditions.  Once again the next drunken photo taken with the N80 will prove this point or not.  I was hoping the new firmware would remember the last settings you put the camera in but it appears not.  One day maybe.

A little change I noticed was that the writing text messages text is not in BOLD which was a good move as I hadn’t realised I was squinting slightly reading the txt I was writing.  It is just a shame that you still get a brief flash of the messages menu when starting up to write a message, just seems a little unprofessional, if I would have programmed that software I would have seen indirectly accessing the write message bit as a bit of a hack, but hey ho.

Just to mention the voice recognition, I am not sure if that is new or I just missed it for 5 months but wow, a system that very consistently recognises your voice commands in quiet conditions without training it first, very nice.  Its very satisfying trying this out for the first time, just holding the phone and saying someones name in your phone book and off it dials, very cool.

So yeh, first impressions are good, the phone feels a lot more solid and reliable, if only Nokia had held the release on for more 5 months. Shame.


My Big’ol Orange N80’s Firmware Update

October 21, 2006

Ah the Nokia N80, my N80, what a journey. I have never made buying the things I like easy on myself, I always want something that is new and complicated and probably doesn’t work yet and I always enjoy getting those things working as I learn about it in the process. Unfortunatly for me it seems I was a victim of timing and bought an N80 from Orange a bit too soon. What is all boils down to the software on the phone, the firmware, and a few little numbers that pop up when you dial *#0000# that suddenly make a difference as to whether your phone works or not. I was unfortunate enough to have the numer `3.0614.0.3` back in June I would have needed 3.0617.0.6 to fix my problems and the most current one (22.10.2006) `4.0623.0.41` apparently make the phone work pretty well.

The Nokia Software Update site finally listed the N80, 5 months into owning the phone, but then this software tells me `No updates are currently available` which I know is a lie, but soon find out that because of Orange’s own brand of firmware Nokia’s program won’t fix my problems. Having recently moved I was finally near a shop that would update my phone for me and so off I go and they do and I smile. Well I smile until I find that they have only updated my N80 to `3.0617.0.6` which is a start but probably wouldn’t have solved my problems entirely. Slightly annoyed I get back to my computer and restore my phone’s contacts, out of curiosity I try the Nokia Software Update again and all of a sudden it says I have an update available. It could have been the software suddenly works with Orange phones but far more likely the update I got instore opened up the phone for updating by the software. I flashed the phone and bamm I finally had the newest version which supposedly fixes my N80 up proper.

So basically if the Software Update program dosn’t like your phone try and get a shop update which will probably only up to version 3.0617.0.6 as Orange has not currently authorised any higher version (as of 22.10.2006). Then try the Nokia Software Update program again and at least in my case, I was sent version `4.0623.0.41`. Problem solved.


Replacing an Ipod Mini battery

October 15, 2006

You’ve got an Ipod that you’ve had it for ages and are perfectly happy with, why wouldn’t you be it does what you want it to do perfectly, then after a while you’ve started to notice the battery is’nt all that it used to be, those 9-5 sessions on shuffle 5 days a week are slowly becoming the three hours you really need to concentrate on that annoying bug.  Before you know it you need to bring its USB cable into work to keep it going, not a problem it still works, but then one day your on a train, screaming kids n all so you try to drown them out only to realise 10 minutes in that battery by now dosn’t even last that long. The experience reminds you you really should do something about this. The solution, get the battery replaced!

Of course apple don’t want you to do this, they want you to buy a whole new one (hence the redesign every 2 years or so, the life time of the battery) so they charge you £150 for the new £20 battery making the obvious choice the go buy the shiny new Ipod.

Being as frugal as I am and knowing the new very cool big touchey screeny model will be out at some point, I decide to grab a new battery from Maplin and do the £130 task myself 🙂

Ipod Front iPod rear iPod bits iPods bum

The hardest part of the process is getting the covers off in the first place, after 10 minutes of the gently gently method I realised you just have to really forceibly wedge a screwdriver in the edge and lever the panel out. The rest it is quite straight forward if you have any sort of brain matter firing proper good.

So the stages are :

  1. Popping the top and bottom covers off with a flat screw driver
  2. Unscrewing the tiny screws from the top
  3. Levering off the clip on the bottom
  4. Pushing the circuit board out of the case
  5. Unplugging the old battery
  6. Plugging in the new battery
  7. Sliding it back into the case and putting the clip and screws back in.
  8. Re-attaching the covers
  9. Reset the iPod in iTunes

Things worth noting :

  • The battery I had did not seem to fit back into where it should be, this was fixed by bending the circuit board back slightly so the battery can pop into place. By bending I do not mean BEND bend, I mean pushing the top of the board away from me slightly.
  • The bottom panel has only one way it can re-attach, if it does not reattach easily turn it the other way, do not sit there for 5 minutes trying to hammer with increasing force and sized tools looking confused, that would be something I would NEVER do :-S
  • You WILL end up screwing up the plastic where you jam the screw driver into the covers, heinsight tells a very thin knife would have been a better choice of tool.
  • Put the ipod on HOLD and turn it off before doing anything, playing around with a circuit board that is turned on and playing mp3s would be a stupid thing to do and once again something I certainly did not do :-S
  • The little hold switch circuit board at the top appeared quite flimsy and I had to be careful not to break it off
  • As a final note, I’m fairly sure this will not be the case with everyone but after installing the new battery iTunes decided the iPod was corrupt and so reset it and as I’ve been writing this has been going through a lengthy format of the iPod’s hard-drive. D’oh.

So yeh if your fairly sure you can play with electronics or played with a lot of lego as a kid then this replacement process if pretty easy. Obviously I’d say if your not sure about this sort of stuff as it can be hazardous then don’t open up your iPod in the first place and in no way is this an official guide to the process, just simply my account of what I did. Open an iPod at your own risk, I am simply stating my experiences so this must not be used a definitive guide.