Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who watched The Mentalist finale...?

If you watch "The Mentalist", and enjoy the antics of the ever cryptic lead character Patrick Jane, then tonight's Season 3 Finale would not have disappointed.

We all knew that the whole story revolved around Patrick Jane wanting to get his hands on his nemesis Red John, but how brilliant was this episode when it all came together???
I was left thinking that the series must surely now be over, but a little digging online reveals that the show has in fact been renewed for a Fourth Season, which will reportedly start in the USA sometime in September this year.

How on earth is this now going to pan out I wonder?
Without giving anything away (for those who have not yet seen the Season 3 Finale), how many avenues could the shows' creator, Bruno Heller, possibly explore after such an intense ending to this season?

Honestly, wow.

...and if you want to watch that incredible end scene again where Patrick Jane finally comes face to face with Red John, here it is, courtesy of CBS:

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Nokia E7 hands-on: First impressions. Pros and Cons. Strengths and Weaknesses. That kind of thing... :)

Following on from my post last week about the Nokia E7, it was finally delivered, and I have been using it for about a week now.
I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this, the current flagship in Nokia's range of smartphones, and for the most part I was not disappointed with what I got.

The Nokia E7Image by whatleydude via Flickr

Let me run through the pros and cons (thus far at least...;):


- The LCD display is excellent, to the point that you are left squinting at the screens of other phones that you come across in your day... :)
The size of the screen, coupled to the "Clearblack" technology that Nokia put into play here, make it a real contender for one of the best screens on any smartphone currently available.

- The GPS is a lot quicker to get a "fix" than on my previous handset (N97). On average it finds me within 1-2 minutes which is pretty good.
The free turn by turn navigation is also a great feature, although I have not really used that much. I trust that it shall not lead me astray on my future travels, but if it does, then it shall soon become a con rather than a pro :)

- The phone build quality and the materials used, are of a decent quality and feel. The E7 really looks the part of a serious business tool, and it feels that way in hand as well.

Symbian^3 OS is a great deal more stable than its predecessor, and a lot quicker.
Scrolling through photos is swift and slick, thanks (I would imagine) to the dedicated GPU that the E7 uses to accelerate graphics.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that HD games with resource-intensive graphics also run smoothly (Hero of Sparta, NFS Shift, Rally Master Pro etc.), which adds some cool gaming skills to the E7's already long list of capabilities.

- The Quickoffice Suite that ships with the phone is fantastic because it allows you to create, edit and view Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents.
I have not even scratched the surface of the package functionality yet, but I will be sure to give it a proper spin soon and report back.

- The way that the Nokia E7 integrates with the Nokia PC Software - Ovi Suite - makes it simple to handle phone functions without taking your eyes off your computer screen.
You can send and receive your messages from within the software, access your phone contacts, manage which country maps are installed on the phone for GPS usage, get your photos and videos to sync automatically to your PC, and a whole lot more.
You can also update software and firmware on the phone using Ovi Suite.

Most importantly, Nokia have finally released a stable, quick and user friendly version of the Ovi Suite. When it first replaced Nokia PC Suite, it was cumbersome, slow and downright horrid to use. Good job guys.

- The full QWERTY keypad is a joy to use - the buttons are comfortable and well spaced, and the keypad stretches almost the full length of the phone.
The hinge that slides the screen out of the way in order to access the keyboard, is well built and snaps into place with a solid thunk.
If it is anything like my N97 (which was dropped many, many times without breakage), it is built to last.

- Using the USB-on-the-go converter (included with the phone), allows an ordinary USB flash drive to plug into the phone.
The flash drive then shows up as one of the available storage drives in the file explorer.
A really convenient feature.

- The fixed focus camera is a mixed bag really. It's great because it is 8MP, and it is quick to reset between shots, owing to the lack of moving parts in the fixed focus lens. I am not a photographer or anything like that, but to my untrained eye it takes good shots.
Something like this - click to enlarge:

A colourful wendy house, as seen by the Nokia E7...

As for the cons of the camera, well that's under "Cons" below... :)
...and here they are:


- Within 2 minutes of switching on the phone for the first time, it did the familiar Symbian / Nokia reboot :)
Having become used it happening occasionally on my N97, I took it with a pinch of salt.

It has since rebooted on its own again once, and frozen twice during an intense bout of Angry Birds...
Having a non-removable battery, I wondered how to get around the frozen phone issue - it turns out that holding the power button in for 10 seconds initiates a hard shutdown, accompanied by 3 short vibrations, after which the phone can be restarted again.

- The fixed focus camera, while it does have its advantages listed above, does not handle macro shots well.
Try to capture anything closer than 50cm and it's all just a blur.
This is one of the basic downsides of the fixed focus lens, and it's a problem for anybody who might often need to take close up snaps.

As you can see, the pros totally outweigh the cons right now, at least for me.

The Symbian "Anna" update has been promised by Nokia before August, so I am looking forward to see what that will bring with it.
Looking even further ahead, a rumoured update named Symbian "Belle", might make an appearance later in the year.
That's one of the nice things when buying a Nokia phone - the updates come frequently, and they often bring some really nice features with them.

Do you own a Nokia E7?
Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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Meego-based Nokia N9 breaks cover...

In what seems to be a flood of new devices released by Nokia this week, the new N9 handset was announced yesterday.
Although we will likely not see the device on South African shores for a while, it boasts a fairly impressive spec sheet, ahead of the release of the first Windows Mobile-based Nokia handsets sometime next year (or end 2011).

Earlier today I could not get Blogger to upload any pictures for some bizarre reason, and I was directing visitors to GSM Arena who have some snaps of the slick new device.

Finally though, I got it working, and here she is - behold the Nokia N9:

What is immediately apparent is the lack of any traditional buttons on the front of the phone - even on the Nokia E7, there is a menu button at bottom centre.
This is a departure from previous Nokia designs, as this is now effectively an "all-touch" device, which makes use of swipe gestures instead of the traditional menu button.

There are still volume buttons on the side of the phone, and one other button which I assume is either the camera capture button, or the cover for the SIM slot.


- AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 480 x 854 pixels, 3.9 inches (multi-touch, Gorrilla glass)

- 16/64 GB storage, 1 GB RAM
- HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.7 Mbps
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
- 8 MP Camera, 3264x2448 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual LED flash
- MeeGo OS, v1.2 Harmattan
- 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, TI OMAP 3630 chipset
- MicroSIM card support only
- GPS with A-GPS support; Ovi Maps

The main points of interest in these specs, for me at least, are in bold.

First off, an option of 64GB of internal storage is just amazing - I know that the Nokia N97 and the iPhone (3GS / 4) offered 32GB onboard storage, but I cannot think of another phone that offers 64GB onboard storage at the moment.

Secondly, the MeeGo OS is an interesting choice, given the pending move to Windows Mobile for Nokia Smartphones.
I know next to nothing about software development, but this can only be a good thing for Nokia, given the steady demise of the Symbian platform up until now.

Finally, it is good to see Nokia employing a decently beefy CPU to power this device, coupled to a PowerVR SGX530 GPU - these hardware factors combined with the MeeGo OS, should hopefully make this device a slick and powerful contender in a massively aggressive and fast-paced market...

Only time will tell, I guess...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't forget to look out for the Lunar Eclipse tonight...!

The total lunar eclipse that will happen this evening is certainly a rare event to see, especially for residents of South Africa.
During a total lunar eclipse, the shadow of the Earth turns the moon to a reddish brown colour, as the Earth gets in the way of the sunlight which would otherwise make the moon appear white.

For those who are watching, and who have clear skies, the moon should look something like this:

Earth's shadow creeps across the moon during a Lunar Eclipse...

The eclipse will happen tonight (15 June 2011), starting at 20:23 and finishing around midnight, so get out those binoculars, telescopes and cameras, don something warm and fluffy, get some hot chocolate going and enjoy the show :)

You will of course be able to see the whole eclipse without the aid of binoculars or a telescope, so either way it will make enjoyable viewing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apple is getting sued by iCloud Communications...

Apologies right up front to my US of A readers, but it sometimes seems that companies in America are particularly fond of lawsuits, in which they can sue one another for insane amounts of money.
While this is all well and good if there is sufficient reasoning behind the lawsuit, sometimes it's a little bit grey, and you kinda have to wonder if the lawsuit is really worth it...

Something along these lines that popped up today, has to do with an Arizona-based company called iCloud Communications, who are alleging that Apple's use of the name "iCloud", infringes on its own trademark.

On the face of it, it sounds like a fair allegation, but after reading a bit more about the matter, one wonders if iCloud Communications are not just trying their luck at scoring a quick payout from a company who can clearly afford to pay up to make the problem go away...

Truth is, before Apple made the term "iCloud" famous a few days ago with the launch of their new Cloud offering, who could honestly have said that they knew of a company that exists in Arizona, called iCloud Communications?
Not a whole lot of people I'm sure (apart from some people living in Arizona of course :)...

Read more about it, and view the full legal complaint here.
Pay special attention to the reader comments that follow the news article...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why I choose the Nokia E7 as my next phone...

For a long time now I have been debating what my next phone will be.
We are far too spoilt for choice nowadays anyway, with the likes of the iPhone 4, Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Blackberry Torch, HTC Desire Z etc. etc. and the list goes on and on.

Truth is, since I was introduced to my first N-Series Nokia device, the N80, I have been a pretty loyal supporter of the brand.

Also, as more of a business user, and having researched tons of different devices and specs, I can honestly say that the Nokia E7 is the most likely candidate to replace my trusty Nokia N97 - itself a great little device that despite its flaws, has taken all the drops, knocks and scratches in its stride, all the while keeping me connected with the world.
So before all those Apple jaws start to drop in shock, horror and indeed disbelief at my choice of a Nokia over an iPhone, let me clearly point out why I choose the Nokia E7:

- Full QWERTY Flip out keyboard. This is a biggie. The benefits of it are blindingly obvious, and no onscreen QWERTY can replace it. Don't even try to argue.

- USB on the Go - essentially this allows you to plug an ordinary USB flash drive into your phone, greatly extending your options in terms of where your data gets stored.

- Nokia OVI Maps, offering free turn by turn voice navigation. I have personally made use of this service for a long time on my N97, and I have to say that it is an excellent product, also bundled with the E7.

- Nokia ClearBlack display, which is supposed to be one of the best viewing experiences on any smartphone currently available. Yes, I know that the iPhone 4 has a higher resolution screen, but reviews online show that the E7 proves to be a worthy competitor... Let's wait until mine arrives to see.

- Expanding on the previous item, the E7 features GorillaGlass, which is supposed to be super tough when it comes to resisting scratches from sharp metal objects. Check this out:

- This next one is a double-edged sword. While Nokia has pledged its allegiance to Microsoft and abandoned the Symbian platform on future smartphones, what it has done is committed itself to supporting its existing Symbian smartphones until somewhere around 2016.
That means that the imminent Symbian "Anna" update will soon be available to the E7, along with any other updates that may follow.
So while Nokia have certainly laid out a longer term road map of their future in smartphones, there is still a place for the Nokia E7, at least in my mind.

Let's see what I have to say once I have actually used the device for a few weeks :)

Some pointless questions to enrich your day... :)

1. Why are fitting rooms in clothing stores so impossibly overheated? Are the aircon units in there set to "Sun"?

2. Why do restaurants bother serving a side salad with sandwiches, tramezzinis etc.? A lot of the time, that "side salad" is merely a slice of outdated tomato, and an elderly sliver of lettuce anyway...
Even if the salad is of a decent size, I cannot think of a time in my recent history when I saw somebody actually eat the salad.
Except me of course, but I'm a glutton.

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