The Hot Iron

A journal on business, technology and occasional diversions by Mike Maddaloni

Mobile Technology

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Initial Thoughts On The Nokia E7

photo of Mike Maddaloni with the Nokia E7When I was preparing to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference last week, I was hoping I would get my hands on the new, yet-to-be-released Nokia E7 smartphone. As TechEd is a business technology conference, and the E7 is being positioned as a business mobile device, I was pretty confident there would be an E7 or 2 available for me to try.

The good news is there was, however they were the personal devices of the Nokia staff who were there for the show and working at the booth. So where I was able to hold and try an E7, nobody handed me one and told me to walk around the exhibit floor and take it for a test drive. As a result, I had limited access, but enough to collect some initial thoughts and opinions which may be of value for others. I have also listed a number of things I would like to try out once the device is released. Interestingly, it was also the first time I had my hands on a Nokia N8, which came in handy for comparison of the 2 devices.

First, here’s my initial thoughts, and not necessarily in a priority order:

  • Good size – The E7 has a decent-sized screen. When the keyboard is “stored” under the device, it fits well in your hand and is not too bulky. After sliding the keyboard out, it is practical to type and use while holding in my hands as well as placing it on a flat surface. It is also a bit larger than the N8, as you can see from this angled yet side-by-side comparison photo I took.
    photo of Nokia N8 and E7
  • Solid – A hallmark of Nokias is they are solidly built, and the E7 continues this tradition. When I attempted to slide out the keyboard for the first time, I was cautious as I didn’t want to do it with too much force. But once I did it and a few more times, I got the hang of it. The keyboard can take a little pressure on the slide mechanism.
  • Decent keyboard – The keyboard is more like the N97 than the E75, which is a good thing. There are arrow keys rather than a joystick, which is preferred to me, especially on a touchscreen device. I say the keyboard is good, and to make it great would be to add an additional row of keys so I don’t have to press an “alt” key to type numbers. But it does have 4 rows of keys as compared to 3 on the N97.
  • Memory – The E7 has 16 GB of memory on-board. I asked how much available memory was free on the device when it is shipped, and I was told it was about 14 GB, as there are core files and some audio and images and video shipped on the device. There is no memory card slot, and some have had issue with this. Personally, Micro SD cards are too darn small for my big hands. The E7 has a Micro USB connector, and with an adapter cable you can connect a USB Flash drive. I saw a demo of this – when connected, you can browse the Flash drive just as if was an inserted memory card. You can also run files off the Flash drive, including video and presentations, which to me looked seamless.
  • Video – I saw 2 examples of this. First was a video file played off a Flash drive, and as I said above it looked fine. I also saw NHL Gamecenter, an app which shows clips of hockey games. I watched this both on the device as well as when it was connected to an HDTV using its HDMI out port. The video quality was very good on the E7 and good on the HDTV, though there was some pixilation. My assumption is this was due to the compression of the video itself as it is probably optimized to deliver over a mobile network. The photo below is of a game clip on an HDTV from the E7.
    photo of NHL Gamecenter on an HDTV from a Nokia E7
  • Camera - The camera on the E7 is 8 megapixels, as compared to a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the N8. When I asked about this, I was told part of the decision-making was the price of the device, and part was that in order to have the Zeiss lens on the N8, it extends from the back of the device, which if done on the E7 it would not be able to lay flat on a surface. This makes sense as you won’t always be holding it when typing.

So what did I want to do that I did not have the opportunity to? Here’s a few things:

  • Take video and photos and look at them on my PC.
  • Try reading text outside in sunlight and in a dimly lit room, as well as see how much I can adjust the text size.
  • View PDF documents.
  • Write and edit a blog post.
  • Surfing the Web, including hitting various eCommerce Web sites.

In short, I would want to use it as I do my E72 device on a daily basis.

One last thought – orange would be my color of choice! It’s a unique color and the metallic color looks impressive, plus it will match my luggage.

I hope my initial thoughts are of some help. What are your thoughts on what you have seen and heard on the E7 so far?


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 11/16/10 at 10:29 AM
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back From TechEd Europe Conference With Nokia

After a whirlwind trip to Berlin, Germany for the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference and the opportunity to meet and query members of Nokia’s enterprise mobile team among other Nokia staff, I am back in the Windy City with a head full of thoughts and ideas.

photo of Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

As I get settled back and unwind from this learning experience, I will be writing more detailed posts on what I took away from the people I met over the last few days. Look for more information on Nokia’s next flagship device, the E7, as well as information on how it works and where ti fits in with everything else Nokia is working on now.

E7 Coming Soon

One piece of information I will share now is the answer to the most asked question of me to relay to Nokia staff – when the E7 is coming out. Their answer is Christmastime. It will be a phased global launch over the next few month, with availability in some countries by the end of 2010 and the rest soon after in 2011. Nobody told me which countries would be when, but it was inferred markets such as China and India would be in the first phase, and there was no specific indication when it would be available in the US.

In the meantime, I will share this photo of an E7 hooked up to an HDTV – it has an HDMI out port and with a cable it can be hooked up to any HD device with HDMI input.

photo of Nokia E7 hooked up to an HDTV

Special thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for sponsoring all of my travel, accommodations, hospitality and admission to TechEd. Rhiannon from WOMWorld/Nokia was a gracious host and facilitator and did an excellent job ensuring all was coordinated, especially keeping us well fed. It was also great to again see Dennis Bournique from Wap Review and meeting Craig Richards from Geek Computers. Kudos to the Hotel Berlin, Berlin, an excellent hotel with great service.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 11/13/10 at 12:08 PM
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Friday, November 05, 2010

Off To Berlin For Microsoft TechEd Europe 2010 Conference

Microsoft TechEd EuropeAs you read this I will be frantically packing my gear and even some clothes for the Microsoft TechEd Europe Conference in Berlin, Germany next week, from November 8-10. I have been invited to the conference by Nokia and the people at WOMWorld/Nokia.

For those not familiar with the conference, it is one of many such global events held my Microsoft every year. I attended a few back over a decade ago when I was working on the KWorld project at KPMG and Microsoft was a major partner with us. Sessions and speakers talk about the current state and future direction of technology and how Microsoft products fit into those directions. In short, it's a geefest! My connection through Nokia is around enterprise mobile technology, otherwise known as how businesses are using smartphones and other portable wireless devices.

Questions And More Questions

In addition to the speakers and breakout sessions I will be attending, I, along with Dennis of Wap Review, will have the opportunity to have face-to-face Q&A sessions with several Nokia executives who work with enterprise mobile. I am eager to hear what they have to say, and of course already have a list of questions in mind. If anyone reading this has any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments.

This should be an interesting conference, and a great learning experience. Nokia soon will be releasing its E7 device, the enterprise version of its recently launched N8 device. I am of course hoping to get my hands on an E7, as well as talk about it and the entire enterprise mobile arena, which is certainly a busy place.

An Amazing City

Of course I will be taking in some of Berlin. I visited the German capital several years ago, and had a great time. The mix of culture, history and modernism makes it a must-visit place. Not to mention some great chocolate!

Watch The Hot Iron and @thehotiron and #tee10 – the conference’s hashtag - on Twitter for updates on the event and any notes and news from the conference. I will write a recap when I get back. I should close with the fact that Nokia is sponsoring my trip, and here’s more information about my relationship with Nokia which is being stated specifically to keep the US Federal Trade Commission off my back!


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 11/05/10 at 04:00 AM
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Friday, October 01, 2010

My Nokia E73 Mode Beach House Experience

photo of Sunset Beach, CA at Nokia E73 Beach HouseWhat better way to truly learn a new mobile device than to use it in real time… with colleagues in a business setting… dressed in suits… on a beach? This was my experience a few weeks back, as I was a guest and participant in the Nokia E73 Mode Beach House on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA.

Believe it or not, it was as I said – a gathering of mobile technology aficionados, with bloggers, consultants and fans. Most were from southern California, where a few of us were invited from around the US and Canada. The reason for the event was to get hands-on with the Nokia E73 Mode, a close sibling of the Nokia E72 smartphone, which is offered exclusively by T-Mobile. The business setting scenario was for a video shoot on the beach with all of us as participants, complete with planned and unplanned events. The weekend was organized by the gracious and brilliant minds of WOMWorld/Nokia, who handle word-of-mouth marketing for Nokia.

The E73 Mode Beach House was a multi-level house right on Sunset Beach. Those us from out of town – myself, Glenn, Lenny (aka The Truth) and Dennis – along with the WOMWorld crew – Donna, Adam and James – stayed at the beach house for a couple of nights and the house and back deck were converted for the festivities on Saturday night for us and those from the LA area. Some of the people included Jen, Jeb, Al and Mike. It was a reunion of sorts for Jen, Donna, Glenn and I as we all met a couple of years back at Nokia OpenLab in Helsinki. Though time had passed, it didn’t seem like it as we all keep in touch through social media.

Our assignment for the weekend was to make a video of us using the E73 Mode. It offers different “modes” where you can have both a home and work screen, each configured for what you need for each. As the camera crew arrived and were setting up, we were ushered upstairs to get dressed. We were confused as we certainly weren’t walking around the beach house naked. Then we saw what we had to wear – suits, complete with shirts and ties. Then the story came to life – we were working on the beach, but also living, and trying out the E73 Mode as to how it would help us with both modes of our life. As I said it is the sibling of the E72, one which I already own, I was well aware how well this works.

As for the video – nothing was scripted. There was the “story” of us working on the beach, but much of it was improvised, including Glenn surfing in his suit and the volleyball game of the suits vs. the locals, where the mobile geeks won! The video is embedded below, or you can watch the Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party official video on YouTube.

You can also see my Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party photos on Flickr, and follow the hashtag of #e73mode for more.

I’ll write more on the E73 Mode later, reviewing its features, and comparing it to the E72 and other mobile devices. In the meantime, enjoy the video, and thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for a great weekend experience, not to mention building a great device.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 10/01/10 at 10:44 AM
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Off To The Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party

Sunscreen – check. Sand shoes – check. Desire to check email while on the beach – check!

photo of Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach, CA

I’m off to southern California for the Nokia E73 Mode beach party to be held on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA. The folks from the word-of-mouth marketing team of Nokia, WOMWorld/Nokia, have invited me and others from around the country, as well as a number of folks from the LA area, to participate in this unique event, which you can read more about here.

photo of Nokia E73 ModeWhile we take advantage of the sun and beach, we’ll be trying out the new Nokia E73 Mode mobile device, which is available at T-Mobile in the US. It appears to me to be similar to my E72 device, and I will find out first-hand for sure this weekend.

If you’re so inclined, you can follow along on Twitter, and we’ll be will be using the hashtag #e73mode. I’ll also be checking out the camera and may do some video streaming, though my main focus will be on how the E73 can fit into my work life. Seriously!

Thanks again to the folks from WOMWorld/Nokia for inviting me out to this great event. And for the sake of full disclosure, or more like to keep the FTC from coming after me, you can read about my relationship with Nokia.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/19/10 at 12:01 PM
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Friday, June 04, 2010

What Is A Favicon And Why Does Your Web Site Need One

As a Web site owner, today you must do everything you can to draw traffic to your Web site. There are the obvious methods of doing so – links to your Web site, search engine optimization (SEO) and search marketing. All of these are an ongoing process which of course will take time and money.

Many people forget something obvious – visually drawing traffic to your site. The most common way this plays out is when you are navigating bookmarks or manually typing a URL in your browser address bar and a list of previously-visited Web sites appears. Along with those addresses and Web site titles, there may also be an icon appearing. This is called a favicon, and your Web site should not be without one.

Favicon is a contraction of “favorites icon” and is yet another way for your Web site to stand out. It is technically an icon file on your Web server that is referenced in your Web pages and is displayed in the browser. Below is an example of favicons which appear both on the address bar and tabs of my Firefox browser.

screenshot of favicons

screenshot of bookmarks with faviconsIf you bookmark a Web page that has a favicon, it will also appear in your list of bookmarks, as shown in the accompanying screenshot. Favicons may also appear on mobile browsers as well. Note however favicons may not appear on older browser versions, as I have written before are still out there and in use. Most all current browsers will display them. As you can see, a favicon will help your Web page stand out among the others. It can also reinforce your branding beyond the Web page itself, helping lead people back to your Web site if they liked what they saw the first time.

screenshot of address bar with no faviconSo what happens if your Web site does not have a favicon? You will see a blank rectangle resembling a piece of paper or simply nothing where the favicon would be, as shown in the accompanying screenshot. As a result, the title of the particular Web page which was bookmarked will have to do all of the work to visually draw people. Again, how does the saying go, a picture is worth 1,000 words?

If your Web site does not have a favicon, contact your Web site designer or developer and ask for one. Of course if you are unsuccessful, you can always contact us at Dunkirk Systems, LLC and we would be more than glad to work with you to make it happen. A favicon is a literally small file that can have a large impact on your Web site.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/04/10 at 01:15 PM
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

New And Old Retail Meet Via QR Codes

Walking to the office today something caught my eye that I had to share, as pictured below.

photo of bus Stop ad in Spanish with QR code and Marshall Field’s, Chicago

Across from the former Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago on Washington Street is a bus stop. On that bus stop is an ad in Spanish for Google Android mobile phones. Prominent in the lower right corner of the ad is a QR code. What got my attention was the contrast of the old vs. new retail. The Field’s building, over a century old, with its iconic clock in comparison to the QR code on a non-English ad for a mobile device from a vendor barely over a decade old.

The real question is if these will continue to be 2 completely different retail concepts, or if they will come together as one?


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/24/10 at 12:44 PM
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

On the iPad and Iterative Design and Web Sites

photo of a pad with the letter i on it, thus an iPadAs several people have asked me about my opinion about the iPad, I figured what better way to answer them than on The Hot Iron? While collecting my thoughts on it, what I am presenting goes beyond the device itself, but is related to how and why it is here.

Before I start, let me say I own an original iPod Shuffle and an iPod Nano. I don’t own a Mac or an iPhone, the former as I am content with my Windows PC and the latter is due to it being a locked device to the shaky and overpriced AT&T network. I will also say to satisfy the FCC hawks that I have no direct connection or direct financial stake in Apple. Working in tech my entire career, I also understand a little on how Steve Jobs thinks, and my opinion will come out as you read this.

On The iPad Itself

When I saw the announcement of the iPad, I admit I was not blown away by it, but I was also not repulsed by it. It seemed to me a larger version of the iPhone, allowing for full Web browsing and book reading, which is not an unfair description.

Here’s what I said to PSFK’s Purple List, which was posted on their blog the other day:

“In the short term, Apple fans and early adopters will gravitate to the iPad, though many I have talked and my own belief is that people prefer the portability of the iPhones. In the long-term the impact of the iPad will be in the advancement of other hardware manufacturers’ own foray into tablet devices.”

It’s a nice device but not for me. It will have its market but I don’t think it will take off in its current version as some may think. And this is about all I have to say about the iPad.

On Iterative Design

You’re probably wondering that is all I, Mike Maddaloni, has to say? Actually, that’s it, for I feel this first version of iPad is really about getting out there and seeing how it is received in the marketplace. I can somewhat speak from experience as the Shuffle and Nano in my home are only a few years old and far different from the current models. Apple is a product company and they need to sell units. What better way to do so than under the moniker of innovation?

What Apple has done is put out an initial, well-styled and designed product. They will next put out another initial, well-styled and designed product with iterations in its features, but not quite perfect. Where critics will pick apart each new version, it will certainly draw customers, and as a result sell more products. Granted Apple is not the only company who does this, but among all of the style and black clothing, Apple is a business. This in itself is a topic which could be debated on and on and on.

On Web Sites

Rumors are swirling as to why the iPad’s browser will not support Flash. Today, Flash is the main way people view video content on the Web. It has not always been that way, and it won’t necessarily always be that way. Talk of how the next version of the HTML Web programming language supporting video will address this issue has been one answer, but asking any programmer you will find few thinking about HTML 5.

My rumor to add to the mix is AT&T couldn’t possibly handle the network traffic of full-screen, high-definition video. As Apple continues to be tied to AT&T, this is a sacrifice anyone who owns an iAnything will have to deal with.

I don’t see this as much of an issue for those who build Web sites. In general, you should accommodate for those who don’t want to see Flash or don’t have its browser plugin. Sure, all Flash Web sites are still popular, but it’s nothing I recommend to my clients at Dunkirk Systems, LLC, and here’s a prime example of why. I doubt the iPad will push new ways to view video on the Web. Apple has its own Safari browser and QuickTime video format, and these could be a contributing factor as well.

In other words, I am not losing sleep over the launch of the iPad, nor is it making me sleep easier. I am more curious to see, as I was quoted, what the competition comes out with as a result of this high-profile device.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/03/10 at 04:21 PM
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Google Promotes Maps and Local Listings With Decals and QR Codes

photo of Google Maps letter and decalIt’s not everyday that someone says you’re a favorite, especially when that someone is Google.

Yesterday I received a letter from Google’s Local Business Team regarding my Internet consulting firm, Dunkirk Systems, LLC. It stated my Google Local listing is a “Favorite Place of Google” and reinforced this with stats – it was viewed 346 times in the 3rd quarter of 2009. Along with this letter of praise came a window decal stating “We’re a Favorite Place on Google” which features a QR code with a link to the mobile version of my Google Local listing. If you have a QR code reader on your mobile device, click on the accompanying photo to see a larger version of it from which you can scan the QR code and navigate to the link, or view the link to my mobile listing in your Web browser.

Where I haven’t done any poking around to see who else got a similar letter, there is some value in this, and just the opposite. First off, Google Local listings work. I have been seeing the hits coming to the Dunkirk Web site from the Local listing in my Google Analytics reporting. It is also yet another way to drive traffic to you and your business. Google Local also gives the ability for people to rate a business, similar to Yelp, which also provides businesses with window stickers.

For a retail establishment, this is a great program to offer the window stickers. But for a business like mine, it isn’t something I can leverage. First off, my mailing address is different from my office location. And my office isn’t typically where I meet my clients or have walk-in traffic. But Google Local doesn’t know this, nor did they ask.

Legendary US Congressman and House Speaker Tip O’Neil is known for his quote, “all politics is local.” Can the same be said for search? Yes and no, with an emphasis on the word “and.” If you don’t have a Google Local listing for your business, set one up right away. Today, there’s many services offered by Google, at no cost, that businesses and Web sites must use. So it’s quite obvious I use them myself, and do business with Google in many ways. Whatever your opinion of them, keeping up with what is offered by the Internet giant is vital.


Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 12/17/09 at 05:44 PM
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nokia E72 Unboxing Video

Thanks to the great folks at WOMWorld/Nokia, I will be evaluating the new Nokia E72 device for the next few weeks. It arrived last week, and here is a video I made of my first impressions as I was unboxing it.

If you cannot see the video above, follow this link to watch my Nokia E72 Unboxing Video.

I will use it as my primary device, as I have switched my T-Mobile SIM from my Nokia E70 device to this. I am going to give it some time and really try it out, including installing the new Ovi Store and several apps, including Qik, ShoZu, Facebook and a Twitter client. I also plan on reading the instruction manual – seriously.

For the sake of full disclosure, and to avoid fines from the bureaucrats at the FTC, here’s the deal with me evaluating this device. I have been lent the device, and will be sending it back to WOMWorld/Nokia once completed. I am not being paid anything for evaluating this device, and I have not been asked or directed as to what to say. Also, in 2008 I was invited to participate in Nokia’s first OpenLab, and you can read more about it at psurl.com/fuftc.

Watch The Hot Iron for a full report when I am done reviewing it, or if I decide to share something in the interim, like photos or videos or who knows what! I will be sharing thoughts on it on Twitter - follow me @thehotiron.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 12/15/09 at 04:00 AM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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