The Hot Iron

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

Mobile Technology

Monday, August 03, 2009

Great Video Explaining Unlocked Mobile Phones

Regular readers of The Hot Iron know I have written a post or 2 (more like several) on unlocked mobile devices, or mobile phones as some know them as. Where I have tried to explain it, the following video does a great job explaining the benefits of an unlocked device. Watch the video below or view the video directly.

This video showcases the specific US network providers as not all of them offer a SIM card. This differs greatly from pretty much the rest of the world! Devices like the iPhone and many other models stamped with a carrier’s logo are locked to those networks, and there isn’t even the option to use a SIM card. This video is from Nokia, who sells mostly unlocked devices, though recently they have offered models locked to Verizon Wireless.

Of course, unlocked devices cost more. But their value is also greater as you have a better chance of reselling it as the market for it is greater. Some device manufacturers, like Apple, only want you to use them on a specific network, as they have made business deals with the network provider for exclusivity. Where that may work for them, it doesn’t work for the masses who want a particular device. The providers like locked devices as they probably see it a big part of their competitive advantage, which is a lot harder than providing excellent customer service!

This video is a great start to educating people, but it will time. In the meantime, I shy away from the iPhone. But note to Steve Jobs – I would be willing to pay a lot more than the highest price you currently charge for the iPhone to get one unlocked!


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/03/09 at 04:00 AM
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Monday, July 13, 2009

My Nokia E75 Experience

photo of Nokia E75 display at Nokia Flagship Store in ChicagoAfter several weeks with a Nokia E75 mobile device, from the kind generosity from the folks at WOM World/Nokia I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I took this device on planes, trains and automobiles – even ferries – and was my only camera at a wedding. A few blog posts here at The Hot Iron were written on it too. Still, I was having a hard time deciding what I thought of the device.

Then it hit me; it isn’t for me.

It was while waiting for a train from Chicago to Milwaukee when I realized this. Standing in the tiny Amtrak lobby, I saw many people typing away on keyboard device models by Samsung and LG among others. As I observed their pecking away on their device’s full keyboards, I noticed the keys were smaller than those on the E75, which are much larger than most devices out there. The people using them were probably in their 20’s and 30’s and were very adept at “texting” as we call it in the States. As I looked at the E75 in my hands, it then dawned on me why it wasn’t for me.

Here’s my conclusion – the E75 is for the business user who isn’t comfortable with the small size of keyboards such as those on a Blackberry or even like on the Nokia E71.

Now I don’t base this on anything I have read elsewhere, only my own brainpower. As I consider myself a high-end tech user, and love the E71 the issues I had with using the keyboard on the E75 were due to the fact I was trying to use it like I did the E71 – fast, and with one hand. This is not what the E75’s slide out keyboard was designed for.

My evaluation process was more utilitarian than scientific. I simply charged the E75, put my T-Mobile SIM card in it, synced my contacts and calendar and started using it as my primary device during the trial. I did install Qik and tried the Ovi Store – actually I did them in the reverse order as I was unable to install Qik from the Ovi Store, so I went directly to Qik’s Web site to initiate the install.

As a mobile phone, the E75 works well. The best way to describe the keypad is that is similar to shingles on a house. I’ve never seen this concept before and it worked for me. The Navi key was familiar to me as I used it on the E71. Much of the use of the E75 was like the E71, including a camera on the front as well as back, ideal for self-portraits and recording video of one’s self.

It seems the main selling point of the device is the slide out keyboard. The actual sliding part was solid as the device is overall. Down the middle of the keyboard is a metal bar which I presume is for stability. When the keyboard slides out the action buttons on the phone keypad remain active as well as the Navi key, but the remaining keys are disabled. This is too bad, as it’s difficult to quickly key numbers on the keyboard and leaving them active would have alleviated this issue.

Here’s some specific regarding the E75 keyboard. There is only one function key, which you need to get to the alternate characters on keys, namely numbers. This made it hard to type traditionally or with thumbs as you would on a smaller keyboard. It was also hard for my fat fingers to press the top row of keys as it kept hitting the edge of the top of the phone from where the keyboard slides from. On top of it all, the flat keys prevented “feel” typing.

As for the camera, overall it was good and much better than I anticipated. It took decent photos in daylight as well as good video. Photos at night were somewhat grainy and those from a distance were a little blurred. I didn’t try any of the settings on the camera as I used it in auto mode always. I have uploaded some photos to a Flickr group for your perusal. I was able to get some great photos and video of my friend’s wedding which was a good thing.

Thus my conclusion that the E75 is for a low-tech business user who thinks standard keybaords on mobile devices are too small. Any other takers on this opinion?

So E75, it’s not you – it’s me. There is a match for you out there, and you two will make a great pair. Your older sibling the E71 is more my type, or it’s half-sibling the E72 may be the one for me?


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/13/09 at 04:00 AM
BusinessMobile Technology • (1) CommentsPermalink



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Join Mike Maddaloni for Domain Name Chat on Bido on Tuesday July 14

Bido logoNext Tuesday, July 14, I will be the guest speaker in the chat room during the live domain name auction on Bido. Bido is a unique “social auction platform” which offers for auction one domain name a day exclusively on the Web. You don’t have to bid on a domain name to participate in the live chat, but you do need to register.

The domain name to be auctioned is unlock.info. The term "unlock" has a high degree of meaning in the world of mobile devices, as a device is either locked to a particular provider or unlocked and can be used on any provider. I have written on locked vs. unlocked mobile devices before and I only own and use those unlocked.

I am looking forward to joining the conversation on domain names, mobile technology and Internet services during the chat on Bido. If you have never participated in a domain name auction I encourage you to check it out.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/09/09 at 04:00 AM
AnnouncementsDomain NamesMobile Technology • (5) CommentsPermalink



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chicago Loop L Ride Recorded by Nokia E75

Last week I was riding the Brown Line in Chicago north and I got an idea to truly test out the video on the Nokia E75 I am evaluating. So I held it up against the window of the car and pressed record, and the following is what was captured.

If you cannot see the video above, follow this link to watch my Chicago Loop L Ride Recorded by Nokia E75.

This is a view heading north from the Randolph/Wabash stop to the Merchandise Mart stop. You will see the famous Chicago Theatre sign, the Chicago Board of Trade building and the Chicago River.

What do you think of the video? Is it of good quality? I have been using the camera for still photos and video and even took it to a wedding - look for a full report on my use of the Nokia E75 soon!


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/30/09 at 04:00 AM
Mobile Technology • (1) CommentsPermalink



Monday, June 15, 2009

Nokia E75 Unboxing Video

Thanks to the great folks at WOMWorld/Nokia, I will be evaluating the Nokia E75 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 E75 Unboxing Video.

Since then, it has been 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.

Since I made this video, I discovered a few things. The camera does not have a Carl Zeiss lens, though it has taken some decent pictures and video so far. The case that comes with it is very cool – the strap is not a locking, Velcro strap as I first thought. It is wrapped around the inside of the case, and I pull the tab to slide the E75 out of the form-fitting velour-like case. I haven’t seen such a case idea before, but I definitely like it.

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 06/15/09 at 01:27 PM
Mobile Technology • (1) CommentsPermalink



Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicago S60 User Meetup

photo of Chicago S60 User MeetupA few weeks back there was a meetup for S60 users and enthusiasts at the Nokia Flagship Store in Chicago. It was coordinated by S60Users.com though as they are in New York nobody was there from them. Despite this, there was a small but might gathering of 5 of us, as shown in the accompanying photo courtesy of Jon from JDMOTO Photography.

Our hosts from the Nokia store let us play with an earlier model of the forthcoming Nokia N97. As it was an earlier model of hardware and software, they wouldn’t let us take pictures of it. For myself, it was my first hands-on with the device. I liked its size, feel and layout. Though the keys on the keypad are small, they are easy to feel, especially compared to the new N75. Drawbacks to the keyboard are no separate row for number keys (there’s room for one!) and that they are hard to read. Of course the true test of the device is in its real-world use, and I would love to help the cause and try one out – hint!

Speaking of the N75, they had them on display and I spent some time using one. Where I like the form factor and how the keyboard slides, the screen is not much bigger than the E71, and the fact that they keyboard is flat is a drawback, as you can’t “feel” out the keys as you type. They are larger keys and there is also no separate row for numbers. As I have called this out twice now, it is obvious I enjoy this feature on my E70 as well as when I evaluated the E71.

And it wouldn’t be an event without swag! The friendly staff had some S60 items, including a flat 512MB Flash drive, pen and refrigerator clip. They mentioned they may be hosting other events in the future, so I will be on the lookout for them and will report back here on The Hot Iron. You can see more pictures from the meetup on Jon's blog.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/30/09 at 10:30 AM
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day and QR Codes

QR code for Earth Day 2009 Happy Belated Earth Day 2009! You either scrambled to do something “green” or wondered what more you can do, as it seems you are living about as green of a life as possible. I took a few moments to think about my day-to-day actions and how they impact the big picture of the world, and one word came to mind – innovation.

The Usual Suspects

As I have previously stated here on The Hot Iron I try to be as aware as possible as to my environmental impact. I wrote what I do in a draft environmental statement for my consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC though I never got any feedback and it still has not reached Dunkirk’s Web site. I also carry a Reisenthel bag with me everywhere I go. Based on these, I feel I am doing as much as I have control over to do.

Other than these actions, making a greater impact takes more work, and that’s where I feel innovation comes into play. When thinking about it more, another thing came to mind – QR codes.

What are QR Codes and Why Should I Care

QR stands for “quick response” and a QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode in the form of a cube. With 2 dimensions, it can store a larger amount of information than a traditional 1-dimensional barcode (e.g. UPC code on a product). As a result, you can store whole sentences of information, Web site URLs, email addresses and even entire contact information records. For example, the accompanying QR code in this post reads, “Happy Earth Day 2009 from The Hot Iron @ thehotiron.com !”

So how would you know that? QR codes are read by a scanner, and the most common form of scanner is a camera on a mobile device with accompanying software. Most Nokia models come preinstalled with a reader, otherwise you can get one from i-nigma among other vendors. Many devices are supported with a notable exception in Palm OS devices.

When the QR code is scanned, the information stored in the QR code is transferred to the mobile device, and you can then process it. If it displays text, you can read and save it. If it’s a URL, you can then browse to it. If an email address, you can send a message to it. If it’s contact information, you can add it to your contacts. This is basic usage of it. With more advanced software, you can do almost anything.

The following is a popular YouTube video from Japan showing how you can get nutritional information for McDonald’s menu items if you can’t see it you can view it here.

Tying The Message Together

As you may guess, QR codes are popular in Asia and in Europe but are still emerging in the US. I see QR codes as an innovative way to effectively communicate and reduce waste and costs at the same time. QR codes only require energy when they are scanned, and by the scanner themselves. They are also more eco-friendly than an RFID tag that require special manufacturing as well as are more cost effective. Here are a few examples of "green" uses that come to mind.

  • Subway ads feature a QR code, eliminating the need to have tear-off postcard pads attached to them, or the need to write down information and hard-to-remember URLs.
  • For that matter, all advertising should have a QR code with whatever desired call to action the advertiser desires.
  • At networking events or conferences, people can wear name badges sporting QR codes with their contact information. This eliminates the need to print and carry business cards, and reduces the time to process information from those cards.
  • At the Lollapalooza festival this year in Chicago, replace giving out cards on lanyards with people scanning QR codes to get free songs from iTunes, and they could be downloaded right to your device bypassing the iTunes computer software (with a more robust scanner software).

Where Earth Day continues to be popular, for many it is a day to make symbolic gestures. New, fresh and innovative ideas are needed to reinvigorate it, and QR codes fit the bill. What say you?


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/22/09 at 10:09 PM
TechnologyMobile TechnologyQR Codes • (5) CommentsPermalink



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nokia OpenLab 6 Months Later

It was 6 months ago today that I, along with about 35 others, arrived in Helsinki, Finland for the very first Nokia OpenLab. This 3-day event was a gathering of people from around the world - from musicians to nuclear scientists to photographers to, well, me – who had a passion and interest in how mobile technology can have a positive impact on the future.

If you are a regular reader of The Hot Iron, you will know I have written about OpenLab many times before. It truly was a unique event and I am proud to have attended it. The following video is the official video produced by Nokia of the event, which us attendees first viewed at OpenLab’s conclusion. If you can’t see it in this post you can view the Nokia OpenLab video here.

So what’s happened since? For myself, the biggest change is I have shed my frustration with the Palm brand and am now a loyal Nokia owner, touting the E70 while I determine which model I am going to buy next. The biggest impact for me has been conversations with other attendees. Some are just in passing, following their blogs and tweets. Others I have engaged in more direct conversations, some who I spent a lot of time with when I was there and others who I didn’t, but have made up for it since I left. Even though there were only about 50 people (including Nokia people) it was hard to spend time with everyone. I also had the good fortune to see Steve Lawson and his lovely wife Lobelia when they performed in a house concert in Chicago last December.

In the hectic pace of how our days go, it’s nice to reflect on great experiences. Now back to strategizing and building that future.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/11/09 at 05:58 AM
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Vindigo Shut Down But Still Out There

Vindigo logo “Now I am wondering what is next to fall.” I asked this question the other day when I wrote of the demise of Yahoo! Briefcase. The next thing I know, I get an email in my inbox from Vindigo. The message, in plain text, stated the following:

“Please be advised that Vindigo is no longer in business and your account information on file will not be billed again. We appreciate your past business and apologize that we are no longer able to provide it to you. This email is a service announcement in regard to your Vindigo account and was sent from Vindigo, Inc., 500 Seventh Ave, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10018.”

That’s it – no link, or anything.

For those unfamiliar with it, Vindigo was a service where you could sync content with either a Palm or Windows Mobile device. With that definition and the proliferation of real-time wireless services, you could guess their business model would not last too long. Plus the service was free, so they were not getting any money from me. As I have migrated from my Palm 680 to my Nokia E70, I wasn’t using the service anyway.

Even though there were no links in the email, I attempted to go their Web site at vindigo.com. Even though there was a “404: File Not Found” error message, I noticed the favicon showed up in the browser. This indicated to me the Web site still may be there in some form. So I Googled “vindigo” and it gave links to other pages on the site – including the profile login page – which were still in place and functioning. Removing the home page is one way to take down a Web site, but remember there are other pages people can easily get to.

I am not trying to build a deadpool here on The Hot Iron, only mentioning 2 sites that are shutting down. As things commonly happen in 3’s, dare I wonder who’s next?


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/05/09 at 05:52 PM
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mobile Device As Seeing Eye

Whenever we talk about usability, computers and their software mostly come to mind. But how about a restaurant menu? Where some may be unorganized or in a different language, to someone who is visually impaired, it may not even appear at all. Rather than having to have someone read it to you, new software for mobile devices can do it for you.

An article appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe featuring such reading software, as well as one of the owners of it, my good friend (and The Hot Iron frequent commenter) Peter Alan Smith. Over the years I have gotten to know Peter as well as his challenges with using technology which most people take its use for granted. I have had the opportunity to help Peter with installing JAWS, a popular screen reading software, onto his Windows notebook, as well as watching him surfing the Web.

Such a device and software break down many barriers. The software was developed by technology futurist Ray Kurzweil and runs on a Nokia N82 mobile device, and can be carried in his pocket as he would carry any phone. Within a minute of taking a picture of text, a computer screen or even currency, he can have the information read to him. Where I have never seen this in action personally, Peter described it in detail that gave me enough to envision it.

I have always said that technology advancements to help those who are given a moniker as “disabled” will have far-reaching uses beyond those people. As I write this post, I am wearing reading glasses that, after 30+ years of looking at computer screens, I now need to have. And at close reach is a wrist strap in the event the mild tingling in my hands that could be early signs of carpel tunnel occurs. Maybe I should pick up a copy of Dragon software to speak future posts, or just podcast them?

Cheers to Peter on this great article for an even greater person!


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 10/30/08 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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