simon-may.com

July 28, 2009

Recycling your mobile for profit

Filed under: How I Use...,iPhone,Windows Mobile — Simon May @ 9:04 am

I’ve just moved over to iPhone, as you’ll see if you browse about abit, but obviously I had a great phone before that, a Samsung i780 and before that a t-mobile touch plus (aka HTC Touch Dual) and before that an m3100 from orange (HTC Hermes) and before that an Orange c550 and before that … you get the drift.

And I still have all those phones, or at least I did until we decided we needed to declutter, we’ve been selling stuff for months on eBay! Checking out the prices for all those mobiles on eBay and it seemed a bit hit or miss so I decided to look at the mobile recycling companies. Just as an aside here worth noting it’s taken me a while to come to terms with actually getting rid of gadgets (I kept the i780), I say this only in case some thinks I’ve lost the plot, or a portion of my mind a least. The final decider, apart from the clutter was the cash.

I opted to use Mazuma mobile. The reasons behind this choice were many but mainly based on a first hand endorsment from a colleague and my being overly inflenced by the TV! So how was it?

On their website you fill details in about the phone and you don’t really even need to know much about it since they have a huge catalogue to choose from. Next you enter the IMEI number of the phone and they go off and check that the phones not been stolen (or at least not stolen and put on the register). Finally they give you a valuation. The touch dual and Hermes fetched £45 a piece and the older phones abou £15 each. The price is based on the condition of the phone; either working or not working. The definition is happily very loose too. “Working” basically means it turns on and you can, therefore, guess what the “not working” deffinition is too. The m3100 I sent had a button missing, but I still got full price and none of the Windows Mobile devices had propper firmware on, but that was no problem either. Anyway back to the process because I didn’t have money in my pocket at this point.

Having submitted the “order” through the web site I got a little pack in the post a couple of days later that contained instructions, a plastic ( and unpadded) postage paid returns bag and a certificate of postage for the post office clerk to sign. All I had to do was pop the phones in the bag and put it in the post box at the post office. A day or two later I recieved an email to tell me the phones had been recieved, then hours later I was told that a check was in the post. Full price for each!

And so a day or two later I have a cheque waiting for me to make it to the bank and I’m writing a review of a company that is actually more based on low tech postage methods than a digital lifestyle. It’s a superb service though, worthy of recommendation and in my oppinion it could be improved only by allowing an option like me getting my cash though paypal. If you don’t fancy using Mazuma then there are some alternatives listed below.

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July 7, 2009

Companies and brands I think are worth my time and money

Filed under: How I Use...,list — Simon May @ 12:00 pm

There are some companies and brands out there doing some really great stuff right now, and I thought I’d post up a list of why I like them and who they are.  All of these brands I feel some kind of affiliation to, in some way, I like what they do, their ethos, or their products.  I tend to talk about them quite a bit anyway to people, I wanted to get them back into my Windows Live Writer link glossary and hopefully introduce more people to them….I should probably have used affiliate links…I’ve not.

  • Glasses Direct – Their face furniture adorns my visage every single day, I’m currently up to 3 pairs.  I love their approach to revolutionising their industry, the people are friendly and they are genuinely engaged in social media.  They’ve picked up on my blog before and offered my readers a discount.
  • Fav.or.it – This is the company behind tweetmeme, twit or fit (gone) and obviously fav.or.it and they’re a great bunch, I feel like I follow half their office on Twitter and they’re based in Reading.  I love their approach.
  • Microsoft – I have a lot of love for them, I think they’ve come through a crisis, they are turning their ship and they’ve really learnt along the way.  Everyone I know there loves what they do, and are the best ambassadors for any company that I’ve ever come across.  They continue to ship (especially this summer) some of the best, most usable software and in a way that I like.
  • Amazon – They sell my book, they sell everything.  It’s almost a way of life to buy their stuff.
  • Play.com – The best competition to the above, but they actually do lots of things better, free shipping on everything is one thing.  I found some invoices from almost 8 years ago recently.  As with Amazon, I like them because they sell stuff I buy.
  • Spotify– Free streaming music, like radio, but better, even the ad-supported version is great.  The ability to share playlists easily, especially on Twitter is superb.  Innovative product, well delivered.
  • Tweetdeck – Not my twitter client “du jour” but my twitter client of choice, on both Windows and iPhone.  It’s a UK company, and the synchronisation features set the thinking of the company apart from the competition for me.
  • Kikkerland –Design shop of choice, D obtained a brilliant doormat in the shape of an enter key for me from them…they are simply a stunning shop with great taste.
  • Case-Mate – Great iPhone case, I’ve reviewed it here, it’s innovative and again they’ve got their use of social media right on the money, with great responses via twitter and customer involved YouTube vids.
  • Moo – We’re using these guys to create our wedding invites, they’re superb.  Like every single one of the above, customer service is fantastic in some or all ways.

June 29, 2009

The Daily Burn

Filed under: How I Use... — Simon May @ 9:39 pm

image My current obsession, apart from the iPhone, is with loosing some weight (and gaining muscle) in time for our wedding next year and a great web service is helping me do it.  DailyBurn.com is a fantastic (and mainly free) site for tracking your weight and other body measurements, your food intake and how much exercise you do to burn it all off.  It’s amazing how focused tracking  everything makes me and it’s such great motivation.  Explore the site for yourself, sign up and it’ll help you with your goals.

I found the Daily Burn from the author Tim Ferris and it has an iGoogle gadget and an iPhone app that make it really easy to keep it up to date.

April 26, 2009

Choosing a new laptop

Filed under: How I Use...,Windows 7 — Simon May @ 12:26 am

I recently started a project that meant it was time I needed a new laptop.  My previous laptop, which was a couple of years old, a Gateway laptop with 15” just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  Over time the battery had stopped holding it’s charge, and the processor (a Celeron M) just wasn’t capable of what I needed to do (it involves running Virtual Machines) and even with beefed up RAM it just wasn’t making me happy.

So with the above requirements in mind I went looking for a multi core laptop with loads of RAM and a good “bang for my buck”.  I don’t play lots of games on Windows but I do need to be able to multi task well to use those virtual machines and entertainment of another kind, the ability to use Windows Media Center really wel,l was right up there on my list of requirements.  One thing that bugs me about most entertainment laptops is there massive size, since I didn’t (and still don’t) intend on getting rid of the Gateway laptop, I wanted something pretty small – I though about a netbook initially, but the power just isn’t there.

With Windows 7 just around the corner I wanted a device that I’d be sure could take advantage of everything it has to offer, and from a hardware point of view that meant that I wanted to be able to use multi-touch.  This was actually a far more important factor for me than any of the above and it narrowed the field immediately.

So to recap, lots of RAM, fast processors, small, multi-touch…not too much to ask for.

imageSo a little research under my hat and it was time to hit the shops, well not the shops but the online stores.  The device that started to come out on top every single time was one of the variants of HP’s TX2 entertainment laptops.  It could have been built according the spec above.  Around the same time, Ian got a TX2 in to review, and it looked like just what I wanted….so I grabbed it!  Engadget named it “Tablet PC of the Year” so I new I was onto a good thing.

I’ve got to say that since I’ve owned it I’ve been totally blown away by it.  As soon as I got it I installed the Windows 7 Beta on it, and found the drivers for the Touch screen and got it going, the multi-touch experience in Windows 7 has to be seen, or rather touched, to be believed.  I really love being able to navigate a web page by touching it, zooming in, scrolling going back and forth is super simple and really intuitive.

It’s really quick too and I’ve have 3 virtual machines running at the same time doing all sorts.  The fact that it has a little Media Center remote built in is something that really floats my bloat, although I need to change the IR ID (it keeps firing up Media Center in the office when I’m watching TV in the lounge!) also it came with two batteries and that means a total battery life of about 6 hours!

So what’s the point of this, none really I just love this PC and want to talk about it a bit,  and with Windows 7 going to RC very soon I’m sure some folks are going to go looking for a PC that gives them a great Windows 7 and Windows Vista experience.

Posted by Simon May, follow me on Twitter or if you like email me
Simon's Blog @ thedigitallifestyle.com

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June 10, 2008

Squezebox part 1: Squeezebox Duet Installation Experience

Filed under: Geek cool,How I Use...,Media Center,squeezebox,Technology — Simon May @ 4:00 pm

So time for my long awaited Squeezebox Duet review, actually make that series of posts.  I first read about the Squeezebox when it was announced, and Automatedhome.co.uk also has great review.

Whilst I was in the states I picked up a Squeezebox Duet from Fry’s in Seattle, it was actually on sale on Memorial Day weekend, so it cost $349 + TAX.  This thing is brilliant!

CIMG1587 When I got it home it was a doddle setup.  First off, I bought this in the US, so power needed to be sorted out.  The power supplies are international and can take anything from 100 to 240v input, just a case of changing to the UK adapter.

The next thing to do was to install the SqueezeCenter 7 software on the Media Center.  Again a simple process, no install glitches – but I did have to manually start the scan of my music library.  About 20 minutes later it finished and had catalogued all the albums.

Next I installed softsqueeze3 on the Media Center.  This is a cool bit of software that emulates a squeeze box.  After configuring it with a name and pointing it at the SqueezeCenter installation, a web address on port 9000, it was able to access the media fine.  So I turned on the Duet controller.

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The controller picked up my Wifi network and asked me for the security setup.  Then it found my SqueezeCenter server automatically, and, I was a bit surprised about this, it let me select my SoftSqueeze installation on the controller.  All of a sudden my Media Center was pumping out tunes controlled by my Squeezebox Controller!!

Very cool.  This thing can control any squeezebox!

CIMG1589 So I went into the kitchen and setup a micro hifi and plugged in all the stuff for the Squeezebox Reciever.  I pressed the button on the front and… the controller sprang into life and picked up the receiver, automatically configuring it!  Next thing I know I’ve got some Fun Lovin Criminals bouncing out of the stereo in the Kitchen…and it sounds, GREAT!

Wondering what else this thing can do I found the ability to sync the output from the Kitchen Squeezebox Reciever with the Softsqueeze installation in the lounge!  This is going to be great when we have a party.

Next I went into SqueezeCenter, which is really the heart of everything and found that I can control all the squeezeboxes through the web interface.  Including being able to make changes to them.  So I did, I changed the names, the Softsqueeze to “Lounge” and the Duet Reciever to “Kitchen”.

This is becoming one cool whole house audio system.  Need to sort out Media Center integration though, enter MCE Softaqueeze.

How would I rate ease of installation 5 stars, Ease of use 5 stars.  I love this thing.

Comming soon:

Part 2 – Overview of the Squeezbox controller

Part 3 – Looking around SqueezeCenter

Part 4 – Extensions

Part 5 – The wish list

May 20, 2008

HelloTwitFace – now with Summize search!

For the past week I’ve been toiling away on integrating Summize into HelloTwitFace.  Screen06 Summize replaces TweetScan as HelloTwitFace’s replies and search tabs.  This was a challenge as I’d already built in RSS reading capabilities to read the TweetScan results, but Summize works with ATOM.  I did some diggining and finally got it working…and I have the start of a Summize .NET API.

I think this is the first Windows Mobile app out there to include Summize capabilities.  Summize rocks by the way, it is SUPER FAST!

Deets on how to use what’s new after the jump.

(more…)

May 1, 2008

hellotwitface minor update

Ok. That caught me out. I think twitter updated their xml format on Tuesday. On Wednesday hellotwitface stopped working, it wasn’t immediately obvious but they added an extra tag inbefore the user tags on the friends timeline.

It’s now fixed and an update is available through apptodate.

I’ve also included a sneak peak at the next release, with is using http://tweetscan.com to fine all your replies. hellotwitface is moving into a phase me becoming a mobile mashup for twitter and related services.

If there’s a feature you’d like comment on this post!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

April 29, 2008

Wii-Fi Woes

Filed under: Geek cool,How I Use...,Technology,wii — Simon May @ 7:51 am

We just got a Wii.  It’s so cool!  What wasn’t so cool was the wifi situation.image

As you’ll know I’m using DDWRT on my Buffalo router, I’m gonna change to Tomato soon as something keeps dropping out, apparently Wii has a problem with this out of the box!  I’m just trying a little fix, that’s posted just here.  I’m writing this as I do run through it….

I’ve disabled my encryption, yikes! And I’ve now got the Wii connecting and updating firmware.

Cool, that’s done, now to turn the encryption back on (WPA2-PSK TKIP).  Back into … oh need to set my laptop to no encryption…back into DDWRT control panel and encryption back on!

Now to change the settings on the laptop to encrypted, then on the Wii … umm that’s a no go.  Wha! the routers vanished!  Must have restated itself.

Lets try changing it to WPA2-AES+TKIP.

Wii = YES!

Laptop = YES!

Right, now to see what this Wii can do…expect updates

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April 27, 2008

HelloTwitFace 2.0 Available

htf2It’s taken me a couple of weeks but here is version 2.0 of HelloTwitFace!

This was quite a major update, the main portion of which was moving away from using m.twitter.com to using the API and the great new tweets display that includes the image of the person twittering.  There’s what’s new:

  • Nice twitter interface
  • New De-Scobleizer tab – the ability to move one of your contacts into a separate tab
  • New Icon 
  • Automatic refresh at user set interval up to 10 minutes

 

Go get it from here!

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April 19, 2008

Living with the Touch Dual

Filed under: How I Use...,Mobile,Windows Mobile — Simon May @ 8:00 am

I said I’d write this up eventually, well after using the device for a while about my experience with it.  I could do it in two words, but that would be a short post, “Really Great!”.  To put it simply this is the best Windows Mobile I’ve ever used, better than the Hermes – and that’s saying something!image

Lets start with the form factor of the device.  It’s a slider, like lots of other mobiles these days, and that’s probably one of the reasons it’s such a good phone.  Now I’m using Slide Actions it really works like a slide phone.  If I slide up the screen it will unlock s2u2, if I slide down it locks the screen with s2u2.  If it’s ringing and I slide it up, which I actually do much more than use the answer button, it answers the call.  Similarly if I slide it closed when in a call it hangs up.  I find I actually never use the call and end buttons.  The next fantastic thing about the form factor is the “proper” phone key-pad, by proper I mean it’s a 12 key keyboard just like most phones.  Why are these two things the most important thing about this phone for me?  Because I can now use this just like a phone, like everyone else.  It’s also great because it’s slick and thin and soft and rubbery in the hand.

Next, it’s the interface.  T-Mobile, who I’m still really impressed with, haven’t over customised the interface.  It’s fast and responsive and the touch cube is a great replacement for most of the physical buttons.  I find it works best if I just use the small area over the T-Mobile logo to start it.  I also find the D-Pad really nice to use, just like the keyboard it’s fast and responsive.

With all the mod’s I’ve made I don’t have to use the stylus all that much, but that again is a good little tool, it’s nice and solid and feels nice to hold too.

The camera suffers from the normal rubbish lens, but it’s a convenient little snapper and the newer software, version 5 of camera, is really good.  Out of the box the finger friendly Camera Album is really cool too – often makes people I show it to go “ooooh”.

All in all, this is really the best phone I’ve had for about 3 years now.

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