Archive for August, 2006

By August 31, 2006 Read More →

Mobile phones to be allowed on planes

Ryanair has announced intentions that it plans to allow its passengers make calls on mobile phones and use handheld devices such as Smartphones and Pocket PC’s whilst in flight.

It has signed a deal with Onair, part owned by Airbus maker EADS, to allow mobile use on all its Boeing 737 aircraft.

Passengers will be charged a roaming fee by mobile service provider, with Ryanair taking a slice of the income.

Ryanair shares climbed on the news of the potential extra source of revenue.

I’m not sure that I would be terribly pleased to be sitting next to someone that takes their phone on the plane. I can just imagine how popular that person would be when their annoying crazy frog ringtone wakes up half the passengers on a trans-atlantic flight!

It was only a few weeks ago that NO items of hand luggage were permitted on flights, now there is a proposal to encourage people to use phones in-flight. I guess that puts the myth that mobile phones can ‘interfere with navigation equipment’ to bed once and for all!


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Posted in: Phones
By August 30, 2006 Read More →

Hermes D-Pad bug update

Just a quick update on the HTC Hermes D-Pad bug that we reported a few days ago.

The bug affects all know Hermes variants including Orange SPV M3100, HTC TyTN and Vodafone v1605.

I have now spoken with HTC about the bug and they fully acknowledge that it is a problem that they are able to replicate. They are looking into possible solutions and will get back to me when they can.

We hope that the issue can be fixed with some kind of firmware update but even if that’s possible it could take some time for this to filter through. However, it is encouraging that HTC have spoken to us about the problem.

Please see the original bug report HERE


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Posted in: Phones
By August 29, 2006 Read More →

Acer TravelMate 3012 Review (Part 4)

Review Part 4 – Summary

Go To Part 1 of the review.

Go To Part 2 of the review.

Go To Part 3 of the review.

It’s been almost a month since the last part of my review of the Acer TravelMate 3012. I thought it was about time that I wound the reviews up with a conclusion.

TravelMate 3012WTMi

Since I bought the TravelMate back in July I have used it literally every day, I’ve hardly used my desktop PC at home. The raw performance of the 3012 model really surprised me. Typically laptop PC’s are somewhat slower than their desktop counterparts, however with the Intel’s Core Duo processor there is plenty of power on tap.

There are a couple of negatives with the TravelMate. Firstly the LCD doesn’t seem bright enough. Although indoors I have been running the backlight at 60% brightness, when I am sitting on a train 100% brightness isn’t enough. That said the clarity of the screen is good.

The battery life isn’t as good as I had hoped. Even with the backlight brightness set very low, and the CPU speed set to low I’m realistically only getting a few hours use. This is ok most of the time but is not great. Also, as I said in an earlier part of the review, I’ve had some issues with the power management. Sometimes the profile doesn’t change when you unplug the power and the CPU continues to run at maximum speed, using up the precious battery power.

The final annoyance is that the homepage for Internet Explorer has been set to the Acer website and no matter what I do and no matter how I change it the home page reverts back to Acer. If anyone knows how to resolve then please let me know!

The built in webcam is pretty good. Running it at the full native resolution of 1.3 mega pixels results in a poor frame rate but at the sort of resolution that you would use for the likes of Skype or MSN Messenger then the frame rate is pretty decent. The camera software also includes some neat face tracking software that has some fun options such as attaching bushy eyebrows or a mustache to your face.

In terms of quietness the Acer is really impressive. The CPU fan runs very infrequently but even when it is running it is very quiet. This is a welcome change to my old Dell which was really quite noisy.

In conclusion the Acer TravelMate 3012 is a very capable machine. It’s the fastest laptop I have ever owned and is a real pleasure to use. The problems that I’ve had with it are rather minor when compared with the rest of the package. It offers excellent value for money. I’m happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a small and light machine capable of delivering desktop performance.


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Posted in: Laptops
By August 28, 2006 Read More →

HTC Hermes bug confirmed

Yesterday we told you about a bug that we had discovered with the Orange SPV M3100 joypad. As an update to that post we have had a few people contact us to confirm that this isn’t just a problem with our devices but one the affects the HTC TyTN and the Vodafone v1605.

Now that the bug has been confirmed on multiple HTC Hermes variants we assume that it’s a problem with the physical hardware as each operator will have different ROM implementations. However it is possible that the problem could be fixed with a firmware update, we hope that this will be the case.

We have made contact with HTC about the problem and they said that they will get back to us about the bug shortly. We will report back soon!


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Posted in: Phones
By August 27, 2006 Read More →

Orange SPV M3100 bug identified

Muff and I have been playing more with the Orange M3100 today and have identified a bug in the hardware!

Orange SPV M3100 Joypad

The bug that we have seen affects the Joypad on the SPV M3100. To put it simply, if you press and hold the joypad in any direction, then whilst the joypad is held down you press and hold ANY other key, once you release the joypad button the device ‘thinks’ that the joypad button is still being held down. Even changing direction quickly is not always recognised.

This may not sound like anything to worry about but it does mean that something as simple as ‘rolling’ around the joypad can produce undesired results. For a real world example, imagine playing a game where you use the joypad at the same time as other keys (say a shoot-em-up or a platformer) on the M3100 and not being able to fire at the same time as moving OR changing direction quickly to avoid getting hit, but things still move in the same direction on screen.

From a developers point of view it does mean that the M3100 will be almost impossible to write action games for.

This seems to be another example of the Pocket PC/Smartphone platform going backwards rather than forward. The first SPV device had a 9 way joypad but later models went down to just 5 way pads. Inconsistent hardware design is a nightmare for developers!

We believe that the problem is not limited to the Orange version of the HTC Hermes device. If anyone wants to confirm this or test it for themselves then do the following: Open the Start menu and start scrolling down using the joypad, as you see the selection bar moving downwards roll the joypad to the left or right and then roll it upwards. Do you notice that the scroll bar is still moving down?? Imagine that within games!!

EDIT: Confirmed on the HTC TyTN too!


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Posted in: Phones
By August 26, 2006 Read More →

Shuttle Struck by Lightning?

The launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which was due to lift off on Sunday 27th August, has been posponed until Monday at the earliest to allow more time for teams to assess ground and flight systems following a strong lighting strike to the lighting protection system at the launch pad on Friday afternoon.

Shuttle Atlantis Lightning Strike

If it is determined that all systems are go for a Monday launch, the weather presents only a 20 percent chance of “no go” according to U.S. Air Force First Lt. Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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By August 25, 2006 Read More →

Orange SPV M3100 Review (Part 2)

It’s been about a two weeks since I posted the Orange SPV M3100 Review (Part 1) so I thought I would follow up with my experiences with the device.

SPV M3100 Mini Picture

Let me start out by saying that the SPV M3100 is not a perfect device but then I would be surprised if it were, I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect device.

I have had a few problems with the M3100. One really annoying and recurring problem is with the device locking up or crashing. I reported this on the blog a few days ago and have been contacted by a few other M3100 owners, I’m not alone with this problem. I’m seeing this happen a couple of times a day whilst using a various aspects of the M3100, I can’t find a common cause. All you can do when this happens is poke the stylus up its bum to reset it.

The headphones and the headphone socket on the SPV M3100 is a subject that’s getting rather a lot of attention. Integrating the audio connector into the Mini USB socket on the device seems like a really bad idea. It means that you can’t use your own headphones with the SPV M3100 what makes matters worse is that the headphones that come with the M3100 are awful. The only good reason I can think of for integrating the audio in to the USB is for use with a car kit but as most car kits are bluetooth now it does seem rather pointless.

M3100 USB Headphone Hack Cable

I posted a how-to hack for the headset that comes with the SPV M3100 so that it can be turned into an adapter to use with standard headphones. Incidentally the USB socket on the Orange M3100 is known as an Enhanced Mini USB (EMU) connector

The Battery life on the M3100 is a little disappointing. Orange claim a talk time of 4-5 hours and a standby time measured in days. In practice I’ve found that the battery life is a lot less than this, I’d say that it may be as little as half of the claimed capacity. My previous device, an HTC Wizard, had a much better battery life and I have been using the two phones roughly the same amount. I have to remember to charge the SPV M3100 almost every night.

M3100 Underside

The reception or signal strength on the M3100 is much better than any other device that I own. I live in a village that is in the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t able to get much of a signal on the Wizard at all, one room in the house gave me about 1 bar. The M3100 on the other hand has a much better reception and I can use it in the whole house and have a couple of bars on the signal meter.

The keyboard is brilliant, so much better than the one that you would find on the Wizard or the M2000. It’s on par with the keyboard on the M5000 (HTC Universal) but is smaller and a bit more slick. The sliding mechanism is a lot tighter and positive than on earlier HTC devices.

M3100 Open

Overall I really like the Orange SPV M3100. I like the black and grey case design. The processor seems quite fast and easily capable of dealing with the few applications that I throw at it. The screen is decent and bright although there is a slight yellow cast to it. I haven’t had any problems with touchscreen alignment that some other people have reported. I find that I use the scroll wheel an awful lot too!

Final Verdict: Orange SPV M3100 is definitely a phone I’ll be hanging on to for a while!

Over the next week or so I will be posting a review of the HTC TyTN and comparing this to the M3100.


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Posted in: Reviews
By August 24, 2006 Read More →

Orange SPV M3100 stability issues?

I’ve had my Orange M3100 for about ten days now. Since I published the SPV M3100 review I have been using the M3100 as my primary phone.


On the whole, I really like the Orange M3100. The processor is pretty fast and the 3G internet connection works really well, even better since I changed the DNS settings courtesy of Paul’s DNS Tips. This device is also MUCH better than my old HTC Wizard phone when it comes to the touchscreen. I’ve not had any of the alignment issues that have been reported with other HTC Hermes Variants.

The problem I’m having with the M3100 is that it seems to be a little unstable. Over the past few days its has crashed completely forcing me to poke the stylus up it’s reset button. The crashes have happened whilst doing different things. The first time I was opening Opera. Assuming this was a one-off I reset the M3100 and carried on. The next time it happened I was trying to pick up my voicemail. The display said ‘connected’ but nothing was happening, reset and was fine again.

Overall my SPV M3100 has crashed while using Opera, Agile Messenger, the Phone and Email. I don’t think these applications have anything in common, and on a couple of occasions there has been nothing else (that I know of) running in the background.

I’m wondering if I’m alone here and if the SPV M3100 that I have is a rogue device or maybe I have just been unlucky. Whilst my HTC Wizard had its faults, stability was not one of them. I would love to hear from any other Orange M3100 owners, are you having the same problems?


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Posted in: Phones
By August 24, 2006 Read More →

Atlantis Crew arrive in Florida

[color=#6200aa]The Crew for STS-115 arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida this afternoon ready for scheduled launch on Sunday 27 August at 4.30pm EDT (9.30pm BST).[/color]

Mission STS-115 Shuttle Atlantis

[color=#6200aa]The offical countdown began at noon EDT at T -43 hours and will hopefully conclude at 4.30pm EDT Sunday with the sucessful launch of Atlantis. The Offical countdown includes build in hold times varying in length from 10 minutes upto 12 or more hours.[/color]

[color=#6200aa]NASA’s weather officer is currently predicting a 30% chance of the weather stopping the launch on Sunday – which is very good for Florida at this time of year as afternoon thunderstorms are the norm.[/color]


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By August 23, 2006 Read More →

512mb MicroSD for £14.00

I posted yesterday about the potential sortage of 512mb MicroSD memory cards and asked people to cantact me if they were interested in purchasing them through me.

I’ve had loads of emails from people saying that they are interested so I’ve decided that I will offer them to my readers for COST PRICE of £14.00 plus £1 p&p! (UK only).

512mb MicroSD Memory Card

I bought a load of these to get a good price so please drop me a line if you wish to purchase, and we’ll arrange something via PayPal. These cards come with a handy SD Card adapter and plastic case.


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Posted in: Phones