Skip to main content
Get Smart

I should have known it wouldn’t be easy, changing my mobile phone that is. The more advanced the gadget the more difficult the challenge and writing as one who has tested Ipaqs, Palm Pilots, Blackberries and much more, I’m a little jaded.



It all started with a decision to replace my collection of PDAs, mostly IPAQs, with a single smartphone or ‘converged device’, to use the latest jargon. When it first arrived, I’d tried GPRS messaging with reasonable success on my older phone and after an afternoon spent at Microsoft, even managed to crack the problem that made messaging with the first Pocket PCs a hit and miss affair. After all, I thought, it must be easier to configure the latest generation of devices and by this I mean the one’s we have in Europe, and not the 3G digital miracle gadgets that you can find in Japan.

The Sony Ericsson P800 looked as if it would do the job. The Blackberry, which I had road-tested for two years I rejected as too expensive when it actually came down to paying the monthly bill from my own pocket and the P800 has much of the functionality of a Palm Pilot crammed into a phone-sized space, as you might expect from its Symbian pedigree.

My new gadget arrived on Friday morning and it’s now Sunday night and I haven’t finished the manual yet. This may take months. Problem one was synchronisation with my PC. With an IPAQ, through the USB port, replicating Outlook’s address book takes a minute or so. With the P800 this took two hours before Windows XP hung, forcing a reboot.

I swapped PCs and watched the synchronisation run for another hour before finally calling the Sony Ericsson support line. “It can take rather a long time” I was told. “Hours or days” I asked? "Hours was the reply and if you happen to be using any anti-virus software you could be in for problems. How many address records are you replicating”? “About five thousand”, I said. “We’ve never know anyone try an address book of that size”, said the helpline. “It’s not my fault” I said. “Every time I try one of these devices, such as the Blackberry, my address book ends up with duplicate records, which then take months and sometimes years to eliminate”.

After two hours I had my diary and contacts database comfortably resident on the P800 and had downloaded the GPRS Internet scripts for Vodafone and my own ISP from the Sony Ericsson support page. “It could take a while before GPRS is enabled”, I was told and two days later, I still can’t work out whether I’m switched on or whether my Internet mail and browser settings are incorrect because, I can’t access the Web

On reflection, it’s taken me longer to set-up my phone than the equivalent setting-up of a Personal Computer and email, the mission critical heart of the exercise may or may not be working but there’s no easy way of finding out. Other problems include a refusal on the part of Windows to transfer any digital video or music content to the phone, “This action is forbidden”, (by who Microsoft or Sony?) it tells me and all the tunes and phone sounds are clips from popular Middle Eastern hits; so if you happen to hear Khaled Ali on the 7:34 to Victoria, it’s probably my phone.

In the end I’ll have to admit at least a temporary defeat. The age of the smart phone may finally have arrived but sadly, in my case, the smart user can’t quite keep up with the technology it offers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…