Sony Ericsson K850i test: Google Maps for Mobile with My Location works

Google Maps for Mobile‘s My Location feature works in the Sony Ericsson K850i, the latest in the Cyber-shot line to hit the market. My Location is a cool feature that places your approximate location on the map using GPS (Global Positioning System) or mobile towers.

If you have one of the recent phones that report cell sites, Google Maps will draw a blue circle on the map to represent your approximate location, as determined through the use of cell sites.

Sony Ericsson k850i running Google Maps for mobile WHERE AM I? Anywhere from Fuente Osmneña to the middle of the Cebu harbor, according to this location data provided by Google Maps for Mobile running in the Sony Ericsson K850i. I was inside the Sun.Star Cebu office on P de. Rosario St. when I ran the application. Click on photo to enlarge image.

I previously tried the service with the K750i and K800i but both units don’t report cell sites they are using to connect to the network My Location won’t work with them. Last week, I tried it with a K850i demo unit lent to me by Sony Ericsson Philippines for testing and got it working in no time.

I used my Smart account in testing the K850i so its cell towers were the ones being used to plot the phone’s location.

It isn’t GPS, which is accurate up to a few meters, and the blue circle that indicates my general location covers an area that seems more than a kilometer wide.

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New Google Maps for Mobile tracks your position using cell phone towers

Google released last week a new version of its Google Maps for Mobile application. The release, as with many of Google’s products, is designated “beta,” a label used for software that is still being actively tested and not yet released to the public.

I’ve read about mobile maps applications before, including the earlier Google versions, but I never bothered trying it out because I don’t travel much. In fact my daily travel is such a routine I can tell you what size of potholes are located in which part of the highways in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu Cities.

Google Maps for Mobile GOOGLE MAPS FOR MOBILE. A satellite photo of Fuente Osmena rotunda as seen through the Google Maps for mobile application running in my Sony Ericsson K750i. Click on photo to enlarge.

But what caught my interest in last week’s announcement is a new feature in Google Maps: it can now plot your location using the cellphone towers of your mobile network. The application then displays a blue dot showing a bigger light blue circle to display your approximate location. That feature is called My Location.

Previously, you can plot your locations in mapping applications if you have a GPS (global position system) device or module. With the new Google application, the software can plot your location via triangulation of your position using the cellphone towers that connect your phone to your mobile network.

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Sony Ericsson unveils the K660: ‘engineered for mobile Internet’

Sony Ericsson has unveiled a phone that I’m sure will give second thoughts to those already set on upgrading units this Christmas. The company announced earlier this month the coming availability of the Sony Ericsson K660, a phone that the company said was engineered for the mobile Internet.

The phone will only be available early next year so you might want to postpone your Christmas phone upgrade by a month or two.

k660i FUNKY COLOR FOR A COOL PHONE. The lime on white version of the Sony Ericsson K660i, an HSDPA-enable phone that has been engineered for the mobile Internet. Click on photo to enlarge.

The K660, which will be marketed as the K660i in the Asia-Pacific region, is an HSDPA-enabled phone. The phone can access so-called “mobile broadband” networks that offer higher connection speeds. This not only makes browsing on the phone faster, it also makes it a good laptop accessory—as mobile modem.

I don’t know how wide HSDPA coverage is in Cebu but in my previous experience with PLDT WeRoam, I got strong and consistent HSDPA signals within downtown and mid-town Cebu City areas. I got a consistent GPRS speed at home in Lapu-Lapu City but this was a few months back. I suspect things have improved since then, based on my wife’s experience with using her Sony Ericsson K800i as modem.

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Sony Ericsson makes me sing the blues

Inside the junk food section of a downtown department store, I decided to stop listening to my jazz collection at home.

Two weeks back, my family sought shelter in a Cebu City pension house from a scheduled overnight brownout in Lapu-Lapu City. We went to a downtown department store to stock on food and refreshments when we ended up, inevitably, on the biscuits and junk food section.

Sony Ericsson headset, data cable SONY ERICSSON CONNECTORS. If there’s one weak spot in Sony Ericsson phones, it’s the way its data cable and earphone connects to the unit. After a year, you’d start to experience cutting off of connections.

Our four-year-old son kept saying he wanted potato chips so I brought him to where there were rows of various potato chips in different flavors. He got one pack, placed it in the grocery cart, and then sang “you like pot-ah-to, I like patata.” He sang the song repeatedly that night–on our way to another department store, on our way to the pension house, while eating the potato chips.

His brother got into the act, repeatedly singing the line “everyone’s gone to the moon” in a mock Nina Simone rendition. It was a room full of singing, out of tune.

I got the message.

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Zyb goes social with new version

Zyb, a web service that provides free online phone data backups, has launched its new version with a better website interface and several new features, including social networking through phone contacts and micro-blogging.

I find Zyb a useful service and use at least once a month to make sure I have an off-site backup of my contacts list.

My primary backup of phone data—contacts, messages, and calendar items—is in my personal computer. I use Float’s Mobile Agent not only to manage my phone, a Sony Ericsson K750i, and send messages with it but also to archive messages and back up my contacts database.

zyb-new-version2
NEW ZYB SERVICE. The website now offers social networking via phone contacts and micro-blogging.

Zyb, however, provides an easier backup solution that’s also more convenient. The website allows you to store all your contacts online and synchronize it with your phone. If you add another contact in your phone, it will be uploaded into your Zyb account once you synchronize the data. The service reminds you at least once a month to synchronize your data to make sure your Zyb account has the latest version of your phone contacts.

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Sony Ericsson unveils K770

Sony Ericsson has released its latest model in the Cyber-shot line: the K770. The phone, which will be marketed as the K770i in the Philippines and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, will be available by the fourth quarter of this year.

The K770 belongs to a phone line renowned for it’s photo quality: Cyber-shot models have photo qualities good enough to be able to carry Sony Ericsson’s brand for stand-alone digital cameras.

K770 SONY ERICSSON K770. The latest model in the Cyber-shot line will be available by the end of this year. Click on photo to enlarge.

I still use my trusty K750i but my wife–having converted to Sony Ericsson purely on the fact that she lives with a company fan boy–already upgraded to the K800i.

To be honest, the K750i more than serves my needs. I use it to take photos, including images I use in this blog. I once dunked it into the sea in Camotes Islands while taking a water-level shot of my kids swimming. I shook it a bit to remove water that had gotten into openings, let it dry in the sun, and proceeded to take more photos after a few minutes.

I use the K750i as my main digital media player and, at times, file storage. I use it daily to send and receive e-mails. I even use it to capture data. But having played with my wife’s K800i stirred an urge in me to upgrade.

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Upgrading to Sony Ericsson K800i

When my wife needed to upgrade her phone several weeks back, there was no question on which brand she’ll be getting. The question was which Sony Ericsson model best fits her needs and our budget.

I am a Sony Ericsson fan boy and my fanaticism must have rubbed off on my wife because she decided to dump Nokia. Not even a recent marketing fiasco by Sony Ericsson Philippines can dampen my Sony Ericsson fanaticism.

Sony Ericsson K800i A PHONE ANY BLOGGER WOULD LOVE. The Sony Ericsson K800i comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera, which makes it great for taking photos for websites and blogs. The 3G phone can also display RSS feeds. Click on photo to enlarge.

My wife chose the Sony Ericsson K800 or, as it is being marketed here in the Asia-Pacific region, K800i. The phone is part of the company’s Cyber-shot line, phone products with image taking qualities good enough to carry the Sony brand for standalone digital cameras.

The K800i is no longer the latest in its line. Sony Ericsson has already upgraded the line by launching the K810i and announcing the coming availability of the K850i.

What stands out in the K800 line is the ability to upgrade the firmware over the air. In previous Sony Ericsson versions, you need to attach your phone to your PC via a USB cable to upgrade your unit’s firmware. With the K800, you can upgrade your firmware from the phone itself.

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Business cards 2.0 with mobile phone codes

Mobile phone codes such as semacodes and QR for “quick response” codes allow you to to embed data such as SMS messages, phone numbers, and URLs into images of square patterns.

qr codes business card HYPERLINKED BUSINESS CARD. This mobile code is linked to my blog address. I’m planning to have this printed at the back of my business cards. Click on image to view larger version. You can try scanning it if you already have a mobile code scanner installed in your phone

These codes add interactivity to previously static media such as newspapers, magazines, posters and even business cards. Newspapers, for example, can publish mobiles codes beside movie and TV schedules to allow readers to download the information. I wrote, in my Sun.Star Cebu column for tomorrow, how newspapers can use mobile codes to add interactivity to their pages.

But one exciting aspect of the technology is the ability to embed more data into your business card or even “hyperlink” it to your blog.

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Showing Windows the door

I’m now running Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta on my main blogging gear – an MSI S260 laptop – and I haven’t stopped saying “wow” since when I finished installing it late Monday night.

I’ve used Ubuntu before, but mainly as a local server and the experience can be summarized as: boot CD, choose server setup, follow on-screen instructions, configure settings, then connect from my Windows PC.

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn desktop MY NEW WORKSTATION. Ubuntu running on my main blogging gear, an MSI S260 laptop. Click on photo to view larger image.

I’ve never gotten around to using Ubuntu as a desktop despite a long standing entry in my to-do list to do just that. I’ve tried its live CD and tinkered with desktops installed with it but for a long time I lived in a Windows-centric world–office PC, home unit, and laptop. What has stopped me from using Ubuntu sooner is my dependence on such applications as Photoshop and InDesign for newsroom work.

I’ve also been set back by my reliance on the open source Float’s Mobile Agent (FMA) to manage my Sony Ericsson K750i. When I’m at the office, my phone is, more often than not, connected to the PC and being managed by FMA. I use the program to send, receive, and archive messages as well as manage my contacts and calendar entries. When I’m on the field, FMA saves me a lot of time sending messages while writing stories.

FMA currently runs only on Windows but I found an old post in the support forum that said a developer was able to make it run in Linux using Wine.

Last Monday, I decided to wipe out Windows from my laptop and use the Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta release. The IT staff assigned to the newsroom suggested I use a dual-boot setup and retain a Windows partition but I was bent on having an Ubuntu-only system.

I’m no geek, and the only sudo I know ends with “ko” but with the holidays, I figured I’d have enough time to tinker with my laptop if the installation goes awry.

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Turn your mobile phone into a document scanner with Scanr app

I would give anything to have had this Scanr tool a decade ago when, as a beat reporter, I had to frequently photocopy documents for news stories. When I was still covering the Cebu City Hall beat, I did a series of news reports that exposed illegal collection of fees and various other transactions disallowed by government auditors. These stories were from documents officials never intended to be released to the media.

Scanr mobile application STEP 1. Scan the document using your phone camera. Fill as much of the phone screen with the document you want processed. Click on photo to view larger image.

I had a City Hall source whom I befriended after weeks of offering free cigarettes (there, smoking can do something good) at the hallway. We became such good cigarette break friends that I started asking him for documents officials did not want released.

How to use scanr STEP 2. Start the application. It will open with an image gallery. Browse the photos and look for the images you want processed. Click on photo for larger image.

The source would alert me during our cigarette breaks whenever a document I requested was already available. I’d then go to the press room, get a brown envelope, go to the comfort room and get the documents from him. I’d then rush to the photocopier and, while chewing on my nails, wait for her to finish copying the papers. I’d then go back to the City Hall comfort room and then return the papers.

Using scanr to scan documents STEP 3. Click on a photo and mark whether it is a document, business card, or a whiteboard snapshot. Click on photo to view larger image.

In one of these exchanges, I panicked because the source said I should return the papers immediately but I wasn’t able to find a vacant copier near City Hall. I had to cross several blocks.

Looking back while playing with Scanr these past days made me think how easier things might have been for me using the service and its mobile application.

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