MyTV? May TV! Analog TV in mobile phone

A Sun.Star Cebu colleague bought an interesting phone recently. May TV. (Note: Pronounce may as mai; may is the Tagalog word for “with.”) It’s not Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld or DVB-H, the technology used by Smart’s myTV service. It’s good old analog TV, the free-to-air signals picked up by regular TVs using antennae.

Mobile TV MOBILE TV. Viewing QTV in TVMobile, a Chinese-made touchscreen phone that can pick up analog TV signals. The antenna at the bottom of the phone can be used as a stylus. Click on photo to enlarge.

The brand printed on the faceplate is TVMobile and for P7,000 (the price when he bought it), it is chock-full of features. The phone was made in China and came with a Chinese manual. It is being sold by a stall in one of the department stores on Colon St. in Cebu City.

The mobile TV offered by Smart’s myTV uses DVB-H and, apart from needing a compatible handset, you need to pay a monthly subscription fee to view the shows. With the TVMobile phone, you don’t need to pay fees, maintain a credit load in your phone, or subscribe to a service.

Since it picks up regular analog TV signal, the video quality isn’t that great, unlike the high-quality video you get with myTV.

When we viewed a show in his cubicle inside the Sun.Star Cebu building, the video was grainy—a signal that, in the time before cable TV, meant you had to climb up your roof to adjust the antenna’s orientation and shout “OK na?”

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Open Source phone anyone?

Open Source development has brought the world a stable operating system, reliable web server and thousands of free and very useful programs and scripts. Will it bring us the next great phone?

Last July 9, OpenMoko started selling from their website the Neo 1973 phone, which runs the company’s eponymous open source mobile software package. This is an early version, geared more toward developers and hackers. neo19732

OpenMoko is an open source operating system for mobile phones. It is built on the Linux kernel and various other open source software packages. It even has a software package management system that will allow users to easily manage, install, and remove applications in their phones.

I am an open source advocate so I may be a touch too optimistic about the project. But it’s easy to feel that way. You only have to use software such as Firefox, web content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal, or a Linux desktop (get Ubuntu!) to know that open source is a very viable development framework.

There is no need to list the merits of open source development as these are more than amply covered in a lot of websites.

But what makes the project hold such promise is that unlike in PCs where most people have become dependent on popular closed-source applications, in mobile phones there are no such dependencies.

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Judging people by their phones

What’s your phone? Mine’s a Sony Ericsson and, according to a survey by Nielsen Media Research, I’m likely to be an ambitious, success-driven, professional, and individualistic young man.

Nielsen Media Research, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, found in a survey in Australia that certain customer types were attracted to certain phone brands.

I’d like to believe I fit the profile of the group that showed an inclination towards Sony Ericsson. I certainly am ambitious. At 31, I can still be young, depending on which side of the age line you are on. I’m also deeply individualistic although I make it a point to do more than my share in a team.

According to the same survey, Nokia users are likely to be family-minded, balance-seekers, health-conscious middle managers. Motorola users, according to the study, are likely to be fashion conscious, fun seekers, under 24, and individualistic.

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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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Traffic, flood, crime data on your mobile phone

Apart from Bulacan State University’s Smart Phone Guard, the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) project that really piqued my interest in this year’s Innovation and Excellence Awards is Ateneo de Manila University’s Smart Safety Assistance (3S).

The system packages mobile services, using open source projects, into a system that offers people access, via a PC or mobile device, to data on traffic and road conditions, floods, and crime incidence.

3s project of Ateneo de Manila SMART SAFETY ASSISTANCE. Ted Angelo Chua, lead student of the team from Ateneo de Manila, explains to judges how 3S works. (photo by Smart PA)

Perhaps because it isn’t as visceral as the three winners, Ateneo de Manila missed a place in the top three. The 3S package is an excellent system, albeit more geared toward urban centers.

The 3S system centers on a web server that gathers traffic, crime, and flood data as well as video streams from cameras placed on major roads. The server then processes these data and makes it available via the Internet to a PC or phone. The server can also send the data as an MMS message and information as SMS message.

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Sony Ericsson unveils W200i, W610i, and W880i in Cebu

For a confessed Sony Ericsson fan boy, last Thursday’s unveiling of new Sony Ericsson models was a slice of heaven for me. The company launched three new Walkman phone models–the W200i, W610i, and W880i. The phones are expected to be available in the Philippines by the second quarter of this year.

Sony Ericsson w880i SEXY. I thought to myself during the presentation of the phone by this drop-phone-and-say-hello-gorgeous model that if a booming voice from up there were to suddenly say “Max, you have been a good boy these past few months. As reward, you can pick either the phone or the model to take home with you tonight,” I’d pick the phone anytime. It is that sexy. Click on photo to view larger image.

I normally don’t get to attend launchings, they’re either too early–morning and lunch events–or too late–evening affairs–for me. But last week, I swapped news desk tasks with a colleague just to attend the event. When I got there, the event hadn’t started yet and I got to talk to Sony Ericsson officials about their products. One, in particular, warned me against converting my K750i into a W800i, a task I’m 90 percent bent on performing. “Huwag!!!? (No!!!!) was what she said, but that’s for another post.

Of the three phones launched, the cheapest is the W200i. It is marketed as a “Walkman phone for everyone,? an entry-level music mobile.

The W200i is a tri-band phone that does all the things a modern phone does: send SMS, MMS, take photos (but with only a VGA camera, but what do you expect, it’s an entry-level phone for crying out loud), play games and a host of other multi-media phone functions.

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15 days with the Treo 680 smartphone

I’ve been asked to review the Palm Treo 680. I got the unit yesterday from Microwarehouse and I’ll be testing it until I return the unit in the first week of February.

An official from Microwarehouse approached our executive editor weeks back asking her whether I would accept requests for reviews. Let me just spell it out here. I love trying gadgets and would be happy to review products provided that you give me enough time to tinker with it. Microwarehouse lent me the unit for 15 days.

Microwarehouse didn’t provide any restrictions. I asked whether I’d be allowed to install applications to really test the unit and they said yes. And what’s even better, Microwarehouse did not call me (we never even talked, they arranged it with my editor) to ask questions or offer “suggestions” about the article.

treo 680 TEST UNIT. The Palm Treo 680 I will be testing in the next 15 days. Click on photo to enlarge.

At the outset, let me just say that I am a Sony Ericsson fan boy. I’ve been using Sony Ericsson phones for years and love the way its units work and how you can use third party applications (even open source ones) with it. For me, mobility bliss is Sony Ericsson plus Float’s Mobile Agent-now there’s a lethal getting things done combination.

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Manage songs in your phone, mp3 player with MediaMonkey

I have long stayed away from using music players such as iTunes to manage songs in my Sony Ericsson k750i because of the way these software organize the files in the mobile phone’s memory stick.

mediamonkey MEDIAMONKEY is probably the best software to use to manage your phone’s audio library from your PC. Click on photo to enlarge.

I find it more efficient to just use my favorite Windows file manager, Total Commander, to transfer the music files from my PC to the phone. I’ve tried using third-party software to make iTunes manage my phone playlist and they work but not to the extent that they’ve become the primary way I manage my songs. I hate the way synchronization with iTunes breaks apart files in compilation albums into artist sub-folders. You’d have to recreate your playlist by repeatedly clicking on album folders. I’m sure there’s a way to configure this but I’m just too lazy to find out how.

But the first time I tried MediaMonkey, I immediately knew it was a piece of software I could rely on to manage songs and podcasts in my phone. The free (but sadly not open source) music library software is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of fuzz, hacking or third party applications and plugins to connect to the K750i.

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