Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Your phone, your personal navigator

Anyone following the news, will hear about Google Labs launching mapping downloads for Android phones.

This is a big deal, because till now, anyone using Google maps, is either on an unlimited download data plan, or they’re paying a lot of money for accessing maps on their Android phone.

If you have a GPS enabled phone, it means that when you switch on your mapping application, the GPS receiver finds out your latitude and longtitude through connecting with satellites directly. This has been free ever since the U.S. Government released their GPS satellites for civilian use.

Then, the mapping application needs to use the latitude and longtitude (called Geocode) to pinpoint your location on the map, which is properly marked with respect to latitude and longitude for every pixel(called geo-referencing). The usual problem with Google Maps, is that all this mapping data is stored on the server, hence you end up downloading nearly 1MB of data everytime you need to check your location.

Similarly, every time you search for a restaurant on Google Maps, you are actually searching for a geocode, which means that in addition to searching online for the restaurant’s location, you are also searching for the geocode, then pinpointing the geocode on the mapping data on Google Map’s server and then downloading this to your phone. Again, this will take around 1MB of data.

Hence, finding your location takes 1MB every time, which is also the same data used to find a restaurant on Google Maps.

Now imagine searching for directions to a location using Google Maps. Your location takes 1MB of data, and your destination takes 1MB of data.

For the mapping application to give you directions to a location, means that as you move, the application is constantly downloading data en-route to your location. Hence, the more distance from your location to the destination, more data is used, which could be around 10MB.

This is the reason why your mapping application, today actually consumes more bandwidth and battery power.

Now, on the N8, since Nokia has their own maps after acquiring Navteq, you can actually download the entire map for your country, in my case India, in one shot, of around 200MB, over Wifi, which typically is free for most users in India today.

After you make the initial download, then you go to your settings, and change the Internet setting to Offline.

From now on, you can get directions without connecting to the internet at all, except maybe after six months, when you might want to upgrade all this data for free, from Nokia.

You can choose various voices for navigation, including a Surfer Dude, who can get irritating by saying “Turn left, not my left dude!”

But overall, the accuracy of the maps within city limits is pretty good, as with most mapping data, they would cover more national highways, and provide more data only when you reach populated areas.

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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Videos on the N8

The fun part about playing videos on the N8, is something called HDMI. What it basically means it that both the sound and the image, go out the same port, the HDMI port in this case.

Now just attaching the N8 to the HD screen is not enough.

What you should also do, is download an application from the Ovi Store called Nokia Bigscreen. Now this is where your phone truly comes alive.

Not only does Nokia Big Screen come with a media player to play all your music movies and pictures on the HD screen directly, it also provides the option of using a remote control like the Nintendo Wii remote or other remote controls like the PS3 remote, or a Bluetooth Keyboard(because, if you haven’t figured it out already, these all work on Bluetooth).

Another interesting thing is that it has a great screensaver option, which automatically goes through your pictures on the phone, so if you got some pictures you don’t want the others to see, I suggest you don’t leave the application idle for too long.

Since the HDMI cord has audio and video, you will get the audio directly from the T.V.

However, in case you want an independent output, I suggest you try the F.M. transmitter again, and use the radio to catch the audio output.

With regard to taking videos, the only issue here is that the flash will not come on during recording, so make sure you have ample light during recording.

Video quality is damn good, as long as you keep the setting on high. Don’t forget, that since you are recording in HD, the size of the videos are huge, like around 18MB for a 20 second clip, so be careful about uploading, preferably over an unlimited broadband connection.

And yes, you can directly upload videos through Youtube.

Another interesting application is Qik and Tout made famous by Shaq’s retiring video, but for nothing fancy, Youtube is just about right.

One thought, though.

Try to not actually start taking videos of people in the beginning, unless you shooting another wedding or birthday party.

Also, try to limit your videos to around twenty seconds in length, so that you actually are able to find something worth filming, and then with experience, increase this time gradually. But since you are filming on a phone, twenty seconds is all the viewer time you will ever get.

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Techie? Nah, not me.

Why being called a Techie is a bad thing!

It sucks. Because being called a Techie, is just as bad as being called a black, or a Dalit.

It basically creates stereotypes, where in some cases they are not warranted.

Take my case for example.

Engineer, yes!

M.B.A. , yes! .. in a technical field like Telecom Management.

I.T. Firm in Bangalore, yes!

But that’s where it all ends.

Because I worked in tiny companies, the first one having around four people, the second having just around 150. A typical I.T. company has around 2000.

So yeah, I worked my way up. I started giving big gyaan to my boss in the beginning about how chatting software was a bunch of crap, it needed more stuff like games and the ability to identify your location, eight years ago.

Then got into the slightly bigger company, where I started giving gyaan about how sucky our mobile software was, that fuck our engineers, make something my mom or dad could use. They said “Speak to Nokia or Vodafone, they tell us what to do!”

Then I got into a digital advertising firm, where they looked at me in my formal wear and asked “Kya tu security wala hai kya?” I liked formals, I think they make me look thinner.

I liked advertising, the relationship with the client was more real, more personal. That’s when it got too personal, I mean at least at the I.T. firm I would run off from work and go meet real people having real coffee, not that crap you get out of the machine.

Here, it was about being on a perpetual high, with the same people all the fucking time.

Your clients would be the nicest ever, because they could be the crudest ever too!

It felt nice to wear jeans to work, but it also meant that you were perpetually working.

Never helped that it was Mumbai, the place where constantly working meant normal living.

But then people were like “Oh, you are one of them advertising types”. I was like “Huh?”

So if you wear jeans the whole day, even for meetings, you were one of them “Advertising guys”

It meant that I was someone who was fresh out of college, who was all “Yo, Dude, whassssup!” kind of all the time.

Wearing formals was something which was so uncouth, because it made you “Uncle” or something.

So, techie? Nah, not me.

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