The Avengers take on the Red Skull's soldiers in an all-new clip from the one-hour preview event of Marvel's Avengers Assemble, beginning this Sunday, May 26 at 11:00 a.m. ET inside Marvel Universe on Disney XD!
Whether used explicitly, or bundled into another application such as gNewsReader or Gravity, there's been a heavy reliance in the Symbian world on Google Reader, the industry standard way of consuming RSS feeds from web pages across the Internet. With Google announcing that this service will be stopping in just over a month's time, it's time to look at other ways of gathering news via RSS. Here I look at a number of options.
One initial premise is that many of us have built up a healthy number of interesting RSS feeds in Google Reader and, ideally, there would be a way to take this set of feeds to another client or system. Actually getting feeds from Google Reader is easy, with 'Google Take out' providing a .XML file of URLs and settings. This can then be put on any device, converted to various other formats (including .OPML) or even uploaded to a cloud service, as needed.
The problem on Symbian is that there isn't a single client application which can cope. There are 'RSS readers', of course. NaReeder is the slickest, but has no import facility, so you'd have to sit there pasting in feed URLs for hours. Horus is the prettiest but is incredibly RAM intensive and was perennially crashing, even on the limited set of seven feeds I signed up to. qooRSS offered to import my OPML file, put the feed addresses up on screen and then went into a deep sulk, presumably because it couldn't cope with the number of feeds I had (around 200, not too excessive, I think).
Web itself has a 'Feeds' module, and happily imports my OPML file, but there's no concept of curating new feed items other than by adding every feed's widget to your homescreens and then manually scanning the headlines by eye. Workable for a handful of RSS feeds, but presentation is lack lustre and there's also no way to restrict connection to just Wi-fi (other than turning mobile data off altogether). In short, for a real world set of feeds, Web is a bit of a pain.
Which meant thinking laterally. Google Reader, of course, is essentially a cloud service, liasing with the web sites and their feeds and then presenting you with a summary of what's new. So perhaps it's best to leave RSS gathering to the cloud still, i.e. find a replacement for Google Reader.
Feedly is one high profile service, but on mobile revolves around iOS and Android, which set me looking further afield, finding 'The Old Reader'. As the name implies, it's based on the classic Google Reader function and look and feel, even using the same keyboard shortcuts in a desktop browser. You can sign in using Google details and your Reader subscriptions are then a one-click import. As I didn't yet trust the service, I opted to log in with Facebook (I save this for all miscellaneous cloud services) and import my .XML feed file directly - the import process takes around thirty minutes on their server, so I then went and made a cup of tea...
As usual, you can get Opera Mini for free by downloading it in Symbian Web at m.opera.com.
I'm sure there are other cloud RSS aggregators that work well on Symbian, so I'd love some feedback here. What have you found so far? And did I miss a native Symbian that works better than the ones I name checked?
I'm stunned. I really am. In an over-the-top way. AndroMenu Extra Buttons is just about the most powerful and customisable utility I've ever seen - on any platform. With dozens of actions and settings assigned to any of a myriad swipes or taps from all corners and edges of your phone's screen, you can take the relatively staid Symbian interface and essentially do what you want with it, at least in terms of homescreen, lock screen and app menu toolbars. And many of its functions leap into action from within applications too. Screenshots and more below...
Here's the official blurb:
Need a fresh new Look for your Symbian device?
Then AndroMenu is the choice!
Style your phone and get quick Access to Favorite Files, Internet Bookmarks, installed Apps and custom Actions like Lock Phone, Close All Apps & more!
Also working from Lockscreen!
- Brightness + Volume Slider
- 2x Favorites Menus (max. 40 items!)
- 7x Slide Access Areas
- Settings Menu (Wlan, PSM..)
- Action on Single/Long Tap
- 2-7 Extra Buttons
- Icon Styles & Colors
The defaults are sensible - a few extra buttons and two side-swipeable panels from the left edge, and give you an idea of how AndroMenu Extra Buttons works, but it's not until you launch the main AndroMenu dialog that the full scope becomes apparent. The dialog is a five tabbed, scrolling mass of detailed settings. There's even a setting called 'Settings', leading to more settings and (effectively) more tabs, and... you get the idea.
The hotspots for swipe functions (around the screen edge) show up on the phone as slight lightenings of the display where appropriate, you can see them on the screenshots above if you look very closely. No, more closely than that - look again....
If you're someone into fiddling with your phone's interface, to optimise it to within an inch of its life, then AndroMenu Extra Buttons is a great choice. You can buy it for £3 in the Nokia Store here.
Personally, I found it slightly overwhelming - there's so much to change and add here that a) it's tough to know where to start or how far to go, and b) once taken to its logical conclusion, there's little left of Symbian's own management interface - which I've grown to know and like. Comments welcome if you've had a go with this too.
PS. There's a companion utility, a replacement taskmanager, AndroTaskman, which I'll be looking at in the near future.
The little voice recognition utility (that could) for Symbian, Dictate, has carried on getting updates, with this latest, v2.5.5 offering new recognition languages, in Polish and various variants of Spanish, plus Russian, French and Dutch are also now integrated. Well, I say 'integrated' - more like piggybacking on 'undocumented' APIs provided by Google, but I'd be churlish to complain.
What I might complain about is the still amateur appearance of several of Dictate's screens, though I guess we can chalk some of that down to the utility being optimised for Italian first and English text second...
Here's the update and some screens from the latest version 2.5.5 of Dictate:
You can buy Dictate for £1 here. If nothing else, it lets you show a few cool voice commands off down the pub!
Having used both Apple's Siri and (more recently) Google's 'Now' services, it's clear that Dictate is a generation or two behind in terms of flexibility - ask Dictate what the time is and it falls flat on its face, offering to search the web for that text string! But then it's just the work of one developer. And don't forget that Vlingo still works quite well on Symbian, albeit with a similarly restrictive range of things you can actually say.
If you've got seven minutes, by the way, although not yet fully on smartphones, it's clear that this is the future of voice on technology - almost Star Trek in its vision and execution.
Now, bear with me here, since I know nothing whatsoever about Softair, but I gather it's a replica weapon paintball-like sport that's mostly legal across the world? SoftairRealFight is a free smartphone aid that's available now for Symbian and Meego but 'coming soon' to other mobile platforms. The idea, as far as I can tell is that you set up a map for your particular Softair game and then the participants (again, who will also need to have Symbian or Meego-powered handsets) use the SoftairRealRight system to keep track of objectives and where everyone is within the game area on a 'radar' view.
From the developer's web page:
This platform allows you to play the Softair game as you have never done before... The platform permits you to play softair with your friends (mates and enemies) using a radar in which POIs and players (red and blue points) are displayed thru your device, just like a radar in a game! Once a game is started, all players will download the same informations about the map you are going to play, like POIs (image, coordinates and name), enemies and mates (name and degree) and each device starts to get geo-coordinates (using all kind of localizations) and communicates that over internet to central server to spread all positions to each others. Both teams have their own commander that can send messages and commands (e.g. reach a target) to their own mates using prestored texts and radio-voices...
So no real time communication, as far as I can see, you have to pre-set the texts and commands you might want to send out?
Here's the Symbian client for SoftairRealFight in action:
I couldn't actually test this application, since there seemed to be no games whatsoever actually happening.... Right now, I suspect that the Symbian/Meego requirement is a showstopper for the system to take off, much as I'd like to think that Symbian is still dominant out in the real world.
What do you think? Are you into Softair, or a similar mock-fighting sport?
You can download the client for free here in the Nokia Store and you'll need to register an account here.
The huge homescreen gallery for general Symbian smartphones was a great success yesterday, but there was one device that was largely overlooked, with different shaped screen and very different needs. Specifically, the Nokia E6, with 4:3 hi-res (VGA resolution) screen and plenty of hardware button assignments that might otherwise sit on homescreens. So, here's my call for E6 owners - how do you lay out your little Communicator homescreens?
Designing a set of E6 screens is trickier than doing the same on a nHD all-touch device - much harder. In addition to the usual optimisation, thematic and cosmetic issues, there are complications:
With that in mind, and just to kick things off (I'll round up your submissions early next week in a dedicated feature), here's the layout on my personal Nokia E6:
I'm sure you can do better - much better. So let's have your E6 homescreen submissions. Here's what to do:
If any of your screen grabs contain confidential information, you might like to edit them first to blur out the photo, name or details (as I did above, for my daughter and father)?
Once I have enough submissions, I'll put all of them up in a special Nokia E6 feature, for the world to admire and learn from.
Thanks in advance. Feel free to comment here, textually, but please save graphics for your email to me and for the eventual feature!
Following on from previous 'anatomy' pieces from myself, I couldn't help but feature the image below from a third party, Martin Jeppesen, who was experimenting with his Nokia 808 PureView and some seagulls(!) See the results below and be prepared for your jaw to drop...
Unlike previous seagull photos, Martin was snapping the birds in murky weather and with evening approaching fast. Happily he had the Nokia 808 PureView as his smartphone, plus the wits about him to think about what he wanted to capture.
With the birds flying fast, framing them was going to be a problem, so he opted for full 38MP Creative mode, so relying on a little judicious cropping later on. He also wanted to try and freeze their flight, so even though the seagulls were several metres away he turned the 808's big Xenon flash on.
Here's the overall 38MP photo/scene, downsized for this web page:
And here's the crop he's shared with the world over on his Flickr page:
But let's look closer at the detail captured by the Nokia 808 (and its Xenon flash). Let's crop in again and be prepared to have your mind blown:
Look at the tag. "J3840" on the gull's leg, clear as day.
Considering the distance away, the light and the gull's motion, it's fair to say that no other phone camera on earth could have got remotely close to this. And I'd bet against most standalone compact cameras failing, too.
Martin himself notes, of this shot:
At first I tried with Hyperfocal mode, with the Sports Scene, and the other recommended options for shooting moving objects, but they didn't do quite right.
But in Creative mode at full resolution, with the flash turned on and using the camera button for focus, it worked much better.
As a bonus, he also captured this image with the 808, should you want a little more seagull action(!):
Thanks, Martin, great images!
Following Google's IO conference, almost every Google application for Android (and most for iOS) got a revamp, but don't think that other platforms are totally left out in the cold - there's been serious work going on for the mobile web front of Mountain View's big social service too. Google+ for Symbian just got a lot prettier, though there's a slight sting in the tail, see below for comment, screenshots and a solution.
The URL to visit (and bookmark/favourite) on your smartphone is plus.google.com - easy to remember, too.
Here's a walkthrough of the new layout in Symbian's default web browser:
Obviously, some of the slicker aspects of Google+ can't be represented using just a web browser - there's no auto-uploading of all your photos, plus notifications remain as red flags in the page rather than appearing in your smartphone interface.
This isn't the first time I've evangelised the efficacy of the mobile web when a dedicated application isn't available. Yes, Google+ on a modern Android handset is faster and slicker (I've tried several), but this is a very good second option.
I asked a few days ago for screen grabs of your Symbian homescreens, so that we can all learn and take inspiration from the set-up efforts of the wider AAS community - and here I present the results, thanks to everyone for your submissions, from all across the world. And if I didn't get round to including your homescreens, please don't be offended - I had way more submissions than could be reasonably included here. Do note that this article is quite big, in terms of bytes, because of the number of screenshots - please be patient while it all loads in your web browser!
There's a lot to a set of homescreens, of course, with my original questions being:
Here then, for everyone's interest, are some of your submissions, along with any comments by the originator and, in places, with my own thoughts. Again, if your submission didn't make the cut, please don't be offended - I found every one interesting but there were a number that were quite similar, plus there really wasn't room for all of them!
In order of rising complexity, with the number of 'main' homescreens listed in parentheses after each name, here's my selection:
Gerald Fraser: (one)
"Not exactly the brightest screen, but saving battery is key. Normally the Power Save button would be blue but it has to be off for me to send this 808 snap! This screen contains the most used items, text clock, QooBattery Widget (which shows current mA!), Battery Power Saver which keeps standby battery use to near zero, and of course Gallery, Opera Mobile, and the Camera (why I bought the phone in the first place!)"
Steve says: A nice focus on battery saving, plus a good reminder about Symbian's textual clock.
Chris Reed (one):
"Here's my single homescreen. The theme is ClearBlack II Lite. The GoToMenu app takes care of getting to things quickly also, so this is really all I need. Plus my data limit is a bit too low for elaborate online widgets, as much as I might like them. As you can see though, I don't care for a regular grid of icons. Belle makes it possible to not have one, so I don't!"
Steve says: The hexagonal grid would do my brain in, but I'm glad it works well for Chris! Note all the folder shortcuts too, courtesy of Thumbnail Folders.
Giacomo Zoppi (one):
"Only one homescreen. Just what I need easily and quickly"
Philip Nikoloff (two):
"I like to keep things simple. Listening to music is my main priority on my Nokia 701, so I think this layout suits me best. And for the overall look, errr... I am using Belle, the Greatest v2.51 custom firmware by Uriel Tapia."
Steve says: Interesting to have an arty/music-centric layout, though not sure my wife would appreciate me gazing at someone else's silhouette each day!
Brenda Fernandez (one):
"I think the homescreen on my N8 is pretty standard: I don't have many fancy widgets or anything unofficial. The background image is one of those bundled with Belle, and visible widgets are: 3G switch, Internet Radio with my favourite station, a couple of app shortcuts, the Email icon widget, AccuWeather, qooCalendar, Digital Clock mini and the profile switcher menu. The upper part of the screen resembles the S60v5 layout I was used to from my old Nokia 5230. I use a single homescreen, following your advice.
The buttons on the bottom are from the hugely popular Belle Extra Buttons and they consist of a menu and a battery meter (which I find very accurate, even more so than the official Nokia widget). Long pressing each button triggers the compose window for a new text message and detailed battery info, respectively. The screenshot above, right shows the menu open (called foldable panel A in the app itself). It's where most of my frequently used apps reside. Having this, I only rarely need to open the standard Symbian application menu.
(The theme currently in use is "Next Fuchsia - daeva112", but I switch it often for the others I have installed: Belly Jean, the stock Nokia Evolve, Meego Evolved, Tilesilicious M Lite, Womencipation, and Steelblack PINK DFLT (all, except Belly Jean, from the Nokia Store). Many of the themes feature prominent pink/fuchsia design elements, which match the colour of my beloved N8.)"
Steve says: Nicely explained, and the first of many respondents who swear by Belle Extra Buttons, it seems...
James Murray (two):
"I use a two homescreen setup to keep things simple. I really like the ability of Coming Next to show plenty of calendar information at a glance. I use the boring but power efficient REvolve Red theme - lots of black with occasional red highlights. I have Nokia Situations switch the theme to ClearBlack for 'work' and Nokia Evolve sits in third place.
Steve says: A nice Calendar-centric, optimised pair of homescreens. Though I'm starting to think these extra 'menu' utilities are amount to cheating... 8-)
Stephen Nealon (two):
"I try to keep the amount of home screens down to the bare minimum on my Nokia C7. I use Wi-Fi and the LED torch a lot, so it makes sense to keep them on homescreen one. I like to keep an eye on the battery life and RAM usage, so I also have Battery Info and Raminfo Free on homescreen one as well. On homescreen two, I keep my email and timer widgets. They're useful, but they're not used as frequently. I control Music through the drop down, so I got rid of that widget some time ago. "
Steve says: Nicely thought out and hey, I recognise that theme! (Belly Jean)
Rick den Ridder (two):
"Here are the two Symbian homescreens I use on my Nokia E7. One is for information: it has two BizCalendar widgets (with different colours for different activities), the standard E-mail widget and the Nokia Battery Monitor for a quick look at the remaining energy. The other one is full with shortcuts of applications I often use (Opera, Fix The Net, Gallery, etc.) or which I want to be able to use in a very short time (Shazam and Camera, as this is faster than using the shutter button). Moreover, it has the clock widget, as I use it daily to set my alarm and I can switch profile or toggle 3G (I only have 3G on while browsing the web) effortlessly.
As you can see, I maxed out the two homescreens. This way, I minimise the time needed to get information or open applications. I don't want to use a third one, because I like the idea of not having to think about whether I need to swipe to the left or to the right.
My wallpaper is quite dark, so it doesn't consume too much energy. Both homescreens use the same photo, as it's the most beautiful spot of The Netherlands: the Grote Kerk (Big Church) in Breda."
Steve says: I'm quite gratified that there Symbian users out there who think about optimising their homescreens as much as I do!
Darren Morin (two):
"I used to use 3 screens, now down to 2. On the third screen I would put the Google/phone search and a mail widget for my Gmail account, I realized with the "Mail, new arrival" widget I could get a visual indication that something has come in, rather than having a whole screen dedicated to it, so there's that.
On the first screen I like to have all of my info at a glance. Time, date, weather, calendar. Kind of like how my old PalmPilot use to work (minus the weather). This "main screen" has my other 3 most commonly used apps (on my phone, at least) Messaging, Gravity and "App Stop"; you're probably wondering why that's there. I'll get to that soon.
The toggle icons you see are Wi-fi, the mobile data toggle, and the most important one, the Bluetooth widget. Why is that there, you ask? Well I use what's known as a "Loopset", a Bluetooth-enabled device that I wear around my neck that is linked to both my hearing aids and the N8. When I have to make a call, I can quickly switch the Bluetooth on, put on the loopset, and dial the number. When the other party picks up, then I can speak. The loopset does a great job: folks tell me the call is clear, and I can hear them without any noise or interference. As I've found, the antennas in the phone (Wi-fi especially) do generate a rather annoying "click-click-click" sound that my hearing aids can pick up when I hold the phone to my ear. Sometimes open applications have habit of trying to "connect" so that's why I have the "App Stop" icon on the lower right. Kills everything dead except the current phone call.
I do realize I've got those toggle shortcuts in the pull-down panel from the top of the screen, but my logic is that having them where they are is quicker, i.e. one tap.
The second screen is for search, and a giant screen full of buttons. I use "Play via Radio" when I'm in my car a great deal, since my music is on an SD card (32 gig). Following that are map and map apps. The second row is for entertainment, I play "Angry Birds" usually while I'm waiting to pick up my wife from work. I've often had the "Play via Radio" on and listening to tunes while driving there, so it's still on while I'm waiting for her: the music player gets paused and it's funny to have the car windows wide open while the whole parking lot can hear me playing "Angry Birds"!
The last row is practical stuff: my notepad (shopping list, etc), clipbook so I can copy/paste bits of quotes or other things into tweets and facebook posts. Then finally the data counter so I can keep an eye on my data usage.
My theme is currently the stock Nokia Evolve theme with a dark, obscured grey background that I think matches well with the widgets' use of dark grey/white. I try to save battery power as much as I can. I cropped the image so it would fit on the phone screen.
I've been accused of being 'minimalist' to a fault, and I suppose that's true. My setup works for me, it's quick and clean."
Luke van Eede (two):
"I prefer to keep things simple and only have two homescreens. I think it is best to put everything I use the most on the first homescreen so I don't have to go into the menu all the time. I don't like to have too many widgets, but the music one is a must have. Emails and Webview linked to the Bureau of Meteorology's website on the second homescreen are very handy. I don't really like photos or a completely plain wallpaper. I like this one that came preloaded. Its colourful, but not too distracting."
Steve says: Great to see people using Nokia's Webview concept in real life!
CKS Richardson (three):
"I have three home screens, each with its own wallpaper, so that they wrap around and I never have to spend too long trying to find the app or shortcut that I want. One is dedicated to music, another contains my calendar and notes, and the final one is my main home screen that contains shortcuts and widgets for the things that I use most often. I try to keep the layouts balanced so that they look nice (to my eyes).
I recently tried Belle Extra Buttons and Weather Clock, and liked them very much. I'll probably drop down to two home screens when I finally get the time to organise my phone."
Steve says: Nice use of standard widgets, I'd already call this pretty well 'organised'!
Carl Schwarz (three):
"I've been using this setup on an N8 for around a year now only with minor changes. I use 3 homescreens because "the other" homescreen is only one swipe away, in either direction. Each homescreen has a purpose: Travel (driving); Work; Night time.
First a little bit about myself to show how it works. I have 3 small kids under 4 with a baby on the way, I work in an office, and for a few months now I've been developing apps in my spare time. I live ruraly and spend a fair bit of time in the car with the family. The first homescreen is essentially my 'drive' screen with
The second homescreen is 'work':
The third homescreen is my 'home' homescreen
I used to have a Facebook widget here but lately I only check the site once a day so the widget is not necessary. Homescreen 3 used to have a heap of kids apps on it like Sesame Street and Peppa Pig, etc. But the kids are a little older now and can find the apps and videos that they want all by themselves - even though the oldest is just 4! Who says that Symbian is complicated, the little kids run rings around this OS!"
Steve says: I love the personal/family touches here.
Andy Hagon (three):
"The main one is the one with the weather and profile widgets, plus all the main apps I want instant access to. To the left of that is my email and calendar widget, with a couple more useful, well-used apps, and to the right of my main homescreen is another app 'drawer' plus my main contacts, Holly and Home. Note that Home doesn't need the new widget as I can only call the landline, while Holly can be texted as well as called!"
Steve says: Andy is the power user's power user, so fascinating to see the Symbian stuff he uses the most...
Marko Tomic (three):
Steve says: Nice use of standard widgets, including Nokia Social here (it's not all bad, you know), plus extensive use of the new Contact Communication widgets - a top set of three homescreens.
Kevin Cogels (three):
"Note the different wallpapers, which are different but with the same subject. My theme is Steel Sapphire by daeva112. Nice icons and also a little bit transparent. Also easy on the CPU and memory. The 'quickbrightness' icon is very easy to use when in powersaving mode and outside. It will override the Nokia settings, which is very handy. Just one tap on the icon is enough!
Everything I need in three screens, and for the odd program I even use the physical menu button on the 808!"
Steve says: Good to see an entire homescreen given over to email.
Viktor Sik (three):
"These are screenshots from my N8. I prefer it simple so I've installed only one custom widget (One Contact) to remote open my garage door(!) I use my phone mainly as calendar and organizer, so two calendar and email widgets are necessary. The icon in the middle of the top bar indicates the integrated VoIP client - that's the function I miss on Windows Phone 8 and that's why I stay with the older but still better Symbian. And one interesting thing is that my wallpapers is continuous from left to right (I also use the 'winter' theme)."
Steve says: Yep, got to love that wallpaper set, even if you only really appreciate it on a page like this!
Rob Vanderkam (three):
"One page for communications (and my most used app, Poddi), plus everything else goes on one or two other pages, as shown here: notes and high bandwidth apps, plus weather and misc apps that change. It may be important to note that Belle Extra Buttons has the "Menu" button on the menu bar that gives me access to every other app on one page, sortable."
Steve says: Nicely matched wallpaper and shortcut/widget positioning here, plus the use of some non-standard widgets to good effect.
Alberto Beltry (three):
"I use only three homescreens and I like to combine the wallpaper, especially the one where my dog appears, where I've even arranged my widgets so he can always be in sight in both orientations, as shown!"
Steve says: Aww.... great to see the Nokia 808's Xenon flash being put to good use in that photo gallery, too...
Aishwarya Gaidhane (three):
"I'm a Nokia 701 and Nokia 5800 user. The home screen of my 701 in the default nokia evolve theme consists of offline shortcuts as India has very expensive 3.5G and damn slow 2.5G. I am a very big fan of the Dark Knight trilogy and the shades of black on the 701's brightest display in the world are a treat. The main reason I bought my 5800 was because of the movie, the Dark Knight (a prototype was showcased during the Hong-Kong scenes as a sonar emitter.) And I bought the 701 just to know how much Nokia is going to develop Symbian even after abandoning it. But you'll be suprised to see that a Nokia 701 did appear in the final cut of the Dark Knight Rises too (it's a grey one with a black rubber cover on, used by Robin calling Gordon before and during the blasts). It kind of satisfied me to see Symbian in both movies."
Steve says: I'm sure there's a theme here, but... no, can't work it out....
Mohd Amirul Ashaff (four):
"Make your homescreens live, make it alive, simple, compact and useful. :)"
Steve says: Outrageous art/theming and shortcut positioning. Very cool.
Vlado Grv (four):
"On my first/main homescreen, the icons are optimized for right handed use, along the long side of the screen. It works very well for me. Otherwise, this is my “communication” screen... sat nav, messaging, Skype, social, e-mail, contacts, web... Second is just weather and my notes. Thirdly there's just an application launcher with a couple of bookmarks. Finally, there's my entertainment center!"
Steve says: Solid thinking and good wallpaper choices...
Mark Robinson (four):
"I use 4 homescreens on my 808, with each one having a theme of the content. The screens consist primarily of shortcuts and widgets with minimal active content, as I prefer to retrieve, say news, than have it forced.
I have had to add a fifth screen shot, because the use of Belle Extra Buttons has changed the way I use the phone. This now contains those frequently used system functions and apps, Setting, Files, Store, Gallery, Maps, etc., which of course you can access from any homescreen. "
Steve says: Everything is here, from Webview to Vlingo to every shortcut known to man. Respect.
Al Reynolds (five):
"Here’s my five homescreen setup on my 808. I have the stuff I need to glance at on the middle screen: agenda and email notifications, plus the main personal organisation stuff. Either side reflects the main phone functions – email to the right and photos/music to the left. Beyond that are other things I need to use less regularly but for which I don’t want to search through menus. I use Belle Extra Buttons' pop-up menu on the middle button for all the shortcuts I need, so they are accessible on all homescreens. I hardly ever use the standard Symbian application menu. The background is a photo I took of some ice on the roof of my car!"
Steve says: Nicely spaced, nicely thought out.
Trevor Lee (six):
"All of this is on my Nokia N8. I try and make my screens easy on the eye and practical. The wallpaper also forms an important part and will always be of photos that are important to me or photos that I love. I also don’t change them very often, which does help when searching the screens. I also tend to prefer shortcuts rather than active screens as it suits my logical brain! Of course the layout in Landscape must be in the same order as portrait!
Screen One: My main screen and the most valuable. It is where, in my opinion, most of the important features of your day should sit. So, time / date / diary and the apps I use on a daily basis. Must be neat of course!
Screen Two: Emails – Work and Personal, nothing more need to be said.
Screen Three: Weather and Motor. This is a very practical screen and very important. Car Mode is a fantastic app and, along with the FM Transmitter, this screen impresses those without Symbian! Come to think of it, so does Offline Maps, a true USB port and the HDMI output.
Screen Four: My practical screen. Cloud services and work related apps. Very functional.
Screen Five: The social screen. Photos, Gallery and the like.
Screen Six: Most useful apps. It's amazing how few people know how to download from YouTube. JoikuSpot, Endomondo and Shazam are all very useful. Of course, when in a crowd and you need a flashlight, the conversation soon switches from “your torch isn’t very good” to the "N8’s Camera and Xenon Flash!"
Steve says: Utterly maxed out, shows what Symbian can do, and love the wallpapers.
Pavel (Paul) Smítka (six):
"I like original Nokia’s Symbian. So first homescreen is default and on other homescreens there should be only useful things for me"
Steve says: Notable for not only maxing out all six homescreens, but doing so using (more or less) just what Nokia/Symbian provide. Seeing this set of homescreens would warm the cockles of the Accenture team's hearts...
Flickr is the oldest photo sharing service on the Internet and remains a favourite of many tech-literate people, not least because there's more emphasis placed on quality, resolution and general re-usability. Yahoo!, which has owned Flickr for a while now, has announced that free personal accounts can now store up to 1 Terabyte of images - quite astonishing. That's 1000GB, just to be clear.
You can still pay Flickr for a premium account ("Ad free" at $49.99 per year), which removes ads from the desktop browsing experience, and there's also an option to double storage space to 2TB ("Doublr" at $499 per year). With decent clients for both Symbian and Windows Phones, it might be time to take another look at Flickr as your photo storage service of choice?
Essentially, the free account level now gets nearly all the features of the previous premium ("Pro") accounts, including the ability to create collections, post a photo to up to 60 group pools, and restrict the maximum size of image available to other users (i.e. ensure only you have access to your original high resolutions photos). In addition upload limits have been removed, and the maximum file size increased to 200MB for photos and 1GB for videos.
Previously, the free level of the Flickr limited uploads to the 100MB per week, a maximum photo file size of 10MB, and only the last 200 uploaded photos were visible on the site. Flickr's previous premium membership level ("Pro"), which cost $24.99 a year, is no longer available. The "Pro" account removed upload and viewing limits altogether, allowed file sizes of up to 50MB for photos and 500MB for video, and supported stats (viewers and referrers). This last feature is no longer available at any account level.
Existing "Pro" accounts are being grandfathered until they expire, or can be swapped to a free account until 20th August, in which case any remaining membership period will be refunded on a pro rata basis.
From the Flickr blog:
"At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life's moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We're giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.
And yep, you heard us. It's free."
Flickr is also unveiled a new design for its website, which moves away from the minamalist, white-space-centric, ethos of the previous design that uses as much of the screen as possible to display photos.
We want Flickr to be the most amazing community and place for you to share your photos. So, we’re also revealing a beautiful new design that puts photos at the heart of your Flickr experience, where they should always be. Whether it’s a sweeping landscape or a family portrait, we want every photo to be at its most spectacular.
Your homepage is now a gateway to everything you care about, and all the photos Flickr has to offer. Our new Activity Feed combines your friends’ recent uploads with activity on your own photos, and all in a beautiful design that lets you share and interact right on the page.
FlickrUp is £1.50 in the Nokia Store.
On Windows Phone, Yahoo! has produced its own dedicated, eponymous client:
You can grab Flickr for Windows Phone here, it's free.
Either way, there's now no chance you'll fill your Flickr storage anytime soon....!
Ah yes, these All About sites, where a certain writer has been shouting about the benefits of a proper Xenon flash for the last six YEARS. Well, the last 24 hours have seen a couple of ads for Nokia's latest Lumia 928, in which it brings a Xenon flash to its new platform and... hey, the ability to freeze moments in time is apparently cool, fresh and desirable after all. Who knew? Old-timers on All About Symbian will point, of course, to the Nokia N82, N8, 6220 classic, 808 and even Sony Ericsson Satio, but hey, let's not be too bitter - at least a decent* flash is making it now in the world of Windows Phone too.
* Yes, yes, there was the HTC 7 Mozart, whose 'Xenon' flash was so appalling that I rated it as worse than LED!
Here then are the two ads about the new Lumia 928, firstly one from the Windows Phone team itself:
The tagline is " You've never seen the night like this", followed by "Meet the best low light smartphone camera. Better than iPhone. Better than Galaxy", with plenty of Xenon-frozen examples throughout. Of course, Nokia 808 owners might well contest the "meet" line, with the 808 having a double-brightness Xenon bulb of its own, but hey...
Here's the second ad, from Verizon, the carrier which commissioned the Luma 928 in the first place ("Our customers would like a proper Xenon flash, thank you very much"):
The narrative here runs: "Shouldn't the photos you share from your smartphone be photos actually worth sharing? Introducing the Nokia Lumia 928 - easily capture vibrant photos in near darkness, even without the flash". Well, if you were shooting a static building then yes, you could leave the Xenon flash off and use the OIS for a long shutter time, but the examples in the ad all seem to show the Xenon flash very much on.
Great to see the Lumia 928 and Xenon being promoted though, and for the importance of being able to photograph living, moving people after dark being finally recognised.
Maybe it's just us Brits, but most of us do like to chat about the weather - which is where WeatherTalk Qt arguably comes in, providing a basic (Foreca-powered) weather forecasting utility, with built-in Facebook sharing. There's not that much more to the app, but hey, it's free, it's fast, it's pretty and, for Facebook users at least, might jusy get the day's social sharing off to a flying start? Screens and link below.
Here's a walkthrough of WeatherTalk in action:
You can download WeatherTalk Qt for free here in the Nokia Store. It's a nice little utility, though Twitter and (now) Google+ sharing would be nicer to have, from my point of view.
Your site needs YOU! Preparing for a feature on homescreen philosophies here on All About Symbian, I show below my own homescreen arrangement, but I suspect that there are some far more ambitious layouts on reader phones. See below for how you can get involved and share your Symbian homescreens with the world... [update: please stop sending these in now, the full article has been published! - thanks]
There's a lot to a set of homescreens, of course:
Here's my own layout, a somewhat minimalist pair of screens, just to get the ball rolling:
I'm sure you can do better. If you'd like to share your own homescreen layout with the rest of the Symbian world then here's what to do:
If any of your screen grabs contain confidential information, you might like to edit them first to blur out the photo, name or details (as I did above, for my daughter)?
Once I have enough submissions, I'll put all of them up in a special feature, for the world to admire and learn from.
Thanks in advance. Feel free to comment here, textually, but please save graphics for your email to me and for the eventual feature!
In this feature, guest writer Ow Kah Leong rounds up a year of the Nokia 808 PureView as his principal phone, smartphone, camera and travel companion. While acknowledging areas in which Symbian may have slipped behind, it seems as if the 808's build quality, camera and yes, even, the applications available, have kept it as the top of Ow Kah Leong's tree. Here's his report from Singapore...
Ow Kah Leong writes:
Almost 12 months ago, it was time to renew my contract because SingTel (my mobile operator) was reducing the data cap drastically. For SGD40 (around £20) a month, it would go from 12GB to 2GB. My N8 was starting to show its age, so I was shopping around for the next plaything. Then the Nokia 808 miraculously appeared and I shelled out SGD400 (around £200) for a spanking new unit, recontracting perhaps for the last time to keep my 12GB data plan.
Thus in June 2012, the white Nokia 808 Pureview appeared like a white knight to save my day.
The N8 was then the king, so how much better would the 808 be? I wrote 2 articles for AAS detailing my initial thoughts on the new king on top of the mobile photography hill:
So, what is the Nokia 808 PureView like, one year on?
For me, it is the best smartphone, despite the competition since its release. “Raving mad!”, “Nokia fanboy!” I hear the rants. What justifies my claim? Let me run through my laundry list…
The camera is the obvious standout, the raison d'etre for purchasing the phone. Plus how many phones can boast HAAC microphones, Xenon and LED flash, NFC, FM transmitter, HDMI, AV out, removable battery and microSD card, all in one body? Throw in shutter, hardware call/end, home buttons, and the list dwindles quickly.
The build quality is top-notch too. While not the lightest, the heft of the phone feels balanced especially when using as a camera. While not metal, the polycarbonate body feels premium. The HTC One and iPhone 5 easily beat the 808 in terms of luxurious feel with all the metal and glass, though. (Shame on Samsung that their £500 flagship feels clammy and cheap.)
Surely it’s a no brainer here – Android and iOS squash whatever feeble attempt Symbian can offer. However, while there are many more apps in the two leading ecosystems, Symbian is certainly no slouch. At least, for me as a user, all the bases are covered:
Another crown jewel would be Nokia Maps. This is really a live saver on trips, whether locally or overseas.
Photos are obviously great with this mobile photography king. I was in Australia last year and the 808 almost replaced the Nikon 9200 completely. I always have the 808 in my pocket, ready to snap anything. Below are a couple of shots of Gold Coast:
I also took a video of The Tower of Terror. The car goes from 0 to 160km/h in 7 seconds, which generates ear-splitting sound that resembles a plane taking off. You can view the short clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et3_9qsMPNQ and embedded here:
So where does that leave me after a year? I still think the Nokia 808 PureView satisfies all my needs as a user and more. What’s more, I’m still receiving updates to the OS as well as apps in 2013. What if I lose the 808? Will I purchase another one? I just might, if I can find one to buy in the first place. Even if I have to purchase another phone I will keep the 808 as a reminder of what fabulous engineering Nokia can manage and how a supposedly dead mobile OS keeps it going strong in 2013.
As to what I may purchase to use in the 808’s place (mind you, I didn’t say replace), that is another story…
Ow Kah Leong, May 2013.
The ink's still not dry on the Lumia 925 press releases and already we're hearing renewed rumours about the mysterious Nokia EOS (codename, of course), thanks to a 'sighting' by a reader of WMPoweruser, quoted below. We don't comment on most rumours we hear, but when they ring true sometimes even us staffers at the All About offices can't resist adding a note or two...
From the WMPoweruser piece:
An observant reader managed to sneak a peek at the Nokia EOS and was able to give us a pretty good description of the handset.
The device is made of polycarbonate, and is about as thick as the Nokia Lumia 920 in the middle, but is highly tapered at both ends, giving the impression of a much slimmer device.
The lens housing is round in shape and does not protrude much. The flash is Xenon, and the flash and lens are both smaller than the Nokia 808 Pureview. Next to the flash is a small red LED which may be a focus assist light.
The lens also has an automatic cover that opens when the camera app is started.
The number of megapixels were not marked on the prototype, with “XX megapixels” only being written on the lens housing.
There is a new camera app called “Nokia Pro Camera”with a completely new interface. There is also manual focus available through the app. The regular photo app is also available.
The screen size and resolution is same as 920, and appears to be AMOLED. The speaker holes are at the bottom as the handset.
The handset was much lighter than the Nokia Lumia 920
Ever since the Nokia 808 PureView was launched in Spring 2012 - on Symbian, because Windows Phone wasn't yet ready to support the advanced PureView processing from a high megapixel sensor - fans of Nokia camera hardware have been willing the company on to produce a second device with the same photographic excellence and flexibility. Symbian is now ruled out as an OS for new hardware, but it does seem as though my original guesses about Windows Phone's development timescale were right. I said when the 808 PureView was launched that Windows Phone was a good 18 months away from being ready to handle similar camera performance - and here we are looking at a possible Autumn announcement of whatever the EOS turns out to be.
The 'reader' observations above do ring true with what I believe will be possible. Think of a teardrop-profiled device, not unlike the current Lumia 720, but slightly thicker in the centre, and with a reported slight 'protrusion', allowing enough room for a 23 (or so) megapixel 1/2.3" PureView sensor with 1.1 micron BSI pixels and wide angle F2.2 optics. It's not clear whether this unit would be too big to use the Optical Image Stabilisation technology used for the 1/3" sensor camera in the Lumia 920 and 925, but I'd hope it makes the 'cut'.
As on the Nokia 808, the high megapixel count could be used to perform PureView 'phase 1' oversampling and produce 'pure' 5 megapixel photos, with optional 'lossless' zoom of around 2x in stills mode.
That the Xenon flash is reported as smaller than that on the 808 isn't totally surprising - with Back Side Illuminated pixels and a larger aperture, the flash wouldn't need to be quite so powerful. Certainly, there wouldn't be need for two large capacitors, as on the 808 - one would do. The 'automatic cover' is probably just the mechanical shutter mechanism, all hidden behind the exterior Gorilla Glass, as on the 808 - I doubt there's a physical camera glass protective slider, since this really would add too much bulk.
All of the above seems quite believable then. And if OIS makes it into the mix, to give us a Nokia camera flagship with both 'phase 1' and 'phase 2' PureView on board (plus Xenon), I suspect that a lot of Nokia imaging fans may at last consider a move from Symbian onto Windows Phone 8 - which by then will have had the big 'enabling' GDR2 update and will be a lot more capable.
Take all of this with a pinch of salt, of course. It wasn't long ago that we didn't comment on unofficial reports at all - but it's been a while since I broke out my Carl Zeiss crystal ball and took a wild swing at the future, so thank you for indulging me...!
Ever wondered how much energy a Nokia phone consumes during its lifetime? What about the amount of CO2 emissions? Nokia's recently released sustainability report provides an answer for "a typical mobile device". The answer? 210 megajoules (MJs) of energy and 12kg of CO2 emissions. Given the components and energy profile of a typical smartphone, and the proportion of mobile phones in Nokia's shipment breakdowns, we would expect the company's smartphone products to be a little above that typical average.
Nokia says that the CO2 emissions are equivalent to driving 71km in an average family car. To put this further in context the average plane passenger, flying from London to New York, is reponsible for around 580kg CO2 emissions. Do note that these figures are estimates and the results depend on the calculation method, scope and assumptions used.
So how does this CO2 emission breakdown over the lifetime of the phone? Well 74% of the emissions occur before you even get your hands on the phone (54% in production, 4% in Nokia operations in the factory, and 16% in transport), 25% during your ownership of the device, and 1% during the recycling and recovery of the device.
Image credit: Nokia
But, in terms of environmental impact, it's not so much about the CO2 emissions that come from running a phone, but rather the CO2 emissions that come from making a phone.
Of course, you might also want to consider the savings in CO2 emissions that comes from using a smartphone. The chances are, thanks to convergence, a typical smartphone will eliminate one or more other gadget from your life, or the need-to-buy list. Using the phone can save on CO2 emissions too. For example, drivers using a satnav solution, like Nokia Drive, are estimated to use 5%-10% less fuel (not getting lost, route optimisation, and regulating speed) and the communications and collaboration abilities of a phone should cut down on the amount of journeys you need to take.
This week Nokia published its annual corporate social responsibility and sustainability report ("Nokia People & Planet Report 2012"). Covering a wide range of issues it offers an insight into the broad range of initiatives that makes Nokia a leader in the technology sector for ethical and environmental issues. The report also discusses the impact of Nokia's 2011 and 2012 strategy changes on its employees and the communities in which it operates.
Here's how Nokia describe the report:
Since 2002, we’ve consistently reported on corporate responsibility, and each year we build upon our transparency and coverage of issues. Today, our report covers the ethical, socio-economic and environmental areas most relevant to Nokia’s business and its stakeholders.
The Nokia People & Planet Report 2012 is split into Nokia’s efforts for people and the planet. The People section discusses how mobile technology can be harnessed for the good of individuals and communities, but it also covers challenges we faced in 2012 as well as how this impacted our employees and the communities in which we operate. The Planet part reports on our initiatives to minimize the potential negative impacts on the environment and the positive contributions mobile devices can make to the planet. The report is only available in digital format, as we want to print less.
The reports talks in detail about the positive and negative aspects of Nokia's business operations, and details the company's overall performance, whether it met its targets, and plans for the future.
Here are some selected highlights from the report:
The full report can be downloaded here [PDF].
Updated in the Nokia Store is the open source (free) MeeBible front end to numerous Bible translations, along with the facility to download any for offline reading. You may remember my original review of MeeBible? This new version 3.0 (3.05, to be precise) adds new translations (The Message, New King James, Basic English, Amplified), plus social sharing functions and hooks.
From the developer's description:
With MeeBible you can read God's Word everywhere with your phone. Bible texts are downloaded on the fly from the web and cached for further reading. You can also download whole Bible translation via Wi-Fi network and read it offline.
MeeBible supports following Bible translations:
- New World Translation in 42 languages
- King James Bible
- New International Bible
- English Standard Version
- New King James Bible
- Bible in Basic English
- The Message translation
- Russian Synodal Translation
- French Louis Segond Translation
- German Luther 1912 and Schlachter 1951 translations
- Italian Versione Diodati Riveduta
- Portuguese Almeida Corrigida e Revisada Translation
- Spanish Reina Valera Translation
- Latvian Revised Bible
- Svenska Folkbibeln (Swedish People's Bible)
- Finnish Bible 1912
- Ukranian translation by І. Огієнко
- Polish translations: Biblia Tysiąclecia, Biblia Warszawska, Biblia Warszawsko-Praska
- Bulgarian “Протестантски (1940)”
- Romanian translation by Dumitru Cornilescu
- Arabic Smith & Van Dyke Version
- Indinesian Alkitab Terjemahan Baru
In addition to the extra Bible translations now supported, the number of languages handled also seems to have grown, see the screens below:
Regardless of your own beliefs, there's no doubting that MeeBible is immaculately programmed, fully functionned and available at the perfect price. You can download MeeBible for free here in the Nokia Store.
Box.com (née Box.net) rarely gets the same press that DropBox or Google Drive get, but it's arguably just as useful. And you may not have remembered that there's a fairly fully featured Symbian client for this cloud storage service in the free (well, donation-ware) client RubiBox. There's now a big v2.0 update available in the Nokia Store, bringing multiple account support and more advanced file uploading and downloading.
The official changelog from v1.0 is:
After updating, I found I had to re-enter my Box.com credentials, but this is a one-time thing. Here's RubiBox in action:
Good to see this free cloud file management tool updated again, and with so big a changelog. I've not been a huge Box.com user in the past, but now that the maximum file upload size has been increased, I think I might give it another try.
Fresh from my (and others) attempts to capture the moon with the Nokia 808 PureView, I was interested to see that 808 photographer extraordinaire Richard Dorman has been going one step further and trying to capture the stars. See below for the proof. Essentially the trick is to take lots of photos (with the 808 on a tripod, of course) and stack them together for a final render. Yes, this can be done more easily on a standalone camera perhaps, but isn't it still cool that it's being done on a Symbian-powered phone?
From Richard's notes:
Right let’s get down to business, firstly find your location. You will need a tripod for this, otherwise the background will not match in each image and the trails will have kinks in them.
Do some test shots of the scene to make sure you are happy with the location and the frame you have chosen.
- use infinity focus (if you have it). The Nokia 808 does.
- Set the ISO to 100 and take a shot, can you see the background and the stars, if not then reset ISO to 200 and test again. Continue this until you get an image you are happy with
- Time lapse setting, every 5 seconds take an image, with the Nokia 808 you can set it to take a maximum of 1500 images. This is plenty to achieve star trails. In fact 400+ is enough.
- Flash off of course
I also suggest you take something to drink and maybe read, you will be at location for an hour or two. Plus you might need a backup charger, I made sure I had a Nokia DC-16 attached just in case it was needed. The last thing you want is for the phone to run out of battery.
What a great idea. Read his post in full for details on how to stack the images together at the end of the day, and for a few pointers on what else might go wrong.
Comments welcome if you've ever tried something like this, or indeed if you've found a particular 808-compatible tripod that works well - Nokia's HH-23 is now apparently unavailable and never used to hold the phone that securely in the first place, so presumably most of you will be using a third party tripod attachment. care to share any success stories? I used this one for ages until I broke it(!)
What next? Trying to photograph galaxies?
(hat tip to PureView Club)
Jaw-droppingly impressive. And jaw-droppingly impractical at the same time. But that's what you get for doing some incredibly maths-intensive work on a smartphone, even the 1.3GHz Nokia 808 PureView. The somewhat unimaginatively named PhotProc (I imagine the developer would jump at a decent alternative, if suggested) is brand new and brings de-noising, sharpening and many other operations to your 5 and 8 megapixel images, all handled on the phone. But, as the headline suggests, patience is needed, since PhotProc needs to do a lot of work to accomplish all this. So much so, that it implements its own 'job queue', reminding me of setting off batch processes on my mainframe overnight in the 1980s. See below for more.
Here's the official description of PhotProc, from its sourceforge home page:
This is a photo editing application for Symbian, written in Qt. It's especially designed for the Pureview 808 smartphone. It lets you edit photographs up to very high resolutions. The editing tools are primarily aimed at amateur photographers, so: filtering for different light levels, colours etc. You can't do things like paint on top of photographs or combine 2 photographs together.
As you'll see from my walkthrough below, this is a very different beast to the onboard Symbian photo editing functions, though there is some overlap - brightness, saturation, contrast, resizing, and so on. But most of PhotProc's functions are new to Symbian.
Although most of the photo adjustments on offer are previewed fairly quickly (a few seconds), so that you can see their effect, actually rendering all your changes into a finished JPG can take up to ten minutes, which is why the processing is hived off to a background thread, with the progress off the current thread indicated by a small blue bar at the top left of the main interface.
The idea is that you carry on editing other images as needed, perhaps queueing other changes to be rendered, and then you get on with your life. Symbian's multitasking and can handle this sort of behaviour well. Later, you check Gallery on the phone and there are your new renders, to be admired.
File PhotProc under 'for photo geeks only', I think, but its mere existence is to be applauded. The developer freely admits that PhotProc is perhaps too slow in its current implementation, but I know he'd love feedback on this (maybe add to this thread?) and other aspects of this new application. You can download the latest installer for PhotProc here. Note that it's open source (and therefore, by definition, free).
Back in May 2008, I updated the look and the name of my blog, moving from andrewgrill.com/blog to LondonCalling.co on WordPress and a new theme.
After 5 years I’ve decided it is time to give LondonCalling.co a fresh new look, and a responsive and mobile friendly theme.
The theme is “responsive” in that it will adapt for any screen size, including mobile.
It also has a bunch of neat widgets that you will see on the right hand side which allow me to present other posts, comments, my social presence and also my tweets.
It is a very flexible theme and I highly recommend Okay Themes – they are well written and good value – Slate cost me just $45.
I’d welcome any comments on the new look below – what do you think?If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
The event was held under Chatham House Rule (although none of us signed anything), so I am not sure how much I can say.
Here is a picture of some very eminent people around the table.
The BLE looks at the effect of digital disruption, and on this particular night brought together an amazing group of people – from companies as diverse as Harvey Nichols, The Bank of England, BP and Deutche Bank.
The main ideal of the group is to develop an intimate network of C-Level executives with a shared aim to “explore the opportunities and understand the impact of digital disruption.
The discussion was very lively, and drew on the amazing experience of the 16 or so of us around the table.
One of the first themes of our discussion was around the fact that many of today’s chief executives don’t even know what there are being asked to approve when it comes to digital marketing.
The group discussed how the role of the “Chief Digital Officer” was on the rise, to help both the CIO and CEO navigate these new disrupted times.
One of the group mentioned that they had been asked to sign off on a multi-million pound PPC campaign (and they thankfully know what a PPC campaign is), without the requestor being able to articulate how the campaign would be measured, or what the objectives were.
I would argue (as did the group) that there a great many CEOs that are being disrupted themselves as they aren’t able to clearly understand how digital disruption is affecting their business.
We also spent some time discussing how the current era would be remembered.
Our host for the night was Professor Frank James, who is the Professor of the History of Science and Head of Collections, and also took us on a guided tour of the extensive collection in the basement before dinner.
Professor James commented that the period from 1830 – 1860 in Great Britain would be remembered as one of incredible change. The group also looked at how fast technology has changed over just the last decade.
The question of innovation and risk was raised. One interesting comment was that both Google and Facebook both have a very aggressive approach to innovation, and in many ways Google still takes risks in the same way a start-up does even though it is a multi-billiondollar company.
It is these risks taken by just a few companies that is helping to drive other companies to develop new platforms and products.
It was fair to say that many around the table represented some very conservative companies, and in their industries taking the sorts of risks that Google does is not an option.
The discussion lasted well over 2 hours, during which a fabulous meal was served, and I know everyone left the dinner feeling that the first event had been very worthwhile.
I was delighted to have been invited, met some very smart people and participated in one of the most interesting debates for some time about digital disruption.If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
I see many companies that are trying to get on the social media bandwagon, so they can say they are “doing social”.
I’m not not talking about companies just setting up a Twitter feed, or a Facebook page – instead those companies that want to encourage their workforce to start to really use social media, and better engage with customers, an collaborate internally.
While you cannot mandate that people use social media, you can encourage them to use it so they can see the benefits first-hand.
In my experience, this is much easier to say than to do.
Short of putting it in your contract, a company cannot “force you to be social”.
Imagine if you worked for a sports marketing agency, but you didn’t do a lot of sports. It would be strange to tell you that you HAVE to play lots of sports. If it wasn’t your thing then it would just be seen as a chore, you might do it for a while, then leave the company.
Back in 2010, one of my clients in Australia was trying to set up an “eminence program” to make their consultants more “googleable” (their words not mine).
The intent was sound – have their star consultants be known and famous for the area the worked in, so that when you googled a particular topic, their name came up as someone knowledgable in this space.
What we did was to find articles and tweets for them to share (in effect working as specialised researchers for them). The onus was then on the consultants to share and tweet.
I can even remember meetings in Melbourne where I was literally getting them to sign up to twitter in the conference room, helping them write their bio and send their first tweet.
The program worked well for those already comfortable with social media – and those stars really stood out.
The other 98% of people we worked with were really not that comfortable with social, so it took a lot longer – and some didn’t do anything all with the information we provided them.
I am on record as saying that back in 2007 when I first signed up to Twiter, I thought that it was “the biggest waste of time”. I was proven wrong and now even my Wife pulls me up for always being on Twitter. You really have to use these platforms as a natural extension of what you do to truly understand the benefits.
In order to drive social media adoption (for the benefit of the company as well as an employee’s own brand), you need to make it fun, and then they will be encouraged to use it and adopt it at their own rate.
Here the saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is entirely appropriate.
One real world example of this is with the smart folks at Ogilvy in London.
Around 12 months ago, I spoke with Leo Ryan (@LeoTwit), head of social for Ogilvy London about how we could use our Kred leaderboards to get the Ogilvy staff more interested in social media.
What was important was giving them a reason to use social networks, make it fun and gamify the experience.
So what we did was build a leaderboard (it is live at london.kred.com and added the @names of Ogilvy staff to the board, ranking each of them by their Kred score.
What Leo did to gamify it was offer the person who was the most improved each month a Kindle.
The grand prize, at the end of 12 months, goes to the person with the most improved Kred score and they receive an all expenses paid trip to the South by Southwest event (SXSW) in March in Austin, Texas.
Leo spoke about the reasons behind the move back on his blog in March last year.
You can see below how the board looked in February 2013 and below February 2012.
As outlined on Leo’s blog post
The leader board uses Kred’s algorithm to assess the Influence and Outreach of the participating Ogilvy staffers relative to the rest of the participants. The person who improves their score the most over the year will attend SXSW Interactive 2013 as the social correspondent for Ogilvy London. Along the way we’ll be giving out monthly prizes for new entrants, high scores and epic acts of outreach.
At 61 participants as of Sunday March 4th we’re at about 5% penetration of the Ogilvy Group UK after only 2 weeks. My goal is to get it to 25% of the entire agency by the end of the year with an even spread across the operating companies and roles. I’ll post quarterly updates and let you know what strategies we’ve been using to drive involvement. I’d be delighted to hear of success you’ve had in your organisation, especially if I can share it here.
This is such a simple way of making it fun to go social, and I have seen much competition from the London Ogilvy folks as the competition progressed.
The upshot is now more of their staff are on twitter, and externally, Ogilvy can show the calibre of people in the agency listed by their Kred score.
We have provided this for a number of large agencies in the UK and the US and the reaction has been fantastic – it makes social fun!If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
A number of people woke to the news this morning that they were in the top 1% of Kred influencers either globally or in a particular community.
I know this because I was responsible for an email telling them so, as the CEO of Kred.
To calculate who is a top influencers, we went through our Kred database of registered users and looked at the distribution of scores to come up with those in the top 10%, 5% and 1% of Kred users. We have also looked at those in the top percentiles in particular communities.
You can read more about Kred on our Kred Rules page where you will find a distribution curve, and also a distribution of scores. Click on the charts for a better view.
Kred works on a double logarithmic scale, so to be in the top 1% of users is a great achievement.
To be in the top 0.1% of users (scores generally > 800) then this is remarkable and these people truly have online influence.
So what can you do with this new found fame as a top Kred influencer?
As far as how your top influencer score can be translated from the gold badge and used in the real world, Sally Falkow @sallyfalkow, the CEO of Meritus Media explains:
Having a good influence score makes it easier for Falkow and her team to interact with other influencers as bloggers respond to someone who they can see has a digital presence and has been active on social networks for some time. “We’re delighted with this recognition from Kred and we will display the Top 1% Influencer badge on our website, our blog and our Twitter feed,” says Falkow.
Top influencers can caim Kred Rewards
As a top Kred Influencer you are likely to be eligible for various Kred Rewards. Everything from free Pantene products to invites to our exclusive VIP New York Influencers Summit. At the NY Summit next Wednesday February 6, two Kred Stars will also be awarded a free trip to our London Summit on March 27, 2013.
Shortly we will be releasing code for a widget to have the badge appear on your website, and some Kred Stars such as @zacharyjeasns have already changed their Twitter avatar to show off their new status.
What was really interesting was the reaction to the email we sent.
I have had literally hundreds of replies to my email, with pretty much everyone saying thank you.
As a courtesy I have also personally replied to a good number of them.
What this shows me is that a little bit of recognition goes a long way on social.
Our email awarding people something as simple as a badge showing their ranking group on Kred has generated an amazing response – people want to feel appreciated.
Thanks for all the messages – I personally appreciate every one of them as does the team at Kred.
Update: I received a lovely email from Hollis Thomases this evening, as a result of the elite Kred influencer email – quoted with her permission below:
Ironically, I read your LinkedIn article about “Humans still crave recognition” before even receiving this email from you. So now what to do? I feel like my response will be tainted either way I react! ;-)
That said, if I’m being honest with myself, I probably would not be emailing you this thank you had I not read your article, but I would likely click-thru, view my score and share it…so I guess I help make your case! (I do think it’s pretty cool that I have this influence because I’ve never bought, gamed or done anything but be authentic to earn it. I also feel way better about my Kred score than my Klout score, the latter of which I could give a darn-toot about.)
I was really touched by Hollis’ note, and I wrote back to tell her so. It makes the time I spend blogging in the wee-small hours and on the weekend worth it, to know that people are reading my blog and and making decisions about my brand (both Kred brand, and my personal brand), and taking action.
How are you going to share your new found Kred fame? Leave me a comment below or reply to the email I sent – I’d love to hear from you.If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
What was refreshing during the 90+minute call, was that the Frost & Sullivan analysts asked some really interesting questions beyond the normal “so how are you different from Radian 6″?
One question that stuck out was “what percentage of companies are using social media for product feedback and improvement?”.
My response was probably that it was in single digit figures.
And here’s the thing. Social media is “the best piece of research you never commissioned”.
I use this line at conferences when speaking about social business and it remains my most tweeted quote of all time. The social signals you get from social media are amazing – if used properly.
The problem is that for many companies, they have been scared in the initial stages when they turn on a Twitter feed and set up a Facebook page and people realise they can complain on social media! What happens here is a company pays the “Twitter Tax” because all of the process that are fundamentally broken are exposed for all to see on social media.
What I see happen next is instead of actually looking at the great (sometime very raw) product and process feedback, they just throw more community managers at the problem (and in the process add more headcount and increase costs), meaning that the C-suite get very nervous about social and see the costs rising.
In a board meeting, someone then says “what is the ROI of our social media expenditure?”. This can be self-defeating, as the social team may be simply fire-fighting the issues caused by years of broken processes.
What is the alternative?
I think we may be looking in the wrong place for an ROI value on social media if we just focus on customer service and marketing campaigns and chasing likes and followers.
Instead, if we channel the feedback gleaned from people talking about our brand on social media into our product development and research teams, then perhaps companies will build better products, more tied to what their customers actually want.
At the moment though, I don’t even think that those charged with providing the social media listening function in organisations even know that the product teams would like this feedback, or how to present it in a meaningful way rather than lots of “your product really sucks”.
Years ago in Australia when I worked for number 2 telco Optus, I was in the product development team, and later lead a strategic review of the whole product creation process at the carrier in conjunction with Bain consulting. If I had access to the rich feedback available now via social, we would have built much better products.
When working with John Lewis when they were a client of mine in 2010, my regular interaction was with the small customer research team of 3. Back then, they were making good use of the social signals being provided, mixing them with their traditional research to make better informed business decisions.
The John Lewis team told me at the time that for them, social had become an “early warning tool” as what they saw on social played out in their traditional research weeks later. We also worked out that the social research we provided them actually meant that they had a research team of 6 – social listening technology doing the work of 3 researchers.
The bottom line is – instead of looking for an ROI on social media through simple customer service and campaign lead activity, feed the intelligence from social into your product teams, and measure how more profitable your business is as result of fixing broken processes, and making products that your customers want to buy.
That’s the real social ROI – of a social business, not just from social media.If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
I love this ad because it makes good use of the DEP (Digital Escalator Panel) format in that as you rise up the escalators (this was at Green Park coming up from the Victoria platforms), it shows a different person every few seconds.
The video does not do justice to how well it looks.If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
Many of you know that I no longer deal with organisations the old way – I don’t like waiting in a telephone queue because “my call is important”.
Instead, I tweet.
On Tuesday night, I was out walking and came across a fairly major water leak.
Not knowing which number to call, I remembered that back in 2010, I used the Thames Water Tweet-A-Leak service to report a water leak.
— Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill) January 8, 2013
And @ThamesWater replied
— Thames Water(@thameswater) January 9, 2013
Just 24 hours later – it had been fixed.
So if “old school” companies such as Thames Water can rise to the challenge and integrate new media channels such as social media into their workflows, then your company should be able to do this as well.
I will be writing more comprehensively in 2013 about social business, and how it will fundamentally change the way companies deal with customers – for the better.If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below.
Django runserver and the app django-autotest are both good as they’ll restart when modifcations are made to files in the app they will restart, however not *all* files will trigger a restart. Wanting to get some other files noticed, I added some in the __init__.py of my app, so it looked like this: try: [...]