Category: Announcements


Permalink 10:00:14, by Eric Baber Email , 1002 words, 69323 views   English (EU)
Categories: Announcements

Samsung Omnia i900/Windows Mobile: a rant

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I've recently taken on a Samsung Omnia i900 mobile phone.

The main reason for it is that a) I need a mobile with Windows Mobile OS on which to try out various applications, and b) it's got a touchscreen roughly the size of the iPod/iPhone so we can compare apps and content to a certain degree.

Now - I was really looking forward to getting it. And while I wasn't expecting it to be wildly exciting (it's Windows, after all) I was at least expecting it to be enjoyable. You can probably feel a "but" coming on and you're quite right. Herewith a part-rant (thanks for listening!) and part request for clarification. If I've done either the handset or the OS a misjustice, please do correct me - I'd be delighted to be proven a mobile-klutz.

So then - after having it for less than a day, I already hate it. Here are some of my gripes:

- Being Windows, there are lots and lots of options for everything everywhere. On a large desktop screen this is useful, but on a small screen - correction, *touch*-screen - seeing and *accessing* the options is impossible. My fingers are probably average sized for a male, and trying to access options and generally interact with the interface is utterly frustrating. Yes you can buy a stylus, but how old-fashioned is that?

- Speaking of the touchscreen, it needs to be calibrated, in the same way that interactive whiteboards need to be calibrated. The very first time you turn it on it prompts you to tap on the various crosses on the screen in order to set it up. a) I didn't need to do this with my iPod, so how come I need to do it with the Samsung? b) "tap" is completely the wrong word for it. It took me 5 minutes of increasingly frustrated jabbing before I realised (through trial and error) that during the calibration process you need to actually push and hold for around 3 seconds before the screen registers the touch.

- Settings and options are hidden in utterly unintuitve places. It's Windows, but not as we know it, Jim. It feels like Microsoft have taken the various features within Windows, stuck them into a bag, given it a good shake and then let them fall out whereever they felt like it. I have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to find how to turn off the screen lock and other features

- Wireless (1). In addition to 3G it can pick up wireless signals. It picked up my home network alright, but - get this - there is NO field into which to enter the password for my network. I entered it fairly randomly into various fields that were presented to me, but come on, how difficult can it be to have a field called "password". Some publicly available wifi networks and many private networks ask for passwords, so please make it easy to input it!!

- Wireless (2). Having entered my password at random, it *appears* that the Samsung is connected to it. However, when I access my e-mails on it, it informs me that it's connecting to my t-mobile Internet provision. Why?! Surely if I've connected my phone to a wireless provider - which is likely to be faster than 3G - then why isn't that the default connection? I can probably change a setting somewhere that will tell my phone to do just that, but why should I have to - isn't that what most people will want?

- Using Opera on it is sloooooooow. This may have been my connection so far, but pages are very very treacly to load. And once they're loaded, trying to navigate around a page by dragging it around with your finger a la iPod is a nightmare. Sometimes the screen recognises that you're trying to do that, sometimes it doesn't. Oh, and I still haven't figured out how to reliably zoom in and out. It appears that by dragging your finger up/down on the right hand side of the screen that activates zoom, but again that doesn't work reliably. Or is all of this down to the screen not being sensitive enough? If so, can the sensitivity be set? I've looked but haven't found an option for that.

- Here a request for help - this is neither the Samsung's nor Windows Mobile's fault. I'm looking for a good Twitter app along the lines of ubertwitter (for Blackberry). I've tried Tiny Twitter and ceTwit and they have various issues (I can't figure out how to follow a link in a tweet in Tiny Twitter; ceTwit doesn't seem to load people's icons properly; and a few other things). Granted this may be a personal thing, but any other suggestions for Twitter apps?

- The address book and its use is stupid. The address book displays names in the format surname, firstname. If I start a text or email message and into the To: field enter my wife's first name, it's not recognised. I have to either scroll through the address book and choose her name, or if I enter it exactly as surname, firstname it'll detect it, but it won't offer me up her name as someone I probably want to send the message to if I only enter her first name. Primitive.

- THE PHONE IS SO NOISY!!!! Have just arrived at my meeting in London and it's bombarding me with messages like "connecting to web'n'walk"; "found another wireless network - do you want to join" (no, I've already told you which one I want to join!!!) This sort of stuff never happens with my Blackberry or my iPod....

I think that's it. Gary Motteram has just made me jealous by showing me his new touch-screen mobile running Android - looks properly intuitive, didn't need any calibrating etc. I think I'll use the new Samsung for trialling relevant software, and apart from that leave it at home.

Why oh why did Motorola stop manufacturing the Razr - best phone I've ever had...


Permalink 10:51:13, by Eric Baber Email , 369 words, 6311 views   English (EU)
Categories: Announcements, News, Articles

Guardian article: Phil Beadle on the demise of the whiteboard

What an amazingly ill-informed article. Phil Beadle bemoans the loss of the old-style whiteboard to electronic interactive ones. Some choice quotes:

"But their place at the front of the class means every lesson must have a PowerPoint presentation"

Erm... no. Personally I don't think I've ever used a PowerPoint on an interactive whiteboard. PowerPoints are for presentations; in a classroom of 10 - 20 people I don't do presentations, I do teaching. Interactive whiteboards do not equal PowerPoint presentations.

"The Smart Board's central positioning destroys a teacher's ability to be spontaneous. You cannot come in any more with a couple of board markers and a handful of good ideas."

Erm... no. Turn on the whiteboard and it's blank. Write on it what you will. Go mad. The only thing that limits it is the user's creativity. If you can be creative on a blackboard, or a non-interactive whiteboard, and you can be creative on an interactive whiteboard.

"If I am modelling sentence construction or the semicolon, drawing a map illustrating colonialism in Africa, or scribing arrows outlining connections between ideas, I want to be able to do it quickly: as quick as I think"

You can do all of those things on an interactive whiteboard.

"They have their uses, Smart Boards, but they are a tool, not a teacher."

I completely agree, but precisely the same holds true of a non-interactive whiteboard.

"Their central position gives them primacy."

Again, just like the old-fashioned whiteboards.

"If you have a say, get yours put at the side of the room. Or ask for it to be given to someone more worthy; you'll make do and have your old whiteboard back."

Or ask for some training in how to use it more fully.

An electronic whiteboard is a tool, not a teacher - absolutely. But it does everything a non-interactive whiteboard can do and then a whole lot more. If a teacher feels they have to use a PowerPoint presentation in each lesson they shouldn't t blame that on the board but instead either themselves for imposing that view on themselves, or else on their management that has placed that upon them. That's not the fault of the whiteboard, but of the humans that surround it.


Permalink 16:46:05, by Eric Baber Email , 34 words, 2362 views   English (EU)
Categories: Announcements

Bloomsbury Academic launches new (free) imprint

Bloomsbury Academic has launched a new imprint which will make all its publications available for free online. and have more info.


Permalink 13:42:54, by Eric Baber Email , 124 words, 2524 views   English (EU)
Categories: Announcements, News

Google releases 3D environment

Thanks to Cleve Miller for this one.

Google has announced the release of Lively, a 3D environment, sort of similar to Second Life. The good thing about it is that it doesn't need a humongous download to operate and works from within a browser; this means that people can create their own rooms and embed them in their website or blog (as long as the blog engine allows iFrames, which mine doesn't, so I've set up a room here). The drawback is that it's still clunkier than Second Life, and only works on Windows. It's still in beta, though, so hopefully it'll go cross-platform at some point.

I very much like the idea that it's browser-based and significantly easier to use than Second Life.


Permalink 09:01:10, by Eric Baber Email , 72 words, 27859 views   English (EU)
Categories: Announcements

Nifty electric car: Aptera's Electric Typ-1 e

A cool three-wheeler electric car, also available as electric/petrol hybrid that does 300MPG. It doesn't sell itself as a racer unlike the Lightning Car Company's; instead it is likely to be more attractive to city-users since the electric-only version has a range of only 120 miles between charges. It does do 90mph though which is plenty even if you do have to take it onto the motorway. No information on price yet.

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Thoughts and links to articles about a variety of ICT and education-related topics. Where an article or resource is referred to in the header of a blog post please click the header to read the article.

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