Friday, December 29, 2006

YouTube Mobile not working again

Several readers have commented (eg, here and here) that they're having trouble posting to YouTube Mobile, despite my having written that it was working for me (here's the video from then) so I'm testing it.

At 12:50 (local time) I sent a short video clip (around a quarter meg) from my TyTN to my YouTube Mobile address, via e-mail through my USB connection.

Note that I'm not testing MMS or e-mail over 3g or Wi-Fi at this time. I think that YouTube Mobile should be the same for all e-mail routes.

At 12:55 I see that the e-mail has arrived in my Yahoo e-mail account (I BCC'ed myself).

At 1:20 it still hasn't arrived on YouTube in My Uploaded Videos.

So something does seem to be wrong. Last time I saw the video as an entry in My Uploaded Videos very quickly, with a note that the video was being processed. But now there's nothing there.

I'll update this later if it shows up.

QUICK UPDATE A DAY LATER: The video still hasn't shown up on YouTube, so it's definitely not still in transit. I tried sending the same video from another e-mail account, and it didn't show on YouTube, so the problem isn't with the TyTN or mobile connectivity.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

TyTN video camera bug when no review period?

I took my kids to an amusement park with only my TyTN for pictures, and set the camera settings to have no review period so I could take pictures one right after the other.

But when I did that, video clips simply disappeared.

I then set it back to 3 second review, and it worked fine.

The problem seems to only be for videos, not still pictures. The clips might still exist, but they're not in the My Videos folder. I noticed that the picture numbers were incremented as if the missing clips did exist.

Has anyone had this problem on the TyTN or similar device?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Still unable to record calls on TyTN

Following up on my previous message, I was unable to get LivePVR to record calls on my TyTN. I still can't believe that this isn't built-in functionality, as it was on my Nokia.

Anyone know of call-recording software that works on the TyTN or K-JAM? Or has anyone gotten call recording working in LivePVR on the TyTN?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reuters site legitimizes camera phone pictures

A new site by Reuters and Yahoo, called YouWitness, is built for camera phone owners to submit newsworthy pictures (and videos) directly to Reuters. Currently the pictures are only shown on Yahoo/Reuters news, but the plan is for the pictures to be sold through Reuters, with revenues split between Reuters, Yahoo, and the photographer.

This seems to me to be the biggest acknowledgement that masses of people with camera phones can rival professional protographers for pictures of breaking news. A smaller site called SpyMedia is trying to do the same for private picture purchasing, but a start-up in the commercial arena is not as significant as Reuters in the news arena.

BUT NOTE: If people want to submit pictures & videos directly from their camera phones, they will want to be able to edit them a bit. The TyTN's picture editing, presumably also on other Windows Mobile devices, supports cropping, rotating, and auto-correction which I'm not clear on but likely corrects blurring and red-eye. It would be interesting to see more sophisticated picture and video editing support on devices.

The site is

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Radar: A great site for sharing mobile videos privately

Now that I got YouTube Mobile accepting videos directly from my TyTN, I'm interested in the same functionality but for a limited audience, for distributing videos only to family or friends directly from my TyTN. I've found a site for this that launched just recently, that seems very good so far, called Radar, at

In a nutshell, Radar let me log in and invite relatives or friends to join, and then submit videos (or pictures) directly from my TyTN over e-mail, very similar to YouTube Mobile. (What worked for me from my TyTN will presumably work on any mobile that can send videos by e-mail.) These videos are then available only to the people I invited.

They say that videos are also browsable on a mobile, but I haven't tried this yet.

All in all it seems like just the right functionality, and well implemented. The videos I sent were available immediately, much faster than on YouTube Mobile.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mobile YouTube blogging straight from TyTN worked!

After getting the acknowledgement last week from YouTube support acknowledging a problem with YouTube Mobile submissions, it now seems to be working!

The following video was shot on my TyTN and submitted directly via e-mail to my YouTube Mobile address:

They sent me back the URL in a few minutes, and I'm now submitting this blog entry through Blogsot Mobile. So the full blog entry, text and video, is done fully on my TyTN, all via e-mail! Nice.

The only drawback is that I expect the YouTube video above will be a link, not an embedded video. (If you read this and see the video embedded in the blog message, it will have worked even better than expected.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Book published that was written entirely on PDA-phone: Harry Potter and Torah

I've just published a 200-page book, Harry Potter and Torah, whose first complete draft was written completely on my old PDA-phone, the Nokia 9110 Communicator. Once the text was entered on the Nokia Communicator, I moved it all to a computer to merge and format. Almost all of the text was written on inter-city busses or in libraries where I was doing research.

To me this shows the power of a PDA-phone that has a good enough keyboard for serious use. Yes, I could have used a laptop, but that's nowhere near as convenient as an instant-on device that truly goes everywhere with me. Devices with good keyboards are more than "communicators" or "messagers," they're truly able to do serious work. And if Windows Mobile Word got one level better, and handled entry of footnotes and some other things that it doesn't yet handle, it would be even better. (Note that it just has to allow these to be entered, it doesn't even have to show them well.)

Yes, the Nokia Communicator has an even bigger keyboard than the TyTN. See my old message that shows how they compare. But I find the TyTN's keyboard big enough for serious use. In the past few months I've taken dozens of pages of notes on my TyTN in meetings, both work and personal.

This is one reason I never bought a Treo or other PDA-phone with a tiny keyboard along the bottom. It was painful to stick with the old Nokia, but the K-JAM and TyTN are the first full-featured PDA-phones that have keyboards that support real work.

To end with a shameless plug, anyone interested in the book can go to the Harry Potter and Torah home page.

No experience with Hebrew on the TyTN

Someone asked in a comment whether I have used any Hebrew support or Jewish calendar support on my TyTN, since they saw that I'm in Israel. The answer is sorry, but no, I've been using a lot of VoIP and blogging, but all in English. Sorry!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

YouTube Mobile confirmed not working

After the problems I mentioned before with submitting videos directly from my TyTN via the YouTube Mobile e-mail interface:

I've gotten confirmation from YouTube support that there are problems with the e-mail interface, and they're looking into it:

We're aware of this issue and we're working to resolve it as our system doesn't seem to be accepting many videos from cell phones.

We apologize for the inconvenience!

I look forward to its working, mobile video blogging directly from my TyTN awaits!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

TinyTube blasted by YouTube over Verizon deal

Sometimes I hate being right! On Nov 28 I wrote:
A New York Times article today discusses a YouTube mobile venture with Verizon.
Hopefully the TinyTube mobile YouTube site that I discussed previously will keep working
and on Nov 30 TinyTube stopped working, with the explanation:
when a Senior Manager at YouTube contacted us about Terms of Service violations we took the YouTube content offline.
Besides the fact that I liked the TinyTube service on my TyTN, it's frustrating that YouTube, a company that's clearly been trying to become the video host for the world (eg allowing other Web sites and blogs to easily embed their videos) blows their whole philosophy when a Verizon deal conflicts. Yes, TinyTube talked about terms of service violations, but the timing makes it clear that the problem was the Verizon deal.

Maybe TinyTube can put small Verizon ads at the bottom of their pages -- I bet then the "terms of service violations" would be taken care of!

Thanks to the TinyTube folks for the great service! Hope to see you back soon.

Problems sending video e-mails over 3g

I've noticed that e-mails containing videos over one meg seem not to send well over UMTS (3g) connectivity. They seem to send fine over USB connectivity. I originally wrote here that Wi-Fi also had trouble, but the same messages that wouldn't send over 3g have sent fine over my own Wi-Fi connection.

I'm not sure if this is an issue with the connectivity or with my mail server, which is Yahoo.

Has anyone reading this had this problem, or on the other hand, has anyone routinely sent video attachments over 1 meg over UMTS (3g) connections?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Notable blog messages: Mobile Skype, Mobile YouTube, and more

The following messages are further down in this blog, or archived, and I thought that people seeing the blog now might want not to miss them. Particularly interesting (not discussed in other places I've seen) is Mobile Skype over 3g and problems with mobile YouTube, and also mobile YouTube browsing.

Mobile Skype:

Mobile blogging:

Mobile YouTube submissions (not working):

Mobile YouTube video browsing:

Recording calls and sound bites on TyTN:

Video e-mails from TyTN:

Traveling with TyTN:

YouTube mobile not working! (can anyone help?)

I've tried several times now to post a video to YouTube directly from my TyTN using the YouTube Mobile system, and have not yet succeeded.

I took a video and e-mailed it from my TyTN to the e-mail address that was generated for me by YouTube mobile, but it never posted. I then tried again with a shorter video, and it never posted. I then tried with only the e-mail address in the To field (no alias name), and it never posted. I then tried through the e-mail interface but sending it from my Web-based e-mail instead of from the TyTN, and it never posted. Each time I also included a BCC that did successfully receive the video. Since it didn't post through web-based mail either, it looks like the problem is with YouTube Mobile, not the TyTN.

I also took the same short video file and uploaded it to YouTube through the regular web interface, and it uploaded fine (it's here), so the problem is clearly not with the video file itself.

Note that I sent these through e-mail, not MMS, because of the size. But YouTube Mobile says it should work over e-mail as well.

Has anyone gotten YouTube mobile to work? Please comment with any suggestions!

Nokia offering to block mobile VoIP

Nokia is reported to be offering cellular carriers the ability to block mobile VoIP on their 3g data networks. This is somewhat surprising since Nokia has always been supportive of VoIP, on products like their Web Tablet. Since I've gotten to like Skype Mobile on my TyTN, I hope carriers don't start using this evil ability to block cellular VoIP. If they do, will customers move to other carriers?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

YouTube mobile for Verizon phones

A New York Times article today discusses a YouTube mobile venture with Verizon. It will cost $15/mo, only for Verizon customers, and will give only a subset of YouTube, not all YouTube videos.

Hopefully the TinyTube mobile YouTube site that I discussed previously will keep working, since it works on all handhelds for all YouTube videos, providing true mobile YouTube.

Skype mobile over 3g on TyTN in moving car - successful!

I just tried out Skype Mobile on my TyTN, this time using a 3g (UMTS) connection in a moving car. And it sounded great, as good as a cellphone call!

The same should work equally well on Skype Mobile on any other 3g device, since I don't think that the device or CPU plays much of a role in Skype Mobile performance. But I've only used the TyTN, and maybe CPU speed does matter.

Now for a few details:

1. I was talking on the speakerphone. As I've mentioned before, Skype Mobile doesn't work over the regular phone handset mic and speaker, just the loudspeaker or headphones. I haven't tried it using headphones to see how it sounds then. Over the speakerphone it sounds as good as a regular cellphone call over speakerphone.

2. When I was talking, the car was moving less than 80 km/hr (50 mph). At faster speeds (train speed or real highway speed) the 3g connectivity is reported to sometimes have problems.

3. I logged into Skype and started the call when the car was fully stopped in traffic. Skype Mobile doesn't seem to remember my password, and I don't suggest typing passwords into forms while driving.

4. Obviously Skype call quality depends on bandwidth availability, and may go down as more people use 3g.

I've said before that mobile Skype is impressive, and working well over 3g makes it ubiquitous wherever there's 3g.

Previous messages I've written about Skype mobile are:

Skype Mobile can be downloaded from

Very nice!

Monday, November 27, 2006

NYT article on grabbing Wi-Fi coverage

Interesting article in today's New York Times about people with Wi-Fi devices (like the TyTN or K-JAM) grabbing connectivity on other people's Wi-Fi networks.

I find it strange that the article doesn't mention how many public Wi-Fi hotpots there are. Roaming Wi-Fi devices aren't only usable by "stealing" bandwidth from people's houses, but also at cafes and malls all over the place. Also, they don't mention the frequent assumption that anyone that doesn't lock their Wi-Fi connection is implicitly leaving it open for use.

But a good article nonetheless.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Testing picture blogging from my TyTN

Why, you ask, are you looking at a picture of a residential neighborhood in Israel? The answer is that I'm testing mobile blogging sending a picture straight from my TyTN's camera.

In Blogspot terminology, this won't go through the "email to blog" feature, which only handles text, but rather through "mobile blogger" which only allows one blog per email address but does allow pictures. Let's see if it works.

Also note that my TyTN is set to reduce picture resolution when sending. If it ends up not looking good, I'll know to turn that off first next time.

These comments in red are being added later on my computer:

Setting up picture mobile blogging was pretty easy, with a few notes: First, the setup process could not be completed on the TyTN, since the Web page that connects my mobile blogging to this particular blog doesn't work on the PDA browser. Second, setting up mobile blogs with pictures now requires using the new version of blogspot, not a big deal but it took some doing. But now that the setup was done once, I can apparently send pictures in mobile blog entries straight from my TyTN without any trouble. I'll do another message to confirm this next week.

Lastly, I happen not to like the new phrase "moblogging" for mobile blogging. Can anyone think of a better phrase? Maybe "phlogging" for phone blogging? "Pocklogging" for pocket blogging? Comments welcome.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

3g UMTS data connectivity -- fast!

I just got my 3g UMTS data connection working, and I have to say, I'm really impressed with the speed. Unlike older technology, it really enables e-mailing and some browsing effectively, anywhere.

I've found one problem with how Windows Mobile (at least on the TyTN) handles the interplay between 3g and Wi-Fi: I haven't found any way to specify that the TyTN should try Wi-Fi first and then 3g whenever Wi-Fi is available. What I'd really like is to be able to specify specific Wi-Fi networks that should be higher priority than 3g, such as my own home network.

But instead, the TyTN works like this: If I want to use Wi-Fi, I have to connect explicitly. If I've connected to Wi-Fi, all programs automatically use it. But if Wi-Fi isn't connected, and a program tries to access the network, the TyTN connects using 3g. (I assume this isn't a TyTN thing, rather a Windows Mobile thing.)

If anyone knows of a solution to this, please post it as a comment. It's not such a big deal to connect Wi-Fi before using it, this is really just a nitpick. But it would be nice for the device to do the right thing without my having to do it explicitly, especially since I think it's a common need.

Comments or suggestions welcome.

Other than that, I've very impressed with the 3g data connectivity. I'll write later after I've tried Skype or other things specifically on the 3g connection.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

TinyTube - mobile YouTube !!

I just saw a mobile version of YouTube called TinyTube at

Basically it gives an interface to browsing and searching YouTube videos that fits on mobile devices, and then converts them to 3GP format to play on mobile devices, with options for low, medium, or high resolution/bandwidth.

I just tried it on a mall's public Wi-Fi and on 3g/UMTS, and it works well. It doesn't give all the bells and whistles that YouTube gives, but bottom line, it gives access to YouTube videos.

Note that you can browse their site from your computer to see how it looks, but it's smart enough to give you regular Flash videos if you're on a computer, and only convert to 3GP if you're on a mobile device (presumably to save its server resources). On a mobile device, instead of a link "stream" you'll see links for low, medium, or high bandwidth/resolution.

One minor point is that on my TyTN the videos are first converted fully, then downloaded fully, and then viewed, and are not streamed, so there's more wait time. But that's a minor nitpick compared to the bottom line that this system has opened up YouTube content to mobile devices.

Very impressed, this is exactly the right service to offer.

Another mobile blogging test (WORKED)

After my mobile blogging test on Nov 14 that didn't work, I'M trying this again. I'm sending this from my TyTN to the "mail-to-blogger e-mail address" that I've set for this blog.

On blogspot the mail-to-blogger method doesn't suppport pictures. After I get this working, I'll try the other approaches.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Final word: Mobile Skype only on speakers

Following up on my previous message about Mobile Skype on the TyTN (and other Windows Mobile devices), it looks clear that Skype Mobile does not allow you to take calls on the TyTN like a regular phone call, rather only on the speakers or through the music headphones.

The previous reader who said he'd taken calls on the regular phone has clarified that he didn't.

That said, I'm still a big fan of Skype Mobile on my TyTN.

Prediction: Skype Mobile on Zune

You read it here first: I predict that Skype Mobile for the Zune will be announced soon.

Microsoft is making a big deal of the Zune's Wi-Fi connectivity, so Skype would be a natural.

That said, I'll stick with my TyTN -- Skype makes more sense with 3g connectivity and PDA contacts. But for folks without TyTN's, I predict your Zunes will soon be able to Skype.

Flash videos (YouTube or Google) on the TyTN

One of the real lackings of the TyTN (and all other Windows Mobile PDA-phones) is the inability to watch Flash videos on YouTube or Google Videos. Deals are reportedly in the works to bring Flash videos to PDA-phone users, but not yet.

In the meanwhile, I've found two on-line services that will convert Flash videos into formats that can be watched on the TyTN:

VidConvert (from
(I haven't tried their WAP site at )

Anyone else found solutions for Flash videos on the TyTN or other PDA-phones? Comments welcome. Otherwise, the services above are at least a start.

Glofiish M700 not really a TyTN challenger

Some articles are calling the newly announced Glofiish M700 a "TyTN challenger." But from what I've read, it seems more like a K-JAM challenger to me.

Yes, the device has the same slide-out keyboard form factor, 2mp camera, and Wi-Fi. The keyboard was clearly styled after the TyTN's, with identical shift, function, start menu, and OK buttons along the bottom.

It also adds GPS, which is a nice addition, enabling location-based mapping services.

But it's not a 3g phone, so it has no 3g data connectivity and no 3g video calls. And it doesn't appear (from the pictures shown) to have the same buttons and wheel that make the TyTN so nice for single-hand use.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Windows Mobile Skype on speakers not phone

I mentioned in a previous message that I got Skype Mobile running on my TyTN, but that it used the speakers and microphone, or the PDA earphones but not a phone Bluetooth headset.

A reader commented that he had gotten Mobile Skype running on his handset. After trying some more, I'm still unable to do this. I also see that the Skype Developer Zone lists this as a known issue with Skype Mobile:

On PocketPC phone editions audio comes out from loudspeaker, it is not
transferred to phone speaker. To avoid using loudspeaker, we suggest you to use
wired headset. This will also give you better overall sound quality in Skype
In many cases if you have bluetooth headset connected to Windows mobile
device, it is not possible to use it for Skype calls. In most cases you will not
hear anything, or most of the text is cut off.

If anyone reading this has managed to use Skype on a Windows Mobile device over the phone handset, meaning as a regular phone call not over the loudspeaker or PDA headphones, please comment with more details!

Until further notice, I conclude that Windows Mobile gives programs an API to the speakers and mic that only works on the loudspeakers or PDA headset and not through the phone.

All that said, I still like the idea of Skype Mobile on my TyTN, especially since I live outside of the USA and call the USA a lot. When I can listen to Grateful Dead tunes while switching back and forth between local cellular calls and international VoIP calls, and while checking my e-mail, I'll feel like I'm living a convergence life.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More news about HTC

Anyone who owns a TyTN or other phone with the HTC name-brand (as opposed to phones they sold under another name) is used to the question "it's made by WHO?"

Well, HTC seems to be getting its name out a lot more these days.

The Seattle Times has a long article (here) about HTC and its vision for the future. This vision apparently continues the K-JAM and TyTN trend, developing a cellphone with the same form factor but a full ultra-mobile PC inside.

The UK-based Register also picked up on them, with a short article (here) about this vision of PDA/phones developing into computer/phones.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Recording calls and other sound bites

One missing feature on the TyTN is call recording.

I saw the LivePVR system discussed on-line, which seems to offer ideal functionality. It can record calls, and can also record arbitrarily long sound bites. Best of all, during non-call use (e.g., during a meeting) it can continuously record a rolling buffer of 60 seconds through the microphone, and then when the user pushes a button, save the past 60 seconds and the subsequent 60 seconds.

Unfortunately the trial version of the software doesn't seem to record calls on my TyTN. The manual recorder and the in-meeting recorder seem to work, but when I tell it to record a call, no recording shows up. I'm still working on it, and will report more as I find out more.

Anyone else work with LivePVR, or other software for recording calls? Comments welcome.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blog entry directly from my TyTN (DIDN'T WORK)

This is my first test posting a blog entry directly from my TyTN. This message is being sent by e-mail to the address specified in Blogspot as corresponding to this blog. The system doesn't handle images, but there are apparently other interfaces that do. I'm starting with the simplest interface and I'll try the other methods later.

Even without pictures, I have to say it's pretty good if this works smoothly this easily.

The message above was received by the blog system and I could see it when I administered the blog, but it wasn't actually published to the blog despite my setting the blog to auto-publish e-mail submissions. Anyone else have experience getting this running? Comments welcome.

Using MP3 files as SMS ringtones

A reader asked:

Great blog... I just got my TyTN this week and would like to know if you could
tell me how to change the sms or mms tone to an mp3 or any other file for that
matter that is not already in the list. Let me know if you can. Thanks!

And I answered:

The most straightforward is to use File Explorer to copy your MP3 into:
Device \ Windows \ Rings
and it should then show up in all menus of ring tones for all purposes.

Note that I don't use a lot of custom ringtones, since I tend to like old-fashioned tones for everything. (For example, actual phone ringing sounds for incoming calls.) But this is my understanding from a bit of experimenting.

But as pointed out in the comments, I'm wrong about this, \Windows\Rings is only for incoming phone call rings, not other notifications.

Anyone know more about this? Add a comment if you do. If I find out more, I'll put it here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

HTC getting better known

HTC, the company that makes the TyTN and the K-Jam, and that made a lot of other Windows Mobile phones, has been virtually unknown until recently because they sell through other companies who name-brand the phones. The K-JAM and the TyTN were the first phones that were sold with a push for HTC brand awareness.

For anyone interested, this article says that HTC has already gotten 5.4% of the smartphone market:

with the comment:

the most notable performance in 3Q was that of HTC as branded shipments, including Qtek shipments, grew a substantial 275% compared to Qtek shipments in 3Q05, as the tighter integration of channel partners and the addition of significant marketing investment and more comprehensive end-user support all helped to increase market share to 6%.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Custom ringtones (answering a question from a comment)

Someone asked:

I also own a TyTN and was wondering how to set an mp3 for ringing without
putting it in the \windows\rings folder, I prefer let it on my SD Card...Did
already manage to do that ?

I don't really use mp3 ringtones, preferring old-fashioned phone-ringing sounds (although I do use different "ring" sounds for different people). But with some testing, it looks like there's an easy way to set the ringtone without having to copy it yourself to \windows\rings, but the result is the same -- the system just copies it for you.

The shortcut to doing this is to go to your MP3 file in File Explorer and click&hold on the file. When the menu pops up, one option will be to set as ringtone. But it will then just copy it for you to the rings folder, and set it as your primary ringtone. It will then also be in the pulldown menu in contacts.

But again, it looks to me like there's no way to set a ringtone that's not in the rings folder, if your goal is to save memory. It does seem likely that there's a way to change the rings folder in the system registry, but then you'd ONLY be able to use ringtones in the memory card folder, so you're buying yourself a headache. But I haven't gotten into registry changes yet.

Quick tip: Turning off camera sound

Quick tip that took me a while to find: The sound that the camera makes is completely artificial, and can be turned off. Just enter the camera mode, click on the wrench in the lower left corner, then on the wrench on the right side of the list of icons, then you'll find a number of different settings that you can mess with.

With teh camera noise turned off, I find it easy to take pictures secretly while appearing to be using the PDA normally.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

3g video telephony on TyTN

To respond to a question I received: I'm still in the process of upgrading my phone plan to include 3g (story below), so I haven't used the 3g video telephony features of the phone.

(I have sent what I called "video e-mail" by recording a video clip and emailing it over the Wi-Fi connection, but this is not the same thing. See a previous message about doing that if you're interested.)

The reason I haven't gotten 3g running on my phone is that my carrier (Orange Israel) refuses to give a uSIM for 3g calls to a phone that they haven't tested, and they haven't tested the TyTN yet. Another local carrier (Celcom Israel) is happy to take me as a 3g customer, but since number portability isn't working yet, I need to decide if it's worth switching numbers to have 3g connectivity. Any comments from 3g users about how much they've used and liked 3g features would be appreciated, just click the "comments" link below this article.

Mission Impossible 3 gizmo: TyTN/K-JAM form factor

In case you didn't notice, in Mission Impossible 3 the Tom Cruise character uses a PDA with a form factor just like the HTC TyTN and K-JAM, with a keyboard that slides out the long edge of the PDA. If you look closely, you'll see that it looks like it has three rows of keys above the space bar but no row of number keys, just like on the TyTN and K-JAM.

ADDED COMMENT: As the first commenter points out, the device in the movie looks just like the OQO PDA-sized Windows XP computer. But I'm leaving the post here, because the movie pictures still show the greatness of the TyTN/K-JAM form factor.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Skype in a coffee shop

Today I took my TyTN into a coffee shop and successfully used Skype on their Wi-Fi.

I know, once it's working at home it will obviously work in a coffee shop, but it's simply fun to have the same Skype account work both home and out and about, with so little work in getting it set up.

I used the stereo headset that came with the TyTN, and held the mic (in the little box w/ the volume control) and spoke into it, and the sound quality was good. (As I said previously, Mobile Skype won't work with Bluetooth phone headsets or with the device used phone-style, only speakerphone or wired headset.)

I was also able to download e-mail at the same time that I was using Skype, although the email downloading felt slower. I don't know whether the slow feeling was a Wi-Fi issue or a TyTN multi-tasking issue.

Bottom line, I'm impressed. Time to go ahead with a more complete Skype in&out package.

Skype Mobile over GPRS?

Someone asked on a mailing list about Skype Mobile running over a GPRS connection (cellular data connections, but not 3g). From checking a bit, here's what I found:

Skype in general is reported to require 25-130 KBPS depending on circumstance. GPRS gives more than that in some implementations, but is usually assumed to give 40 kbps reliably. That means that Skype may sometimes be able to work over GPRS but it's borderline.

I read an article saying that someone had run Skype reliably over a 51KBPS dialup connection, but that Skype only worked half the time over GPRS. This implies that it does sometimes work, depending on circumstance, but not reliably.

I also read that Skype is considered to use less bandwidth than other VoIP solutions, so if anything VoIP will work, Skype will.

But all this is based on my understanding, which may be wrong, clarifications welcome. My experience so far with Skype Mobile has been over Wi-Fi.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Skype (Windows Mobile version) on TyTN

I just installed Skype Mobile on my TyTN, and it works great, albeit with some limitations.

(I believe that everything I say below is correct for all Windows Mobile devices, although my experience is only with the TyTN.)

I've never used Skype before, so I first installed it on my PC, set up a user, and set up my contacts list with a few friends. All were Skype users so all calls are free. The setup on my PC took about 15 minutes, and it worked fine over cheap speakers and mike.

Then I installed the Skype Pocket PC edition onto my TyTN:

Interestingly they show a picture of the TyTN on that page, but don't list it as a supported device. But it is listed on the Skype developers list of supported devices. I installed it per instructions, the installation was very quick, and it worked fine the first time. (Caveats and details below)

The best thing about Skype is that I can leave my PC running, with Skype logged in, and also log into Skype on my TyTN over Wi-Fi. When a call comes in, it rings in both places, on the PC and on the TyTN, and whoever picks up gets the call. It's really beautiful, and makes the Skype work perfectly in a mobile fashion.

One caveat: Skype on the TyTN (and I think on all Windows Mobile devices) does not work over the USB sync cable, only over Wi-Fi or 3g connectivity. So it means that I can't really use the TyTN in place of a PC handset on a long-term basis, since I want to sync and recharge. But that's not a big drawback, the whole point of Skype on the TyTN is mobile use.

Another caveat: Skype on all Windows Mobile devices works only over the speaker and mic, not over the phone speaker and mic. In other words, Windows Mobile sees it as a PDA app but not a phone app. This means that Skype can be used as a speakerphone or with the wired handset/mic that comes with the TyTN (which is great for music too), but Skype cannot be used just like a regular phone call (with the TyTN held to the ear) and apparently not over a phone Bluetooth headset.

Lastly, I've only used Skype Mobile on the TyTN over Wi-Fi, not over 3g or other cellular data connectivity, so I can't report on quality over cell connectivity. Over Wi-Fi on my home network (ADSL) the quality was great, certainly as good as many cellphone calls. Hotspots may be worse. I'll post again when I've tried it in other settings.

Bottom line I'm very impressed. Installation was incredibly easy, and it meets my dream of working seamlessly in multiple locations as the TyTN moves.

More later.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Playing sound for alarms but not for phone

Someone on a mailing list asked about how to have the TyTN (or presumably other Windows Mobile devices, at least from HTC) play a sound for alarms but not for phone calls.

It's easy to do in settings: go into start menu settings, then select Sounds and Notifications, then the Notifications tab. You can then select "phone: incoming call" and unselect the play sound, and "reminders" and set the sound. I don't know of a way to seperate calendar alarms from the alarm clocks though.

Note that I don't know how this is effected by the ring/vibrate/none option when you click on the speaker at the top of the screen. What would be great is to be able to save a set of notifications settings as a profile in the Nokia sense, but I don't know of a way to do that either.

Note also that in the notifications list for incoming phone calls there are a lot of options that are not available in the comm manager or in the speaker icon pulldown menu, like vibrate then ring.

Friday, October 27, 2006

TyTN (and K-Jam) keyboard vs Nokia Communicator

For 6 years I've been using a Nokia 9110 Communicator, from back before anyone used the word "smartphone." Besides doing a lot of talking, I've written over 250 pages of professional material on the Nokia's keyboard.

Here's a picture showing how the two keyboards compare:

So after so much use of the bigger mobile keyboard, how do I find the TyTN's keyboard?

Answer: Fine.

Obviously it's not as big as the Communicator's, but the benefits far outweigh the benefit of the bigger keyboard. The TyTN's keyboard is very usable, although it takes learning to get the punctuation keys and the symbol-shift being different from regular shift. But the feel of the keys is great, and the backlighting is great.

Others have posted elsewhere comparing the TyTN's and K-JAM's keyboards to the Treo. While it's ultimately a matter of taste, the slide-out keyboard on the TyTN and K-JAM enables the keyboard to be wider while keeping the overall device size very usable.

While I haven't written as much on my TyTN in a month as on my Communicator in 6 years, I've used the TyTN traveling and for note-taking in dozens of meetings, and am very satisfied.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Article on camera-phone flash problems

Regarding my previous message about the TyTN's camera not being up to snuff at night, I came across the following article that discusses cellphone camera flashes being a general problem for all camera phones:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Minor Wi-Fi problem, and a few TyTN nitpicks

I've been having a strange Wi-Fi problem, where when I connect to a known wireless network (my home network) sometimes I'll see the connection established in the "network cards" list, and the icon at the top will stop moving and show itself as connected, but the connection doesn't work in e-mail or browser, and when I click on the connection icon I get the message showing it as disconnected (instead of the network name to which it's connected). Then I have to disconnect and connect again, and it works. I can't see a pattern in when this happens. Very strange.

Few nitpicks while I'm writing:

1. I wish the phone keypad buttons were bigger, they could make the auxiliary buttons smaller

2. Sometimes when I open a contact in contacts, then switch to something else, and go back to contacts, the contact is closed, very frustrating.

3. Contacts list view by company is very slow. (And there be other easy contact search options)

4. The Connections Manager should be able to switch the ringer to silent, not just ring and vibrate

That's all for now!

TyTN as camera (and MP3 player)

One of the plusses of theTyTN is that it can serve as a replacement digital camera and digital media player. After a month of use, my bottom line is this: it serves as an excellent always-there camera and MP3 player, but not truly as a replacement for a serious camera.

I tried getting through an outing with kids at an amusement park without my regular digital camera, a 4 mega-pixel camera from Nikon. Obviously the TyTN's camera is 2mp, but I find the quality of pictures taken outside during daylight to be very good. If you want pictures for digital use (e-mailing or sharing on-line) 2 megapixel will be fine for most people. The same is true of the TyTN's video clip capabilities.

But at night I found the TyTN's camera to be sub-standard. I basically couldn't take decent pictures at night, regardless of areas being lit up.

On a week-long business trip, I was able to use the TyTN well for on-the-spot pictures and video clips that I didn't expect to have to take, but liked taking with a camera that was already in my pocket.

So, bottom line:

a. if you want to print picture-quality blow-ups, you need more megapixels,
b. if you're going at night, you're going to want a real camera,

but for spontaneous and always-there use, and when you don't want to carry other devices, the camera has been very good.

While I'm writing, I find the TyTN very good as an MP3 player as well, although I'm not a heavy iPod user so I can't really compare the quality. With a 1gig card the TyTN can hold enough for me to listen to music and recorded lectures while driving 3 hours each day and flying overseas. But someone else will need to judge the quality, and of course you can't buy on iTunes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

TyTN video e-mail -- easy!

I was curious how well the TyTN could send video e-mails, and it worked very well!

Just turned on the TyTN, started the camera, selected video mode, held it with the lens facing me, pushed the button again, and started recording my message. Pushed the button when done, then quit out of the camera. Entered "pictures and videos" and previewed the video, then clicked "send" to send it out. It was then sent the next time I did a "send and receive" when connected, and was received and viewed by a not-so-technical recipient.

This can also be done for still pictures, and for still pictures there is some rudimentary picture editing available (such as cropping). For video it's send-as-is, but it works well for what it is.

Very cute capability!

Traveling with TyTN Wi-fi

After traveling for a week and wanting to use my TyTN for connectivity, here are my experiences with it's Wi-Fi.

First, to be clear, setting up the TyTN's Wi-Fi with my home wireless network was a cinch. Easy. Piece o' cake.

But when I got to my first airport, I found that I couldn't connect my TyTN to a Wi-Fi network that my laptop was able to see and connect to. It took me a while to find the list of networks being attempted, you need to open "WLAN settings" from the menu in the connection manager, then "Network cards" menu from there. (Now tell me, is that intuitive?) The problem in the first airport was that my TyTN was set to require WEP security, which I use at home, and it wasn't able to connect to the open network at the airport. Opening up the network at the airport (single click on the network name) and de-selecting the checkbox to require WEP was enough to make the TyTN connect to that airport's wireless network.

But in the second airport, the TyTN was able to connect, but I wasn't allowed to access anything. I figured there must be a registration form, so I opened up a random URL (the first in my favorites) in the browser, but the browser showed nothing. It seems that the Web page that this airport's network was trying to show was too complex for the TyTN browser.

In later networks, such as t-mobile networks in America, I was able to follow this procedure and get to the t-mobile sign-in page in the browser. So the process works, it's just that one airport's Web page that's too complex. Unfortunately this was Newark airport, a common airport for me to fly through (I forget which terminal).

Elsewhere in the trip, when I found truly open public Wi-fi hotspots, I was able to connect with no problem, as long as WEP was set not to be required. In a hotel that required Web page login, with a simple Web page, the process worked with no problems.

Bottom line, after learning where to find the list of networks, learning to un-require WEP, and sometimes opening up a random URL in the browser to log into a network, I found that traveling with my TyTN and connecting in hotspots worked fairly well.

The only real catch was the complex page that couldn't open in the browser in one place, and of course that some hotspots weren't free. Other than that, it's "not perfect but very good."

Traveling with my TyTN (general points)

I spent last week on the road, Sunday night through Friday afternoon, and here are a few thoughts. Many of these are really comments on Windows Mobile 5.0 and not strictly speaking on the TyTN.

First, I crossed a lot of time zones, and the visiting time zone feature worked perfectly. I really thought it wouldn't, because I've had such trouble with Outlook time zones not handling meeting invitations properly, but bottom line, it worked like a charm. I received Outlook meeting invitations from people in other time zones, forwarded them from my work email to my Yahoo email (the Yahoo webmail interface didn't recognize them as meeting invitations), and then downloaded them to my TyTN, which did recognize them as invitations, and accepted them. It put them on my calendar in the correct absolute time. Then, on the plane when I set myself as visiting the new time zone, they shifted right into place. Yes, I know it's basic and I shouldn't be surprised that it works, but I am. But it works!

Second, battery life. Lots of people have been complaining of battery life. I recharged my TyTN before leaving, used it as a phone on the way to the airport, used Wi-Fi in the airport for a few minutes (more in this in another message), listened to MP3's for about 3 hours, then another hour of cellphone use and a few minutes of Wi-Fi use, then another hour of MP3 use on another plane, then an hour of phone use, and still had 40% battery left. The catch is that the phone is off on the plane, and I turn on Wi-Fi only when I need it. I guess I'd always rather it had more power, but it was sufficient for the amount that I wanted to use it during 23 hours in transit.

Third, international roaming, worked no problem. Each new city took 1-2 minutes to find the appropriate frequencies and carriers, but everything worked fine after that.

Note that I wasn't roaming with a data plan, just a voice plan and Wi-Fi, since I'm still in the process of upgrading my data plan.

Fourth, recharging all over was easy, just pick the necessary adaptors and plug in anywhere worldwide.

Fifth, I really tried to go paperless and access all my working documents, maps, schedules, etc on my TyTN. On the one hand, they all opened up fine, including PDFs. On the other hand, they were hard to use sometimes on the TyTN's screen, so some things are still worth printing on paper :-(

Last, playing music in the TyTN's headphones came out very well, IMVHO. But I haven't spent that much time with an iPod, so I'm not really comparing. Stereo music through the headset is much much better than over their speaker, so don't judge the TyTN's music playing by its speaker.

After a month of TyTN use and a week of travel

After a month of use of my TyTN, and an intense week of travel with it, I have enough to write that I'm going to break it into a few messages.

Bottom line, I'm very happy with the TyTN. I've been using the keyboard heavily during meetings, have used it heavily each day as an MP3 player, have taken kids to an amusement park without a camera and relied on the TyTN camera (mixed results), used the Wi-Fi connection in airports and in other offices when traveling, have sent video e-mails when traveling, and have used it to show video clips.

I'll talk about all these in individual messages over the next day or so.

One thing I haven't done yet is cellular data connectivity, because I'm still upgrading my phone plan.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

TyTN sync to Outlook was easy

Synchronizing Outlook contacts onto my TyTN was a cinch. The included software installed easily, and the contacts pushed through USB to my TyTN quickly. (10 minutes for 1500 contacts.)

The one problem I had was on the Nokia 9110 side, that information seems to have been lost when moving the contacts from the 9110 to Outlook. For example, my TyTN lost the + symbol that prefixed international numbers. But I think that that was a 9110->Outlook problem, not a Outlook<->TyTN problem.

Installing the 1-gig memory card was also easy, and no problems recognizing it.

After a day of using the phone on Friday, my one minor nit to pick is that the number buttons on the phone screen are too small. I'd prefer bigger numbers and smaller buttons for the extra functions.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Just got my new TyTN

Just got the new HTC TyTN PDA-phone, a Windows Mobile PDA with good-sized keyboard, 3g GSM phone, and Wi-Fi. So far it's great.

For years I stuck with my Nokia 9110, without upgrading, because I couldn't move to a Treo-sized keyboard. On my 9110 I wrote a whole book, several magazine articles, and lots of e-mails, all while I was riding the bus. Then I saw the K-JAM and decided that the keyboard was usable enough to move to. Before I bought a K-JAM, I saw articles about the TyTN, which I've now bought.

First impressions are great. All I've done so far is get the phone running on my old SIM card and gotten the Wi-Fi connected to my home network. Both took a matter of minutes.

More later as I get more of the PDA's features running.