[xplorer˛] — My trusty mobile phone
home » blog » 8 April 2007

Being easter and all, and given the alcohol consumption to date, I can't help pondering the alternative pathways possible for a technologically enabled Jesus. In particular would he had been done so easily by the slimy Judas Iscariot had he a mobile phone in his possession with wireless access to online silver coin exchanges? (30 argyria) We could argue about this for hours, but let's just use it as a cue for today's subject, my PDA phone :)

I was probably the last person in my peer circle to get a mobile phone, I think in 2003. "What's the point" and "it's only for fashion victims" were my typical arguments against that craze. Then my employer gave me one for free, and basically I was done for good. Over the years all the phones I head were rubbish. There are too many in the market and without "try before you buy" you can't really tell what's in the case. By a random walk procedure I finally hit it lucky earlier this year with O2's IQ smartphone (I think it's manufactured by HTC).

Believe it or not, when I was 10 days in the USA for Christmas I managed all my xplorer˛ business on it, including answering support emails, even sending registration keys for PayPal purchases! It has the latest windows mobile 5 in a package that is as small as a normal phone so it fits nicely in the pocket (but not in the same one as the keys coz it will get scratched :)

Running Windows OS you get all the usual media player, outlook email (with synchronized address book) and calendar, office/PDF preview, internet explorer, even a decent solitaire (but it must be evil because you can never finish :) Sadly there is no binary level compatibility with normal windows PCs so no xplorer˛ and I'm stuck with a lame version of windows explorer. Not that I'm doing any work on it, but I'm just saying.

phone shot The most important bit is the phone/email combination. It has a super smart address book that starts narrowing down options as you type, both in terms of letters and numbers, a little bit like xplorer˛ quicksearch — but it finds substrings even in the middle of the name or number. Then you have context menus to issue commands on the person you've just located, all with convenient keyboard shortcuts to all commands. Is that mobile heaven or what? Email setup is as per normal Outlook, just give the login information for the server and you're done. Obviously one sticks with IMAP protocol since email on the go is fine but you want to eventually archive each message in the "real" computer at home. There are a number of connectivity options including bluetooth and wifi, but I stick to normal GPRS since I don't trust the security implications of wifi — remember what happened to poor paris hilton? At any rate mobile charges per MB data are continually falling thanks to various "anti-monopoly" regulations recently passed by EU phone regulators, cheers!

On the down side you can't do any proper editing on it (it doesn't even have copy/paste for chrissakes!), the calculator is rubbish, the camera is hypermetropic (no auto focus) and the headphone jack is some proprietary job that means I can't use my noise cancelling headphones with it. Anyway air hostesses look alarmed whenever I use the phone during a flight so it stays in the pocket for the journey — I wouldn't want a free vacation to Guantanamo bay! Some people will certainly have a problem with the small screen, but I find it just fine, no eye strain.

The last hurdle will be reliability. The joystick has already shown signs of deafness, but it was rubbish from day one. Many times these phones get their connectors screwed up or something small but essential like that busted. We'll see. Up to this point as a trade off between usability and size we're still in honeymoon and I hope it lasts.

The big question is, will there be a mobile version of xplorer˛ ever? Realistically, when I'm talking about productivity in this O2 IQ phone, it is in terms of other phones and it doesn't stand a chance compared to the work you can do on a normal laptop PC. So there's no need for a decent file manager, only as a perk perhaps, for the man that has got to have everything. This windows mobile platform is meant to be quite compatible with normal windows API so it could be possible. Far easier than porting the program e.g. to Linux or something.

I'm wrapping this up since I've been informed that there's even more food waiting (greeks eat all day for easter to compensate for the week long fasting last week). So happy easter everybody — Xristos Anesti!

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