Thursday, 20 December 2007

Little things to want from a mobile phone

Something that would be nice, would be really nice from a mobile phone - just a simple device that you can make calls on, use a hands-free set and, hopefully, listen to MP3s - is a standard headset socket.

I'm serious. Getting away from Bond-esque dreams of combining GPS, broadband speeds, a web browser that can do full flash and AJAX and everything else, a high-speed text input system (however you want to do it) and, well, let's say a 5MP camera with an optical zoom (why aim low?), let's get back to basics.

I would like to be able to buy a good set of earbuds to replace whatever came with the phone, maybe a wired handsfree to save on batteries or something, and be able to plug them in.

At the moment, my Samsung uses a different socket to my girlfriend's Samsung, and I can't use the earpiece at the same time as the USB cable or the charger. Neither of them share a socket with any Sony-Ericsson, Motorola, old Siemens, BenQ, HTC, O2... So you're stuck with whatever you get given, which is frequently pathetic and, if you should lose it or not get given one to begin with, expensive.

I would like (although I don't hold out much hope) for my next mobile to use the same headset socket now used by radios, mp3 players, and computer speakers.

We can all dream.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

It's the little things... (yes, again)

Microsoft Office Outlook. De-facto standard for groupmail (email and calendar, for those of you who are lucky enough to have never heard that term) software in business. We are looking here at the Office 2003 version.

Go to the calendar view, and the sidebar on the right (unless you've turned it off), will show a mini version of that month, and probably your task list. Which, being me, is empty because my mind just doesn't function with task lists.

One reasonably useful feature is the ability to expand the monthly calendar list to show lots of months. So you do that, because you want to select something in the future. Then click on the title of the month you want.

WTF? No, you don't get that month displayed in front of you. In order to do that, you have to select a day, or range of days.

I must be tired: I can't really get up the energy to bitch about how uselessly and infuriatingly this breaks any reasonable conception of user interface user-friendliness.

So I'll leave with: Outlook, you suck.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

For god's sake, keep your eyes open!

It is a great and noble truth that a leopard does not easily change its spots. This gives an advantage to those who realise it, by allowing you to, reasonably confidently, predict the behaviour of complete strangers based upon how they've just been behaving. Or, any other evidence that comes to hand.

And as anybody who pays attention to being a road user knows, reading the traffic and other people's intentions is a vital part of staying alive and comfortable. As a motorcyclist, I am keenly aware of this even more.

Take this morning. Approaching a large multi lane roundabout, I noticed that the car to the right of me has the front of the bonnet staved in and pushed back, as though it had run under the back of a truck, but just not enough to damage anything vital. So I kept my eye on that car, and when the traffic passed and we could set off, I was cautious.

Which was good, because he zoomed off, cut it very fine missing the traffic going across the other way, and pulled in front of me without indicating, braking very late and hard behind the trunk in front of both of us.

Which, as I slipped sideways into a different lane and went sailing off up the hill and away, gave me a warm glow of satisfaction that I could guess how he had damaged his car, and had avoided having to take any evasive manoeuvres myself.

There's a lot of argument over what's the most important factor in the road toll, but from personal observation simply not paying attention is a good candidate for the top spot.

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