Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Skype on the iPhone. What's all the fuss about?

If you've been following me on twitter then you'll already know that shortly after Mashable announced that Skype for iPhone was on iTunes, I very quickly downloaded my own version. To my dismay though after installing it on my iPhone I couldn't get it to work. I was racking my brain as to why this was so. 

To be honest my first thought was that Skype had done the Pandora trick and made it exclusive to folks in the US but upon checking twitter, I found a tweet from @illuminateceo, who is Beijing who's said
Skype for iPhone 3G working fine 4 me from Beijing on WiFi. It's impressive, actually. Very iPhoney, very Skypey, and no wooop start sound
so that ruled out the regional restrictions.

My next was to look on Twitter Search (as you can see for issue such as these, I default to Twitter rather than Google). I found a comment that perhaps Clippy was the cause for my woes. So firstly I toggled off Clippy in from SBSettings. No Effect. Secondly I uninstalled it from Cydia. This also had no effect. Each time I tried to run Skype I would get the splash screen for exactly 5 seconds and then it would close and return to the Springboard. To cut a long story short (the long story can be found here) I ended up restoring my iPhone and starting with a clean slate. Having done so Skype worked "as advertised" with pretty call quality but not noticeably better than with Fring or Nimbuzz. It was only after I did all this did I discover from @eChinacities of a blog post by @zachnfine that explains that for Jailbroken iPhones I can get Skype to work in Safe Mode.

This leads me to the whole point of VOIP on the iPhone. The one thing that hobbles the iPhone compared to a Windows Mobile device (and incidentally makes the iPhone a lot more stable) is the inability for programs to run the background. Sure on a jailbroken iPhone you can install Backgrounder but it's really only a band-aid that doesn't really allow for multi-tasking. 

So for those who want to know, the Skype app is pretty good. The call quality is good and it includes all the features you'd expect. The main problem is that it can't run in the background so in the same way you'd use Skype on your computer or even on a Windows Mobile device, which put simply, if the device is asleep in your pocket, you can't receive calls. You can't keep it online to receive internet calls and if you want to keep your iPhone jailbroken you actually have to switch to safe mode to make a call. I'm not just talking about Skype. I'm referring to Palringo, Nimbuzz, Fring and any IM/VOIP app you might want to develop. Don't get me wrong, if you want to take advantage of the cheap calls/ free internet calls have to offer, then the Skype app will probably meet your needs but if you're looking for something that will enable Skype to be as functional on your iPhone as it is on your computer, then you're barking up the wrong device.

That's all I have to say at this stage. Now I have decide to break my iPhone back out of jail.

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Saturday, 28 March 2009

I just love it when a mistake turns out great

This is a shot of my son with all the setting wrong on my camera.

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Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Free VPN

Or it could be just a proxy but whatever was it worked. Click here to see what I am talking about

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Free GFW workaround

本文将提供一种一劳永逸的翻墙方式(ssh -D),实施之后,那道墙——对你来说——将从此透明。








下载并安装MyEntunnel,该软件全名为My Encrypted Tunnel。







为MyEntunnel创建一个快捷方式,将其复制到系统的【启动】(C:\Documents and Settings\当前用户名(需要修改成你自己的)\「开始」菜单\程序\启动)文件夹中,今后开机便可自动启动软件,并自动连接服务器。







点击立即安装,安装后,重新启动Firefox。然后你会看到如下对话框,选择gfwlist (P.R.China)后,点击确定。






随即出现如下画面,你会看到如GAppProxy、Tor和Your Freedom这样一系列代理服务器名称。









Monday, 23 March 2009

Off Tianshan Road

Being early for an appointment with a camera brings with it some
interesting opportunities. I had a meeting near Tianshan Road & Hami
Road in Shanghai. That part of town on the surface is all construction
and dust but, as with most of Shanghai if you look beyond the surface,
you find the lives under the construction dust.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Spring is in the air

Every year I look forward to the arrival of spring and the blooming of
flowers in Shanghai, something that either doesn't happen or I didn't
notice in Sydney. Here are some images of the first blooms of spring

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The genius of iPhone 3.0 - Extending the iPhone life cycle.

I woke up this morning with a sense of apprehension as well as excitement to find out what Apple had in store for us iPhone users with their next 3.0 update. Looking on Twitter Search I could see the excitement from iPhone users about this latest update that includes things like cut & paste, stereo bluetooth, MMS and in app itunes purchases. I won't go into the nuts and bolts of the update because I am sure that people with first hand access to the update will be echoing the features throughout the blogosphere. If you want a read about the features, you can look here and here.

The reason why I am blogging about the update is because of the pure genius of Apple and it's marketing. The iPhone by no stretch of the imagination a sub standard product. It is wonderful piece of hardware. The multi-touch screen revolutionised the way people interacted with ad hoc buttons and has created an whole new breed of sans stylus devices. It is however not one that is revolutionary, at least from a technology standpoint. Aside from multi-touch, most of the features have been around for years. Also when you look at the functionality of OS v1 & even OS v2 they are really basic features. If you compare OS v3 with any mid range Nokia or Motorola device you'll see that basically Apple have delivered an update of features that have been available for years on other devices.

If you read between the lines of what the iPhone community are expressing, it is actually relief rather than awe. People who are locked into a 2 year contract or have forked out full price for an iPhone are now on par with what they had before they switched and for the first time can brag about more than just sexy design and fart noises.

From a marketing standpoint, this is brilliant in that it offers to the market what it needs to make it the number one device in the world...but no more. If you look at what is going on in the mobile market, the major up and coming device player is going to HTC and a combination of Windows Mobile and Android devices they will be launching. This update is not a question of developing an OS that is new but it is about launch timing. Do you think for a second that Apple was incapable of developing a phone OS with cut & paste?

Another example of this inspired marketing strategy is the timing of the iPhone 3G launch. It came out almost exactly a year after the original iPhone. 3G is a feature that is not only standard in most new mobile phones but is not really ground breaking technology. As a result it probably extended the iPhone's product life cycle by another year. Successive updates are now doing the same thing and if you look at Nokia products, the life cycle for each model is really no more than a year. With the addition of the ability to purchase components and features within applications, the iPhone has created a whole new buzz in the developer community that will drive the demand for iPhone and iPhone apps fro at least until 2010. 

The iPhone has essentially turned Apple into the McDonald's of the mobile device market. You know you can get a burger made with better ingredients, that tastes much better and is healthier for you but at the end of the day, I'm still queuing up for a happy meal just because I can get limited edition Hello Kitty toy.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Roaming around Shanghai

So normally I don't get out and about so much but this week I've been
having more meetings downtown than usual. Realising that there are a
lot of overhead wires in the city of Shanghai.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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