Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

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Jajah Direct! and more ways to place cheap long distance calls!

November 21, 2007

Since I moved to the U.S. I have been looking for cheap ways to call home, and so far the best one in my opinion is Vonage. It is relatively cheap (19.99 for basic service and 5.99 for a proxy number at home) and i get 500 minutes, quite a good deal. It gets forwarded to my cellphone so everyone can call me and it is completely transparent for them and for me.

However since I really don’t use the local service, I never use it to call (I only use the cellphone) and I don’t even use the equipment they gave me, I feel like I really shouldn’t have to pay the first 19.99, so I looked for new options.

Jajah is a startup company providing phone call services through VoIP, but unlike Vonage they don’t give you a number, or a rent plan. It is simple, you enter your number and the number you want to dial, they will do the connection and “call” you, when you pick the call the person you are calling will be about to be connected.

The rates are very good, (more expensive than Skype though) and if the other party has the service you get 150 minutes free! The main problem I found was that you needed to be connected to internet and log into the site to be able to dial (of course the cellphone internet can come to the rescue but it is annoying)

Fortunately that problem is gone and now with Jajah Direct you can enter your friends number and get a “proxy number” that you can use that will redirect your call to your friend. This is exactly the way that Jaxtr works, with the difference that Jaxtr for not very high usage purposes is practically free (you get 100 minutes a month for free, and getting minutes by referring people is easy).

The problem with Jaxtr is that the quality of the call (both sound quality and delay) is quite poor, and sometimes the calls don’t even connect (I am NOT complaining, heck it is free!) and for sometime I used as my main way to calling back home (since I cannot make calls with vonage without paying extra, only receive).

So now, having Jajah Direct and convincing people to join is a very cheap way to communicate long distance with very decent quality (Skype still sounds a bit better though).

So… what about Skype? Having to use it through the computer is not very “portable” and although there are solutions that allow you to use it through your cellphone like Fring, the sound quality degrades quite badly, and it is nice to have some VoIP that doesn’t eat up your bandwidth 😉 (I should try other options like Gizmo but I have been lazy)

Of course, that is Skype now. If Google buys Skype from eBay as speculated (I wonder if Nokia in its acquisition spree will jump in there too), pairing it with GrandCentral (and maybe even android) may result in a solution that will be far superior to all the other ones I have mentioned.

I am definitely looking forward to see what happens, for now I will keep my Vonage account for some more time until I feel that one of the alternative solutions is reliable enough (or Vonage launches a plan that suits my need… sadly after all the problems they have had with Verizon I really doubt it)

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Xen Summit Fall 2007

November 20, 2007

I was hoping for the material to be available already so I could link to it, but it is not yet the case.

So what is in store for Xen?

As I mentioned previously for day one some directions on Xen roadmap were shown some interesting xen extensions were shown, one I found particularly interesting is JavaGuest (Java running on top of Xen, allowing a full Java stack… more on that in a post to follow).

Day 2 started with AMD and Intel updates, and as I said it is really great that they are caring about virtualization. I am particularly excited about the features coming up with Intel VT-d which allows DMA for IO devices by means of DMA remapping (basically assigning regions of host physical memory as “protection domains”, assigning devices to this domains and remapping DMA access to host physical addresses on this domains, the remapping being done in HW).

Also very interesting was Samsung’s presentation on the ARM port of Xen, which they showed originally on the previous Xen Summit. Now it is even more advanced, they even showed Doom running in one of the domains, and following the current trend of disaggregating Dom0, they have a separate domain for drivers. Very good work, I really hope they release their work, there are a lot of great things that can be done with it.

Very interesting work for consolidating memory in Xen (the more VMs you run the more important this will become) by using Copy on Write was also shown, and a great approach at treating Xen VM as transactional applications (checkpointing the VM every few milliseconds, executing speculatively and holding any output in between checkpoints).

Finally, the recently announced OracleVM (Sun, Novell and RedHat also showed their stuff), now that Viridian is going to be released soon, pretty much all the major players have a virtualization solution in hand, this is definitely getting big.

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Google Maps with GPS in the N95

November 14, 2007

… and any other phone with GPS for that matter.

For all the users of mobile phones with a GPS receiver that still have an old version of google maps, go now and update it. I just noticed that the new version (and maybe even a few older ones) now are smart enough to use the GPS on the phone to get your position.

Now it is not only the Helio that can do that… and I am pretty happy now because there is no way I will get lost ever again as long as I have my phone with me.

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Nokia N82 released

November 14, 2007

Finally the Nokia N82 has been released (it’s sad for me that my beloved N95 is not the latest anymore, I should blog about it at least once before the N82 hits America).

According to the specifications it is like a slightly improved N95, lighter, slimmer, with a new look, xenon flash and the latest software revision. It looks like it doesn’t have the two-way sliding behavior of the N95 (that is quite useless, but looks very cool!) and I am pretty sure that reduced the weight and thickness. Overall it still looks nicer, but I am not sure about the keypad… playing those NGage games is going to get even harder.

Anyway if it is like the N95, it should be a very nice phone…

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Android SDK released

November 13, 2007

Yeah… another android post. Probably not many more news after this one though.

Anyway, the SDK was finally released, and it turns out that it is just a bunch of Java classes (yeah… I am a bit disappointed).

I agree it has many innovative and cool features, all applications are first class (so you can override any aspect of your phone), and the API seems to be nice, particularly the UI part (I haven’t gone very deep but I like what I saw) and the potential ease of use in general… but still it is no more than a bunch of optimized classes for a modified Java VM!

What if you don’t like / don’t know Java? What if your applications are currently in C/C++, Python, Perl, name_your_favorite? I wonder if this is more about Google’s powerful name than anything else. Furthermore what happens to write once run anywhere if you use a non-standard non-JCP JVM? I don’t think this is necessarily good for Java (actually it may be quite bad), and all the Symbian, Windows Mobile and Mac OSX phones are not just going to disappear (and more unlikely to support Dalvik)

We have Qtopia, we have Maemo, is really this Java VM thing a reason good enough to justify yet another Linux for phones? I have to admit that I am also disappointed because I was hoping to see virtualization being used in some other context.

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Android’s source… HTC Dream?

November 10, 2007

So the Android team at Google released the source code of the work they are doing on Linux with support of Qualcomm for the MSM7200A SURF Development board (MACH_HALIBUT). (Full announcement here)

Probably this means that the first Android enabled “gPhones” will be supporting the Qualcomm Mobile Solution Modems 7200 Chipset. So at least we know that much of the potential specifications of the future phones.

It is well known that HTC is working in the so called “Dream” phone, whose specifications have not yet been revealed, but it has been speculated that it may be the HTC Omni.

Since both are using the MSM 7200, I am tempted to say that it may be the case, and if not at least the suspicions are well funded.


				
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Nokia, Symbian… about Android

November 8, 2007

I was just saying two days ago that Nokia was notably absent from the Open Handset Alliance, and just yesterday Nokia stated that they didn’t consider it a threat. Today they have a different position on it, stating that they “never closed any doors” and they even welcomed them. However it looks like Symbian is singing a different tune. They even compared Android and other Mobile Linux to the common cold: “It’s a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business.” said John Forsyth, VP of Strategy at Symbian.

I still think it makes no sense for Nokia to just ditch Maemo and join OHA, but they are keeping the door open, maybe just as a fail safe. Anyway, I like Maemo, and it’s good that we will have plenty of choices when picking the OS for our mobile phone.

However I don’t think Symbian should take it so lightly, I bet a lot of devs would be happier coding for Linux than Symbian, and offering some advantages over it as well, so it may not be such a small threat.

Let’s wait and see what happens…