Archive for April, 2007

Stephen Hawking floats free from his Wheelchair

April 28th, 2007 No comments

Here’s some footage of Professor Stephen Hawking enjoying a flight on the ‘vomit comet’.

Categories: Misc Tags:

iSyncing a Nokia 6300

April 26th, 2007 4 comments

Nokia 6300Having changed from a Sony Ericsson k750i to a Nokia 6300, I was amazed that the Nokia did not support the wholesale copying of my phonebook by Bluetooth, so I had to find another way round. This was to set up a temporary account on my Mac and use iSync to synchronise the two bluetooth phones. (It also has the benefit of making a backup copy of my phonebook on the Mac).

Unfortunately, the Nokia 6300 is too new to be listed as supported by iSync, but Koos Kaspers has a post on how to modify the iSync files to include it in the list of supported phones. This worked a treat, and my phonebook was copied over in no time at all.

Nokia 6300

April 24th, 2007 18 comments

If you are looking for information on opening the USB cover, see this post.

My Sony Ericsson k750i started playing up recently: locking up requiring a battery removal to reset, but then continuously vibrating on switch on, or going very slow, not responding to key presses, so I decided it was time for a change.

The question was, “what to?”. I had always stuck with Ericsson phones (starting with the analogue EH237, then on digital: GH388, I888, R320, T39m, T68i, T630 and lastly the K750i) because the menu system always made sense compared to Nokia, and prior to Sony getting involved, Ericsson had always made the serious phones with useful features, whereas Nokia had gone the route of appealing to those more interested in silly ringtones and swappable covers. Some Nokias didn’t even have a normal telephone ringtone.

Nokia 6300Unfortunately, Sony appears to be trying to turn all the phones into Walkman clones, and the last three (T68i, T630 and k750i) have all exhibited the common Sony Ericsson joystick failure problems, so I decided to give Nokia a try and chose the Nokia 6300.

A Glaring Omission

Bluetooth smallFirst thing to do on receipt of the new phone was to transfer my phone book from the old phone. Here I hit a snag. Ever since my first bluetooth phone (T39m), I have been able to ‘send all contacts’ via bluetooth to the new phone. Unfortunately, Nokia phones don’t seem to support this. Sending a single contact at a time works, but not the whole phone book. I was not prepared to sit and transfer one contact at a time and copying to the SIM was not an option, as this truncates the names, so I would have to spend time correcting all the contacts. I did find a way round this using my Apple Mac, but I shouldn’t have had to resort to that.

This is a glaring omission on a modern bluetooth enabled phone.

Buried Memory

I had realised that I would have to change from the Memory Stick Duo in the k750i to a MicroSD card, but was at first stumped when I came to look for the slot. Whereas the k750i has a rubber cover for the memory card, the slot on the 6300 is buried away and you have to remove the back cover to get to the memory card slot. This is not some ‘fit and forget’ item like the SIM card. If you are using the phone’s camera on a day-to-day basis, you need to be able to remove the card easily.

Speaking of the camera, it is a shame there is no lens cover to protect it, nor is there a light or macro mode.

The phone does has a mini-USB port on the bottom, (good, so you don’t have to buy a special Nokia lead) so it is actually possible to connect the phone to a computer and access the memory card directly, effectively using the phone as a card reader, but I shouldn’t have to carry an extra lead.

There is also a missed opportunity here. If you’ve provided a USB connection, why not charge the phone using it?

Use with Tom Tom

I was pleasantly surprised that the Nokia paired up very quickly with my Tom Tom GO 500 and the wireless data side also works, whereas my k750i refused to pair up at all under current Tom Tom firmware (6.x) requiring to pair under 5.42 and then upgrade the Tom Tom. Also the k750i wireless data never worked and had to be disabled. Considering that Ericsson developed the Bluetooth standard, it is rather odd to see another manufacturer’s phone working better than an Ericsson phone. Plus point for Nokia.

However, it then goes and falls flat on its face for two reasons:

  • incoming SMS messages do not show on the Tom Tom. Minus 3 for Nokia.
  • Importing the phonebook to the TomTom only brings in one phone number per contact. Nokia was late in the day introducing multiple numbers per contact and it would appear that they still don’t have it properly implemented.

Minor niggles

The following are minor niggles, but show that a little more thought would have gone a long way.

Changing the wallpaper to a colour similar to the menu text makes the menu text invisible. Not very clever! There is no warning about this. Note this is using the supplied Nokia wallpaper, so someone obviously forgot to check this. The k750i would automatically swap the text to a contrasting colour.

Pressing the green ‘call’ button brings up a list of recent contacts, both incoming and outgoing. The icons for in and out are very similar and difficult to distinguish. More importantly, there is no indication against the contact’s name whether the call was home, mobile or work. For this you have to go into details, check, then come back out to make the call. Again, on the k750i, an icon appeared against each entry. You can switch icons on for the main names list, but this does not affect the recent caller list.

There is no tone or message when you get a receipt for a text message (Sorry, Delivery Report in Nokia-speak). You need to open each message in your sent items list and check the message details and scroll down to delivery status – very long winded. On Ericsson, apart from getting a tone and message, each sent item has a tick next to it if a delivery report has been received.

This next one make me think that Nokia just haven’t thought the interface through. Let’s say I have a contact ‘John Smith’ which currently contains only his landline number. He sends me a text with his new shiny mobile number. On my Sony Ericsson, I would simply open the text, select ‘options-save number’, then select existing contact and tell it what type of number (home/work/mobile/other) it was. It would then add the new number to the existing contact. Simple. Not so on Nokia. True enough, there is an ‘option-save number’, but it does not allow you to save it to an existing contact. Never mind, I thought, enter the same name and it will ask if you want to add the number to the existing contact (in much the same way as MS Outlook does). No. Instead I get “contact exists, do you want to replace it?” “No I **** don’t you stupid phone”. In the end, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and manually edited the existing contact. I think it boils down to the fact that Ericsson’s phonebooks have been able to hold multiple numbers against a single name for a lot longer than Nokia’s have, and Nokia hasn’t got the hang of it yet.


Overall, the screen is very good and the in-call sound quality is comparable to a landline.

I’m still getting used to using unlock-* rather than *-unlock, and the different keys for space, and upper/lower case, but that’s to be expected.

A Number with History

April 24th, 2007 No comments

Phone KeysYou may remember that BT managed to foul up the take-over of an existing line when we moved in January.

Well now we have started to receive calls for a decorating firm. The first couple were taken by the answering machine, so we ignored them as wrong numbers, but I spoke to one lady last week.

“You’ve got the wrong number” I said.
“No I haven’t, it’s on the side of your van”
“I don’t have a van, are you sure you’ve got the right dialling code?”
“Yes, it’s on the van”

I asked her where this van was, and went to look. Sure enough, there’s our number on the side of the van. I knocked on a house door and it appears that the number is correct, or rather was correct. The decorating firm used to have our number before moving, but hadn’t got round to changing the number on the van.

Fair enough, but what is extremely annoying is that when I ordered the line from BT, they assured me that it had never been used for a business purposes.

Congratulations BT, you’ve screwed up again.

I sent a complaint via BT’s website:

When I opened my account with BT, I was assured that the number given had not previously been allocated as a business number. However, we are now receiving calls for ‘xxxx Decorating’. I have managed to track down this firm who confirm that they used to have our number before they moved.

and it is clear from the response, that they completely failed to understand the problem:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your recently obtained BT telephone number.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Unfortunately BT have to recycle telephone numbers, and in the years previous to your having this number a customer may have had it, and not requested it to be ex-directory. Once a telephone number has been registered on a calling list it will remain on it until has been removed by registering the number for the Telephone Preference Scheme.

However, I can arrange a renumber for you, free of charge.

Once again please accept my apologies for the inconvenience and distress this may be causing you.

It has nothing to do with being on a calling list and therefore nothing to do with TPS. However, if they had bothered to actually check anything, they would have seen that this number has been registered (by BT on our behalf) with TPS since we got it.

Update – Jan 2008

At the time I discovered the van in question, the decorator assured me that he was getting the number on the van changed that week. It is now nine months later and I was recently annoyed to find that our number is still on his van. I used to pass on his new number to potential customers, but since he doesn’t seem interested in us being inconvenienced by calls for his business, we now simply tell callers they have the wrong number.

Update – Mar 2010

Three years later, his van still shows our number.

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‘Fat Gene’ is not an excuse

April 13th, 2007 No comments

ObeseApparently, researchers have identified a ‘fat gene’ which, if you have it, makes you prone to carrying more weight.

As soon as this research comes out, breakfast TV drags up a host of clearly morbidly obese people, with statements like “I always knew there was something stopping me losing weight”.

Errr… hang on a minute. The research states that this particular gene is responsible for carrying an extra 6 and a half pounds, not six and a half stone!

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The ebay Song

April 11th, 2007 No comments

One of the funniest videos that I’ve seen on YouTube for a while.

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Locking the Format of a cell in Excel

April 5th, 2007 No comments

The problem

You have a cell in Excel which you’ve got formatted just the way you want it. Then along comes another user and pastes data into that cell; unfortunately, that’s not all that gets pasted, the formatting gets changed too. Now if you were pasting it, you could have avoided this by using ‘paste special…’ and selecting values only, but you can’t force other users to do the same. The ideal solution would have been that Excel could lock the format, but it can’t without locking the cell completely.

The solution

One solution would be to have the user paste into another cell, and have your original nicely formatted cell simply reference the first (and lock it), but that doesn’t always work with your required layout.

code tagAnother solution is to have Excel watch for changes in the cell and reformat it back to how you want it. To do this, we need to use VBA code on the sheet.

The first step (unless you are happy writing VBA code to format the cell) is to record a macro of you formatting the cell as you wish.

Select the cell you wish to format, then use ‘Tools -> Macro -> Record New Macro’. Perform all necessary formatting, then press the Stop Button on the Macro toolbar. Don’t worry about naming the macro, it won’t be needed later.

Use ”Tools -> Macro -> Macros…’ followed by ‘Edit’ to see your recorded macro.

It should look something like this:

Sub Macro1()
' Macro1 Macro
' Macro recorded 05/04/2007 by Ian Fitter

With Selection.Font
.Name = "Arial"
.FontStyle = "Bold"
.Size = 11
.Strikethrough = False
.Superscript = False
.Subscript = False
.OutlineFont = False
.Shadow = False
.Underline = xlUnderlineStyleNone
.ColorIndex = 3
End With
End Sub

The bit we’re interested in is the ‘With/End With’ section:

With Selection.Font
.Name = "Arial"
.FontStyle = "Bold"
.Size = 11
.Strikethrough = False
.Superscript = False
.Subscript = False
.OutlineFont = False
.Shadow = False
.Underline = xlUnderlineStyleNone
.ColorIndex = 3
End With

Select and copy this section – we’ll need it later.

We now need to open the code window for the sheet in question. There are a number of ways of doing this, but one is to right-click on the sheet’s tab and select ‘View Code’. This will once again open the VBA code window. Enter the following and paste in your macro from earlier:

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
'Do nothing if more than one cell is changed or content deleted
If Target.Cells.Count > 1 Or IsEmpty(Target) Then Exit Sub

'Check if it's our cell that changed
If Target.Address = "$C$6" Then

'Pasted Macro to reformat cell below here

With Selection.Font
.Name = "Arial"
.FontStyle = "Bold"
.Size = 11
.Strikethrough = False
.Superscript = False
.Subscript = False
.OutlineFont = False
.Shadow = False
.Underline = xlUnderlineStyleNone
.ColorIndex = 3
End With

'End of Pasted Macro

End If

End Sub

Now give it a try. Select and copy a different cell with completely different formatting and paste it into your test cell. Excel will immediately reformat it to your original settings.

Obviously, this would not be necessary if Microsoft had made it possible to lock the format of the cell (instead of wasting its time on the paperclip)

I found the information on monitoring sheet changes on following page:

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Which Vista Version to choose?

April 3rd, 2007 No comments

Don’t know which version of Microsoft Windows Vista to choose? Take a look at JoyOfTech’s recommendation.

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A different perspective

April 3rd, 2007 No comments

I’ve just seen a laughable web advert for Chevrolet cars, proudly claiming “Chevy offers 8 models with 30mpg highway or better. Fuel efficiency with a choice at”

Now firstly, a little translation: 30mpg (US gallons) is 36mpg (imperial gallons) or 7.8 litres/100km.

It just shows how Americans view fuel efficiency if they think that 36mpg is something to shout about. It is not!

Note that ‘highway’ means extra-urban, not urban ‘about-town’ traffic. I would be very disappointed to be getting a figure as low as 36mpg in city traffic never mind on the open road.

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