Five Symbian apps I’d like ported to my Nokia N8

OK, let me clarify this: these are the five apps which are already available for earlier versions of the Symbian OS (i.e. S60 3rd and 5th Editions), which I would really like to see ported over to the Symbian^3 OS used in the Nokia N8.

Granted, it is possible in most cases (though usually with a bit of “hacking”) to get the S60 versions of these apps installed and/or running on a Symbian^3 device. However, there are caveats—incomplete functionality, user interface problems, etc.—and the older apps will not be able to make use of S^3’s new features, UI, etc.

So, here’s my list:

  • Skype (with video-calling)
  • Nokia Internet Radio
  • Nokia Podcasting
  • YouTube client
  • PuTTY for Symbian

Searching around the Web for news on these apps, brings mixed results. The most positive rumblings seem to be coming from Skype; a staff member on the Skype forum has posted that they are hoping to release an S^3 version by Christmas 2010 (though I’d be willing to wait longer if it meant a decent Skype “experience” on the N8).

There is little sign at time of writing, of Nokia releasing “native” S^3 versions of their Internet Radio and Podcasting applications, though it is assumed that their developers are working on them (or alternatives). Steve Litchfield has found workrounds for Internet Radio, coupled with a plea to Nokia to get a move on with the S^3 port; there is also an alternative podcasting app (Symbian Podcatcher), which ironically seems to have moved under Nokia’s wing now that the Symbian Foundation is being wound up.

Less positive news on the YouTube app front—I often used this on my Nokia N95, and really miss it on the N8, but attempts to run the old S60 YouTube app on the N8 have apparently met with little success. Who knows whether Google will bother porting their Symbian app to S^3, but we can but chase them and hope…

Finally, PuTTY (an SSH (Secure SHell) client) for Symbian appears to have “forked”, into the original S60 3rd Edition (e.g. Nokia N95) version and a “touch UI” 5th Edition version, being worked on by a different developer. I admit I’m not desperate for an SSH client on my N8 at this time, but it could become a “nice-to-have” at some point in the future… and anyway, I was struggling for a fifth item to add to my list 🙂

Anyway, there’s my set of “I want” N8 apps—what’s yours?

(Update (2010/11/30): According to a comment on a blog post, an S^3 version of Nokia Internet Radio “is very nearly finished and due in [the Ovi] store soon”, so hopefully the wait is nearly over for that 🙂 )

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My Desert Island selection

Desert Island albums:

  • Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
  • Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn
  • Kemper Crabb – The Vigil
  • Anthony Phillips – The Geese and the Ghost
  • Phil Keaggy – Beyond Nature
  • Brian Eno – Another Green World
  • JS Bach: Goldberg Variations (Glenn Gould, piano – 1955 Columbia recording)
  • Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez (Narciso Yepes, guitar – 1969 Deutche Grammophon recording)

And the Desert Island Discs themselves:

  • Paul McCartney – This Never Happened Before
  • Mike Oldfield – On Horseback
  • Anthony Phillips – Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West
  • Phil Keaggy – I Feel The Winds Of God Today
  • Kemper Crabb – They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships
  • Francisco Tarréga – Recuerdos de l’Alhambra (Narciso Yepes, guitar)
  • Brian Eno – Spider And I
  • Keith Jarrett – Hymn Of Remembrance

Update: This wasn’t meant to go out in quite such a “stark” form, but I hit “publish” instead of “save draft”! Perhaps I’ll keep it this way for now, and maybe write more about my choices another time. Hope this is of interest regardless…

That sync’ing feeling (revisited)

(or “Think Before You Sync”)

Last weekend, I upgraded from my trusty Nokia N95 mobile phone (which I’ve owned and used heavily since 2007), to a shiny new Nokia N8. (This isn’t going to be a post about the N8 itself, not least because I could write at least one separate article just on that subject—and might still do so—therefore I shall leave that for another time.)

I am the type of person who keeps their address book electronically, as paper and pen just doesn’t suit my way of doing things (though each to their own, of course). However, being mindful of Bill Blinn‘s attributed adage that “if your data exists only in one place, it doesn’t exist”, I try to ensure that I back up/synchronise my contacts to a few different places, in case something untoward occurs and I have to get it all back.

And a good thing, too.

Earlier this week, I decided to have a “spring-clean” (a few months early) of my contacts database—to remove long-unused entries (including those whom I can’t remember any more), and to tidy up the ones I wanted to retain. It felt like clearing a severely-overgrown back garden—duplicate entries, mis-labelled fields, two or three “cards” describing individuals’ various contact details, and so on—but after about an hour, I felt I’d finally tamed the list, and was ready to start sync’ing the data to my various sources.

Said sources are:

  • our Mac (the “primary copy”, in this case);
  • my Nokia N8 phone;
  • Ovi Contacts (Nokia’s online backup service); and
  • Google Contacts

I had carried out all the tidying work on our Mac, and used iSync to transfer all this over to the N8. Aside from the odd hiccup (“er, I’m sure I took out that old contact…”), it went fine, and perhaps I should  have stopped there. But nooooooooo, I have to have an online backup, don’t I?

Now this is where it gets “involved”. The N8 can sync contacts, calendar and other “organiser” data “natively” with Nokia’s Ovi service, which should make backing up and restoring this data straightforward as long as you can go online with the device. And so it proved.

The problem came with sync’ing to Google. To cut a long story short, the N8 currently needs to use its “Mail for Exchange” program, in order to sync with Google’s calendar and contacts data. I read that there could be problems if you try and run Ovi Sync and Mail for Exchange together, so I decided to try sync’ing the calendar and contacts with Ovi, and the Google calendar only with MfE. The latter popped up a message saying something like “Do you think that’s wise, sir?”—perhaps I should’ve paid more attention.

I still don’t quite know how this happened (remember, I had told MfE that I didn’t want the contacts data touched), but happened it did. When Ovi and MfE had finished, I went to the N8’s Contacts app, to see how the sync had gone.

Well, something had gone, all right, but it wasn’t the sync. It was my contacts. All of them. The ones I’d spent an hour or so tidying up the previous evening. Vanished.

D’OH!

OK, no need to panic. I still have the Ovi contacts backed up, so I just do a sync and get them all back, right? (“Nooooooooo!“, comes the cry from the more experienced reader—look, I couldn’t hear you then, OK?) Of course, I know with hindsight that Ovi would think “ah, he’s just deleted XXX contacts, and that’s more recent than what I’ve got, so that’s what he must want”—I wouldn’t have minded being asked first, but obviously that’s not something that Ovi Sync thought to do. Result: no contacts in my N8, and none in Ovi too.

DOUBLE D’OH!

Now those following closely may be thinking “he’s still got the contacts on the Mac”, and you would be correct. Problem is, the Mac was back home, and I couldn’t get there until the evening, which led to a day of hoping I wouldn’t need to make any calls on the mobile to numbers I didn’t know.

Later, I arrived home, made sure I had a backup copy of the Mac’s contacts, and fired up iSync. At least this program asked me whether I really wanted to delete all the entries (fat chance), and once I’d cancelled and tried again… this time, the Mac reloaded the N8 with my contacts, after which a quick sync to Ovi ensured I was back to normal.

So, to recap…

  • If you have an electronic address book, you can’t have enough copies of it.
  • Paradoxically, the more places you sync your contacts to, the more chance there is that something will screw up somewhere (hence the need for good backups).
  • If a sync program gives you the “do you think that’s wise, sir?” treatment, take notice.

At least I shouldn’t have to do another spring-clean for a while, though.

Food under your nose

We have a back garden. It is a quite reasonable size—not loaded with Lord Lucan-concealing potential, but not a postage stamp either—and I can usually cut the grass in about an hour if the (usually) six-inch turf isn’t concealing anything unpleasant. It has a seat down the end which I expect to fall apart from disuse sometime in the next year or two, and a couple of hyperactive rosebushes which tend to grow all over the place as we’re not quite sure what to do with them. (Hold that thought.) Overall,, though, we feel our garden is fine for our purposes.

And now to go off on a brief but ultimately relevant tangent.

A few years back, BBC Four showed a season of programmes entitled The Lost Decade 1945-1955, centred around the first ten years in the UK after the Second World War. The programme which has stuck in my mind, looked at what Britons ate in this period, when the UK’s economy was effectively bankrupt from the effort of winning the war and the debt incurred through it.

In essence, people in Britain relied far less on imported food than we do now, partly due to the continuation of wartime rationing, but also to some extent because the nation simply couldn’t afford it. This led to all sorts of efforts to ensure that Britons kept up their nutrition levels, and one offshoot of this was that our grandparents were much more knowledgeable and resourceful when it came to exploiting the food that was all around them: on the trees and in the hedgerows.

But that’s as maybe: what does it have to do with our garden?

Cast your mind back a few paragraphs to the mention of rosebushes. I have one in mind in particular: it currently sprawls over a good area of our garden path, and I know that sometime I’ll have to prune it back quite drastically (hopefully without killing it).

The connection to the BBC Four programme? Quite simply: rosehips. Or, to be more precise: lots of them—big orange and red teardrops of juicy goodness, presumably hoping we won’t let them wither on the branch the way we’ve done the past five autumns.

Apparently, weight for weight, rosehips contain more vitamin C than oranges or other citrus fruits, so during World War Two Britons made lots of rosehip syrup and rosehip jelly, as citrus fruits were well-nigh impossible to come by due to German submarine attacks on shipping convoys. Since the 1950s, however, we have not felt the need so acutely to make the most of wild food sources around us, although concerns about “food miles” have been growing more recently (not to mention awareness of how 60 million inhabitants of the UK could be fed without imports, but that’s another story).

I have thought more than once that we could make more effective use of our garden than we do—perhaps to try growing some herbs or simple vegetables—but a combination of lack of knowledge of where to start, doubts about the garden’s suitability, lack of time and, yes, pure and simple bone-idleness, have usually applied the brakes to that idea.

However, as I have to cut back the rosebush anyway, and there must be a good crop of fruit ready and waiting on the soon-to-be-pared-back branches, perhaps this is the “easy win” we’ve been waiting for all this time. If this actually comes to anything, I’ll be sure to let you know—keep an eye on my Twitter feed for the latest on all things myself-ish.

But in the meantime, here’s one blog post about rosehip jelly and jam (via Simply Recipes) to whet your appetite…

My new (temporary?) blogging home…

So, a warm welcome to the cosy caravan that is “TA Walker, diverted”—or to put it more prosaically, my new (and possibly temporary) blog-pad on the Web.

When my Web/email host suffered a whopping great hardware/backup fail(ure) a few months ago, it took down the WordPress blog I had there, plus the email accounts I’d set up at the same domain. One of these days, I will try and move hosting company and recover/restore what I can from whatever backups I can locate, but frankly, with all the activities that occupy my non-working hours, finding time to do all the hosting-related chores is more than I can muster for the moment. (Besides, next time I set all this stuff up again, I want to get it right, so I don’t mind taking a bit longer over that.)

So, for the moment, I’m pitching camp here at WordPress.com. Along with my trusty Twitter feed, this blog will be my home on the Web until such time as I up sticks and move into a swanky new site. (Who knows: I may even keep this one “on the side”, even when I do that?) I’ll set things up so that my Twitter feed will be updated when I post here; I’m on Twitter most days, so it doesn’t hurt to watch things there 🙂

Whilst you’re waiting for my first post, why not check out some of my other online “presences”? Here are a few to get you started:

Thanks for reading, and see you again soon…