Thursday, December 24, 2009

Throwing Tatiana Out of Bed (For Eating Crackers)

If you've read my previous couple of posts, you know I'm spending some of my holiday down time fiddling with two new toys: an IBM Ideapad S12 Nano netbook, and a Nokia e71 smartphone.

The Ideapad continues to impress. For a netbook that practically fits into one's coat pocket, it's pretty cool. The S12 definitely has a lot of weaknesses (way too much screen glare, for starters, and important keys in weird places for another) but for the cost and form factor, I'll accept those compromises to have an S12 (or several) in my quiver. I will probably buy a few more to put in my event inventory.

One thing absent from the S12 that I really miss from my notebooks, however, is the ThinkLight. Like most guys pushing 50, I don't see as well as I once did, and like many programmers, I'm a really lousy typist. I didn't realize how much I relied on the Thinkpad "ThinkLight" (and Dell's equivalent) until I started using the S12, which doesn't have one. I'd love to know the cost and weight penalty Lenovo would have been forced to pay in order for them to put a ThinkLight on the S12. I would gladly have paid extra bucks for one.

The Nokia e71, which I nicknamed "Tatiana" because of it's sleek, elegant, muscular resemblance to the gorgeous blonde Russo-Australian athletics star Tatiana Grigorieva, has revealed a couple of major faults. Faults so severe that I've read dozens, if not hundreds, of posts on various support and chat boards wherein furious Nokia users were resolving to switch phones. To wit:

1) The Nokia has serious bugs in its Brewtooth stack. I have 3 different Brewtooth earsets (Jabra stereo, BlueAnt, and Plantronics stereo), and Tatiana wouldn't stay connected to any of them. They would train and connect, but then go into an infinite loop of connecting, disconnecting, connecting, disconnecting...all day long. By rebooting the phone, I could sometimes get the connection to stabilize for a few minutes, but then it would go on the fritz again.

I Googled around for a while, finding maybe a zillion people reporting the same problem. Few suggestions were offered, and widespread fury at Nokia was ubiquitous. No wonder Nokia is losing market share hand over fist. One suggestion which seemed to solve the problem for most was to buy a Nokia-brand Brewtooth earpiece, but I really like all of my current Brewies, so I wanted to avoid that. Many suggested updating the Nokia's firmware, as listed among the recent Symbian OS revision histories is "better Bluetooth connectivity". I checked Tatiana's OS version and it was 200.something.something; the latest version availabe on Nokia's web site was 400.something.something.

So I updated.

No improvement.

At all.

My favorite Brewie is my BlueAnt Q1, which I believe is Australian-made. Although it's not stereo, it does have a voice command set which is trick as hell, and in general it really works well. I checked the BlueAnt web site, and my firmware was several minor revisions behind. I updated the BlueAnt firmware, and VOILA...Mr. BlueAnt now works flawlessly with Tatiana.

I think BlueAnt is perhaps in that rare place at which technology companies sometimes arrive, where they have indeed invented a better mousetrap, and are still small enough to respond to the marketplace and to problems. Sort of like Palm in 1998, before their world went to hell.

In any event, Tatiana's first eating-crackers-in-bed moment has been solved.

2) Nokia's sync support of anything other than Lotus and Outlook really is pathetic. I actually tried to work around this temporarily by exporting my Thunderbird Contacts DB (approximately 1800 records) into a comma-delimited file, and attempting to suck it into the Nokia PC Suite.

No dice.

The Nokia PC Suite is extremely picky about CSV files. It won't even suck in its own CSV exports. Even worse, the auto-suck will not tell you anything about what it doesn't like about your CSV files as it fails. I fiddled and fiddled, and Googled and Googled, and found nothing other than a LOT of really pissed-off Nokia customers.

After futzing around with my data for an hour using WordPad and OpenOffice SCalc, I finally gave up. Fuck it, for now.

I keep a list of procedures I perform on new Win7 and XP installs to turn off all the eye-candy bullshit, secure the OS, and get rid of performance-sucking, unneeded Services. One thing on that list is to remove the hopelessly insecure and clunky Outlook Express. I recently got a couple of new Dell ATG D630s for my event stash, and I hadn't had time to fully strip them of their Windows bullshit, so I grabbed one with Outlook Express still on it and imported my Thunderbird Contacts DB into it. Then I installed the Nokia PC Suite, and synched to Tatiana. Bingo. All 1800-odd contacts imported. Then I deleted Outlook Express. I'll give up syncing for now, until I decide whether I'm going to stick with Tatiana.

One thing I did notice, however, it the Nokia seems to gag on punctuation in phone numbers. When you enter a phone number into the Nokia's Contacts software, it will not let you do this:

(504) 555-5555

nor this


nor this


nor anything else with punctuation. Phone numbers must be entered as one big unreadable blob, i.e.


Even the crude and user-unfriendly Windows Mobile allows you to punctuate phone numbers, and knows to ignore them when dialing.

I think some of my imported phone numbers had so much punctuation that the Nokia simply dropped them completely.

In any event, Tatiana remains gorgeous, sleek, and seductive to me, but her Windows Nokia PC Suite blows pretty badly. We'll see if I love her enough to stay with her, which will require an investment of $50 in a desktop sync workaround.

1 comment:

PakAmeristanican said...

I *think* part of the Nokia problem is the character set it uses for CSV files. I haven't tried importing contacts into my Nokia, but figuring out how to export to Thunderbird was no fun, either. I'll let you know if I have any luck with importing to Nokia. Since there's no possibility of syncing.