Archive for March, 2007

Battery tip for keeping smartphones online

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

A quick tip I picked up for getting more out of your battery while using a smartphone away from a power source for a day or two. Set the network type to GSM only – ignoring 3G. If you’re not web browsing and are only relying on connectivity to periodically check your email inboxes, then you won’t notice any real difference. But you’ll get extra hours out of your battery!

In Windows Mobile you can do this from:
Start -> Settings -> Phone -> Band – changing the setting from Auto to GSM.

This particularly makes a difference if you’re travelling (like when I’ve been working this week on the train to London), or are in an area where the 3G coverage isn’t great. This is because having your phone repeatedly flick back and forth between using GPRS and UMTS really chews up your battery life.

When you get to where you are going (and are in an area with a decent 3G connection) you can always switch the setting back to UMTS and get the benefits of the faster connection.

Finding out about v

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I’m sat on a train, on my way to a one day “Welcome to v” conference. I’ve mentioned v many times now – this is the group that is taking over the running (and perhaps more importantly, the funding) of Millennium Volunteers (MV) from the DfES.

Millennium Volunteers is our biggest single source of funding in Solent Youth Action, so v is obviously important to us.

They have invited MV providers to come to London and hear about what they have done to date, and their plans for the future – including (finally!) some details about how they will be managing and monitoring the MV projects.

There is also something in the timetable about discussion and small group sessions to get our views on the shape of the new “National Youth Volunteering Programme”.

Plus, I imagine it’ll be the usual chance to network with other youth charities.

I am a little weird

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I had to drive to the New Forest Children’s Services Centre in Bartley yesterday for a strategy meeting. I’d never been there before, so had to use the sat nav on my new PDA to get me there. But as I’ve only had the PDA for a week, I haven’t got round to getting a car mount that will fit it yet, and had to rely on the voice directions.

Is it very wrong that driving along with a computer telling me what to do reminded me of Knight Rider? 🙂

Twitter for youth groups

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I’ve been setting up some Twitter accounts for us to use in Solent Youth Action. I won’t go into too much detail about what Twitter is, as everyone already seems to be talking about it!

I think it could be a useful tool for us to use with some of our youth groups. By setting up a Twitter page for each youth group, and inviting the youth group members to register as “followers”, we can send them text messages to their mobile phone.

For example, we can quickly send out a reminder before an event by filling out a web form (or by sending a text message). The message will be sent as an SMS to all members of the group in one go, and at no cost to either us or the young people!

It might not be a perfect fit – the 140 character limit on messages could be restrictive, and it isn’t really intended for this sort of use. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any sign that Twitter mind people finding alternative uses for it (e.g. the BBC News Twitter feed) and services like Jyngle which are a better match are not yet available in the UK.

I think it could be useful – it’s a very immediate form of messaging, and is a preferred method for many of the young people that we work with – more so than email, for example.

We’ll give it a try with one of our smaller groups first and see how it goes. If it goes well, I can see us using it as a communications method with all of our groups.

T-Mobile Ameo… first impressions

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

I’ve been the proud owner of a shiny new T-Mobile Ameo (a phone/PDA based on the HTC Advantage design) for a day now, so thought I’d post my first thoughts on it.

Before I start, it’s worth pointing out a couple of things. Firstly, I’m on holiday this week so I’ve not used it in earnest yet. These are my first impressions from playing with it at home and setting it up. Secondly, this is mainly going to be in terms of a comparison with my last PDA (the O2 XDA Exec – based on the HTC Universal), which I had for about a year and a half, and loved. So this may not be very objective!


Electrical devices get everywhere!

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

I’ve just finished going through the weekly bills and expenses for SYA (lots of signing cheques and forms, and too much fun-with-spreadsheets!), and thought one of them was interesting enough to mention.

One of the bills was for our PAT (electrical appliance safety) testing, for devices in the office. The bill was for testing 79 devices.

Seventy-nine? This surprised me – I didn’t realise we had that many electrical items, as we’re fairly small! But when you start to try and list them, it’s amazing how we are surrounded by electrical things and often without even noticing.

HTC Advantage now on sale in UK as T-Mobile Ameo

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

I’ve been keeping an eye out for the HTC Advantage since I first heard of it. It’s so pretty 🙂

It’s now available in the UK from T-Mobile, branded as the Ameo. The colour scheme T-Mobile give it is a bit ick, but even so… I am very tempted. I’ve had the HTC Universal for over 18 months now, and love it – but perhaps if I eBay it I could help pay for a new toy?

The zen of mobile

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I’m feeling pleased with my PDA at the moment, so wanted to take a moment to evangelise a bit. 🙂

We were missing a minutes secretary at the trustees meeting for SYA this week, and I drew the short straw for filling in. It was no problem because I had my PDA and my folding bluetooth keyboard in my pockets. I took out my PDA, spun the screen round and popped it on the keyboard stand. I then switched to my wiki program and started a new page – all ready to take notes for the meeting minutes.

There is something about using wiki markup that lends itself very well to taking meeting notes. Start lines with a ‘+‘ to make a heading marking out the different topics we discussed, and start lines with ‘-‘ to make lists. Then use *bold* and _underline_ here and there to highlight decisions and actions. Simple, but more than enough to write clear and organised minutes. And the syntax is concise enough that I could do it quickly without missing what was being said by having to get the stylus out or play around with menus and options.

Part way through the meeting something came up that rang a vague bell. I switched the wiki to View mode and opened the search box. A couple of keywords later and it showed me a list of three page names. The middle one was it – clicking on it showed me all my notes on it from about a year ago, and it all came back to me. With a click on the ‘Back’ button, I was back in my meeting minutes and taking notes again.

At the end of the meeting, I used ‘Export to HTML’ to create an HTML copy of the formatted notes. I then launched Outlook and emailed the HTML copy to our administrator – all from the PDA and all before the others had finished packing away their stuff and putting their coats on.

I folded up the keyboard and PDA and put them back in my pocket. This is what mobile technology should be about. 🙂