Archive for November, 2009

What happened on my twitter this week…

  • On his way to Mexico with Schatzi! 12 days of sunshine, micheladas y playa… #
  • Updated Nokia Point & Find: Real-time mobile discovery now available globally on most S60 devices http://bit.ly/8ALuKw (via feedly) #
  • Nokia gets Spotify mobile phone music app | News | TechRadar UK http://bit.ly/6Eow3D (via feedly) #
  • Nokia N900 drops to $480 on Amazon http://bit.ly/aUYTZ #
  • Finland unleashes Blobo, the squeezable, all-too-cheerful game controller, on an unsuspecting world http://bit.ly/5VS8hv #
  • Experienced in Innsbruck: a tramway stopped to let me cross the street!! There’s nowhere else on earth where I’ll see that… Or not? #

Why the Nokia N900 will save you money

Skype N900One great thing about the new Nokia N900, is that it comes with a fully integrated version of Skype, the now famous VoIP software which lets you call abroad for free or at a very low rate.

But what does that concretely mean and what will it bring to the final user?

Well, just like its little brothers, the Nokia N800 and N810, the N900 runs on a Maemo OS and embarks a built in version of Skype which is totally integrated into the phone’s operating system, with no extra downloads required. You can make free Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messaging on 3G or WiFi, and call phones abroad at great, low rates. And that’s where the revolution is!

Before the Nokia N900 was launched, Skype’s VoIP function on mobile phones could not be fully enjoyed, as mobile phone operators in some countries put some limitations to the use of VoIP on their networks as it was competing against their own services. Those guys were not ready to see their customers spend less bucks into their monthly mobile phone contracts!

From a business point of view, this is legitimate. From a consumer point of view, that clearly sucks!

Historical Issue

The Maemo software has now been running for some time on Nokia’s Internet Tablet such as the Nokia N770, N800 and N810 and it has turned to be a viable solution for new generation mobile phones (i.e.: using a  “Home” screen as the central point from which all applications and settings are accessed). But the BIG feature those three tablet were missing vs the N900 was the ability to communicate using mobile networking protocols like 3G. Only WiFi and Bluetooth were available then. They were Internet Tablets, not mobile phones.

As for mobile phones running on a Symbian OS, they had 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth, but no integrated version of Skype. SkypeLite, the version of Skype for mobile phones, was only running in a limited number of countries. The only alternative available to VoIP lovers who were not living in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, the United States and the UK, was to download a third-party software like Nimbuzz or Gizmo to enjoy from free phone calls.

The Solution

Today, the N900 blends the very best of Nokia’s mobile phone technology, Maemo and Skype software to deliver a fine mobile device that will probably help you cut on your monthly phone bill (say good bye to your monthly mobile phone bill!) thanks to its integrated VoIP feature running on 3G and WiFi.

You’ll just need an unlimited monthly data contract (I pay 4€ monthly for a 1Go data contract), or a wiFi connection, and your Nokia N900 to call the world from anywhere for free or almost, and save on your mobile phone bill!

Mark Douglas, Skype product manager for the N900, reveals more in the video below

Spotify goes mobile on Nokia phones!

In a post I wrote two month ago on 52ndwest.com, I spread the news of the launch of the mobile version of Spotify, THE music streaming application which gives access to 6 million+ tracks, for iPhone and Google Android’s.

Spotify for Symbian smartphonesToday, Spotify mobile is finally made available for Symbian devices (Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung smartphones). Just as with the iPhone and Google Androïd’s platforms, Spotify mobile allows you to stream any of its nearly 4 million tracks over WiFi or 3G and syncs playlists for playback while disconnected. Bare though in mind that Spotify Mobile is exclusively available to Spotify Premium members in the UK, Sweden, Spain, France and Norway (a US launch is expected soon).

And if you can’t wait to enjoy from music streaming on your mobile, you can always use and enjoy (I do) MobblerLast.fm‘s  radio player and scrobbler for Symbian smartphones. Mobbler allows you to listen to your Last.fm radio stations and to scrobble tracks played using the standard music player. Magic.

You can download the application directly on your mobile from m.spotify.com

Enjoy the music!

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Does my phone use Symbian? You can view the entire list of supported Symbian phones to find out.

Want to know why “Mobbler Is Officially The 2nd Greatest S60 Application”? Read this

More info on Spotify for Symbian OS

What happened on my twitter this week…

  • in Innsbruck! A beautiful city surrounded by mountains and a 360° breathtaking panorama… I love this place! #

walking in circles – Urban navigation system

Forget all your inaccurate and energy consuming mobile GPS (well, except if you managed to put your hand on a Maptor prototype: Map Hole is a new (and FREE) road guidance tool designed to direct pedestrians and travelers to their final destination using existing elements in the urban landscape. It locates the pedestrian with a starting point and provides information on the exact distance or average walk time to the listed landmarks. Clever and simple.

I was precisely wondering which use could big cities make of those hugly and half-useful manholes in their streets…

Designer: Jiae Kwon

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Spending a (wonderful) night at the airport

New-York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport, February 10th 2017. 9.00pm - “Attention to all passengers of the KLM flight KL0644: Due to the current bad weather conditions over the Atlantic your flight to Amsterdam Schiphol has been delayed to further notice. We expect the next flight to take-off tomorrow morning at 8.00am. KLM thanks you for your understanding and wishes you a pleasant night in John F. Kennedy International Airport.”

Such an announcement in 2009 would trigger a wave of panic and distress among travellers waiting for their flight, and a comment like “KLM [...] wishes you a pleasant night in John F. Kennedy International Airportwould be  more than inappropriate considering the context.

Thanks God we’re in 2017 and Airports waiting lounge don’t look like what they looked in 2009.
For the past 10 years, engineers have been working on projects of small individual resting rooms which could provide travellers, moments of quiet sleep and rest from the city without wasting their time searching for a hotel. Such projects, like SLEEPBOX to name the most significant, have started to emerge a few years ago in places like Airports, Railroad stations, Expocentres, Accommodation facilities and even in Public and shopping centers.

Thanks to those revolutionary infrastructures, any person now has an opportunity to spend the night safely and cheaply in case of emergency, or when they have to spend a few hours waiting for their flight or train with their luggage. Most of those resting rooms provide their users with a basic service: a soft  2×0.6 m bed equipped with automatic change of bed linen system,  a ventilation system, a built-in LCD TV screen, WiFi access, electric plugs with built in adaptors and a system that darkens all the windows of this pod to give its user a minimum intimacy. And it is possible to use the service from 15 minutes to several hours.

Just like those public restrooms we could find in many developed countries at the end of the last decade, those resting pods are fully automated. After the clients exit his room, automatic change of bed linen starts and quartz lamps turns green to report that the pod is clean and free for use. Payment can be made on a shared terminal, which provides the client with a disposable electronic key or access key sent to his smartphone.

Sleeping the night over in one of those rooms has turned, for most passengers, to be more convenient and cheaper than a regular hotel room. Since the majority of pods are located near boarding gates, passenger can wait until the very last moment to comfortably board their flight. An unforgettable night before an unforgettable flight on board one of KLM’s brand new WB-1010 “Spruce Whale”.

KLM WB-1010 Spruce Whale2

I can tell now that I don’t fear any more to book this 8am morning flight since I can spend the night on site.

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SLEEPBOX
Area: 3.75 m2
architects: Goryainov A., Krymov M.
Design: 2009 – Arch Group

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Too bad we’re only in 2009? Maybe, but at least you can tell one day your kids or grandchildren that once in your live you ended-up sleeping on a bench like a homeless.

Still need some info to spend a pleasant night in your favorite airport? Check The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, The worst, and best, airports to sleep in

Coffee break: Come on and stir it up

One of the big dilemma I often face when I drink a cup of coffee  is to know what to do with the spoon I use to stir it (I like it with milk and sugar). This wouldn’t be an issue if I drank my coffee in a regular coffee-cup and its saucer where I could drop my spoon once I used it. But I am more of a mug-man than a granny-like-styled coffee drinker. Damn! Why can’t I do things like normal people do?!

Until today I then just had the choice between spoiling my desk with a dirty and sticky spoon or stick it in my eye every time I had a sip of my coffee.

Fortunately for me (and my ophthalmologist) there’s now a solution. Two young French designers created quite a clever “self-stirring cup” than can be used either for tea or coffee (I say). It’s a glass, actually, and it has a ceramic ball at the bottom that moves around and mixes the tea (or coffee!) as you lift the cup or swirl it gently. For those of you, who like me, hate or can’t afford losing time stirring their coffee with their two hands, this cup is revolutionary.

self stirring cup

Last but not least, the base of the glass protrudes enough so that when you lift the glass to drink, the ball never falls out and hits you in the teeth or end up in your stomach. Clever.

Who said that drinking coffee was a safe activity? Even George seems to have issues when it comes to resupplying in his nearest Nespresso shop.

George ohoh

My advice: You should try and order online next time.

50 Reasons for You to Choose a Digital Nomad Way of Life

And the teacher asked the children what they wanted to be when they’re grown-up. At age five or six, such an easy question merely insult their intelligence. Without careful consideration or hesitation all of them squeaked back something along the lines of,  “I’m going to be a doctor”, “an astronaut!”, “I want to be the president!”, “I would like to be a teacher”, “I’m gonna be a queen with a purple crown and a castle made of glitter and my cat, Miss Kitty, can be a princess. This last input caused less disturbance than my own answer.

- “I want to be a digital nomad”

The teacher stared at me disturbed and upset. She probably wondered what was wrong with this kid and if my parents where some kind of hippies, nerds or communists.

This morning I read one of the most interesting posts about being a mobile worker I’ve read in a long time. It was only 215 words long but the beautiful images it featured said it all about what you get when you manage to get free from this static place called “office”. And those images reminded me once again why I chose to live that life of Digital Nomad. And because we’re human, words are often not enough; we sometimes need impacting images to trigger a spark in those 4% of that little thing called “brain” to make us realize what we’re missing.

Of course, when you work anywhere but from an office there are a lot of advantages: you can organize your time as you want it, work when you’re the most efficient (early in the morning or late at night), take care of your kids when they need to be taken care of, avoid rushours (on the road, at the supermarket or at the sportcenter), save money on telecommutes (and give a break to the environment…) and preserve your mental health by working in a less stressful environment you can adapt to your personal and physiological needs. That’s not all, but that’s not bad either.

Obviously, nothing is perfect in this life, and there are drawbacks. But the fact that I can work wherever I want to work from is far superior to any cumulated advantages (call it better pay check, quicker promotion, hot technological tools, funny co-workers or yearly company offsite) I’ll get by working in an office.

There is a WORLD and a life outside. A big, beautiful, colorful and accessible world. This is what I (re) discovered when I watched those pictures in “50 Photos to Inspire Life as a Digital Nomad”.

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And when you spend 8 to 10 hours a day working in an office, what will you really see of that world and taste of that life? Okay, you might tell yourself  that you’ll keep that for when you will be doing some tourism during your next summer holidays and that it’s well enough (do you actually believe that?). Maybe that will please “the commons”, but will you ever feel the real essence of those things around you and live them for real*? You also might end up pissed at me and think that after all you’re happier than I am. Maybe, I don’t know.

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When you’re free to choose what you want to see from your “office” window, travel the world while earning a living, standing for real in the middle of those postcard-like landscapes, knowing that as soon as you get bored from a place and “lose the inspiration” you can get a train, a plane, a car (or, please, any green transportation!) to another place, enjoy from that summer holiday house you’ve been renovating for some years, then and only then you’ll have the deep feeling at the end of the day that you fully live your life.

Remember that there are thousands of jobs opportunities available for mobile workers and freelancers and that there is at least one waiting for you. It is never too late to change your way of working.

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While writing this post I realized once again how lucky I was to live this life, and that there is an infinity of possibilities to live and work anywhere in this world when you’re “office-free”. “Anywhere”? I should say “everywhere” as the concept itself of mobile worker implies that

So I thank you again Corbett Barr for reminding me why I chose to live this marvellous life of a digital nomad. If you liked the pics Corbett put together, you might also like those Kerolic, another digital nomad (not totally emancipated from the traditional-office-cubicle system – but this is just a question of time…) took along his various journeys around the world.

Other websites of interest to turn dreams into reality:

Freelance job offers on Elance and Guru

64 Ways Location Independent People Earn a Living by Corbett Barr

List of companies hiring telecommuter

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*I’m not too fond of that thing I’d call “fast-food-like-travelling”. Flying 13 hours to spend a week (or two) in a place I’ve never been before, and actually believe that I’ll have the guts to say “I know that place” because I’ve been there, tried a couple of local gastronomic specialities and took some pictures to prove my facebook friends (or to boast?) that I was actually there, is not for me. Sometimes you’ll learn more about a place by reading a good book than actually getting there; this week-end I made an impressive travel like never before: I discovered Calcutta after reading Dominique Lapierre’s s The City of Joy. Unforgettable.

Recommended reading – Invoice Like A Pro: Examples and Best Practices [by Smashing Magazine]

Should you be a freelancer or the general manager of a big company, there are a few things about invoicing you should know or at least reconsider. Drafting an invoice for your beloved (or not) client should not only be a mere action of putting figures together to come up with a big number. They also act as a proof of your professionalism and thus require that you follow some general guidelines.

Smashing Magazine reviewed some great (and not so great) online invoicing tools, so that you can spend less time creating invoices and more time doing the things you love!

Remember that if you spent so much time and money designing your business card, which is somehow the first creative and useful thing you’ll give your client or prospect, invoices are the last thing you may exchange with them and thus just deserve the same attention and care for their design. Make them impacting and have fun designing them.

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click here to access the full review

What happened on my twitter this week…