Sunday, 29 April 2007

Funny brand statement

Elena Miro' is an Italian designer brand for what they call "larger sizes" - in other words, outside of the world of high fashion, what most of us would call "normal sized women" and up. Yes, I've shopped there myself, before anyone takes offence. They have some very cool designs (and a clever sizing policy - I'm S or XS there, which is a nice change. Though I'm also XS in Gap T-shirts, go figure. Mostly UK size 14 everywhere else though, for the one person who's interested!)

However, even I found this brand statement of theirs a bit - well, worthy of Private Eye's Pseuds Corner, certainly. (And hmm maybe I should send it in to them).

I couldn't stop giggling when I first read it. It's just clothes for larger women, FFS! But hey, never mind, beauty has no measurements only forms, breathe, breathe, breathe in the differences!!

My media consumption diet meme: and what's "media", anyway?

I've come excruciatingly late to this meme. Jeremiah Owyang started it, and John Tropea tagged me way back in Feb. I was offline for some weeks when John tagged me, and have been trying to catch up on my blog since. In internet time this is probably a year or two too late, but better late than never. There's internet time, dog years and Improbulus months. No prizes for guessing which runs the slowest!

As many people now know, for this meme you're supposed to list your media consumption diet with the most used on top. This has also crossed over a bit into a "my fave gadgets/software" post too, but the two are very closely related for me.

What's "media" anyway?

Being a detailed deconstructionist by instinct (sad but true), my initial reaction was in fact to ponder the meaning of "media" in this context. Of course looking at Jeremiah's original post you get an idea of what he's after, but trust me to always want to break things down...

Text, pictures, sound, audiovisual - our senses

At the purest, most basic yet broadest level, I think of media as:
  • text, absorbed visually - books, magazines, Webpages, emails
  • static images, also visual - photos, paintings, graphics on webpages or in emails
  • audio e.g. music, radio news, auditory naturally
  • video, both visual and audio of course - TV, cinema, online videos
In other words, it's consumption through our key senses.

And more senses...

It might be going too far at this point to consider "media" to extend to what is consumed via our other senses, like touch/sensation. But maybe not.

True virtual reality seems to be not too far around the corner now. Witness the Nintendo Wii with its 3D motion sensing and feedback, and the development of other haptic devices (though not much seems to be happening in teledildonics, not that I follow that field closely, of course, nope... - but it's odd, I'd have thought there was great money making potential there). Then the increasing sophistication of 3D printing, even of living tissue. Recording and playing back smells and scents, or "attaching" smells to digital photos to help you sniff them out, and the development of electronic noses and even electronic tongues that taste, and electronically simulating taste and "mouthfeel".

I do think that convergence of media, generally thought of as the merging of Net, TV and phone, will eventually lead to convergence of some of these aspects too, that media consumption via the (currently) lesser used senses will be a huge, huge growth area for the future. Anyway, back on point..

Or media consumption devices?

You could also consider media consumption by the type of device or tool used to consume it:
  • computer
  • TV
  • cinema
  • mobile phone
  • music players - MP3 or CD player
  • video players and portable media players (PMPs)
  • gaming device - XBox, Playstation, Wii
  • radio
  • etc.
(And by the way if you're talking convergence by device, I think it's not just the triple play of internet, TV and phone but also gaming consoles and of course music players, digital cameras, video cameras and indeed full computers too. Which is why I listed "gaming device" there).

Well I think most people who've written about their media consumption diet have effectively blended the two - type of media, type of device - so I'll do that too.

But first I'd say that at the most basic level I think my media consumption diet would be:
text >>> audiovisual >> audio > visual (non-text)

I'm impatient. Text is the quickest way to get an overview, literally take in the big picture depicted in a meaningful way, then absorb the bits I want. In terms of finding info rather than being passively entertained, linear audiovisual or audio is just too slow for me, and fast forward / rewind through audio/video just isn't as accurate as flipping pages or scrolling text.

As for trying to drag me to an art gallery or museum or on scenic walks, it's harder than trying to give a cat a bath, believe me. Though you can always try to bribe me with icecream. The operative word being "try".

And so, finally, on to my media consumption diet, set out in the more usual way. (No further digression hopefully, beyond saying that there's of course also increasing media production - what are blogs after all? - and increasing interplay and convergence between media consumption and production, the whole interactive TV, social Web 2.0 thang. OK, no more on that now!). Here goes.

My media consumption diet is (not surprisingly):
Internet >> paper / print ~= TV >>> music >>>> games >>>>> art (on the consumption versus production front, at least).



I'm on the net constantly, both at home and at work (broadband ADSL at home). Always had an enquiring mind, and I love having (almost) instant answers literally at my fingertips to the eternal what, why, when, where, how. Web as giant reference library, woohooooo! I'm forever rushing off to PC to look things up.

PC not Mac, because it's PCs at work and I figured the learning curve would be shallower with Windows at home too.

Firefox is my fave browser for speed, flexibility and power, but I use Internet Explorer 7 too despite its speed issues (even with tweaks) and lack of features - and not just for internet banking (though kudos to First Direct for a Fox-compatible site!). Some sites or services still work better in IE and e.g. sometimes PDFs which crash Fox open OK in IE.

But mainly, it's a privacy thing. I set Fox up to open certain sites in tabs on launch e.g. Blogger, with cookies saved so I'm automatically logged in to my (since New Blogger) Google Account.

Though Google now say they will anonymize server logs of users' details (queries, IP addresses etc) after 18 to 24 months, I still don't like the idea of Google keeping track of the searches made when logged in to my Google Account "for personalisation".

So I'll use IE for searches I don't want Google to associate with Improbulus (no sniggering at back, it could be quite innocuous, it's just none of Google's business that I've been researching X for instance). And I'll use IE even for searches which I don't mind anyone knowing about, just on principle. (I don't maintain a personalised Google homepage, for the same reason.)

I'm happy to get ads in Net searches, as of course they'll often be related to what I'm looking for.

Communication - email, feeds etc

Email. Gmail rules, particularly with its effective spam blocking and alias function (I use Spamgourmet too). Though I'm generally paranoid about my privacy I don't mind software agents reading my mail and serving up ads, some of those ads are actually quite useful. I figure that any free Webmail provider could read their users' mail if they want to anyway; my main protection is keeping my different online identities separate e.g. this one and my real one. I mostly access my Gmail via POP on Outlook 2003 unless I'm out, in which case for checking mail or writing quick emails I use the Nokia 7710 smartphone or LG Shine. I do have some niggles about Gmail, but that's another post...

I'm not a huge Microsoft fan but I'm a keyboard person and I'm too used to the keyboard shortcuts in Outlook to switch to Thunderbird though I tried a couple times (I even use draft Outlook emails for my personal notes, having not yet found note-taking software that suits me exactly - ctrl-n for new blank email, type title and tags in the subject, full notes in the body including links, pasted screenshots and files, ctrl-s to save to my Drafts folder, and all fully searchable. If only Outlook categories were a bit easier to use).

Feeds and news. I rarely use feed readers. I just keep an eye on some key sites like the main Google blogs, though mostly via email alerts (I've set Outlook plus some other apps to all launch on startup. Email arriving gets my attention even if there are lots of them, it feels easier and quicker to me reading emails than looking through feeds - maybe emails feel more bite-sized? Anyway, somehow, to me scanning feeds seems more of a chore, requiring more active work on my part. But that's just me).

Key sites, to me, are mainly the generators or creators of news and new info, more than those who merely report it. Sorry, no offence to journalists. I prefer to hear it straight from the "horse's mouth", or from sites (like Out-law) which include a clear link to the original source - press release, corporate blog, government paper etc. That's one reason I think the BBC website is one of the most authoritative, reliable news sites - they usually link to the original source in the right sidebar.

Another aside: I think that as competition for our attention increases but our spare time decreases, people will more and more prefer to cut things down and get their news from one or two media sources which they feel they can trust, which aren't afraid to reveal their original sources (within reason e.g. protecting whistleblowers), whose reports they know they can verify for themselves.

(My views, I admit, may be slightly coloured by the fact that once I was "in the know" behind the scenes, though only very peripherally - you know, the 23rd handmaiden from the left in the 458th scene's basket carrier's left littlest toenail trimmer's nailclipper sharpener - on something that was for a time widely reported in the media almost every day. I would read "news" reports and think, OMG where did they get that info from, they're printing that as fact but it's totally wrong, what do they think they're doing, how can they say that, where could they have got that idea from, are they just making it up or what? Now I'm really digressing on the power of the press and how people seem to accept things as true so much more readily just because "it was on the news". But I feel very strongly that we the public should be able to rely on journalists having some integrity and sense of social responsibility, when all too often we can't. We can, at least, reliably rely on the instinct to sell, sell, sell more papers, ads, etc. Ah, well.)

Anyway, must get back on track again! That was still on media so maybe not too much of a digression...

As I've so little time (this blog is effectively my 3rd job) I limit the sites I check and even so I still never have enough time to read everything I'd like to. Yes, I'm currently behind on checking my email alerts too, though I try to keep up with personal email that I get.

(Phones, don't forget phones, if we're talking communication they shouldn't be left out. I don't text much or even use the phone much, to be honest. I'm mentioning this under Communication but in terms of volume of usage it should go below TV and reading. Though I don't know if it's stretching it to call phone usage "media consumption", unless you're talking email or mobile TV etc on a phone.)

My ultimate dream gadget: full internet (Web and email, feeds etc) everywhere via a Psion 5mx with a phone and full broadband-speed Net access (web, email, everything) on an "all you can eat" fixed monthly fee price plan. (A real keyboard, not onscreen, is best for quick data entry - two hands faster than one - and I'm not the only one who feels that nothing beats the 5mx keyboard for data entry on the move, if you're a touch typist - in the Tube, the little room, etc. Plus the Symbian EPOC32 OS is rock solid and lightning fast). Oh and with a colour screen, voice recorder, camera/video recorder, music player, and headphone socket while I'm at it, well I can dream. Krusell case too of course. Now I'm really digressing! But Santa, if you're listening..?


Reading from paper, well that's mostly non-fiction magazines and the like. New Scientist, Financial Times, Private Eye. Fortean Times and T3 for fun. The occasional Economist and Wired. I read a lot for work and for general interest e.g. for this blog.

Nowadays I don't read much fiction though I did when I was a mere slip of a lass. Finished all the Agatha Christies by age 11, Asimovs by 13. As with video my favourite genres are crime and detective fiction (the puzzles, mysteries, whodunnit theme again), and SF, fantasy and horror (the "literature of ideas" theme). Faves: Robert B Parker, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Dick Francis, Terry Pratchett, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Feintuch (not dissimilar to Parker in terms of the integrity and honour themes, I've noticed, though rather more angst-ridden), Lois McMaster Bujold. All time faves include Asimov, Ellison, Russ and Tolkien, not surprisingly.

My fiction reading these days goes in spurts. I'll go to the library, borrow a big wodge of books, read them all in quick succession. Then not read fiction again for a few months.

Yes, borrow. I now mostly only buy books which I've already read and consider worth re-reading, or referring to. Reason - I read too quickly, if I bought everything I read I'd be out of both room and cash fast. Plus I prefer to try before I buy. So libraries are my mainstay for fiction.

Trilogyitis, bah. A rant about trilogyitis. It's a disease, I say. I hate with a passion the fad, too longrunning in my view, for trilogies in SF and fantasy. I think it's put a lot of readers off unnecessarily. Call me impatient, but I can't stand waiting a year for volume 2, then another for volume 3. I'll have forgotten what happened in vol 1 by the time they're out anyway. So, I'll wait until all 3 volumes are out and available on the shelves at the same time, and then I'll read them all in a row. Not before. I utterly refuse to.

I don't mind self-contained books in a series set against the same backdrop, possibly with a longer-term story arc, e.g. Bujold's, but I think trilogies sell the reader short. I guess trilogies must be more profitable for the publishers or they wouldn't butcher perfectly good books by splitting them into 3 volumes, often incomprehensible individually, but I'd much rather they rolled the 3 into one fat book and charged me triple for it. Kudos to Mary Gentle for Ash, for instance - one of my faves, though I haven't taken to everything she's written. Why can't there be more slim single books like many that Pat Cadigan writes, I ask?

If I pick up an interesting looking book but it's clearly part of a trilogy and not self-contained (or even if it is, but the author's not someone I already like), I put it straight back unless all the volumes are there. Yes, all. Sure I could miss something good that way, but as at least a few good books are released not as trilogies (e.g. Naomi Novik's series) I'll go for those instead. It's one way to pick what to read, and life is too short to battle with trilogies when there are other alternatives. /rant.

I hardly read non-fiction books, these days.

Electronic books. I've not tried e-paper devices yet and I won't till they're more advanced. They'll have to be as clear and easy on the eye as paper (my eyesight isn't brilliant even with glasses) and as quick and easy to flip through as books and magazines, though a search facility, quick navigation (links from contents pages, "go to" page X etc) and zooming would be essential additional features for an electronic reading gadget. A5 size, lightweight, water-resistant, computer connectivity (ideally wireless). New pages would have to come up instantly, if I had to wait even a second for that I'd scream. So as you can guess, with resolution and navigation not being what I'd like, I don't even read e-books at the moment, not even on my beloved Psion.


I watch at least an hour of TV a day, most days. It's a way to unwind after work and other stuff that I do (I'm out a lot), over a home-cooked dinner (I cook a few days' worth at a time then reheat). I have a widescreen Philips, no room on floor or wall for anything bigger or I'd have it.

I like crime/detective and SF/fantasy/horror, preferably with interesting plots leavened by a touch of wit and humour, and strong characterisation. I've probably seen or read too much as I usually guess whodunnnit very early on, or before the denouement anyway, so it matters that there are characters I can care about.

Or else I watch gripping action thrillers or light comedy fluff, both of which serve to take my mind off serious stuff and rest the brain. I rarely watch "heavy" angst-ridden worthy art films or foreign language subtitled etc fare these days and the word "experimental" has me running a googol miles, too much hard work, I watched more than my fair share of all that when I were a young 'un and now I just want to have a break and be entertained.

Fave series are listed in my profile but currently include The Closer, CSI, New Tricks, Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, The Inside, Numb8rs. Plus Lost, House, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, West Wing, Commander in Chief, Medium.

My favouritest mini-series of all time would include Maximum Bob, Buffy, Babylon 5.

PVRs. With my trusty Topfield 5800 personal video recorder (twin Freeview tuners, EPG, loads of great user-produced mini-applications), it's a constant battle to watch and delete stuff before I completely fill up its 250 GB hard drive. (I could archive to DVD but my DVD-RW drive that came with my Dell PC went bust and I've not got round to getting another yet). I very rarely watch live TV.

Yes, I often skip ads. But I do see the "sponsored by" bits before and after the ads, so I think sponsorship of programmes or channels is more effective these days. (And I watch some too if they're good - I love the comfy glove ads by Spontex for House (they should have had them for download from their website from the start, huge missed opportunity, though the ads are downloadable now, no doubt by popular demand), and the Cobra mini-movies. But I want to strangle them, throw something or worse when the annoying 118 men come on, and as for that pseudo American prat they have for CSI (I think it's CSI, I hate him so much I've blanked out what the show is and especially what product or service they're supposed to be advertising) grrrrr - they're positively counterproductive.)

DVD rentals? I barely have enough time to watch the programes and films I record from Freeview, as it is. So I rarely have time to go out and rent a DVD (and am too lazy to walk to the DVD rental shop, especially as the one nearest me has closed recently, victim of the growth in DVD rentals by post no doubt).

I've never taken to DVD rental by post. I know I can set the list of movies I'd like to see, but for me so much depends on my mood, and if the one they've sent me, though it's on my list, doesn't suit my current mood, it's no good for me and I won't watch it. I want to decide exactly what I feel like watching, as and when I have time to watch something.

I don't buy many DVDs, like with books I only buy if I want to re-watch for reasons of space and money. So it's just Lord of the Rings, Buffy, Babylon 5 pretty much. And I find I don't have the time to re-watch them anyway so I may just stop buying them.

Cable or satellite? For me it would be a waste of money subscribing for cable or satellite as I have trouble getting through my Freeview recordings as it is. Plus I considered cable before and the company's left hand clearly didn't know what their right was doing so I decided it wasn't worth it. Satellite would also be too troublesome as I live in a listed building and getting permission to have a dish would be nightmarish.

Mobile TV? Mobile TV on smartphones and PDAs etc, even laptops, don't really grab me (unless perhaps I'm desperate to keep up with something on the move, so I can see it would appeal to sports fans wanting the latest score etc. Which I'm not). I prefer video on a bigger screen, with remote control. Even TV on computer (e.g. Freetube) doesn't appeal very much to me unless I can watch it on my TV in decent size and quality.

VOD, downloadable internet TV, IPTV. I've been thinking of getting BT Vision video on demand - they provide a set top box so you can definitely watch downloaded films on your TV. If I do get BT Vision it would be mainly as a video or DVD rental substitute, so I can rent a movie I feel like watching without having to go outdoors and, eeeek, walk down the road. Especially in the winter, brrrrr... Which is probably why I rarely rent DVDs. I think I'd be much more likely to download something I can watch on a full TV screen in the comfort of my own home without having to move my butt more than a few feet.

I'm looking forward to the forthcoming BBC iPlayer for TV catchup over the Net, but will only use it seriously if I can pipe it from PC to widescreen TV (and of course if there's anything worth watching on the BBC channels!). I don't find watching video on my PC monitor much fun if it's more than a few minutes long (see my post on BBC iMP, the iPlayer's precursor, which I was involved in trialling; I'm also taking part in the BBC TV Test - I think this page is the only public one so far).

I expect I'll be watching more and more IPTV / video on demand.


I do once in a while go to movie theatres, but I feel no compulsion to rush to see the latest thing (well except for Lord of the Rings, went to see that). I'm quite happy to wait for films to come out on DVD or even TV. It's only for stuff I really want to see and where a smaller TV screen wouldn't do it justice, that I'll make the effort to go to a movie theater to see it.

The main times I'll go to the cinema will be to see films that I'm not likely to be able to get to see otherwise - like the annual London Film Festival and other film festivals that the BFI puts on. So annually I probably see as many movies as most people do, I just tend to cram them in all at once over short festival periods.


These days I produce more than consume. My time's very limited, and I'd rather spend it making music than listening to it (it's almost my second "job"). Plus, unlike many other people, I don't bother putting on background music. My focus is such that I wouldn't hear it if I was concentrating on something else, so there's no point. I listen to music as a primary activity when I can pay proper attention to what's being played - when I've time for it, that is.

The exceptions are:
  • music while travelling when I can't do anything else - radio or background music in a car or to send me to sleep on the plane (but not Tube or train, as even there I'd rather read or write - unless I can't get a seat!); and
  • MP3s I listen to while travelling to help me learn certain music.
So nowadays I really don't listen to CDs, radio or music on my PC much. But I'll listen to MP3s for learning, as mentioned, and occasionally go to live concerts and shows. I very rarely go to pure plays without any music.

My favourite music is vocal, whether pop, rock or classical. Orchestral or instrumental-only stuff sends me to sleep after a while, though I appreciate a good tune in whatever form. I guess I'm mainly a words person.


I think of gaming as media consumption, though its "consumption" is generally more active / interactive than passive. For me, it's too much hard work to little real purpose. For entertainment, or rather just letting my mind unwind a bit, I will play Freecell or Tetris or Brickbreaker (and like reading fiction I have phases where I'll play say Freecell continuously for a while), but I've never really got into the hardcore stuff.

It's my pragmatic bent I guess. I'll spend hours trying to figure out how to get a widget to work but wouldn't feel like spending that same time on Second Life.


My limit is cartoons of the Gary Larson or Private Eye variety - again, pics with words! Or pictures that say something.

Not much of a "pure image" person, me. Which may explain why I struggle so with visual stuff like CSS. Though oddly my friends say I compose photos quite well (I prefer portraits, expressions, people to scenery). I just don't have a particular interest in the consumption or production of visual art.

(As for what they call "art", installations and suchlike, puh-lease, don't get me started. It's sheer brass and cheek, not art. Anyone want to pay me zillions for my unmade bed, be my guest. How about my unwashed - well I was going to say something else but this is a family blog hah so I'll say T-shirt. Symbolic of life in all its crumpled reekiness, it is. There.)

Hmmm this post has turned out to be quite personal, in that I don't usually post so much about me, myself or even I. I figure people who read my blog are generally more interested in the tech and bloggy stuff and of course I want to cater to my readershop.

I did wonder about how much of a giveaway this would be, as I blog anonymously (this is why - and I now feel vindicated when even the venerable FT warns that what you say on your blog or social networking sites will influence potential employers). But to be honest only those who've really got to know me properly in real life would know these things about me. So the only ones who could identify me from what I've written would already know about this blog or would be good friends whom I could trust to keep this "secret". So I guess I'm OK there...

Thanks again to John for tagging me, I might never have thought to ramble on about all this otherwise!

And I now tag - well I don't know if there's some unwrtitten limit to how many you can tag but if so I'm just about to break it (and if you've already been tagged, then I've missed it haven't I, and sorry!):

From the Bloggers Brigade: Kirk, Liz, Aditya, Jasper, Satish, Amit, John, Efendi
From the Copyfighter Cohorts: Becky, Suw, Cory
From the Geekdinners Gang: Sarah, Ian

Thursday, 26 April 2007

LG Shine KE970 phone: ringtones, music, wallpaper, pics, contacts sync - howto

This tutorial post is an introduction plus troubleshooting guide on:
with a bit of a rant about Java file transfer (not!) at the end, after the problem solving hints, tips and tricks...

(See also my initial review of the Shine phone, links to download Shine user guide / manual and software, official press kit pics of the Shine, and how to get Gmail on your Shine and browser tips).

Click any pic below to see a larger image.

For beginners, skip straight to to the beginners' bit.

The quickie - for experienced users

The Shine KE970 mobilephone operates in two separate and different modes:
  • "Mass storage" mode, when it works as a removable USB drive, like a USB key or flash drive - you can transfer music and pics back and forth this way (PC or Mac)
  • "Data service" mode, which you have to use if you want to sync it with Outlook or Outlook Express address book contacts or schedule via the LG GSM Sync software (PC only).
You have to put it in the right mode for what you want, or else it won't work.

In addition, for Data service mode to work, you must have already installed the drivers for the phone from the software (on the CD, or download it) before you attempt to plug it all in. It says they're "modem drivers" but actually they do more than that, you can't use Data service mode properly without those drivers. If it's a mess, uninstall the lot and try again, this time making sure the drivers are installed.

USB drive - MP3s, ringtones, pics etc

To use this mobile as a removable USB drive (this should work for both PCs and Macs if it's like the Chocolate but I haven't tried Mac myself), you should do these steps in exactly this order (or else it may not work):
  • turn the phone on
  • put it in "Mass storage" mode if it isn't already (Menu, Settings, Connectivity, USB connection, select "Mass storage", make sure that's ticked)
  • THEN (not before), connect it to your PC via the supplied USB cable. (It doesn't work if you connect it to your computer then turn it on)
  • open your file manager e.g. My Computer, you should see two extra drives - one for the phone, one for the memory card (even if you haven't inserted a card). Oddly on my system the first drive letter is for the miniSD card, the second one for the phone. See the screenshot below of the sorts of folders you should see on the phone
  • you can now drag and drop files (e.g. MP3s, JPG wallpaper) from computer to phone and vice versa. See below for more on the Shine folders.

Syncing with Outlook, importing other contacts

To synchronise the Shine cellphone with Outlook / Outlook Express or import contacts from a database, you need a PC. No Macs, sorry. First, you have to do these steps in exactly this order (or else it may not work):
  • Do NOT under any circumstances try to connect your Shine phone to PC yet, even (especially) while the phone is in data service mode - or you'll get error messages about the hardware etc (I did!). If you've installed the LG GSM Sync software but got horrid errors on hooking up the phone, UNinstall the software and make sure it's fully uninstalled; then reinstall fully. (I had to do that.)
  • Don't think that just because you have LG software for another phone (like the Chocolate KG 800) already on your PC, that it'll work - it won't, and you'll get problems. You still have to install the Shine software. (You might even have to uninstall the Chocolate one, worse comes to worse.)
  • BEFORE trying to connect the Shine to PC in data service mode, you MUST have FIRST installed the Shine's LG GSM Sync software (it's on the CD in the box, also see this post for download link and more info) - because this installs the "data service" drivers for the Shine, as well as installing the Sync software
  • Install everything. That includes, especially, the "Modem driver". Don't think "Nah, I don't plan to use this phone as a modem, I'll skip that bit". If you do, you won't be able to synchronise your contacts and schedule with your PC. So if you skipped that step before, do the install again, and make sure everything, but everything, is installed on your PC.
  • Turn the phone on. It's best not to try to connect the cable first and then turn it on. Turn it on, first of all, disconnected.
  • Put it in "data service" mode (Menu, Settings, Connectivity, USB connection, select "Data service", make sure that's ticked) - this info isn't in the manual or on the CD, which is ludicrous. It darn well ought to be; what on earth were LG thinking? I only knew what to do here through using the LG Chocolate phone (whose manual did at least mention this, though only in very small print)
  • THEN (not before), you can connect the Shine to your PC via the supplied USB cable.
  • NOW you can launch the LG GSM Sync software (note, not the same as the "LG GSM" software (without the "Sync") which you may also have if you've got the Chocolate KG800).
For more info on how to actually use the Sync software for phonebook, contacts etc, see below.

The long and slow - for beginners

The Shine's connectivity isn't exactly its strong point. It's nowhere near as easy as it should be to move stuff between Shine and computer. Lots of people have had problems, and still do, with the Shine's predecessor in the Black Label Series, the LG Chocolate KG800 cellphone (see my previous posts on Chocolate connectivity, transferring Java software from PC to Chocolate, and troubleshooting LG phone-PC connection problems generally).

In some ways the problems are similar with the Shine - but in other ways, unfortunately, they're worse. (See the end of this post, on Java). In particular, the manual is much worse, missing vital info out (see below), wrong in parts, inconsistent in others (e.g. folder names). I just don't understand why LG can't pay someone (like me!! gizza job, anyone?) to write them a decent manual that's useful and comprehensible to users. I guess as long as people like me are doing it for free, why should they. But not everyone will take the trouble to search the Net for the answer, cue handset returns that they could easily avoid, and to be frank no company can survive forever on cool-looking designs alone, at some point they're going to have to focus on features and customer service and user-friendliness if they want to get to the top and stay there long term. It's such a pity because LG have really got it right on the looks front now, if only they could sort out the features, openness and flexibility plus usability (manual and software as well as handset), they could wipe the floor with most of their competitors.

OK, here goes. I'd never have figured all this out by myself if I hadn't had the Chocolate (and had to work much of it out for that too), because the info you need for syncing is simply not in the manual, not on the CD, not on their website, anywhere provided by LG. I hope LG sort this sort of thing out, I really don't think it's on. And just wait till I get to Java!

Anyway, never mind the problems, let's have the solutions.

Connecting Shine to computer

The Shine has two modes when it comes to communicating with your computer. It can behave as:
  • a removable USB disk drive (mass storage mode), or
  • a "modem" (data service mode).
In its "removable disk" (or "mass storage") mode, it should work with both Windows PCs and Apple Macs as a removable drive.

This is the mode it has to be in if you want to transfer music or ringtones (e.g. MP3s), other audio files (e.g. sound recordings using the voice recorder), pictures or photos (e.g. for wallpaper) and other files from Shine and computer or computer to Shine.

In data service mode, it only works with PCs. This is because special driver software is needed for it to communicate with the computer in that mode, and LG have only produced drivers for Windows. This mode is what you have to use if you want to sync contacts (and your calendar and memos) between Shine and PC, and again the LG software for this is Windows only.

How to transfer music, ringtones, wallpaper, pictures, etc to Shine

This is relatively straightforward. The Shine just works as a removable USB drive.

1. Switch on the Shine ,and make sure it's in USB removable disk mode - it usually is, by default (Menu, Settings, Connectivity, USB connection, select Mass storage i.e. make sure that's ticked).

(Note: don't connect it to computer then turn on the Shine, it doesn't seem to like it. Make sure it's switched on before you connect it to the computer.)

2. Connect it to your computer with the supplied USB cable. (Unlike with the Chocolate, you can then close the slider and this will still work. But best to leave the slider open as you connect it, just in case.)

3. Open your computer's file manager e.g. My Computer or Windows Explorer if you have a Windows computer.

4. The Shine will show up as an extra removable disk, in the case of my computer it's drive G, see the pic below which shows its subfolders (Documents, Images, Others etc):

5. In fact, two separate removable drives will show up:
  • one for the Shine phone's built-in internal memory (just 50 MB for the current 2G model, see my review - a 3G Shine phone with 560 MB internal memory will be launched soon), and
  • one for any micro-SD card you get (no card supplied; you have to buy your own but you can get up to 2GB) - in the pic above it's drive F, the card shows up as an earlier letter than the phone memory, go figure. Of course if you don't have a card you'll just get "Please insert a disk into drive WHATEVER" if you try to click on the memory card's drive and you'll have to Cancel out of it).
6. There are several subfolders for the Shine internal memory, as you can see from the pic (your mileage may vary):
  • Documents - put DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF, TXT files in here and you can view them on the phone if they're not too big
  • Images - put JPEGs, GIFs and SWF files in here
  • Others - use this as storage for files you want to transport. You can't view or play anything that's in here, sadly. But you can put .jad and .jar files for Java games and other Java applications in here, and install them from here - see below.
  • Sounds - put MP3s or WAVs in here for ringtones or the music player - yes you can have subfolders unlike with the Chocolate, see below
  • Videos - put video files here.
7. You can just drag and drop (or copy/paste) music files etc to and from the Shine folders and your computer via your file manager. For example you can backup voice files recorded with the Shine, or pics or videos taken with the Shine camera, to your computer from the Sounds and Images (or Videos) folder.

Sounds folder - the Shine manual is misleading (well OK, never mind tact, it's just plain wrong). It says you have to put MP3s in the Sounds folder only (there are wrong references to a My Media folder too, not to mention an "MP3" folder). That's the case with the Chocolate - you can't play anything that's in a subfolder - but not with the Shine. I started investigating as I noticed that despite the manual there was a menu command to create a new folder within Sounds. From trial and error I've found that:
  • you can create a subfolder of Sounds called "MP3", and in fact on my phone anyway the original sounds from the phone as well as new stuff magically appears in that folder
  • you can also create other subfolders within Sounds, and both WAVs and MP3s put into that folder are fine. So you should be able to organise your music more easily into subfolders, and still play them. Which is as it should be.
Others folder - on the Chocolate, at least images in the would show if you tried to open them, etc. On the Shine, the Others folder is pretty useless. You can't do anything with stuff in there. The only function of the Others folder as far as I can see is to act as storage, a holding area for files which you might want to use your Shine to transport between two computers.

Documents folder - for Word, text, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF documents - they'll display on the Shine if you put them in that folder. Read-only, i.e. you can only view them, you won't be able to edit them. But you can move around the document quite well and zoom in and out. Note you can only open small documents - you can try transferring big documents to the Shine if you like, but if you try to view them it may not do it, or may crash, or both.

Images folder - a fun touch - if you have Flash .SWF files, you can put them in Images and play them on the Shine. There are some on there already that you can play with; I do!

8. Disconnecting the phone - the Shine has big warnings on its screen about making sure you safely remove hardware. So best to do that. See "Disconnecting" on my Chocolate connectivity post on how (for Windows PCs anyway).

How to use your own MP3s as ringtones and pictures as wallpaper or contacts pic (picture ID)

Once you've dragged your files to the Shine from your computer (see above about making sure they're in the "right" folders) and disconnected the phone safely, you can use your own MP3s as ringtones. There's more than one way to do this.
In the Menu go to My stuff, Sounds. Navigate to the subfolder you want, if necessary. When you see the sound file you want to use as a ringtone, highlight (but don't open) it. Then press the left "soft" key (Options), and select Set as. You can use the selected file as a Ringtone, or as what they call a Ringtone ID i.e. ring tone for a particular contact that's been saved in your Shine. (Choose that and you get a list of contacts to associate it with).


In the Menu go to Profiles. Pick the one you want to choose a ringtone for e.g. General, then Personalise, Ring Tones, and you get taken to the Sounds folder where you can select your folder and audio file as above.


(For a specific contact) Go to Contacts. Scroll to the contact you want the ringtone for and open it (press the center of the scroll key or choose Options, Edit). Scroll down towards the end, to Ringtone. When "Default ringtone" (or whatever the current ringtone is for that contact) is highlighted press the left "soft" key (Options), and select Sounds. This opens your Sounds folder and you can then pick the ringtone you want for that contact from the MP3 or other audio files in there. See Troubleshooting below if necessary.
In the Menu go to My stuff, Images. Navigate to the subfolder you want, if necessary. When you see the image file you want to use as wallpaper or for a contact, highlight (but don't open) it. Then press the left "soft" key (Options), and select Set as. You can use the selected pic or photo as Full image wallpaper; Landscape wallpaper; or as what they call a Picture ID, i.e. a pic for a particular contact that's been saved in your Shine. (Choose that and you get a list of contacts to associate it with).


(How to set a picture ID for a specific contact) Go to Contacts. Scroll to the contact you want to add a pic to and open it (press the center of the scroll key or choose Options, Edit). Scroll down to, to Photo. When "No picture" (or whatever the current photo is for that contact) is highlighted (you'll just see a photo of a smiley face on a cork noticeboard), FIRST press the center of the scroll key (or else it may not work, go figure), THEN press the left "soft" key (Options), and select Images. This opens your Images folder and you can then pick the image file you want for that contact from the JPEG or other picture files in there.

If instead of selecting Images you pick New picture, it fires up the camera and you can take a pic of that person there and then. Then choose the Insert option (instead of the usual save for photos taken with the camera), that's the left soft key, and that'll save the new photo for that contact.


Can't see a Ringtone option when you scroll? That's probably because the contact is saved to your SIM. This only works for contacts saved to the phone itself. With a contact just highlighted (but don't open the contact), hit Options and scroll all the way down to a hidden bit that says Copy to handset (you'll have the option to keep the original or delete it from your SIM; if you keep it you'll see the contact show up twice on your phone but a little icon shows whether it's the handset version or the SIM version). Instead of doing it one by one you can copy all contacts across from SIM card to handset, in Contacts choose Copy all. (Set where new contacts are saved by default in Contacts, Settings, Default memory).

Can't see a Photo option within a contact? Guess what, same thing. Try the same solution. Also go to Contacts, Settings, View options and check "With picture" is ticked, tick it if necessary.

How to sync Shine phonebook with Outlook or Outlook Express contacts or database, and schedule

You can only sync the Shine with Outlook or Outlook Express contacts and diary on a PC. Not Mac or Linux. In summary, you need to:
  • connect the phone (in the right mode)
  • read in the address book etc info from the phone handset and SIM
  • read in contacts etc data from Outlook, Outlook Express or a database, and then
  • copy from one to the other, edit on the PC screen, etc.

Connect in data service mode

To do this:
  • first follow the basic steps above to install the software, put the phone in Data service mode and connect it to PC, then open the LG GSM Sync software
  • when you launch the Sync program you'll see something like this:

You may well now wonder, huh, what next? I certainly did.

Well, now you should check the Shine has connected OK - e.g. via the Tools, COMM Option menu (or click the icon that says Set Communication Port if you hover the mouse over it, does the same thing):

If all's well a box will pop up and you'll see the phone is listed and highlighted in the list as LGE Mobile USB Modem (the actual COM number may vary, mine was COM9):

You can now click OK or Cancel or, if you're really paranoid, click Connect Test whereupon it asks you to wait a few seconds while it checks the connection, and if all is still well you'll get this:

(By the way if you ever lose your connection you can always re-connect via the toolbar button labelled, wouldja believe it, "Connect" in blue writing - see the pic below, to the left of the red circled calendar icon.)

Read in contacts from phone handset

So, now you're happy that it's connected, how on earth do you access your phone address book? The answer is you have to click this little icon in the toolbar (circled red in the pic below), to make the software read your Shine handset's internal address book and SIM card contacts. Yep I know it's a pic of a calendar not a phonebook, but hey life wouldn't be so interesting if things were intuitive and logical, would it...

After a few seconds or more, depending, that should make it display the name and phone numbers etc from your phone on the right hand side of the Sync window, and anything you've imported from Outlook or other database (see later) on the left:

If you don't see anything at all on the right, try the Connect icon in the toolbar again. If the stuff on the right hand side vanishes, well, click Connect again. Or the calendar icon. Or one then the other. Or the Refresh button, numbered 9 further below. You get the picture... If you see a "Transmitting.." pic pop up (which it may from time to time), you can be reassured that it's trying to connect properly and phone and PC are talking to each other:

Now, back to the Phone book view, see at the right near the top there's a dropdown list (SIM)? Circled red in this closeup:

That dropdown switches the bottom right quarter of the window to show what's in the phone's internal memory or the SIM card. If you click the dropdown and select Phone Memory, the bottom right quarter will show the contact details that have been saved to the Shine's handset instead.

Basic principle to remember about the Phone book view -
  • left half, PC (and it's labelled PC too) - represents what's stored on your PC by LG Sync (NOT what's in Outlook etc, but LG's own copy of that info)
  • right half, Phone - represents what's stored on your phone handset (SIM card and handset internal memory both).

Read in (import) contacts from Outlook, etc

Now, if you want to copy your contacts from your PC to the phone, you first have to import them into the LG GSM Sync software so that they'll show up on the left side of the phone book screen.

To do that, use the menu File, Import:

You can import contacts from Outlook, Outlook Express or "File". Here, "File" means your contacts stored in tab delimited .TAB or comma delimited .CSV format. So if you don't have Outlook or Outlook Express but you can export your contacts to one of those formats, you can still copy them to your Shine.

Here's how to do it from Outlook. Obviously you pick Outlook from that menu. Then you get this something like this:

Click the folder you want on the left, navigate to the Contacts subfolder you want so it's shown on the right, make sure the Contacts name on the right is highlighted (click on it if necessary), then click the Tick button and you'll get this:

Go OK, and you'll get something like this:

Click the dropdown and pick the longest time you can, I'd go for 10 minutes at least myself, especially if you have a large Contacts list on Outlook. Give it a while to do its thing, and voila it should read in your Outlook contacts and show them on the left of the Phonebook view. (Don't worry if it takes time, the phone actually seems to get charged up by the PC while it's connected via USB. Best to make sure it's not too low on the battery though before you connect it, just in case.)

The most difficult bits are done. You can now edit, delete, add, transfer contacts etc to your heart's content. See below for more info. As you'd expected, you click on a particular contact to see more info on it or work with it; you can tick the boxes to select more than one contact (e.g. to copy 5 selected Outlook contacts from PC to phone), etc. Even add a new contact that's not in Outlook. And use the left and right green button arrows in the middle (see below) to copy stuff across both ways.

The LG GSM Sync Phonebook

Here's a more detailed PhoneBook view walk through, see the pic above. I've put in the bold the functions people will be most interested in, namely "Download" of PC contacts to the phone, and "Upload" the other way round. Note this isn't true synchronization - it's just copying between phone and a special LG GSM software copy of your Outlook etc contacts.

1. Card view of the contact whose details are highlighted in the bottom left quarter (2).
2. List of contacts whose details have been imported into the LG Sync software e.g. from Outlook (Express), or copied from the phone.
3. Search box. Only searches contact names from the list in the bottom left quarter i.e. imported from Outlook etc.
4. Add new contact.
5. Edit details of contact highlighted in bottom left quarter (imported contacts).
6. Delete highlighted contact's info from the list in the bottom left quarter.
7. Download - LG calls it "download", this is really copying the details of the contacts you've ticked in the bottom left quarter to the phone. Click this right arrow to "download" to the phone.
8. Upload - this is to copy from the phone to the LG software the contacts you've ticked in the bottom right quarter. Click this arrow to "upload" to the LG software on your PC.
9. Reading the contact info data from phone - this button reads (or refreshes) the bottom right quarter of the window with the contact details that are on your phone.
10. Card view of the contact whose details are highlighted in the bottom right quarter (12) i.e. read in from the phone.
11. Search box. Only searches contact names from the list in the bottom right quarter.
12. List of contacts whose details have been read into the LG Sync software from the phone.
13. Edit details of the contact highlighted in the list in the bottom right quarter i.e. click this button to edit the info on the phone itself.
14. Delete the highlighted contact's info from the list in the bottom right quarter i.e. from the phone.

Groups. You can filter by groups. Even though you're stuck with the group names LG provided and can't make up your own.

Exporting contacts info

Yes you can export the contacts info. It seems to export everything, from both halves of the screen! You can give it a filename and pick the style i.e. tab or comma delimited. You don't get a choice, it automatically saves the .TAB or .CSV file in the program's folder i.e. in my case C:\Program Files\LGE GSM PC Sync\LG GSM Sync.

Synchronising Schedule / Calendar, Memo

I'm not going to go into this in detail. Just under the main toolbar are the icons to switch views, helpfully labelled PhoneBook, Schedule, Memo. Click one of those tabs and then you can copy, edit etc your calendar. It won't copy schedule or memo info from Outlook Express, only Contacts, though. And it'll work with .TAB etc files as mentioned.

(Updated 11 June 2007) Java games and apps

With many thanks to Koekiemonster, this is how to install Java games or apps to your Shine phone after downloading them to your computer, rather than incurring data costs having to download them over the air to your phone.

Note that it only works with some Java apps - I don't know which ones work and which don't, you need to try and see. If anyone gets anything to work (or finds it doesn't work) please post a comment ideally with a link to where to download the Java game or app, and I can update this post.

I was able to get Jetris to work, and installed Opera Mini successfully but it wouldn't connect to the Net (could be my network operator, haven't had a chance to try another SIM in it yet). But still no joy with the Gmail Java app.

Here's a step by step:
  1. Download the .jar and .jad files to your computer. There are lots of sites where you can get Java apps etc for mobile phones, e.g. Getjar or for games Mobilerated.
  2. Turn on your Shine phone, make sure it's in Mass Storage mode (see above), then connect it to computer via the supplied USB cable.
  3. Find the phone's internal memory in your file manager. Copy the .jar and .jad files from your computer to paste inside the Others folder of the phone (there's a screenshot showing the main folders of the phone above in this post).
  4. Disconnect the phone using Safely remove hardware (howto: see "Disconnecting" on my Chocolate connectivity post)
  5. On the phone (hit the disconnect/hangup button if you have to), go to Menu, My Stuff, Others folder. Highlight the .jad file. Left soft key Options, pick Install and say yes / go ahead to everything. You can save it in a new folder if you want, and name it. If it's going to work, it'll install fine, and it should then let you immediately open the midlet you've installed.
  6. In future, to launch the game or app you installed, go to Menu, My Stuff, Games & Apps. It'll be there inside Games & Apps or in a folder within Games & Apps if you created one.
With the Chocolate, there was a hack to let you transfer Java games and other Java apps from your PC to the phone using the LG Contents Bank software for the Chocolate (different software, in case you wonder - I tried to use it for the Shine, it didn't work).

LG have taken that away, with the Shine. They no longer provide the Contents Bank software which came with the Chocolate, which could be tweaked to transfer Java apps as well as ringtones and wallpaper. Apparently it wasn't considered necessary because you can use mass storage mode to transfer MP3s etc, so LG have got rid of Contents Bank. If anyone knows a hack that now works, let me know! I doubt there's one, though.

So, it seems we're stuck with having to download Java games etc OTA (over the air), which means paying data charges to our networks unnecessarily. Plus, Java apps won't necessarily work on the Shine anyway, e.g. the Gmail Java app (a.k.a. "Gmail for mobile application") I know sure doesn't - this was a deliberate design concept. Why? Maybe they want to download LG Java games only, which they can charge for. But really, how much money can they make from that? If they stopped us using our own MP3 ringtones and our own pics, and forced us to buy our ringtones or wallpaper only from them, a lot fewer people would get their phones, which is maybe why they don't do that. Surely it's just as counterproductive for them to do that with Java games and apps?

I really don't know why LG are becoming more restrictive and crippling their phones at a time when generally companies are becoming more open and flexible about helping users to use their products in the way they want, when they want to (e.g. the recent agreement by EMI, yay to them, to make available music in non-DRM, freely transferable MP3 form on iTunes). People want flexibility and breadth of choice, and if LG don't give it to them, someone else like Nokia will. LG have a chance to get in there, as so many people are buying their phones based on looks alone, but they need to prove that they're not just a pretty face before the fickle markets move on to the next prettier thing.

Monday, 23 April 2007

New Blogger (Beta) widgets collection: Technorati and other widgets for your blog, with one click; tagcloud CSS

I'm now pleased to unveil... the Magical Sheep Spring Collection of New Blogger Widgets! Designed for the cool New Blogger about town who wants to grab some widgets for their blog using New Blogger's neat Add Page Elements feature. Brought to you by the Magical Sheep team, Kirk and Improbulus.

Yes, you too can now add a widget to your blog simply by clicking a button or two and dragging the widget in Layouts, if you're using the now feature complete fancy New Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta. G'wan, whatcha waiting for? (Produced since people can now make and share their own widgets to enable bloggers to easily add third party widgets to their blog layouts with a few clicks without having to know any coding, e.g. the Bluepulse widget.)

The widgets collection

At the moment, the collections page just has Technorati stuff for widgets relating to the blogosphere search engine Technorati, plus links (for completeness) to some clever widgets etc for New Blogger by Kirk:
I thought it would be helpful to have a bunch of widgets together on one page, and I do plan to add to the list in future. More importantly, I'm using Google Pages for those Add widget forms because Blogger is still messing up the code on this blog on publishing when the forms are within a Blogger post, so if you tried the buttons from my previous posts and they didn't work, that's why - sorry about that, they should work fine on the new page.

Technorati tag cloud design; Technorati bugs

Now, more on the Technorati tagcloud. The comment by Tantek Çelik (Technorati's chief technologist) about how to get the cloud to look better in my blog was helpful, but it only applies to my specific blog. Your mileage may vary.

Far be it for a novice still finding her way to beg to differ from a CSS guru, never mind one who's had a hack named after him. But I still think Technorati could have, and can yet, make it easier for us mere users, especially non-CSS experts (which means most of us!) to tweak the format of the Technorati cloud to tie in better with the designs of their own individual blogs - as Delicious have done with their own tag cloud. For more details, see further my response to Tantek's comment, which I won't repeat here.

I'd be interested to know what others think of this issue, and of course whether Technorati will be improving things at their end. It's great that David (I assume that's Dave Sifry, Technorati CEO though he seems to have a different Blogger profile now) has just reported that a bug causing legit blogs not to be indexed has finally been fixed.

But I won't be holding my breath about stuff like styling clouds, given that their ongoing problems with tags is still extant despite David's acknowledgement of my bug report and assurance way back in February 2006 that they'd get to the bottom of the issue. Now that he's reporting on the state of tags as well as the blogosphere generally, surely it's more important than ever that Technorati should be accurate in its recording of tags. Which it won't be, if it still keeps inexplicably missing out on picking up the tags from entire posts on reams of blogs.

Minibar 20 April: Izimi, Truphone, Rememble

The Minibar on Friday night was interesting. I arrived late, in the middle of the Canonical presentation of the Ubuntu 7.04 aka Feisty Fawn, the latest Ubuntu (Linux) distro, so I can't say much about that. I did catch the other presentations from startups, though.


Truphone was intriguing. I'm very interested in telephony, as some may know from previous posts (LG Chocolate computer connectivity, Java and troubleshooting, LG Shine phone, Gmail setup on the Nokia 7710, WidSets, ConnectMeAnywhere, etc).

Free or cheap mobile calls via wi-fi with better than Skype quality with your own dedicated Truphone number seems an excellent idea. It involves a download to your phone. The steps seemed a bit involved from the demo I saw but that could be the very noisy bar being distracting. It's available in the UK, US and theoretically more generally too - so no harm downloading it and seeing if it works, if you live elsewhere (but you only get your own unique Truphone phone number if you're in the USA or UK, at the moment).

Calls between Truphone-enabled phones via wi fi should be free, but they make money from charging people who call a Truphone number. Calls via wifi with Truphone are free to local landlines till end June 2007 but not to certain countries, and at what they say is a competitive rate to other countries.

It's telling that T-Mobile, O2 etc recently disabled the ability to make VOIP internet calls on handsets that you get through them e.g. the Nokia N95, and though Truphone have complained to UK communications regulator Ofcom, for now it seems you need to use another network (unless they block it too), or buy unsubsidised a compatible phone that's unblocked.

I couldn't quite get clear from Alexander Straub's presentation in exactly what circumstances you could call or be called via Truphone and what it would cost you or the person calling you in each instance. They do have what seems to be a decent FAQ though, I haven't had the chance to look at it in detail yet.

If you're not near a wifi hotspot and someone calls your Truphone number, it'll be routed through to your normal mobile number instead (or voicemail). I've no idea what you do if you're not near a hotspot and you want to make a call via Truphone - I suspect you can't. They do suggest you can use Truphone via wi fi from home or work of course, and benefit from free or cheaper mobile calls from there.

At present you can only get Truphone for E-series Nokia phones (compatible phones info) but they've started working on making it more widely available starting with the Nokia N-series.

Truphone has potential but given that wifi isn't exactly widespread in London never mind the UK, it'll be interesting to see how popular this becomes. I shall give it a go myself - once I get a wifi-enabled phone! (I'm overdue for an upgrade, haven't decided what to go for yet).


The founders of Izimi, which they bill as "the future of Web publishing", have raised about $5 million of funding so far, which is pretty impressive.

The idea is file sharing direct from your computer - any kind of media: photos, music, videos etc. You get a special URL off them for a file on your hard drive, give it to others and they can access it direct using that URL. So your computer is the Web server, effectively.

But of course people can only access the file while your computer is (a) on, and (b) online. If not, well I can see some people getting mighty frustrated. So, it's not for me. Paranoid, over-careful, too "oooh turn off lights" eco-conscious, maybe, but I don't even leave my PC on all the time, let alone powered up and constantly connected to the Net for bad guys to try to hack into. They did say they'd thought about security and were addressing it, but of course they would. I'm just not comfortable with the general notion of people grabbing stuff off my hard drive. Possible hassles with copyright infringement lawsuits were also raised, I think with good reason.

Maybe when almost everyone in the world is on broadband and can truly rely on being safely and securely connected 24/7, something like this'll take off. Until then, personally I think it's an idea before its time (as was e.g. the Tivo, sadly), but obviously the venture capitalists think otherwise, and good luck to them and the Izimi team.


Now Rememble is something I'd like to explore more, and I've signed up to be considered for the beta. The idea is "clotheslines for digital memories". I assume they won't mind my hotlinking to their pics for review purposes, so here they are:

You add your "digital memories" (which they cutesily call "membles" - like emails, SMS texts, pics, audio, video etc) to a "timeline". I like the attempt to integrate different sources and media types: they're talking not just stuff stored on your computer but also what's on your phone, digital camera, Flickr etc. I think it's innovative, but also sensible and inevitable with increasing convergence. Rememble might just catch the wave at the right point.

You're supposed to be able to tag, comment, filter by media type etc, even share. Indeed, they said that they were particularly aiming for the social aspect. But you should be able to keep certain aspects private too, if you wish. The vertical height of a line represents how often you look at something and therefore how significant it is to you.

The mechanisms to be employed for adding media, and their ease and flexibility of use and customisation / personalisation, as well as striking the right pricing level, will be vital. I wasn't too clear how e.g. you upload SMS text messages. I gather it involves forwarding of texts etc. from which they'll make a bit of a turn. I know lots of people want to be able to backup or save texts, so if they can provide an easy and inexpensive way to do that online, that alone could really drive takeup.

There's minimal info on their website at the moment. If I get accepted for the beta testing, I'll report back. I want hierarchical categories as well as tags, though, or at least grouping or bundling - I'm still not giving up on my search for the ideal note-taking software and something like this might well do if I could add and easily categorise notes too.

BBC Innovation

Someone whose full name I didn't catch - Priya? - from BBC Innovation also spoke briefly, but unfortunately by then the noise level had got a bit too much. That bar is big so good for a large crowd, but the PA system probably needs turning up a whole lot more. Anyway, they're inviting new media pitches for some pretty exciting sounding projects, good on the BBC!

I've always been a big fan of the BBC, who aren't afraid to expand the boundaries of public service broadcasting to cross over to the Net in keeping with increasing media convergence, which is exactly what they should be doing - and it's not just because they let me take part in the BBC iMP or BBC MyPlayer trials. (I've recently been invited to join the BBC TV Test too, which is a systems trial beta testing the new design and infrastructure resilience of the planned successor to the iMP - the only public page I can find on the BBC TV Test is here, not sure I'm allowed to post the link to the sign up form so I won't). I'm looking forward to the official launch in May or early summer of TV downloads via the new BBC iPlayer, assuming they don't change the name again. But I do hope they'll focus as much on content as means of delivery - content being king and all that. Apart from New Tricks I confess I don't watch a huge amount on BBC at the moment, and when's Medium coming back eh?


Open Business also launched job board Considerati, for tech jobs of course. They were offering free job postings at the Minibar. Businesses pay to advertise, but job seekers don't. Seems to be mainly Dutch or UK, at the moment. I don't see any openings for tech journalists /writers at the mo (or even manual writers, a big bugbear of mine seeing how incomprehensible and unuser-friendly too many user guides are), but you never know, I might try my luck sometime...


I didn't speak much with many people I didn't know already, though it was great to finally be able to have a proper conversation with Drupal guru Robert Castelo of Code Positive, a more music than techie talk for a change. Any Drupal people wanting to keep busy, never mind Considerati, you could do a lot worse than look Robert up (see, and I'm not even asking for a recruitment commission!).

It was good to see London Copyfighter Becky Hogge again, with James Casbon. Not too long ago Becky took over the executive directorship of the Open Rights Group, which is doing great things to raise awareness and lobby to protect digital civil rights in the UK.

I had an interesting chat too with BBC Backstager and Geek Dinner organiser extraordinaire Ian Forrester and Josette Garcia of well known publisher O'Reilly, about the relatively low profile of UK and Europe in technology and how it needed to be raised; O'Reilly's new European blog O'Reilly GMT will hopefully help to change that, do check it out.

O'Reilly will be co-sponsoring the next Minibar too and, prior commitments permitting (I'm not sure when in May it'll be on), I plan to be there.