Sam Churchill over at Dailywireless has a nice write-up on the new Blackberry Storm where he pulls quotes from an AppleInsider review:
- Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg – “Overall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen.”
- Wired’s Daniel Dumas – “If you’re locked into a contract with Verizon, want a touchscreen phone, and are willing to put up with an OS that moves like a tranquilized yak, then yes the Storm is for you. Otherwise, your best bet is an iPhone or the very capable BlackBerry Bold.”
- PC World’s Yardena Arar – “But people who were hoping for a credible iPhone alternative fortified with BlackBerry’s strengths as a mobile tool for corporate travelers will likely find the Storm a disappointment. When it comes to touch interfaces, Apple still has no peer.”
In spite of my grumpiness and swearing off of all things IT there are still projects and people out there that warrant attention. Ushahidi is a site that aggregates crisis information in Kenya and South Africa. It got it’s start during the Kenyan election violence earlier in the year. It seems that it has evolved into a general crisis board which people can post to from their mobile phones, email and web.
I am actually a bigger fan of Ushahidi’s creator, Erik Hersman, who is an incredibly talented and creative individual. I follow his White African and a massive fan of Afrigadget which should be required reading for those of us stateside. Erik has some great posts about the recent MobileActive ’08 conference in South Africa which was attended by Twitter/Fire Eagle folks Evan and Blaine and InSTEDD people.
Please keep an eye the evolution of Ushahidi and anything else Erik is currently involved in. Also, be sure to tune into Afrigadget on a fairly frequent basis.
Posted in News
Now here is something that has massive potential. The Nokia Data Gathering system enables data collection by just about anyone with a mobile phone by using a questionnaire built using the NDG software. While it is not yet available for free download training sessions are apparently available. Contact them for more info by clicking here. From the site:
The Nokia Data Gathering process begins with survey creation software, which enables the production of tailored questionnaires. The questionnaires can then be uploaded to a server and delivered to the field workforce wirelessly using a normal mobile telecommunications network.
Having received the questionnaire(s) on their mobile phones, the field workforce can then use their phones to enter and store the responses to questions. Importantly, the solution also enables them to send responses back for instant analysis, again via a mobile network.
Data collection with a mobile phone has the potential to dramatically improve any service that relies on accurate and up-to-date information, from disease monitoring to agricultural management and emergency response services.
Definitely read on…
The AP is running a story on how Nokia and Lonely Planet are teaming up to provide the latter’s maps on the former’s handsets. If you happen to be in Lonely Planet’s Top 100 tourist destinations and don’t mind shelling out 7.99 euros ($11.75) dollars for each map (ouch!) then this story is right up your alley:
HELSINKI, Finland (AP) — Nokia and travel information company Lonely Planet said Tuesday they are joining forces to sell maps and city guides that can be accessed on mobile phones.
The world’s largest handset maker said users of Nokia Maps can now download information about more than 100 popular tourist locations provided by Lonely Planet, and that more destinations were planned. Each download costs 7.99 euros ($11.75).
“The Lonely Planet guides will help travelers to find great places to eat, shop and sleep, as well as describing the popular sights and nightlife for each destination,” Nokia said.
Downloads are available in the Extras menu on Nokia phones. Nokia Maps 2.0 uses maps provided by Navteq and TeleAtlas.
A friend of mine who is currently in Tbilisi was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. To summarize:
- The mobile phone networks are working fine in Tbilisi.
- Magticom is the preferred network provider as it has the best coverage.
- No news on how the networks are functioning in South Ossetia.
- My friend is currently using an “impressively fast” landline for INTERNET that is faster than the WiFi back home. Skype, Outlook, etc. all work fine. Skype video is exceptionally good.
- Things are returning to normal in Tbilisi and seem to be getting back to the way they were before the conflict.
I didn’t want to bother with asking too many questions straight out of the gate as time spent answering questions means time away from the real work. I’ll see if I can collect some more info once things slow down a bit.
So, if you are headed to Tbilisi it looks like you are not going to have too much trouble connecting.
(Please note that Skype was mentioned. It is the unheralded champion of the humanitarian community and has become one of the most important pieces of humanitarian kit out there today.)
From their site:
Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) which has been on alert since day one of the conflict deployed an emergency crew of telecoms specialists to Georgia on Wednesday. The team left from TSF’s headquarters in France and landed in Tbilisi at 17:00 local time on Wednesday to assess the telecoms needs of the humanitarian community and affected civilians.
NPR’s Ivan Watson reports that Russian planes are continually bombing cell phone towers in an effort to knock out telecommunications networks and what’s left of the GSM network in the country only works sporadically. Also, he reports that the INTERNET in Georgia has been compromised by a cyberattack. This was reported earlier in the day by WIRED’s Danger Room. [Click here to listen to the NPR audio file.]
With an already limited GSM network in South Ossetia and Abkhazia now compromised by bomb attacks it seems that folks heading into Georgia have very little option other than Thuraya and Iridium satellite phones. While networks may work from time to time I am not sure anyone is going to want to rely on them as their only source of communication. With the INTERNET also under assault aid teams will also be relying on Inmarsat’s BGAN and the new ThurayaIP.