Follow-up: Opera Mini 4 Beta Testing

Recently I told you that Opera had released a Beta of it’s mobile phone browser and that I would try it out for a week and not touch the IE browser at all, then report back here. I installed the browser on my Cingular 2125 (made by HTC) using Tao Intent Java Midlet Manager.

Links:

The good news:

This browser is sexy and has the potential to stand heads and shoulders above the default browser on my phone (IE).

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Basic Browsing Experience – Browsing web sites is fun compared to the stodgy old browser I’ve been using for the past 2+ years on various smartphones. For instance, Yahoo mail menu animations make the experience of navigating through the menu system intuitive and interesting, while viewing the same menus on IE rendered as static lists with bullets.

Quickzoom – The quickzoom is a must-have for me now, I’m in love this feature. You can view this demo here to see for yourself how the browser receives the full web page reduced to fit the mobile’s screen, but you can quickly navigate that page and zoom in on text or graphics of interest in order to read and click links. This ability to crunch the entire page into the viewable real estate and zoom in on the sections of interest is just very very cool.

Install – The installation across the web via my mobile was a no-brainer and had no issues. I will need to figure out how to create a shortcut to the browser so I can launch it from the main menu because right now it’s a pain in the ass to have to click 7 times through the menu system to get to the Midlet Manager and start the browser. (Not knowing how to do the shortcuts is probably just me being lazy until now since IE was always readily available in 2 clicks).

Cursor Navigation – Unlike IE, you actually have a cursor to navigate around the screen and click on things to interact with the page in a fashion almost identical to what you do on your PC’s browser. Big plus here in my opinion as the IE method of having to cycle through all the links to get to the one of interest is a pain at times.

The bad news:

Fonts – Fonts render ok, but Opera really needs to do something about the small font. It’s too big! 🙂 And then there’s the inability to render italic fonts altogether.

Crashes – Oy vey! On my Cingular 2125 Smartphone with factory install of Tao Intent Midlet Manager I was lucky to get 10 minutes without the browser crashing, returning me back to the homescreen. A lot of times it would happen in a minute or two. From reading the forums at the Opera site, it appears it’s not just me and it’s not just Tao’s Midlet Manager.

Overall:

Opera has done well so far, I’m looking forward to trying out a more stable version, that alone is enough to make me switch browsers in a heartbeat. The new features they’ve added are great, the ability to navigate whole pages may not be to the same level as the iPhone’s capabilities, but its absolutely a step in the right direction given the screen real estate we have to deal with on small smartphones.

I’m really looking forward to the next release and I highly recommend you take some time to install this version even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with some of the features because if the final version is stable, you will want to move to this browser.

Talking Trojan Taunts Its Victims

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Panda Software is reporting a medium level thread of infection from a Trojan called BotVoice.A (alias Win32\Hira.A). It’s fairly benign in the sense that it’s not deleting any files, but the interesting thing about this little bugger is its visible symptoms.

BotVoice.A is easy to recognize, as once it is run, the following message is heard repeatedly:

You have been infected I repeat You have been infected and your system files has been deleted. Sorry. Have a Nice Day and bye bye

If you want to listen to the message that BotVoice.A is continuously repeating, click here.

So. Hella. Funny! 😆

Web Sites Help Toys Come To Life

From Pleo the robotic dinosaur, below, to stuffed animals, companies are trying to revive the industry by infusing traditional toys with the latest technologies and linking them to the Internet.

This $349 baby Camarasaurus is among the latest toy gadgets you’ll see in toy and electronic stores in the next few months. It has no external wires, no remote control, but this little fellow, called ‘Pleo’, will show emotion and interact with its owner in a variety of dino sounds.

The deal is that Pleo will pull down new sounds and behaviors from a web site, it appears this is going to be a common theme with a lot of the holiday toys this year and it’s about darn time, too! 🙂

Link to the Chicago Tribune with much more.

Pleo the dino

Icemat Siberia: In Ear Headset Review

Who doesn’t need a ripping pair of headphones for their fave ear-candy?  Ever since the advent of the portable CD player, and MP3 units, 3rd party headsets have been a booming commodity.  I can remember all the units I’ve bought in the past that have had crap stock headgear tossed in as an afterthought – and sounded little better than listening to a victrola through a pair of tin cans!

So the like-minded folks over at Icemat have been developing their hardware for our listening pleasure, and are now offering their newest gear – “Siberia: In Ear”.  It’s an ear-bud type model, featuring the same blisteringly ear-canal crushing sounds as their previous “over ear” unit.

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ICEMAT is a company based out of Denmark that is know for making some kick ass headsets with their ever popular Icemat Siberia Headset. Today we are going to look at another one of ICEMATS headset, the Icemat Siberia In:Ear Headset. Will the Icemat Siberia In:Ear Headset be as good as their Icemat Siberia Headset or will they be just another ho-hum headset on the market. Stick around and find out how they pair out.

Head on over to the review, and see just how good they really are!

CallWave Gadget Offers Free International Text Messaging

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CallWave is offering Gadgets & Widgets that make it possible for users to view a list of mobile phone contacts and send SMS messages to those mobiles directly from the gadget. Replies from your contacts are directed to your mobile however.

SMS’ sent to your friends in the US and Canada are free, you can send up to 10 free international messages using the beta service and additional messages require you to buy credits from CallWave.

For the latest and greatest details on the services and future upgrades you’ll want to visit their blog. To obtain the gadgets themselves, visit this page; they support Mac, Vista, Yahoo! and Google.

Other services from CallWave include:

  • Forwarding mobile voicemail to a service you can listen to over the Internet using a Dashboard gadget.
  • Visual Voicemail‘ keeps track of your inbound calls to your mobile, displays of the Caller-ID numbers and playback of messages are via the gadget
  • Coming Soon is a new feature called ‘Vtxt’, it’s a voice to text transcription service using speech recognition that programmatically converts your voicemail to text.

Symantec Looking For Beta Testers of NextGen Products

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Symantec is inviting the public to join its beta programs for 5 of their newest Norton software and help them drive some quality into the products. These appear to be open betas which means you won’t be screened in order to install the product, all you have to do is download, install it and report bugs via the support forums. But for god’s sake do not install this on production machines!

The most interesting beta appears to be their AntiBot product to protect against malware and their related components.

The current betas can be viewed from the Public Beta page or by going directly to these product beta pages to download the product:

Current Norton betas:

 

{Found via BetaNews]

Keyboard Prank Or New Chia Planter For Geeks?

Here’s a neat prank, or perhaps it’s a new Chia Pet planter for geeks. You decide.

iFun.ru shows the step by step instructions (not in English) to get plants growing up through the keys in your keyboard.

First, it appears you need to pry up the top of the keyboard to get access between the keys. Then lay down some cotton or other material to lightly protect the circuits, lightly moisten the cloth as well to get the seeds started. Pour seeds into every visible crevice, replace top of keyboard and wait for the crops to grow up through the keys.

Here’s a pic (clicky) from the instructions pouring in the seeds.

keyboard planter 1

Here’s the end result, crops!

keyboard planter 2

 

Warning: That site iFun.ru may display NSFW adverts, but it has more pics and close-ups to enjoy.

Link

Cray Supercomputers Play Key Role in Designing Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Cray reported yesterday that 800,000 processor hours of computing time on Cray supercomputers went into the design of the highly successful Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

With help from the Crays, Boeing was able to get through the prototyping phases with only having to test 11 physical wings versus the 77 wing designs for the Boeing 767. The resulting airliner is also much lighter, with fewer emissions and more cost savings per seat per mile.

Supercomputingonline has the details and quotes, read more.

And In Autonomous Aircraft News From ‘Space War’…

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From Space WarPredators Reach Quarter-Million Flight Hours
The Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. Its primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets.

Airmen from the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron recently flew an MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle past the 250,000 flying hour milestone marking the historic milestone with a ceremony June 22 at Creech Air Force Base. “There are Predators airborne in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Because of what it can bring to the fight, the Predator is the most requested asset in theater,” said Col. Christopher Chambliss, the 432nd Wing commander.

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From Space WarPuma Achieves Record Flight Time Using Fuel Cell Battery Hybrid System
With a wingspan of 8.5 feet and weight of 12.5 pounds, Puma is a lightweight, hand-launched Unmanned Aircraft that provides aerial observation at line-of-sight ranges up to 10 kilometers. Watch videos or view its datasheets.

AeroVironment has successfully flown its Puma small unmanned aircraft for nearly five hours while it was powered by an onboard fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system. This successful demonstration marked the completion of the first task under AV’s contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the development of advanced propulsion technologies for unmanned aircraft.

What Is That??

Props to Benji-kun for getting the last WIT right, a image of a clear bathroom air freshener!  w00t!

So now that summer is in full swing, and the temperature is slowly baking us like a potato, it’s time to partake of the popular outdoor fun stuff we all save for the hot months.  I’m running around like a headless chicken taking my son to soccer games, camp activities and trying to catch all the good movies that have been released lately.  (Can you say “Transformers”??)  But in all that activity, I am always scoping my surroundings for some good WIT material!  You can too!  Feel free to send us any images you think would make a good WIT, and if we use it, we’ll make sure to give you a proper hat tip 😉

But, let’s get this road on the show, shall we?  I’m determined to stump you guys one of these days…so check this out –

WIT38

Fear the bright yellow thing!  *snicker*  Guess away!

Got WiFi Coding or Engineering Skills? Palm Is Hiring

palm logo

Palm has been struggling for a while to integrate WiFi capability into the new Treo line of smartphones and it appears they’re starting to get desperate.

How desperate?

Several industry sources have informed Unstrung.com that the mobile manufacturer has let go some, or possibly all, of its WiFi integration team and are looking for replacements!

Meanwhile rivals continue to make inroads in this area and offer it on their devices including the iPhone, Nokia’s newer phones as well as some Windows Mobile smartphones (not my Cingular 2125 though).

I’ve heard a lot of complaints from peers though that the feature can be a serious power hog (at least on the HTC phones), though you could just leave it off by default until needed.

Link to the Unstrung article with full details.

Submit your resumes to Palm here, it appears they’ve got some interesting positions open all in the Sunnyvale area for Test, Dev and PM.

The Hero Machine

The Hero Machine is a Flash-based application that allows you to create characters or fantasy sports logos you’ve always imagined, but couldn’t draw for yourself. The app appears to be hosted by a Marvel Comics Virtual club.

Below is ‘The Grape Destroyer’ (clicky), that I created in about 5 minutes using an intuitive interface with a wealth of control over shapes, accessories, logos, weapons and more. When you’re done, the only way for you to save an image of your hero is via a screen capture.

Though my hero may look a little weak, be sure to check out some of the sample pre-generated heroes and villains to get a good idea of the power at your fingertips.

Grape Destroyer

Star Trek – Inspirational Posters

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Gary Woolsey has created dozens of inspirational (mostly humorous) posters from high quality JPEG scenes of the original Star Trek series. Here’s the home page or jump into Gallery #1 right away.

Some of my favorites from his galleries are the matte paintings that were used in a handful of episodes like this Kaylar Fortress on Rigel 7 or this Lithium Station on Delta Vega.

Tip o’ the hat to Gary, nicely done.

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[Found via Neatorama]

Showing A Little Geek Love

Geek Love

I should start showing some love to the folks that comment and link to Geeknews periodically, I guess it’s the whole karma thing ‘just in case’. If you comment and would like a link to advertise your site, please holler. I’ll grep through the comments this week and find the links you may have already provided.

Here’s a batch of 3, by far the more interesting of the batch is Gabrielle’s.

TechChickBlog:
As Gabrielle puts it, it’s a “non serious blog about Tech”. She loves attention, so swing by and show her some. Start by visiting her photo gallery and her own LOLCATS at http://techchickblog.com/photos/ and leave her a comment.

Games4mobile:
AKA KoOoOoL Games For Mobiles.Though there’s a smattering of tech news or other tidbits you geeks want, mobile is the focus, everything from mobile virus’ to mobile tv.

Andymatic:
Hey, who doesn’t love the name Andy? 🙂 Seriously, Andymatic is a personal blog with a well rounded topic list of links and bookmarks covering politics, tech news and pop culture. For instance, he found a really cool blog link to ‘The Ultimate WordPress htaccess file’

"Happy Birthday USA" or "Yeah Mars!"

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Following on the heels of the lovely neighbors to the north who just had a b’day

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved a Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, forming the United States of America.

Also on this day in 1997, the NASA Mars Pathfinder, which contained the Sojourner rover, lands on Mars. This famous photo of Sojourner probing the ‘Yogi’ rock should refresh your memory.

Recall that the scientists were naming the rocks after cartoon characters including Barnacle Bill, Yogi (as in Yogi Bear), Scooby Doo and Casper.

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