Showing posts from 2009

Will my mobile operator bill me for using WiFi?

While people will often be dismissive and give answers like "of course not, you idiot", there's more to it than at first sight. Before an answer can be given for this question, you need to ask yourself who is providing the WiFi. There are three possibilities here: 1) You! This is probably the only case that most people think of when they're giving a dismissive answer. In this setup, you're using a wireless router or a wireless access point to distribute your home broadband internet among several devices such as your desktop computer, laptop, possibly a wireless VoIP phone, and your WiFi-enabled mobile phone. In this instance, your mobile phone is just another device connected to your wireless home network. Any data usage is already paid for in your broadband internet bill. While we all know that mobile network operators would love to bill you even just for thinking about using the phone, they have no way of knowing that you're using your own wireless network a

Spotify on Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

Yep. It works fine (thanks to Juhis for the invite)! Spotify is a subscription-based streaming music network. I'll not go into all the details of what they offer here, you can read about that on their site: , but I will add a little to their instructions on getting their application working under Linux, more specifically for the variant of Linux I've been working with for the past week or so, Ubuntu Linux 9.10, aka "Karmic Koala". There are only versions of the Spotify application for MacOS 10.4 or later, or Microsoft Windows XP or later, but the fine folks at Spotify also point out that it will work on a Linux system using the WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator) Microsoft Windows Compatibility layer. See this FAQ entry on Spotify's site. The instructions given there are for a generic Debian setup. Ubuntu is indeed based on Debian, but there are a few things built in to it that make life easier for users. The first thing we're going to do differen

Firmware availability and distribution

This is an area where there's a huge amount of confusion. With any luck this article will clear a certain amount of it up. Broadly speaking, there are two types of each model of phone. It's actually far more complicated than that with regional variants, promotional offers etc., but let's keep it simple for the moment. On the one hand, you have the phone as it was originally designed by Nokia and containing Nokia's firmware. On the other hand you have phones that are distributed not directly by Nokia or their retailers but by mobile network operators. In the latter case, the firmware installed in these phones is modified by the network operator to include their logo, links to their services and a few custom features and settings. Occasionally, network operators will also deactivate features of the original phone that they don't want you using. AT&T come straight to mind with their paid-for voice dialling service − the phone already has such a feature built in but

So, what's up with the flashing envelope?

Older mobile phones would store received text messages on your SIM card rather than in their own (very limited) memory. Service messages sent to you by your mobile provider are also stored on the SIM card, even today. Modern phones store inbound text messages in their own (significantly more capacious than their predecessors') memory or even, in some cases, on a removable memory card (miniSD or microSD most of the time). Nokia phones based on S60v3 with feature pack 2 and later (N78, N96, 5800 XpressMusic, N97 etc.) detect messages on the SIM card and, if they find any, alert the user to their presence by displaying a flashing envelope on the screen. The only way to get rid of it is to delete the messages on the SIM card. To achieve this: Menu > Messaging > Options > SIM messages Select all the messages visible here: Options > Mark/unmark > Mark all Then delete them by pressing the "C" key for phones that have it (keypad-operated phones) or by tapping "

My language has disappeared from my phone! How do I get it back?

A problem frequently seen on the Nokia Support Discussion forums relates to people who have just had to reset their phones or who have just updated their firmware. Upon restarting the phone, they are faced with a problem in that their language has disappeared! Actually, the problem goes much deeper than that. The language disappearing is merely the visible part of willful deceit on the part of some rogue retailers. Nokia phones are sold all over the world. It is unreasonable to expect them all to "speak" all the languages of the world, so, depending on which part of the world each individual batch of phones is intended for, it will have a particular set of languages installed. For example, phones sold in Western Europe have English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and sometimes Dutch languages installed. Those sold in Nokia's home country, Finland, have English, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. I'm going to use the examples of Malaysia and Arabic

PIN code, PUK code, security code, lock code, unlock code, restriction code...

Clearly, there's alot of confusion out there as to what all these codes do, what they protect, how to get them and how to manage them. I'd like to clear that confusion up a litle bit with this article. The first thing you have to bear in mind is that your SIM card is actually the property of your network operator. SIM stands for "Subscriber Information Module". Stored in it is information that identifies you as the user of the phone in which the SIM is installed, and which ties that phone to your mobile phone number. Proof of this is if you swap SIMs with another phone and call your number it's the other phone that will ring, and if you place a call with your phone it's the other phone's owner who will be billed! The PIN, or "Personal Identification Number" is a 4-digit code (well, actually, some phones allow up to 8 digits but it is nearly always 4 digits), stored in encrypted form in the SIM and which protects your SIM from unauthorised use. Th

Should I buy a phone SIM-free and pay the full price for it, or should I get it on the cheap with a contract?

In Europe, the overwhelming majority of mobile phones in circulation are phones that were supplied to the users with a contract or pay-as-you-go SIM, up to 90% in the UK and probably similar figures elsewhere in Europe. In the Far-East, however, things are the other way round. Most people buy their phones directly from the manufacturer's outlets or from third-party retailers and get just the line and communications from the mobile network operator. The aim of this small article is to outline the pros and cons of each method so that you can make an informed choice based on budget and on your thirst for a regular technology fix. Initial cost: This is about the only area where a contract phone wins hands down. Many operators will have huge flashy signs all over the place touting a "free" phone with the contract. Of course, the phone isn't free at all, you're paying for it over the duration of your contract, but you have no initial expense over the cost of your contra

Problems with caller ID

Obtaining caller ID, processing it and displaying it is actually a fairly complex process involving the caller's operator, yours, your SIM and your phone's software. If all you see when someone calls you is "Call 1" or "Private number", no actual phone number, then you're not receiving caller ID at all. This can be because the caller is in fact concealing their number (you can do this on a GSM phone by prefixing the number to dial with #31#). In this case, there's nothing you can do. If the caller IS sending out their caller ID but you're not receiving it, then the problem lies with your network and/or with your SIM. Give your operator a call. The chances are they can remedy this with an over-the-air update of your SIM card. If you are now receiving caller ID but your phone isn't displaying the corresponding contact's name, it's because it can't tell whose number it is. There are many possible reasons for this, the three most comm

How do I stop or silence that annoying startup animation?

While starting up, Nokia Series 60 smartphones show a short animation of two hands reaching out and grasping each other and play back a snippet of the "Nokia Tune" (which is actually an excerpt of the "Gran Vals" by Francesco Tárrega). This can be annoying or even embarrassing in some situations. If you're quick enough you can make the phone skip the animation before it starts playing back the jingle. On touch-screen phones: simply tap the screen. On keypad phones: press any key. Alternatively, if you're likely not to catch the animation quickly enough, then you can silence it altogether. You need to edit the settings for your active profile (consult your manual for instructions how to do this). More specifically, you need to set "Warning tones" to "Off". If you switch to another profile before switching off then you'll have to make sure THAT profile's warning tones are also deactivated. While this will silence the animation, you

About this blog...

Nothing pretentious here. Just a few tips and tricks as and when I come up with them. The material here is mostly going to relate to Linux on the one hand, and to SymbianOS S60 smartphones on the other. I'll obviously tag the entries accordingly in order to facilitate searches. This will be a permanent work in progress. If you want to be informed of new posts then feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed or ask me to add you to the e-mail notification list. As for my background and the reasons why I think I'm qualified to do this, I've been using computers for 30 years now, since even before Microsoft existed (yes, there were computers before Microsoft!). I've used many operating systems including multiple variants of Linux, several FreeBSD versions and Solaris. I've used and programmed for most versions of MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, 9x and NT, and I'm currently self-employed as a Unix systems administrator and web-based application developer, working primarily in PHP a