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The new computer

The new computer is, I think, an Athlon clocking 1GHz into 512Mb memory, with an nVidea video card of some form. It's a powerful one as it has a fan on-board, along with 256Mb RAM... or is it 128? I'm a bit vague with the specs as I'm recording a film off of Zone Horror right now, else I'd fire up a VNC session and interrogate the machine.
It came with a multi-card reader which may be useful, and a Bluetooth dongle to talk to the phone.


The new phone

For those who like model numbers, it is a Nokia 6230i. Nice bright colour screen, can send texts and make phone calls as a mobile should, and in addition it can play MP3s and it has a 1.3 megapixel camera which translates to a picture size of 1280×1024.
While the Bluetooth link is kinda tedious, it worked for copying across all my favourite MP3s using the other computer (via VNC), just start it going and then leave it to get on with it.

At the moment there is a problem with WAP/web/MMS in that it keeps saying that GPRS is not available. I don't know if this is a problem with the phone, with the connectivity, or with my pay-as-you-go contract. It's a shame that I cannot at least WAP. I guess I'll walk it to a mobile phone shop sometime, see if they can get it running?

The photo quality is okay. I mean, you cannot compare a digital SLR with a little imager stuck on the back of a mobile phone! It saves as a JPEG image, either on the internal memory (which I think is 16Mb) or the inserted memory card (which is a 256Mb MMC). I can then Bluetooth the pictures onto a computer. Alternatively, one of those photo booth machines may be able to extract the pictures using IrDA, but that sounds a bit of a security issue to me - at least an SD card in a digital camera only holds pictures. There's a lot more on a mobile's memory card.
Briefly played with the video. In 'high quality' mode, the video quality is truly awful. It certainly explains why the quality on TV programmes is so poor, not to mention stuff that turns up on YouTube having been recorded on a mobile. This, I don't think, is a criticism of the Nokia phone. I think 3gp video compression is an uneasy trade-off between what is low-bandwidth (so it takes less to send it to another phone) and what is visible. Unfortunately the low bandwidth requirement wins and it is just full of artefacts. It's a shame there's no "compress sanely" option for if you want to record video, but you don't play to MMS it to anybody so the thing could ease up a little on the compression.

There's a headset with earphones. Thus I can drop three items I carry - the digital camera, the MP3 player, and the mobile - and replace them all with this one item. In addition to this, there's a freebie. No, not the tantalising "it could Google", but the more down-to-earth FM radio. I've programmed it so I can say "alouette" (ah-loo-ett, means skylark) and it will switch on the radio and tune in to Alouette. Nifty, huh?
Doesn't end there. You can program your own ringtones, looks like the phone will accept a custom format, MIDI sequences, or MP3 files. For SMS, I have a brief "buh-buh-beep-bu-beeep!", and for calls I have an MP3 recording of the BBC News 24 countdown. I'm not into classical tracks, the cockeral crowing could be embarrassing, and I certainly don't fancy my phone blasting out Amy Lee or Amy Macdonald (or anybody else called Amy) when a call comes in - I want something distinctive and tactful. The BBC News 24 theme is perfect. In case you aren't sure, that's the one that beeps every second.


Why I'm still using Aiko

I plan to migrate bits and pieces over to the new computer in time, however there are no immediate plans to switch machines. I want to assure myself that the machine is reliable. In addition, there's a lot of stuff in Aiko that will need to be transferred - the DVD writer, the TV capture card, and so on. The way I feel doing this job, I'm not sure I can concentrate well enough to make the transfer without mucking up something.

In addition to this, the new computer will be the new Aiko. It's a bit of a cheat, but I like the name, plus a lot of stuff is set up on the assumption that my computer is Aiko (on the network, that is). I think the current Aiko (confused yet?) will eventually be reinstalled as a machine for mom to use (as a 90MHz Pentium won't cut it these days) and will probably be called Ashley or Aisling or... something with an A. ☺


A memory oddity

So I took one of the 512Mb PC-133 DDRs out of the newer box and fitted it into Aiko. It saw only 128Mb. I tried every one of the three slots, but it appears that it will only work with 256Mb in one slot, plus it has some odd selection of addressing methods and this memory card just doesn't fit into any of them. Everest Home Edition IDs the card as a 512Mb piece, but the motherboard can only 'see' 128Mb. Well, I've obviously taken the card back out, will fit it back into the other machine later, and reinstalled the original 128Mb DDR because if that's the best I can do...


Who needs two keyboards?

In order to do stuff with the mobile phone, or to simply cheat and snarf an extra few Gbs of disc space, I have hooked the two computers with a cross-over ethernet cable. Now both network cards claim to be 100Mbit capable, however something or other makes it a bit of a random choice whether it's going to be a 10Mbit connection or 100Mbit. In either case, using TightVNC at each end is surprisingly fast. I thought "hey, this is kinda cool" in the 100Mbit mode, but it was almost as fast in 10Mbit mode! The only slow part is, obviously, transferring files, though I think Aiko is not capable of blatting data to the network card and doing much else at the same time. Maybe I need a 55mph network card, like the US speed limit? ☺

And here it is in action:


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