Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Experimental Phone Post:- Part 2

Firstly, an apology. Every time I publish a post to Roadwork it automatically feeds to Twitter, so all of you loyal, registered subscribers can rush immediately over to the website to check out the latest exciting post. When you came here for my last update all you got for your trouble was an image-free, poorly formatted and badly written pair of paragraphs. Sorry about that.

The real disappointment, though, was for me. I had hoped that, out of the box, Nicolas brand new Nokia Lumia phone, running Windows Mobile no less, would enable me to achieve something I’ve never been quite able to do in the past; make a decent fist of blogging on the move, and it's been especially relevent recently, while I've found myself having less and less free time.

So many times I’ve sat there motionless on train journeys or waiting for somebody in a parked car, and I’ve been unable to do anything practical. I’d love to have longer to create decent content for Roadwork and I hate burning time like this. Ah, but fear not; the modern era has a solution up its sleeves for just this sordid problem; portability and miniaturisation. A mobile phone is like a tiny office in your pocket. You can write, web-browse, e-mail and take photos with one, slim, jewel-like device.

Yes, sure you can. But in many cases that's like saying a tent does everything a house can do. I'm one of the poor sad sops who bought a Sony Ericsson Satio U1, and if you can still focus on your screen through the tears of laughter and pity that are no doubt streaming down your cheeks after reading that, I'll carry on. I bought it two years ago because I was wowed by the promise of its 12 megapixel camera and the simple fact that it wasn't an iPhone, at the time where Apple-Fever was shaking the planet by the lapels. Fact of the matter was, I was foolish.

I introduced my shiny new Satio to all my friends with the statement that it was “Sony's interpretation of an iPhone”, which turned out to be akin to saying that a three-legged, blind donkey was my interpretation of a Grand-National winning Stallion. Where the Android powered iPhone flew from web-page to web-page with grace and panache, my Sony struggled to load text pages before crashing spectacularly if you so much as attempted to log-in to Facebook. It still does that, actually; one of the reasons I hardly ever use Mr Zuckerbergs enormous phone directory.

Thing is, at that time it didn't really matter to me. My internet contract allowed me unlimited internet access, yet I never really bothered for two reasons. Firstly, I never had so much dependency on internet access that I needed it when I was away from home anyway, and secondly; I never really saw the appeal of straining to look at internet pages on a two and a half inch screen when I could enjoy it on a 19 inch monitor at home.

That was two years ago. Today things have changed somewhat and I have become slightly enlightened. I now far more of a need for internet access on the move, but more than just from the perspective of somebody who has to be surrounded with media and entertainment 24/7; were it as simple as that, things would be just fine.

Typically, when I write a piece for Roadwork I'll take the supporting photos first and then write the context when I get home, before later uploading the words and pictures to Blogger and formatting them into a feature. Click “publish” and it's all done. I'd like to be able to do all that lot with a single, ultra-portable device. Ideally, with a mobile phone. Last night that prospect came tantalisingly close to becoming a reality; yet also started marching further and further away.

Nicola's new phone can get Blogger up on the screen with embarrassing pace, immediately beating my Satio, which will load the dashboard page but freaks out and crashes as soon as you try to do anything too taxing, like clicking on anything. No, Nicolas phone can confidently access the “new post” tool and before you know it you have a qwerty keyboard on screen and you can begin to type away your important thoughts on whatever cutting-edge breaking news story you like.

All well and good. But then, after creating the body of text you zoom right in on the page and click on the symbol for uploading photos.... and nothing happens. At that point you realise that the experience you get with a Windows phone is actually quite a pale imitation of what you get with a Windows PC. I was hoping to click the browse key and look around the inner storage areas of the phone, stripping away at the sub-folder like using Explorer.exe, but instead the blogger page just looks back at me, blankly.

Not to worry, just upload the page and worry about images later on. Ah; but I haven't formatted it yet, it doesn't look like the rest of the website. Needs to be Trebuchet, Normal size. Need to change it.

How the hell do I highlight and select all text? I never quite worked out how to do that and my whole unsatisfactory experience involved an inordinate amount of zooming in and out in attempts to look at the whole body of text at the same time. Unfortunately, on full zoomed-out-ness, the individual words are all but illegible.

Of course, the Android platform features many Blogger apps and Windows Mobile will probably follow suit, possibly addressing its photo uploading issues on the way. Of course, the fact that last night was the first time I'd ever used the Lumia and I dived straight in at the deep end with no practice or time spent reading the on-line instructions. No doubt the text selection thing is very simple and I'd pick it up with practice.

But, even if I was fully programmed with Windows Mobile product knowledge and the Blogger photo upload procedure was fighting fit, I fear I might still not find the mobile phone to be the portable blogging studio I always thought it might be. In fact, even if my mobile phone was a fully fledged miniature PC, and I could literally just run OpenOffice or Microsoft Works on it, and then run Firefox as a browser and go through the procedure exactly as I would at home; it still wouldn't be ideal....

Because mobile phones are still too small!

Mobile phone doubling as a camera? Fine, both items are a compatible size. Mobile phone enabling you to send SMS messages and simplistic email replies? Also fine. An alphanumeric keypad and predictive text is just the job for off-the-cuff remarks and composing 140-character Twitter ditties. But anything more than that and it becomes seriously hard work, just because the interface you can cram on a mobile phone just isn't conducive to typing for any real length of time.

I suffer from fingers like frankfurters, they do have their uses but mean I struggle on anything less than a laptop keyboard. The keyboard on Nicolas phone, through being a capacitative screen, just about lets me two-finger type with reasonable success, as long as I make a conscious effort to be accurate. I can't, though, touch-type. Well, to be honest I can't really do that anyway, but I know my way around a computer keyboard well enough to slow-type at a reasonable pace.

Sure, on her phone the letters are in the right place, but typing is still literally a hit and miss affair. What I need is basically a pocketable PC, with actual keys you can press like I'm doing right now, and web enabled for instant uploading. And the facility to make phone calls with it, too.

Sadly, it seems I ask too much.


  1. Android powered iPhone?
    Android is the phone operating system developed by Google and various competitors to Apple.

    Typing on a phone is a bit of a chore, that's why I use Swype.