Mobile phones, will they catch on?

I do wonder if the concept of a mobile phone would ever catch on….

From 13th September 1979…

Michael Rodd makes a call with an experimental cordless mobile phone.
It’s 1979 and time for the telephone to go mobile. In this report from a longer programme, Michael Rodd examines a British prototype for a cordless telephone that allows the user to make calls from anywhere. Also included at the end of this item is a rather nice out-take as Rodd also experiences the first mobile wrong number.

I do recall watching this when it was broadcast.

Of course we don’t really use our phones as phones these days, the mini computer we have in our pockets is now used for way more than just making calls.

Mobile WordPress Theme

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I have been using the WP-Touch plugin for a while now with my WordPress sites.

WPtouch is a mobile plugin for WordPress that automatically adds a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors to your WordPress website. Recommended by Google, it will instantly enable a mobile-friendly version of your website that passes the Google Mobile test, and ensure your SEO rankings do not drop due to not having a mobile-friendly website.

The administration panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance, and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to your mobile visitors, without modifying a single bit of code. Your regular desktop theme is left intact, and will continue to show for your non-mobile visitors.

What the plug-in does is provide a mobile stylesheet so that when your WordPress site is viewed on a mobile device it is rendered correctly for the small screen, making it easier for the user to read posts and navigate the site.

It means you can have one site without needing to have a different specific mobile site and your users don’t need to specifiy they are on a mobile device. There is a switch on the page if you want to move from the mobile to the full desktop version of the site.

Though the current WordPress version now is more mobile friendly than it was I still prefer and use the WP-Touch plugin as I feel it gives a better mobile experience.

The plug-in was recently updated and there was a change in the appearance of the mobile stylesheet. The old one is on the left, and the new one on the right.

Mobile WordPress Theme

Sometimes I really don’t like change, but in this instance I think it is a real improvement.

So if you run and host your own WordPress implementation and want to provide your users with a mobile experience then I suggest a look at WP-Touch.

Dusting off the Pogo

Polaroid Pogo printer

Many, many years ago I went out, after listening to people on the Twitter, and purchased a Polaroid Pogo printer, well according to the Twitter it was six years ago in 2009.

I bought it for £50, though it soon fell in price to £17…

I did use it for a while, but there were some core reasons why it never really clicked for me, partly the size of the prints, just 2” x 3” which was too small for most things. Couldn’t really see a practical use for such small prints, even if they were stickers. The other main reason was that the quality of the prints was quite poor in comparison to the HP photo printer I had at the time. So like many other devices after the novelty had rubbed off and the curiosity value had waned, it went into the cupboard.

It was recently though that after making notes in a my new work notebook (trying out visual note taking for project planning) that I realised I actually wanted to include a diagram in my notes. I could have attempted to draw the diagram, but I am not that good at drawing clear diagrams. Also in this case I wanted the actual diagram, not a drawn representation of the diagram. I then remembered the Pogo printer and I wondered…

I had to connect it to the power adapter and remember that the easiest way to do this was to send it the image file over Bluetooth. I was actually quite surprised and impressed that it worked.

I then realised how useful it would be for making notes, well supporting handwritten notes. I could use it to print off slides from Powerpoint presentations, diagrams from said presentations, covers of reports (as visual reminders), images as visual cues for notes, cartoon strips (usually xkcd) even photographs of locations where meetings or events were been held.

There are some challenges in using it. It only likes JPGs and only in 4:3. It will print other ratio but expect to get some unexpected cropping. One strange outcome is that square images (like those created in Instagram) come out in portrait mode.

The most consistent way of printing has been sending files from my Mac to the printer via Bluetooth. I have had success in doing this with a Windows 7 laptop, but the experience has been inconsistent and some days it just won’t work! Alas because of the Bluetooth restrictions imposed by Apple, you can’t print to it from an iOS device such as the iPhone or the iPad. Having said that, LG released a ZINK printer that utilises an iOS App to enable you to print using your iPhone. It should be said that the process works fine with an Android phone.

Aa a result if a diagram is in PNG format and not in 4:3 ratio then you need to use an image editing package to ensure it will print correctly. Likewise if you export a wide screen Powerpoint presentation as JPGs, you again need to adjust the size of the image (canvas size) so that it all prints and ensure that the Pogo doesn’t crop the slide image.

The ZINK paper it uses isn’t easily available on the high street, so I just bought some on Amazon, watch though as the prices vary quite a bit, I did manage to find 70 sheets for £8.99 which was reasonable.

So far I have found using the Pogo printer a really useful tool in supporting my note taking and planning. I am not sure I would go out and buy one just for this, I was lucky I had it in the cupboard, but they do go for quite cheap prices on eBay if you are interested.

MS-DOS Mobile

This made me smile.

Today Microsoft launch MS-DOS Mobile, a new OS designed especially for Lumia smartphones.

Microsoft are going back to where productivity started for millions of people, launching a beautifully simple OS.

The MS-DOS Mobile preview is an essential download for those who remember life before Windows, those who want to go back to BASIC, or even those looking to boot into DOS for the first time.

Note today’s date.

Mobile Apps

Noticed a couple of news items on BBC News which make for interesting reading if you are interested in mobile applications. The first item I saw was on the market for mobile apps.

The market for mobile applications, or apps, will become “as big as the internet”, peaking at 10 million apps in 2020, a leading online store says.

But it is not all good news…

However, GetJar say, the developer community will decline drastically as each developer makes less money.

This is certainly apparent in the iTunes App Store where expensive useful apps, are virtually immediately undercut by similar low cost or even free apps.

But it doesn’t seem to be putting people off with the following news:

Symbian, the operating system on nearly half the world’s smartphones, is to become involved in the development of mobile applications, or apps.

So who’s creating these mobile apps and what are they creating?