HACKING THE NOKIA POWER ADAPTER CABLE

As my demand for internet connectivity increases, equipment that connects to the internet needs to keep up too. If and when my iPad 2 battery runs low I have the i.Sound 8000 mAh Power Max. When my Nokia E71-cum-Personal-Hotspot runs low, I have this single “AA” battery powered inverter. The trouble with third-party connectors that they’re very often unreliable. By that, I refer to  to the 2mm power connector contact isn’t as secure as the original Nokia part notably (in this example) the CA-44 power adapter pictured below. I’m not big on carrying additional items unnecessarily and seeing how the i.Sound power pack has extra USB ports (see third picture) and enough juice to also charge the E71 while it’s charging the iPad—perfect! This modification is unnecessary for owners of Nokia E72 — the USB data port is capable of charging the phone and Nokia includes a short cable for this purpose (too short in my opinion for practice use especially when you need to answer a call or send a text while the short cable is in use).

This is an original Nokia CA-44 power adapter cable with the female pin spliced open.

Nokia has a part number for the cable I want — Nokia Charger via USB CA 100 — short, neat and most of all, elegant. Trouble is this item is highly unpopular and most people I’d imagine have no need for such set-up other than the factory AC and maybe a car adapter. Another thing, the CA 100 is such an old part number I couldn’t locate a store in my town but I found a similar functioning cable that has an additional cable for data transfer. The part I wanted is the power charging piece and unfortunately but not unexpected the connection isn’t very secure and as a result intermittently disrupts charging due to poor contact. Here’s where my D-I-Y light bulb in my head went off difference this time, I got my dad to help as he’s much better at handling delicate electrical items than I have the patience or skills for. Now, is it a coincidence that I also enjoy Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House because I happen to like cutting things up? Likely not considering what we like and do are probably a result of years of visual influence.

A China made two-in-one USB power and data cable spliced at the Y junction to reveal the rather the soldered wires underneath.

Tada! The finished product, a fusion between original Nokia  CA-44 2mm adapter plug end and a China made USB port. iPhone owners need not worry about such things, the USB sync cable  doubles as charger so it’s all good. The sheer convenience and power of the iPad provided the motivation for this mod. Productivity is when you do more and carry less items in the bag.

The finished ensemble—two cables elegantly connected and sealed with heat-shrink tubing.

Another reminder in case you missed this. This modification is unnecessary for owners of Nokia E72 — the USB data port is capable of charging the phone and Nokia includes a short cable for this purpose (too short in my opinion for practice use especially when you need to answer a call or send a text while the short cable is in use). My design factored this in and is long enough to not have to interrupt the phone’s charging or hotspot-in-use status!

The new USB cable is particularly useful in the car too with this dual USB car power adapter especially on seriously long journeys such as a 4-5 hours drive across the borders to Kota Kinabalu.

NOKIA E71 DELIVERS INTERNET RADIO

Seven months after I published my personal Nokia E71 review claiming it’s Everything and More I hadn’t realised that Nokia would continue to develop new functionality considering by today’s standard, a phone more than 6 months old had to be old somewhat. Perhaps the economic downturn has slow things down and product lifecycles are now stretched much longer than it would have survived the attention span of buyers.

Regardless, I love surprises like this especially when it’s completely unexpected. I had the phone connected to my PC to do a routine calendar sync and midway running Nokia PC Suite (curious, is there such a thing as a Mac Suite?) and received an alert that a new firmware 200.21.188 was available. I hadn’t even bothered to find out what the new firmware was supposed to fix much less the opportunities it would bring. Today I discovered by accident that the new firmware had installed Internet Radio and something dodgy called “My Nokia” along with some new themes.

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Palringo continues to be my preferred IM app on the E71 and I know that the developers have been actively rolling out new releases which I’m most pleased. It can still be further improved in the usability department but let’s not get me started about the the one thing that irritates me most in Palringo. Moving on, when Nokia introduced FM Tuning years ago, I thought the concept was quite cool before MP3 monopolised our conscience and that someday we’d be able to listen to a good FM station while we’re waiting for the bus (not necessarily a Brunei past time) or waiting to see the doctor (a common post-festive celebration phenomenon) etc. There is and has been usually just one problem with this concept—radio reception that requires the earphones to be plugged in and is never with me when I needed them!

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With Internet Radio, ear phones are completely optional (unless where privacy is preferred). The Station Directory allows you to browse stations sorted by Genres | Language | Country | Top Stations … all no brainer stuff and sound quality comes in Standard (less than 48 kbps), High (48—128 kbps) and Best (> 128 kbps) for those discerning listeners . At home, Internet Radio access by WiFi and comes up with a list of internet stations (you can access them via GPRS or 3G too). Curious, I entered “MIX FM” thinking that this would be the same station as the Malaysian one that I’ve found to be a lot more entertaining and interesting. In just a few seconds of buffering, the E71 changed personality and became a good friend—one that I quickly discovered to require content filtering of some sort. I remember but vaguely the title of a Pussy Cat Dolls track where a certain f word is used in the lyrics and the DJ doesn’t speak a word of English except when he’s saying the name of the station: Mix FM :P Nice huh, a station that plays uncensored hits!

Then I moved on to see what MY NOKIA is about and got the following screen. Oh well, at least some content isn’t available. No big deal—we’re used to not having most stuff anyway like really fast and reliable broadband. Just two nights ago, a photographer friend in Hong Kong had 30Mb fibre broadband installed at his home and he said that new bandwidth should allow him to upload Vimeo  HD video files a lot quicker than before! Tsk Tsk.

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A behind the scene shot of the setup. I must be out of my mind to go through the steps to shoot the E71 but I was in the mood and even while setting it up, MIX FM kept me entertained. Oh, before I forget, check out also a station in Singapore called “247 Music Radio—24 Hr Non stop Commercial Free Music” Yeah baby, no commercial sounds right! No DJ even better :P

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Now, those who are interested in Internet Radio and do not possess a Nokia E71 or similar, there’s this neat little USB powered dongle called iRadio Pop. Plug it right, install the software and you have access to more internet radio stations (the guys at Concepts have pre-programmed your favourite local Brunei stations too) than you can imagine. Perfect for those who fancy a foreign dialect such as Korean (not me but some members of my in-laws are those kind who only very recently became fans of Jan Shim Photography—sure took your sweet time eh girls? :) Those interested in the iRadio Pop can pick one or two up at Concepts Computer store. I understand from a source that they now have the new and  attractively priced Acer Aspire M7720-492X that’s powered by Intel Core i7 920 (2.66Mhz / 8Mb cache) CPU. Mighty tempting considering I’m just venturing into resource intensive apps such as Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom for my photography workflow. Am I defecting from Dell? We just wait and see!

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A MARATHON WEEKEND IN SINGAPORE

Tip for Bruneians traveling to Singapore: Accessing DSTinternet abroad.
As you may know, the Nokia E71 has essentially replaced my laptop for e-mails and instant messaging when I am on the road. As a DST 3G Prima subscriber, I discovered that DSTinternet access point worked when roamed to SingTel network (Starhub and M1 failed). I also happily discovered that establishing a 3G data connection in Singapore had been consistently quicker and more reliable than doing the same at home. The only thing I have yet to discover and something I don’t look forward to are the killer roaming charges!

In spite of the economic downturn, I made an effort to visit Singapore  to have coffee with friends and colleagues  who are  in the photography profession. ‘Bad times’ is no reason to network any less. If anything, this is the time to establish more networks. It’s become somewhat of a year end tradition for me since Starbucks Rendezvous two Decembers ago followed by a solo parenting experience in A Day At Sentosa last year where Jamie and Jewel had a blast—wanted to bring them along on this recent trip but we had a different mission—much needed Retail Therapy!

This trip, a short and terribly exhausting one I should add, we stayed at one of my late father-in-law’s relative’s HDB flat and the view from their living room is simply beautiful every night. On our way there from the airport, we experienced a stormy night with loud thunders and streaks of lightning bolts accenting the illuminated skies. These were photographed from the 16th floor in Kallang and the only photographic documentary equipment that I brought along was my EOS 20D, a 50mm f/1.8 lens and 4GB CF card on a single battery.

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The lightning effects are simulated. By the time we settled in the flat, the storm had somewhat disappointly cleared up. I get beautiful sunrises from my Seria house but a Singapore nightscape on a stormy night would be quite something to capture.

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↓ Dotted lift buttons designed for the convenience of the blind. As a kid holidaying in Singapore, I would occasionally stay at an aunt’s place when she used to live there with her husband. For as long as I can remember now, our more recent trips had seen our share of stay along Orchard for a different sort of convenience—shopping.

RETAIL THERAPY BEGINS HERE …

→  RETAIL THERAPY TIME OUT  ←

Because we stayed away from the Central Business Districts, our morning routine is closer to home—fresh market, buzzling coffee houses, noodles, etc instead of Starbucks, McDonalds, Subway and the likes along Orchard Road.

This owner was kind enough to cut open a fresh jackfruit for this photo op. I know for a fact that pictures like this would get jackfruit lovers salivating in a sec. So ladies and gents, this one is dedicated to your craving taste bud :)

↓ Coffee Museum @ Tiong Bahru.
Right place, right time for coffee lovers like me. The yellow slimy fruit just doesn’t do it for me.

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RETAIL THERAPY continues …

I visited Orient Photo at Sim Lim Square to pick up some stuff and ended up walking away with more than I planned. Women always say they cannot have enough shoes or bags, this store has enough camera inventory to make your head spin. I walked away with some Pocket Wizards, a long overdue ND8 filter and a Crumpler-made CANON EOS neckstrap from Canon @ Vivocity.

↑ While at Orient Photo, I tested a 50mm f/1.4 with the photo above when I really should have tested the 50mm f/1.2 instead. What was I thinking?

↓ I was being a busy body and couldn’t help eavesdropping a conversation between the store owner and a Caucasian photographer who was testing a Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on his Nikon D700. It didn’t take him long to confirm it and I ended up keeping the box: Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/85mm ZF—I won’t disclose the price he paid for the piece but suffice to say, it’s still a lot cheaper than a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 II.

↓ My EOS 5D with 70-200 f/2.8 fitted with Pocket Wizard Plus II and Crumpler Canon EOS neckstrap. More Canon poison? Need directions, Glenn? :)

↓ On the morning of the Singapore Marathon 2008, a peek out of the window at 6.50 AM overlooking an early Tai Chi session in progress.

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I took a walk from the Kallang HDB flat, and a rather long walk I should add, to reach the cordoned off intersection of Kg Bugis where I was early enough to have seen the  first runner run past. I think I stayed long enough to see about 50 runners before I decided to walk back to join my family for breakfast. Getting lost on my way back was a lonely experience but an experience no less. Being a Sunday, the roads were pretty much deserted with the occasional bus or taxi passing by. Instead of back tracking where I came from (which was very easy) I chose a direction that I thought was shorter forgetting that I was born without the benefit of a GPS DNA (men and directions!).

Quite literally a truck load of spectators!

↓ The title of this post “marathon” refers not only to the Singapore Marathon event but also the every day marathon rushing from one venue to another. Chaotic madness above ground, equally nuts below the tarmac. What interests me about Singapore and about the one thing that has kept me sane is the variety of people and their lifestyle that I find interesting and cannot get enough of. Someday I might even be crazy enough to walk around Singapore with my 5DII and 70-200mm … endless supply of people photos! (Did I just drop a hint there?)

↓ OK this one is a weird one but I can explain. I had lunch with two photographers who happened to drive Honda Stream only one of the two is a newly launched RSZ model. “CC” is a proud owner of the RSZ and I got to ride in one to some hilly part of Sg for a casual “twin Stream” shoot and fortunately, mosquito bites were by far the more unpleasant experience.

↓ This was shot on the last night of our stay—exhausted, worse off credit ratings, homesick … er .. umm .. maybe not homesick but were definitely exhausted. Our host had been very generous and the location was great with accessibility to food and transport just a stone’s throw away. I have to get some work in Singapore to visit it more often.

↓ Go ahead Starbucks. Surprise me with free coffee delivered to …. BRUNEI!
This was the only Starbucks joint I managed to drop in for a quick shot of Cappuccino.

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RELATED SINGAPORE LINKS (in case you haven’t had a chance to click on the links above)