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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FESTIVE FOOTPRINTS

The first day of Chinese New Year is by traditionally and culturally celebrated with family members. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I spent the first day with people other than family although one of my associates (in a unique situation of his own) accepted an Open House assignment that started lunch time and lasted till late—great ang pow incentive too!

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The morning of the first day has always been the busiest for us. Unlike  last year, this year I wanted something where my relatives would enjoy themselves and perhaps even entertain themselves while I spent time with the adults. With so many teenager and young adults in the mix, I set up my backdrop, one 60-inch umbrella and lighting powered by Quantum Turbo and wirelessly triggered by Pocket Wizard.

Satay on Chinese New Year? If you thought this is a little odd, check out my Hong Kong buddy Roland whose pre CNY dinner consisted of “a simple dish, Alaskan King Crab Legs Salad with Perilla and Yuzu dressing” followed by “Panfried Iberian Pork Chop, Pancetta Dolce, Chinese Noodles with Apricot and Madeira Sauce” then “Panfried Australian Lamb Cutlets with Raspberry and Port Wine Sauce.”—SHEER INDULGENCE is what it was! :D

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Back to earth, the satays were a hit esp the chicken sticks. Not many satay vendors get the beef right though I know one that does beef just nice. I took this picture because I happened to be the one handling them and shot these right before my guests arrived and then it was chaos!

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Interesting thing I noted. The Pocket Wizard is a universal fit on DSLR hotshoes. Knowing that my guests would bring their Nikon D cam, the first test shots had blue casts in them. Not wanting to waste time troubleshooting, I switched Tity to shoot with my 20D and 24-70mm instead. Why there was a blue cast in the Nikon pictures I have no idea .. I’ve had my partner’s Nikon D3 with similar setup it was OK and we were dealing with JPEGs straight out of the camera too.

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Tity had fun posing her subjects against the backdrop though I suspect she would rather do what she does best—cupcakes! You may have come across her blog where she showcases her works of art. For the ones below, it was her first attempt at writing Chinese characters and the attention to detail is simply amazing. It appears that she had written more Chinese than I had in my lifetime!

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Anyone wondering about the lightsource behind the 60″ umbrella … it’s just one Speedlite 580EX in Manual mode triggered by a Pocket Wizard II Plus. In a small room setup, I could have really used the Canon ST-E2 as a trigger as it supports E-TTL but the original idea was to have the setup work on the Nikon too. But it was not meant to be.

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Here is another side of the setup with a view of the custom “buddy bracket” I had ordered from the US. I had hoped that it would arrive in time for Steven’s wedding but I now know better what  $16 “flat rate” Global Priority Mail translates to—four weeks! Yesterday, I brought home a reputed JINBEI ™ 800W studio light and a 70 x 100 cm soft box to complement my setup. Though a costly solution, the Pocket Wizard triggers give you the creative freedom to work with different cameras without being bogged down by proprietary technology.

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Chinese New Year and red cushion covers seem rather stereotype. While at my in-laws, one of my wife’s nephews started wearing glasses and I couldn’t help noticing the rather interesting FCUK signature frames. Wonder if his classmates are old enough to play scrabble with the word!

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One of the most anticipated attraction of the celebration is non other than the lion dance. It has also become a family tradition to have the blessings of the lions. As you may know, the noise from the firecrackers, lion dance performances were believed to scare evil spirits away and bring good luck, health and prosperity.  And so the tradition carries on from one generation to the next.

Firecrackers are dangerous and I put myself at great risks going really near them. Though it seems that this picture was shot with a tele lens, it was in fact shot on the 24-70mm on my 5DII so you can imagine how near I must have been to capture the explosive moments—not forgetting to also mention how loud these ones were! It’s common to get hit by flying remnants. The nearest I’ve ever gotten to a long string of firecrackers was this—5D and ultra wide angle 17-40mm—just take a look at the number of red debris on the road afterwards!

The kids loved feeding red packets into the lion’s mouth. Jamie and Jewel seen here having a blast. For about 30 minutes of so, relatives and visitors from various kampongs congregate where the little ones enjoyed themselves immensely.

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Performers from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce on their way to a neighbour’s house.

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Related Chinese New Year posts

UNNATURALLY ASPIRATED. THE NEED FOR SPEED.

In the motorsports world, speed is everything! To get speed you need hardware— lots of hardware and sometimes really big and costly hardware—but that’s just the nature of the sport. You could spend upwards of $10,000 just to get a full second in quarter mile times. Yes, you read right .. a full ONE SECOND!

turbocharger-001.jpg© Jan Shim Photography  [visit gallery for more photos]

The single biggest component and also a major contributing factor is the turbocharger. Yesterday DHL dropped off a German turbocharger made by KKK that’s factory fitted to many European cars such as Audi/VW/Porsche and many others. This turbo was ordered for my cousin whose Suzuki Vitara’s turbocharger needed replacing. So you know now that ‘others’ include Japanese vehicles.

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© Jan Shim Photography

In the days I was heavily involved with my 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX, I had the best four years living a dream. It’s unfortunate that motorsports isn’t legal nor is it encouraged here in Brunei but in the small window of opportunity when it was allowed, I indulged in the entire spectrum of the sport—from owning one of the hottest icon to tuning to eventually wholesale distribution of turbochargers to buyers in USA, UK, Australia, Singapore including a one-off shipment to Russia. Motorsports enthusiast around the world are united by their love of speed, power and control. Thanks to Nick, owner of the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club (NASIOC) I was able to bring my own love for the sport to the forum community since May 2001. While I’m no longer participating actively there, I have nonetheless left a long trail of posts and contribution.

turbocharger-003.jpg© Jan Shim Photography

So its been a while since I last had a turbocharger in my possession. Those of you who has never seen one before, you are looking at them now with more in the gallery. Other industry buzzwords such as Forced Induction and Boost come from having a turbocharged engine. Wikipedia has an explanation these terms refer to starting with forced induction.

Other motoring links