Just bought the latest smartphone? Your old “brick” might come in useful somewhere too!

I bought my first mobile phone in 1995 (a Nokia 2140). At the time my friends thought I was “yuppie” and there was a bit of a social stigma attached (to be fair, I was a bit of an idiot about it) but, within a couple of years mobiles were starting to become universally accepted…

Fast forward almost two decades and, a couple of weeks ago, I was at an event where Telefonica O2’s vice president of research and development, Mike Short, mentioned that there are now 6 billion mobile devices in our world and that’s still growing at a phenominal rate. The telcos count this based on subscriptions (which includes feature phones, smartphones, tablets, mobile payment systems, and more) but have you ever thought about the uses that old mobile handsets can be put to?

I have a Nokia 6021 that I keep as a spare handset (it’s pretty dumb, but makes calls, has Bluetooth, battery lasts a while, and it’s almost indestructable) but most of my other handsets have been sold or recycled over the years.

O2’s recycling scheme supports their Think Big programme but I’d like to think there’s a fair chance that old handsets can find a use in the developing world too. Because mobile commerce is not just about smartphones – the Mobile Internet and NFC – but, in parts of the world where bandwith is more scarce, there are many examples of mobile projects using SMS, or even a missed call:

So maybe it’s time to dig out that old mobile that’s gathering dust somewhere and send it for recycling? Even if there is limited financial reward for you, it might still have a life elsewhere, or, at the very least the components can be recycled for environmental purposes.

Culinary creations and “International English”

As a bit of a foodie, I’ve always enjoyed creating meals although, if I’m perfectly honest, I normally do the “glory cooking” when we’re entertaining friends, and my wife looks after much of the everyday food preparation.

Right now, Mrs W. is very busy in her work (for which I’m very grateful – freelancers need to “make hay whilst the sun shines”!) and that means that I need to pick up a few more tasks around the house. Combined with my need to eat healthily and carefully count calories (I still have another 5kg to lose before the end of March) I’m currently taking on most of the responsibility for our meals, spending a good chunk of the last two weekends in the kitchen, with a good share of my culinary creations heading towards the freezer for use as ready meals.

I’m no Masterchef contender, but my food generally seems to go down well, and it’s good to try something different from time to time. Last weekend, I was creating a Spanish-inspired meal for friends and I decided to make Crema Catalana for desert.  The recipe I followed is pretty simple but I found myself thrown by two things:

  1. “Cups” of ingredients (give me grammes, or even pounds and ounces).
  2. Strange terms like cornstarch (could that be cornflour?)

I finally found a use for a kitchen computer as, with a little help from my smartphone, I had determined that quantity in a “cup” depends on the product. There’s a handy reference at AllRecipes.com. So that was number 1 sorted. As for 2., well, yes “cornstarch” is what we, in England, call “cornflour” and there’s a useful Wikipedia entry on “International English” food terms.

[English is the language spoken by (most) people in England and adopted by many other nations. Some of the variations even make sense (color instead of colour, for example) but I speak, read and write English – and find the term “International English” to be nonsensical. There is English, and there is American, Australian, etc. I know that languages constantly evolve, but… OK, I’ll come down off my soapbox now.]

My time in the kitchen is not normally a topic for this blog but I thought these references might be useful for others. As well as for me, next time I’m confused by a recipe written in “International English”.

Trying to tether the Nokia Lumia 800

Since my company-supplied SIM stopped working in my iPad (it’s not blocked – it works in a 3G dongle, just not in the iPad…) I’ve been looking at other solutions. Before we switched from Vodafone to O2, I had a fantastic Wi-Fi router but the software needs a Vodafone SIM so that’s not working for me any more.  Another option is to use my smartphone as a modem: my company-supplied iPhone does not have the personal hotspot functionality enabled (and it’s not jailbroken either), so that leaves my personal Nokia Lumia 800; except that Internet sharing isn’t available on that device…

I spent a bit of time yesterday evening looking into this and, even though I was ultimately unsuccessful, I thought I’d share my research, in case it comes in useful later:

  • If you’re thinking of using the Lumia 800 as a Bluetooth modem, you’re out of luck.  According to Nokia’s device specifications the supported Bluetooth profiles are A2DP 1.2, AVCTP 1.0, AVDTP 1.0, AVRCP 1.0, AVRCP 1.3, GAVDP 1.2, HFP 1.5, HSP 1.1, PBAP 1.0, RFCOMM 1.0, and SPP 1.0. It’s also missing FTP, OPP and GEOP so file/contact transfers are out of the question too…
  • Nokia Lumia 800 driver installation fails on Windows 7For a cable-based solution, there is a method of tethering LG and Samsung phones that involves enabling diagnostics mode and switching into serial mode (more information at ilaptopphone.com, mywpstory.com and mobilitydigest.com). I used the same method to switch the Lumia into serial mode (requires a reboot and disables Zune sync, until you switch it back again) but Windows was unable to find any drivers.
  • Windows Phone connection not shared errorInternet Sharing in Windows Phone settingsInternet sharing tile on Windows Phone, enabled with Supreme ShortcutsThe Supreme Shortcuts app was another route I tried – it can be used (on an unlocked phone) to enable an Internet Sharing icon for a Settings option that’s hidden on the Lumia 800. Sadly, turning it on results in a dialogue that says “Internet sharing isn’t currently available” – I suspect I might be able to do something in the registry, if only there was an interop unlock available for the Lumia 800, and there isn’t at the time of writing…

There is a glimmer of hope though. Some reports indicate that Nokia will enable tethering in a future update (I believe the Lumia 900 has this feature) but there is no date given yet (just some time in 2012).  I do hope it comes soon though – the Lumia 800 is a great handset but it’s held back by far too many artificial software limitations…