The Symbian is FINALLY dead!


I think it was just a matter of time before this happens…

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(Anodised aluminium monocoque case – that is what grabs you when you see a N8 for the first time. That’s what happened to me and it became my first smartphone and it remained until it was clear that it’s OS, Symbian^3 will no longer be developed with new releases. Image source: http://mobilemegamall.com)

My venture to smartphones probably triggered by an incident at a car park – the parking attendant with dirty short pants & flip-flops was updating his status on Facebook with an iPhone. It then occurred to me that the age of smartphone is already here and somehow I had missed catching the boat.

So, back in January 2011, I went back and finally got myself a smartphone. Despite of my friends choosing between Android powered phones and iPhone, I picked Nokia’s flagship phone – the Symbian^3 powered Nokia N8 (which was released in September 2010). After all, back then Nokia was one of the biggest and well-known phone makers out there. Unfortunately despite it coming with a rather impressive set of specifications, something was missing. It took almost 1.5 years for Nokia (I am sure after numerous complaints) to come with the right firmware updates to its robust Symbian OS to move forward the N8 to the level that is in par with the more developed & widely used smartphone OSes – namely Android and iOS. The only let-down of N8 when it comes with comparing with other smartphones out there was on the hardware. N8 had very little RAM, not-so-impressive processing power and a rather bulky design although it fought back hard (and they won hands down) with the very best, fully downloadable Ovi Maps, anodised aluminium monocoque case, Gorilla Glass, AMOLED screen and 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens (still remains one of the best cameras in the Nokia line-up – the other is the 41 mega pixel PureView on the 808).

With its last update to Nokia Belle Refresh last year, it remained a good robust smartphone to have – battery storage was not so bad (my friend’s Android smartphone had an even worse power storage despite having a larger battery – but it could be due to Wi-fi) and the onboard maps & GPS came very handy when driving through unfamiliar roads. But it was still lacking when it comes to apps – not that I am complaining much on that (I rarely download anything else but games and I do have a good selection of games that would keep me engaged for hours and without draining the battery drastically). I have dropped the phone a couple of times but it is still working. In the last 2.5 years, the only major problem that I had with this phone was on the power circuits which got “fried” twice and had to be replaced. I have myself to blame for that – as it only happened after a long and heavy usage of the phone on games. So, other than that, it was good enough for call, SMSes, navigation, emails, internet surfing and yes, games.

After Nokia Belle Refresh and despite Nokia fiddling with Microsoft’s Windows Phone in 2011, there was still hope that Nokia will provide on some form of updates now and then for the Symbian^3 OS. But when at the end of 2012 Nokia decided to go full swing on Windows Phone and came up with their new flagship smartphone – the Nokia Lumia 920 which runs on the latest Windows Phone 8 OS, it was clear that Symbian^3 is going to take a back seat and it will be going to be rare to see any form of a solid firmware updates coming along the way anything soon for Symbian phones. It was ageing too and too complicated for quick updates – Symbian turned 16 years old this year but it has not moved that far with innovations.

Read here on the interesting story on Symbian and why it died.

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(Smartphones these days handles more than just making calls and sending SMSes -we use it to watch videos, listen to music, take photos and videos, surf the net, GPS navigation, check emails, play games and use it as a mobile knowledge tool. Thus it need to have a strong robust hardware and a long lasting battery. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)

Yet, I was still happy with my N8 until beginning of this year when my wife’s phone (the much older Nokia 6300 series) started to have battery problems. And she also wanted to move on to the smartphone landscape since all her other siblings are using smartphones as well. So, one night she popped the question – when I am going to change my phone? And lately as her old phone problem started to get worse (and my kids wanting mobile entertainment, games and music) and me always being on the move, it was time for me to look for a new phone – one that does not run on the soon to be dead Symbian.

So I turn and weighed my options and I started with getting the right OS for my next phone. Like my older N8, it came with solid hardware but at end of the day, the OS was stagnant. I turned down Windows Phone 8 from my list outright – firstly it was still new and I am not sure if Nokia or Microsoft will change their directions again in the coming months. It is also claimed to be weak. iOS was popular but since it only runs on an iPhone, it was expensive, inflexible and some of the hardware sucked (I know some of the iPhone fans would differ the thought on this).

And that leaves me with Android and there is a couple of choice of models with various specification and prices to choose from. From the top range HTC and Samsung Galaxy smartphones to some low range CSL smartphones, it would not be easy for me to pick one to replace the sturdy Nokia N8. So, I decided to list down some specifications and then match them with what the market has to offer.

This is what I had in mind – it must run at least the latest Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and it should have a gracious RAM & processing power (a minimum a du0 core and I GB RAM – the Nokia N8 was running a low 256MB RAM but at most time, it was enough). I also do not want to spend too much money on the phone – as technology moves along, the price will come down. So why spend too much on something when there are cheaper alternatives or prices will come down soon.

sony-xperia-sp-02

(Sony Xperia SP is well made, looks beautiful and punch with strong hardware and runs on the popular Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 OS. Image source: http://www.sonymobile.com)

After a while of “research” and comparing the various specifications – I decided on Sony Xperia SP which was launched in Malaysia sometime in April 2013 and comes with an impressive 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 8 megapixel camera, a sturdy aluminium frame, internal storage of almost 6GB, slot for microSD up to 32GB and a 4.6 inch Gorilla Glass display. It is claimed to be the fastest dual-core phone yet, better in performance than Samsung Galaxy Note II and HTC One X+. It is also claimed to be one of the best mid-price smartphones money can buy.

It also has something that most of the other smartphones out there does not have – light effect so displays different colour light at the bottom notification bar for call & SMS actions (it also lights up for music which looks very cool and it also lights up in red when charging and turns green once it reaches 90% plus charged). Other specifications are pretty much standard with other smartphones out there although I preferred it’s speakers to be on the side instead on the back (same thing on the N8 which muzzles out the sound when the phone is placed on it’s back although in the Xperia SP, the camera lens cover lift enough space for speakers)

And since Malaysia mobile operators are moving ahead with 4G LTE and part of the country can support 4G, Xperia SP already comes with built-in support for 4G & NFC. Compared with some of the other premium phones that support 4G & NFC, Xperia SP seemed to be more affordable too. The official selling price is RM1,299 but some dealers are selling it for RM1,099 (probably after the smartphone rebate of RM200). I am able to use back the Nokia’s USB charger for this phone – so I don’t need to worry about charging the phone which can last for 4 days with its “STAMINA” feature set on (and if I don’t play games or surfing the net).

It is not the end of Symbian though. My older Nokia N8 had found a new owner – my wife who soon got herself busied with the ins and outs of using a smartphone and her grand master on this is not me but rather my son who had also “explored” my new phone even before I could get my hands on it and checked all its features. Symbian somehow lives on if you consider the phone range in the family but for me at least, it is finally dead. It is time for Android and what it can do (or rather what I am going to do with it) in the coming months.

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Criminals Not Fear of the Law?


(Sorry for missing out on a post last week – something cropped up and I have moved to the dark side of Android. More of this coming up soon)

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(This may look funny but it is hardly a laughing matter, especially when it is not safe to venture out these days. Psst, the whole ATM machines still get “screwed” to this day. Image source: http://www.flickriver.com)

Well, it was not a big surprise:-

Criminals have no fear of the police and are even daring enough these days to rob during dinners, weddings and funerals. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who is Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman, said the criminals believe they won’t get caught due to poor law enforcement. “I feel we have lagged in terms of law enforcement that strikes fear in the hearts of the criminals,” he said.

(Source)

And

A survey by the International Islamic University Malaysia’s (IIUM) Communication department has shown that crime is the number one concern among Malaysians. IIUM lecturer Prof Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Idid said the results of the nationwide study, conducted between April 6 and 14, showed that crime had surpassed economic woes as the main worry. One out of every three adult respondents said crime had become a national problem.

(Source)

And

M. Danaletchumi pleaded with the robbers and told them her family was poor before she felt the sharp pain on her head and saw blood gushing out from her thumb. A robber had hit the 50-year-old with the handle of a parang and cut her thumb when told there was not much money in the house.

(Source)

Criminals striking fear in broad daylight is nothing new. Even the VVIPs are not spared (if you recall this)

Some weeks ago, I badly needed a good haircut but I had been putting away the visit to my favourite barber until last week. When I finally had the time, I went over to the place and found the barber’s assistant had taken leave and there were about 4 customers waiting for their turn. The barber busy with one of the customer, looked at me when I walked in and asked if I could come back later – there were too many customer at moment and he soon need to take his break. So I went back, took a quick nap and a couple hours later, I came back, hoping that there would be fewer customers by now.

As I parked my car right in front of the barber shop, I noticed a group of young motorcyclists looking at me rather suspiciously. Although I saw them and be more alert than usual, I “ignored” them as I walked into the barber shop – they seemed to be minding their own business and I knew the barber rather well. I waited for my turn and kept looking out at the men outside, hoping they would not do anything “funny” to my car and when it came to my turn, I realized that I am the last customer for the day before the barber closes the shop for the day. Soon, there was no one in the barber shop other than me and the barber and I noticed the motorcyclists that I met earlier were still around in front of the barber shop, occasionally throwing their glances at the barbershop and one was standing quite close to my car.

Soon I realized there were silence (as the barber busied himself with the haircut) and somehow my “spidey senses” went all out high – I started imagining – I imagined a group of men rushing into the barber shop with parang and sticks. It would have been an easy pick for them – me with the key for the my car right outside the shop, phone and wallet with plenty of money and the barber with his collection for the day and mind you, with no other witnesses or CCTV to catch them in the act. Somehow the barber stopping and keep looking out at the group outside did not really help to improve the situation.

Then I heard someone opening the front door and I told myself – “damn, this was it! this was the end” My eyes quickly scanned on the barber’s table looking for any kind of weapon that I could use to defend myself – sharp scissors, shaving blades, hair oil, etc. But just then, the barber spoke out and said that he is closing the shop. Oh, another late customer wanting to get a hair-cut. The customer smiled and then walked out without any incident but somehow I knew it was not over until the barber had done his job (and I was safely back in my car). Then I heard the shutter door coming down – the criminals are drawing down the shutter doors so that they can rob without any interruption? Damn, again. But then it was a no, it was just the barber’s friend who had brought in some meal and kept the shutter down halfway to prevent any other customers walking in. With his friend keeping us company and the barber finishing the haircut, only then I started to feel a bit ease. The motorcyclists who I saw earlier no where to be seen and no one had touched my car.

This is reality of things these days and it started to be getting worse – nowadays it is even not safe even you have plenty of people around (as in restaurants and funerals). So when the Government comes back and keep saying that the rate of crime has been getting lower, one really need to question on its source and whether the police is placing the right priority in managing it’s limited resources. Not when we have this kind of nonsense:-

Student leader Mohd Safwan Anang has also been arrested by police. He was picked up at about 7pm from his house in Sungai Buloh and was taken to the Dang Wangi police station. It is believed that his arrest is in connection with the Black 505 rally at Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya, on Saturday.

(Source)

Come on lah, which is a more serious concern to Malaysians out there? A bunch of people saying out aloud their opinion on the political issues in the country OR need to face violent criminals who struck without any fear or care on diners on broad daylight? Let’s leave the play of gutter politics to the politicians and the police left to focus on the real security issues out there – the enforcement of law and ensuring that the crime rate really goes down, not merely at statistical level but also in common citizen’s perception level.

After all, if it had come to a stage when it does not feel safe to have a simple haircut, I am not sure what else can go wrong and be worse. It’s time to make criminals to know that whatever they do, they can be caught and fear the consequences of breaking the law through effective policing and enforcement. And we cannot do that without an good increase in the force on ground, relocation of the limited resources from non essential investigations (like the one that involves opposition politicians), perhaps more CCTVs and mobile police beats in place at crime prone areas, substantial increase of punishment for armed crimes (looking at the hudud laws makes a lot of sense now) and lastly perhaps banning the pesky “kapchai” (yes, the very favourite mode of transportation for snatch thieves, menacing mat rempits, armed robbers and cold blood assassins) from the roads.

Damn Those Shoddy Roadworks!


Pothole_Repair_Image

(The right way to do a patch for potholes – instead of covering only the hole, cut a bigger area and patch in the right way and follow up on the patch work. How many times you have seen this in the Bolehland? Image source: http://www.gallagherpaving.com)

Read these stories back in 2011:-

Whether in residential or commercial areas, travelling around the city often means a bumpy ride because of the potholes and badly patched stretches of roads. In many places, roads in good condition are dug up by utility and telecommunications companies for the laying of pipes and cables. They are then badly resurfaced.

In April, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng had highlighted at least six places in his constituency where roads were dug up without a permit. A spokesperson from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) corporate communications department confirmed that there have been cases where contractors operate without approval from DBKL.

“If we find out that they have no permit, we will contact the respective companies. If the dug-up areas have not been patched up or resurfaced, we will do it for them and issue them the bill. “We have also found out that many contractors appointed by the companies have no expertise in resurfacing roads,” he said.

(Source)

And

Most councils require a deposit from companies before they are allowed to carry out any roadwork. If the council finds the resurfacing job has not been done properly, resulting in sedimentation on the road, the deposit is then forfeited. It has been reported that RM500,000 per kilometre is needed to carry out road resurfacing.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said the two causes for the bad road conditions in the Klang Valley were the old method of patching the holes as well as underground water leakage. “There are also contractors who take the easy way out to save money,” he said. However, there is not enough enforcement to check on the quality of roadworks. In his constituency alone, there are holes from digging work that have been left as they are for months, especially in Segambut Dalam, Mont Kiara and Hartamas.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said 80% of the potholes and uneven roads were caused by utilities and telecommunication companies digging up the roads to install and repair their cables. He said there were so many of such roadworks that it had become an embarrassment to DBKL because the blame was often laid at its door.

(Source)

The road near my workplace was bad so much so that I was even contemplating of buying a 4 wheel drive vehicle for my daily commute. It was a similar case with another stretch of road near my housing area. It gets worse – certain part of the road gets flooded once it rains. Then one day, a couple of days before the general election, a “miracle” happened and it happened overnight – it could have been one of the pre-election goodies. The road was resurfaced and to a quality that all Malaysians can be proud of. And the level of the road has been raised to ensure it does not get flooded whenever it rains. And it was so for a couple of weeks until some bastards decided that they need to dig up the whole stretch of the beautifully resurfaced road to do some piping work and they decided to do this at peak hours. They closed one part of the road, causing the already terrible traffic jam to be even worse. And then they started digging and that lasted for few days. Then they do the worse kind of patching work ever once done. The patch work was not the same level of the road and ended up as mini bumps all over the place. Some started to form into mini potholes. And after a couple of days of rain, it went bad to worse.

Potholes and bad road work is not new in Malaysia – as far as one can remember, this has been so for many years. Whenever I see the excavator digging into the beautifully laid road (resurfaced with taxpayers’ money), it pains me greatly. And it has been a norm in Bolehland to see some buggers digging up the road just after it has been perfectly laid on and not before that. Don’t these idiots plan before they do things? Don’t they check first with the relevant authorities and get their approval to ensure that whatever roadwork to be done is done before the road is scheduled to be resurfaced? Don’t they realize that they causing the taxpayers some serious money to resurface the road again? Probably they are the same idiots who queue up at the express lane at the supermarkets with more than 10 items despite a large notice at the counters.

Never mind, let’s assume that they are digging up all over the place in the “best interest” of their paying consumers. After all, wouldn’t we all be making a lot noise when our internet gets disconnected or the water supply breaks down unannounced? And let’s assume that that they are unable to plan the digging before the road is resurfaced due to some unavoidable circumstances, red-tapes at the local authority or to some serious emergency (where they could not afford to wait). The next question in mind is why these buggers can’t resurface back the road in a proper way and without the bulging patch all over the place or the sink-holes (due to insufficient top soil, heavy traffic or bad weather). Can’t they put themselves in the shoe of the long suffering road users who have to ply the same road and risk serious damage to their vehicles after that shoddy patch work?

After all, if they know how to dig, they also should know how to patch, right? No excuse of them not being well-verse with road-work or their sub-contractor not doing job to the right specifications and quality (it’s alright if it looks ugly or messy but at least it need to be strong enough to take the usual stress and not turn into a bigger pothole). No excuses of the weather (the usual sorry excuse) or heavy traffic on the road – it is already known fact, so whatever patch work done must take this into consideration. Unfortunately instead, we get the usual quick fix of placing back the content dug out and then pouring the bitumen on the pothole and simply patch it to cover the hole – some to the same size of the hole instead of a bigger area and leaving plenty of spaces for water to seep in and make it worse.

Why the shoddy work? Is it because someone is trying to make that extra bit of profit from saving up money to be spent on a proper patch work? Or is it because it has been sub-contracted to less competent contractors – one who has less experience, skills and the know-how but formed just to milk the lucrative Government projects? And what happened to the enforcement aspect of the local authorities inspecting the patch work and to ensure that it is up to mark and if it is not, to force the contractors to redo the patch work or fine them left right center for the poor patch work (and then use the fine to do a proper resurfacing later or to reimburse motorists who suffered damages to their vehicles). Do that and they will think twice of short-changing the taxpayers when it comes to doing a good job – can we?

And since potholes have been with us since the creation of the roadways, are we also looking on whether we need to improve on how we tackle potholes with new technologies. Or are we still far off from this kind of long term solution for a long outstanding problem. In the meantime, we should be up arms against anyone who dig up the roads but don’t bother to take the time and proper care to do a professional repair work. After all, this is eating up into the taxpayers funds in the long run and creates unnecessary danger to all road users.

Dumbass Mechanic 2


Update 1: The problem finally solved! I went to my usual workshop (with proper appointment) and I did not had to wait for long. The mechanic took almost 1 hour to resolve the problem. The ECU was flashed and the brake switch was checked and reinstalled. The check engine warning light went away and it remained so. The mechanic informed me that I should not have the problem (not like the previous dumbass mechanic) but went further to say that if the problem still remained, the next course of action would be to change the entire brake switch itself.

Back to the original post…

Read the first instance here

check engine light

(The last thing I expected to see on any car is the check engine warning light and that too on a well maintained new car. But I understand that over time all things will deteriorate and breaks down. The important thing is to get it fixed on time and without much hassle. The last thing we need is a dumbass mechanic in the equation. Image source: http://www.progressiveautogroup.com)

It was almost a perfect ride up North last weekend – the morning was cold, the traffic was light and the music on the radio was good. It was a good time to “clear those carbons” from the exhaust (I noticed that the fuel consumption often improves greatly after a long journey north).

I had my grandma in the car (she followed us to go to her younger brother’s house which was on our way) so I had to ensure that I make the necessary stop for this fragile old lady who is still going strong at a very old age. Just when I was thinking of stopping at the next R&R after Tapah, I noticed something flashing up on the dashboard – something I missed earlier because I had my left hand “covering” it (I hold the top of the steering wheel with my left and the bottom with my right). The check engine warning light was on – it never appeared before and I just did a major service to the car couple weeks ago. Maintenance has been top-notch and I don’t push the car to its limits.

Certainly something was amiss here and stopping at the next R&R made a lot of sense – I was also worried that there could be a bigger problem with the engine (although I did not notice any difference in performance and the fuel consumption kept improving). We stopped and immediately my wife, my son and my grandma got out stretching their legs and then head to the toilet, leaving the baby at the back seat (she was sleeping) and under my care. I double checked on the baby and she was sleeping rather nicely. I checked on the buttons inside the car – to make sure I had not pressed any of the wrong buttons or dials. I switch off the ignition and on again but the check engine warning light was still on. Since the baby was sleeping and my wife had came back, I switched off the engine and got out of the car and did a quick check to the air-intakes – nothing out of the ordinary. I went back in and counted to ten and switch on the ignition – the check engine warning light came on for a moment and then it went off.

I thought that was the end of it until after we had reached our destination and after driving around the town, the warning light lighted up again (good thing, it was not flashing which is an indicator of a more serious problem). Unfortunately it was a Sunday and the authorised service was closed. As before, I tried to switch off and on the ignition and as before, the check engine light went off.

I decided to head to the nearest service centre near home first thing in the morning the next day. I decided to go to the one near my house instead of the one in Taiping because I already expecting to be wasting my time at the service centre for the whole day (hallmark of any car service centre in the country, I suppose). We left to KL quite early in the morning – hoping to reach the service centre near the house as early as possible. Throughout the journey back, the check engine light did not lit up and the journey was smooth and uneventful. By the time we reached home, it was already 9 in the morning. The warning light still did not lit up. So I decided to go for a quick runabout for lunch and some investment and 2 packets of cold cendol first (it was worse in Taiping). Perhaps the long run back to KL had perhaps cleared something and everything was back to normal. So I thought. With plenty of time to kill, I decided to cancel my trip to the service centre and head out for some chores in PJ. Just as I drive out from my residential area, the nagging check engine warning light was back!

Feeling frustrated, I made a U-turn and headed straight to the nearest service centre, hoping that there will be few cars on queue on the appointment. It was not. I reached there almost at 12 pm and saw the customer area full of people (some were even sleeping on the sofa – they must have come in early) – thankfully I already an early lunch. I told the sweet lady behind the counter that I did not have an appointment but I was willing to wait as long as I could get to the bottom of the nagging check engine warning light. The lady told me that there were plenty of cars to be checked for the day but she was willing to slot me in (those who came in later without any appointment was promptly turned away).

So I waited for my turn by drinking the freebie water, reading the same old magazine over and over again and of course, taking short naps on the sofa.

It was almost 4 pm when I saw the mechanic looking at the charge sheets on the wall and selected mine. I followed him to the working area as he parked my car in the working bay and hook it up to the diagnostic computer. I stood next to him and explained on what had happened but he was not listening to me. He was seriously looking at the computer screen and waited as it run through a series of tests. I gave him the benefit of the doubt – after all, he is the professional, well trained mechanic and he knows what he is doing.

All were in green until one red mark popped up – the stop light seemed to have short-circuited and need to be grounded (the stop light were still working though). He checked something in the car. He ran the test again and I noted the same error message was still displaying on the screen. He went back and checked something – I could not see what he was doing under the dashboard and then suddenly he disconnected the computer and started to drive out the car from the working area.

He did not update me on what was the problem and what has been fixed. I caught him and asked him what was the problem and has it been fixed – he with a blur face (or rather surprised face) remarked that it has been “solved”. He then drove around the car, slammed on the brakes a couple of times and then parked it. He walked to me and passed back the keys and said settled. I asked if the problem would occur again and his remarks (with the same blur face) were “maybe, if yes, bring back the car”. It was not as assuring as I wished it to be. What the fuck he meant by “maybe”? Did he and did he not fixed the problem? And why the comment “bring back the car” – as if I had nothing better to do in my life.

I didn’t trust the mechanic, not by the way he responded to me. Just to be sure, I drove around – I still had to settle some of the outstanding errands but I kept with one eye on the dashboard. The check engine warning light did not come back for rest of the day. Perhaps the mechanic did fixed the nagging problem for good. I had a good night sleep that day – at least one problem has been resolved. The next morning as I got ready to drive to work, I was suspicious but the check engine warning light remained switched off. Is everything back to normal? Unfortunately it was not – I left the workplace in the evening and barely 10 minutes into the journey back home, the check engine warning light lit again and it has been so for past few days. Switching on and off the ignition somehow solves the issue but not on long term basis – I am not sure what else is being damaged in the process.

Damn that mechanic! Now I have waste my time again to make appointment and get my car checked again at another service centre – hopefully one that has less dumbass mechanics.