Dual SIM is Better Than One

Nokia Researcher Younghee Jung has an fascinating two-part post about how people are hacking their phones to support multiple phone numbers.

We found a service offered by a local mobile phone dealer (Mobile Phone People, one of the Nokia authorized dealers) in Ghana. It costs 15 euros to have the two SIM cards combined into one. There is an even more advanced operation, which requires a special SIM card imported from Finland. This card can host up to 16 SIM cards into one, but costs 40 euroes. Either of these operations costs considerably high for the market, as it is more than purchasing a mobile phone. Therefore the clientele is mostly business people who do need to have two or more numbers but do not want to go through the inconvenience of switching SIM cards or carrying multiple phones.

I did a little research and it turns out the 16 in 1 SIM cards are no longer available but you can still pick up a 6 in 1 backup kit for $50 and clone your existing SIMs onto a single chip. Features include:

  • Fast number switching, normally takes less than 30 seconds (phone dependence)
  • Dual speed (9600/19200bps) USB SIM reader/writer, allow scanning old SIM card which can’t be scanned with high speed.
  • Allow to edit SIM card name for easy identification of which SIM is being used
  • Allow to show either SIM name, operator name or SIM + operator name on the phone. (phone dependence)
  • Super large phone book capacity with 250 contacts and 50 SMS
  • Supports English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese user interface
  • Manage SMS and contacts in PC with “SIM Editor”

*It should go without saying, that cloning your SIM most likely violates your agreement with your mobile provider.

Foursquare 2010 Infographic

Foursquare has published a beautiful infographic highlighting tidbits gleened from the collective check-in activity of their global audience of over 5 million.

Current Events


Custom, made-to-order merchandise was a feature of the fashion industry for many years. Think Saville Row custom made suits way back or mail order catalog goods such as the L.L. Bean monogrammed tote bag or Land’s End sweater.

Recently, online sites have brought customized fashion to the footwear industry. Adidas and NikeiD sites below feature sophisticated design tools to create one of kind sneaker masterpieces.

Mi Adidas

Built-to-order computers were brought to the masses by Dell. Now the trend of built-to-order hardware has come to the cellphone industry. Here’s an outfit in the Germany that offers a custom-made phone. Synapse will start shipping built-to-order phones in Q1 2011.

Synapse Phones will start shipping in 2011

Will the two trends come together? Made-to-order fashion and built-to-order hardware? We’re seeing designer phones in Japan already.


Nokia N8, Big and Small

The promotional drumbeat grows ever louder as we get closer to the release of Nokia’s new handset, the Nokia N8. Nokia’s marketing machine is a wonder to see in action. Two promotions I thought particularly clever are both world record breakers and nicely bookend the catchphrase for the device, It’s not technology, it’s what you do with it.

Dot, the world’s smallest stop motion video. Commissioning the folks behind the Wallace and Gromit movies (Aardman Animations), the Dot short is made up thousands of frames shot on a mounted N8 using its 12-megapixel camera. Painstakingly, the team managed about 4-seconds of footage a day. When they were done, these were stitched together into a minute and a half stop motion movie.

Rosengård, the world’s largest projection screen. Going from micro to macro, a nine-story screen hoisted between two cranes served as the screen for an HD video signal projected from four massive projectors. Over 2,500 people (1,000 from the comfort of their balcony) were able to enjoy Prince of Persia, the Sands of Time fed by the HDMI port on an N8.

Moo Vision

ReadWriteWeb posts about Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company, releasing an Augmented Reality feature as part of their Scoop of Happiness iPhone app to increase consumer engagement (or should we say enthrallment?). What’s unique about this particular AR implementation is that it doesn’t require custom QR codes or other customization to be printed on the packaging to unlock the animation. All you need is to run the app and point it at the lid of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream carton and the app automatically recognizes the printed logo of the flavor. Collect all four and you unlock custom wallpapers for your phone.

Will automatic logo recognition become the norm? The video below imagines a world where this is the case.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.


N900 PR 1.2 – Like Christmas Day

I’ve been playing around with the most recent upgrade to the Nokia N900 and it really is like Christmas. There are so many little tweaks to the core OS that it really is like having a new phone again. Geek Christmas.

After reading about Jason’s experience, Skype video calling  was the first thing I tried. Skype chat has been running on the phone since I got it but it’s nice to know that I can run video chat as well when the fancy strikes me. I called around to a  few people in Finland and the video and voice quality was surprisingly good over 3G. Google Video chat is supported as well but the quality on Skype was much better.

Droid theme
Droid theme

Instead of reading all the coverage, I thought I’d just poke around for a few days and see what I found. Here are the highlights:

  • The browser now officially supports portrait mode. No need to hack it and you’ve got basic navigation on the bottom to so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth between landscape and portrait.
  • In Settings > Text Input there is an option to add a virtual keyboard. I later read that it was there before.
  • No need to use the Sym key to enter numbers! A longpress will use the alternate number or symbol.

You’ll definitely want to add the extra repositories to the Application Manager (here’s how) to sample all the cool projects folks are working on. Do this at your own risk of course but anyone with an N900 knows that right? Some new apps to recommend that I need to add to my Software for your N900 page:

  • grr – quick and easy Google Reader app.
  • gTranslate – app that uses the Google Translate service
  • gPodder – podcatcher client
  • WordPress – blogging client

One note, BarrioSquare, the FourSquare client for the N900, fails on this release. You can get it working again, just fire up vi and edit a single line in and modify a single line. Fixed in the latest update of BarrioSquare!

One of the coolest apps I found was eSpeak, an opensource text to speech reader. It has controls for amplitude, pitch, speed, and other controls that you can tweak to get it sounding ok but what I thought was really cool is that not only does it come with a bunch of languages including Esperanto (!), it also can read your text is one of seven English accents.


Here’s a clip of the West Indian accent reading a popular email newsletter. See if you can guess which one. (sorry, overplayed.mp3 clip lost to the sands of time)

The N900 is a tinker’s delight. There is so much you can do with this little box. You can root it, run xterm, install the latest Chrome browser. Check out the Instant Community prototype built by some students in Tampere along with Nokia Research, peer-to-peer disposable social networks.

Oh, and I should say the basic phone software improved, the sound quality seems better to me and I also get the feeling that performance has been optimized to improve battery life.

Evolution of Cell Phone Small

mobile-evolution-1Designer Kyle Bean makes Russian matryoshka dolls out of cell phones. From the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1983) to the Apple iPhone (2007).

Ringtone Symphony

Izumi pointed me this old video from the Improv Everywhere performance troupe in which they orchestrate the simultaneous ringing of a large number of cellphones stored in a normally quiet place.

Mayhem ensues.

Location, Location, Location

Great article in Ad Age about the significance of location-aware phones made the rounds yesterday. It’s not about the ‘text a Starbucks coupon when you walk by” type use case, it’s about engagement and brand utility.

“Everybody’s got a website, but nobody has a mobile experience right now,” he said. “Next year, probably the end of next year, if you pull your phone out and you’re in the Hilton hotel and it doesn’t tell you information about the Hilton, either your phone is broken or the Hilton’s broken. If you, as a business, own a location, you’ve got an interesting shot at reaching your customer.”


The promise lies in the realization that mobile isn’t just an ad play but an extension of the services and products businesses already offer. And location is one of the most important contextual clues a mobile phone can provide. “Mobile marketing will move beyond promotions and advertising,” said Kenneth Parks, senior VP-managing director at Digitas in Stanford, Conn. “It’ll be about mobile services that might be marketing but they’ll feel like services.”

and my favorite, from Dennis Crowley of Foursquare,

“There’s no such thing as information overload but filter failure,” said Mr. Crowley. “Location is one of those big filters we’ve been missing in a lot of stuff.”

Effective filters are topic near and dear to my heart and location is gearing up to be one of the best vectors we have to making this social/mobile web thing work.

Opera’s Next Movement

operaOpera has a cryptic splash page on its site announcing something wonderful in the near future for mobile browsers. What will it be?  Intomobile says that hints can be found in the source (I couldn’t find anything). What will it be?

If you want to read more substantive thoughts on the future of mobile browsing, check out Russell’s latest posts (one) and (two).

UPDATE: It’s here in Beta now! Here are all the deets…

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