Howto: Twitter sms notification for Meteor and Vodafone

A few weeks ago Twitter annoyed a lot of European users when they stopped sending sms notifications to their users. I never really used that facility so I didn’t miss it but many Tweeters did. Outrage and blue murder were spoken of in the same sentence. People marched in the streets, there were riots.

OK, maybe not, but it annoyed a few prolific Tweeters and I wondered aloud if I could make Tweet Tweet send me sms notifications when I got replies or direct messages. After quite a bit of testing and playing around with Meteor’s website I’m glad to say I cracked it. I added hooks to my plugin for other plugins to latch on to, and wrote a small bit of code that logs in to Meteor.ie and uses their free web text to notify me of replies or direct messages.

Following on from that success, Jason Roe added code so Irish Vodafone customers could get sms notifications too!

So, if you really miss the sms notifications from Twitter, and you’re an Irish Meteor or Vodafone customer, download Tweet Tweet, install it in your WordPress blog and enjoy getting those sms notifications from Twitter again!

Developers – if your phone company isn’t covered just yet, please take a look at the existing Meteor and Vodafone plugins. The framework is there. Using curl to login and send texts can be a little daunting but it’s not impossible. Get in touch by leaving a comment here, or using the contact form on the about page.

PS. Almost forgot to mention Tweetrush went live yesterday with some very nice Twitter stats. Check out what my friend AJ has to say about the launch!
PPS. I’ll be demoing Tweet Tweet at Techludd Cork on Thursday night. If you’re there, please say hi!

Long term review: Sony Ericsson W810i phone

Sony Ericsson W810i

A year ago I pondered buying a Sony Ericsson K750i but eventually bought it’s big brother, the Sony Ericsson W810i instead. At the time I was impressed, especially with the panorama function of the camera, but I’ve grown to loath this piece of technology in the year since I bought it. Here’s why.

  • “Message waiting, Too many messages. Delete some from any folder. Delete now? Despite the fact there’s a 512MB memory stick plugged into the side, the phone can only store about 130 text messages. My old Nokia 7650 spoiled me. I rarely deleted any text messages but this phone is always on the brink of being full. That’s a problem I can accept, except it’s buggy. For some reason the phone checks the sim card memory and asks me to delete messages from there too, even though messages are delivered to phone memory. That is very annoying.
  • Keyboard Lock – during a call the Menu button becomes the End Call button. After finishing a call, if the other party hangs up first and I don’t hit “End Call” fast enough it reverts back to the Menu function. Hitting that brings up the main menu of course. On a Sony Ericsson, the keyboard lock sequence is “*” “Menu”. See where I’m going? To lock the phone I need to exit the menu and then hit that sequence of keys. Why couldn’t you just copy what Nokia do with their “Menu” “*” sequence? It just works better.
  • Walkman – I have no use for the Walkman function. That’s my own fault for picking the wrong phone, but it had a good camera, integrated radio and the price was right. What I can complain about is the too-prominent position of the Walkman button. It’s way too easy to click.
  • Durability – the phone seems to be quite delicate. For the most part it sits on my desk, but about a month ago while out, it slipped from my hand. Since then the phone hasn’t been itself. At random, it will reset and a message appears on screen about an inactive sim card. I need to remove the battery to restore it.
  • Meteor, my phone company, decided in their wisdom that the first two items on the phone menu would cause the phone to go online. The first link went to their homepage before I changed it to my own blog and the second is a generic “Meteor WAP” icon. To prevent the phone accidentally going online I dug through the preferences and now clicking those icons brings up a username/password form. Much better than potentially expensive GPRS bills.

On the plus side, sound quality is good, battery life is ok. Camera is excellent for what it is. Images are noisy, but it’s packed full of features. I love the panorama function. The included memory stick makes it easy to copy files to and from my PC or Mac.

Would I buy a Sony Ericsson phone again? If they had a sensible keyboard locking sequence, then maybe. As it is, I’m going back to Nokia. For my next phone I would like a bog-standard device that makes calls, can store hundreds of texts, has at least a 2MP camera and a memory card.
Any suggestions?

Roaming in America

One of the problems with traveling is the cost of calling home. I enabled roaming on Meteor, but it’s a bit pricey at €1.39/minute or €0.32/sms. I checked roam4free as well but that appears to be more expensive yet at €2.50/min.

Enter Skype where I can buy credits and call an Irish landline for €0.02/min or Irish mobile phone for €0.184. It’s great as everywhere in San Francisco I’ve traveled to has WiFi access. This morning I roamed about the house with my laptop in hand, headset on and spoke to my wife Jacinta for over 18 minutes and it cost me less than €4. That’s pretty cool and it was great to hear her and baby Adam.

It’s not quite the same sort of roaming but WiFi is fairly ubiquitous in the United States, so Skype on my laptop is painless, and very cheap.

Later … Out of curiosity I checked how much it costs to ring a mobile phone from an Irish landline. I use UTV’s service and Skype is cheaper at all times except for the weekend. Crazy stuff!

Is the Sony Ericsson K750i a good upgrade?

I’ve had a Nokia 6320 or something like that for well over a year so I think it’s about time I treat myself to a mobile phone upgrade on my Meteor account. My brother bought a Sony Ericsson K750i, I had a brief play with it and I’m impressed. This review from last year paints a rosy picture also but it’s only one of a number of phones available from Meteor.

What do I need my mobile phone to do besides the basic calling functions?

  • A half-decent camera would be nice. I don’t want a 1.3MP sensor! The K750i has a 2MP sensor. That will do nicely.
  • I’d prefer a radio to an mp3 player but having both would be a bonus.
  • A messaging system that deletes all reports with one push of a button is very desirable. Some of the Nokias make you delete the delivery reports one by one!
  • I don’t like clam shell phones, but I could be swayed.
  • I don’t care about owning the newest and greatest phone on the market and I’m price conscious. As my bills are low each month I want to go for the cheapest call package which Meteor offer. That would be Meteor 60 I think.

Decisions, decisions. I probably won’t get a chance to go into a Meteor store today but maybe sometime over the next few weeks.

Update! I bought the Sony Ericsson W810i. Here’s my mini review and initial impressions. There’s not much between it and the K750i that I can see except:

  • It comes with speakers which could be useful for the radio/mp3 player but probably not.
  • It has a 512MB memory stick duo card.
  • Battery life is reduced.
  • The styling is a little different. The camera doesn’t have a slide-open cover.

Initial impressions are good except:

  • When texting, the predictive text engine, T9, pops up a small window with a choice of words or symbols by default. I turned that off. Choosing a new word requires the use of the small joystick instead of the * key. Something I’ll get used to, but so far it means I need to type 2-handed.
  • Delivery reports are switched off too, but that’s been the case with every phone I’ve owned. As Donal said in the comments, the report doesn’t go into my inbox! Woo!
  • The SPACE character shares the # key instead of the 0 key. It’s a minor niggle but I find the space in the middle of the keyboard is easier to tap with my large hands.
  • The SIM card is a pain to get out requiring 2 fingers to push and pull it out.

Those are mostly minor problems, and some are from familiarity with Nokia phones. My first phone was a Panasonic and it had the space character on the # key too so I know it’ll become second nature to me eventually. I like the camera. It’s a 2MP sensor, adjustable exposure value, white balance and even has an illuminating light. Movies are stored in 3gp format but I’m sure there are ways of converting them to an online-friendly format if I look. The Walkman app looks promising and I’ll play wih it a little more once I’ve added a few mp3s to the memory stick.

The W810i has a handy panorama feature where the phone will stitch together 3 photos to make one larger image. It displays a semi-transparent portion of the previous image on the left of the screen for overlap purposes to allow you to line up the next shot. It works quite well too. Here’s a shot from O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar in Blackpool shopping center this morning.

Meteor Stealing From Customers

It would appear that Meteor have adding a surcharge for downloading ringtones off their website. Even downloading a special “free” ringtone priced at €0.00 attracted a delivery charge of €3.39.
Who downloads ringtones? Kids and teenagers mostly, but of course the parents pick up the tab.
Don’t get smug if you’re an O2 customer, they charge for delivery of their ringtones too but couldn’t offer a means of calculating the cost.
Want a ringtone? Use Audacity to edit your favourite mp3 to your liking and copy it to your phone. Copying to the phone is left as an exercise for the reader but could be as easy as purchasing a USB card reader. (via Dave)

"Us" in Ireland

Ray D’Arcy who presents a show on Today FM wants everyone to take photos next Saturday! The photos will be collected and printed in a book titled, “Us” with all proceeds going to charity. The book will capture a snapshot of Irish society that day.

To submit your photos, email them to us @ todayfm.com on Saturday. Photos will not be accepted before that date but I think they will accept contributions afterwards because not everyone has access to a computer at the weekend.
They’re targeting the mobile phone brigade too, and I’m sure Vodafone, O2, Meteor and 3 and ringing their hands in glee at the prospect of so much gprs data being transmitted across their expensive networks!

One issue I haven’t heard mentioned is that of model release forms. A release form is required if a photo is to be published commercially (although news items differ I think?). I emailed them about an hour ago but it was near the end of the show. Hopefully they’ll respond tomorrow.

I’ll be out taking shots on Saturday around Cork City, and perhaps elsewhere. I’d love to have a photo published! :)

Later… looks like they ignored my email and text about model release forms. Hope they don’t get into trouble over that.

My Meteor – why don't you work in Firefox?

There’s only 3 mobile phone companies in Ireland, Vodafone, O2 and Meteor. I’ve been a customer of each and am currently with Meteor. That might change however as their newly redesigned meteor.ie website doesn’t work properly in Firefox. They offer 300 free texts from their site but when one hits the “SEND” button nothing happens.
If you’re a Meteor user mail info@meteor.ie with your phone number and your PIN, or 3 phone numbers you’ve rung in the past month (for verification).
Ask them politely to fix their website so it works in Mozilla Firefox! The Javascript error I get is,

Error: window.smsForm has no properties
Source File: https://www.mymeteor.ie/mymeteor/phone_book/send_sms.cfm
Line: 295

Oh, and last time I checked, Vodafone’s website offers 300 texts a month and it did work in Firefox.
Later – Niall suggested entering your text message, phone number, and instead of hitting “SEND” copy and paste the following code into the URL address bar and press return: javascript:window.document.smsForm.submit();
Now how hard is that for Meteor to fix?