Android Google Maps Zoom Limit

A couple of months back, I noticed that the Google Maps app on my LG Optimus One phone couldn’t zoom in as far as it could before (unless my memory is failing me). Below is the maximum zoom level on the phone

This is not the maximum zoom of the Google Maps android application as my ZTE V9 tablet can zoom in much further as shown below

While you may think that this is a trivial matter, it really rises as a problem when I look for tram stops and street names here in Melbourne. Take a look at the CBD of Melbourne in the screenshot below and see how problematic this is: I can’t see the names of the smaller streets and I have to tap each tram stop in order to see the stop name.

To rub salt into the wound, apps that use a map view can zoom in further than the Google Maps application! Below are screenshots via the Domain.com.au app.

I’ve tried to search for a reason for this discrepancy and have yet to find one. The map settings are both the same in the tablet and phone. CPU and RAM-wise, both devices are comparable: 600MHz each with about 420MB of RAM. Both devices are rooted with my Optimus One running the official Android 2.3.3 ROM from LG and the tablet running Android 2.3.7 via CyanogenMod. The only other difference would be screen size and resolution: 7″ 800 x 480 screen on the tablet and 3.2″ 480 x 320 screen on the phone.

Anybody who has a clue what’s going on, do let me know. Any help would be well appreciated.

[categories Android, Technology]

The Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
Earlier this year I bought the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder off eBay (US$105 including shipping) to be used as a line-in recording for my church but also for possible podcasting use. It has been used both as a stereo microphone as well as a line-in recorder for Corner Geeks. Check out the video review below or click this YouTube link

Overall, it’s a great budget recorder that can be powered over USB but sadly cannot be used as a USB microphone. I would highly recommend it for anybody who wishes to start recording interviews. If you wish for something a bit more compact the Tascam DR-08 may be better option.

Features (from samsontech)

  • Stereo X/Y mic configuration captures perfect stereo images
  • Same frequency and SPL handling as popular Zoom H2
  • Records Broadcast WAV (BWF) at 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz at 16-bit or 24-bit
  • Records MP3 from 48 to 320kbps for maximum recording time
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port (mini USB)
  • Built-in reference speaker
  • Includes 2GB microSD memory card and one AA battery
  • One AA size battery allows 10 hours operation
  • Accommodates up to 32GB microSDHC memory cards
  • Track marker function
  • Low cut filter
  • Built-in tripod mount (1/4″, 20 threads)
  • 1/8-inch (3.5mm) external mic input
  • 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo line output
  • Auto record level
  • Optional accessory package (APH-1) includes windscreen, AC adapter (USB type), USB cable, adjustable tripod stand, padded shell case and mic clip adapter

Other Notes

  • Can be used with either external microphone or line-in recording levels
  • Stereo microphones are angled such that in an interview, one mic can be pointed to the interviewer and other other the interviewee giving better sound separation
  • Can dynamically change recording levels while recording without having to stop the recording
  • If external microphone / line-in cable is removed, the recording automatically switches to the in-built microphone (the opposite is true as well: automatically switches to external microphone / line-in once connected)
  • Can be powered off USB after turning on the device: great if you’re low on battery. I’ve had some issues where connecting the USB port to power the device causes humming in the recording, but that could be due to my cables, but it is something to note
  • Cannot be used as a USB audio device/microphone when attached to a computer
  • Plastic makes it seem cheap
  • Tripod mount is made of plastic so wear and tear may not be good to it
  • No windscreen provided so be careful of any wind blowing or breathing into the microphones that can mess up the recording
  • The rounded end on top of the recorder gives it a bulge and makes it a bit more difficult to store away without a proper hard case
  • May be considered a bit bulky compared to the Tascam DR-08 which is half the thickness

Podcasting Setup in OS X – Version 1

Podcast Setup v1
This is the first version of my podcasting setup that I’m relatively happy with as it is clean without too much things going on. I’ve used this for Corner Geeks and some Tech Talk Coffee Shop episodes.

If you’re curious of what podcasting is, it is the production of podcasts. Podcasts are basically recorded shows that are downloadable off the Internet. Do listen to Simply Geek #8 – Podcasting where they discuss it in further detail. Those interested in podcast production check out Simply Geek #17.1: Podcast Production Part 1 and Part 2 that I had to opportunity to play guest in

I explain the process of my setup in the Youtube video below

Setup includes the following:

  • Zoom H1 – bought off Ebay for about US$100
  • Steel Series Mobile Devie Adapter – bought at Chong Hock in Kiulap for about B$26. This is needed as the MacBook Pro has a headset jack instead of individual stereo out and microphone in jacks
  • A regular headset
  • LineIn – a free software utility of OS X

An alternative to LineIn is Audacity (enable “Software Playthrough” in the Transport menu and click “Start Monitoring” in the input device) or LadioCast but LineIn is the simplest method for this setup. For Windows and Linux users, the Audacity method should work just fine.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @thewheat and in the mean time listen to some Brunei-made podcasts: Corner Geeks and Talking Aloud

Getting the b-mobile Zoom! Modem to work in 64-bit Windows 7

When you connect the b-mobile USB 3G modem (TechFaith Flying Angel) to a 64-bit Windows 7 computer, it does not seem to be detected / the drivers are not installed automatically. The drivers need to be installed manually after installation of the modem software as shown below.

Summary: Use drivers located in “C:Program Files (x86)b-mobilePocketmodem Connection ManagerInstallDriversdriversQUALCOMTDRV_QUALCOMAWinVistaX64″. This worked in 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium and should work in 32-bit Windows and other Windows 7 versions

Pictorial Installation Guide

  1. Install Modem Software (SeamlessKeyLauncher.exe in CD drive that shows up when connecting the modem)

  2. After installation, go into “Device Manager” (Control Panel > System and Security > System > Device Manager in the side bar)

  3. Find “Qualcomm Configuration” under “Other devices” and “Mobile Connect” under “Ports (COM & LPT)”.

  4. Right-click > “Properties” > “Update Driver”

  5. Select “Browse my computer for driver software: Locate and install driver software manually” and then specify “C:Program Files (x86)b-mobilePocketmodem Connection ManagerInstallDriversdriversQUALCOMTDRV_QUALCOMAWinVistaX64″ and click next to install the driver

  6. Ensure that all unknown devices (I believe there are 3) and everything should work now. Connect to the Internet and be happy

Joikuspot + bmobile Zoom! + OS X = Data Corruption?

So I’ve been using Joikuspot to tether my bmobile Zoom! wirelessly to my MacBook Pro running OS X and I noticed some weird hiccups and glitches that show some sort of corruption of the data bits I’m receiving from the Internet. The 4 main issues are

  1. Corrupted Webpages: that will show HTML markup in the middle or end of the page or even load gibberish

  2. Corrupted Images: the image will not fully load and reloading will not solve it (forgot to try clearing the cache though, I used Opera Turbo instead)

    Check out Lizzette Piltch’s Photos at Dragon Con 2010 for the full TMNT costumes among others

  3. Corrupted downloads: downloading the same file multiple times gives different md5sum hashes. Downloading directly from the phone seemed to get the file properly (so perhaps this rules out bmobile’s Zoom! as part of the problem)

  4. Interrupted videos streams: YouTube shows that it has loaded the whole video (after seeing the red progress ‘bar’ load fully) but in the middle of the video it just stops (this is different from truncated video streams where if you monitor the red progress bar it will jump from the middle to the end abruptly when loading the file)

Marul seems to have no issues for his Joikuspot so could it be OS X? Or could it just be an unreliable Internet connection from bmobile? Whatever is the cause of a combination of causes it does get annoying and wonder if there are ways to detect what’s going on and solve this strange problem of mine.

Bmobile’s 1st Generation 3.5G HSDPA Modem in Ubuntu/Linux

bmobile's 1st Generation 3.5G HSDPA modem

bmobile's 1st Generation 3.5G HSDPA modem

Ever since I had the opportunity of using bmobile‘s 3.5G modem to get mobile broadband (via Zoom!) I was curious to see whether it would work in Linux. After much testing, I did manage to get it to work but it wasn’t consistent (it only seemed to work when the modem was tied to /dev/ttyUSB0, so I kepted plugging it in and out and redialed to see if it worked).

For the newer bmobile modem check out this page courtesy of @jikam

Test system: Running Ubuntu 9.04.

  1. Get usb_modeswitch (in Ubuntu / Debian you can “apt-get install usb_modeswitch” which makes things much easier)
  2. Get the usb_modeswitch.conf file and put it in /etc/
  3. The modem is identified an Alcatel One Touch X020 / X030 / MDB-100HU / Nuton 3.5G (lsusb will show ) so search usb_modeswitch.conf and uncomment the section for DefaultVendor, DefaultProduct, TargetVendor, TargetProduct and MessageContent

    ########################################################
    # Alcatel One Touch X020 (aka OT-X020, aka MBD-100HU, aka Nuton 3.5G), works with Emobile D11LC
    # Alcatel One Touch X030 (aka OT-X030, aka Nuton NT36HD)
    #
    # Contributor: Aleksandar Samardzic, Marcelo Fernandez

    ;DefaultVendor= 0x1c9e
    ;DefaultProduct= 0x1001

    ;TargetVendor= 0x1c9e
    ;TargetProduct= 0x6061

    # only for reference and 0.x versions
    # MessageEndpoint=0x05

    ;MessageContent="55534243123456780000000000000606f50402527000000000000000000000"

    ########################################################

    to

    ########################################################
    # Alcatel One Touch X020 (aka OT-X020, aka MBD-100HU, aka Nuton 3.5G), works with Emobile D11LC
    # Alcatel One Touch X030 (aka OT-X030, aka Nuton NT36HD)
    #
    # Contributor: Aleksandar Samardzic, Marcelo Fernandez

    DefaultVendor= 0x1c9e
    DefaultProduct= 0x1001

    TargetVendor= 0x1c9e
    TargetProduct= 0x6061

    # only for reference and 0.x versions
    # MessageEndpoint=0x05

    MessageContent="55534243123456780000000000000606f50402527000000000000000000000"

    ########################################################

  4. Do the actual mode switch for the modem to change the device from USB storage to modem mode:
    sudo usb_modeswitch
  5. Create the USB serial device for dial up:
    sudo modprobe usbserial vendor=0x1c9e product=0x6061
    This step created 3 devices (/dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, /dev/ttyUSB2) on my system.
  6. Use the Network Manager Applet to configure a new broadband modem connection with the B-Mobile configuration (APN: bmobilewap)

As mentioned this does not work consistently, so if it doesn’t seem to connection try plugging the USB modem out and back in and retry. I will try find a way to get this more consistent, but hopefully this will help those who are trying to get it to work

bmobile Zoom! (+ E-Speed, DST Go!) Findings

Ever since bmobile and DST launched their mobile broadband offerings (Zoom! and Go!)I was interested to see which one offered the best deal. I’ve had a few weeks with the bmobile’s Zoom! service using the older modem with 3.6Mbps max speeds and did some speed tests and real world tests. In the real world tests it got frustrating at times with quite a few timeouts and YouTube videos loading only to stop loading half way. Real world download tests weren’t fantastic, typically under 512kbps which is even slower than the lowest tier E-Speed plan. My regular locations were at home in Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, and at the old airport road which is basically just across Telbru Headquarters. After a while I found out that doing a regular speed test at Speedtest.net was not giving optimal results, I would get less than 300kbps (~40KB/s) download speeds but in actual fact when I download podcasts I would get over 500kbps (~60KB/s) easily.

I found that if I do multiple downloads/connections I would be able to get faster speeds. I was able to roughly max out the modem to the full 3.6Mbps connection (but that was close to Telbru, not at home). At home torrenting some music off Jamendo managed to get up to 100KB/s but it was not consistent. Below shows a torrent downloading at over 200KB/s.

Jollicloud torrent getting over 300KB/s download on bmobile's Zoom!

I know location and people/connection saturation are important factors for any mobile broadband connections and honestly I’m pretty jealous of David Cheok’s reports on his Go! getting good speeds in Subok

“actually.. have been getting avg 500KB daily.. last night was good coz it broke 700KB..”  (via Twitter)

He also went on to say the following statement which I totally agree with:

“if downloading is your thing, Go for GO. If good response time/less lag, Zoom. Even better, espd.” (via Twitter)

That also brings me to another important fact that Go! seems to have pretty bad upload speeds (up to 20x less than Zoom!). If you’re planning on uploading photos or doing some streaming video from your webcam or even Skype, Go! may not be the answer you’re looking for. For anything to do with uploads, stick to E-Speed or Zoom!

Zoom! speedtests: Behind MOE (Old Airport), Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, Desa Cafe (Delima), Aman Complex, MOF

Go! speedtestsBehind MOE (Old Airport), Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, Giant

Of DST’s Go! and bmobile’s Zoom! (why must the names have an exclaimation mark?)

*Updated to add bmobile’s Macbook Air, Macbook, Viao offerings

So we people in Brunei finally have mobile broadband. For those who don’t know b-mobile launched their Zoom! service on the 4th April 2008 and now we have DST’s competing solution of GO! which was introduced on the 1st of May. Both are based on HSDPA which is a 3G protocol and require a 3G capable SIM card that allows voice, SMS and data.

When I first heard about Zoom! a month ago with its “up to” 3.6 Mbps connection I was intrigued and interested (which mobile warrior wouldn’t be?) so I went down to their road show at the Mall. So I went up to the guy to ask a few questions and he told me that there was 3 different speed tiers something like 1Mbps, 3.6 Mbps and something else that I can’t remember. After talking the one of the guys at their booth in the 2nd Brunei Consumer Fair last night I was told that they indeed do NOT have any tiers: just a single 7.2 Mbps (upgraded from 3.6 Mbps to meet the competition). Talk about misinformation. And the guy didn’t even want to tell me the prices plans. The guy was a bit unsure of the product as I asked if I needed to install special software for the device and whether it was cross platform and he said no. So I asked him if I were to boot into OS X or Linux would it work as well? Then he said something like no you need to install software from the CD. I take it, he was talking about the drivers but I honestly wonder how good is the Linux support as it does seem that they have Windows & Mac support which is nice but more on this later. So initially the Zoom! package is 3.6Mbps with 2GB of free data and $0.50/MB after the free usage. That how I read it until I went to the fine print or the FAQ page where it says that there is a cap of $40 on the excess data charges beyond which you are not charged, i.e. in other words for those who download loads of stuff it’s basically base price + $40 for unlimited usage. Now there comes to my other problem I had. What is the base price? It is not the listed on the website. Only after talking to them last night I found out the monthly charge just for the service is $59! So in total that would be $99 (at most) for unlimited data.

So come the 1st of May and GO! arrives and we get to see what offerings DST has up their sleeve has they had practically a month to see how Zoom! did and to strategize in order to compete. And after getting the details (all online I might add, as Jerudong Park Amphitheatre is a pretty long way to go just for the roadshow, and I just don’t have the time right now) I can say that they have indeed put up a great offer. 2 distinct plans: Basic and Unlimited (nice to see that they actually defined it properly). Prices for the basic: $38 with 2GB free data after which it’s $0.20/MB. The bill is capped at $88 (after which I assume it’s unlimited data) while the Unlimited package goes for $78. Both come with a free Simpur email account which is nice but nothing fantastic (Unlimited plan gets you Simpur Email Alert, which I guess is SMS to your phone?).

Now both solutions offer package deals with laptops and such but GO! even has a package with a wireless router (Ericsson W25 Router) that even has USB ports that support both print server and mass storage (and it better considering it cost’s $600)! b-mobile offers a Dell Vostro 1400 / HP Compaq V3700 / Asus EEE PC900. Yup that’s right the EEE PC900!! When I saw that In the papers on Friday I was estatic so I went there and only found a 701 so I was about to ‘scold’ them for getting my hopes up but decided not to. I asked them to show me how it work’s on the EEE but conveniently they didn’t have a modem to test it with. They didn’t have a modem to test it with? At a road show where you are supposed to be demoing the product? Perhaps the modem broke or something like that but still I doubt there is a good excuse for it. The guy did tell me that it does work in Linux but how true can that be if I dont’ see it before my very eyes. Now it has dawned on me I think they mean the 701 NOT the 900 because in specifications listed from a brochure they handed out it says “Intel Celeron 900MHz, 512MB RAM, 4GB SSD Drive, Display size 7″, Resolution 800×480″!!!!!!! Man and this isn’t the first time advertisement isn’t just right.

Here are the things I asked:

Me: Are you guys really giving out laptop?
b.mobile guy: Well, no actually, we’re loaning laptops. Meaning, you will have to purchase our laptop and modem when you decide to subscribe to our service.

Me: (Oh. -_-“ Why didn’t I think of that? How silly I am. I forgot there’s NOTHING free in this world)

Me: So, why is it written free here on the leaflet? (Finger pointing to the leaflet)
b.mobile guy: That…errmm…well…

Me: Never mind. Do I really have to buy your laptop when I subscribe? I mean, I already got one at home. Can I just buy the modem?
b.mobile guy: I’m sorry, sir. You really need to buy the laptop too.

Source: DENCORPORATION

Unless of course this is just another case of the people with wrong information / bad communication. But anyway so I was suprised to see in the papers today b-mobile response to GO!
b-mobile's new offering
So finally they made a fine distinction between their Unlimited and Lite plans but what I don’t get is the “Local Data usage capped at $70″ for the Unlimited plan. And there they show the “Asus EEE PC 900″ which is a picture of the 701 as you can see the black bezel of around the screen that isn’t there in the 900…. (I’m sorry if I love the EEE too much but I did spark the current subnotebook / netbook revolution and I believe this form of mobility goes back to my PDA days, but I digress). But even with this new ad they still haven’t overcome one of their main problems clearly defining their costs and terms and this ambigiouty would cause me to sway to DST’s GO!. Also take note that GO! offers prepaid broadband with the following details

  • $0.05 per Mb
  • License Fees: $25
  • Preloaded Balance: $10
  • Validity 15 days

So all in all the following is a quick run down comparison of Zoom! and GO!

Zoom! GO!
Lite Unlimited Basic Unlimited
Max download speed 7.2Mbps
Free data 2GB 2GB
Excess data charge

$0.50/MB

- $0.20/MB -

Monthly Fee $30*? Local data capped at $70 $60*? Local data capped at $70?? $38 $78
Deposit $50 (locals) / $100 (foreigners)
Annual License $25
Extras
  • Free 450 min (voice)
  • Free 50 min (video)
  • Free 50 SMS
  • Free 10 MMS

(only for calls between b-mobile and b-mobile / Telbru phones)

  • Free 1000 min (voice)
  • Free 200 min (video)
  • Free 800 SMS
  • Free 30 MMS

(only for calls between b-mobile and b-mobile / Telbru
phones)

  • Simpur Email Account
  • Supplementary GO! Broadband monthly discounts:
    • Basic: $3
    • Unlimited: $5
  • Subsidy for yearly subscriptions
    • Basic:
      • 1 year: $100
      • 2years: $300
    • Unlimited:
      • 1 year: $300 (i.e. free modem)
      • 2years: $600 (i.e. free router)

Simpur Email Alert
Packages
  • USB Modem @ $300
  • Laptop with modem:
    • Dell Vostro 1400: as low as $40/month*
    • HP Compaq V3700: as low as $38/month*
    • Asus EEE PC 900701? as low as $38/month*
    • Macbook Air $99/month# (only 1st 50 subscriptions), Unlimited plan
    • Macbook $70/month#, Unlimited plan
    • Sony Vaio CR35 $80/month#, Unlimited plan

  • USB Modem @ $300
  • Router @ $600
  • Laptop with modem:
    • Acer Aspire 4920-6A2G16Mi:
      $48/month
      48 months contract
      GO! Basic
    • Dell Inspiron 1420
      $78/month
      30 months contract
      GO! Unlimited
    • Dell XPS M1330
      $88/month
      Contract length not stated
      GO! Unlimited

    • Macbook 2.1GHz
      $88/month
      Contract length not stated
      GO! Unlimited

OS Support
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux (supposedly)

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux (no mention)

‘Fine’ print * prices based on a 60 month period by installments
# prices based on 36 month subscription plan

Now b-mobile has a good offering for those who want an all-in-one solution for your mobile communications as it has both phone and data on the same SIM card (only problem) would be taking it out from the modem and put into a phone. However the free minutes and SMS/MMS are only applicable for communicating with other b-mobile / Telbru lines and, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe most people are still with DST be it for familiarity or be it for cost effectiveness thus these free bonuses will not cover your entire monthly phone (non-data) usage. Thus I will guess I have to give the edge to DST’s GO! as I am currently still using EASI (~$25/month) and I’m strictly only looking for a data plan. But I have to commend b-mobile in it being the first to market and being quick in it’s response to the GO! prices. Indeed this is what competition is supposed to do and I’m glad that there is some. But with that if I had any advice to b-mobile it would be as follows

  • Please make your terms clear because we all want to know as much as we can before committing to such a service (especially with 60 months installments!)
  • Do not try to hide the facts this only adds suspician and confusion to your possible clients. E.g. prices: perhaps I can’t find a nice definitive monthly fee, so if there is one and I have missed it, my apologies. The brochure I got yesterday states that the Dell laptop is a “High Performance Multimedia Laptop”. Just give us the model number like the HP Compaq and Asus EEE PC (refer to last point). But this is nicely stated in the newspaper ad so why couldn’t it be in the brochure as well?
  • Make sure your staff understands the service so that they do not give out wrong information
  • Get your facts right. If you are offering an Asus EEE PC 900 I might be a customer, but if not please correct the details, misinformation will hurt your image and ‘cheated’ customers, who don’t get what they think they are getting, are not fun do deal with

Whoa super long post and that took quite a lot of my time but I guess it’s the technolust of wanting to be a true mobile warrior with my access on the go (on GO!… ok bad pun but whatever). My current toss-up between an Asus EEE PC 701 / Asus EEE PC 900 / HP Mini-Note 2133 / Macbook is making my head spin wanting good battery life but something small to carry. The Macbook is only there for easy video creation that’s all, unless Linux video editors have a major milestone (not that it is horrendous, in fact it’s pretty good what you can get for free, but there are some little annoyances that annoy me a bit too much).

P.S. I wonder if it is possible just to use a regular 3G phone as a modem via AT commands and sorts thus bypassing a need for a modem entirely. That would be the best so you can use just your phone and anytime you want it on your laptop/computer just use a USB datacacble / bluetooth.