Go Mobile, Not Broke with Cubic Telecom and Qik

QikGo Mobile, Not Broke. You’ve got to love the tagline. And you’ve got to love the fact that an Irish company keeps getting bigger and broader. The mail this morning brings news that Cubic Telecom in Cork have followed their already existing partnerships with Dopplr, GetCover Insurance, Big Red Book and others to partner up with Qik.com. It was the likes of Pat Phelan (Cubic) and Bernie Goldbach that got me into using Qik to stream videos from my N95, a practice I’ll admit I don’t get to do all that often but when I do, they seem to make a good impression, traffic-wise.

The blurb…

The partnership with Cubic Telecom will see Qik give its users the opportunity to purchase Qik-branded SIM cards enabling them to stream video live from all corners of the planet – without coming home to an astronomical phone bill. The Qik SIM also provides massive savings on voice calls, email, web browsing and texting while they travel. Under the tagline “Go mobile, not broke,” Qik is offering its users a simple, inexpensive way to share live video no matter where they are. The Qik pre-paid SIM cards with full voice and data can be purchased from http://qik.com/roam. This is also where customers can manage their accounts.

“Travelers can now share their world journeys with videos, photos, text, and calls from their mobile device without it costing the earth.” said Pat Phelan, Cubic Telecom CEO “We’ve heard of the horror stories of travelers returning from a trip abroad to cell phone bills in the thousands of euros. The Qik SIM eliminates this worry for our customers.”

“We are excited to partner with Cubic Telecom to offer Qik SIM cards to our users,” said Ramu Sunkara, Qik CEO. “With the Qik pre-paid SIM cards, Qikkers across the world can now share their moments when they are traveling without having to worry about voice or data roaming costs. It’s like sending a live video postcard to your friends and family from wherever you are.”


I gave an outline of the Qik service to a potential client last week as a means of using live video streaming and interacting with an audience during a presentation, which got me to thinking why am I not Qikking the gigs that I’m involved in running in Kilkenny and elsewhere. For those not on any kind of stellar data plan or those operating outside of a wifi area, the partnership with Qik and Cubic Telecom, particularly when roaming out and about, could well breed a whole new line of Qik.com users.

I’ve got plenty of trips lined up this year where I would like the opportunity to stream from my handset without blowing an incredible hole in my wallet – Amsterdam, Belfast, Portugal, Dubai… where do I sign up?

Am I Getting Closer To An iPhone?

iPhone 3.0 OS

I managed to remain reasonably disconnected over the weekend thanks to the multitude of other things happening in the real world but did get to catch up with the announcement of the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS. I can usually be found with three mobiles on my person at any one time, plus my iPod Touch, and an O2 broadband dongle not far behind either. My primary handset (N95) is due an upgrade in the next few weeks and I’m starting to wonder am I getting closer to picking up an iPhone.

The N95 is a workhorse of a phone, for me in particular. The 8 gig internal memory is chock full of photos and videos thanks to the 5MP camera within. Every few months I clear 2-3 thousand text messages. Every now and again I fire off a QIK video. But it’s the browsing that lets me down. I’m just not fond (outside of QIK) of using data applications on the N95 which, for the most part, surrounds the likes of Twibble (for twitter) and the mobile browser. Where possible (read: in a wifi area) I’ll switch to the iPod and pull my mail, tweets and everything else there.

The ideal situation is to pick up an iPhone and have it unlocked, jailbroken, call it what you like. It would need to juggle a few sim cards but out and about act as the holder for my O2 data sim, in the process saving me from hitting three different sims with three different data charges.

So with a new spotlight, the ability to copy and paste without a third-party app, 3G tethering for using the iPhone as a modem, a landscape keyboard, added Bluetooth A2DP support, MMS (welcome to the party, Apple), push notification for IM apps and a whole lot more.

Of course, I’m not surprised to see Apple charging $9.95 for iPod Touch users to get the OS (hell, they charged us for the MacBook Pro firmware upgrade for wireless N) but when the OS lands, I’m guessing I’ll be another step closer to picking up an iPhone.

Check out details of the iPhone 3.0 SDK here.

I Should Really Get Mobile Broadband

I’ve noticed a change in my blogging trends of late. The free time that I wish to dedicate to blog posts finds me in areas where my connectivity is completely restricted. My work within the theatre has increased dramatically (no pun intended) over the last few weeks (I spent the last two weeks of June in preparation for and producing a run of ‘Trainspotting’ only to take last week off before starting pre-production this week on a new show for August) and the gig count is going up.

I find myself with downtime in venues and restaurants where no laptops go, or where there’s no wifi signal to be found. That said, the Watergate Theatre were kind enough to allow me use of their connection to make the occasional tweet, check email etc.

During the Trainspotting run I pulled out a piece of paper and marked all the dates for July on it noticing more Xs (away) than spaces (home) between evenings and weekends. August, not so bad.

So now I look towards a mobile broadband solution. I’ve been tempted once again by O2 and their reduced offer for the summer months (€19.99p/m and a modem for €19.99). Having spoken with Bernie Goldbach and some O2 support people, the thoughts of running a 3G sim through an iPhone are quite tempting (my desire for an iPhone exists as a secondary phone to my N95 8GB though the 3G model has me very interested).

Pat wonders why there is no interest in the 3G iPhone though I’ll agree that the price and dataplans are a pain in the arse. Is it possible to pick up a 3G iPhone away from O2 (I’m happy on my current contract, thanks) but fire a 3G datasim in there from the broadband dongle? If so, sign me up.

When I find myself in Sligo (such as this weekend and at least 2 of the next 3 weekends), my options are limited around the lake but there are healthy signals 2-3 miles away which I don’t mind the short spin in the van for.

I’ve recently added another musical promotion string to my bow so it would certainly make work life that bit easier.

Perhaps I’m just trying to convince myself to go out and get it sorted. Lifehacker’s guide to sharing your internet connection from your iPhone to your MacBook Pro also has me wondering.

N95 8GB Dropped Calls

8GB Nokia N95When it comes to the weekend, there’s just no stopping my phone from ringing. As soon as office hours are done with, it becomes open season for friends and family to call me, something which was more of an occurrance this weekend than ever before I reckon.

On Friday though, I had several phone calls with each of them dropped. Breaks in signal or reception, dropped audio, or calls failing to connect.

While I can understand this happening in the office (working a large building with questionable wifi and mobile signals in spots), I couldn’t understand it happening at home or out around the garden.

It dawned on me before leaving to Canada in 2006 that I’d had a similar problem with the Sony Ericsson K800i – 3G connectivity being the cause of the problems.

In the N95’s case, it was the factory default setting of UMTS as opposed to GSM – likely with a combination of not having changed my sim card to the one issued with the N95 from O2 (on advice from O2 customer care, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of thing).

To remedy this

  • Hit the menu key on the N95
  • Go to Tools > Settings > Phone > Network
  • Switch ‘Network Mode’ from UMTS to GSM

If you’re getting a UMTS / 3G sim you likely won’t have this issue / can switch it back. But if you’re like me and you’re happy to continue using the sim card you were issued YEARS ago, then this might remedy your call problems.

Biting The Bullet, Upgrading To N95 8GB

8GB Nokia N95I’ve been waiting, and waiting, for the Nokia N95 8GB to hit O2. While Vodafone have recently announced the dramatic price drop in the N95 8GB model (moving to Vodafone could bag you for phone for under the €200 price mark), I’ve opted to stick with my mobile operator and take the N95 upgrade, available from today online.

Of course, my local O2 shop knew about this but won’t have any phones in stock until the end of the week at the earliest. Carphone Warehouse didn’t actually know anything, their response being “It’s only available on Vodafone, you know that?” until directed to the O2 website. There doesn’t seem to be any physical stock available in Kilkenny, Waterford or Carlow (trying all the numbers listed on the O2 website, yes, I was willing to make an early morning Saturday spin 40 minutes and back in one direction or another) so I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade the phone online, saving €30 in the process and picking up 300 free texts to match.

When I caught wind of the phone in August I thought, excellent, there’s my Christmas present. When asked what the next gadget I would buy was I replied “Nokia N95 8GB” please.

I learned a valuable lesson in the purchase of a sim free iPaq early in 2006 which didn’t last me six months so I’ve held off again and again in switching to a pricey mobile phone. However, in terms of productivity, further ability to work on the move, as well as tie in some terrific online resources (e.g. Qik) into activities outside of the office (thinking KilkennyMusic.com and The Devious Theatre Company), I feel I’ve made the right move.

The next part of the plan is to pick up an O2 mobile broadband connection before the end of the month, allowing me a bit of freedom when I hit the road for Sligo or find myself driven in the direction of the studio (which doesn’t have any form of web connection) later in the year.

While Carphone Warehouse couldn’t offer any assistance (I wouldn’t have bought the phone there anyway given the grief I had to put up with in 2005), the 3G store in Carlow (Meteor dealers) did tell me that Meteor are also bringing the handset to the market for April 21st / 22nd, something of interest to you Meteor contract holders looking for an upgrade in handset.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the phone arriving in the post mid-week.

The N95 Is The Next Gadget I’ll Buy

I missed yesterday’s Science Week blog post but couldn’t Thursday’s one as it’s an easy one for me. The question is asked, “What’s the next gadget that you want to buy?”. My answer, the 8GB Nokia N95.

As mobile devices to it’s a massive step forward and one towards the ideal mobile device. Connectivity-wise you’ve got everything you need if you’re working in an online environment – bluetooth, 3G and WiFi. The recent opening up of some Eircom wifi hotspots if you’re already an Eircom BB customer makes public internet access that bit easier. I won’t always have my laptop with me but need a solid mobile device that will allow me to

  • Make and take calls (a given).
  • Have a good quality camera. The N95 shoots at 5mp and I would miss the 3.2mp on my Sony Ericsson K800i.
  • Access the internet over WiFi thus allowing easier access to emails, connections to the office, grabbing music and last minute details around gig weekends, upload photos on the go to my Flickr account and more.
  • Keep up with Jaiku via the S60 client (thus reducing my SMS bill).
  • Allow me to grab and store podcasts on the go (to feed my habit).
  • These points are just for starters…

Again, in a non-laptop situation there’s always the possibility of mobile blogging, VOIP calls, mapping and more. I’ve written about the N95 being my Christmas present to myself this year, though admittedly it looks like I’ll be waiting until the New Year or whenever O2 sort out getting the N95 8GB model so I can make use of my contract upgrade. You can discover the N95 yourself here.

When it comes to phones I’m not a gaming person and in the 13 months I’ve had the K800i I can recall just the trip to Toronto last year that lead me to play games on the phone. I’m more about getting things done and having a device that will assist me in day to day activities.

Having used the first N95 briefly (briefly as in for a few minutes) and working alongside an N95 owner I can see the benefits of the device immediately. The use of IM before / after a client meeting, the ability to hop online and pull messages from MySpace or grab last minute mails before a gig (when you’re dealing with bands that communicate primarily through social networks as opposed to your actual phone then this is a must), passing spreadsheets or PDFs or word documents, plotting a trip on a map before you head away somewhere – and keeping that map in your pocket – that and the abundance of S60 applications that are available to run on the Nokia N95 to enhance your working experience.

Plus, it fits nicely in your hand or pocket and the call quality and speakerphone quality is also good (somewhere the K800i lacks.)

It’s been decided and I’ll wait patiently for my upgrade I think.

Nokia N95 8GB – Christmas Present Dressed In Black

When I was down in the O2 store recently to collect a Nokia E50 for KilkennyMusic.com I toyed around a little with a Nokia N95 display model and thought – yep, sure is pretty. Then you read God knows how many good things about it online, see the blog reports, the videos, catch photos of people with N95’s dotted around them…

Nokia N95
Nokia N95, Black, 8GB

Then yesterday I was driving through Waterford in search of breakfast and passed the big billboard at the outer ring round (by the RSC) which had a massive N95 on it with the tagline “Its What Computers Have Become” underneath. They’re right too.

Then this morning I’ve been following the likes of Bernie Goldbach, Damien Mulley and Conor O’Neill tracking the Nokia event in London where the next issue of the N95 has been touted.

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95, Black, 8GB

It looks nice in silver, but it sure packs a punch in black.

With my personal O2 contract up for discussion / renewal in October and an upgrade on the cards I reckon I’ve just found my Christmas present. Why couldn’t the iPhone have a 5mp camera?