More About Hearing Aids (And Geeking Out a Bit) [en]

[fr] Des nouvelles de mes aventures au pays des appareils auditifs: réflexions pour geeks et moins geeks, tant l'expérience humaine que la technologique sont passionnantes!

I got my hearing aids a month and a half ago, and I thought I’d write a bit more about some of the techy aspects as well as what it means to (a) be wearing hearing aids and (b) be hearing better.

Past the initial shock of “OMG do people really hear sounds this loud?!”, I’m really appreciating how relaxing it is to understand pretty much every word people say to me. Even in “good/easy” situations, I realize how much of my hearing is actually “deducing” — specially on the rare occasions nowadays when I talk to people without ma aids in.

As my brother aptly put it when we compared notes as I was coming out of the audiologist’s, it’s “as if sound were coming to me, rather than having to go and fetch the sound”.

Physically, my hearing aids are really comfy now, and I am generally not aware that I’m wearing them. Like a pair of glasses (or a bra!) — you know they’re there if you think of it, but they’re not drawing your attention to them all the time.

The model I’m trying now (I’ll be moving on to my second trial when I get back from holiday, more about that below) is the Widex Clear220 C2-PA (here’s the Widex product page, but it’s not nicely linkable, you’ll have to click around to see the once I have). It’s a mini-BTE (“behind the ear”) with the receiver in the canal (RIC). I’m still learning the terminology, and I have to say “receiver” sounds like a very illogical word for what is in fact the “loundspeaker”.

There are two microphones on the top of the piece that lies behind the ear. My audiologist told me that in noisy environments, the second one kicks in and the aid then reduces the sound coming from the sides and back to focus mainly on what comes in from the front microphone (theoretically: the person I’m speaking with).

The two hearing aids also communicate wirelessly with each other, and do fancy stuff to help with sound spatialisation (ears do fancy stuff too, but with RIC the hearing aid is sticking sound directly in your ear canal, so it needs to mimic what your ear does to sound before that).

The aids also clip loud sounds so that they don’t go above (a) potentially damaging volume (b) the volume above which sound becomes uncomfortable for me (I think).

2012-05-05-IMG_2910.jpg

If you look at the line around 80-100dB, that’s where my discomfort to sound is. It’s quite common that people with hearing loss also have a low tolerance to noise. That means there is less “bandwidth” for the audiologist to work with.

Oh, and you know one of the things associated with hearing aids? The Larsen effect? You don’t really get that with digital hearing aids, because they’re programmed to detect that kind of sound and remove it.

So, what about the less exciting stuff? Well, I was lucky enough to have a car on loan during the first weeks I had my aids. That gave me a chance to test their reaction to loud singing (!) at different frequencies ;-).

Here’s where it gets interesting: my left hearing aid (in theory the one with slightly less amplification) would clip or chirp at certain frequencies (understand: me singing at the top of my voice as high as I can go — only in the car, people). It’s annoying enough to hear sound that seems to be coming out of a saturated loudspeaker, but when it’s only in one ear, it’s quite maddening.

Other than that, during my first few weeks of test, I had one or two occurrences of chirping. Chirp! You’re walking around in town, and suddenly one of your ears chirp. It happens so fast it leaves you wondering if you dreamed or if it really happened. I’ve actually managed to produce some frequencies (in the car, not reproducible elsewhere ;-)) that reasonably reliably make it chirp, but other than that I’ve had trouble reproducing the problem.

Early on, another problem I had was that I had the impression my left hearing aid wasn’t amplifying some frequencies. The symptom was I felt as if I had a blocked ear, or cotton in my ear — but it was very mild. It felt as if the receiver was maybe not in the right place (but it was, my audiologist checked). So we did a few tests, and during one of those, one of the frequencies we tried sent the aid into a long continuous beep that didn’t stop until we opened the battery casing to turn it off. I had to pull it out of my ear, and my audiologist was able to witness the sound himself (he has a stethoscope with a special attachment that allows him to listen to what is coming out of a hearing aid). Bug, he said! That hearing aid will be going back to the manufacturer at some point…

We never did completely pinpoint what it was that caused this “muffled” sound, but spatial orientation tests showed that I was slightly disoriented towards the left. So we boosted the right ear by 1dB (counterintuitive… but oh well, audiology is an experimental science). I suspect that the “muffled” feeling could in fact be due to the pressure of the tip in my ear (my left canal is smaller than the right) or something like that. Later on, I discovered that the top of the BTE casing was a tiny bit loose, and we changed it. Right now I have to say I feel this “muffled” problem has completely gone away. Either I got used to it, or something we did made it go… Don’t know.

A couple of weeks back I got an extra 2dB (I started at -8dB, and my audiologist usually starts people at -4dB). It was loud, but bearable. However, the clipping got worse, and worse than that, I found myself having trouble understanding people in situations where it seemed to me I should not be having so much trouble. Restaurants, hallways, noisy places. Back in the office, we actually tested this: word recognition in noisy environments. And the verdict seems to confirm my experience: I understand more words with less amplification. One more reason to try another hearing aid before making any final decision.

I walked out of the office with an extra toy: the M-DEX. The M-DEX does a bunch of things:

  • it connects to your phone by bluetooth and allows your hearing aids to function like a bluetooth headset, streaming sound directly into your aids
  • it’s a remote for the hearing aids (sound up, down, left, right, zoom, mute, music/voice programmes).

M-DEX

As far as I’m concerned, the phone bit (what makes it so expensive) is a complete fail. Pairing with the phone is not a problem, and I manage to get sound into my hearing aids, but the sound quality is much much worse than if I simply put the phone to my ear or stick in my earbuds. This reminds me to mention that I can actually fit my earbuds in my earn “over” the hearing aids. They’re a bit loose and fall out easier, and the sound doesn’t really get amplified by the hearing aid, but it works. For the moment my preferred option is still “earbuds and no hearing-aid” for the phone.

I tried with music rather than phone, and I have the same problem: a huge amount of static background noise, and volume so low that even at maximum setting I have trouble recognizing the song that is playing.

The M-DEX comes with a jack cable, so I tried connecting my phone to it with the cable rather than bluetooth. There is much less static, the sound is much better, but it’s still not really loud enough or clear enough to be an interesting alternative to simply wearing the earbuds, even over the hearing aids.

I have to say I’m pretty disappointed about this bit: I use the phone quite regularly, and listen to a lot of music and podcasts. I can’t believe there isn’t a simple “equalizer” software or application for my phone which I could feed my audiogram to and which would then amplify the frequencies I need. Clearly it wouldn’t be as good as a proper hearing aid, but I’m sure it would help a bit. If you know more about why this isn’t done, I’m all ears (!).

One thing I’m really happy with, though, is the remote function of the M-DEX. Given the problems described above in noisy places, it really helps to be able to bring amplification down a notch (both for troubleshooting and better hearing). I’ve toyed about with the zoom function a bit (selectively amplify sound from behind, left, right, in front) but for the moment I haven’t found a real use for it. Same for selectively amplifying left/right ear.

I absolutely love the “mute” button. Even though I’m trying to wear my aids as much as possible to train my brain to adapt to my new sound environment, it’s quite a relief to be able to just switch them off when it gets too noisy, or when I want to concentrate on something (reading on the train, working in the office), without having to physically remove the hearing aids.

One other annoying thing about the M-DEX (this is a comment I saw somewhere, can’t remember where) is this idea that the M-DEX is going to be the device you interact with rather than your phone. You can dial from it, pick up calls, hang up. Well, OK, maybe this makes sense for technology-confused people, but as far as I’m concerned I’d rather have, as the author of that same comment suggested, an app on my iPhone to control my M-DEX. Leave it to phone manufacturers (or Apple) to make phones.

Leaving aside the tech, one of the effects of wearing hearing aids is that I hear my tinnitus more. Luckily, it’s not bothersome: “white noise” type, not too loud, and not an annoying sound to me. It’s a normal phenomenon: while wearing hearing aids, I’m training my brain to tune out other ambient sounds which are louder than I’m used to, and as everything is louder, my brain doesn’t spend the whole day tuning out my tinnitus so I can hear stuff. It’s relaxing, but it means I’m “out of practice” tuning out the tinnitus, so I hear it more when I remove the hearing aids. No biggie, but I thought I’d mention it, because it’s an interesting phenomenon.

And as far as sharing online goes, I stumbled upon the Hearing Aid Forums — a lively online community of hearing aid users and professionals.

So, where am I, overall? I’m now pretty much “habituated” to hearing better (still -6dB from my “ideal” settings), and if you give me the choice between giving back my hearing aids and keeping them, with the glitches, I am definitely keeping them. But maybe the next trial will give me something even better!

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Client Phone Calls: House Rules [en]

I have recently become aware that I am developing a certain number of “house rules” for my phone calls with clients (particularly first-contact phone calls). I thought I’d share them here with you in case they could come in handy to other freelancers:

  1. I don’t give rates on the phone
  2. I don’t agree to new things
  3. I don’t talk about what I’m doing with a contact to a third party within the same company unless my contact introduced me to them.

I’ll detail the whys and the hows of these below, but first of all…

Me and phone calls

I often describe myself as a phonephobic. There are situations where I’m perfectly comfortable on the phone (with friends, for example), but anything that hints of administrivia or relationship tension just makes me go ballistic if it needs to be dealt with by phone.

There was a time when I would walk into town to the offices so I could deal with admin stuff face-to-face, rather than pick up the call and get it done in five minues.

To be fair, I’ve had my share of traumatizing phone experiences (when I was a scout leader as a teenager, and all through my adult years). I also worked as a phone interviewer (surveys) for a couple of years when I was a student — so I’m not completely incompetent either. I’m not exactly sure why I am so scared of phone calls, but I am.

If you’ve had me on the phone you probably have no idea of this, because I cover it up, but it translates in me procrastinating a lot when I need to call people back, and agonizing for days — weeks — when I decide I need to cold-call somebody.

Still. I don’t like it, but I’m functional — however, I need to take into account that I feel under pressure on the phone and take steps to make things easier for me. (Less blunders = happier clients, in the end.)

Not giving rates on the phone

First of all, let me say that as a freelancer in a pioneering industry, determining how much to ask for the services I offer has always been a bit of a headache. From undercharging (way too often) to overcharging (a few times), I’ve done it all. Convincing people they need me is not too much of an issue, but actually asking for money is where I more often than not start sliding down into the pit of self-deprecation.

I’ve been doing this for four years now, and I’m much better at it than I was. I’m actually even starting to consider myself pretty competent, to say the truth. But even with the worst of the pricing-angst behind me, offering services for which there is no real fixed market-price to a wide variety of clients means that pricing is not simple. (Think Oracle and Intel on one end of the spectrum, and struggling artists and newbie freelancers on the other.)

Recently, I realized that I was much less likely to undercharge (or overcharge) if I had a little time to calmly think about my pricing, without the client breathing down my neck on the other end of the line. (Well, my clients aren’t actually that bad, quite the contrary, but given my phone anxiety, that’s quickly what it feels like.) I asked around a bit, and discovered that quite a few of my colleagues had a “no money on the phone” policy. By e-mail is fine, face-to-face is fine, but not on the phone. If your client is going to go green (or speechless) when he hears your price, chances are you’d rather it not happen on the phone. And if your prices are right, then that’s what’s going to happen.

So, unless you’re going to systematically undercharge, keep the money talk off the phone.

I make exceptions when the service is very well-defined and there is no hesitation about the price. For example, if a freelancer calls me up because he wants to spend half a day with me to make his website, I’ll give the price on the phone.

But even that is not without danger: I have given freelancer prices to small companies in this kind of situation, because I didn’t have enough information at that moment to realize what kind of client I was dealing with. And it’s always very unpleasant to have to send a follow-up e-mail saying “actually, it’s more expensive than I told you”. And it’s even more unpleasant to be stuck with work you’re undercharging for.

Not agreeing to new things on the phone

I’m easily enthusiastic about new projects, and that does give me a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. Again, as there are few things more unpleasant than saying “Oh yes, great, let’s do that!” and having to follow up with an e-mail the next day (or worse the next week or the next month) explaining that you overcommited and have to back out.

This can also help manage scope creep for existing projects.

When I was a teenager, my dad showed me these cards they were distributing students at his school. They were guidelines to help them decide when to say “no” to something. One of the guidelines was something like “If you feel under pressure to say yes, then that alone is a reason for saying no.” Taking a little bit of time to think about something on your own or by talking to a trusted friend cannot hurt. Don’t fall for the “now or never” ploy.

Third-party calls from the same company

I am not a fan of triangulation. I know from first-hand experience that it does not make for happy relationships, and do my best to not fall into that kind of trap with my clients.

If my client is a company, I usually have a single point of contact. If my contact puts me in touch with other people from the company so that I can do my job, that is fine. But if I receive a cold call from a third party from inside the same company, asking for information about an ongoing project, I will not discuss it without checking first with my contact.

In practice

These three guidelines I have are actually there to allow me to make decisions or deal with situations without being under the pressure of having to give an immediate response to something. I think the phone is particularly pressure-inducing because silence is less acceptable than if you’re face-to-face.

I think if you’re somebody who tends to be anxious in this kind of situation or agree too quickly to things, it helps to have these predefined guidelines for what to do in certain set situations — particularly with first-time calls with clients (and, I would tend to argue, for subsequent calls as well; can you tell I don’t like the phone?)

If you have other guidelines for your phone calls with clients, do share them in the comments.

Here are a few useful lines I try to keep handy. Do you have others?

  • That sounds really interesting! I’d like to sleep on it a bit and get back to you in a few days.
  • I’m afraid I don’t give my rates on the phone. I’ll send you an e-mail with my rates by tomorrow.
  • That sounds reasonable. Let me think about it and give you an answer by the end of the week.

And as a final note, yes, I know that my clients are reading this too. I don’t mind being comfortable about my shortcomings. And I’m not interested in entering professional relationships (or any, for that matter) based on power-play. Which is, let’s face it, the only kind of situation where talking about this kind of stuff in the open could be harmful for me.

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Twitter Stops Sending SMS in Europe [en]

[fr] Twitter n'envoie dès à présent plus de SMS aux utilisateurs basés hors des Etats-Unis, du Canada, et de l'Inde: trop cher. Oui, ça veut dire que même vos DM ne vous parviennent plus sur votre téléphone. Très déçue et embêtée par ce changement assez important dans l'intégration de mes communications online et offline.

This is a sad day. Twitter has just lost some of its value for me. One very precious feature of Twitter is direct messages. They allow a user to send a private message to another user.

I used to get these messages on my phone, directly by SMS. So, basically, this is giving the nearly 1’500 people following me the possibility to send me a text message without having to know my phone number of have it handy. All they need to know is my username, which is easy: [stephtara](http://twitter.com/stephtara).

Oh well, we had it coming. Sending out all these text messages was costing Twitter a lot of money, we know that. It couldn’t go on like that. They’ve just stopped sending out text messages from the UK number we non-US people use (via [The Next Web blog](http://thenextweb.org/2008/08/14/old-phone-user-so-long-for-mobile-twittering/)). You can still send messages by SMS, though.

However, this means that as of today, DM is not an immediate and secure way to reach me anymore.

This is a big crack in my online/offline integration. Twitter allowed my online world to reel me back in or contact me if necessary by reaching me on my phone. This is pretty disruptive and saddening for me.

Twitter tell us they’ll be working on partnerships with phone companies in various countries. You bet Switzerland won’t be high on their list, given the small market here.

And using data? Well, for one, it isn’t “push”, and for two, it’s still mighty expensive here. We don’t all have the data penetration the US has.

Losing “track” was already sad for me, as it allowed me to receive my @replies on my phone, ensuring I didn’t miss any. Now I won’t even be getting my DMs anymore.

And Twitter didn’t even send me a text to let me know — I could be offline in the mountains waiting for a DM that’d never come.

There is a conversation over on Get Satisfaction if you want to join in.

This is the first time a Twitter problem could make me consider switching to another service. The SMS integration was a huge selling point.

Update: I’m not complaining about the fact we can’t get/send SMS for free anymore. I think we were lucky to get all we did, and for so long (I’m amazed this didn’t happen sooner). What I’m really unhappy about though is that this announcement comes without any alternative. I’d pay. See this blog post for an example I would go with. I’m not saying either that I’m going to switch to another service. But the thought crossed my mind, for the first time.

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Nokia 6280 Shortcomings [en]

[fr] Au début, j'étais réjouie du fait que mon Nokia 6280 était compatible mac. Maintenant, j'ai un peu la gueule de bois, même si j'aime toujours autant le toucher du clavier.

Appareil photo de vraiment mauvaise qualité, synchronisation capricieuse, dictionnaire t9 à la mémoire courte, impossibilité de marquer comme lus tous les SMS pas lus, volume d'alerte de SMS trop fort par rapport à la sonnerie (impossible à régler séparément), réveil qu'il faut réenclencher chaque jour, et lien vers Sunrise Live (qui n'est pas mon opérateur) gravé pour l'éternité dans le menu rapide que l'on peut soi-disant configurer entièrement.

I’ve had a Nokia 6280 since September, and unfortunately the initial excitement of managing to make it sync with my Mac has worn down. Here’s a round-up of what works, and doesn’t work.

The phone is pretty, it’s the right size to fit in my hand, and the keyboard has a very nice touch (particularly important to me as I have RSI). The sliding mechanism is fun to play with (specially to answer calls or hang up), and it overall behaves quite correctly as a device to call other people and be called.

However. Not all is well.

One of the reasons I bought this phone was the 2Mpx camera. Well, to put it simply, it’s crap. Too much compression, artefacts, patchy colors, and an overall impression of digital zoom.

As I said, the phone works over iSync to sync contacts and calendars. When it works, that is. Half the time computer and phone are unable to recognize each other. (Yes, it could have something to do with the computer, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to blame it on the phone.)

The T9 dictionary works fine until you want to teach it new words. It remembers them for a little while, and then forgets about them. Obviously, instead of being permanently added to the dictionary, they are kept in some kind of short-term memory of very limited capacity.

Flooded with many unread SMS, maybe because you use Twitter on your mobile and forgot to turn it off? Fear not, you will be given the chance to trudge through those 30 messages one by one to mark them as read. You can “mark” them individually and then delete them all in one go, but you can’t “mark as read” in a batch.

There also seems to be no way to set the volume for SMS reception and incoming calls separately. This means that the “beep-beep” announcing the arrival of text messages is way too loud, and the ringing for incoming calls is still not loud enough.

The alarm has to be reset each day. Learning this involved quite a bit of oversleeping, until I understood that just checking the alarm time was right and then exiting was not sufficient. The “OK” button needs to be pressed each day to reactivate the alarm.

The icing on the cake? The customizable “Go to” menu (for easy access to frequently requested functions) sports a shiny shortcut to the web portal homepage of a carrier which happens to not be mine. Hard-coded. First position. Unmovable.

Crossposted to hate.my.phone.

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Miglia Dialog+ Cordless Skype Phone [en]

[fr] Test et critique du téléphone Skype sans fil (pas wifi!) Dialog+ de Miglia. Franchement sympa et abordable, en plus!

***If you want the [review without the whole chatty story](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/14/miglia-dialog-cordless-skype-phone/#dialogplus), scroll down.***

As is now public knowledge, my visit to San Francisco coincided with [MacWorld](http://macworldexpo.com/live/20/). (“Oh, you’re going to SF for MacWorld?” — “Mac-what? MacWorld? What’s that? Oooh…”) This was nice, because it gave me the occasion to join the geekfest, discover [lynda.com](http://lynda.com), watch the [Leopard](http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/index.html) and [iPhone](http://www.apple.com/iphone/) demos, buy a pink “Mac Chick” cap, and last and lot least, hang around my IRC friend Victor’s booth, which quite unexpectedly led to me walking off with a [Dialog+ cordless Skype/iChat handset](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html).

That booth was very obviously the most busy one in the row, and for a reason: [Miglia](http://miglia.com/) (drop the “g” when saying it, Italian-style) is a hardware company which make [a bunch of pretty cool toys](http://miglia.com/products/index.html) for Mac (and Windows!) users.

They have [digital TV stuff](http://miglia.com/products/video/digitaltv.html), which I’m unfortunately a bit deaf to these days, as wireless digital TV doesn’t really work in Lausanne, and the way Swiss TV does “bicanal” (the thing that allows you to choose between dreadful dubbed versions and original versions) seems to be somewhat non-standard. At least it didn’t work with [EyeTV](http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyetvhybridna), which I tried and brought back to the store a few months back.

**Much more exciting for me: [cordless VOIP handsets](http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/01/12/migliavoip/index.php), and in particular the [Dialog+](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html). It’s a Skype/iChat cordless handset.** I’m [using Skype more and more](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/11/18/skype-mon-ordinateur-comme-centrale-telephonique/), and next best to a WiFi Skype phone (the geeky toy [I said I wanted for Christmas here](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/13/ce-soir-scenes-de-menage/)) is a cordless one. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the cordless handsets I’ve looked at (see the [Skype Shop](http://us.accessories.skype.com/direct/skypeusa/accessoriesList.jsp?acctype=8) for example) have big nasty clunky non-laptop-friendly base stations. Not this one. Have a look at how laptop-friendly this is:

Miglia DialogPlus and dongle

And the price was nice too: $80 MacWorld price, $100 normal price.

Well, I was tempted. Very tempted. So tempted that I decided to buy it, after dragging Victor upstairs in the lobby where we could find wifi to try it out (I’m a bit picky about audio quality). On the way, we bumped into one of their PR (?) people, and a few seconds later I was eagerly saying “I’ll blog it, I’ll blog it!” at the prospect of being *given* the handset. Here for the disclaimer, then — but I would have bought it anyway 🙂

For the trouble, here’s a nicely [hReview-formatted](http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview) review of the phone, after 24 hours or so of ownership and a couple of outgoing Skype calls. People who didn’t care for the backdrop story should start here.

Miglia Dialog+ (DialogPlus) Skype/iChat Handset

product

Laptop-friendly Skype/iChat phone, light, nice sound quality and affordable price. Small USB dongle and recharges through USB too.

The first thing that stood out when I was shown this 100$ phone (80$ at MacWorld) is that instead of having an untransportable base-station, it has a USB key-like dongle which is easy to carry around with the handset. The handset itself is light, has good autonomy, and is recharged (3AAA batteries) with a pretty much standard USB cable, as shown in the picture. It’s something I can imagine carrying around all the time in my computer bag. Charging the DialogPlus

You can scroll through your Skype and iChat contacts on the phone easily, and even scroll through the Skype contact list which is displayed on your computer from the phone (it’s a bit eerie, as if the phone were a remote mouse or something). At first I wondered what the purpose of this feature was, but actually, even though the LCD display on the phone is very nice, it’s still even nicer to go through your contacts on your computer screen.

Besides the up/down, green-red, and normal number keys you’d expect on a phone, the Dialog+ has only three “special” keys: one to display call history (you can use it to toggle between received, outgoing, and missed calls), one to display your contact list (use it to toggle between all contacts and online contacts), and a third button (clear/backspace) which allows you to take control of the Skype contact list on your computer. It’s pretty easy to figure out what each button does and memorize it.

I personally don’t use iChat much, particularly for voice (I use Adium for instant messaging, and unfortunately it doesn’t do voice over IM), but I placed a couple of Skype calls to check the sound quality. My hearing is slightly impaired and I sometimes find that volume settings on phones don’t allow me to listen at a comfortable level. Not the case here, I could hear the person I was speaking with very clearly. However, people on the other end do hear an echo if the volume is set too high, and have complained a bit about the audio quality they receive. This can be due to the quality of the Skype connection, but I’ll try lending my phone to somebody and have them call me to hear for myself.

Setting up the phone was rather simple: close Skype, install the driver from the CD, pair the phone with the dongle by pressing the little square button on top of it. At first my phone said there was “No contact list”, so I tried reinstalling the driver and re-opening/closing Skype, and it worked. Not quite sure what went wrong, but it fixed itself quite nicely. The instructions booklet is just the right thickness and contains clear explanations. I would, however, call this a “cordless” phone rather than “wire-free” — when I read that on the back of the phone, I went “wi-fi phone?!”, which of course, is incorrect.

So, to sum it up: very happy about the toy and its design. I’ll certainly be using it. I just unwittingly gave it its first crash test by kicking it off the sofa as I was writing this post, and it survived. According to the booklet, it has good autonomy. I still need to dig into the audio quality a little, and see how it works when I start walking about my flat with it (upto 25 meters range).

I was disappointed at first that I couldn’t send text messages from it, but actually, that’s not too bad: if I have the Dialog+, I have my computer nearby — and anyway, Skype text messages aren’t always very reliable (for example, depending on the carrier, they don’t give your own phone number as the “reply” number, and messages get lost).

Great job, Miglia — oh, and I nearly forgot: Miglia’s interest being hardware sales, the phone comes with free software upgrades. For life. Neat!

My rating: 4.0 stars
****

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Flying Home Tomorrow With Easyjet. Or Not? [en]

[fr] Vu la situation (brouillard) à Londres et l'impact que ça a sur les vols, je crains un peu de me retrouver coincée à Londres demain soir. Surtout qu'Easyjet est injoignable par téléphone entre 20h et 8h et que leur site web refuse de reconnaître l'adresse e-mail que j'ai utilisée pour réserver mon vol.

I’m supposed to fly home tomorrow from Gatwick. If you’ve been anywhere else than under a rock these last days, you’ll know that [flights out of London have been severely disrupted](http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6202349.stm).

This morning, I called [Easyjet](http://easyjet.com) to see if there was any chance my flight would be delayed or cancelled. Their website didn’t yield much information besides the standard [arrivals page](http://easyjet.com/EN/flying/arrivals.asp), which told me that one flight to Geneva yesterday afternoon had been cancelled.

Anyway, the lady was very reassuring. She took my flight number, and told me that the flight yesterday had arrived on time, and that I should be fine.

Tonight, I checked the arrivals page again, and saw that both flights to Geneva this evening had been cancelled. Ouch!

This is where it gets bad. I tried to call Easyjet again, but all their lines are closed after 8pm. Great! Even the one you reach after spending 10 minutes in the menus, where you choose “if your flight has been cancelled, please press 2”. They just tell you to use the website if you want to cancel or change a flight. Well, that’s fine with me, except… For some reason, Easyjet doesn’t recognize the e-mail address I used to book the flight. They’ll send me a newsletter to the address, sure, but will say they’ve never heard of it when I try to use it to log into the website.

**And** the technical support line is £1/minute.

If I know there is a good chance of my flight being cancelled, I’d like to know about it so that I can make other plans. Change my flight, go back to Leeds, take the Ferry, whatever. What I’m worried about is that my flight is after 8pm. What if it’s cancelled, and I’m supposed to “contact my airline”?

All this is making me somewhat grumbly. I’d really like to get back home for Christmas.

*Update: I sent an e-mail to Easyjet about the e-mail address issue. I’ll receive a response from them withing 20 working days. How’s that for an SLA on e-mail responses?*

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You Should Twitter [en]

[fr] A découvrir absolument, Twitter, un service au croisement du moblogging et de la messagerie instantanée. Inscrivez-vous et essayez! Je vois du potentiel ici pour les adolescents, dans le sens où ça permet de s'envoyer des SMS sans devoir donner à l'autre son numéro de mobile.

[Twitter](http://twitter.com) is a cross between moblogging and instant messaging. You can send messages by SMS or by IM and they are displayed on [your page](http://twitter.com/stephtara “Here’s mine.”).

In addition to that, [people who have chosen to “follow” you](http://twitter.com/followers “My followers (!)”) get updates by IM or SMS. It’s easy to add/remove a person from those you are following using the [mobile lingo](http://twitter.com/help/lingo).

I see great things for this product once they implement groups and allow some granularity regarding privacy (ie, stuff only for my friends, stuff only for my family, stuff only for my co-workers, public stuff, stuff for my girlsfriends). I already see the potential of Twitter as an SMS anonymizer (think teenagers and dating sites).

Go and [grab an account](http://twitter.com/account/create), register your cell number (if it works with a Swiss phone number, it should work with anything!) and start [twittering](http://twitter.com/public_timeline “All the public twitters.”)! You can even try to [ping Technorati with your new TwitterBlog](http://twitter.com/kevinmarks/statuses/978133). But can you claim it, [Mr. Marks](http://epeus.blogspot.com)?

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Skype: mon ordinateur comme centrale téléphonique [fr]

[en] Get Skype. Get SkypeOut credit so that you can call normal phones. Get a SkypeIn number so that normal phones can call you, and cancel your landline if you're paying anything for it.

OSX people: if you're into podcasting or you need to keep track of things said to you over the phone, try Call Recorder and then buy it so that you'll get the free video call recorder upgrade when it comes out. Install Skype Caller to call and message people directly from your Address Book, and Skype beta 2.5 so that you can send those text messages. Actually, better than that if you're an Orange.ch customer: get the Orange.ch SMS dashboard widget so you can message for free.

J’ai [le cable](http://www.citycable.ch/modules/news/) depuis quelques jours. J’ai résilié l’ADSL.

Dans la foulée, j’ai payé 45.- CHF pour avoir [un numéro SkypeIn](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/products/skypein/). 45.-, c’est la taxe annuelle. J’ai donc résilié mon abonnement Swisscom (25.- par mois? vous voulez rire?). Avis à la population: dès fin janvier mon numéro fixe actuel ne sera plus valable, et vous pourrez me joindre au 044 586 4274. (Attention: vous ne pouvez résilier votre ligne fixe et garder l’ADSL, c’est pour ça qu’il faut le câble!)

Oui, c’est ça, un numéro SkypeIn: un numéro de téléphone suisse où l’on peut me joindre depuis n’importe quel téléphone, mais que je reçois sur mon ordinateur. (On voit aussi tout de suite l’avantage: il me suit dans mes déplacements.) Bien sûr, il y a [une boîte vocale](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/products/skypevoicemail/) — et comme c’est gratuit, je vous annonce déjà la bonne nouvelle: j’y écouterai mes messages bien plus consciencieusement que ceux sur ma boîte vocale mobile.

Ensuite, j’ai acheté pour 15.- CHF de crédit [SkypeOut](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/products/skypeout/). C’est comme ça qu’on paie les appels sortants (on paie d’avance, et avec 15.-, on a environ 8-9 heures d’appels internationaux, suivant où on appelle). Précisons que pour appeler depuis son ordinateur vers un téléphone normal (donc avec SkypeOut) il n’est pas nécessaire d’avoir pris un numéro de téléphone Skype (SkypeIn). [Le compte gratuit suffit](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/download/), tant qu’on achète du crédit (et au prix que ça coûte, on aurait tort de s’en priver).

En août 2005, Skype comptait [50 millions de noms d’utilisateur enregistrés](http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20050817/1359254_F.shtml).

Très joli tout ça, me direz-vous, mais il faut donc garder son ordinateur allumé en tous temps. Pas un problème pour moi puisque c’est déjà le cas, mais je comprends que nous ne vivons pas tous sur la même planète numérique. Rassurez-vous, il y a une solution (mais ça coûte un peu d’argent): [un téléphone Skype wifi](http://accessories.skype.com/item?SID=c008d82ac5175e3f77daba6ce2b2033d5d3:4530&sku=WSKP100PROMO). Un téléphone Skype, c’est comme un téléphone normal, sauf qu’au lieu de le brancher sur le réseau téléphonique à l’aide d’une prise, il se connecte sur le reseau téléphonique Skype via la connection internet. [La plupart des téléphones Skype](http://accessories.skype.com/section?SID=b1ed47f7536bba0cfd1064fc721b98bf48a:4530&secid=38893) se branchent sur l’ordinateur via la prise USB (donc il faut laisser son ordinateur allumé). Certains sont sans fil, d’autres avec (et là, franchement, à mon humble avis, autant utiliser un casque et avoir les mains libres).

Un [téléphone wifi](http://accessories.skype.com/landingpage?p=4530&page=wifi), par contre, se connecte tout seul à internet via une borne wifi (c’est ce qu’on utilise pour avoir internet “sans fil” à la maison). Le pack proposé par Skype contient même la borne wifi, si vous n’en avez pas. (Ensuite, côté argent, faites le calcul en regardant combien vous économiserez sur les frais d’abonnement Swisscom…)

Troisième étape: installé, testé et acheté [Call Recorder](http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/), un petit utilitaire Skype qui permet d’enregistrer appels et messages vocaux. Très utile pour faire des interviews par Skype (il enregistre les deux côtés de la conversation sur des canaux séparés, ce qui facilite l’édition), ou pour retrouver des infos mal notées (instructions pour arriver quelque part, heure de rendez-vous, etc.). Ça sert aussi à se rendre compte (dans mon cas) à quel point son accent vaudois est fort (grands dieux!).

En plus, il enregistrera bientôt la vidéo, car Skype, c’est pas juste pour [la voix](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/download/features/calling/), c’est pour l’image aussi — vous ne saviez pas? [Vidéophonie gratuite et sans frontières](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/download/features/videocalling/), c’est plutôt cool, je trouve. Oh, puis ça permet de [chatter](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/download/features/chat/), bien sûr. Bon, le plus simple, c’est que je vous aiguille sur [la liste des fonctionnalités de Skype](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/download/features/). Parmi celles-ci, j’attire encore votre attention sur [l’envoi de SMS pour pas très cher](http://www.skype.com/intl/fr/products/skypesms/), car c’est plus sympa à taper avec un clavier qu’avec les touches du téléphone. Sur Mac, vous devrez [installer Skype beta 2.5](http://www.skype.com/download/skype/macosx/25beta.html) pour avoir accès à cette fonction.

Ah oui, j’oubliais: j’ai installé [Skype Caller](http://homepage.mac.com/timct/FileSharing26.html), un plugin gratuit pour le carnet d’adresses d’OSX et qui permet d’appeler directement les gens de votre répertoire depuis l’intérieur du carnet d’adresses (ctrl+click > Appel Skype). Ça permet aussi d’envoyer des SMS directement…

Côté SMS, j’ai encore plus intéressant que Skype (merci [Barzi](http://barzi.net/)). Si vous roulez avec OSX et que vous êtes client Orange, installez immédiatement le [widget Orange.ch SMS](http://studer.tv/projects-widgets.page). Il loge dans votre [Dashboard](http://www.apple.com/chfr/macosx/features/dashboard/) (la boule noire juste à côté de l’icône du Finder dans le Dock, que vous n’utilisez peut-être jamais — si vous êtes comme moi). Entrez les coordonnées de votre compte Orange.ch ([vérifiez sur le site d’Orange si vous n’êtes plus sûr des données](https://www.orange.ch/footer/login)), tapez le nom ou le prénom de la personne à laquelle vous voulez envoyer un SMS, cliquez sur l’icône “Carnet d’adresses” qui se trouve à côté, et le numéro de la personne s’affichera automatiquement dans le champ. Ne reste plus qu’à composer un SMS et à l’envoyer.

Que demande le peuple?

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Multimedia [fr]

[en] I've almost decided to ditch my landline and get cable and SkypeIn instead.

Fun! Hier, j’ai fait de la vidéoconférence avec mes grands-parents domiciliés en Angleterre, via [Skype](http://skype.com). Du coup, j’y repense: et si je résiliais mon téléphone fixe? J’achète un [téléphone USB sans fil](http://www.stegcomputer.ch/details.asp?prodid=phi-1211s “J’ai pas fait mes devoirs donc c’est peut-être pas le meilleur, mais ça existe.”), je prends [un numéro SkypeIn](http://www.skype.com/products/skypein/ “Et je dis adieu à mon joli numéro actuel.”), et je prends internet par le [câble](http://citycable.ch).

Bête que je suis, je viens d’appeler CityCable pour savoir s’ils faisaient le téléphone par le câble (à la fin de l’année), mais en fait, je n’en ai pas besoin si j’utilise Skype!

Du coup, je me dis que j’aimerais bien la TV numérique (histoire de ne pas devoir me flanquer devant mon poste à heures fixes pour regarder Les Experts en v.o.) Mais ça, c’est chez [Cablecom](http://cablecom.ch), même si je suis chez CityCable. Logique, hein. Et chez Cablecom, impossible de trouver un numéro à appeler! Va falloir que je sorte le bottin.

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Nokia 6280 compatible Mac :-) [fr]

[en] Nokia 6280 seems nicely compatible with OSX.

Faut que je passe annoncer la bonne nouvelle à MobileZone: mon [nouveau téléphone](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/01/banalites-shopping-en-ville/) (Nokia 6280) paraît joliment compatible Apple. Je découvre les joies de la synchronisation sous OSX avec mon MacBook: il faut brancher le câble (j’ai aussi relié les deux par Bluetooth, pas certaine que ce soit nécessaire), et sur le téléphone, choisir mode de connection par défaut pour le câble USB.

On peut ensuite synchroniser contacts (depuis Address Book) et calendrier (iCal).

Concernant le calendrier, j’utilise [Google Calendar](http://google.com/calendar) depuis un moment. C’est joli et on peut y accéder de partout à condition qu’il y ait un ordinateur connecté à internet à disposition. L’idéal serait de pouvoir synchroniser mon téléphone avec gCal, mais ce n’est pas encore vraiment possible (quoique… quelqu’un a le courage de tester [GCalSync](http://www.gcalsync.com/)?). Voici comment je m’en sors:

– je m’abonne dans iCal à mes calendriers Google (en read-only)
– j’ai un troisième calendrier dans iCal que j’appelle “Phone”
– dans les réglages de synchronisation, j’importe les événements créés avec le téléphone dans ce calendrier
– de temps en temps, je l’exporte d’iCal, l’importe dans gCal, et transfère les événements sur les bons calendriers gCal (avant de vider le calendrier “Phone” dans iCal. A la synchronisation suivante, tout rentre dans l’ordre.

En choisissant le mode “Stockage de données”, on peut voir dans Finder le contenu de la carte Mini-SD. Du coup, voici la première photo publiée avec cet appareil:

Desktop

Si vous allez voir [la version originale de la photo](http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=231716309&size=o), vous verrez que les bords sont un peu imprécis. Trop de compression ou bien (gasp!) zoom numérique à l’insu de mon plein gré?

PS: si vous n’avez pas encore de compte [Flickr](http://flickr.com), c’est le moment de vous en faire un. C’est gratuit.

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