29 Aug 2007

Sync your cell phone/mobile for ubiquitous access

The ability to truly make use of mobile e-mail is usually hampered by the fact that you aren't sitting comfortably in front of your day to day PC with access to your contacts in your favourite e-mail client, unless you are happy to use GMail or Yahoo!Mail from your phone's browser - But that's not as convenient as using your phone's mail client. It's far from rocket science and you don't need the most cutting edge cell phone to send mail on the move – even my trusty old NOKIA 6230i is well up to the task...

Outlook will probably sync with your cell phone by default. And if you don’t use Outlook then Nokia Synchronisation is a fantastic Thunderbird extension (only available in windows) that enables Thunderbird to sync with a Nokia cell phone. Thunderbird “Display name” corresponds to the “Contact name” on your phone and the “Work number” field in Thunderbird is used as the default contact number on your phone. “E-mail address” is straight forward and you have the option of a secondary e-mail address for each contact too.

This is where I introduce PLAXO – The on line address book that integrates fully with e-mail clients, both Thunderbird and Outlook. The advantage of using PLAXO is that your contacts are backed up on line and the details of your contacts who also use PLAXO are automatically updated if they change their information on line. This means that as long as you have the bare minimums of an Internet connection, you have access to all of your current e-mail client contacts, via your cellphone, a university/work machine or your friends laptop, just in case you need to retrieve the odd contact or two that you haven't synced to your phone yet.

Now, I further recommend ZYB as a tool to backup all your cell phone information. Create an account on the ZYB website and (provided that your handset and service provider are supported) you will be sent the settings to enable syncing of your cell phone contacts and calendar with ZYB from any location with coverage. You can use the ZYB web site via your PC to alter your contacts and calendar on line and sync with your phone to update the changes, or vice versa. The service provided by this website is priceless in the event that your cell phone is lost or stolen and it also facilitates easy and complete handset migration.

The ultimate would be for Plaxo to provide a “ZYB like” phone sync for complete and seemless phone–PC contact integration, but never the less...

Valid and accessible contacts make it possible to catch up with anyone via e-mail from your phone, anywhere – You just need to set up the mail service on your phone.On my NOKIA 6230i the mail settings are accessed in :"Menu, Settings, Configuration, Personal configuration settings, options, Add new, E-mail".

Typically you need your e-mail user name and password, pop3 server (something like mail.server.com for receiving mail) and smtp server (something like smtp.mobilecarrier.com for sending mail) – Ask your ISP/carrier for these settings if you don’t know where to find them on your desktop/laptop.

Sometimes these settings will require fine tweaking but if you set this up correctly you will be able to make use of the native e-mail client on your phone - More than likely very basic, but also very handy and certainly faster than browser based e-mail. Delete some of the pointless cellphone apps from your phone if you experience mail storage space issues.

As far as native cellphone apps go, the Nokia browser is putrid! It won't load the PLAXO or ZYB websites, but point your phone browser to mini.opera.com immediately and download Opera Mini (free) for a faster, more reliable, more compatible and more user friendly mobile browsing experience.

The number of websites that will load on your phone thanks to Opera Mini is incredible. The start page features a standard address bar, Yahoo! search bar, Dictionary.com/IMDb/Wikipedia search bar, your customised bookmarks and history listings.

You can skin the browser in classic red, girly pink, plain white or deep blue. Opera Mini can even keep track of your RSS feeds and display them by feed or by date. Turn off "load images" for an even faster (and cheaper) browsing experience.

One of your bookmarks in Opera Mini should be a link to Google bookmarks (create an account at www.google.com/bookmarks) as this will give you access to your favourite pages and RSS feeds on your phone.

10 Jun 2007

JEBO R338 aquarium fish stock

My JEBO R338
aquarium is currently stocked with:

- 5 White clouds
- 1 Otocinclus catfish
- 3 Clown loaches
- 1 loan Neon tetra :(

The White clouds were the first fish that went into my tank to cycle it after it had been left running for about a week with no fish. The tank cycle is the process by which nitrifying bacteria establishes itself in the filter to facilitate waste removal. White clouds make excellent cycling fish as I didn't lose a single one in the process. The tank cycle had completed and was ready for more fish within 3 weeks.

The oto cat is an excellent little algae eater - busy and small and not as unsightly as a plecostomas - quite cute in fact. The Clown loaches have proved to be the most difficult fish to cultivate in my aquarium but they seem to cope well with a temperature of about 29 degrees C and addition of non-iodated salt with water changes. The Neon tetra is the sole survivor of his school, shame.

I feed all my fish on TetraPrima and the Clown loaches love it especially.

JEBO R338 aquarium light maintenance

Recently (after about a year of use), the plastic light mounts perished and almost allowed the aquarium light to drop into the tank - but this is the only real trouble I have experienced with my JEBO R338 aquarium.
At the same time I noticed for the first time that one of the bulbs had blown, but replacement was very straight forward.

I "repaired" the problem by making 4 holes in the grey plastic sides of the light chamber and using cable ties to hold the light in place. It's a good idea to cover the globe contacts with insulation tape before you replace the plastic cover.

The plastic light mounts must have worn and become brittle as a result of heat from the light. It's probably not a good idea to put anything on top of your JEBO that will limit ventilation as this could contribute to weakening of the light mounts. I will also have to watch that the cable ties do not become brittle and break.

JEBO R338 aquarium

When I bought my JEBO R338 aquarium it did not come with any instructions. Assembling it was not difficult but this post covers my cleaning routine and could be useful in aiding with assembly. I have had this fish tank for about a year now and so far I have been very impressed by its low maintenance requirements and excellent water quality.

Basic specifications:
- Range of colours available.
- Silent operation
- Curved edges for panoramic viewing
- Integrated light and power filter
- 40 Litre capacity
- 400 Litres/hour FLMax.
- 380mm x 270mm x 440mm
- Bio-Chemical Filtration system

Cleaning Routine

Every week I replace approximately 25% of the water with tap water that has been left standing in a soap free bucket for at least 24 hours to allow for chlorine evaporation. Once a month clean the gravel using the following procedure.

Unplug the heater, light and filter at the wall. Place the front part of the cover with the light on top of the back part of the cover to allow for easy access to the inside of the tank.

Remove the plants and decor and clean the gravel using a gravel vacuum. Detach the powerhead from the pump to make vacuuming easier.

Vacuum until the water level drops just below the body of the pump.

Clean algae off the glass using a sponge on a stick. Leave some algae behind to discourage new algae growth. I never clean the back panel because it is difficult to get to and the dark back hides the algae (though it has shown up very well in the pictures with the flash). Of course a plecostomas or group of otto cats will also help keep your tank looking clean.

Reposition your plants and decor and reconnect the powerhead.

Fill the tank (with water that has been left standing for at least a day in a soap free bucket) so that the water level is at the level of the bottom of the rim. This will allow the filter to run quieter and for the tank to look prettier.

It is a good idea to rinse the filter sponge in some aquarium water. The sponge sits on top of the grid, on top of the porcelain blocks. If the trickling noise from your filter becomes loud or louder than usual or the water flows over the side of the filter chamber, then it's a good idea to actually clean the outlet holes of the filter to allow for easier flow. My elbow does not "click" onto the filter chamber because if I click it on, then the pump cannot attach to the glass with its suction cups and the vibration is noisy. You can also see my heater power cord in this picture feeding across the top to the right side.

This picture shows the trickle filter in action.

Turn on the heater, pump and light. Your tank may look a little murky directly after cleaning. I usually do a water test at this point. You can also add about a table spoon of non-iodated salt now.

Within an hour or two, the water will clear and your tank will look nice and clean again and your fish will be happy!

Update: see my Siamese Fighter (betta) / Jebo R338 related post as well! Or my more recent Comet Goldfish setup