Tag Archives: widgets

Teen dream machine

THE SAMSUNG CORBY: For nimble-fingered tech savvies

Samsung CorbyTHE iPhone has certainly set the standard for new cellular descendants with newer mobile releases favoring the larger, full-touch screen. There is also a major focus on making cellphones exclusive social networking devices.

Samsung has followed suite with the release of a few touch-friendly iPhone clones – one of which is called the Samsung Corby. The device is specifically aimed at the youth market and it’s easy to see why; it takes a tech-savvy youth to get to grips with it. However, touch technology is amazingly intuitive and it shouldn’t take long for anyone to learn to use a Corby – provided you have thin and nimble fingers and thumbs.

Social features
On the plus side the Corby is certainly a very social phone. It is fully Facebook, Twitter and MySpace compatible and can be used to upload content to a variety of sites, such as YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket. One is also able to receive updates and live feeds via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter through a simple pop-up SNS (Social Networking Service) notification feature.

With a Corby, users can upload photos and videos and view such content on these sites through a feature called Communities. However, community access is only granted after an extensive disclaimer is displayed, which includes the clause that any content uploaded may be accessed and used by third parties. Be warned that there is a risk of being spammed with adverts once your personal details are divulged.

The screen
The 2.8-inch QVGA screen is large and crystal clear – something that Samsung certainly gets right. I thought the screen would get smudgy after a few hours of fingering and was surprised to find that it didn’t leave a single fingerprint behind. Apart from three buttons found on the front, the phone is entirely operated with the screen using one’s fingers and thumbs.

This may pose a problem for some as the Corby does not favour users with fat fingers. You have to use your thumb to type / touch anything comfortably and I’m sure that the average thumb is not as small as most of the keys on the touch-screen. A better option is to use a stylus (a phone-poking pen with a thin, touchy tip). Yet the Corby comes with none.

What’s on the menu
The Corby has an elaborate menu – two and a half screens worth. These all have a function and purpose but Samsung could have easily gone for a minimalistic approach by combining some of these. For example, there are separate synonymous icons for “Google” and “Internet” as well as separate “stopwatch” and “timer” functions. I guarantee that consumers would agree that less is more and imagine that a lot of the Corby’s multiple functions would go unused.

Apart from the 27 pre-installed widgets an additional 75 are available for download from Samsung’s online Widgets Store (not unlike the iPhone App Store). The Corby makes use of quad band connectivity to download content and browse the web, which is no 3G experience but is still sufficiently fast.

Nonetheless the Corby is easy enough to navigate and it doesn’t take long for all the mysterious symbols to start making sense. There does, however, seem to be a slight misunderstanding between the scroll and the zoom functions – often confusing themselves with each other. What also lacks is an on-screen QWERTY keyboard – making message-making rather difficult.

Other features
The Corby has an impressive memory and can support up to 8GB of external storage. Battery life is said to be 9 hours of talk time and an incredible 730 hours of standby time. It has a camera yet this is a mere 2 megapixels and has no autofocus or flash. It does have a “smile shot” function which is becoming all the rage – i.e. the phone will only take a photo of a person when he/she is smiling.

There are two unique features belonging to the Corby, namely “one finger zoom” and “smart unlock.” As the name suggests, one finger zoom enables consumers to zoom in and out with one finger, while smart unlock is a feature which enables users to unlock the phone by drawing a letter on the screen. One can choose from 9 letters with which to secure their phone from teenaged trespassers.

The verdict
The S3650 Corby would definitely appeal to youngsters that are keen on technology and consider themselves as active social networkers. It is also a phone for those who like to personalise and customise and comes with extra covers slanged “fashion jackets”. The relatively low price of R1500 implies no fancy stuff, but the wide range of features and downloadable content is certainly relevant to the target audience. Tech-savvy and mobile-intuitive traits required.

Related Reviews:
Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle
Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet

Don’t knock it ’till you try it

You can read the first part of this beginners guide here.

I’ve been in possession of a snazzy new phone for about three weeks now. It’s one of those navigator phones that not only helps you out when you get lost, but it’s also a music player, video camera, game console, portable modem, photo editor, and (almost forgotten) a phone.

I have never owned anything as remotely high-tech as this device, and after three weeks, I honestly don’t know how to deal with it all and use it properly. I’m almost afraid of it, and there is often a voice it my head telling me I’ll never grasp how to use such technology.

We all experience techno-fear. Most believe it happens when we reach a certain age and is a defining moment in our lives when we reject the new and clutch onto the old. We feel comfortable with what we know and feel that we simply can’t cope with change or keep up with the rapid advance of technology.

Well I’m here to tell you that techno-fear has nothing to do with age. I have felt it as a twenty-something who embraces technology. It is rather a matter of trying something new and feeling comfortable with it after enough practice.

On that note I wish to assure you that it is the same with blogging if it is new to you. It has been three weeks since I introduced blogging here, which I trust is enough time for those interested to have set up a blog, or to have at least thought about it. Here are some more tips on how to do it.

Blog writing
There are a few things that are unique to writing for the web, which differ from the way one writes for print. While these rules are not cast in stone they have proven to be more effective.

For starters, it is always a good idea to write in the inverted pyramid format – with the most important bits at the top. The first few lines of a blog-post are usually your make-or-break moment, and determine whether people will continue reading.

People’s attention spans on the web are even more shocking than they are offline. With this in mind, it is important to keep articles short and use lots of short paragraphs and sub-heads if possible.

A blog-post can range anywhere between 200 and 2 000 words, but it is important to re-read your writing and cut it down as much as possible. Get your point across quickly or write an enticing introduction depending on the context of your post. It might also be wise to break longer posts into two parts.

Illustrating your blog
The average time that someone spends looking at a blog is probably no more than 10 seconds. This is because most online readers make a judgment about a new website (before reading anything) based on its looks.

Sadly it’s a shallow world online and this is why your posts not only need a catchy (and relevant) headline and enticing first line to rope readers in, but also as many visual aids as possible.

Pictures, graphics, pull-quotes and even videos are useful for breaking up the body of a post. You are able to bold and italicise words, create quotes and upload or embed pictures and videos from your toolbar that appears when you click on “new post” from your blogging dashboard.

Note: in WordPress the “dashboard” button appears in the top-left hand side of the screen and the top-right as “customise” in Blogger. Within this dashboard are further options for adding widgets, editing or changing your blog’s theme, and several others depending on which blogging service you are using.

Have you ever wanted to write a book or have started writing one but given up, thinking that it would never get published? Start a blog dedicated to your book and discover what people actually think. Describe in detail what your blog (i.e. your book) is about and who you are as an aspiring author, then offer either daily or weekly excerpts or chapters. Encourage people to comment on it and see whether you can generate a loyal audience. The two site aggregators (mentioned below) will offer you statistics on how many people are reading what you write and help guide you in the right direction.

Technical bits
The array of options and things called “widgets” are enough to give any new blogger a headache, but you only need to know a few of them at first.

An important one is the option of switching between “visual” and “html” in the top-right of the box in which your write your posts. Each mode offers different tools. However, if you are not familiar with html, this would be rather incomprehensible.

However, if you write your articles using a word processor such as Microsoft Word, ensure that that the html view is open when you copy and paste your text. Word processors are full of invisible text formatting that will look a little pear-shaped if copied directly into a blog.

The other important feature to notice is the “tags” box (found at the bottom of the “new post” box in Blogger and to the right of the box in WordPress). Tags are keywords which describe what your post is about and is what Google uses when people do a search.

Tags are important for ensuring that your blog shows up in Google searches. These words should also appear in your blog post and preferably be used more than once. Bolding keywords (which you add as tags) also improves your blog’s chances of being found when someone searches Google using those keywords.

Promoting your blog
Getting your blog “out there” and getting people to read it has a lot to do with self-promotion. This involves more than just telling your family and friends, but promoting your blog online to an unknown audience.

Once you have written a few posts and are happy with the way your blog looks and functions, you are ready to present it to the world and gather a readership. The first thing to do is register your blog on blog aggregator sites. The two essential ones that I’ve mentioned before are www.amatomu.com and www.afrigator.com.

These will ask you to describe your blog and will notify users when you publish something new. Users also have the option of subscribing or following the blogs they like and sharing articles with others. Blog aggregators also categorise your blog and point potential readers in the right direction.

This is where your new posts will appear, but only your headings and the first few lines or post summary. It is also where your tags come into play. Post headings, summaries and tags are therefore the three most important aspects to familiarise yourself with and eventually master.

Otherwise, promoting your blog in other ways is completely up to your own imagination. Add a link to it on your Facebook profile or any other website you have subscribed to. Comment on other people’s blogs, which will usually link back to your own. Make connections and write consistently. Interact with the blogosphere. Most importantly, don’t knock it ’till you try it!

You can read the first part to this blogging guide here:
A beginners guide to blogging part 1