LG KC910 woes

July 24, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Communications, Personal, Phone 

As I’ve already said in earlier postings I relatively recently got myself a LG KC910 Renoir phone. The phone has been the cause of a lot of woes and problems so far and I’m afraid I must say I regret not getting a proper Android or iphone from the beginning. As it is, I’m stuck with this phone for another year+ until the subscription runs out – or get some other phone on my own tab.

The one really great part that I love about the KC910 so far is the absolutely wonderful camera, it has a 8MP camera that takes rather splendid snaps for a cellphone camera. Also, the video recording function, and video/music playback is rather nice.

For the really really bad part, well, look at the rest. Three of the main reasons I got this phone was for the ability to get some websurfing done “on the go”, and to get a good calendar that could be synced vs my work and private calendars, and finally I wanted to use the phone straight off for connecting to the internet instead of some dongle. Both these functions are completely botched in the KC910 as the, the webbrowser lacks a lot of functionality practically making most of the internet unusable on the phone, and the browser is also horribly slow, taking tens of seconds to “calculate/draw” complex webpages after its loaded. This problem should be easily solvable by downloading and installing another browser such as Opera you say, sadly, the install process hangs halfway through on the Renoir, and I have so far to find another browser that installs at all, which kind of brings a fourth point up (applications/third party market).

Second problem was the calendar, which is unfortunately totally borked. For basic calendar tasks it works fairly well, but very soon you will realize it doesn’t work very well. It lacks good support for reoccuring activities, the sync applications has a bad habit of screwing up timezones and moving activities/entries around based on timezones and at occasions it deleted entries entirely, and worst of all, LG has chosen to go all the way with their PC Suite set of applications, which essentially bars you from using anything but officially supported Microsoft Windows XP/Vista and Outlook. This goes for pretty much all functionality in the phone. Getting it to work with thunderbird, well, good luck. This is one of the reasons I had to work very hard getting Funambol setup at home to sync the phone and thunderbird with (I can not use a third party server as some calendar entries may in worst case contain sensitive data). The functionality of this setup worked out to be “semi-decent” to crap at best, and in the end I winded up reverting to just using my computer calendars.

My third problem has been internet connections. The only supported way of connecting to the internet is (again) via their PC Suite crapware. All other phone manufacturers support Bluetooth DUN or serial port connections without a problem, but not LG. It halfway supports DUN connections, I get a connection the first time that doesnt work, then get disconnected, and after that it takes 2+ days until I can connect again, and get disconnected again, exactly the same thing happened in Linux, Vista, XP, with/without PC Suite, over USB/Bluetooth, in accordance with 3’s and LG’s support etc. In the end, after 3-4 weeks of messing with this, I winded up getting a Huawei E180 HSPA USB stick, 30 seconds to unpack, plug in and click two buttons in Ubuntu and I was connected to the Internet.

My final annoyance is the lack of a third party aftermarket of some kind, I’m talking anything like the Iphone/Android app-store. A smart phone without a serious aftermarket support is pretty much as dumb as any old “dumb phone” ever was. LG has some eclipse based SDK’s available for download, but they only work for Windows, which has stopped me from trying them out at all so far, as I quit using windows completely half a year back. Anyways, the big problem is that there is no coordinated effort to make a decent app-store or app-store-a-like place to go for your applications for this phone. As always, the phone producers completely fails at understanding this part, in this day and age, you need to create officially endorsed systems of managing, getting and paying for applications. Whom the problem should fall upon is a hard question, but just dumping the problem on someone elses porch is not sufficient in this day and age, especially if you want to make phones that tries to emulate the success of “the big one”, you need to at least try and understand what made it big. It wasn’t a good camera or a nice looking (but slow) gui. It’s the ability to be adapted to my requirements, and to perform my required tasks. You can not predict it all (my needs are not your needs), hence adapt to standards (make shit plug and play with others), and make every effort you can to create a third party aftermarket that works (signed downloads, payments, etc etc).

As a verdict, if you’re looking for a smartphone/iphone/android, dont get an LG.

Syncing strategies

May 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Communications, Linux, Phone, Windows 

Another problem has (mostly) been solved for me it seems. I’ve had quite a lot of problems the last few months with calendars and email and contacts being out of sync between workplaces and my private computers/cellphones etc. The problem has been that I’ve gotten a new contract and hence am relocated to another workplace. My employer has a stupid (ok, maybe not so stupid, but annoying me nonetheless) policy of not allowing any e-mail to internal addresses be forwarded or fetched from external networks. At the same time, my contracting has put a heavy load on the calendar and all of a sudden I understand everyones problems with syncing e-mail/contacts/calendars etc… it’s really a must.

Anyways, in short, I started out with 4 calendars (workplace1, workplace2, home1, home2(laptop) and cellphone) needing sync, and using Microsoft Exchange weirdo protocols was not an option (I’m not using Windows or Outlook at home anymore). This has later been extended to sync contacts and my two instances of thunderbird (not yet finished). So, in short:

  1. Workplace1 = Windows Vista with bluetooth
  2. Workplace2 = Microsoft Exchange server with limited access.
  3. Home1 = Ubuntu with thunderbird
  4. Home2 = Old Laptop, Windows XP with thunderbird, will likely migrate to Linux soon as well since I barely use it anymore due to the OS on it.
  5. Cellphone = LG KC910 with bluetooth and wifi.

First off, finding a sync strategy wasn’t easy. First, decide on where your “central repository” is, or rather which will be your main device. My current solution relies on cellphone (LG KC910) being the central repository since it’s the only common gadget at all locations. connection at workplace1 is directly over bluetooth to the KC910 using the LG sync application. The application is absolutely horrible, but it does it’s job (barely). Unfortunately LG relies on a proprietary bluetooth protocol for syncing so I have yet to find any decent replacement applications.

My big problem was finding a working solution at home, and I think I finally found it in Funambol (https://www.forge.funambol.org/DomainHome.html) which is a SyncML server. Basically, I got a server on my local network running Funambol, when I get home, connect to the local wifi, and sync with funambol (See http://www.mobyko.com/phoneinfo/lg/renoirkc910Info.do, a bit down for instructions). The funambol server then acts as a “central repository” when I’m at home containing all calendars etc. Thunderbird sessions on Home1 and Home2 uses the funambol addon (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/8616) to sync with the funambol server.

WARNING! So far I dont trust funambol to run on the public internet, for one part it seems to be sending passwords in cleartext, as well as data. I’d love to figure out a way to get it all encrypted using SSL/https, but I’m a complete newbie to Tomcat (base plattform for funambol) as well as java. As far as possible, try to use a closed/encrypted network for this unless you get https running imho.

A second note on Funambol is that I had some really funny Timezone problems when setting it up, all devices run the correct timezones, but for some reason my calendars winded up being winded 2 hours into the future at home, I got it fixed by setting all timezones in funambol for all devices manually, and then disabling the timezone handling in funambol… don’t ask me why it fixed it etc, I hate working with timezones 😉 .

All that said, I really think SyncML was a big saviour for me in the end, but I had a hard time finding a single word on it or anyone really recommending it. Bluetooth just needs to be …. well, better support, and everyone needs to agree on standards. Everyone (companies) seems to be running around doing their own thing, which means Linux has very good basic bluetooth support, but none of the higher layer stuff since it’s badly implemented or proprietary.