Remember Nokia?

You know, the magical story of the Finnish forestry / paper company that became one of the worlds largest mobile phone manufacturers?  Well guess what, that was all wrong, they’re actually ‘finished’.

A little background. When i moved back to Europe my father gave me one of his cast-off Nokia phones. It’s a Nokia XpressMusic, and comes with a stylus (lost within hours) and plectrum (equally useful…) After some adventures i managed to tether (i think that’s the right word) my laptop to it, and use it as a modem until we got broadband installed. Recently i’ve been using the browser to read the news, look at the weather, before getting out of bed… that is when the damn thing doesn’t crash loading a page. It started to annoy me that i could read anything in japanese, the font files weren’t available.

Figuring that Nokia would be happy to provide me with font files for Japanese (they sold this phone / brick in Japan at some point) i went to their support site and asked where i could download the files to support display of Japanese. This is their response:

Thank you for contacting Nokia Careline.

We understand that you would like to have a langauge that can be able to read Japanes web page or mail, however, if the phone does not have the language already installed, you will not be able to use the language in the phone. Available language packages for Nokia phones are market dependant. Hence, Japanese language is only sold in Japan or countries where the language is mainly spoken. Installing Japanese language pack on your phone will void your warranty no matter who installed them.

If you have any other concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Which pretty much amounts to, “We have it… but you can’t have it! And, if you do find a way to get it you’ll be breaking the contract you made with us”, or, more succinctly, “FUCK OFF!”

Obviously that’s not very helpful, and after the usually faff around with Windows only “debranding” software, i ended up copying a distinctly dubious looking set of font files into a hidden directory on the memory card and being able to display / read Japanese.

Nokia today reported an operating loss of €487 million for the quarter, a decline of €782 million from the same quarter a year ago, when it made an operating profit of €295 million. The declines seen at the handset maker were near-total, represented by a string of negative percentages down the balance sheet.

Is it any wonder?

Oh, and just for the giggles, i tried to update the thing to the latest version, which apparently makes the browser useable. Not allowed to do that either because the device was originally sold (unlocked!) through Vodafone, upgrades are have to come through them, and they haven’t seen it as worthwhile to make it available in the six months since it was released.

Should be waking up every day and giving thanks that i’m no longer involved in the clusterfuck that is the mobile business…

Cropping

Tend to get a little up my own arse about cropping. For some reason it just annoys me that i’ve not composed the whole frame. It is no doubt related to a strong desire to only produce frames that are of a pleasing ratio. This tends to spill over into the images, expressed as an obsession with form over ‘content’. I couldn’t really give a shit if, for example, the girl is pretty as long as she’s arranged correctly in relation to the other forms in the frame. Not that it isn’t better if the girl is pretty as well. This isn’t going well… i’ll shut up now.

Here is a 6×6 shot cropped to 4×3, just because the shapes in the top part of the frame weren’t worth keeping. Such thinking is something of a radical departure for me.

I’m trying to spend a couple of hours each weekend working through the piles of accumulated cruft, and sorting out shots that belong together in sets of my portfolio. Thus far i’ve managed:

  • Tokyo Square – which is most random bits of Tokyo that happen to be 6×6. It’s the most catch all collection so far… probably needs break up, to get the later architectural stuff out of there.
  • Water Under The Bridge – panoramic shots of an expanse of concrete that i found particularly beguiling.
  • Turnings On – metal shavings in sunlight, shot outside a friends studio in deepest, darkest Kanagawa. Probably my favourite set of abstract work that i’ve done.
  • Ode To the North Coast – incomplete, and presumably ongoing, series of minimal / mathematically inspired portraits… that sounds dreadful. Don’t want to talk about it. Not sure it’s working. May have to give up on it!
  • Abstractions – various attempt to separate image from object. Probably requires more editing, and may not survive the process.
  • Woo-woo – numinous landscapes and buddhist iconography (in progress)
  • Tokyo Underground – the dreaded ‘trains and stations’ project that has been haunting me for years (in progress)

Still not entirely sure why i’m bothering. Hopefully that’ll become clearer when the process is complete. Suspect i’m attempting to draw a line under my photographic endeavours in Tokyo, with the idea that it’ll allow me to move on… some hope?

Odd Assimilation

This came as rather a surprise to me, but i have for the first time in my life become a season ticket holder at a football club. The team in question is FC St. Pauli, some sort of (self-described) socialist football club with a penchant for skull and cross bones / piratantical merchandising. Going to the games is quite relaxing, especially as i’m not particular caught up in who wins or loses. Heretical no doubt, but pretty much true. It’s just a nice couple of hours out drinking beer, and people watching.

Working at home, this is one of my rare opportunities to get out and ‘integrate’ with the locals. Integration is very big in Germany, and despite my deep seated antipathy, it seems it is a sensible thing to do. Thus far nobody in my row has bothered (dared?) to attempt to strike up a conversation with the oddly bearded, some what detached, newcomer. Eventually curiosity will get the the better of them and then within weeks i’ll be speaking perfect (working class) german.

Well, that’s the plan.

The other day my landlord remarked on my ‘Hanseatic’ germany pronunciation. This is, i came to understand, shorthand for ‘sounds like an upper class twit’, which means that perhaps my attempts to integrate on the football terrace might not proceed so smoothly…

Portfolio’ing

Have been attempting to upload more material to my portfolio box site. There are a couple of small projects that never really got taken as far as i would of liked, but end up hanging together quite well.

Turnings On‘ is something that i shot on several visits to a friends of Sean‘s, Tanaka-san. It’s laid supposed to be viewed in columns three wide. I’d like to stay in a hotel that had them on the lobby walls…

Water Under The Bridge‘ never really got where i thought it was going, at least at the time. Looking at them now, collected together (there are many many more) they are impressively oppressive. It’s cliched, but one of the great influences on how i see art was a trip to the Seagram Murals at the Tate. The idea of hanging these large enough to make a similar impression really appeals to me.

And that is the sum of what has gone well.

The rest of what i shot over the last few years in Tokyo forms an undifferentiated mess. Absolutely no idea (right now) how to pull it together into meaningful collections. Yes, there are themes, but within the themes stuff is all over the place. Probably time to take a break from it all and have another go in a few weeks.

Oh, and in case it isn’t obvious, my comments about the two piece above amount to nothing more than my assorted dreamings as an amateur artist. For some reason i lack the courage of conviction required to take myself seriously enough to actually go out and push for something to happen.

Antisocial

My continuing struggle to get the almighty Google at arms length…

Maps has been one of those applications that just seemed impossible to replace. The investment required to pull together and maintain all that map data… never going to happen. And then:

OpenStreetMap.org, which has a bunch of alternative map providers, and can be updated (to what extent, i’m not really sure) by users. The UI is using the tiled ‘drag to scroll’ metaphor that seems to be the current state of the art for mapping. It’s probably not yet the answer if you’re in Japan (the maps are there, but the search doesn’t seem to cope with kanji input), but maybe someone will take an interest and tidy things up.

The other recent experiment is ixQuick. A European search engine, that has a proper privacy policy, and offers some interesting proxying options. The last time i played with it, several years ago, it’s search results weren’t up to much. Looking at them now, it would appear to be better than DuckDuckGo, and maybe as useful as Google when they were focused on general search. As with every alternative, it’s not as fast as Google but it’s bearable. Sub-second search just isn’t worth that much to me i guess…

Finally, Glims gives me a way to change the default search provider, and configure other search providers as needs. The install is also rather nice as it gives you an option that installs only the bits you might be interested it. This is good as Glims seems to be one of those ‘do *everything*!!’ plugins.