Snapcam App Review

Snapcam is currently a Windows Phone exclusive app which enables you to upload a gallery of images and have them printed in a matter of a few days, as a photo book.

I read about the service on the Lumia Conversations blog as Snapcam were promoting the service with a discount voucher for Valentines Day. I thought it would make a nice personalised present for my wife to have a couple of books printed with photos of our two greyhounds, from the images stored on my Lumia 830 and laptop.

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At the moment, the service has two options available – a hardback book or a glossy softback book. Once received, the images are printed on high quality Xerox paper and the book is posted out to you.

The service costs £4.99 for the softback book and £9.99 for the hardback book with a nominal amount of about three quid for shipping.

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You first create an album by importing images from your camera roll or OneDrive. I found the easiest way to get all the images into the album was to copy and sort my images from the different sources I had into a folder on OneDrive and then import them in one download. Contrary to one app reviewer, I was able to use images stored in a nested folder on OneDrive. Once in the album, the images can be swapped around and Snapcam automatically fits them into the page depending on the number of images and their orientation. This can result in some portrait images being stacked on top of each other (if you have more than 24, there is a minimum of 12 images to complete an album) which isn’t necessarily making the most of the available space on the page. However this can give the pages a bit of variety instead of the same format repeating across each page. The front page image does need a bit of consideration in its layout, in that the image can’t be moved up or down to get the correct placement at the top and bottom parts of the page. Therefore you have pick an image where you know that the top and bottom parts of the image aren’t going to get chopped off. Hopefully this flexibility can be introduced in an app update.

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You also have some limited options to set what the album title is, colour and background (eg. Red letters on a white background) Once the album is ready you choose what print format you want where the cost of the book is advised. The app then asks you for delivery, invoice and credit card details. Once confirmed the app starts to upload the images to the Snapcam servers – I would strongly recommend that you use wireless to perform the upload as an album is likely to be a couple hundred megabytes in size.

I did hit a couple of issues during the upload process, Snapcam recommends that you leave the app open during the upload to ensure the images are uploaded successfully. However image eight seemed to get stuck and after twenty minutes of nothing happening I closed the app down and restarted it. Image nine then continued to upload and image eight had its status changed to ‘SubmittedToBts’. I guess that this means ‘submitted to background transfer service’ so there is an upload process that continues to run once all the other images have been uploaded in the foreground; roughly half a dozen images seemed to get stuck in the upload queue out of around thirty so I left the phone sat on top of my wireless charger overnight.

Checking in the morning, I noticed that all the images had been uploaded and the album had been printed! Looking for a bit of reassurance, I submitted a log file via email (this can be done in the app) to the Snapcam tech support contact to make sure all my images had been submitted successfully. I received an acknowledgement later that day but before my query could be progressed, the albums were delivered the next day! Well packaged in a hard-backed envelope, both albums contained all my submitted images as I’d sent them.

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Overall I’m thoroughly impressed with the Snapcam service; I can’t fault the quality of the prints or delivery. The app has a few rough edges and could do with a few changes to make the process of creating your album easier to customise, but there are no showstoppers here. I’d give it an 8 out of 10 overall – thanks to Lumia Conversations for bringing this to my attention – my wife was very pleased when she had the albums as one of her presents this morning!

Keeping Symbian^3 and the C7 Working at Top Speed

First of all, I’d like to wish all my visitors a very Merry Christmas. I’m currently writing this as I’m laid up in bed with a nasty cold and there is nothing to watch on telly. So, I thought I’d post a short article about a useful thing I’d discovered whilst using my Nokia C7-00.

I’d noticed recently that my C7 was getting slower and slower, especially when switching it on. It would take a matter of minutes before I could use applications within the phone ‘hanging’.

I took a look at what was ‘different’ in using the phone. I’d installed a number of applications to trisl and left them on the phone, to use ‘on a rainy day’. Thinking this would be agood place to start, I decided to have a purge on any necessary app’s and uninstalled anything that I didn’t need.

Once this was done, I rebooted the phone. Unfortunately, the performance was still the same. So, I looked at other areas of the phone and opened the messaging application. Because of the greater memory in modern phones, I’d become lazy in keeping track of my inbox/text messages and hadn’t deleted anything for a good while.

In total, I’d built up around 2,500 items, incuding sent and received SMS messages. I set about clearing everything that I didn’t need or want to keep. An easy target was the sent items folder, containing nearly 400 items. Once I’d had a clear out session, I’d reduced everything down to less than 400 messages. Another reboot… and hey presto the phone was working as quick as I’d first purchased it! Accessing the applications menu was much faster and generally the phone was much more responsive.

The moral to the story? To keep your C7 (and the same probably applies to other Symbian^3 phones) working at an optimum speed, keep your messaging inbox and associated folders to a minimum number of items as possible. Have a regular clear out and delete any messages you don’t want to keep.

Happy holidays and have fun!

Symbian Anna Update

The long-awaited Symbian ^3 Anna update was posted worldwide on Thursday the 18th of August by Nokia, making it available to operator and non-operator branded handsets. The update is available for all the Symbian ^3 handsets that currently do not ship with the update out of the box. This includes the N8, C7 and C6.

I gave it a couple of days before taking the plunge and updating my C7. Though the update can be applied OTA (over the air), it is highly recommended that it is applied via a desktop PC with Ovi Suite as it has to be installed in three steps and is nearly 300Mb in total. It is recommended that Ovi Suite is updated first, the check for updates once the phone is connected. I would recommend taking a backup of the phone settings first.

The main part which updates the firmware to v22 is applied first. This takes approximately 20 minutes to apply, the phone is rebooted and the Symbian Anna update is applied in two parts. This takes about 10-15 minutes in total.

Nokia should be commended in making the update process very seamless and easy to apply. Most noticeable differences are:

Portrait QWERTY keyboard (improved layout and split-screen)
New icon setNew web browser
Extra features in Calendar
Performance improvements
Font look and feel
Enabling NFC feature (C7 only)

All my key applications and data were retained during the update and there does not seem to be anything that ‘breaks’ because of the update. This includes ‘Gravity’, ‘Opera Mobile’ and ‘Opera Mini’, ‘Resco News’, ‘Alternate Reader’, ‘WordPress for Nokia’ and ‘Quick Office’ – the paid for version. Though I have my own Anna-based theme installed (giving a more transparent look) on the desktop, I did look at the new midnight themes – these lack colour and I went back to my old theme.

Overall though, a very worthwhile update which should be available to nearly all operators across the globe over the next few weeks.

WordPress for Nokia 0.5.2

Hopefully, this post will be the first following the installation of Qt 4.06 and the ‘official’ WordPress for Nokia application on my E71. The install seems to have gone without incident and the environment looks very nice. I can see the similarities with this and the N900 Maemo version, being a ‘tabbed’ look and feel.

First bug I’ve spotted is inserting special characters – the cursor seems to jump to the start of the document along with the insertion of the character.

Images aren’t displayed at the moment, unfortunately.

Looks promising; though for the moment I’ll stick with the Python-based Wordmobi 0.9.3 which gives me full control over my posts as well as a preview screen via ‘Web’.

New Years Partial Lunar Eclipse

Thanks to some of the information gained from reading my new digital imaging Astronomy books, I’ve managed to capture a few shots of the moon, in partial lunar eclipse on new years eve, the best of which is:-

(Click the image for a slightly larger version).

The image was took with my Canon S2IS running CHDK, attached to a mini tripod sat on the roof of my car. This the best of three shots, I didn’t get any more time to take any more as I was supposed to be getting ready for new years party! It was took at time of greatest partial totally, approx 19.22 UTC.

I also managed to get some shots around 1am of Orion in the western sky. Unfortunately they turned out to be overexposed so much that the sky was a light grey colour. The stars created a trail because I left the shutter open far too long (40 seconds). However, I still think this was a result as I caught the Orion Nebula on the image, something I never manged to achieve. I think I’ll need to shorten the exposure time by half to eliminate the star trails and exposure brightness.

Throwing these images into Registax resulted in all sorts of alignment errors, due to the rotation of the earth. Time to read some tutorials how to align stacked images I think!

Remote Locking Your Nokia E71

I came across this useful article on E71fanatics.com (link is here ) the other day, ‘how to remote lock your E71’. Useful in the respect that if you lose your E71 (or any other Symbian 60 phone), you can send a text message from another phone with a recognised code. On reception of that code, the phone locks itself and becomes useless. Only if the code is re-entered successfully, will the phone become unlocked.

I followed the instructions and sent the pre-defined lock code to the E71, from my other ‘backup’ phone, a Nokia 6680. As expected, the phone immediately locked and would not work without me entering the correct code. Satisfied my phone was now secure, I simply left it at that.

However, I have got into the habit of leaving my phone on overnight, spolit my the E71’s fantastic battery life. I was only when I came to switch the phone off to check the availability of a new firmware upgrade by looking at the operator model code insdie the phone, that I found a problem.

Because I usually install new aplications to the 8Gb MicroSD card, the theme that I had installed didn’t load. An application to display a wallpaper full screen hadn’t loaded and when I tried to access the MicroSD card through the file manager, I got a ‘Memory Card Corrupted’ message.

After a couple more reboots with no luck (and trying to access the via card via a card reader), I found that the phone would access the card if it was simply left for a short while, 5-10 minutes.

I did find that I could access the card via the USB cable, so I started backing up all the data from card, in case there was a big problem with it.

Completing the backup, I disconnected the cable and went to the S60 menu. When I tried to get card information, I was prompted for a password. This gave me an idea that the remote lock had an effect on the card and after a go with different passwords, I hit on the correct one and unlocked the card.

After I accessed a couple of programs and rebooted the phone, all is working ok now. The remote lock feature is still in use on the phone, but because I don’t keep any vital data on the MicroSD card and to save getting any more errors, the password is switched off on it.

The moral of this story? Simples – by all means us the remote lock feature, but be careful of enabling it on your memory card, you may get unexpected results.