Tag Archives: TomTom

iPhone 4 and the accessories conundrum

Apple took the decision to change the physical design of the iPhone in the latest revision (also known as iPhone 4, or, “ahmmmmm shiny WANT”). It’s a good move as the 3G/3GS was lovely but a tiny bit dated. The fourth-generation model sits beautifully flatly on a tabletop and it simply gleams in its glass-and-aluminium glory. And when you start to read text on that retina display – woah – it’s beyond crisp.

One issue I did foresee before picking mine up was the accessories problem. iPod owners are used to this, of course, as every model of the nano has had a different form factor requiring a new case, or whatever. One particularly smart thing Apple have done all along, though, is retain the universal dock connector so that cables and things are all interchangeable.

For my 3G and 3GS (yes, I went through both generations) I’d had a Mophie Juicepack Aira Mophie Juicepack Air case which acted as a second battery, handy considering how much I tended to use it as a mobile computing device during the day. I’d also made the significant investment of a TomTom mount for the car. I more-or-less knew that the Juicepack wouldn’t work on the iPhone 4 as the shape of the device is so different, but I was moderately hopeful that the TomTom kit would work since I’d just had a new car stereo fitted and I use the mount (and TomTom app) all the time.

Well. It turns out that the iPhone 4 is exactly the same height as the 3GS, so it does indeed fit neatly into the TomTom mount. However – I found that it wouldn’t charge. It turned out that this was an issue with the way in which the base of the TomTom mount used to be pushed backwards by the converse curved shell of the older model… and there is now a tiny gap between the body of the phone and the back of the mount.

A trip to a local craft store and just over £1 spent fixed that particular issue for me and I now have a working mount. I made a quick video (using the camera and iMovie on the new iPhone) to demonstrate the fix. Take a look.

I’m guessing there will either be a whole new mount, or an “official” fix/patch from TomTom in the future – but this is working brilliantly for me. Tell all your friends!

Sheffield, with US support

I spent the last couple of days working in the Sheffield area. Well – when I punched the town name into the IBM travel reservation system, the nearest hotels I could find were in Sheffield, so I plumped for a Holiday Inn up there.

I’m not familiar with Sheffield, I’ve only ever passed through before, and I had a lot of work to do on Wednesday night so I can’t say that I saw much of the city. I didn’t know my way, but that wasn’t an issue because I had the TomTom with me.

Except… well… I picked Navigate to Point Of Interest, and chose the relevant Holiday Inn from the list. Once I was within 3 minutes of the place, I started to keep an eye out. I sailed past the sharp left that led up a ramp to the Royal Victoria Holiday Inn, following the satnav directions, and turned left further along the road onto a busy road which led me away from the premises. Then I tried putting the postcode and address of the hotel in, and that confused things further. The problem is that the hotel itself is about 40 feet above the main road, and to reach it you need to drive up a ramp that crosses another road via a bridge… basically the satnav was not set up to deal with this at all, and it took me 20 minutes to navigate back around to the entrance.

Things didn’t go any better at check-in, where I wasn’t greeted particularly warmly. The receptionist pointed me to the lift and said I was on the second floor. Up I went. Stepping out of the lift, I looked for directions to my room (260). There was a sign pointing one way[1] for rooms 221-258, and another pointing another direction for rooms 261-270. Spot the omission.

Wandered around and eventually found my room. Quite nice. Very modern, nice bathroom. I switched on the light by the desk… nothing happened. Then I found that the bulb was missing. I swapped a bulb from the light by the bed… nothing happened. Fine. I turned on the floor lamp by the desk… nothing happened. Ah, that had been unplugged. I could see why: two sockets by the desk, one of which was taken by the power for the broadband hub. I left the the lamp unplugged, and powered my laptop instead.

Next, I connected the laptop to the network cable on the desk… no connection. Hmm. I rebooted, and still wasn’t given an IP address. Disabled my firewall, rebooted the router, tried various things. Nothing. I called reception, and they put me through to the support department, in the US.

– welcome to Guesttek support, can I first please take the telephone number of the hotel where you are staying?
– errr… yes… just let me find it…
– it should be printed on the phone, sir
– you’d think so, wouldn’t you? it isn’t!
(pause whilst I scrabbled through the papers by the phone, which was positioned by the bed – found it)
– OK, the number is +44… hello? hello?
(they had cut me off)


At this point I decided to use my 3G card instead.

Room service arrived. The lady asked if everything was alright with my stay.
I explained that I didn’t have a network connection, and I hadn’t been able to find the room.

5 minutes later, whilst I was eating, the telephone rang – “Mr Piper, would you like me to put you through to the helpline?”. Well, were they going to cut me off again? I also pointed out that the phone was by the bed, on the other side of the room from the desk. The receptionist expressed surprise – wasn’t there a phone on the desk? No, definitely not. Look, I said, I’ve got work to do and dinner to eat – leave it.

I then had a frustrating evening fighting with an iffy 3G/GPRS connection. Not great.

In the morning, there was a telephone charge on my bill. I can only assume that they were trying to charge me for calling their support line. I don’t make a habit of filling out hotel comment forms, but in this case, I left a short essay detailing the inadequate lighting, network and directions to my room… haven’t heard from the hotel yet.

I had just as frustrating a time trying to get out of Sheffield with computer-aided support as I had trying to find my way in, but at least I made it to the office on time.

[1] I don’t actually remember the precise numbers – but there was a gap where 260 should have been.

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In-car FM transmitter for TomTom

For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting one of the small FM transmitters for the car, so that I can use my little USB stick MP3 player, or listen to MP3s from the TomTom 910. They used to be illegal in the UK, but the ban was lifted in December.

At the weekend, I discovered that Amazon UK were listing them for 1p. Couldn’t be right, could it? So I ordered one (they come from a third party supplier), half expecting the order to be cancelled. Postage was £4.50. It arrived this morning! 🙂

I’ve not tried it yet. It can either take a battery, or be plugged in to the lighter socket in the car… which would be an issue if I wanted to use it with the TomTom, since that uses the same power source. Still, for the price, I think this is a neat accessory.

Ironically, I just read on yourNav that TomTom announced a new mount with an inbuilt FM transmitter at CES today, and may now abandon the plans for the full Bluetooth car kit for the new TomTom GO series. I don’t agree with the issue that yourNav raises about making a choice between the CD/radio and the TomTom – I could always listen to music from the TomTom. It is just a shame that I would potentially have to spend money on a new mount, though… for now, I don’t think I’ll be investing in this option, but I might change my mind later.

Does satellite navigation make us dumber?

It sounds as though Adrian might have been right when he blogged about the erratic behaviour of motorists who have satellite navigation devices.

Yahoo! News reports that some drivers rely on their in-car navigation so much that they lose the ability to use common sense and spatial awareness – and end up driving into rivers… (amongst other blunders).

I have to agree with the Blaupunkt spokesperson quoted in the article:

“If a traffic light is red it’s obvious you have to stop even if the satnav says ‘drive straight on’,” he said. “People who drive into rivers and then blame their satnav are just too humiliated to accept blame themselves.”

Originally found via Tech Digest.

Media on the TomTom GO

Here’s something I didn’t know I wanted – a media player for my TomTom GO 910.

I was reviewing my blog stats earlier, and noticed that someone had found my site with the search term “TomTomGO+910+playlist+software”.

Now, it’s true that I’d personally like an app to enable me to create or edit playlists on my TomTom. Right now, as I understand it, you create a .m3u file in Windows Media Player, and then upload it to the device – which drags in all the MP3s behind it. Cool, but doesn’t help me to create custom playlists from the music already on the device. So, I’m still interested in this topic.

Curious, I tried the search on the same string, and found a number of references to media players for TomTom devices.

It appears that there are two apps that enable video to be viewed on the TT: Media Studio from Makayama (which apparently converts DVDs for you, but from what I’ve read on various forums may have issues with ongoing TT firmware upgrades); and Media Center from MobilNova (which will play AVIs and MPEGs, and seems a little “safer” in terms of compatibility with firmware changes).

It seems that both apps by default won’t let you watch video on the move, but that feature can be disabled.

This is funky. I don’t currently have a portable media player (other than my laptop, I suppose). Clearly there’s no point in trying to use this whilst driving, but any passenger could get some use out of it.

I haven’t sprung for either of these apps yet. Can’t find any reviews of them, so I’m slightly nervous. Pretty cool, though, and I’m a total junkie for anything new like this 🙂

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