May 20 2012

How Fast And Where?

Category: Kazakh Driving,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 11:10 pm

For a few weeks now, I have been meaning to write a post about a shop here in Astana that sells car accessories. Before you scroll down to the next post too quickly, for anyone living here in Kazakhstan, or interested in GPS systems, you may want to carry on reading a little while longer…
The shop is called “AvtoNavigator”, and the staff member we have dealt with most of the time is called Oleg. I’ll try and find their contact details and amend this post/tweet them later. Anyway, first of all, why have I wanted a GPS system, as well as a in-car video recording system for our car? Well the GPS answer has two parts, and the first is quite obvious – if I end up lost in the city (easier than you might think, should a random road on a familiar route be closed), I want to ensure I can either easily get home/to a landmark I recognise, so I can re-orient myself quickly, or at the very least, phone Irina and explain which road I am on, and where would she recommend heading to. The second part of answer as to why I wanted a GPS system also ties in neatly with the camera; if a policeman pulls me over, and I believe his assessment of my driving may be based more upon a current financial shortfall he is suffering, as compared to an actual offence having taken place, I would like to a) Have cinematic proof that I did not cross a double white line/drive through a red light and b) Have my exact location and speed recorded. (I am using Navitel’s Navigator software and maps, which allows me to constantly record the track I’m taking, and analyze it later with Google Earth for example. Now, if someone tries to make a claim for a road traffic accident, and says that I was driving at 90km/hr, on the wrong side of the road, when I breezed through a red light, and consequently, I’m to blame for our cars colliding, I can turn around and provide proof that their memory is at best fuzzy, if not trying to make an outright lie seem like the truth.
There is the possibility that should push ever come to shove, the device’s evidence will be over-ruled by any witness who makes a counter claim as to the truth, but just having the peace of mind that I can replay videos at the scene should hopefully be enough to calm my nerves, and avoid confrontation on Astana’s roads.


Anyway, back to AvtoNavigator, the first GPS device I purchased from them has been working out well (a similar device purchased in Almaty died very quickly, and had a few software issues), and the initial selection process was made very easy. Oleg knew his stock well, and after explaining which features/specifications were important to us, he narrowed it down to a few devices. Rather than trying to sell us the most expensive, or simply pointing at a whole shelf, he honestly explained which ones he thought would be worth looking at, and of some use should a vehicle accident occur. Although we were not as lucky with the in-car video recording system (which reminds me, I still want to put a few videos up on YouTube when I get the time), he again didn’t try and suggest that the more expensive models were best suited to our needs, and admitted that the Chinese manufactured items sometimes had variable quality across different batches. As it turns out, we returned a couple of different models, until we found one that was reasonably good, and as long as we kept the paperwork, and the device hadn’t obviously been mistreated, the whole swapping process was incredibly quick. A lot better than I’d expect from some UK stores, certainly.
I’ll try and write a post or two on the software modifications I’ve carried out on the GPS device (it is Windows CE-based, so reasonably easy to fiddle with), as well as some beta-testing I’ve carried out for a programmer from the XDA developers forum. Anyway, enough for now, I need to crack on with some other work and try and save some money up for a possible future trip – more to come on that once I know how things stand!

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Jun 19 2009

Hurricane With Windows Mobile 6.1

Category: Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 1:17 am

For any UK readers, you’ll also find it listed as an Orange C550 (HTC often sell their models on via other networks, and so often each model has a lot of alternative names).

Anyway, despite the down direction on the joystick being a little wonky, since installing WM6.1, I’ve grown to like the phone again. I have learned that EITHER using WM5torage (a tool to enable the phone to be used as a mass storage device, thereby avoiding the need to install ActiveSync on a PC first) OR OMAPClock (a tool to overclock (or in my case attempt battery life improvement by underclocking)) on this particular model, with this particular ROM (selang09’s wm 6.1 – a breeze to install thanks to ubrdave’s helpful instructions here) caused some sort of corruption, leaving my phone convinced that all EXEs were not valid Windows CE applications! I’m assuming it was the underclocking that did it somehow. Anyway, lesson learned, phone NOT bricked, so re-flashed it, and carried on guessing what some of the included Chinese language programs do.

With 6.1 installed, I was able to start using apps that required .NET CF 3.0 or above, like PockeTwit, though live access to the camera does seem to not be possible – don’t know if this is a hardware limitation that the developers haven’t been able to work around, or whether this is related to the non-standard ROM I’m using. I’ve yet to try Barcorama on the Hurricane (a barcode scanner application), but I can imagine the ever present security guards in Kazakh supermarkets getting their knickers in a twist if I attempt any price comparisons/uploading 🙂

Here is a quick screenshot of how the phone looks right now, I miss the ability to easily add/remove components from the equivalent of the today screen, compared to the Kaiser with its WM6.1 Pro, but I haven’t yet had to fall back to my v.old Sony Ericsson K700, so I can’t really complain. Editing homescreens on WM2003SE involved plugins and XML files for the main config, so I’m hoping I can bluff my way through customizing the interface a little in the future.

Orange C550 HTC Hurricane Windows Mobile 6.1

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