Vodafone 555 Blue

Vodafone 555 Blue: Understanding synchronization behaviour

I would like to explain the synchronization behaviour of the Vodafone 555 Blue a bit further. With its default settings, customers should not be required to make any changes in order to get a great experience. Still there are some ways to finetune the experience and I would touch on them here:

Synchronization behaviour
The device will regularly connect to the Facebook servers and look for updates. The interval is fixed and can not be modified. As a customer you will see a little animation in the top of the status bar when the device is doing background transfers. It is worthwhile to understand that Facebook data is synchronized at different intervals. In every interval, the device will look for new messages, notifications and status updates in the newsfeed. Roughly four times per day, changes in the addressbook and other more static parts of the phone are fetched. This means that some pieces of data (e.g. a new friend) will not appear in the phonebook immediately.

These are the setting options (Facebook settings -> Background updates):

This is the most important information (messages, notifications, phonebook) and it is recommended to leave this on “auto”. Manual will give you a completely static experience and you will have to actively refresh the resepctive apps all the time.

News Feed
This is setting will control the prefetching of the News Feed. If you leave this on “auto”, your news will be constantly loaded and you will see the counters going up automatically. If this is set to manual, the News Feed has to be refreshed to be updated. The benefit of manual refesh is that it will save GPRS data volume as a manual refesh will only poll the last 200 items max.

News Feed pictures
When we designed the device, we realized that pictures in the News Feed account for about 30% of all data usage. Setting this option to “Manual update” will only load images in the News Feed when they are viewed. The effect is a big savings in GPRS data volume for the cost of having to wait for the pictures to load while browsing.

News Feed picture size
Unfortunately Facebook does not provide a picture size that would exactly match the screen resolution of the Vodafone 555 Blue. Therefore we decided to go with a smaller size of images by default to make the experience really fast. If the default size is too small, you can change the picture size to high resolution. The effect will be that the device will load a much bigger picture from the Facebook server (about 4 times as big) which will look better for the cost of increasing the loading time and GPRS data usage. As a user, you can experiment with this setting to see what works best for you.

Vodafone 555 Blue

Building the Vodafone 555 Blue

This is a really exciting post. I am writing this just a few days prior to the public announcement of the Vodafone 555 Blue.

It’s been an amazing ride and certainly one of the most exciting things I have done at Vodafone ever. So this was/is my gig: build the world’s most affordable feature phone with the deepest/best quality Facebook integration. The objective was not to preload a Facebook client onto this, instead rather integrate the Facebook functionality into the natural places. So now we have Facebook messaging being one component of the overall messaging experience, your albums are part of the gallery, etc. What we have built is really the most natural way to use Facebook. I wish I could call it “Facebook phone”, because this is what it was designed to be.

Looking back at the project now I am really thankful for being able to work with a lot of great people in Vodafone, TCT and Facebook. For us here at the Vodafone devices team, this has been a bit of disruptive approach in how we run device projects and I am happy that the whole team has been so receptive for all the unconventional ideas/methods I pushed for. What I am really proud of is that we managed to run this project much more in a hands-on startup fashion than other traditional projects and it proved to be the right way to do it. While Vodafone usually rather has more of a serious image (compared to silicon valley startups) towards the outside world, I think people would be amazed to see how cool it can be to work at Vodafone.

Roughly two more weeks to go before we hit the public and I am eagerly waiting to hear what people will say.

This is where you can find the product page http://www.vodafone.com/vodafone555blue.

Update 25th of July’11: we will annouce in two days from now. Location looks quite nice – Soho Hotel in London. I am really curious how the press will receive the Vodafone 555 Blue. We will have samples to give away – excited 🙂 Unfortunately I am not allowed to update the Facebook application page, yet. Although the device just leaked a few days ago with images and partly wrong spec. I guess nobody really gets it like this, there is just too much inside you can not explain in one line.


Using fancybox to display a gallery from a javascript array

I have been experimenting with a few javascript gallery libraries recently and most of them have major defects one way or another. After a long list of experiements, i dediced for fancybox which has all the options i need and works on top of jQuery (which i use anyway).

The one big problem i still had was how to make it display a gallery of many items, that are not references with HTML tags. So, fine, the normal way is great. Still what i wanted was to display a gallery of e.g. 20 items, while i only showed a preview of 6 on the screen.

I thought about all crazy things as i could not find any docs on how to make this work with fancybox until i came across a post on googledocs. In fact the solution was rater simple, there is actually a (undocumented) way to pass images in the form of an array:

<a href=”#” id=”mod_gallery”>Gallery</a>

$(“#mod_gallery”).click(function() {




        ‘padding’: 0,
        ‘transitionIn’: ‘elastic’,
        ‘transitionOut’: ‘elastic’,
        ‘type’ : ‘image’,
        ‘changeFade’ : 0,
        ‘overlayOpacity’: 0.8,
        ‘overlayColor’: ‘#000000’





(S)Low Carb Cookbook

Pseudo-Crepes with spinach and black bean filling

This makes a very tasty breakfast. Orginally i was thinking of it as a side dish for meat, while i was shopping for stuff. As i could not get the black beans any earlier it ended up as breakfast. You can arrange it any way you like, as a roll/wrap or more tortilla stlye. I chose to make two crepes with a filling.

– 3 egg whites
– 1 whole egg
– 1 big handful of fresh spinch leaves
– 1 small can (400g) of black beans (3/4 will also do)
– Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
– Creamy balsamic vinegar (optional)

– Cook the beans in a pot at medium heat for about 10-15 minutes (until they get a bit creamy)
– Mix the eggs with an egg beater, add salt and pepper to your liking
– Heat a small pan (3/4 heat) and add a little bit of olive oil
– Pour half of the eggs into the pan and slowly bake them like a pancake
– When done, prepare the first pancake on a plate and spread the beans over it, then add the washed spinach
– Bake the second pancake and add it on top of the first
– Optionally add some balsamic vingear

(S)Low Carb Cookbook

Pork fillet filled with mustard

This is a very simple and nice way of making a tasty pork fillet. This goes very nicely with a salad or the usual bean mixture.

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
– 1 pork fillet (>500g)
– 2 teaspoons of premium mustard
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
– 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
– Salt
– Pepper

– Heat the oven to 160°C
– Cut the garlic into 2-3 chunks each
– Cut the fillet into three pices and cut each open about half way along its length
– Fill the inside with a portion of the mustard, add salt, pepper and rosemary
– Seal each fillet with a toothpick
– Heat a frying pan, add the oil and garlic – fry for 1-2 minutes
– Add the fillet pieces, keeping the full heat
– Fry the fillet from all sides so it gets a little bit brown (about 5-6 mins in total)
– Put the pan with the fillet into the oven and gently cook for 15-17 minutes

(S)Low Carb Cookbook

Mixed Beans (Green, Pinto, Red)

This is a really nice side dish that works just as well with meat as it does with fish. It is also surprisingly tasty with an omlette in the morning.

Ingredients (3 servings):
– 1 small oninon
– 1 small tomato
– 1 clove of garlic
– 2 slices of bacon
– 1 can (400g) of pinto beans
– 1 can (400g) of red beans
– 100g fresh green beans
– 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon thyme
– Pepper
– Salt

– Peel and cut onion and garlic into small pieces, wash green beans and cut in half, cut tomato into mid size cubes
– Open the cans and pour away half of the sauce
– Heat a fyring pan and add the olive oil, thyme, garlic, bacon and onion, fry for a 2 minutes
– Add green beans and fry for another 3-4 minutes
– Add the rest of the beans and stir
– Turn down the heat to 2/3 and add the tomato
– Continue stirring and cook for about 8-10 minutes until it gets a little creamy

(S)Low Carb Cookbook

Spinach and Asparagus salad

This is a super simple recipe that makes a very nice side dish for a nice steak or chicken breast.

Ingredients (2 servings):
500g Asparagus (white or green)
200g (3 hands full) of fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon Garam Marsala (powder)
1 tablespoon good Olive Oil
Old, creamy balsamic vinegar

– Wash the spinach, peel the asparagus as needed
– Cut the asparagus into 3cm long pieces
– Heat a frying pan on full heat with the Olive Oil inside
– Once hot, add the asparagus and fry it without stirring until it gets a little bit brown
– Stir and reduce heat by 1/4
– Add the salt and Garam Masala and stir for it to evenly distribute
– Continue frying it until it gets just a bit soft and let it cool down a bit – done!
– Prepare servings on each plate with the spinach, a bit of balsamic vinegar on top. Add the warm asparagus and serve as a side dish