Tag Archives: mobile

How to not do CRM: Telfort.

Warning: this is a rant…

I have been a (mostly happy) customer of Telfort for the last few years. The provided phone (and 3G) access over the (good) KPN network, I paid their bills; everybody happy. Over the last few years I have paid them well over €7.000.

Until last week.
I woke up to a text I missed a payment, and they disconnected me. I looked into my bank statements, and it seemed they (automatic) bill for oktober failed. The bill for November did work. I immediately made the payment I missed, and give them a call. There they explained that getting reconnected will take 5 days. 5 Days?!

My questions:

  • Why couldn’t they warn me by SMS there was an open bill? They did send me one when I was disconnected. Why no last warning a day before? (yes, they did send me a letter, which I must have missed).
  • Why didn’t they retry their automatic bill? Their next bill worked, they could have just added the outstanding amount to it.
  • Why, in this realtime age, does it take 5 days to look up a bank statement and reconnect a phone? Isn’t this an ongoing process?
  • Why don’t they do any risk calculation? I understand from their perspective providing service to non-paying customers is expensive. But I’m not a new pre-paid account: I have paid them well over €7K over the years, and never not paid a penny. It’s not like I’m a high-risk customer: They should have made that calculation, and understood I would pay.
  • Don’t they do automatic cost/benefit analysis? On average I pay them €5/day, so they have about €25 in missed income. Also, I have been talking to their call-center about this, which must have high costs on their eind. All in all their direct costs will be at least € 50,-. And since I’m planning to look for another telco, their indirect costs will be a lot higher.

I keep on thinking this is stupid from both a short-time financial perspective (today I’m costing them direct money, instead of making them any), and a long time perspective: I’m losing my interest in them, and wouldn’t advocate them to my friends.

The most frustrating thing is this whole mess could have been prevented with one text message (or call). Something like “You have missed a payment, if you don’t pay in the next 2 days, you will be disconnected”.

VGZ op Reis live on iPhone and Android

Last week VGZ op Reis went live. It’s a mobile application for people on vacation, build by me.

It’s the first application I’ve worked on that simultaneously is released on iPhone and Android. Below you can find a (dutch) screencast which explains the functions of the application. It features several phone numbers that can be usefull on vacation, you can save your own phone numbers to it, you can share your location by email, and the iPhone version also allows you to create your own iPhone Wallpaper.

The design of the application was done by the brilliant guys at BUROPONY.

Sensation Vodafone 360 widget live

It’s always cool to work on new mobile platforms. And since I’m a big believer of HTML as a future cross-platform development environment, the Vodafone widget platform shows a nice promise. I had done some experiments with the platform, but now the first widget went live.

Together with The Saints I developed a widget for Sensation for the Vodafone platform. It shows the latest video’s from Sensation’s Youtube channel. It also shows the news around their world-wide events, and the latest tweets from the official Sensation channel.

For those running the Vodafone widgets, or owning the H1 or M1: It’s available in the Vodafone widget market. http://widget.vodafone.com/dev/widgets/sensation_16528

Since most of the content of Sensation is on public platforms (Youtube, Twitter), which all have an API, the widget could be developped fairly easy without further technical support by the organisation.

New old project: DWDD iPhone app


I have been so busy working on new projects, that there is a bit of a backlog of things I worked on, and that are live now. One of them is the DWDD iPhone app I built for the Vara. DWDD is a popular daily dutch TV show. The iPhone app shows the short (5 minutes) version of the last 10 shows, as well as the full version of the latest broadcast.

You can get the app for free in the Itunes Appstore.

ING iPhone app Stufi Live.

Screen1For the ING I developed an iPhone app called Stufi. If your a dutch student you get a monthly allowance by the government. This is always a big day for students, as it means they can go shopping/drinking again. The main goal of Stufi is to count down to the next moment this happens.
The app also allows you to get a text with your current bank saldo (by using your phone number as an identifier). Also it has a gimick where you can decide who should do the dishes etc.
The app was developed in coorperation with SPRXmobile and the graphic design was done by the talented people at postmachina. You can get the app in the Itunes Appstore.

Journaal iPhone app in the news

This post will be in dutch. Abstract: The iPhone news app I created, was mentioned in the biggest daily news broadcast.

This text will be replaced

De NOS Journaal iPhone app die gisteren is gelanceerd is vandaag aangekondigd in het NOS 8 uur journaal. Ook staat de applicatie momenteel op Nr 1 als populairste download in de nederlandse appstore. Yay!

NOS Journaal iPhone app live on the Appstore


The followers of my twitter account might have noticed that I spend some time at the NOS (the Dutch public broadcasters) the last few weeks. Now I can announce the result of my work: The official NOS Journaal app is live! It shows the last news broadcast, as well as the last 8’o clock broadcast.  It can now be downloaded in the Appstore!

It runs on iPhone and iPod Touch, both over 3G (if fast enough, depending on coverage and subscription) and WiFi.

More about the app can be read at the NOS nieuwe media blog (dutch) and the website of iPhoneClub (also dutch) who was first to notice the app.

Tweakers also wrote about it, and right now it’s #2 on the dutch appstore. Yay!

Mobile Widget Camp talk: Hello Cats

View more presentations from PanMan.

Today I gave a quick (really quick: About 3 minutes) talk on how easy it is to build a mobile widget. To show that I ported the jQuery Cats example to a mobile widget. In the talk above I go over all the steps needed to run web code on a phone. Not shown in the slides, but it was in the talk, is that this actually runs on phones :).

Comparing mobile widget platforms

picture-33 V.S. wrt_quickstart_button

Mobile widgets seem to be the new black. This week I tried two different mobile widget platforms: The Nokia Web Runtime and the Opera/Vodafone widget platform.

Both platforms make it possible to build applications that can run on mobile phones, developed in languages known to all webdeveloppers: HTML/Javascript and CSS. Nokia with it’s runtime (logically) targets it’s own handsets for this platform. Opera has a broader approach than just phones: They see the widget platform as something that can run on phones, but also desktop PC’s, set-top boxes, internet tablets, and even game consoles. While this sounds ambitious, Opera makes browsers for all these devices, so it might not be to far-fetched.

On a side note: It’s interesting how  the boundaries between applications, websites and widgets are all disappearing: These widgets are basically downloadable webapplications, which can run totally offline (but often will interact with the  data on the Internet).

File formats

To start with the good: Both platforms are really similar. They both use a renamed zipfile to pack a bunch of HTML, CSS and Javascript files with a config XML file into one downloadable ‘application’. Opera calls it’s config data config.xml, and it’s files .wgt. Nokia uses info.plist XML files (which have a really strange syntax, for XML files. Who came up with that?)  and .wgz for the files. But on general the differences here aren’t that big, and it should be possible to build one widget that runs on both platforms (if you copy the file to the two 2 extensions). The actual code is all standard HTML, with some (Javascript) extensions to interact with the device, and the various states a widget can be in (some can be dockable, for example).

A advantage of the Opera platform is that they target the (still developing)  W3C standard which (hopefully) leads to more interoperability between widget platforms.


The SDK’s they offer are more different: Nokia offers a HUGE SDK (seriously, 622 MB install to run some HTML code?!). Also their SDK will only install (and run) in Windows, which is a pitty as a lot of webdev’s use Mac’s these days (I know it’s possible to run windows apps on a mac, but it is less convenient). Another disadvantage is the need to signup on the Forum Nokia website to download the SDK: The signup isn’t too much of a hassle, but for me it took quite long for the confirmation mail to arrive. This SDK does allow you to run widgets, but doesn’t assist in the creation of the files (not that it’s too hard to do manually, but still). In their defense: they also offer a plugin for the Aptana Studio, and this will become the preferred method of development, but I wanted to use my own editors to start with. I have also taken a look at the Aptana studio, and that looks cleaner (but stopped working at my computer after a few hours).

Vodafone Betavine/Opera offers a small SDK, which consists of 3 parts. The first is a Betavine branded “widget packager”. This is a simple tool that assists in the making of the XML file, and the creation of the zipfile. It includes some sample widgets. It also allows you to add some know frameworks to your widget, but unfortunately the popular jQuery isn’t one of the included frameworks. While the process this isn’t too difficult to do manually, the wizard is a nice way to get started. Also included is the standard desktop Opera browser, that enables you to (test) run widgets. The third item in the download is a Betavine branded .sis file that can be installed on Nokia S60 phones to run the widgets.

Phone Integration

In terms of Phone integration the Nokia runtime is the clear winner: The widgets immediately work on the 5800 Xpress music I tried them on, and to the user look like other applications. The Vodafone widgets on the other hand, first required me to install the Vodafone Runtime on my phone. Even then the widgets (currently) don’t live with the other applications, but in their own, branded, folder. While this isn’t too complex, tasks like these are hard to explain to the average user. However I expect Vodafone to have their runtime pre-installed on phones they sell, and to have more device integration.

Another advantage of the Nokia platform is that it has Device libraries which enable widgets to access device specific data. This includes location, calendar entries, contacts, and other data. Having this access makes the widgets a true application platform, and are a big advantage over standard (mobile) websites that don’t have these capabilities. This is something that is missing from the Opera platform.


I now have a phone which has 2 widget runtimes: Both the Vodafone/opera and the Nokia one. Both are similar in what they support, and while Vodafone/Opera had a bit smoother process (for me), the Nokia SDK also works and currently offers device integration that the Opera platform lacks. The next few months we’ll see a battle between these two, to become “the one true” widget platform. My guess is that both grow towards each other: Opera will add device capabilities (starting with location), and since the Opera one is backed by the W3C, it will become the standard. Nokia will simply start to (also) support this standard, which shouldn’t be too hard: Mostly adapting a different type of config file and extension. However I do hope that standard will offer the device capabilities that Nokia currently has.

Important to conclude is that it’s really simple to develop for both platforms: I have ported some HTML/Javascript code I had to both platforms in just a few hours. So get hacking, and build a nice widget!

(Full disclosure: I organized MobileDevCamp, sponsored by Nokia, and I am organizing Mobile Widgetcamp, sponsored by Vodafone. However this post only reflects my own opinions).

This week: MobileDevcamp / Music & bits


In the category: Stuff that keeps me busy: This week I’m co-organizing an event. Actually it’s 2 events, but they are at the same location, and have a shared schedule. As you might know, The Next Web is coming to town this week. We decided it would be nice to have two side events.

They are called Mobile Devcamp and Music & Bits. Mobile Devcamp will be a day about mobile developments. It’s in Unconference style: There are no planned speakers, but all attendees can propose a talk they want to give (and we have some nice announcements planned!).

The other event is called Music & Bits and has a more conventional (but not less interesting) schedule: It’s about the combination of music and technology. They have some great speakers lined up.

For those interested: Signup is here. (you can attend both events, with 1 signup! Isn’t that service!).

I hope to see you in Spaces (which is a great space!) this Wednesday!