For a special birthday, Jo has created a special video. This must be what it feels like to be on “This Is Your Life”.

Thanks to Jo and to all who contributed.

My 40th Birthday Video

Having tried Android in the form of the HTC One and not been impressed, I thought I’d try the other main alternative to Apple with a Windows phone.

Long story short, it was better than Android but still not very good so it’s gone back to Vodafone.

The phone itself was good.  It had a quality feel, sat well in the hand and had a nice screen.  The only downside to the phone was that it struggled to keep a signal in my house.  I live in an area where signal strength is not very good and Vodafone only claim that the signal is OK when I’m outside.  With the old iPhone 4, getting signal was poor.  Now with iPhone 4s I do get better signal but I do sometimes pick up the phone to find that it’s on No Signal.  With the 925 I found that it was almost without signal.

Windows on the phone was, as I said earlier, much better than Android.  It had a consistency and level of quality that I felt was missing from Android, but still not acceptable to me though.

First off, the email integration.  I have 3 email accounts, each hosted on Exchange.  You’d have thought with MS to MS products I’d be fine right?  I mean, everything worked fine in connecting to these servers from iOS and from Android.  No, for an unknown reason, the phone would not connect to my home email account, except through POP3 which removes the ability for push emails, it was polling every 15 minutes.  Not good enough.

Secondly the Office 365 integration, I’m interested in that as we use it at work.  If you setup your email account and then try to setup Office 365, you’re going to have a bad time because it doesn’t let you choose from an already configured email account to connect.  So I had to remove my work account and then re-add it from Office 365.  Not good enough.

Lastly, we have Internet Explorer.  I think I might be the last IT professional (who hasn’t sold their soul to MS) who is still using Internet Explorer on their work and home PC so I’m happy in using it.  On the phone though it just couldn’t render mobile sites correctly.  Google Finance for example is fine on my iPhone and was on the HTC One but on this phone it showed links as links but they weren’t clickable.  Not good enough.  You can default all browsing to the desktop site versions which mostly works but then whats the point in having mobile sites that are optimised for small screens?

Overall I’d say the biggest problem was with the phone signal and the Internet Explorer problem a distant second.  The other problems just annoyances but at the end of the day, when I upgrade phone, I don’t expect to go backwards, I may as well keep my current phone…

So now I’m back to the iPhone 4s, hoping to buy something else and not line Apple’s deep pockets further.  Blackberry next?  Or perhaps I will give up and get the next iPhone in September.

I started with the Syma S107G, had lots of fun but the battery soon couldn’t hold enough charge for it to take off so I bought a Syma S119G.  This was even better, more stable and the battery has lasted much longer and is still going strong.

The downside, for me, to the S119G is that it’s quite slow.  Sometimes it almost seems to hesitate as it flies forwards, slowing down and then speeding back up to max speed.

So the scene is set, I’m hankering after a faster helicopter, but what to buy? A good browse around on Syma’s website and I’m tempted by 2 features:

  1. Radio control rather than infra red – currently when I’m flying too close to the TV when it’s on or by a window with bright sunshine, the helicopter just drops out of the sky – hopefully radio control will avoid that.  It might also mean I can fly in the sunshine, such as… outside.
  2. 4 channel movement – having enjoyed Cyclone at great length, it would be nice to have the ability to fly sidewards.

So the helicopter with all of those features is the Syma F3.

I’ve hunted on eBay and Amazon for where to get one over a few months and I’ve only recently been able to find it on who export from China.  It was £32.50 including delivery.  Delivery is supposed to take 7 to 15 days to the UK and in the end it took from being ordered late on a Wednesday night to arriving in the post on the following Wednesday which I am calling 6 days.

It was well packaged and arrived unscathed.

In the box you get:

  • The F3
  • The controller
  • 2 batteries (yes 2!)
  • Charger and USB cable
  • Spare rotors
  • Instructions

As always with Syma products, the instructions are not too well translated.  Of particular note, mode 1 and mode 2 can only be toggled by holding button A to the right while the controller is switching on but this isn’t mentioned in the instructions.  Took me a while to work that out.

On first power up I was disappointed to find that the helicopter just wants to fling itself to the left.  Taking off I have to push the heli to the right and get myself up to hover at which point, after tweaking the trims, the heli now hovers stable and stationary.  It still wants to go to the left on take-off though.

My next disappointment is if I choose to rotate the heli to face me.  I’m running mode 1 so if I was being clumsy I’d be messing with the power.  But no, it would appear I’m not clumsy as it doesn’t change altitude, it flings itself off to it’s left at enormous speed.

Is it a pilot error issue?  Do I need to learn to control this?  Do I need to send it back?  Watch this space and I’ll update you.

What else?

With 2 batteries to swap between you get double the fly time as I’m getting 6 minutes+ per battery.  A small concern is that the battery holder in the landing gear does seem a little fragile.

It is fast.  Much faster than the S119G and I’m talking in all directions, not just when it’s flinging itself into the wall when it faces me.  And I have it in low speed mode.

I hope I can get it tamed!