Interview: Rafe Blandford

11. September 2007 at 17:39

I think that everybody of you know him – Rafe Blandford. He is owner of Allaboutsymbian. I’m really proud that he answered my questions. Let’s go:

Previous interviews:

Michell Bak

Michael Hell

-Gregory Taieb

-James Burland

Ricky Cadden

-Phillip Schwarzmann

So, tell me something about your person.(age, hobby etc.)
I’m Rafe, I live in the UK and I’m 25.

How do you come to the mobile and S60 scene?
I first became interested in the mobile world via Psion hand held computers. About 5 weeks before some school exams I broke both my wrists. I got a Psion 5 to help me take revision notes and keep up in class. I later upgraded to a Psion 7 which, I still consider one of the best portables ever made. At this time I had a personal web page where I wrote a few things about Psion, and this later included information about Symbian (as you probably know Symbian was spun out of Psion in 1998). At some point (before the first device were even released) I added some information about the Pearl UI. Pearl was the code name for the UI that later became Series 60. Back then there was very little information available and not much interest – I remember being pleased when I finally reached the 1000 visitor mark after several months.

Tell us something about AAS.
All About Symbian (AAS), one of the old ladies of the Symbian web world, aims to cover all things Symbian, S60 and UIQ through the informed and in depth content found in our news, features and reviews sections. In addition to these there are also various other elements to the site such as the forum and software directory. We do our best to cover everything, but these days that’s getting to be increasingly hard!
It is important to know that AAS is a lot more than just me. There’s a team of people writing for and helping run All About Symbian including, Steve Litchfield, Ewan Spence and Krisse Juorunen. There are also a number of other guest / contributing writers, forum moderators and other helpers and we’re always on the look out for more people. Of course there’s all the people who visit the site too – if they didn’t AAS would not be possible.

Why did you start with AAS?
I’m not sure I can really remember! Part of it was about was experimenting with web design and Internet technologies. However a lot if it was because it was something I was (and still am) very passionate about. For a number of years AAS was only a hobby and relatively infrequently updated. Things picked up while I was at University (time I probably should have spent studying) and even more so once I graduated. I guess you could say AAS started when the name changed from All About ER6 to All About Symbian in October 2002. That name change was obviously a necessity as by then Symbian 7 had been released.

Do you have an idol (blogging idol)?
I don’t think there was any one person, but there have been plenty of people who have offered encouragement and advice over the years. In recent years the Symbian and S60 web community has greatly expanded. I know I take a certain amount of inspiration from the rest of S60 community. It has been a real pleasure getting to know people online and in some cases meet them face to face at various events. I’m always looking for feedback and ideas so if there’s anything people think AAS should be doing please let me know!

What was your first S60 phone and which device do you have at the moment?
My first S60 device was the 3650. I’m fortunate in that I get to see and play with a lot of S60 devices; right now I’m playing with a Nokia 6120 (very impressive), but I also have an N95 on hand as well.

What do you like most about S60?
It is difficult to pick out one thing, but for me it is not about S60 itself, but rather it is about what it enables me to do. In this regard it is the open nature of S60 that is one of its biggest plus points.

Where should S60 makes improvements?
I think it is hard to be specific about this as we all have areas we would like to see improved. I would like to see performance improvements and continued support for cutting edge hardware and technologies (e.g. support for remote screens). At the same time I recognize it is also important to enable the ability to build high volume (mass market), low cost S60 devices.
Some of the standard application suite could also be improved and I think S60 might do well, for certain applications, to move away from the stance of only updating applications with a new release of the platform. Technology like firmware over the air could help enable this.
On a more general level: S60 started life as a software platform for high end device, but it is now also used on mid tier devices. People using these devices generally have contrasting use cases. Making things intuitive and simple to use can run counter to adding new features for high end users. Thus I think S60 will have to continue to improve the progressive disclosure of the UI. Related to this is the fact that over the years S60 has grown a lot more flexible and I’m sure this trend will continue (e.g. different device form factors, different input types, wider range of devices etc.). Keeping a coherent feel and compatibility to the software platform with a diverging device family will be difficult but is a key factor in achieving future success for S60. For example touch screen S60 devices have been anticipated for some time. However it not a simple matter of adding the hardware – there will need to be software changes too and this is a major under taking with implicit implications for the software platform. I also think S60 needs to keep the pace of innovation high – it may be the current market leader and it needs to work hard to retain that position.

Now a question you miss and you want to answer?
If there are any other questions your readers want to ask please leave them in the comment thread and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.