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Working around O2 Ireland

I’m pretty conservative with my mobile phones — until recently, my mobiles were all cheap, low-end, super-lightweight Nokias with long battery life and low “worry factor” (ie. not a big deal if they were lost or stolen). Very sensible.

I’ve finally started catching up with the gadgetorati, though — my current phone is now a Sony Ericsson K550i, which is still small and light, but has nice features like a 2 megapixel camera, a decent amount of onboard flash space, and a good implementation of Java, hence support for GMail and Google Maps. (Thanks to Joe for the recommendation!)

The only downside is that it came from my operator, O2 Ireland, with some broken configuration settings. (This shouldn’t be surprising, of course — I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a phone arriving with working data connectivity, from any operator, anywhere in the world.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve done so far to fix it. Hopefully this might be helpful for random google searchers.

1. “Failed to resolve hostname” when publishing photos:

Generally, when I’d try to publish a photo using its Blogger support, I’d get a “failed to resolve hostname” error message. Investigating further, I found that the “O2 WAP” service used a proxy server — turning that off fixed the problem nicely. Nice reliable proxy you’ve got there, O2 ;)

Here’s how to do that. Open the menu, then select Settings -> Connectivity -> Internet settings -> Internet Profiles. Select O2 WAP and hit More -> Settings. Select Use proxy and change it to No, then hit Save. Problem solved.

2. Cannot send email from the device:

O2’s default mail server has a tendency to refuse to accept outbound mail from the phone. Switching to GMail for outbound SMTP works fine. Notice a trend here?

Open the menu, Messaging -> Email -> Settings -> New account. Set the Account name to “gmail”. Scroll down to Email address, set it to “[email protected]”. Connection type is “POP3”, Username and Password are whatever your GMail account uses. Outgoing server is “smtp.gmail.com”. Enter Advanced settings, and set Encryption to “TLS/SSL”. Set Outgoing port to “25”. Press the back button, then select the “gmail” account’s tickbox to make it active, before pressing back again to exit the configuration screen.

3. The “side” buttons go online:

By default, if you hit the “globe” button or the “open window” button on the side of the phone, to the left and right of the main joystick, it’s set to open various URLs at www.o2.ie. These buttons are prime UI real estate, and easily accidentally hit; I don’t want to go online (and possibly incur a charge) if they’re pressed.

Easily fixed. Open the menu, then select Settings -> Connectivity -> Internet settings -> Internet Profiles. Select O2 WAP and hit More -> Advanced, then Change homepage and enter “file:///” under Address and hit Save. It’ll now issue an ugly warning if you press those buttons, but at least it won’t go online. (It’d be nice to get a nicer fix for this.)

I’m sure there’s plenty more; if you’ve got this phone and have any tips to share, feel free to drop a comment below.

In particular, I’d love to know how to further “de-O2ify” the UI; the top 3 buttons on the menu screen are taken up with worthless operator spam (“O2 Music Store”, “O2 Menu” and “Entertainment”, all of which go to various URLs at www.o2.ie), while the useful Applications and Alarm screens, which I use all the time, are hidden in a submenu. ugh.