I came across this cartoon. I think it’s accurate enough.
Apple has got to be the only company on Earth to have a product that is barely 2 years old and still under warranty (my iPhone 3G), but is 2 generations behind and functionally obsolete.
I came across this cartoon. I think it’s accurate enough.
Apple has got to be the only company on Earth to have a product that is barely 2 years old and still under warranty (my iPhone 3G), but is 2 generations behind and functionally obsolete.
Ever since the day the iPhone came out, tech blogs have been whining about how it should be released on Verizon. Every time a new iPhone or software update comes out, rumors start flying about how the iPhone will be on Verizon soon.
I want to reach through my screen and ask the tech bloggers or reporters if they remember 2 basic facts:
That means the exclusive agreement will be over about in time for the end of the world. Unless you follow Harold Camping, in which case the world will end a few weeks before the iPhone 5 announcement...
None of the “iPhone on Verizon” rumors contain any statements like “AT&T is releasing Apple from it’s agreement” or “Verizon is relaxing it’s dictatorial grip on smartphone capabilities”. The last time I had a Verizon phone, I still couldn’t transfer ringtones to it over Bluetooth.
Most of these rumors operate on the assumption that the day after the iPhone came out, Verizon got on it’s knees in repentance to Steve Jobs and said “We are most sorry. We will allow you to do whatever you want on our network regardless of our existing policy. Have your way with us, oh great Steve.”
So today The Unofficial Apple Weblog ran its 48,031st rumor that a Verizon ready iPhone has been in existence at Apple, and is being developed alongside it’s cousin until the day it can be released.
My prediction? IF the iPhone EVER is released on Verizon, it will be after June of 2012. If it’s EVER released. Show me some evidence that Verizon will actually allow the iPhone to run at it’s AT&T capacity or better on their network, and I’ll believe it.
I'm happy about this. One massive problem I've had with adopting eBooks, a technology that I'm really excited about, is a fear of "platform lock-in".
Let me explain. Say you buy an eBook device. It doesn't matter which one. Kindle, iPad, Sony eReader, whatever. Now you can only buy books from a single provider. And if that provider goes out of business, or if your hardware becomes obsolete, you might lose access to your books.
I have an iPhone and a Barnes & Noble nook. I almost never use the nook. I've only gotten free books for it. It was a Christmas present (or an unmentionable solstice cultural observance present for those of you who go into seizures at the mention of Christmas). I'd hoped to be able to read pdf files on the nook, but most of them don't format properly which renders it nearly useless.
Any Barnes & Noble books I buy can be read on my PC and iPhone. But still, Amazon has a better inventory, and often better prices, so when I buy eBooks, I buy them from Amazon.
Also, Sony books can also be read on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, etc. But still, Amazon has a better inventory with better prices.
I'm convinced that the hardware eBooks are read on is a secondary factor. What matters most is content. Who has the best content, at the best price, with the best way to avoid obsolescence? So far, in my observation, the winner is Amazon.
Which is why I was happy to see Jeff Bezos' (founder of Amazon) quote in this blog post. Despite providing their own hardware (Kindle), Amazon is still committed to delivering content (books) as far and wide as possible. Even though I have a competing device, most of my purchased content is for Kindle, which I read on my iPhone and computer.
That was hard to keep straight. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), Barnes & Noble's nook is beating out Amazon's Kindle, but the iPad is outselling both. Well, good.
I have a nook. I don't have a Kindle or an iPad. I'd like them. I read Kindle books on my iPhone.
In the grand scheme of things, I don't see any doubt that the iPad has the most elegant user interface (UI). It also has the most function. Not only can you read a book, you can write a blog post ABOUT the book on the same device. Technically, you can do that on an iPhone as well, but it'll be more challenging.
I would say as a runner up in elegance, nook comes in second, although I've never physically touched a Kindle. I've never seen one up close. I've seen plenty of pictures and unboxing videos of them, but never seen one in person. Nook is very streamlined and pleasing to the eye. It would be #1 if the iPad didn't exist.
But when it comes to any kind of eBook reader, content is king. I don't care how cool your iPad or nook is if you can't read anything on it. At the present time, Amazon is the king of content.
I've bought a few Kindle books. I haven't bought any books for nook yet. Both Amazon and B&N offer free eBooks. B&N's don't seem to update very often though. I got my nook on January 15. At the time, B&N offered 2 books for free in a Star Wars fiction series. I downloaded them. Amazon offers those two plus book 3, which has yet to show up on Barnes & Noble. I've seen very little change in Barnes & Noble's selection (at least their free selection).
What my nook is good for is reading pdf files. I download a lot of free pdf documents and rarely get around to reading them. I haven't found a good (free) way to read pdf documents on my iPhone, and my netbook's battery life is pretty bad (2 hrs). So I put them on my nook. But for books, I typically use Amazon.
I would love to see a universal content. Then you could buy the reader that you want, and buy the content that you want, and join them together. I don't like the current model where the reader you choose will dictate the content you can buy. The latest software update for nook allows web browsing and playing chess. Whoopee! I'd rather be able to read my Kindle content on it.
Today Apple announced the iPad,which has been referred to by fans as the Tablet for a while. I was getting sick of hearing about the Tablet. I was kind of hoping that it would turn out to be a figment of fans’ imaginations.
I watched the Gizmodo liveblog of the event this afternoon at work. I wasn’t interested in the Tablet, but I did want to know if the iPhone will see a software update anytime soon.
The name is cheesy. I saw Jason Dunn mention on Twitter that Apple must be moving into the feminine hygiene market now. I wanted to laugh, but there was too much activity around my cubicle again.
Through most of the event, I just couldn’t find anything to be impressed about. The iPad looks like an oversized iPhone. I already have an iPhone. But when they mentioned iWork, that got me interested. I do like the idea of being able to surf the Internet, check email, update Twitter, look at pictures, read books, and watch movies or listen to music on the go. That’s why I have an iPhone in the first place. I couldn’t make the intellectual leap as to why an iPhone that wouldn’t fit in my pocket would be a good idea.
Until I heard that you can actually work on the thing. I don’t do a lot of presentations. I’m hoping I can start doing some freelance writing soon, and the mobility and battery life are fairly attractive to me. It got me interested, anyway. I still think a MacBook Pro would be better for me.
As a technology blogger, I would be falling asleep at the switch if I didn’t offer a prediction. Here’s my prediction: this will be the last time Apple designs a product just because its fans and critics wouldn’t shut up about building a product.
That or it will be insanely successful and will revolutionize mobile computing.
Or a third option that I lack the imagination to see.
All I can say is I’m not that excited by it yet.
Engadget has a report that the Barnes & Noble nook is likely to get a software update this week. For those of you following my eBook reader series, this goes with what I've been saying. Most of the problems up to this point reported with nook are software related, and should be easily fixed with a software update.
As far as I know, Amazon hasn't released a software update for their Kindle.
Apparently, nook has been rooted. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means hacked. nook runs Google's Android phone operating system. I'm not sure which version. I think 1.5. iPhones are jailbroken, and Adroid devices are rooted. Like I said, all it means is they've been hacked.
What does this mean? For those who have to be on the cutting edge, it means that there may soon be applications to run on nook. The article even mentions the possibility of tethering thanks to the built-in 3G wireless.
Fake Steve nails it. Here is a post on the Fake Steve Jobs blog about a fictional conference call with Randall Stephenson of AT&T about how iPhone users are using too much bandwidth and AT&T wants to find a way to give them (us) an incentive to use less.
For those of you concerned about such things, the language is a little raw so be warned. Overall, I thought it was hilarious. I wish the real Steve Jobs would tell AT&T the same thing.
And now here we are. Right here in your own backyard, an American company creates a brilliant phone, and that company hands it to you, and gives you an exclusive deal to carry it — and all you guys can do is complain about how much people want to use it. You, Randall Stephenson, and your lazy stupid company — you are the problem. You are what’s wrong with this country.
UPDATE: It has come to my attention that Randall Stephenson is also a fictional personality. Sorry, though I've been an AT&T customer for years, I honestly never cared enough to find out who AT&T's executives are. Fictional executive aside, I'd still say Fake Steve (Dan Lyons) is dead on.
Last night, the teens at our church had free babysitting. Christina had a coupon for Olive Garden, so we went. We learned from previous years though. Normally, we drop the kids off at 6:30, then find every place is busy. We spend 3 hours driving around looking for a place to eat with less than a 2 hour wait, and end up at Pizza Hut or McDonald’s before getting the kids. This time, I dropped her off at Olive Garden, took the kids to church, and got back to Olive Garden just as she was being seated. Perfect timing!
After we finished dinner, we drove across the street to Barnes & Noble. I wanted to get a look at nook. Remember, B&N is calling it nook, not The Nook, so I’m trying to stick to the same convention in my writing. I know it violates a lot of rules of the English language.
My impressions were about what I expected. It felt pretty good to hold nook. The girl at the booth didn’t seem to know a lot. I heard her tell another customer that nook is the first reader to have 3G wireless. That’s wrong; Kindle had it from the start. She did show off the Google books. I didn’t get to do a lot with nook, because a friend I hadn’t seen in several years walked in so I had to break away and chase him down.
I haven’t actually used a Kindle yet, like I said in my last post. I don’t know anybody in “real life” who has one. What I’ve read about nook is accurate. This thing LAGS! I’d hit a button, and nothing would happen, so I’d hit it again, but then the original command finally happened, so it turned out I hit something else, and then I had no idea where I was. B&N needs to fix that fast. It will be intolerable to buy one.
The girl doing the demo mentioned that B&N is talking about distributing software updates directly to the device. That would be cool.
Also, if I tell my dad “Sure, get me nook for Christmas”, I won’t see it for a long time. They’re not shipping until February 1 now. That makes me want to ask for a Kindle and hope that Amazon gets a clue and issues a software update to bridge the gap with some of nook’s capabilities. It would be fairly simple to issue a software update. I wonder if I could contact Amazon and say “I’m a blogger and I have a few questions. I’m sure at least 2 people read my blog, and might base their buying decisions on your answers. Will you be updating Kindle’s capabilities through a software update? Will you support ePub standards?”
That's my take on the title of one blog post I read today. I also came across Mashable's compilation of nook reviews. I left nook uncapitalized because apparently that's how Barnes & Noble left it. 'sposed to be more informal that way yo.
I believe I could be getting an eBook reader for Christmas (or for that unmentionable solstice cultural observance for you socially autistic people who freak at the mention of Christmas). The question is, which one? Kindle has been around the longest. nook is the new one. I'm not considering Sony for several reasons, like the root kit debacle a few years ago. I just don't feel like Sony likes it's customers. Sony likes money. Everybody likes money, but Sony doesn't hide it as well. Anyway, Sony is out of my consideration at this point. That leaves me the Kindle and nook. For the record, I don't believe Amazon or Barnes & Noble gives off a vibe of hating customers. I personally like both businesses. Amazon makes it cheap and easy to buy books. Barnes & Nobles makes it comfortable. I still remember the days when you'd get yelled at in bookstores for opening a book and trying to get a feel for what's in it. "Either buy the book or leave!" you'd be told. There's none of that at Barnes & Noble. It's very comfortable and pressure free to browse around. You can sit on a couch and read a book, with coffee. I've taken refuge at the Deptford Barnes & Noble many times when Christina needed to shop in places I didn't want to go.
Back to the point: I have Kindle and Barnes & Noble's reader on my iPhone. About the only reason I want a reader is the ability to read some pdf ebooks I pick up. I'll basically download any eBook that's free, but then I never have time to read them. They're not always easy to get onto the iPhone. If I had a Kindle or nook, I could convert them easier to read on the go.
If I ask for the Kindle, I could possibly get it in time for Christmas. If I ask for nook, I won't see it until mid-January or later because it's seriously backordered.
I'm less worried about software glitches and shortcomings. Those can be fixed by the company if it chooses. nook apparently has some glitches, but those could be solved by a software update. Kindle doesn't support the ePub format, which again could be fixed with a software update.
When I look at reviews of the devices, I try to take that into account. If a reviewer says "Don't buy nook because it's buggy", realize that a software update can easily fix the problem, so it might not BE a problem by February. Of course, it's also possible but less likely that the software problems will never be fixed. I suspect they will be. Although it would be nice to see devices released with perfect software, it's getting less likely by the day. We seem to live in a perpetual beta culture. What I mean by that is software is often released to the public in a state that seems unready. Sometimes this refers to software that runs on a specific device like an iPhone or Kindle, and other times it deals with larger operating systems like Windows or software suites like Microsoft Office.
In some cases, I think there is a strong "rush to market" mentality, and the product has to be on the market before it can be ready. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, schedules do slip. Unforeseen events pop up, and you're left with a ship date that's harder to make than when you wrote the schedule two years ago.
In other cases, I think it's simpler. Companies can only do so much testing "in house". There is no way Barnes & Noble can conceive of every possible use for nook, and so glitches and shortcomings often pop up when users get their hands on it.
Which one should I ask for? Kindle or nook?
I'm starting to wonder if I can carve out a niche for myself blogging about eBook readers and technologies. For some reason, it really excites me.
Albert Mohler, a prolific reader and thinker, posted to his blog his report on using the Amazon Kindle. I would consider this to be his conclusion:
Will the Kindle and its digital competitors replace the printed book? I think not. Indeed I hope not. I think most of us will reserve a special pride of place for printed books. Think not of replacement, but of supplement.
If you'd like a Kindle, you can purchase one below:
I came across yet another post on dedicated eBook readers here. I was going to leave a comment, but it's on an idiotic site that expects you to join their "community" just to post a comment. I'm no fan of that. Just let me post a comment and move on. I'm not interested in sticking around your "community", and if you're that needy, I'm less interested. A person can only maintain so many logins.
This post refers to the one I wrote about yesterday, about whether or not eBook readers will make good Christmas gifts (it took the cowardly way of referring to a non-specific cultural observance "holiday".)
I want to take a step back here. Let's forget about "eBook Readers" for a minute. Let's talk about eBooks. We don't want to confuse the two. eBooks and eBook readers are separate things.
An eBook is what we could call "content". An eBook reader is what we would call a device. A platform is the content plus the device or devices that the content can be used on.
Personally, I would like the ability to read my content on just about any device. Thanks to Kindle, at present, I can. I can read the same book on my iPhone, my Acer netbook, my Dell desktop, and soon on my BlackBerry. At no point do I have to get a physical Kindle. I hope Amazon sticks to this model, of selling content, or books. Personally, I think Amazon will make more money in the long run if they stick to selling books and work to make those books accessible on more devices.
Amazon could have gone the other way. They could have decided "We want to make money selling Kindles, so we'll publish books in Kindle format but require you to buy a Kindle to read them". They didn't do that, and they made money from me because I can read my Kindle books on my iPhone. I'm not locked in to a Kindle device.
But I am locked into the format. I can read my Kindle books as long as I'm using Kindle software. I have to worry about how long the Kindle platform will last. Will I one day find my Kindle books unreadable?
I know Barnes & Noble has an eBook reader for the iPhone. I haven't downloaded it yet. I also know they're coming out with an physical eBook reading device called "The Nook". I promised in my last post that I would do some reading on it so I can comment intelligently. I haven't done that yet. It's on my to-do list. But I'm not interested in it at present. I tend to stick with Amazon for one reason:
Amazon makes it cheap and easy.
Almost any time I need a book, Amazon usually has the best price. I even have an app for my iPhone where I can take a picture of a book, upload it to Amazon, and get back what prices Amazon has for that book. It's almost always cheaper on Amazon. Then, if I spend more than $25, the shipping is free. With Kindle, I can buy and start reading books instantly.
I honestly haven't had a reason to go anywhere else. Barnes & Noble at present hasn't given me a good reason to look into their format or inventory. Neither has Sony.
Let's get back to the point: should you buy an eBook reader (that is, a dedicated device) for yourself or a loved one for Christmas (or any non-specific cultural observance you may buy presents for)?
Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider one:
By the way, if you'd like to buy a Kindle for yourself or a loved one, I'll make it quick and easy for you. You can buy it through my affiliate link right below. Amazon will gift wrap it:
I've been asked a few times by friends if an eBook reader is a good idea. I was asked once specifically about the Kindle, and again about readers in general.
I read an article on Macworld's site giving 7 arguments why eBook readers aren't a good idea this "holiday season". I'll save my "holiday" rant for later. Let me redefine this: should you get somebody a Kindle or other eBook reader for Christmas? (The illogic of that whole "holiday" thing drives me nuts).
The 7 arguments put forward in that article are:
1. We're on the brink of radical change in how people read e-books2. E-book readers are the least discounted gadgets on the market
3. There are so many other new ways to read e-books
4. Giving an e-book readers may involve committing a person to a specific technology
5. E-book readers are old and busted
6. Everyone who really wanted one already has one
7. One of the best choices is unavailable
Mostly, the arguments rest on the assumption that Apple is working on a mythical "iTablet" that will be such an awesome eBook reader, it will render the Kindle, Nook, and that Sony thing useless overnight.
I've started and deleted several blog posts about how I'm sick of hearing about the Apple iTablet and will believe it when I see it. I stand by that.
I can personally attest to argument #6 being wrong. Everybody who wanted a Kindle DOES NOT already have one. I don't. I want a Kindle, and I don't have one yet. I guess I don't want it bad enough, but I'd still like one.
#4 is a very real concern, and it's one reason I've been slow to adopt eBooks even though I'm really excited about them. If you commit to a platform, will it last? What happens if I buy a Kindle and several Kindle books, and within a year the Kindle format is dead? I can't buy any more books, and once the platform dies out, I won't be able to read the books I bought. What if I buy a Kindle and for some reason the Barnes & Noble Nook takes off? Can you read Kindle books on a Nook, and Nook books on a Kindle? I don't have high hopes for Sony. Sorry, Sony just doesn't excite me about much. I'll believe Sony builds a successful eBook reader when they build one. I didn't like their last one. I played with it at Sam's. I found it non-intuitive and slow. I wouldn't have bought one. If you're going to buy an eBook reader for a friend or loved one, do keep in mind that you could be enslaving them to a platform with no guarantee of success.
The argument about eBook readers being "old and busted" reeks of somebody who has enough money to buy everything that comes out, use it for 2 days, and throw it away. I'm sure the rest of us without such a budget or access to review units will find that argument to be more of an elitest opinion than something to base our own buying decisions on. It's one of the reasons I despise tech journalists. They don't realize what it's like to have to work your butt off for months to save up for an iPhone. They get one handed to them and get sick of it by the time they get a Droid review unit.
I've bought some Kindle books to read on my iPhone. So far, I like it. The only advantage a physical Kindle would give me is the ability to read pdf files on the Kindle.
So, should you buy a Kindle, Nook, or whatever Sony calls their reader? Sure. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, or a PC, you can read Kindle books without owning a Kindle. Kindle will soon be releasing readers for the Mac and BlackBerry. No Windows Mobile. Good though I jumped ship from Windows Mobile. I'd almost say for now, get an iPod Touch and download Kindle for iPhone, then buy some books.
I guess I'll have to do some reading about the Barnes & Noble Nook, because I can't comment intelligently about it right now.
I’m going to experiment with this fix. I’ve avoided watching YouTube videos on my Acer Netbook because the videos jump. I figured it was the limited hardware of my netbook, although I’ve watched YouTube on much lesser hardware with Windows XP. Heck, it’s a 1.6Ghz processor with 1GB of RAM. Even if I am running several programs, this computer should be able to handle a YouTube video.
Apparently, it has to do with the session restore feature in Firefox. It’s set to a default save of 10 seconds. Even I am not that paranoid.
When my wife got me this Acer for my birthday (yes, I sort of asked for it since I needed a new laptop and it fit within our budget), I was wary. I push my computers pretty hard. So far, this Acer AspireOne is a pretty respectable little computer.
If you're a Samsung Epix owner who can still tolerate the buggy and non-reliable behavior of the device, there is a new update available for it. You can learn details at My Samsung Epix, a great site. It looks like among the software fixes, the Epix will now notify you of new email when asleep (like it was supposed to, and like my iPhone does properly), it will sync Outlook notes (like it was supposed to), and the ascending ring is gone. Honestly, the ascending ring didn't bother me that much, but I guess a lot of users had problems with it.
If you're a Samsung Epix owner, follow the directions to call AT&T and ask for the update. Then be prepared to hard reset. I don't miss that at all. I could wipe my iPhone just for fun and restore it through the default iTunes to how it is now, unlike Windows Mobile which needs special 3rd party backup software. Seriously, after 6 years and 8 devices and I don't know how much money, I now hate Windows Mobile.
My Epix now sits in the kitchen drawer waiting for the next time my wife's BlackJack II craps out. She's on her third unit. Actually, that's my 3rd Epix. It's my wife's "Battle Spare" now.
I’ve decided that I”m going to become a Windows Mobile “Hater”. That will probably seem unreasonable and illogical to many, but so be it.
That does not mean I am going to become a Microsoft “Hater”. I won’t become a mobile device “hater". I won’t become a Windows “Hater”. My “hating” is going to be specifically directed at Windows Mobile. That includes Microsoft’s Windows Mobile team, their “partners”, and the telcos, at least in regards to Windows Mobile.
I am going to become overly critical of the platform to the point where I do NOT recommend it. If you’re considering a Windows Mobile device, please, to preserve your sanity, don’t get one. Get a BlackBerry or an iPhone instead, or just get a plain old dumbphone.
I’ve had several Windows Mobile devices over the years. I’m tired of the same annoyances and performance issues that are common to every device I’ve had. Here is my device history:
Today brought some very interesting developments in the world of eBooks. The information also came to me in interesting ways. My wife was sick, so I stayed home from work to take care of the boys. I was using my mobile devices heavily. First, because the iPhone and iPod Touch have Exchange server support, I was able to keep up with a few things at work because of my Touch, which is set up for my company's Exchange server. I have a work issued BlackBerry, but I was carrying my Touch around with me anyway to listen to my podcasts rather than let a bunch build up. I was also using my Samsung Epix heavily today. I'd let a bunch of email pile up lately, so I was bouncing back and forth between the two devices to get through my personal account. I like the larger screen on the iPod Touch, but some of my html mail reads better in FlexMail 4 on the Epix. Also, the Epix's keyboard is slightly easier to use than the touch keypad on the iPod Touch.
As I was scrolling through my RSS feeds during a "break"* today, I came across this post by Paul Thurrott on his Supersite for Windows Blog about the iPhone. I think Paul raises some good points in his post. I have an iPod Touch which I find to be a great iPod with Internet capabilities. I've never used an iPhone for much, but my last 3 phones have been Windows Mobile. I had an iPaq 6945 for about a year, a BlackJack II for three weeks, and an Samsumg Epix for the last three weeks. I'm finding, as Paul did, that the "smart" parts of the phone work fairly well, but the "phone" part of the phone doesn't work that great at all and I'm finding this not to be isolated to any particular model. The reception is sub-par, the connections aren't that great, it's not always easy to bring up the phone application, sometimes calls won't disconnect, sometimes the phone app locks up while trying to answer a call and the call goes to voice mail. My wife reports that she has to routinely pull the battery from her BlackJack II to end a call. If I told you that, you could assume that I'm just running too much on my phone, but my wife uses it for little more than phone calls and text messaging. Last night while trying to get my Epix to disconnect a call, it somehow decided to dial 911 on me. I freaked when I heard 911 on the other end, and I profusely apologized for my phone somehow accidentally dialing. I have no idea if that was a glitch or something that I did, and I have no intention of attempting to reproduce the problem.
Prior to the iPaq 6945, my to previous phones were SonyEricsson. One was a Z500a and the other a z525. Both were wonderful phones, but that was about it. I really enjoy having a "Smartphone", but at times I wish the phone part worked better. So what are those of us who like Smartphones to do? It seems that we can either go back to using a decent cell phone, or we can live with a crappy phone while we enjoy mobile email, web surfing, and tethering capabilities. My Epix, when tethered to my laptop, almost feels like I'm at home on my cable modem. I guess for the few phone calls I get, I can live with that until those of us who love these devices decide we're fed up and we expect the manufacturers to produce devices that work better on the phone ends.
I agree with Paul, a "fix windows mobile now dot com" site would be fruitless. At least we can copy and paste, and our MMS messages work the same as our SMS. Score 1 for Window Mobile. I guess until we get better phones in our smartphones, we're reduced to whining on our blogs about them.
*Break- being a veteran, I decided to take Veteran's Day off. I've been a veteran for 10 years, and have not yet had this day off. I ended up taking a vacation day as I have yet to work for a company that considers Veteran's Day as a paid holiday. My wife interpreted that as being a great day to run errands, so I'm eager to get back to work tomorrow where the pace is slower and I can relax a bit. My day of "vacation" has left me exhausted.
This is a discussion I’m honestly getting sick of. Two terms I’m tired of reading about are “cloud computing” and “netbooks.” “Cloud computing” is a term that comes from network drawings which show the Internet as a cloud, especially network drawings that show a data flow going to the Internet as a medium of transfer to another part of the network.
A netbook is essentially a device that is smaller than a laptop but larger than a handheld. The Asus Eee PC is an example of a netbook. These usually run Windows XP (because the hardware is a little bit short of Vista, which could say more about the hardware than it does about Vista but that’s a matter of perspective.) Typically these will have a 7-10 inch screen, a 4-16 GB hard drive, and maybe a Gig of RAM in the higher end configurations. These are designed to provide a small but capable device that can be carried around, giving some of the power of a laptop without all the weight. For work, I have a 15.4” Toshiba laptop, so I can definitely understand not having to lug the darn thing around. However, when I have to work on Excel spreadsheets or Visio drawings in a hotel room, I’m darn glad to have a 15.4” screen and Office installed rather than trying to use Zoho or Google docs.
A friend of mine got a new laptop and I was more than happy to go over to his house last night and help him get the laptop and his wireless network setup. Once again, I found myself up against the personal hell that is Verizon DSL. I spent about seven months on Verizon DSL between 2004 and 2005, before realizing that it was better to just pay Comcast $10 a month more for a connection that WORKS. I’m, of course, not much happier with Comcast since being told by a tech that I lost my IP address and have to call Microsoft to get another one, but I will not be returning to Verizon DSL anytime soon.
My friend had somehow setup security on his router, but we weren’t sure how or what the password could be so I restored the router to factory settings. I then logged into the router and gave the network a name and security. It looked like the router had a connection through the DSL modem, but when I tried to load Google, I was redirected to a page that wanted to download and install some kind of Verizon Internet Connection Manager software. I had to step through 4 “Invalid certificate” warnings to get the software to download. When the software tried to install, it asked for a username and password, but wouldn’t take the username and password that my friend told Verizon to give him. I had no choice but to call tech support. We called twice, both times stepping through the painful voice-activated menu before being told that we would be transferred to a tech, only to have the call drop. The third time I called back and was somehow routed through to the “Account Cancellations” department. I could have done my friend a favor, but that wasn’t what he asked me for so I held back with all my might. I explained to the person on the phone my problem, and he routed us and stayed on the line until a tech picked up. I tried explaining my problem to her. She needed the account information, and asked me who I was. Somehow there was confusion over my name and my friend’s name as to who was on the account. I kept asking her why my name mattered. She finally said she needed to know what to call me. I said “My name is irrelevant. Just help me get this connection working.” Apparently, what happened is that somehow security was set on the DSL modem. I had to shut down everything, connect the laptop to the modem, and plug the modem in and boot the laptop up. Then we could disable security. The tech helped me to set bridge mode, but before I could ask what the next step was, the phone disconnected. The tech never called back, and I wasn’t going through that again (this was a total of 50 minutes consisting of two dropped calls plus the third, which lasted more than a half an hour.) I gave her a number to call back on “in case we get disconnected,” but she never did. I kept trying different settings on the router until finally an Internet connection showed up.
I then setup a printer, which worked flawlessly. That was the true definition of “plug and play.” Then we had dinner, and I walked him through setting up a gmail account, the mail service I highly recommend.
Before I left, I asked “Now do you see why, whenever somebody asks me if they should get DSL, I say “No!”? I’ve helped several people out with DSL, and of course there was my own experience with it. I’m not much happier with Comcast, and to be honest, at least the Verizon tech didn’t tell me to call Microsoft to get an IP address, but still, I’ve never had a painless experience with Verizon DSL.
I wish there were a viable alternative high-speed Internet service besides Comcast cable and Verizon DSL. I’ve heard FIOS is pretty good, but it’s a Verizon product, which is two strikes against it in my book.
Back in 1996 when I started becoming a computer geek, I was absolutely shocked to find out what stores like CompUSA were charging for simple services that I could do with my eyes closed. A friend of mine said he wanted to upgrade his RAM, but CompUSA wanted $50 to install it. I think I broke something in my brain trying to figure out how sticking a chip in a slot could cost $50. I told him I’d do it for beer and pizza. Even with Sam Adams and a Meat Lover’s, I still came out cheaper plus I fixed a few other problems he had while I was at his apartment.
I guess $10 to pair a Bluetooth headset is fair by comparison. This is a tricky and painful though quick procedure. You definitely have to be patient, and pairings don’t always stick. I’ve had some pairings, like the author of the article I linked, that inexplicably stopped working and didn’t easily want to start again.
I do feel for people who spend hundreds of dollars to computer shops to fix viruses and spyware. My neighbors spent $300 when they got infected. I could have fixed it with free software that doesn’t bog your computer down and nag you to death like McAfee.
Daniel Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs, poked a little fun at a possible drop in Garmin sales. That got me to wondering if the iPhone with an integrated GPS really would have an affect on sales of other units. My wife bought a Magellan Maestro 3100 last year. I call it "Nagging GPS Lady", for the female voice that keeps telling to to turn when I either miss a turn or think I know a better route than the GPS recommends. I still enjoy that GPS. I've had GPS capability on my Pocket PCs for several years, and my current phone has a built-in GPS. Still, I keep my wife's unit locked in my car "in case I need it."
I can't predict the future, and I don't think I'd try, but I still think a regular GPS would be a great asset next to an iPhone. I'm sure somebody will make a car mount for the iPhone if one doesn't exist already, but I'm not sure how well it would work as a stand alone unit to drive with. I'm sure it's fine if you're walking around and trying to find a Starbucks, but how well would it work to find an address while you're driving?
I'm sure we'll find out by the end of next month.
I’m going through my RSS feeds on Google Reader, and obviously most are about the iPhone. Even some of the Christian life and theology blogs that I follow are about the iPhone. I have my choice of which article to link for the purposes of this blog post, and for now, I’m going to go with Lifehacker. My reaction to iPhone features, new, improved, and unexpected, run the gamut from “Wow, that's cool!" to "I've been able to do that on Windows Mobile for years" to "Who cares?"
I'm not trying to pick apart the iPhone. I think it's an amazing device and the coolness factor makes up for any limitations it may have. I enjoy my 32 GB iPod Touch, and I probably will pay the $10 to upgrade the firmware next month. In the words of Fake Steve Jobs, it restores a childlike sense of wonder to my life. This also isn't a comprehensive list, just what stood out to me the most.
I recently went through a "soul searching" period with two coworkers selling used iPhones for $250. One was an 8 Gig, the other a 16 Gig. A 16 GB iPhone for $250 was worth having my wife angry at me for the next six months. I could have done plenty of surfing on the iPhone while she was yelling at me. I decided to stick with my iPaq 6945 Pocket PC phone for the time being though. I had a few reasons, but probably the biggest is that I finally figured out how to easily get eBooks onto my Pocket PC. For now, that can't be done with an iPhone. I also decided it's not worth having my wife that mad at me.
I've said before that I like Fake Steve Jobs. He has his off days, but generally he's hilarious and insightful. He linked to a video of Gary Krakaw of MSNBC saying that Apple needs to license Blackberry or Windows Mobile for the iPhone to succeed in the business world. I can't help but laugh when journalists start pontificating as to what tech companies "need" to do in order to be "successful." While journalists perform a very vital function, we need to remember that there is a huge difference between stating fact and expressing opinion. Of course, I guess most people turn to certain periodicals for the editorial positions of those news organs. I like John C. Dvorak for that very reason. I don't agree with him on a few things, but so what? I like his attitude and his analysis.
I seem to recall back in around, like, 1997, journalists were talking about how Apple would need to license Windows in order to survive. I think Apple has done just fine.
Just remember when reading journalism to differentiate between reported fact and stated opinion. In some cases, the difference is very, very subtle.Active reading is required to find the difference.
I was able to find a temporary laptop that I could work on. I work for one company as a contractor to another organization. I'm essentially an employee of that organization but my paycheck comes from the other company. My parent company has team meetings once a month. Let's just say I'm not the only contractor around, so they bring us together to keep in touch. Because of Friday's meeting, I found out about a meeting that I should have been at, but our group hadn't been invited. We will be in the future.
While I was at my parent company's offices, I stopped by the IT guy's cubicle to ask if I could borrow a temporary laptop. I needed something that would work with my Toshiba DynaDock, and the other temp solutions we have won't. I've been spoiled by a 19" flatscreen monitor. Besides. have you ever tried to translate dimensions on an Excel spreadsheet into a Visio drawing on a 1024x768 laptop screen? It turns out that he did have a loaner; a Toshiba with a Pentium-M. It's not my dual core AMD64 on my returned laptop, but so far it's getting the job done.
I genuinely love my iPod Touch (32 Gig model). In the words of Fake Steve Jobs, it "restores a childlike sense of wonder to my life." One minor problem I've found is that every once in a while, the battery starts eating itself and requires a reboot. I normally like to listen to podcasts during the day while I'm at work, but when the battery starts dropping like a rock, I have to stop. I can easily get a full day out of it just listening to audio then checking email and surfing when I get home. At first I thought the battery eating was Ziphone, but I didn't use the installer at all yesterday. I also disabled the wireless, which I should do when I get to work anyway.
At least this time my podcasts didn't go back and mark themselves as unread like the last few times. When I got home I had to figure out what I listened to. I should just bring the charging cable to work with me, but I rarely need it.
After 4 calls to Comcast, I was getting frustrated. A tech can't be sent out for a while, at least, it will be more than a week before my schedule can facilitate a tech's schedule. I decided that the only thing left to do was get a new cable modem. I've had mine for three years, so maybe it went bad. While we were running around tonight anyway, I stopped by Best Buy and bought a new Motorola Surfboard modem.
I got home, put the new modem inline, and called Comcast to get it configured. Believe it or not, I finally got a male (the other four calls were women) who understood not only how Comcast's network works, but how to troubleshoot a network problem. (See my post about being told to call Microsoft to get a new IP address below.)
This turned out sort of weird. I put the new modem inline, then called. While we were troubleshooting, I explained my setup. I have a Hauppage WinTV USB2 unit. My cable comes into the room, and goes to a splitter, which goes to the cable modem and the WinTV unit. It's been like that for years, and I haven't had a problem. Well, go figure, I should have thought of this myself, but the tech told me to take the splitter out of the loop. Every single time in the past I assumed it couldn't possibly be something, no matter how trivial, I got bit in the butt, and this time was no different. Well, while he was adding the MAC address and C/S number for the new modem, I prayed. I rarely do while I'm troubleshooting. I claim to be a Christian, but like most 21st century Americans, prayer is mostly reserved for meals, particularly pious times, and trials and tribulations. But I prayed for the cable modem issue. I really need my Internet connection. Anyway, when it was over, I asked if I could have my old modem put back in. He said it was; my account was showing my old modem. I checked the front, and sure enough, it was the old one (Motorola Surfboard 5100 instead of the new 5101.) That was weird. I'm not sure how the old one got back in place. I boxed the new one and told my wife we can get our $80 back; we troubleshot to a much cheaper component.
I'm just glad to have it back. I wrote a while back about my work laptop dying, and I had to send it back. Well, just as I was leaving for the day, I saw a new box in my supervisor's cube with a New Egg packing slip. I pulled it out, and sure enough, it was my Toshiba laptop! Now I can get it set back up to take on my upcoming business trip.
Ugh, my Comcast high speed Internet connection dropped offline yesterday afternoon. I've gotten to the point of not calling right away, just in case the outage is temporary (outages have become very rare with Comcast.) I finally broke down and called after my connection had been down a few hours. The call ended up lasting 40 minutes and ended up with me really needing a drink. Here is the situation I called with: my Motorola cable modem had Power, receive, and send lights on. Online was not lit, and PC Activity flashed on and off. The rep said that my cable modem was offline. I could figure that out. Internally, my network was fine. My computers could all see each other on my network, so I knew my router was fine. The rep wanted me to connect my computer directly to the cable modem. Her assessment of the situation was this: "because I had a router, (which has been in place for 3 years without a single problem), I lost my IP address." She told me I have to call Microsoft to get another one. After Microsoft gives me another IP address, I can call Comcast back and they'll be able to get me back online.
I tried explaining to this woman how DHCP networking works. I told her that I have an IT degree, and have been supporting my own computers and helping others out as well as working professionally in IT for more than 10 years. I have NEVER had to call Microsoft to get an IP address. I've never had to call Microsoft period. She said something about the OEM has to give me an IP address. I said that I'm the OEM; I built the computer myself (OK, I slapped some parts together and installed Windows XP on it, I didn't manufacture and solder my own chips.) I tried telling her that my router has nothing to do with Comcast assigning an IP address. Comcast's server sees the MAC address of my cable modem and leases an IP address to me. The lease expires and renews automatically and my router has absolutely nothing to do with it. My router has my computer's MAC address cloned anyway, so even in the bad old days when Comcast didn't allow routers they would never have known the difference on their end.
After realizing that I could not get this woman to understand how Comcast's network actually works, I finally allowed her to schedule a tech to visit me so that they can apparently call Microsoft and get me an IP address. As soon as I got off the phone, I called back and got a support person who understands how DHCP networking works. She found the problem right away: my signal was gone. That sounds more realistic. She even found a closer appointment to get a tech out to fix the problem.
Seriously, assuming Microsoft trains their support personnel better than Comcast does, I would have gotten laughed at.
Comcast, if anybody from your corporate training is reading this, I think you are idiots! How can you let somebody on your tech support lines without even the most basic understanding of how your network ACTUALLY works? II don't blame the woman, I blame the trainers. She did work very hard and was very patient with me, but had no clue. Idiots! Do your jobs. Where was this woman's supervisor? I could hear somebody in the background behind her. Don't tell me the entire call center thinks that my IP address comes from Microsoft. I should have told her I'm running Linux on an Apple Macintosh just to see what kind of response I get. Does Microsoft still give out IP addresses, or do I have to get a teleconference with Mark Shuttleworth and Steve Jobs to get an IP address? What if I was running SuSE or Debian? How about my iMac with Mac OS 8? Who do I call in that case (It's actually running Jaguar, and is in my in-laws' basement as we expected our house to be sold by now.)
This happened last night, and I still need a drink. Train your people, you Comcast boneheads. I once saw a job posting for a Comcast training position. Is it still open? I need a solid paycheck, a benefits package, and the authority to flog people.
If your laptop has to die and force you to spend all day working on an RMA and a temporary laptop, what better day could it be? It's bright, sunny, and in the 80's.
I came into work this morning to find my laptop dead. It was inside of New Egg's 30 day return policy. My supervisor had a hard drive recovery kit, so while I was waiting for New Egg's people to come into work (10 AM EST, 7 AM PST), I took the drive out and tried various ways to recover some of my data, especially the drawing I was working on yesterday and some of my notes for our requirements. I finally got an RMA from New Egg.
I had a tablet PC in my cubicle that I was using to review a software tech manual on. I assumed that since the tablet was big and clunky, that it was old. Turns out, it's a Pentium M 1.7 Ghz processor. We found a spare drive and I installed XP on it to get by for three or more weeks until my replacement laptop arrives.
For some reason, a lot of Windows updates won't install at work, so I brought the tablet home to install updates on my network. I often wonder when the day will come when bandwidth is such a limited commodity that I have to tell my employer "There is no way I'm using MY bandwidth to do YOUR work!" I hope the day never comes. May bandwidth always be cheap and seemingly limitless.
Our children were given a Fisher-Price SmartCycle for Christmas (or the generic, unmentionable Solstice Holiday for those of you who go into epileptic fits at the mere mention of the word "Christmas".) It seems to be a decent enough game system and the kids really enjoy it (and fight over it.) We have come across one minor point that I believe might be a design flaw. For some reason, the right pedal keeps stripping. I will not place this post in my "Hall of shame" category because I can say that Fisher-Price's customer service has been nothing short of stellar, except that they seem to use the same shipping methods that the University of Phoenix used to send me my degree: they appear to pay extra so that delivery of replacement parts can take up to two and a half weeks.
Other than that, as I said, the kids love playing with the SmartCycle. They fight over it constantly. Customer service has been exceptional. When the first pedal stripped, Fisher-Price sent my wife a replacement. When that replacement didn't arrive within two weeks, they sent another replacement. Now, they are going to replace the entire unit.
If anybody else is having similar problems with the SmartCycle, let me know in the comments.
If you've been following tech news lately, you may have heard that Apple, at the recent MacWorld conference, announced the Macbook Air. This is probably a great leap forward in technology, yet as many other bloggers have noted, the price leaves out the casual user and the lack of features leaves out the business user, so who other than tech journalists will actually buy this thing? I make a habit of not laughing at or scorning products though. I'll be happy to see what innovations the Macbook Air, a first of it's kind product, brings to the industry. Heck, the iPhone has already spurred several Windows Mobile developers to provide touch and drag interfaces to their applications. Unlike the iPhone, which *may* have an SDK (Software Development Kit) announced next month, Windows Mobile has always been open to third party developers.
...is that nobody seems to carry it, at least here in south Jersey. Nobody. Those who actually do carry it only carry the 4 or 8 Gig model but know nothing about it. The models aren't even turned on, so an interested buyer has no idea how the interface might work.
I have been considering a Zune lately, ever since the news that podcast support is now included. I settled last on the 80 Gig video iPod because podcast support was very important to me. At the time I was downloading several video podcasts and converting them to a format to watch on my Pocket PC was cumbersome.
Now my needs have changed. I record TV shows through my WinTV from Hauppage. These record into MPEG format, and converting MPEG into an iPod compatible format is very cumbersome. Now that the Zune supports Apple formats, my video podcasts are no longer an issue but my recorded TV is. Also, the screen on the video iPod is very tiny while the screen on the Zune is much larger.
We'll see what happens. I wish I could get a review unit. Anybody know how to do that? If anyone from Microsoft's Zune team reads this and wants to send me an 80 Gig model, I'll be happy to post a review for you.
My wife has had an ongoing issue with her phone on our Cingular/The New AT&T service. To the best of my knowledge, this problem only affects her line. I am not aware of the same problems on my line. For some reason, calls do not reliably come through to her phone. She will receive reports from friends and family members of attempts to call her but she didn't answer. Her phone doesn't show any missed calls. Every now and again, her voice mail indicator will go off and when she checks, the voice mail will be anywhere from four days to two weeks from the past. This happens often enough that it can't be explained away by being out of a coverage area any longer.
AT&T has been good at working with us on this problem, but for some reason it won't go away. This problem has plagued her through three phones and at least as many SIM cards.
The problem first showed up in her SonyEricsson z500a. When we switched to Cingular from the "old AT&T Wireless", we got the z500a phones because they were a "buy one, get one free" special. I wanted the Motorola v551 at the time, but my wife said that was out of the question. My phone seemed to work flawlessly, but she was missing calls and not getting voice mails. When we originally started to complain late in 2005 Cingular would tell us that a tower was out in our area and things would get better soon. This continued through 2006. When I had to fly home to Texas for my mom's final days and funeral, my wife was having phone problems so I had her take her phone to a Cingular store where they gave her a new SIM card. Last year on Black Friday I called to complain again. The moisture indicator on my wife's phone was red so they said they would replace the phone. The z500a had been declared obsolete by then so she was allowed to upgrade out of cycle. We went to the Cingular store where she picked out the Motorola v365. The problem persisted.
When I finished school in October my wife finally had more time for a social life. I have to admire how much she had to sacrifice with two small children and a husband working on a Bachelor's degree. Although we did do a few things, often on weekends I would have to work on class so she gave up a lot of activities. Now that she has time for more because she doesn't have to factor in my time for study, she's getting (and missing) a lot more phone calls. I called AT&T (the name changed by this point in my narrative) to complain and she was sent yet another SIM card. The problem persisted with the new SIM card, so AT&T sent her a warranty replacement phone.
On Saturday night, we were at a Homebuilder's study group. My father-in-law began calling us because we were going to drop Joshua off with him and he didn't know when. Since we were in a group, we didn't answer our phones right away. He called her, then me. My phone reported a voice mail. Last night (Tuesday) my wife finally got the voice mail that her dad left her on Saturday night. I told her to call AT&T. I've been calling all along and I figured (other than being sick of dealing with the issue) maybe she could get different results. They wanted to send her another warranty replacement phone, even though they haven't even gotten the last one back yet. I can see one phone being bad, I can even see two phones being bad, but unless the entire V365 model line is bad, I don't see three bad phones being within a reasonable probability. My wife finally talked them into letting her get a comparable phone. Now I'm researching three phones for her. The two Samsung phones AT&T gave her a choice of got abysmal ratings from CNET. She's looking at the RAZR V3, the Nokia 6555, and the SonyEricsson w580i.
I told her if the problem persists, we'll just pay the $175 cancellation fee for her line and she can move to T-Mobile. Because I have an unlocked GSM phone now, I'm thinking about staying away from service contracts if I can at all help it from this point. I'm going to have to stay with AT&T until at least January 2008, but I'm not having any problems (that I know of) with the service.
I should probably provide a wrap-up to my Pocket PC adventures from last month. To recap, my iPaq 4705 died on me suddenly. I've become so used to having a Pocket PC with me that I almost broke down. I acted like my head wasn't screwed on straight. I couldn't keep track of anything. My wife said that we didn't have the money in our budget for a new Pocket PC, so I did the next best thing: I asked my dad if he would be willing to get me one as a graduation present. I hadn't graduated at the time (I still haven't but that's another story) but I was in my final class and I was preparing to finish the program. My dad was willing to buy me one, so I went looking on Ebay. I've always wanted a combined Pocket PC and phone, and I found the Cingular 8125. You can read the details of that from my previous posts. I loved the phone for the 24 hours I was able to use it. The phone was shipped to me with the wrong battery, and it took five days for the correct battery to arrive. The phone had a few glitches that I was prepared to live with, but when the camera button got stuck, that was a deal killer and I sent the phone back for a refund. I borrowed my mother-in-law's iPaq 1945 to get me by until I could find something else.
I finally settled on the Pocket PC phone that I now have. It was a long decision process and I had a lot of variables to weigh. I narrowed my choices down based on price and features to the Cingular 8525 and the iPaq 6945. I finally settled on the
6945 for several reasons, one of which is that HP won a contract to supply my company with IT products and the Employee Purchase Plan offered a decent price on this phone. Both devices had limitations and complaints from users, and I had a hard time reconciling them. I spent several days wavering on my choice. I used a trip my wife needed to take to the mall to do some research. I played with the 8525 and asked questions at the AT&T store about complaints and returns. Sadly, no data was available on the 6945, nor was a demo unit available. My two year old, Caleb, and I also took an opportunity to play with an iPhone on display. It's a very good blend of art and engineering, but for my needs I wanted a Windows Mobile phone.
I finally asked my friend Micah what he thought. Micah was sort of my mentor for computer issues. We shared an apartment for our last few years in the Navy and had a lot of fun "geeking out" on weekends. I have a lot of respect for Micah's opinions. I chose the University of Phoenix based on his recommendation. He has a Blackjack, and said that given the choice he would take the 6945. Micah also reminded me that I am not going to find a "perfect" phone. I decided that was good enough for me, so I ordered the 6945 through the EPP page.
I'll probably include a review later. This post is simply a wrap-up of a series of posts that I have so far left unresolved. As for my hx4705? I sent it to PDA Smart.com and found out that a component on the mainboard needed to be replaced. Total repair cost? $33 including return shipping. I can't recommend PDA Smart enough. They bailed me out of an iPaq problem several years ago. They are competent and reasonably priced and offer all kinds of services from upgrades to repairs to parts. If you have a broken Pocket PC, contact them to see if it can be fixed.
I've had my 6945 for a few weeks now, and I'm happy with it. I've also had my 4705 back, but I haven't found much of a use for it. I'm trying to talk my wife into taking it, but so far she's not interested.
I returned my Cingular 8125. The intermittently sticking camera button rendered the device unusable. I was thrilled with it, and I really wanted the 8125 to work so I could use it. The company that I bought it from through an Ebay auction, Dyscern, has a return policy so I mailed the 8125 back yesterday. I also sent my old hx4705 to PDASmart.com to see if they can diagnose and repair it.
Having had my taste of a Pocket PC phone, however, I'm hungry for more. However, as I survey the field, I'm having a hard time making up my mind. I talked my dad into the 8125 as a graduation present, even though I haven't completed my degree yet, I have three more weeks of one class and one DANTES exam left. I asked my dad what sort of limit I should adhere to and the figure he gave me should be enough to get a new model rather than a $219 "Buy it now" deal on Ebay. However; I'm having a hard time deciding if I should look for a Pocket PC phone, wait to see if my hx4705 can be fixed, or just wait until next year and see what comes out. I saw a post on Pocket PC Thoughts stating that SonyEricsson apparently contracted HTC to make hardware for a Windows Mobile phone. I haven't used any of SE's smartphones, but the two SE phones I've had did impress me so if SE could combine the best part of their phones with Windows Mobile, I could see waiting until next year.
I have many conflicting preferences and the pool of available devices does not match them. My hx4705 had a 4" 640x480 VGA screen, and frankly the smaller 2.8" 320x240 screen on most Pocket PC phones is hard to adjust to. The slide-out hardware keyboard is nice. I like a lot of the utilities and customizations that HP adds to their iPaq line and HTC did not include similar features in the 8125. However, HP does not have slide-out hardware keyboards in their Pocket PC phones. They have the thumb board, which might be acceptable but the screens on those devices are 240x240.
Of course, the iPhone does fall within the price range my dad mentioned, but the data plan is separate. I'm not sure that the iPhone is worth using without a data plan.
And so, my options appear to be three or four:
While I'm waiting for PDASmart.com to receive my hx4705 and contact me, I might spend some time reading reviews. I will also return this blog to normal programming.
Labels: Windows Mobile
I made a little bit of progress on my Cingular 8125. My years as a technician combined with my IT degree are becoming quite an asset to me. I couldn't sleep last night; at least, I couldn't sleep very well. I actually did fall asleep twice just long enough to dream about wandering the house because I couldn't sleep. You have to love that. My wife told me I should stay home from church (I also didn't feel well at 11 PM last night) but I still couldn't sleep so I went to my computer room to get my geek on. I put the battery in the 8125 and tried to turn it on. It actually looked like the unit would boot up, and it did. I shut it down to swap my SIM card back in, and I was back to the "crashed" splash screen. I tried off and on to get it to work, and finally after about the 40th try it did boot up. I didn't bother to put my SIM card in this time because I wanted to try to get some of my data off. We went to the Lindenwold Park for Lindenwold Day (yearly town celebration) and I got some pictures of my kids riding ponies that I wanted to recover if possible. Also, many of my tasks in Outlook disappeared somehow and I wanted to see if the Pocket PC still had them available. They are gone. I have no idea why.
When the Pocket PC booted up, I did find one problem I was having last night. For some reason, the camera keeps coming on and taking pictures. I guess the hardware button is stuck somehow. That's not a good thing. I wonder if that's why I can't restore the Pocket PC to factory settings. I went into the button assignments and assigned the camera button to <nothing>.
I'm still hoping to return this 8125 for a refund. I'm not sure I want an exchange considering the problems I've been having with it. I did some reading last night and discovered that a lot of people have the same problems with the Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard).
By the way, if you see the screen on my previous post, it is a bootloader screen, according to XDA-Developers. The bootloader screen appears when you start up the phone with the camera button pressed. This is more confirmation to me that my camera button is stuck on.
I've had my Cingular 8125 for just over 24 hours and it is already dead. I emailed the company I bought it from to ask about a replacement or a refund. Their policy states that they do refunds or exchanges within 30 days. I have been using the phone most of the day. I installed all of my usual programs, although a few such as Magic Button just don't want to work on this phone. There were a few problems I was willing to learn to live with. Some areas of the screen, especially the taskbar, didn't want to respond to tapping. I had to slide the keyboard open to put the Pocket PC in landscape mode to take my chances. Toward the end of the evening, the input methods started to fail one by one. First the hardware keyboard started spitting out special characters rather that letters, then it stopped working altogether. Next the software keyboard suddenly didn't want to respond to input. Finally, the 8125 rebooted to the screen to the left. Rather than the Cingular splash screen, this is what I got. I have not been able to get a functioning ROM since. I am a fairly heavy user of Cell phones and Pocket PCs, but I should not have used this one that much in 24 hours.
In the meantime, I'm back to my trusty SonyEricsson z525a. The z525 is a great phone. I just like to have the Pocket PC functionality as well. I followed the links on HP's website to send an email asking for support for my hx4705. I strongly suspect that the battery is the problem; however I did not want to spend money on a new battery to find that the hx4705 is completely dead. Perhaps HP can confirm a dead battery or can fix the problem. One thing the Cingular 8125 taught me is that I really miss the 640 by 480 VGA screen on the hx4705.
I'm getting a new Pocket PC. I hope the seller doesn't mind if I take the image from their Ebay auction. If they do, I'll pull the image down. I linked the image to their site to show my good faith.
I'm getting the Cingular 8125. This one was a good price. It's not a top of the line model, but it's the best of all worlds. It is a Pocket PC Phone, but a true Pocket PC so all of my applications should work unlike the Smartphone version of Windows Mobile. The 8125 is quad band, and though it does support EDGE, it also has 802.11 wireless so for the time being I can use wireless rather than get a data plan. It has Windows Mobile 5 and I understand that an upgrade to WM6 is available. I'm hoping to have my new PPC phone sometimes next week. I've gotten so used to depending on my iPaq hx4705 that I've been going out of my mind the last three days. The staff meeting today was especially brutal without my Pocket PC to work on.
This will be my fourth Pocket PC in four years. Much like buying cars, I always end up getting my Pocket PCs used. This one is no different. The Ebay auction said that it had signs of slight use but has been tested and is functional.
Update: I wrote the text above last week. I've been tied up ever since and have not had a chance to edit and post, so I'm just going to append. My phone arrived Friday afternoon by UPS. The auction provided free 2-day UPS air shipping. I bought the phone on Thursday morning and it arrived in a little more than 25 hours. My family and I were down in Wildwood for the yearly Firemen's Convention, so I asked my neighbors to watch for packages. I got the box when we returned home Sunday. When I opened the box up hoping to be back in mobile productive bliss, I discovered that the wrong battery had been enclosed. I called the customer service line and left a message. When my wife and I returned from a small group we meet with on Sunday nights, I found an email from Dyscern, the company I bought the phone from, that the correct battery would be mailed to me on Monday. I also bought a 2 GB mini-SD card to use. I'm hoping that the battery arrives today so I can start using my phone tonight. I'm planning to keep my Sony Ericsson z525a as a backup. It's a really good cell phone with many useful features, including the ability to put together a conference call.
My Pocket PC died Monday night. I checked email while I was at church over the wireless connection and when I got home, it was gone. Dead. Won't operate, won't charge; nothing. I never saw it coming. It was working fine, the battery had plenty of charge, but in less than a two hour period it went from useful and dependable tool to total brick.
I can't believe how much I've come to rely on that device. I haven't written about Getting Things Done (GTD) lately, but I found myself going out of my mind yesterday whenever I came up with an idea or task that I needed to capture and file. While driving to church last night I finally figured out what to say on the Critical Thinking paper I have to write for my final class that starts this week, and I had to take out my cell phone and record a voice note rather than take out my Pocket PC and actually start the paper. This all sounds very silly but I have come to rely on a lot of the features and convenience that device gave me and I now have to find work-arounds.
I've also been working on finding an interim solution. My wife tells me that getting a new Pocket PC is out of the question at this time. Here are a few of the solutions I have come up with along with my assessments:
I am partly being facetious in some of my comments in the hopes of providing a bright spot of amusement in the day of anybody doing me the favor of reading my blog. I do rely heavily on my Pocket PC though, and the adjustment to not having one will not be easy.
I wrote this past Saturday about how the iPhone is everything that I wish Windows Mobile had been. Last October, I bought the Windows Mobile 5 update for my iPaq hx4700 Pocket PC simply because I don't like not having the latest and greatest if I can do anything about it. The problem is that although this device is capable of running WM2005, it doesn't run efficiently. I finally got fed up and restored the Pocket PC to Windows Mobile 2003SE. I got my performance, but of course not my functionality.
This morning, I read about a new ROM containing Windows Mobile 2005 for the hx4700 on Pocket PC Thoughts. I downloaded it and I am currently installing it. Let's see if this will give me the performance of WM2003SE and the functionality of WM2005. I'll update later. That link contains a complete tutorial as well as links to all of the file needed and some other tips.
Labels: Windows Mobile
My last cell phone was a Sony Ericsson z500a. I must have liked that phone, because when I was able to upgrade, I took a newer model, the z525a. The z500a, for all it's usefulness, had a very annoying feature: a dedicated camera button on the side of the phone that could be pressed by other objects in my pocket. I can't tell you how many times I took my phone out of my pocket to make a call only to discover that the camera was on and the battery was very low. I've also shot many pictures of the inside of my pocket.
My Pocket PC has a similar nagging problem. The hardware buttons get pressed while moving around in my pocket and strange things happen, appointments get created, I get audio recordings of my pocket, but above all else my battery drains.
My video iPod, by contrast, does not have this problem. Why? Because Apple, which above all else is great at design, included a lock switch that prevents accidental turn on and operation while being carried around in a man's overcrowded pockets. This lock switch is at the top of the device opposite the headphone jack and is firm enough that it isn't likely to toggle when brought into contact with a Swiss Army Knife or change or other pocket sized consumer electronic device.
What I wouldn't give for a simple lock switch on my phone and Pocket PC...
Last year, I found out I was getting a new laptop for Christmas. Since the beans had been spilled, my wife took my input into what would be the best laptop to get for me. I took into account portability, power, and price, and came up with the Compaq Presario v2414. One of the reasons I wanted this particular model was for the AMD Turion 64-bit processor. I figured that sooner or later, there would be a move to 64-bit software and by having the hardware to run 64-bit, I might be able to make that laptop useful for a longer period of time.
I can't say that to date I have done a lot of research into 64-bit computing. I read somewhere that you can process video and work with graphics better. The first 64-bit offering I tried was SuSE Linux 10.1. I put in the CD and installed onto another partition, but some files didn't install correctly, I got a lot of error warnings, and when the OS booted for the first time, I saw that a high enough run level could not be achieved to run the GUI. I wasn't about to spend the time using Linux entirely from a command line, so I removed the installation and restored my Windows XP Boot Manager.
One day I got the idea to try the Windows XP Pro 64-bit trial edition. I downloaded and burned the DVD and installed. I had a heck of a time finding a graphics driver, and my widescreen laptop looked funny in 1024x768 resolution. Once I got the graphics working right, I had to find a wireless driver. Fortunately, Windows Update found this for me automatically. I soon learned that sound would not be working on this installation.
Shortly after this, Windows Vista RC1 was released, so I downloaded the 64-bit install CD and installed Vista over XP Pro. I was able to get a sound driver working, but basically I installed every 64 bit sound driver I could find and kept installing them until something took. Windows Vista has a driver signing protection, and being experimental you are not going to find a signed audio driver for a 64-bit experimental OS, so you have to manually disable the driver signing protection at EVERY STARTUP but going into F8 prior to boot up.
By this weekend, I was ready to scrap Vista, but after talking to a friend I realized that I could go back to the 32-bit Vista, which I did.
It's nice to have working audio. I'm starting to see 64-bit processors as the modern day USB. USB started showing up on every device one day, most of us didn't know what to do with it, there were no devices for it, and then we turned around and found it to be in widespread use but we were stuck with parallel printers and scanners that we bought because we didn't understand the point to USB.
Labels: Microsoft Windows
I have had a lot going on lately, and I really haven't posted to my blog. I could probably have put up hundreds of small posts, but they all got lost in the shuffle. I'll concentrate this post on my iBook and next time Linux.
The iMac I have has been little more than a toy to me. With 32 megs of RAM and Mac OS 9.2.2, it didn't do very much. I was looking for a way to get my hands on Mac OSX to gain some experience on the platform. My wife found an ad on Craig's List giving away a few laptops and computers. By the time I got her email the next morning and checked the ad out, the poster had already left notice that all of the computers were claimed. I decided to see what else I could find, and I came across an Apple iBook for $100. The ad said that the power cord had shorted out and the owner took the hard drive out and was selling the computer for parts. I figured that for $100, it was worth the challenge. I was sure that I could recoup the $100 in parts anyway if the laptop didn't work. I emailed the poster to ask if he still had the factory disks, and he said yes. I took my 1 year old, Caleb, with me to pick it up.
My wife was not happy at all with me for buying this iBook, but as far as I'm concerned, I did get a good deal. I had a 40 Gig laptop hard drive that needed to be used. It's home was in a Toshiba Pentium II/233Mhz notebook that has been retired. I found a power cord for $30 on Ebay, so once the cord arrived, I already had the iBook put together. The previous owner gave me all of the software that came with the iBook. OK, just kidding, it's a Mac, so there is little software for it, but there sure were a lot of disks! The iBook came from the factory with Max OSX 10.1, and the owner upgraded to Jaguar, 10.2. While I was waiting for the power cord to arrive, I stuck an extra 64 Megs in the iMac and installed Jaguar. I'm pleasantly surprised at the performance that the iMac is giving me.
The iBook was a lot of fun to put together. For a company founded by computer hobbyists, Apple Computer sure doesn't like hobbyists messing with their computers. Most of the screws are very tiny, and I didn't have a Phillips screwdriver small enough to drive them in. I finally settled for snapping the case together and hoping for the best, which so far has been good enough.
Once the power cord arrived, I plugged it in, hit the power button, and heard that familiar Mac noise. I was happy. Next came the fun of trying to install software. The iBook factory install CDs don't have any disk tools, and I was dealing with a 40 Gig NTFS drive. The Jaguar upgrade CD doesn't have drive tools either, but the 10.1 install CD does. I found from the iMac that 10.1 is about as useless as Mac OS9, but with a more appeasing interface. Jaguar is slightly more useful, but I really need Panther. The problem is that I'm having trouble talking my wife into the money for Panther or even Tiger, and my friends who have them can't remember to produce them for me. I think that using a Mac might destroy your memory.
One thing I can't say I like about Apple is how quickly their software goes out of date. Since 2001, there have been 4 releases of Mac OSX (I believe). The Windows XP CD that I bought in January 2002 is still as good today as it was when I bought it. I hear a lot of criticism from Mac forums about how "Microsoft hasn't released a new operation system in 5 years". Well, guess what? Windows users haven't had to pay for a new operating system in 5 years either. Here I am with a notebook computer originally purchased in 2002, with an upgraded operating system that is 2 releases behind the current.
I almost forgot the hardware specs. This iBook is a G3, 600Mhz with 256 Megs of RAM. I will say I'm impressed. Apple does design hardware to last for a while, and this computer is more usable than the Pentium III/800Mhz with 128 megs RAM that I have.
I did break down and order Tiger, which will hopefully arrive today.
I have a technological confession to make. Last year while chatting with a friend of mine who used to be a Apple Service Rep at CompUSA, I became intrigued by the concept of the Mac. Last week while browsing some ads on Craig's List, I came across an iBook going for $100. The power cord had shorted, and the hard drive had been removed and the computer was being sold for parts. I inquired about the system and asked if the original install disks were available. I have a couple of extra laptop hard drives, so I figured with a power cord I could make this system work. I went to pick it up.
The specifications of this laptop are fairly impressive for $100. It's a G3/600Mhz with 256 Megs of RAM, a Combo drive (CD-RW/DVD) and an Airport Card, 2 USB, and 1 Firewire port. The battery is apparently shot but I'll see. I was able to reassemble the iBook in an afternoon, although I didn't bother with very many screws. For a company that was started by computer hobbyists, Apple Computer doesn't seem to like hobbyists messing with their computers. The same computer toolkit that I have used for years to rip apart PC's and laptops (including some star screws on a Compaq notebook) did not contain a jeweler's screwdriver small enough to turn the tiny little screws from the iBook. That turned out to be a minor problem, because for an electronics tech/wannabe engineer I have short stubby fingers and was not able to line the little tiny screws up with the little tiny holes anyway. I put all the pieces back, put in about 3 screws in strategic locations, and snapped the plastic back in place as best as I could.
Now I just have to wait for a power cord. The iBook came with the original install disks and a Jaguar update CD (Max OSX 10.2). Up till now, my only experience with Mac comes from the Apple IIe that I used in a computer class in the 7th grade (almost 20 years ago!) and the iMac that my friend gave me last year. It's a G3/333Mhz with 32 Megs of RAM. It came with Mac OS 8.6 and I got my hands on 9 which was automatically upgraded to 9.2.2 with the built in update feature. Considering the animosity that Mac fanatics have for Microsoft, Mac OS9 sure has a lot of Microsoft products on it. It came with Internet Explorer 4.5 for Mac, which I upgraded to IE 5 for Mac right before Microsoft discontinued support. When I clicked on mail, I got Outlook Express 4.5. This iMac is very slow and painful to use, and I really only play with it when my laptop bogs down and I need something to do. I'm sure if I upgraded the RAM and put OSX on it the iMac would be a lot more useful, but for now the system is little more than a toy.
I still see the whole operating system thing being a shell game, but I keep hearing how great OSX is and I would like to see for myself. Every sysadmin I know who has to support Macs hates them, and when I read forum posts and even opinions in the Apple online store, I read about a lot of hardware failures. Apparently these iBooks suffer from failing power cords and exploding batteries. The batteries don't last very long at all. I'll see once I get my power cord.
I'm currently reading the book iCon by Jeffrey Young and William Simon. This is a very interesting read. Steve Jobs is a very interesting a colorful character, and even though I imagine he was very difficult to work with or work for, I highly doubt that the personal computer would be what it is today without his influence.
I haven't had much fortune with desktop computers lately. In fact, I have 3 carcasses laying around. I had a 1.7Ghz Athlon, but it developed a problem that is most likely in the power supply, but there was another problem right before the power supply completely failed. There was a single, rapid beep. I took my wife's old 1Ghz Athlon and used that for a desktop system, until it's power supply failed. A friend gave me a Gateway that wasn't working and said it was mine if I could fix it. I couldn't.
I haven't been without a computer. I have two notebooks that I've been using, plus an old iMac G3 (Rev. D) that is more of a toy than anything. I like the mobility of notebooks, but there is just something nice about having a desktop system to call home base. I have a WinTV and the hard drive space is nice for recording shows and watching them when I can. It's also nice to be able to back up the laptops to the hard drive space on the desktop. I can also download and process video from our DVC camera and burn to a DVD.
I sold my Dell Axim and took the money to a computer show. My wife found an eMachine at Wal-Mart for under $300, but was decided that I should see what I could find at the computer show. It's been a long time since I've made it to one. I went with my father in law. There were some awesome deals. One vendor had Windows XP Pro for $99, but my budget didn't cover that.
I looked around at the available hardware. I found a 400 Watt case for $31. That's a good deal, considering that the computer store down the street from me wanted $69 for a 350 Watt power supply for my 1.7Ghz box. I found a good deal on a P-4 2.6Ghz and motherboard, I bought 512 Megs of DDR RAM (I still have 256 from my other system) and I bought the 400 Watt case. All told, I got a much better deal than that eMachine at Wal-mart.
I can't wait to get it put together and running.
I used to think that Feng Shui was nothing more than New Age mystical bovine fecal matter, until just last night. As a Christian, and as I study the Bible more, I find that there is evidence for many of the events and systems that we find in the world, hence the Bible's warnings to stay away from magic, sorcery, divination, etc. Why warn if there's no such thing to warn against? I know that Feng Shui has to do with arranging your rooms so that energy can flow through. It does sound like bunk, but I have noticed something that makes me wonder.
Like many other homes, ours has a wireless router. My wife keeps a laptop back in the family room of our house so that she can surf the internet, pay bills, and still watch the kids. Call me a bad father, but I'm not letting my laptop anywhere near my two boys right now, especially since our toddler is implicated in three laptops having been broken or disabled.
My wife has a lot of trouble getting a wireless signal. She sits on the couch, right at where I always thought the range of the router to be. The router is at my computer desk on the other end of the house. It's an older Belkin 802.11b spec router. I'm hoping to get a new Belkin Pre-N, but I believe that the 802.11n spec just got approved so maybe I should wait for N routers to come out. I had noticed that my Pocket PC, which is also a b spec, can pick up a signal on the other end of our family room which should technically be further from the router and also behind a wall. Last night my wife was having problems with her laptop again because the power cord was damaged along with the hard drive and the service department didn't fix the power cord very well. It's now totally broken. I was in the middle of setting up an old laptop for my wife to use in the meantime, and I was sitting farther away. I realized that I had a better signal. When I got her email and Quicken files put on it, I gave it to her and sure enough, the signal went away. I took it back to the other side of the room and it worked again. Either there really is something to Feng Shui or my wife is a wi-fi black hole. Don't tell her I said that. She doesn't read my blog.