I can’t figure out why people are so excited about the App store concept, but apparently somebody is going to create a paid app store for applications for jailbroken iPhones. I know a BlackBerry App store just launched, and Microsoft is salivating at the concept of a central app store for Windows Mobile devices. Me? I don’t care. Really, I don’t care. Let me explain, again.
The iPhone App store works for Apple because the iPhone is a locked down platform. Apple wants to maintain Stalinistic control over the platform for a variety of reasons, some of them actually being good. Others are just paranoid, but it’s Apple’s platform and they can do this if they like. Personally, I’m not that thrilled with the App store concept. A lot of good applications never make it because they either duplicate functionality already present in the device, or top-secret functionality to be added later. It takes forever to fix bugs and re-release software for the platform. The app store also doesn’t guarantee that applications will be useful, just that they pass Apple’s requirements.
Personally, I have no enthusiasm for app stores on either Windows Mobile or the BlackBerry platforms. I guess if they want to maintain a central repository, so be it, but I don’t mind the way things currently are.
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.
I have no idea if this is limited to Windows Mobile or not, as I’ve only used text messaging on two phones. I will occasionally get a text message that is informational. The pop-up toast will come up to tell me the text, which is short enough to read in the preview. I’ll read it, and hit Dismiss. However, my today screen will still show an unread text message. I have to open my text message in order for it to be marked as read. This is annoying.
Sometimes when I’m texting with my wife, I’ll have to close out the chat, then reopen it to clear out her last unread message from my unread message count. Again, annoying.
Interesting news coming out of the White House. 8 years ago, former President Bush’s staff arrived to find the place trashed. Current President Obama’s staff arrives to find it outdated. There is an interesting debate going on. Some people fell sorry for them. Others, like Valleywag's Owen Thomas, consider them whiners, and offers them a welcome to “The way the rest of America works.”
It may be the way we work, but that doesn’t make it right. Where I work, laptops cannot be ordered with a wireless card built on. Currently, only Dell will sell a laptop without a built-in wireless. What do you do when you travel, and the only way to get connected to the Internet to access email or shared documents in a hotel’s wireless router? You can order a separate wireless card. I am NOT making this up. Somebody in the interests of IT security dreamed this BS policy up.
Just wait, Obama staff. It will get worse. Much worse. Welcome to the wonderful world of government/large corporate environment IT. It sucks, doesn’t it?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I got into IT because I love shiny new things. I resent when IT policies are made by people who aren’t quite ready for the release of the Apple II yet.
Security and convenience are two important factors, but they darn well SHOULD balance each other somehow. You can’t have security at the expense of convenience, nor can you have convenience at the expense of security. I only wish the people who made the policies seemed to understand that.
OK, after reviewing two inspirational books, it’s time to get back to talking technology. I like to use my Windows Mobile phone to help me keep track of what I’m doing, but lately that’s not been possible. For some reason, no matter which computer I try to sync my Epix with, I keep getting “ActiveSuck encountered an error on the desktop”. Yes, I meant to say ActiveSuck instead of ActiveSync. Tasks that I have marked as complete keep popping back up as incomplete, and entries keep duplicating themselves. I’m about getting sick of the whole thing.
I’ve tried everything I can find, which in Windows land honestly isn’t much. When I go searching for fixes to the problem, this is what I get:
The Amazon Kindle is one cool device, but slightly out of my budget at present. I also have one too many gadgets. I’ve read that 3 is the magic number of gadgets that people are willing to carry before they stop buying new ones, and that’s right where I’m at:
I’ve been using MobiPocket on my Windows Mobile devices since Brad Isaac recommended it last year. It’s not bad, but reading a book on a 2.4 inch screen can be painful.
Enter Stanza, which you can download from the App Store. I’ll give it a shot. I’ve heard that eReader is turning the iPhone/iPod Touch into a popular ebook reader, but I haven’t done much with eReader yet. I have yet to find a painless way to turn my ebooks into .pdb format. I have better things to do than hack 300 pages into pseudo-html.
I just installed Stanza. I’ll play with it some, and maybe I’ll post later about it.
Thanks to Google Analytics, I'm able to see what content on my blog is read and if readers are sticking around or not. So far, my biggest referrers are Vox Day, Thomas Nelson, Patrick Mead, and Andrea. Thanks all for the traffic.
Seeing such an increase in traffic is inspiring, but also challenging. I'm seeing the searches that are landing people on my blog through Google, but I have no idea if I've been able to help those visitors or not. I'm not getting many comments yet and few are sticking around.
Yesterday, I noticed that somebody visited my blog by searching Google for terms related to the Samsung Epix turning itself on. I had the same problem with my first Epix. It kept coming on randomly for no apparent good reason. This caused quite a few problems, such as a serious decrease in battery life. Also, since the Epix would come on while in my pocket, programs would close, other programs would open, occasionally an appointment or other record would disappear, and I was going nuts. I tried to search for a fix to the problem. Because I bought the Epix the day it was released, there really wasn't any information available. Have you ever searched for the answer to a problem and the only available content consists of the posts on your own blog complaining about the problem?
Lifehacker released the wishlists of their contributors for productivity in 2009. Rather than post this in their ever-expanding comment section, I might as well post my ideas here. This is what I would like to see for productivity and general technology in 2009:
I'll probably come back and edit this later if I think of anything else. What would you like to see for productivity and technology in 2009?
While catching up on over 150 blog posts in Google Reader, I came across a post about Loving Your Cellphone to Death. The concept seems a little morbid, but I try to avoid condemning these things. Throughout history, people have been buried with cherished possessions. Consider the ancient Pharaohs, who were buried with wealth and even servants for use in the afterlife.
All I know is that when I die, I honestly don't care what you do with me or my possessions. I once asked my wife that following the Golden Rule, I don't want a funeral procession unless it's done at 6 AM on a Sunday when nobody else is on the road. I've been held up by one too many of those things. One time I was trying to run out to pick up lunch and couldn't get off my street because of a funeral procession that seemed to be endless. Another time I couldn't get off the highway because a seemingly 20 mile long funeral procession was taking up the right lane and I couldn't exit. I'm sure all the people that would show up for my funeral could fit in one car. Consider that my contribution to the non-disruption of traffic and of other people's lives. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about that for a very long time.
OK, all that aside, is there anything YOU want to be buried with? Do you want to take your cellphone with you, or an iPod, or a Bible, or something else?
I ask this question for myself. I'm sure that there's plenty of hope for Windows Mobile as a platform. It will likely be around for a long time. I'm not a tech blogger who foresees some kind of technocratic future where one platform will win and everybody will use it. I don't think one size will ever fit all. Perhaps the pie charts will shift from time to time indicating that one platform will have more market share than others. Maybe new platforms will rise and fall, but I see Windows Mobile, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Symbian being around for a long time.
Jason Dunn recently went to Mobius. He includes some discussion about Windows Mobile in his write up. Good news seems to be that the Windows Mobile team is finally starting to see power users as a significant percentage of their market share. According to Jason's account, whenever a "power user" gave the Windows Mobile team advice or put in a feature request, their reaction was "Oh, he's a power user. That can't be what 'normal users' want." The feature was then discarded. I don't know many "normal users" who would put up with the frustration of Windows Mobile. Just about everybody I know (there are a couple of exceptions) who uses Windows Mobile knows what a pain in the ass it is, but sticks with the platform anyway because it is hackable and there are plenty of 3rd party applications available. For the most part, without the customizability and extensive developer network, Windows Moblie really isn't worth the frustration.
Paul Thurrott wrote an article commenting on another article about fixing Windows Mobile. I typically enjoy Paul Thurrott’s commentaries, and I used to like to listen to his “Windows Weekly” podcast with Leo LaPorte. I discontinued listening at one point when the TWIT network podcasts started getting longer and consisted more of rambling than any real information about their subjects, including Windows Weekly. Also at that point I needed to trim some podcasts in iTunes as I didn’t have time to listen to them all and they were starting to pile up.
Can Windows Mobile be “fixed”, or does it need to be “fixed”? I honestly don’t see Windows Mobile going away. I think that people are a little bit, uhm, silly when they write of a world with only one Smartphone platform. There are people who seem to think that one day, Apple will conquer the market and we’ll all be using iPhones. I honestly don’t see that. I’m sure that the iPhone will gain in market share, and I’m probably going to have one someday. There are still people and businesses that prefer Windows Mobile or BlackBerry. Some people just want a dumb phone: a phone that does little more than makes calls but makes calls well. I don’t think it’s very smart to assume that one platform will become dominant and everything else will fall by the wayside, but I guess it’s human nature, it tells people what they want to hear, and it sells advertising thereby keeping people employed
A post over at Web Worker Daily explored once again the idea of using cell phones in flight. I’ve explored the topic before myself, as well as why I can’t watch videos on my iPod Touch during take off and landing.
I can’t say I’ve done a lot of research into this issue, but I still can’t recall ever having heard a reason why cell phones can’t be used in flight other than the unproven (my background is in electronics, communications and IT) “It might screw with the plane’s instrumentation” and the emotionally charged “I don’t want to sit next to the self-important sumbitch who talks too loud on his phone!”
I have heard one more reason, which I still consider personally related and not exactly solid ground to build policy on: “Why can’t I have one place where nobody can call me?” I’m not saying that reason isn’t groundless, but it is still emotionally charged. Honestly, if I don’t want to take a call, (lean in closer because I’m about to share with you an ancient secret) I don’t. Seriously, I either shut off the radio on my phone (sometimes called “Flight Mode”) or I hit the “ignore” when I see a call pop up. That’s why I’m paying for voice mail. GE Money called me during a meeting this afternoon because they can’t get my Lowe’s card straight. I hit “Ignore” and called them back later after I had time to deal with them. Sometimes my wife calls me and it’s not a good time to take that call. That’s OK, and it’s why we finally broke down and got text messaging. An incoming phone call is your time, and you can take ownership of that time and dispense it accordingly. Don’t be a jerk about it, but also don’t get jerked around by every interruption. They’re not all created equal.
At this end of this post, I still don’t have a good reason why cell phones *shouldn’t* be allowed to be used on planes. No, I’m not exactly advocating for their use, but I would like to see better reasons why they can’t be used.
The BlackBerry Storm came out on Verizon last week, and I finally got to touch one. It didn't really do anything for me though. It is a wonderful concept, but I doubt it will be dubbed an "iPhone Killer" anytime soon. One of my coworkers got one. He thinks a software patch will be coming out soon. He hasn't had a chance to really play with it yet. I think the distinguishing feature is that the screen is a keyboard, that is, you have to push the screen to get the Storm to recognize your keypresses. I'm not sure that impresses me. If anything, it seems to require more force than necessary. I don't have a problem with the lack of feedback on my iPod Touch.
The New York Times' David Pouge apparently has problems with the Storm. However, to put things in perspective, he's a tech journalist, and by nature he gets his hands on a large amount of tech. I always do find the journalists to be helpful (as long as they don't use gimmicky words like "iPhone Killer") but remember to keep in perspective that their needs and budget will likely differ from yours. I haven't read David Pouge's review yet. I came across a link to it as I was compiling this post.
I do like my Samsung Epix, but I am starting to wish I'd just gotten an iPhone instead.I ended up hard resetting my Epix a couple days ago, after barely 3 weeks of operation. Then I started the process of syncing with my laptop at work. The next day, for whatever reason, my organization decided to ban the use of all removable media and demand we scan our computers, and leave them connected and turned on. Even if we take them home with us, we were told to leave them for the rest of the week unless a mission critical reason exists. I'm not sure what the big deal is, but apparently it's organization wide (this is a very, very large organization). OK, I'd gotten tired of all the hassles with synchronizing a Windows Mobile device with 2 computers, but even though I had a good sync at work, I had to delete that relationship and sync at home. Of course, in the process, a whole buttload of appointments duplicated, but to top it all off, a bunch of my tasks deleted themselves.
I'm going to work on decentralizing my workflow away from Windows Mobile and Microsoft Outlook so that the next time I get a phone, I don't have to talk myself into a Windows Mobile device again. I've used every version of Windows Mobile from 2002 to 6.1, and the amount of progress on this platform is not impressive at all. Yeah, I know, the iPhone got a non-recessed headset jack, 3G, and GPS along with a Stalinistic app store, but at least you don't have to hard reset the darn thing every 3 weeks.
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.
I've been waiting for this. Microsoft got around to patching a well known bug that caused me to write this post. Now it appears that the patch has been developed and realeased, so if you have a Windows Mobile 6.1 device, you should download and install it. Since getting my Epix, I've been using FlexMail 2007 which seems to get around the issue well enough. I still use Pocket Outlook on occasion, but I definitely prefer FlexMail because it displays images automatically and is able to format html email for the small screen. Flexmail 2007 is not available. The current product is Flexmail 4.
I thought I'd post this here on my own blog. I have a strange BlackBerry issue, but months of searching Google aren't turning anything up related to my minor problem. I've searched several BlackBerry forums all to no avail. I finally decided to try to register on one, but then I realized I'm about freaking sick of having to register for a new forum every single time I turn around. I'm tired of having to keep track of hundreds of logins just because one site happened to have information I thought might be useful but wouldn't let me see it until I "join our community!" I hate you forum owners. Blogs are so much better, except for the bloggers who insist that you register on their particular blog just to leave comments.
OK, the BlackBerry problem. My company issued me a Verizon BlackBerry 7130e. It's an older model, and not too impressive but it will tether when I'm traveling (although it's very slow) and it does a decent job of keeping me connected when I'm away from my desk. When I first got the BlackBerry, I was having a lot of problems with my iPaq 6945 and AT&T's EDGE network, and I was eager to play around with a new platform so I added my gmail account to the BlackBerry. I took it off at one point, then added it back on, then took it off again while following instructions to get the IMAP working from gmail. I finally deleted the gmail account from the BlackBerry because I get a lot of html mail and the text-only interface of the BlackBerry was annoying. I also started using gmail's mobile app.
However, for some reason, I keep getting tons and tons of RIM Network messages across my gmail account. Sometimes I'll get a couple of hundred a day. I started marking them as spam, but they keep coming. The messages say that they communicate between RIM's server and the BlackBerry, but I've long since taken that account off (through the Verizon utility on the BlackBerry) and I can't figure out how to stop getting these. Like any good tech company these days, RIM has made sure that their website forces to to spend weeks sifting through supposedly helpful articles and FAQ, but none so far address my issue. RIM, like a good tech company, also doesn't have an easily identifiable "Contact Us" link on their support page.
If anybody knows how to stop getting these RIM messages, please leave a comment. Thank you.
This was an honest first for me. I don't think I've ever managed to own a brand new device just as some of the leading sites are starting to post reviews, but two weeks ago I took my BlackJack II back to AT&T to get the Epix. So far I do like the phone. The BlackJack II was nice, but I'm happy to have a touch screen again.
As I said, I do like it, but of course no new device would be completely without problems. One of the biggest problems that I have with the Epix is that the screen keeps turning on randomly. This drives me nuts and kills my battery life. I've compensated by setting the backlight to turn off after 30 seconds. I had a hard time living like that with my BlackJack II, but the optical mouse on the Epix counts as activity and keeps the screen on while I'm reading.
The battery life is not very good at all, and the Epix will only achieve a full charge when connected to a wall outlet. I've been using it with my Celio Redfly, which provides power. I've also left it connected to my laptop at work for a charge. It seems like I left the Epix connected to power all day long but when I left work, the battery was only at 40%.
I love the capabilities, I love the optical mouse, I love being able to tether a laptop to a 3G device, but the battery that seems to drain itself too fast is getting to be a real cause for concern. I'm tempted to see if I can trade it in for an iPhone.
Does anybody else out there have an Epix with the same problems?
I first stumbled onto Pocket PC Thoughts 4 years ago this month. It was started by Jason Dunn 8 years ago and has become a media empire of sorts, with community sites dedicated to Smartphones, the Zune, Digital Media, and now Apple. Apple Thoughts just launched. If you happen to have a Thoughts Media account already, it is good on the new site.
I think it was about 3 1/2 weeks ago when my wife and I got our Samsung BlackJack II’s. I just learned today that the BlackJack III is out. My BlackJack II is the best implementation of Windows Mobile that I’ve had yet, with the exception of the SMTP issue that is currently endemic to Windows Mobile 6.1. I’ve also run into a problem of not being able to sync with my work laptop. My personal laptop established a relationship with the BlackJack easily enough, but for whatever reason my work laptop doesn’t see it. It detected the BlackJack and installed drivers, so I can charge from my USB ports, but the Windows Mobile Device Center doesn’t see it at all. I just had a ton of work crop up and I have several projects I’m in the middle of, so not being able to sync with Outlook on my work laptop is getting to be a hindrance. Also, as much as I do like the BlackJack II, I’m missing having a touch screen device. I find it ironic as well that the BlackJack II is not a touch screen but the screen gets smudged and scratched easier than any phone or Pocket PC I’ve had to date.I finally put an old iPaq screen protector on it last night. My last complaint is that the battery life is kind of short for me. By lunch, all I’d done was check email, text my wife, and look at my calendar and my battery was already halfway gone.
I think considering all that, AT&T should let me take it back and get the BlackJack III. I’ve also considered the iPhone and the Tilt, but the Tilt according to our salesman is the most returned device to that store.
I got my Celio Redfly today. My previous post was written from a standpoint of frustration, but I've found that I can use gmail's web client to send mail, and Pocket Outlook to receive. So far I'm impressed with the Redfly. It's not perfect, but it will definitely expand my BlackJack II's capabilities. The keyboard is cramped, but is a little easier than typing on a thumbboard. I'm typing this blog entry in Typepad's Windows Mobile client on my Redfly.
The picture is from my BlackJack's camera. When connected to the Redfly, the phone's screen blanks out. That is a good thing. The screen is one of the largest power drains on any smartphone, so even over BlueTooth my phone should last a long time. The Redfly promises 8 hours of battery life, and can charge your phone while you're using it. In that case, I won't to worrk about getting the extended battery for travel.
This post is more of an effort to see how quickly I can type on a 7" keyboard. I'm getting better. All of the keys are where they belong, but due to the small size, I find I have to stretch to hit a few keys like backspace. If you have a compatible Windows Mobile smartphone, you might want to consider the Celio Redfly while it's on sale for $199 through Oct 31. I have a meeting tomorrow, so we'll see how well it does for taking notes. http://www.getredfly.com
I think I’ve laid out my qualifications and experience with Windows Mobile extensively on my blog. I could use some better reader statistics, so if you don’t believe me, go back through my archives.
I’ve been meaning to post for a while about my new phone. My wife has had trouble with AT&T since we jumped from the old AT&T Wireless to Cingular in 2005 to be bought back to AT&T a few months later. She’s been through 5 phones and still kept having problems. Since we reached a point of both being eligible for an upgrade, and I was near the breaking point with my iPaq 6945 and the total instability of Windows Mobile 5 and HP’s and HTC’s implementation of WM5, I gave my wife an idea. I told her that her problems *could* have been caused by always going with the cheapest phone possible. My Pocket PC phone had enough problems, but those weren’t AT&T network; they had to do with being a Windows Mobile product that was implemented by HTC for HP branding. I find the faults to lie with all three companies. In any case, I told her we could spend the money to get halfway decent phones, and if her problems persist, we can return the phones, sit out our contract, and jump to Verizon or T-mobile. I never really saw the point to Sprint.
While I did drool over the iPhone 3G, my wife picked out the Samsung BlackJack II, which impressed me also so we went with it. I found out a Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade was available for both phones, so I upgraded them the first day. All along, I was impressed with the BlackJack II. After all of the Windows Mobile devices I’ve had over the years, this was the most stable, powerful, and easy to use I’ve ever had. Sure, it had an issue or two, like for some reason I can’t sync it with my work laptop, but I was able to overlook that.
Then yesterday hit. Suddenly, I couldn’t send email through my gmail account. I couldn’t tell at the time if the problem resided with Windows Mobile, AT&T, Google, or some combination of the three and their associated applications and services. Since the cat woke me up early this morning, I decided to search on Google before I left for work, and found out that Windows Mobile 6 (including 6.1) has a KNOWN but dealing with SMTP. For those not educated, smtp stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Exactly, it’s very simple and should be the staple service of any device calling itself a “smart-phone.” Not being able to send email through an smtp service is not very smart.
I tried a few hacks that I found around, but none worked. I deleted and recreated my account several times. I was able to send two or three emails at the most before my email sends started to error out. I installed Windows Live Mobile in and effort to use my MSN email account for sending, but that developed a problem.
At this point, I’m giving serious consideration to taking the BlackJack II back to AT&T and getting an iPhone. Sure, the iPhone doesn't natively handle Outlook tasks, which is going to suck because I use them heavily. I'll have to buy yet another licence for Pocket Informant (had to buy a cross-grade license when I switched from WM Pro to Standard). On the other hand, even though an iPhone won't do as much, at least I won't have to spend endless hours hacking on it to get it to perform a basic function like sending email.
I came across this today during my trip through my RSS feeds on Google Reader.
I’ve lately become annoyed at the airlines, especially since U.S. Airways decided a small cup of crappy coffee is worth $2. Since my life is going more and more digital, I am starting to hate the direction to turn off my electronics during take-off and landing. I keep books on my Pocket PC Phone (now a BlackJack II) and the dead time that I can’t read bothers me.
On my last flight, I found myself sitting next to a pilot who was commuting to work. I know people who complain that they can’t get a quiet minute on a plane; anybody they sit next to wants to talk the entire flight. I suffer from the opposite problem: I don’t mind talking but I tend to get seated next to people more anti-social than I am. I did strike up a small conversation with the pilot. I asked him a few questions about his job. We also talked about the iPhone, which he had. As we landed in Philly, I asked him if he knew of any real evidence that small electronic devices could interfere with a plane, or had that rule just been on the books for so long that nobody ever bothered to question it anymore. I remember an episode of Mythbusters where that rule was put to the test onground, and the Mythbusters could not find a cell phone that interfered with the plane’s electronics. The pilot confirmed that he could only recall one incident where he had trouble with one of his communications systems, and the modern planes are so well shielded that there shouldn’t be a problem with me watching a movie on my iPod or reading a book on my phone (with the radio turned off) during take-off and landing except for that rule. He said that the pilots are usually talking on their cell phones as the plane taxis, since that’s the most convenient way to communicate with dispatch.
When I first met my wife, she was working at a call center on a contract for American Airlines employees to buy computers (can’t remember if it was Gateway, Dell, or whatever was big in 2000) at drastically reduced costs. Supposedly she was only required to verify eligibility for the program, but her management couldn’t seem to decide from day to day if the call center would offer tech support or not, so she often had to take support calls. I told her to post some of them on Tech Tales, as they were interesting. One woman couldn’t connect to the Internet, but it turned out she hadn’t plugged in a phone cord to the modem. Actually, all she’d done was unpack the monitor and set it on a desk. She had other calls along those lines. I think the most interesting call was from a pilot IN THE AIR. He was calling from 34,000 feet with a tech support question about his laptop. I think his call might have been patched through the airline’s comm system rather than a cell phone call.
In any case, from the article linked above, here is the reason I’ve been looking for, why I can’t read a book on my phone or listen to my iPod during take-off and landing:
As a side note, the main reason airlines make you turn all your electronics off during takeoff and landing is so you aren't distracted and can hear and follow directions if something goes wrong.
That’s all it is: to make sure you’re paying attention if something goes wrong.
Sunday night, we went out for dinner to Fuddrucker's. While my wife was getting the kids' drinks, Joshua, my 4 year old, leaned over to me to ask if he could touch my cup. I said "sure" and slid it over to him. He put his finger on it and thanked me. I asked him "Did that do something for you? Did it make you feel better somehow?" He said it did, when Caleb, my 3 year old, asked to touch the cup as well. I obliged, and a game of me sliding the cup back and forth across the table and them touching it erupted. Somehow that was a lot of fun for the three of us until my wife got back and gave us a "What the heck do you think you're doing?" look.
That comes to mind when I saw this.From Crackberry.com:
Having been issued a BlackBerry 7130 from work (did I ever actually post that blog entry?) I've gotten much more interested in the platform. I think I can answer the Storm's question as "yes, I want to touch you." I have no idea what will happen when I do. Will I get a shock? Will I drink the Cool-Aid and jump platform from Windows Mobile and AT&T? Or will I find that I just touched a plastic case full of IC chips and a really cool touch screen?
One of my coworkers is planning to get the Storm. I'll wait to touch that one.
I'm on TypePad's Windows Mobile client, so forgive any lack of formatting. I saw this link from The Unofficial Apple Weblog about iTunes 8 causing BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) on Windows Vista. I installed iTunes 8 on my work laptop yesterday, and it worked fine.
For the most part, I like iTunes 8. The Genuis playlists will be useful to me since my playlists usually consist of the same songs in a different order. As for iPod Touch 2.1 firmware, so far I like it except for how it handles podcasts. I've never agreed with Apple's podcasting philosophy. They assume that you always want to listen to the newest episode first. That's never the case for me. A lot of the podcasts I listen to come in parts or series, and I like to listen to them in order. With the new firmware, suddenly I listen to the oldest podcast in a list, and it finishes and immediately starts playing the newest. This isn't good when I have like 80 unplayed podcasts in a list. It would be nice if iPods allowed you to list and play podcasts from oldest to newest.
From the “Your Mobile World” eNewsletter:
Want to get the benefits of Windows Mobile 6.1? Check your mobile carrier’s Web site and find out if the update is available for your mobile phone. If it isn’t available yet, stay tuned because it will be soon!
How ‘bout you design a mobile operating system that isn’t bound by anal retentive mega telecoms like Verizon, so I can get the benefits of Windows Mobile 6.1 for a nominal fee rather than buying another $500 device and a two year contract?
“Windows Mobile: the perfect blend of power, capability, instability, and boneheaded business policy decisions.”
“Windows Mobile: enriching the megalithic corporations, frustrating the paying customers.”
To be at least a little fair, now that I think about it, I bought my phone unlocked directly from HP, so it’s not entirely AT&T’s fault that an update won’t be released for it. It’s HP’s, which is still a monolithic mega corporation.
Apple released the 2.0.2 update for the iPhone/iPod Touch yesterday. I updated my Touch. I wish Apple would publish a Software Version Description (SVD) or some other documentation when they publish updates. This is two “bug fix” updates released under the 2.0 version firmware, and my Touch still has the same bugs it’s had since I upgraded. These releases are more than 240MB each, which makes me wonder what is actually being fixed.
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch with the 2.0 firmware? Have either of these “bug fixes” fixed any bugs?
Perhaps I should have named this post “Why Social Networks are Sick,” as I learned last week that I’m suddenly old enough for words to have changed meanings. Now I know why my grandparents wondered why I seemed to be talking about temperature when I should have been expressing my positive opinion of an object or subject “Wow, that’s cool!” I learned that the word “sick” has apparently replaced my generation’s “cool,” so when you hear “Man, that thing is sick!” it is not necessarily an expression of disgust.
I’m finding a positive aspect of social networks, even if it is merely subjective. I occasionally get a friend request from somebody whom I have no way of knowing. I normally approve them unless they are from a “single, 21 year old female looking to party!” or some enticement to visit a website that I would not want my wife knowing about. Some people may find my blog, in fact, with TypePad my Facebook page should be easily found on my sidebar, and my Twitter feed is available for anybody wishing to follow me on there.
Like the occasional “I don’t know this person” friend request I get, I have started sending friend request to people that I admire or like to follow either through blogging, podcasts, or TV. I have sent friend requests to several of the fishermen on Deadliest Catch, for instance. Michael Hyatt, who’s blog I have been following for years, accepted a Facebook friend request from me, although the odds of us ever meeting are not high. He has posted a lot of good content on his blog that has been helpful to me over the years, especially as I struggled with the decision to complete my degree and further my career, so I do consider it an honor. I sent friend requests today to men who have podcasts that I listen to and enjoy. Two have already accepted them. I have Dave Ramsey as a friend on MySpace.
Even though it is a minor thing, I appreciate people that I look up to who have influenced my life in some way, however small or large an impact, taking the time to honor me with the small favor of being a friend on a social network. Perhaps someday I can return that favor to somebody else.
And of course, I do have some friends that I personally know on both networks. I’m friends with several people from my church, and even a coworker.
I think social networks are a good thing in a lot of ways. Yes, there can be abuses and mindless wastes of time, but there are many positives that shouldn’t be overlooked as we move through the 21st century.
I just finished a survey put on by Plaxo asking questions about a possible âphoto sharing service.â I answered as honestly as I could, that is, I donât care, probably wonât care next week, and definitely am not likely to care in the next month. If Plaxo offered the service, I would be âhighly unlikelyâ to use it.
Do you ever feel like youâre on the wrong end of a paradigm? I subscribe to quite a few technology blogs through Google Reader, and it does seem that most sites these days are jumping over themselves to offer âphoto sharingâ services. I put quotes around the words simply to indicate how little the subject interests me.
Hereâs what I envision: something like Microsoft Exchange, which is prohibitively expensive for a single user like myself. Iâd just like the ability to synchronize my ActiveSync items between my Pocket PC Phone and my laptop and maybe another desktop computer without having to pay a buttload or go with a service like Mobile Me that at present seems like a good reason for Apple to issue an apology to Microsoft for years of flack. Hey, Apple, it sure is hard to deploy and support a service that a lot of people actually use, isnât it? Anyway, Iâd like to sync my stuff without needing my cradle and needing my Pocket PC and laptop in the same room.
Iâd also like an easier way to update my blog from my Pocket PC. At this point, I canât input the CAPTCHA from Pocket Internet Explorer, so I canât post to my blog at all unless Iâm at my laptop.
Thus endeth the rant.
Do you care about or plan to use a photo sharing service that Plaxo may roll out? Iâm not saying itâs not a good idea, I'm just saying I don't really care right now.
The discussion of cell phones on airplanes has been going on for a while now. What I find interesting is that the only real argument I hear against allowing cell phone use on planes has NOTHING to do with technology or federal regulations; it has to do with behavior. I find it odd that this debate only seems to center around one emotionally charged reason. Most people I know oppose allowing cell phone use on planes for only one reason: “I don’t want to be sitting next to that self-important sumbitch who has to talk loud into his phone the entire flight!”
Granted, *other people* sure can be annoying with cell phones. I can remember one flight I took to Norfolk from Philly. As we were boarding the plane, one woman a couple of rows back from me started making calls, apparently to people whom she would be seeing in Norfolk. Three phone calls were centered around the endless repetition of “No, we’re on the plane. Yes, we’re on the plane. We’re on the plane! No, we’re sitting on the plane right now!” Seriously, that’s all she kept saying as she went through three phone calls. Would you really want to spend time with somebody too stupid to comprehend that you’re on the plane right now? But is that really a good enough reason to continue to ban the use of cell phones in flight? I’ve never seen any actual proof that the use of cell phones or “portable electronic devices” actually causes any problems with aircraft communication devices. I remember back in the early 80’s when my family flew on an Air Force C-5 from Ramstein to Dover that I couldn’t use my first generation Sony Walkman at all because it would “screw with the plane’s communications and navigation systems.” The Mythbusters set out to test this, but could only test on ground as the FAA wouldn’t relax the laws for one TV show. Their on-ground tests with a variety of cell phones showed no interference with the plane’s instrumentation.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind being able to use my phone, at least, it would be nice to use my data connection inflight. I can’t think of many calls that can’t wait until I get on the ground, but it sure would be nice to have Internet access while flying.
What about you? Can you think of any reason beside “I don’t want to sit next to the sumbitch talking on his phone!” why allowing cell phone use in flight would be a bad idea that should continue to be outlawed?
As I’m starting this post, I’m listening to Roger Moore guest host for Albert Mohler’s radio show talk about how technology is “taking over our lives.” In discussions with callers, he talks about laying his Blackberry down on the table when eating with other people. Some callers mentioned seeing families out together with the dad checking email on his Blackberry and the kids listening to iPods through ear buds.
My Father-in-law was over for dinner Thursday night. Joshua finished up and just left the table to play. I had long since finished dinner. Christina and her dad (I’m sorry and I don’t mean this to be, well, mean) tend to eat much slower than I do. I was done eating, nobody was talking, and I really wanted to break out my Pocket PC or iPod Touch to check email of read my RSS feeds in Google Reader. My wife gets on my case frequently for “always being on that machine.” I have checked with other friends with Windows Mobile phones or Blackberries or iPhones and I find that our wives all voice the same complaint frequently. Come to think of it, I love when I travel for work because when we sit down to dinner, we all pretty much lay our phones on the table and randomly check for email and text messages, and the best part is because we’re engineers, nobody considers this rude!. On my last trip, while we were eating wings, there was a Blackjack, a Q, my 6945, an iPhone, and a Blackberry all sitting on the table while we ate.
Now, I’d be absolutely wrong to spend all of my time on my “machines” and neglect my kids. Perhaps my wife thinks this is what I’m doing. I honestly don’t see where the problem lies when there is dead time, no talking, no nothing, with me taking out my Pocket PC to check email, perhaps read one that may be pertinent, and put it away. I hear people complaining all over about how much time they “have” to spend on email. I honestly don’t feel chained at all, but maybe my life doesn’t revolve that much around email. I get several newsletters, but I can get to them when I feel like it. I get very little email that is immediately actionable, but maybe that’s because I don’t really have any friends.
The other day I stopped on my way home to get my brakes looked at. Turns out I just needed a $40 adjustment. Cool! While I was waiting, I had my “brain,” my iPaq 6945. I was able to check email, check my RSS feeds on Google Reader, and read a book in Pocket Reader. It was wonderful! No more staring at the walls or trying to read a magazine I’m not really interested in while I’m at a doctor’s office or mechanic’s shop.
Let’s all just take a step back and admit that maybe, on one level, we actually sort of enjoy the information overload. If you honestly don’t like it, then take a step back. I’m enjoying it personally. I love having an alternative to “dead time,” when nobody is talking, nothing is happening, and the time would otherwise go to waste. I just wish I could use my devices more during dead time after dinner without getting yelled at. Manners can go both ways. A couple years ago, while watching children’s TV, All Grown Up was on. One of the girls decided to chase down her Japanese heritage. She held some kind of tea party for her friends. One of the other kids decided to dig in to his food. He was told by the girl with Japanese heritage “In Japan, it’s rude to start eating before everybody else.” Since my wife was in the room, I yelled back at the TV “In America, it’s rude to make people wait to eat.” I’ve told my wife, if you don’t want me on my Pocket PC during dead time at dinner, then bring up a conversation topic. Shouldn’t we consider “dead time” to be rude?
Labels: Mobile Life
When I upgraded my iPod Touch to the 2.0 firmware, I wasn’t entirely impressed. I found the 2.0 software to be a little less stable and to be a little “buggy” compared to the 1.1.4 version that I was running before (jailbroken with ZiPhone, of course.)
One of the first applications I downloaded was Remote. I heard it was pretty cool. Of course, to this point, I haven’t had a chance to deal with it yet. Finally, this morning since I have a little spare time, I decided to play with it some. I was able to get it set up and run with it. So far, I’m impressed. I’m playing one of my podcasts this morning while I work on a couple of blog entries.
In reference to my last post, I was at the mall tonight with my wife and kids. I did get just a little time to look at things that interest me. The Deptford Mall has few stores for a 34 year old gadget geek man, so when I separate from my wife at the mall, I browse the cell phone stores and kiosks. I’m currently using an iPaq 6945 Windows Mobile phone, which gets the job done but there’s always something better. The first store I hit with my two year old, Caleb, was Radio Shack. I was curious about the Blackberry. I’ve been using Pocket PC’s for years and never really thought much about the Crackberries. Radio Shack has dummy phones; at least, the phones aren’t on or functional. I had a nice discussion about tech with one of the guys there, but the time came to move on. Next I went to the AT&T store, where the phones were actually turned on! I picked up the AT&T Tilt and went to town.
This phone was nice! I’ve never had the chance to play with one live before. I played with one at an AT&T kiosk once, but the screen was locked so I couldn’t do anything but slide the keyboard out and tilt the screen up. I can’t believe how fast this is, especially the 3G data connection. My wife says getting a new phone isn’t a financially smart move right now. She literally would be happy if her current phone lasted forever, but I’m the Gadget Geek Dad! I would get a new phone every two months if I could. At least, I’d get a bunch and swap between them as I see fit. I wish I could grow this blog big enough that the manufacturers would send me review units. That would be cool.
Next up, the 3G iPhone. It was fun, but I didn’t get to play with it for long as Caleb kept grabbing another one. I was afraid he’d manage to break it, so I didn’t get to do much with the iPhone at all. I know how it works as I have an iPod Touch. To be honest, except for the 3G data connection, the new iPhone doesn’t seem that impressive. If I could buy an older model it would get the job done. Of course, I couldn’t get Caleb to cooperate long enough to fire up Safari and see the “blazing fast” 3G speeds. I know they were quick on the Tilt.
Finally, I played with the Treo 750W. It actually wasn’t bad. The only thing that really sets it apart (OK, 2 things) from my 6945 are 3G and Windows Mobile 6. My 6945 plods along at EDGE speeds so the 3G on the Treo was nice, and WM6 seems like a minor but nice upgrade from WM5.
Along the way, I did pick up and play with a few live Blackberries, but nothing really stood out to me with the Blackberry enough to make me want to drop Windows Mobile (or dreams of an iPhone) for it. People who have Blackberries claim to love them, and I can hardly say I “love” Windows Mobile, but I’ve had it for so long and bought a lot of programs for it over the years so it would be hard to just drop the platform and move on at this point as I have so much invested in it.
Next I went to a T-Mobile store, but their phones weren’t live. I sort of like the T-Mobile Wing, but the onboard memory seems a little lacking for serious use. My AT&T contract is up in January, and we’re not sure if we want to continue with AT&T or use an excuse to jump to another carrier.
It feels good to get back to the original purpose of this blog, gadgets.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a complaint about the iPhone’s notes program. I have notes on my iPod Touch, but I don’t use it for much more than to show people the SIP keyboard and predictive typing. I can say I’m somewhat disappointed that Apple decided that notes don’t need to be synced between device and computer. Once again, Windows Mobile has done this all along. I do routinely use the notes function on my Pocket PC.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) has a post about the top five iPhone gripes. Part of me is falling under the spell of the “Reality Distortion Field” while another part of my looks at the iPhone and realizes that my Pocket PC phone can already do most of what the iPhone does, in many cases better.
After years of Apple fans bashing Microsoft foul-ups, I’m intrigued to see Apple running into problems with a major release.
I’ve heard many times over the last year since the original iPhone was released that “AT&T will always be the iPhone’s Achilles Heal.” I think I agree with that statement, outside of the iPhone’s own limitations. I’ve been with AT&T for a long time, and to be honest, the only thing that has kept me with them is the fear that no other carrier is any better. My phone signal goes in an out like the tides. No kidding, I can be sitting in the same spot and go from five bars to no signal and back to five bars again several times within a few minutes. Call quality isn’t that great. My wife frequently doesn’t get calls from people, and voice mails will show up suddenly two weeks or more after they were left. We’ve complained about this many times in the last three years, and she’s been through five phones with the exact same problem. The problem seems to have eased the last time they replaced her phone, but it’s still there. Once again, I doubt any other carrier is any better. I hear T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t good, but everybody loves their customer service. I’ve never met anybody who complained about T-mobile’s customer service. Even Consumer Reports reflected this in their phone issue approx October 2007.
One AT&T flaw I expected was overwhelmed activation servers. I can’t tell you how many times I try to log into AT&T to check my minutes or how much data I’ve used, only to find the entire website or even a small portion of it (like data usage) unavailable. For a world class telecommunications company, AT&T really doesn’t impress me.
Leo LaPorte is apparently going to broadcast around the clock as the iPhone goes on sale around the world, starting in New Zealand and concluding 24 hours later in Honolulu. I have his feed running right now. I wouldn’t have known about this had I not checked my Google Reader feeds. I’ll probably only listen in for a few minutes, but I heard him say “Alex Lindsey will be stopping by around 4 in the morning," which will be 7AM here, by which time I should be settled into work and finished with my first cup of coffee. I doubt I can get his site at work through the proxy though.
In any case, if you’re interested in such ambitious coverage of what may be exciting but will eventually go down in history as a fairly trivial event, tune into the link.
I had to make a quick road trip over the weekend. I got news about my grandmother on Saturday afternoon, and we decided to alter our weekend plans and shoot up to Buffalo for a short visit. I was given my Father's Day present early, a Nintendo Wii. It's still in the box at home. The rest of my Father's Day was pretty uneventful, enough that I pretty much forgot it. We left our house around 5:30 PM Saturday. The GPS led us astray. I wondered why we weren't taking the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, when my wife took the thing and found that somehow "avoid toll roads" was checked. We lost a good hour of time and went about 60 miles off course. We rolled into Buffalo about 2:15 AM Sunday morning. I still have no idea why "avoid toll roads" would have been checked. I would have checked it earlier, but my wife yells at me too much for "playing with the GPS" while I'm driving.
While in Buffalo, we took the kids to Niagara Falls, since they see it in the Little Einsteins video they watch incessantly. We went to see my grandmother and spent some time with her neighbors, wonderful people who have watched over her and taken care of her for years. We left Monday morning, and stopped for dinner in Plymouth Meeting to sit out traffic on Philadelphia's Schuylkill Expressway. I hate Philly traffic. I wouldn't mind moving to Buffalo. We like my grandmother's area. The cold wouldn't bother me. I'd welcome it.
While driving, we noticed a lot of people talking on cell phones. One girl driving a Corolla that we passed going down I-81 in New York was texting heavily while driving. In fact, we had to pass her on the right because she was so busy texting, she didn't notice all the cars flying up on her in the left lane, then flying around to the right to get back around her at realistic highway speeds. While coming up on trucks, we could often see the drivers in their side-view mirrors. I was amazed at how many truckers were talking on cell phones without hands-free devices. I saw this article on MSN about how drivers are ignoring the laws. New Jersey has some pretty stiff cell phone/driving laws, yet 1 out of every 2 drivers I see on the road here is TALKING ON A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING. I don't agree with these laws, but if we're going to have them, why not enforce them? Nobody but me takes them seriously. Since I lost my headset, I won't answer my phone while I'm driving. If it's an important call, I'll put it on speaker. If my wife is with me, I make (kindly ask) her to take the call for me. Nobody else her seems to take the law seriously though. Why not enforce it with hefty fines and maybe give us a break on our "highest in the nation" property taxes?
During the trip, my wife had to use my Pocket PC a couple of times to look something up on the Internet. While I talked her through it, I tried to pitch to her how much easier it would be if she'd led me get an iPhone, or better yet, if we both had iPhones. She's much more disciplined than I am though, at least when it comes to buying an iPhone.
We spent a buttload of money on gas for this trip. Here is a piece I came across at how we can thank Al Gore for that. Don't forget: follow the money. There is a LOT of money to be made on "green tech" and global warming speeches. When I see Gore move out of his huge mansion into a tent in the woods and ride a bike to his global warming conferences, I'll consider that he's doing it for reasons other than it pays really good and makes him really popular.
Anyway, I'm tired and cranky and I should quit while I'm ahead.
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.
WebIS released Flexmail 4 recently. I got the email yesterday. I’ve used the beta at a few intervals, but kept running into a minor problem of Flexmail refusing to download entire messages, preferring to truncate them instead. I decided to wait for the final release. I downloaded and installed it.
I’ve been using this product through a few versions and naming schemes. Around Christmas (or generic, unmentionable holiday) 2004, Handango was giving away a free application each week. One week, the application was WebIS Mail. For those of you who have used the Pocket Outlook client on Windows Mobile, you know that either the Windows Mobile developers are freaking lazy or have some kind of revenue sharing agreement with third party developers. I’ve used Windows Mobile 2002, 2003, 2003SE, and 2005. I’ve also used the update of WM 5 for my iPaq 4705. I honestly haven’t seen any improvement in Pocket Outlook whatsoever, forcing a power user to spend money on third party clients. The mail program is particularly useless. It took the Windows Mobile team up to Windows Mobile 6 to incorporate the ability for Pocket Outlook to work with html mail. WebIS Mail 2 had this feature on my iPaq 3765, which was running Windows Mobile 2002.
WebIS renamed the third version Flexmail, and released it as Flexmail 2007. I purchased it. I’ve watched the development of Flexmail 4. As I said, I keep running up against a truncation issue.
Sure enough, even though I set up my gmail folders to download the entire message and full attachments, I still found mail truncating. I decided to go back to Flexmail 2007, which I know works solidly on my phone. Perhaps I should do Alex (the developer) the courtesy of filing a bug report so he can look into it. In the meantime, here is a plug for his company. I’ve also used three versions of Pocket Informant, WebIS’s phenomenally powerful calendar, task, contact, and project management program. It is so good, I even bought Franklin Covey’s Plan Plus for Outlook to take advantage of all the features. If you have a Pocket PC, I highly recommend this. I know a Blackberry version is in the works, as is an iPhone version, although no details on that will be available until Apple lifts the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement.) Pocket Informant is so good, if Alex ever developed a desktop client, I’d stop using Microsoft Outlook.
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’ve been following some of the live blogging of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, hoping for word of the new iPhone. I’m finding Mac Rumors and Gizmodo are the best liveblogs of the event. I’m still torn on whether I want an iPhone or not. I recently heard that the iPhone will have integrated GPS. My iPaq 6945 has had it all along. The iPhone has 3G data, and mine only had EDGE, which is the speed of the current iPhone’s data. Talk time is good, and seven hours of browsing. That’s one serious weakness of my phone: battery life. I’ve heard rumors that the new iPhone will be subsidized, so prices will only be $199 with a 2 year contract. I already have AT&T, and although my wife hates them she seems to have no solution.
I did come up with a way to talk my wife into the iPhone. She never seems to remember to bring the charger for her phone. I charge all of my gadgets every night whether they need it or not, but we often leave the house and find her phone almost dead. If we both had iPhones, obviously I’d always have a compatible charger on me… I doubt it will work, but I’ll try anyway.
Lifehacker has a post today filled with speculation about the new iPhone, which is expected to be announced at the World Wide Developer Conference next week. Of course, Apple is a highly secretive company, so there is not telling, but Steve Jobs is known for his showmanship so we can only speculate about what will actually be announced.
The new iPhone is expected to have AT&T’s 3G mobile broadband rather than the EDGE network the current model has. It is also supposed to an integrated GPS. The GPS should allow for geotagging of pictures, or stamping a GPS location on them so you can later find what or where you took a picture.
Of course, my iPaq 6945 already does that. The iPhone is still cool though. About the only thing the new iPhone has (besides coolness) that my Windows Mobile device didn’t already have is 3G.
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.
Because I travel a lot in my current job, I've come across a minor complication: I hate the radio. Ever since I got my first Pocket PC and discovered that I could copy MP3 audio files onto it to listen to, I've done all I can to avoid listening to the radio. I got a cassette adapter and somehow every car I've had has had a cassette player. But now that I'm renting cars, I'm finding that nobody makes a car with a cassette player anymore. All rental cars have CD player. That does me no good. As I said, I hate the radio.
Why do I hate the radio? Sure, there are some decent songs and talk programs, but for the most part, listening to the radio for me is painful. I may hear a good song, maybe I'll hear a helpful talk program, but in between are the horrible songs, the mindless DJ chatter, and the pointless at best and annoying at worst commercials. Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple (and my Dad's generosity,) I'm on my second iPod, the 32 GB iPod Touch. I love it. I have hundreds of podcasts that I can listen to, anything from This Week in Tech to Theology Unplugged, from Chuck Missler to John C. Dvorak, I can listen to what I want just about whenever I want considering the mood I'm in. That is unless I'm in a rental car. In a rental car, I'm stuck with the radio. The radio is painful considering the podcasts I could be listening to.
When my family went with me on a week long trip to the Virginia Beach area, I stopped and bought an FM modulator, as I expect to have lots of rental cars in this job. I found that it didn't work very well. Even driving around the block I couldn't keep a decent signal on any given station. Then, leaving the area, leaves you constantly tuning the radio and the modulator. That's no good. I returned the modulator to Circuit City today.
On my last trip, since I rented a car and drove 5 hours rather than deal with another butter knife issue with Homeland Security (I'll write on that later), I solved the problem by bringing my own speakers. But that really only works if I'm driving from New Jersey to my business location. If I'm flying, the speakers might take up too much room in my luggage.
Why can't rental cars just include an iPod dock? I don't know about the rest of you, but it would make my life so much easier. Does anybody really listen to CDs in a rental car? I guess I have one case of circumstantial evidence. One car I rented for a business trip in 2005 had a Steven Curtis Chapman CD left in it.
Brad Isaac wrote a blog post the other day about ebooks. His intent was to ask if the Amazon Kindle is worth it. He reads ebooks on his Pocket PC, something I've always wanted to do but I have discussed my other blog. I haven't reached the point of trusting ebooks enough to spend money on them. I'm starting to open up to Mobipocket, which at least offers a free reader and a free converter, but other than converting free books I've already downloaded to this format, I'm not yet ready to purchase content. I just discovered something interesting on the description of Mobipocket Reader:
Personal eDoc Publishing : Beyond eBooksI will have to try that when I get a chance. Up to this point, my attempt to read ebooks and other content on my Pocket PC has been to convert to Repligo format. Repligo is designed to mobilize office documents, but I've found it efficient for publishing public domain books into a mobile, mark-upable format. However, Repligo is abandoneware, as the company has abandoned all but the Blackberry platform. I can't even get the print client to run on Windows Vista, so I have to keep an XP machine or XP virtual machine around in order to maintain it as a platform. I invested in Repligo while I was working on my degree at the University of Phoenix so I could take my textbooks with me on the go while my wife dragged me around (or while I took my beautiful bride about the town on errands.)
Tired of scrolling through this 250 page technical manual in PDF? We've got the answer. Drag and drop it into the Reader Desktop and read it on any mobile device. It also works for Microsoft Office files, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and RTF TXT files as well. You can compile your favorite lyrics into an eBook or your best cooking recipes.
This will be quick as I have to get moving soon. I have a couple of numbers that are driving me nuts. Citibank calls me every single day, but when I attempt to answer, the call hangs up. Then it shows up as a missed call. If I call back, I get stuck in phone menu hell, although I have found that pressing * gets me into a long que to complain to somebody who should be able to fix the problem. I was told two weeks ago that my number would be removed, but it hasn't been. The number I'm getting called from is (800) 967-2400.
I'm also getting calls from (660) 626-1534. The number claims to be from a marketing or survey office that is immune and exempt from do not call lists. This number has been calling me lately as well. I needed a good, free way to block them.
Enter Call Firewall. I just installed it today, and put both of those numbers in. We'll see how it works. Call Firewall features 4 modes:
- Blacklist : All numbers here will be routed to phone messenger (just like your cellphone is off)
- My contacts only : Only incoming calls from your contact list are allowed. Other will be routed to phone messenger
- Whitelist : All numbers in this list will be allowed to incoming call. Others are rejected.
- Reject all calls : Guess what ??? ;)
Of course, all I want is for these two numbers, for now, to stop bothering me.
I listen to a lot of the TWIT podcasts, and of course Twitter keeps coming up as Leo LaPorte is a heavy user. I've long since stopped wondering "What's the point?" to a lot of these so called Web 2.0 technologies. I eventually broke down and singed up for Twitter. You can follow my feed here. The whole point to Twitter is, in 140 characters or less, what are you doing right now? Some people have found some amazingly creative uses for Twitter. I can't say I have. Michael Hyatt claims that it forces him to think about his life. I can't say it's done that for me. Typically, I just put out a blast when I think of it about what I'm doing. To this point, I'm following 3 people and I have one follower, a friend of mine.
I managed to eliminate about $10 in parasitic charges from our AT&T Wireless bill (why did my wife's line have a $4.99 "voice dial" charge?), so I felt justified in adding the unlimited data plan for my line. With that, I can keep up with email and Twitter when I'm on the go. I typically just post what I'm doing or have just done, no matter how mundane. I haven't seen any real social networking benefits. Michael Hyatt has the benefit of tens of thousands of readers to his blog. I admit, I'm one of them. I found his blog at a time in life when I was considering a few options. I realized that my career was pretty much as far as I could expect to go without a degree, but I was questioning how much of "success" and goal setting were an answer to prayer and how much were the result of hard work and smart planning. I was thrilled to find the CEO of a large company put on his own blog some of the secrets to his success. I didn't, at the time, realize that he was the CEO of a large Christian publisher, but to be honest, that wasn't important. I saw how he was using technology and time management methods like Franklin Covey and Getting Things Done to reach a high position in a company. I learned a lot by following him.
I can't say there is a real point to Twitter, but I also can't say it's pointless. Feel free to follow my feed or sign up. I know Twitter isn't for everybody. My wife refuses to try it because she says it would chain her to a machine all day. I honestly don't feel that way, but if you read my last blog entry on why I hate Mother's Day, you'd realize it's just one way that we're different. She feels chained to her laptop, I feel liberated by mine, and my Pocket PC phone, and my iPod Touch, and the iPhone I hope to have eventually, and my other laptop, and my iBook... Maybe my wife just needs another device.
My Pocket PC phone has been driving me nuts lately. No, I'm not just trying to justify an iPhone. I keep telling my wife I'm just going to buy one and let her be mad at me for the next six months though. Lately my Pocket PC has been dragging itself to a crawl, and I constantly have to reboot.
It seems that the issue may be in WebIS FlexMail 2007. I've been using FlexMail, and it's predecessor WebIS Mail, for years. I guess the problem is centered around my data connection. Since I enabled it, I was leaving FlexMail running all the time. My phone would vibrate when I get new email. This was very valuable the last week with our previous realtor as I knew when a new email came in and I could respond. It's getting annoying now though, as I have to keep rebooting. The program starts up fine, but opening and closing mail can take forever.
I finally stopped using Flexmail yesterday. I've been running a trial of Opera Mobile, and I keep a tab open to gmail. Sure, I don't get the vibrating notification when new mail comes in, but at least I don't have to reboot my device 20 times a day.